Robert Kagan’s piece on Pakistan is pretty hilarious:
There always seems to be a good reason to support a dictator. In the late 1970s, Jeane Kirkpatrick argued that it was better to support a “right-wing” dictator lest he be replaced by communists. Right-wing dictatorship — today some call it “liberal autocracy” — was in any case a necessary way station on the road to democracy. Communist totalitarians would never give up power and stifled any hope for freedom, but our friendly dictators would eventually give way to liberal politics.
The Reagan administration, and history, actually repudiated both sides of this doctrine. It turned out that right-wing dictators such as Ferdinand Marcos and the South Korean military junta, as other dictators before them, would only leave power if forced. Ironically, a communist leader in the Soviet Union was actually willing to take the steps that ultimately proved his system’s undoing.
Apparently, in Kagan’s world, something qualifies as ironic if it goes against whatever crackpot theory Jeane Kirkpatrick is pushing. And as much as I admire Gorbachev, the implication that he actively tried to dismantle the Soviet Union seems a little much. More likely is that he considered himself a Soviet FDR; just as the New Deal was needed to save capitalism, perestroika and glasnost were needed to save Communism. Of course, things didn’t turn out that way, but I find it very unlikely that Gorbachev was an active fifth columnist.
Elsewhere in Pakistan news, it seems that the democracy agenda is officially dead:
President Bush yesterday offered his strongest support of embattled Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, saying the general “hasn’t crossed the line” and “truly is somebody who believes in democracy.”
As Matt Yglesias says, this is simply gratuitous. It’s one thing to maintain support for Musharraf as a least-bad option; it’s not the best policy, but it’s a respectable one. Saying that someone who placed one opposition leader under house arrest, deported another, and officially suspended his country’s Constitution is “somebody who believes in democracy” just makes you look ridiculous.