Walking with Autocrats

For a guy who brags about being a Texas rancher, George W. sure is stepping in a lot of cow patties with his Iraq policy.

There was that big one about needing to oust Saddam because he had weapons of mass destruction. He didn't. Then there was Bush's claim that the Iraqi people would throw kisses and rose petals at our troops. They didn't.

But perhaps the slickest and stinkiest cow patty that George has stepped in is his choice of allies to pursue his Iraq adventure. By cozying up to regimes that are repressive and dictatorial, he has undermined any claim that his foreign policy is on the moral high road. In only one week in September, three of Bush's global buddies revealed themselves to be the very opposite of freedom fighters and democracy builders.

First came Russian President Vladimir Putin. Claiming, a la BushCheneyAshcroftRumsfeld & Gang, that global terrorism warrants extreme measures, Putin unilaterally changed the way Russia's 89 regional governors and its legislators are chosen – effectively preventing opposition to his policies. Next was the Bush family's longtime pals, the royals of Saudi Arabia. Their use of religious police to repress Shiite Muslims, Jews and Christians is so severe that even George's own state department had to censure them, declaring flatly that "Freedom of religion does not exist" there.

Then there's General Pervez Musharraf, who stole democracy from Pakistan in a military coup five years ago. Ironically, Bush now hugs him as his close ally in his war to "bring democracy" to Iraq. Earlier this year, as a token gesture to the democratic opposition in Pakistan, Musharraf pledged to give up his post as a head of the military, while also serving as president. Now, he has reneged, suddenly declaring that it's "in the best interest of the nation" that he wear both hats.

America's credibility in the world is sinking because while George talks about democracy, he walks with autocrats.


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