14 August 2008

Musharraf, like Bush, faces impeachment threat

Striking a blow for the preservation of constitutional democracy, lawmakers in Pakistan are clamoring to impeach their president, who they claim has deceived and divided his nation, failed to control the Taliban, and violated the constitution by consolidating power in the executive office.

Sound familiar?

The shaky government coalition that was elected four months ago would need at least half the members of either the upper or lower house of Parliament to pass an impeachment resolution against President Pervez Musharraf, a chief U.S. ally in the war on terror. Then, two-thirds of both houses of Parliament would have to vote to remove Musharraf from office on the basis of specific charges, none of which have been filed.

Musharaff, who was head of the army for eight years until he resigned at the end of 2007, may not be able to count on the unqualified support of the military. Musharraf’s successor as army chief of staff has pledged to keep the army out of politics, an apparent attempt to place the institutional interests of the army over those of the current president, reported The New York Times.

Ironically, the U.S. military and its defenders were among the first critics of the Bush administration’s war on terror, particularly the invasion of Iraq. Among their criticisms were that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s quick-strike invasion strategy was inadequate in size, the military mission was never consistent, there was no post-invasion occupation plan, there were competing jurisdictions (and sometimes even allegiances) between military forces and private contractors, and policies on enemy imprisonment and torture violated U.S. military and international standards and increased the likelihood that captured U.S. troops would suffer similar treatment. Underlying the differences was a festering resentment that professional politicians without the benefit of military experience were determining not just policy but military strategy and tactics as well.

The impeachment of the President and Vice President is more important to the long-term future of the United States than the presidential elections in November. Without impeachment and the clear message that the power of the presidency has constitutional limits, anyone who occupies the White House in January and thereafter will have a green light to continue this anti-democratic trend toward an imperial presidency.

In June, Rep. Dennis Kucinich presented 35 articles calling for the impeachment of Pres. Bush to the largely deaf ears of the governing coalition in the U.S. House. The majority of the articles, or specific charges, stemmed from the administration’s conduct in the war on terror, including creating a secret propaganda campaign to manufacture a false case for war against Iraq; falsely, systematically, and with criminal intent conflating the attacks of September 11, 2001, with the misrepresentation of Iraq as a security threat; misleading the American people and Congress to believe Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction to manufacture a false case for war; invading Iraq without a declaration of war; reckless waste of U.S. tax dollars in connection with Iraq and U.S. contractors; illegal detention of both U.S. citizens and foreign captives; and secretly authorizing the use of torture.