The situation in Pakistan provides another good reason why the American people should put a stop to the U.S. government’s meddling in the affairs of other countries.
For years, U.S. officials have had a close, working partnership with Pakistan’s president Pervez Musharraf, which has included the delivery to him of millions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer money. Keep in mind one important fact: Musharraf is a dictator. A brutal military dictator who has ruled over Pakistan with an iron fist for many years. He took power in a coup and refused to allow democratic elections in the country.
U.S. officials have known all of this. Yet, despite all their glorious talk about the virtues of democracy, especially in Iraq, they have nonetheless been funneling U.S. taxpayer money into the coffers of Musharraf and the military goons that have kept him in power.
Several months ago, Musharraf dissolved the country’s Supreme Court and began jailing lawyers and judges? Why? Because the judiciary and the attorneys believed in an independent judiciary. That is, they believed in the same type of judicial system that we have here in the United States, one in which the Supreme Court is the ultimate arbiter of what is constitutional and unconstitutional.
Like all dictators, Musharraf could not countenance a constitutional order. When a dictator issues an order, he expects everyone, including the lawyers and the judges, to obey it. If they don’t, that’s what the military and the police are for — to round up those who don’t understand and appreciate the nature of dictatorship and put them in jail until they do.
Through it all, including Musharraf’s crackdown on the judiciary and the lawyers, the U.S. government has remained loyal to Musharraf, continuing to funnel U.S. taxpayer money into his coffers (even while killing untold numbers of people in Iraq for the sake of democracy). But why should that surprise anyone, especially given the Bush administration’s and Pentagon’s denigration of lawyers and the U.S. Supreme Court with respect to such issues as torture, rendition, Guantanamo Bay, and the “war on terrorism”?
What U.S. officials never counted on, however, is that the Pakistani people hated Musharraf’s military dictatorship. In the recent parliamentary elections in Pakistan, the vote was so overwhelming against Musharraf that even the dictator could not rig the outcome. Of course, in the process the Pakistani people also implicitly rebuked the dictator’s loyal partner, the U.S. government.
Let’s recall that this isn’t the first time that the United States has experienced this type of blowback from its foreign policy of interventionism. In Iran, the CIA ousted the democratically elected prime minister from office and installed a brutal dictator, the Shah of Iran, in his stead. After decades of brutal dictatorial rule, including the torture of his own people, the Shah was ousted from power by the Iranian people. Not surprisingly, the Iranian people resented not just the Shah but also his loyal partner and supporter, the U.S. government.
What does the U.S. government now do in Pakistan as part of its foreign policy of interventionism? Does it continue supporting its loyal partner, a dictator, and continue funneling U.S. taxpayer money into his coffers? Or does it align itself with the citizenry who are trying to restore democracy and a constitutional order to their land?
Such questions arise for one — and only one — reason: the U.S. government’s foreign policy of intervening and interfering in the internal affairs of other countries. If the United States had a policy of non-intervention, then the rebuke of a dictator by his own citizens would be not simultaneously serve as a rebuke against the United States.
In other words, at the risk of belaboring the obvious the reason that Pakistanis who have risen up against Musharraf also resent the United States is because the U.S. government is Musharraf’s partner, a partner that has financed much of his brutal dictatorial rule. In the absence of intervention, the Pakistani people would resent their dictator without also resenting the United States.
Once again, we are learning the wisdom of our nation’s Founding Fathers, who counseled in favor of friendly relations with all nations but entangling alliances with none. The key to America’s future — the key to freedom, peace, prosperity, morality, and harmony — lies in liberating the private sector of America to freely engage with the people of the world while, at the same time, prohibiting the federal government from interfering with the internal affairs of other countries.
Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.