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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Supporting Democracy in Asia - NOT

Posted: 03/20/05 06:13, Edited: 05/26/13 11:25

by Jay H. Steele

Larry Pressler, former Republican Senator from South Dakota, has a good editorial in the New York Times today about the President's supposed belief in the spread of democracy around the world. Why is it, Pressler wonders, that we are so cozy with Pakistan, which is run by a dictator, and so cool in our relations with India, which is the largest democratic state in the world?

Pressler notes that although Pakistan is an "ally" in the President's war on terror, it is an autocratic state with a history of torture and selling nuclear technology around the world. India, on the other hand, has a thriving Muslim minority with protected rights, a history of tolerance, a free press, a democratically elected government, and a strong trade relationship with the United States.

Yet on her recent visit to the region, Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice paid lip service to the spread of democracy in Pakistan and then moved forward a plan to sell F-16s to Pakistan, weapons that have nothing to do with the war on terror but everything to do with Pakistan's long-standing feud with India.

Why the cozy relationship with a brutal dictator? Pressler thinks it is because key decision-making about allies lies in the hands of our military-industrial complex, which actually prefers dealing with dictators:

Our military-industrial complex, which I believe dominates our foreign policy, favors Pakistan not only because we can sell it arms, but also because the Pentagon would often rather deal with dictatorships than democracies. When a top Pentagon official goes to Pakistan, he can meet with one general and get everything settled. On the other hand, if he goes to India, he has to talk to the prime minister, the Parliament, the courts and, God forbid, the free press.

If this quote about the power of the military-industrial complex to influence foreign policy decision-making was coming from a liberal, conservatives would be talking about wacky conspiracy theorists. Pressler was on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee for almost 20 years; he is not liberal and it is no conspiracy theory.

We need perpetual war and we need brutal dictators to feed the beast that is the military industrial complex. Bush is giving them just what they want.

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