What's next for the United States and Pakistan now that Musharraf is gone? 

Don't Panic! ... Your war questions answered

Last month, I took my first vacation from writing this column in seven years.

Before I left, I asked one favor of the cosmos: Don't let any big-deal, easy-to-snark-about, world-affairs-type thingies happen while I'm away.

While I was gone, not only did Russia invade Georgia (the Stalin one, not the Rhett Butler one), but the United States and Iraq are negotiating major U.S. troop reductions and Pervez "The Perv" Musharraf quit Pakistan's presidency under threat of impeachment.

Screw you, too, cosmos.

The Pakistan thing happened mid-August, but because of the party conventions and the underaged acrobatic Chinese girls on the TV, it wasn't talked about much.

The Perv quit under threat of impeachment from Pakistan's new parliament. Not coincidentally, it was the first freely elected parliament in Pakistan since Musharraf took over the country in a military coup in 1999. He steadily lost his grip on power in 2007 and was unable to stop elections from taking place earlier this year.

Even though Benazir Bhutto, the leading opposition candidate, was assassinated late last year, Musharraf was so loathed in Pakistan that Musharraf-hating parties still easily won the election. Once they got their act together and threatened to impeach, Musharraf was forced to skedaddle. He's planning to retire to a mansion near a golf community in Islamabad – or hit the road.

A military dictator being shoved out by an elected parliament is supposed to be a good thing for America, right? We're pro-democracy.

Actually not.

In Pakistan, President Bush hasn't been pro-democracy. He's been pro-Musharraf.

Bush big-upped him constantly, presenting him to the American public as some sort of South Asian Super Friend who was saving us and Pakistan from Islamic extremism. In 2006, Bush said he and the Perv "share the same outlook for a hopeful world." Touching.

We liked him because he promised to be on our side in the War On Terror™ and because we worried that if he was ousted he'd be replaced by Islamic extremists who would foment terrorism.

So we turned a blind eye to his dictatorness – saying nothing as he rigged elections, jailed opponents and gave himself the title "president" so he'd look less like a military dictator.

Not surprisingly, backing the guy who suppressed democracy in Pakistan didn't endear us to Pakistani people. The most recent Pew Research Center study shows only 27 percent of Pakistanis have a favorable opinion of the United States.

The sad irony is that we didn't gain much in the process.

At the risk of never playing golf in Pakistan again, I'll go ahead and call him what he was – a double-dealing scumbag who jeopardized our safety and Pakistan's safety for the sake of staying in power.

While he was cashing American checks and taking the bubble wrap off fancy new American weapons, Musharraf and his allies in Pakistan's military and intelligence establishments were simultaneously helping the Taliban.

Musharraf's failure to reign in the tribal areas along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan has allowed the Taliban to reconstitute. The Taliban now uses Pakistan as a safe haven to launch increasingly deadly attacks in Afghanistan.

He also failed to stop (and maybe even helped) Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan from selling nuclear technology to North Korea and Iran. North Korea's bomb was derived from Pakistani designs. Iran's nuclear-fuel-enrichment gizmos are also Pakistani-designed.

It's a politically unstable, nuclear-armed nation whose people have a serious (and legitimate) gripe with the United States. It's the home of al-Qaeda and a resurgent Taliban.

Seven years of backing Musharraf's military dictatorship turned Pakistan into the biggest threat to world peace today. No exaggeration.

What's our plan now that the Perv is hitting the links? I'm not sure yet.

But I do know that just last week we sent in troops to attack supposed extremist hideouts. I believe it's the first time we've ever sent combat troops into a nuclear-armed nation.

I can't believe how little attention it's gotten. I hate to sound like a crotchety old man, but you know, when I was a lad, things were different. We had 2400-baud dial-up modems and we loved 'em! And it was kind of a big deal when the United States military went into another country.

The last seven years of Bush have made hapless invasions so commonplace that no one notices anymore.


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