Friday, November 09, 2007

Martial Law, Democracy Promotion, and Untraceable Cash Transfers

Three money quotes on Pakistan, all via Cernig. The first is by Ali Etaraz, writing in the Comment Is Free section of the Guardian:

Dictators are incapable of eliminating extremism. A dictatorship is afflicted with the original sin of having seized power with violence, and therefore has no moral authority to speak against those who employ violence. A dictatorship is bereft of the psychological calm that comes from being popularly elected and lives life like an anxious little demon, spraying bullets wildly, without aim or purpose.

Next, Barnett Rubin, a contributor at Juan Cole's Informed Comment: Global Affairs blog:
General Musharraf has not suspended the constitution to fight terrorism. He has not even continued to fight terrorism while suspending the constitution for other reasons. Of course the Pakistan Army is happy to pocket the $100 million a year it receives for giving the U.S. basing rights and otherwise supporting the effort in Afghanistan (while undermining it in other -- and cheaper -- ways). The Pakistan Army is not about to commit suicide by openly defying the whole international community and cutting off support for NATO operations in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile Musharraf sent his police to arrest lawyers, liberal politicians, and human rights activists, while doing virtually nothing against those Taliban in their scary turbans, who are taking over Swat[.]

And last, Spencer Ackerman (linked from Outside the Beltway, via Cernig):
After Pervez Musharraf declared martial law this weekend, Condoleezza Rice vowed to review U.S. assistance to Pakistan, one of the largest foreign recipients of American aid. Musharraf, of course, has been a crucial American ally since the start of the Afghanistan war in 2001, and the U.S. has rewarded him ever since with over $10 billion in civilian and (mostly) military largesse. But, perhaps unsure whether Musharraf's days might in fact be numbered, Rice contended that the explosion of money to Islamabad over the past seven years was "not to Musharraf, but to a Pakistan you could argue was making significant strides on a number of fronts."

In fact, however, a considerable amount of the money the U.S. gives to Pakistan is administered not through U.S. agencies or joint U.S.-Pakistani programs. Instead, the U.S. gives Musharraf's government about $200 million annually and his military $100 million monthly in the form of direct cash transfers. Once that money leaves the U.S. Treasury, Musharraf can do with it whatever he wants. He needs only promise in a secret annual meeting that he'll use it to invest in the Pakistani people. And whatever happens as the result of Rice's review, few Pakistan watchers expect the cash transfers to end.

Your tax dollars, at work funding democracy initiatives around the world.

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