By Richard Bernstein
International Herald Tribune
November 18, 2007
Even given the inherent ruthlessness in the imposition of emergency rule in Pakistan, there was something almost poignant last week about President Pervez Musharraf appearing before the press and practically imploring the United States to understand the reasons for his move.
Dictators don’t usually do that. They don’t go in for a lot of public self-justification in Cuba or China or Burma, although none of those countries are remotely as tied to the United States and dependent on American support as Pakistan is.
Still, as the Bush administration searches for ways to restore some semblance of democracy in Pakistan – and a semblance of democracy is the best that has generally been managed there over the decades – the question remains: How can the United States best promote its own values around the world, which the Bush administration declares to be one of its major goals?
China, in this sense, emerges as the world’s most important remaining one-party dictatorship, but, unlike Pakistan, where Washington simply says, “hold elections,” the encouragement of democracy in China is more complicated and less obvious, but just as hotly contested a question as ever.