March 23, 2005


Hoping for the best, but anticipating the worst (A. MASROOR, 21 March 2005, Khaleej Times)

FROM what US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her Pakistani counterpart Khurshid Kasuri said at the joint Press conference on Thursday and in the three interviews she gave (to one American and two Pakistani media outlets) following her meetings with the Pakistani leadership it appeared as if her mission to Islamabad was qualitatively different from the ones that her predecessor, Colin Powell had undertaken in the past.

In her public utterances Ms Rice appeared to be making a conscious effort to dispel the impression that the people of Pakistan do not count for anything in the eyes of the US, that Washington was beholden to Musharraf alone and that given a choice between an uniformed Musharraf and democracy President Bush would put his weight behind the General. And unlike her predecessor she talked more about Pakistan and its people and very rarely did she mention Musharraf by name or title when characterising the growing bilateral links between the US and Pakistan. And she seems to have done a lot of tough talking on democracy and A.Q. Khan with the Pakistani leadership, shared its concerns about maintaining military balance in South Asia without, of course, promising anything concrete in terms of supplying any kind of sophisticated weapon systems, and told Pakistan to stay the course on the peace process with India. [...]

The US Secretary of State had appeared even tougher on the issue of democracy. Every time she was asked about the issue of uniform, she would respond by emphasising the need for democratic reforms and hoped that the 2007 elections would be fair and free. “We did talk about the importance of democratic reform in Pakistan, about getting on a road to democratic reforms that would, in fact, lead to free and fair elections in 2007. And that was the character of our discussion. So we will always talk about the need for democracy. And it is central to our dialogue with every country in the world and it is also central for our dialogue here,” she declared at the joint Press conference trying perhaps to absolve the US from the charge of being hypocritical on the issue of democracy in the case of Pakistan. That she was persuasive enough was immediately borne out by Khurshid Kasuri’s intervention in which he said: “And I agree with Secretary Rice that when we discussed the issue, we looked forward to totally free and fair elections in 2007.”

Rice attends church in China, encourages 6-party talks (MICHAEL TACKETT, 3/20/05, Chicago Tribune)
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a public forum in Tokyo over the weekend that she is a "deeply religious person." In Beijing, she demonstrated how faith and strategy can converge.

Rice began her day in Seoul, where there were numerous morning worship options on the last Sunday before Easter. She attended Palm Sunday services at the Gangwashi Christian church in a nation she has criticized for its lack of religious freedoms.

Her attendance was rich in symbolism and it came as the United States and China are engaged in delicate negotiations over issues ranging from North Korea's nuclear program to human rights and China's growing military prowess.

Rice sat in the front row of the church - also once visited by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright - which was so crowded that many worshippers had to listen on loudspeakers outside. She listened to a translation of the service wearing headphones that she removed to sing hymns she knew by heart. In keeping with local custom, she was welcomed as "Sister Rice." In the guest book at the state-sanctioned church, she wrote, "Yours in Christ."

Can you tell a Realist has been replaced by a theocon?

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 23, 2005 1:27 PM

Is "quixotic" one antonym for "realistic"? There is a thin line somewhere between idealistic and quixotic. Don't get me wrong, I'm in agreement on the downside of realism and the value of idealism, and I raise my caveat as a general proposition ... not a criticism of Bush policy.

Posted by: ghostcat at March 23, 2005 2:44 PM

There's no line. Quijote was right.

Posted by: oj at March 23, 2005 3:46 PM

Pakistan has even less internal consistency than Iraq, less business being a single country. It's existence is due to the fact that the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent were unable and/or unwilling to live as equals with their Hindu neighbors preferring instead to attempt to re-establish the Moghul Ascendancy over them, in the absence of the Raj. Naturally, this didn't play well with the Hindu majority so the Muslims were forced into the Muslim majority areas of the subcontinent. But the various Muslim tribes of Pakistan share nothing except being Muslim. It's like taking Peruvians, Finns, Serbs and Filipinos and throwing them into the same country on the basis of them all being Christian and expecting the place to function without a hitch.

Posted by: bart at March 23, 2005 3:48 PM

oj -

He was also certifiable, and not all idealists are doing god's work.

Posted by: ghostcat at March 23, 2005 5:33 PM

It's like taking Peruvians, Finns, Serbs and Filipinos and throwing them into the same country on the basis of them all being Christian and expecting the place to function without a hitch.

Switch "Christian" to "Jewish," and that's a nice description of Israel, which is doing ok, I hear. Switch "Peruvians, Finns, Serbs and Filipinos" to "English, German, Dutch and Scandinavian" and you've got a good description of colonial America. Neither are a perfect comparison, but then neither is yours.

Posted by: Timothy at March 23, 2005 6:04 PM


No, you miss the point. He was the only one who wasn't certifiable.

Posted by: oj at March 23, 2005 6:06 PM

OJ -

There are those who interpret it that way, true enough. Just as there are those who see RPM as The Christ, rather than a heretic.

If a man hath only a hammer ...

Posted by: ghostcat at March 23, 2005 6:16 PM

The world only has one story.

Posted by: oj at March 23, 2005 6:41 PM

One helluva hammer, that. Why do I feel like a nail? Call me Brad.

Posted by: ghostcat at March 23, 2005 7:05 PM


Israel's inter-ethnic hostility is big news there and has been for four decades. Each new influx brings new issues that cause communities to be at loggerheads with each other.

The US made a conscious decision not to be tribal and tribal issues still matter in urban politics here.

Pakistanis have made no such commitment. The various sects and ethnic groups regularly butcher each other and use government as a hammer to whack other groups. The only thing uniting the place is a fanatic hatred of non-Muslims Christians and Hindus are regularly murdered there and the government makes no effort to find their killers.

Posted by: bart at March 24, 2005 10:26 AM