Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Friday, June 22, 2007

The Friend of My Enemy Is My What?

This week 2000 Pakistani scholars bestowed their highest honor on Osama bin Laden, the title of Sword of Allah.

If it seems strange that the nation President Bush calls “a vital ally in the War on Terror” is awarding prizes to the world’s Terrorist-in-Chief, there is complexity involved here.

The Pakistanis really don’t like bin Laden that much, but they were peeved at “the British Government's decision to bestow the title of 'Sir' on blasphemer (Salman) Rushdie,” the council chairman explained.

The award to bin Laden was coupled with the statement that the knighting of Rushdie justified attacks in Britain by a federal minister associated with “militant madressahs” that train suicide bombers.

All this comes as President Pervez Musharraf, who has reaped billions in U.S. aid and had tea with Jon Stewart on the Daily Show, is showing signs of backsliding in what President Bush calls his “progress toward democracy” by suspending the Chief Justice of Pakistan’s Supreme Court who had complained about what the Christian Science Monitor describes as “hundreds of disappearances of Pakistanis, some suspected Islamic extremists but others human rights activists and representatives of ethnic minority populations.”

Those who are not as sophisticated in foreign affairs as Bush’s fresh-faced Neo-Cons may be a little puzzled by our continuing to provide F-16 fighter planes and other military hardware to a regime that seems to be playing on both sides of the terrorist game.

We never did get a straight story about why Pakistan’s leading nuclear scientist had been selling its technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya. But then again we may not be as attuned as they are to subtleties of the Middle East.

How does that go: the enemy of my enemy is my friend who may also be the friend of my enemy but is still my friend if I keep giving him tokens of friendship and blind faith in whatever he does?

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