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Our kind of lizard

Josh Chafetz over at OxBlog explains why Pervez Musharraf's (probably) corrupt election victory wasn't such a bad thing:

And he's our Lizard, too. Sure, we're being hypocritical when we support a dictatorship anywhere. It is of such hypocrisies that international relations is made. And sure, we should support a return to a real democracy, with freely contested elections, as soon as possible. But right now, Central Asia is in crisis, and in times of crisis, even democracies have turned to temporary dictatorships. Ancient Greek and Roman republics had provisions allowing for the appointment of an absolute dictator during wartime, and even American presidents -- including Lincoln and FDR -- have assumed extraordinary powers during times of war. The ancient democracies understood that there was a crucial distinction between a dictatorship, which may sometimes be necessary temporarily to save the republic, and a tyranny, which is always antithetical to democracy. In modern times, we have found that stable democracies can dispense with dictatorships, even in times of crisis (although they may have to increase the power of the elected executive somewhat). But Pakistan has never been a stable democracy, and, in a time of crisis such as this, perhaps the best we can do is to make sure that its dictatorship does not degenerate into a tyranny. That is, we should make sure that Musharraf remains the best Lizard for the job, and we should seek to get lizards out of office entirely as soon as possible.
P.S. If you want to know about the lizards, you have to go to Josh's page.


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