Thursday, January 24, 2008

Mr. Musharraf in Davos


I usually try to emphasize that soft power is a function of branding: Make an appealing promise and then keep it.

That’s what makes it tough to keep a straight face when I see headlines like “Musharraf Trumpets Stability” in this morning’s Wall Street Journal. The Pakistani president has been traveling in Europe the past few days and the Journal interviewed him at the World Economic Forum.

... Mr. Musharraf dismissed recent turmoil in his country as “minor irritations.” He said he would work with any government produced by Pakistan’s coming elections, even if formed by his opponents.

“Please differentiate Pakistan from banana republics” where a lowly colonel can take over the state. “These things don’t happen in Pakistan,” he said. “Pakistan is a nuclear state.”

The 64-year-old former army general, who came to power in a military coup in 1999 and was subsequently elected, ...

It just gets more surreal from there:

... rejected recent speculation that the U.S. could send special forces into Pakistan in search of Taliban and al Qaeda leaders such as Osama bin Laden.

Mr. Musharraf described the U.S.-Pakistan relationship as strategic and said the idea that a few U.S. forces could succeed better in Pakistan’s mountains better than 100,000 Pakistani troops was “sadly mistaken.”

“The real battle is not in Pakistan,” but in Afghanistan, Mr. Musharraf said.

Musharraf continues redefining reality for a dozen or so more paragraphs. Don’t have a URL, but all you really need to know is that the Journal’s reporters gave Musharraf more than enough rope to hang himself, brand-wise, and the Pakistani president happily put his head into the noose.

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