Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Helene Cooper say a mouthful:
For more than five months the United States has been trying to orchestrate a political transition in Pakistan that would manage to somehow keep Gen. Pervez Musharraf in power without making a mockery of President Bush’s promotion of democracy in the Muslim world.
On Saturday, those carefully laid plans fell apart spectacularly. Now the White House is stuck in wait-and-see mode, with limited options and a lack of clarity about the way forward.
General Musharraf’s move to seize emergency powers and abandon the Constitution left Bush administration officials close to their nightmare: an American-backed military dictator who is risking civil instability in a country with nuclear weapons and an increasingly alienated public.
The United States has given Pakistan more than $10 billion in aid, mostly to the military, since 2001. Now, if the state of emergency drags on, the administration will be faced with the difficult decision of whether to cut off that aid and risk undermining Pakistan’s efforts to pursue terrorists — a move the White House believes could endanger the security of the United States.
Well, that decision has been made:
Quelle Su[r]prise! Via Raw Story, the Pentagon has said that it will be business as usual with Pakistan's dictator.“Pakistan is a very important ally in the war on terror and [Secretary Gates] is closely following the developments there,'' [Pentagon spokesman Geoff] Morrell told reporters aboard Gates' plane as he traveled to China.
The emergency declaration “does not impact our military support of Pakistan'' or its efforts in the war on terror, Morrell said of the country, which is a key U.S. partner in the fight against al-Qaida militants.
This is the actual response of the Bush administration - there's no way this decision is a purely Pentagon one - while Rice mouths weasel words about Musharraf's martial law declaration being “highly regrettable.” As the NY Times notes today, the White House's pretense of supporting democracy in Pakistan in order to put a mask of respectability on Musharraf's regime has been left in tatters. ...
Cernig's post is well-worth reading in full; he has lots of links to right-wing response (they're spinning like mad), as well as in-depth analysis of exactly what actions Musharraf has taken, and some of the lead-up to current goings-on.
The reasoning of Musharraf apologists on the right, in a nutshell, seems to be, The Islamists made him do it:
Jonthan Foreman at The Corner:
Things were certainly heating up a lot last week in Pakistan though the various jihadi attacks didn't get much coverage in the West.
The State Department response — calling for immediate free elections — is idiotic. Break down Pakistan's instability into just some of its component parts — Islamist militancy, tribal unrest, deep-seated ethnic separatism, feudal oppression, sectarian hatred, an incompetent and corrupt ruling elite, an ill-educated population, a paranoid and conspiratorial culture — and it's far from clear that dictatorship is the disease or elections the cure.
Greg at Jihad Watch:
Someone needs to explain to Bush, Rice, et al. -- in patient, monosyllables no doubt -- that "democracy" is hardly the panacea they believe it to be. One hardly has to regard General Musharraf a saint in order to appreciate that his removal would more likely usher in an era of Sharia and jihad than New-England-town-meeting-style democracy. One need only look to the recent precedents of Algeria, Gaza, Turkey, and Iraq, to see where "democracy" in the Islamic world leads.
Nice little bit of chutzpah, that last sentence, considering whose policies led to the ascendancy of Islamism in Iraq and elsewhere.
... Pakistan has been in a state of emergency(ies) for a long time, and whatever else it has been, Musharraf’s dictatorship is, was, and has been a response to that.
As Counterterrorism Blog notes in detail, Pakistan is in fact in a state of emergency, with its army and police engaged with the Taliban and their fellow travellers, not always winning, and widespread Islamist sympathy that raises questions of what elections would produce. Enlightened pro-American Bhutto ascendancy?
Crittenden gives scant credit to this CB post. Jeffrey Imm, the blogger, does place heavy emphasis on the threat of Talibanization, but in a far more nuanced, comprehensive, and scholarly manner than Crittenden's description would indicate. He is not writing as an apologist for Bush administration policy. The piece is impeccably and conscientiously sourced, and Imm takes pains to include multiple facets of the crisis in Pakistan, and puts Pakistanis' strong and growing support for extreme Islamist ideology in context -- which is something Crittenden and the rest of his crowd never do. Whether or not you agree with every implication or link that Imm includes, you can't help but learn something of value from the ton of information he provides. The same cannot be said of Crittenden's post -- this one or any other.
Curt at Flopping Aces gives Musharraf a big, sloppy wet kiss:
Lots of new information coming out about the extent of President Musharraf's declaration of martial law inside Pakistan. While the western world has to come out and condemn his actions it is looking more and more like his decision to take over the judiciary was done to purge its ranks of Islamic extremism[.]
Musharraf believes that the judiciary is overrun with militant Islamists who have gotten in the way of his war against them, and really, with all the fighting going on who can blame him? Now the question is was this threat by the judiciary real, or something made up so he could stay in power?
I believe the threat is real and he took the only action available to him. If his power was reduced by the Supreme Court ruling that he could not stay in uniform while serving as President then there was a very real danger of Pakistan being a nuclear power run by those as dangerous, or even more then Iran's government.
Note what Cernig has to say about that Guardian piece that Curt linked to, above:
Meanwhile, the White House's cheerleaders are grasping at straws. My friend Ali Eteraz wrote an article for the Guardian yesterday, based upon early reporting, which is being seized by rightwingers as proof that Musharraf's declaration isn't actually martial law and isn't as abject a failure of their support for the Pakistani dictator as it seems. Captain Ed, for example, writes that:Pervez Musharraf's seizure of power yesterday did not extend as far as feared, but instead falls in a legal gray area. The assemblies continue to operate and the status of press freedom remains unchanged, according to the Guardian's Ali Eteraz. However, Musharraf appears to have taken a page from Shakespeare's Richard III, and rounded up all the lawyers...Musharraf's PCO doesn't even cancel the upcoming legislative elections. In fact, he assured Pakistanis that those would run on schedule. It only affects the legislature and the lawyers, a group which had -- in Musharraf's opinion -- become too political in recent months.
Then, today, comes news that Musharraf is rounding up 1500 political opponents, delaying elections indefinitely and heavily censoring the media. Up to five hundred opponents of the dictator have already been rounded up.Among those detained were Javed Hashmi, the acting president of the party of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif; cricket star-turned politician, Imran Khan; Asma Jehangir, chairman of the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan; and Hamid Gul, former chief of the main intelligence agency and a staunch critic of Musharraf's support for the U.S.-led war on terror.
Various bloggers have round-ups:
Comments from Left Field, "Martial Law Lite"
Dr. Steven Taylor (rounds up right-wing reaction)
Pajamas Media (good round-up of both right and left reaction, plus some media)
Ohio Daily Blog and American Footprints have some excellent links I have not seen elsewhere.
And finally, not a round-up, but The Heretik's Super Condi is a must-see.