Thursday, 1 March 2007

Cheney's attacks: Pakistan, China, and beyond

US Vice President Dick Cheney, recently wrapping up a three-day excursion to Australia, has sparked plenty of global controversy. First of all, he finally roughed up Pakestan a bit, which he visited following his rhetoric-spewing sessions with right-wing Aussie PM John Howard in the land down under. (Howard was the man who said if Barak Obama won the 2008 election for US president, it would be a 'victory for al-Qaeda'.) Australians are angry about Iraq, among other things, including the United States' illegal detention of an Australian citizen, David Hicks. As a result, there were plenty of protests for the man charged with war crimes in Belgium, i.e. Cheney, during his stay in Australia. Why aren't Americans angry about the detention of US citizens, namely Jose Padilla?

On the Pakistan topic, Cheney said, or we think he said, it needed to do more in combating terrorism and, namely, the Taliban, which the government looks to be supporting. I hate to admit it, but, like with Russia, I agree with Cheney, or at least the comments coming from anonymous officials saying they speak Cheney's position and that he was tough with Pakistan's leader during the short visit.


A particular source of concern is Mr. Musharraf’s peace accord with the tribal leaders, a deal giving them greater sovereignty that he has assured Mr. Bush would not diminish Pakistan’s commitment to fighting extremists. Mr. Bush noted in September that Mr. Musharraf had looked him “in the eye” and said, “There won’t be a Taliban and won’t be al Qaeda.” Now, American officials contend those groups have gained ground.

One problem is the secretive nature of the visit and the lack of reporting thanks to the media-hating — unless the media is really supportive (e.g. post-9/11, pre-Iraq war) — White House. He attacks even his allies; whether democracy-supporting political foes at home or despotic US-friendly regimes abroad, Cheney seems to be lashing out at everyone — or so it seems.

Maybe Cheney's views aren't being represented by the mysterious mouthpiece(s). If that be the case I retract my agreeing with him to a small degree on the Pakistan issue. He was either pushed to pressure Pakistan, genuinely wanted to pressure Pakistan, or didn't actually pressure Pakistan — there are conflicting reports and views. His Russia comments, while somewhat true, were also cavalier for an executive of the world's most powerful state to say and only made foreign relations worse. Both Pakistan and Russia need to respect the will of the people, as well as not inflame terrorists or — in Russia's case — seemingly only help Iran with its nuclear program while claiming otherwise the whole time.

Pakistan is a dictatorship, plain and simple; and effectively so is Russia, or it is becoming one that is. Pakistan has been a long-time American ally in the 'war on terror', though it may only be an ally by name. The US gives hundreds of millions of aid to the Musharraf regime. Like with much aid, who knows where it goes.

During his Australia visit, Cheney warned China once again of its growing military. China is an up-and-coming world power, what does he expect? Throughout history military might has been key to the assumption of a state's power. When the United States embraced its industrial development, a military expansion followed. What peoples of a country do not want is a constant wartime economic and military attitude, one the US seems to adapted especially under President Bush. During wartime, parts of an economy grow, but so does the deficit. Generally peacetime economies try to defeat deficit, not enlarge it.

Cheney's comments on China focused strongly on its recent test of an anti-satellite missile and expansion of its army. He hinted at his belief that China's massive military expansion is not peaceful. His controversial comments have resulted in Beijing calling Washington a 'nosy neighbor'. (Wow, that's gotta hurt — leaning something you already knew about yourself.)

We know Cheney has directly attacked verbally Russia and China, but the Pakistan stance remains washy. In the past Cheney has been one for hypocrisies: strongly condemning one country for being undemocratic yet supporting another that is just as undemocratic or worse. That pretty much sums up this administration's policies toward its 'favorites' in the global realm, though Cheney is a but more pro-[what he calls] democracy than some in the White House. He will strike at about whoever he wants, and will not hold back. Not much has changed since the Cold War, methinks, and the 'war on terror' is just as vague as to the menace, and worse in the fact it can't be considered a war by any standards.

We know Cheney has openly attacked Russia and China for being undemocratic and a bully and for escalating militarily, respectively, but his stance on Pakistan remains washy. Putin of Russia has struck back and now China has called the US 'nosy'. Which state will be next, and for what reasons?

Update: I forgot to mention the attempt on Cheney's life when he visited Afghanistan following Pakistan.

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