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The creation of a monster
by Thanos Kalamidas
2007-09-19 09:37:56
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How can you negotiate and trust somebody who took over a country with a military coup using all the resources the state gave him, exiled or imprisoned all the opposition with a lot of questionable disappearances and changed the state's constitution with only one aim to serve his personal interests? How can you trust somebody who ignored the will of the people and put them in chains hiding the key in his pocket and having openly expressed the will never to leave his powerful position?

Every time I’m thinking or reading about Pakistan and General Musharraf I cannot avoid asking the same questions… and there are more questions coming. For example, how can you expect democracy from somebody who confuted the very foundations of democracy, and finally how can you call somebody an ally in a war to bring peace and democracy who survives through terror and violence? Most of all, how can expect this person to help you return the country to a democratic ethic when that person lacks any kind of ethic and respect to any kind of institution, especially the highest of all in a democracy, the institution of freedom, of choice, of respect to others?

As amazing as it may sound, that’s today’s reality in Pakistan and the joke the last days is that Musharraf declared that if he will be re-elected he’s going to resign from his army chief post! This sounds like a cunning twist from a naive dictator. So he’s going to give up his uniform and he will be George W. Bush style the chief in command. He will wear cowboy hats and from his farm he will manipulate the country through his only real supporters, the army.

Oddly George W. Bush and the American administration consider this horror an ally in the war against terror and a guarantee for democracy in south east Asia, yet oddly the only one who actually dared to ignore the dictator and prove that you can beat a monster with democratic methods has been a conservative politician, who, in theory and ideologically, is much closer to Musharraf than anybody else.

The former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif tried unsuccessfully to return to Islamabad to challenge Musharraf’s power but he had to return to Saudi Arabia. His lawyers are going to challenge the dictator in the country’s Supreme Court declaring his actions, his coup and him illegal worthy of serious punishment. Of course, Mr. Sharif is not so naïve; he’s using the latest disagreement between the dictator and the Supreme Court because even a dictator like him has to show some respect to some institutions. Another former Pakistani prime minister trying to negotiate with the dictator unsuccessfully even though her ruling was full of scandals and corruption, actually it was in her period when Musharraf’s star raised.

During and after Saddam’s regime there were many questions concerning the Americans’ methods since they were behind the creation of the monster. The Americans were the ones who put him in power because at that certain moment it worked well for the American plans concerning the Middle East, especially with the Iranian problem raising fast. So they created a monster in an already problematic area and obviously they didn’t learn the lesson.

They created and promoted another monster, and on top of that in a country that has weapons of mass destruction. The situation between India and Pakistan has long been dangerous, often scary, and the threat of nuclear weapons is very clear and visual in this part of the world. Therefore, to have as a leader in one of the two countries an unstable person like Musharraf is, at the very least, dangerous. The man has proved already that he is untrustworthy and he has proved already that his access to endless power is not even worth the lives of his compatriots.

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Emanuel Paparella2007-09-19 12:47:32
Indeed Mr. Kalamidas, Jacques Derrida asserted once that “monsters cannot be announced. One cannot say here are our monsters, without immediately turning the monsters into pets.” Here is a partial list of my 20th century pet monsters (a total of 36):

From the world at large: Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin (the grandfather monsters), Juan Peron, Fidel Castro, Pol Pot, Joseph Tito, Ho Chi Minh, Ayatollah Komeni, Slobodan Milosovich, Saddam Hussein, Ferdinand Marcos, Francisco Franco, Mao Zedong, Augusto Pinochet, General Suharto.

From Africa: Sam Abacha (Nigeria), Issayes Afewerki (Eritrea), Al Bashiz Omar (Sudan), Idi Amin (Uganda), Said Mohamed Barre (Somalia), Paul Biya (Cameron), Jean-Bedel Bokassa (Central African Republic), Samuel Doe (Liberia), Gnassingbe Eyadema (Togo), Muammar Gadaffi (Lybia), Hissene Habre (Chad), Laurent Kabila (Congo), Haile Marian Mengistu (Ethiopia), Joseph Mobato (Congo), King Mniati III (Swaziland), Damid Arap Mei (Kenia), Theodoro Nguenra (Equatorial Guinea), Joseph Nyerer (Tanzania).

I would suggest that this political phenomenon of the monsters of the 20th century, still ongoing in the 21st century, cannot possibly be understood without remembering the history of 19th century Western Imperialism in Africa and Asia which gave birth to it. Perhaps that is the mother of all monsters sitting pretty in our living rooms and waiting to be announced?

Anonymous2007-09-20 03:04:28
Good argument, Thanos, and the comment by Emanuel is wonderful. Emanuel is able to see the root of all these problems, and always finds a way of reverting to the West. Both of you are insightful writers. Thanks you for keeping some of us informed.

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