Pakistan may no longer be a democracy. President Pervez Musharraf has seized complete control - he has taken over the media and the army, and has also rounded up thousands of dissenters. While Mushaffaf stills claims to be aiming for Janurary elections, he left open the possibility of an indefinite delay. In countries like Pakistan, indefinite delays usually are very, very, long. Pakistan, at least for the present, is ruled by a harsh, fascist dictatorship.
The United States has responded to this development in the mildest possible way. Bush has simply requested that Mushaffaf to restore democracy "as soon as possible." Hardly a ringing condemnation. Given the United State's stated commitment to spreading democracy across the globe, isn't it hypocritical and indeed wrong for them to look the other way at Mushaffaf's power grab?
No. We need Pakistan's assistance in the War on Terror. Mushaffaf has a been an ally, if not a very strong one. (It is pretty generally known that Al-Qaeada has training camps in Pakistan). Any other government in Pakistan would almost certainly be a theocratic, fascist, anti-American dictatorship. If Mushaffaf retains power, however, Pakistan will be a theocratic, fascist, pro-American dictatorship. There may not be any good choices here. But half a loaf is better than none.
Is this an application of the "the end justifies the means" theory? No. It is not as if the opposition is the Pakistani version of the Sons of Liberty. We can choose between two dictators in Pakistan. Neither of them are desirable, but we can support the better one.