Fact-checking the debate (transcript available here).
For Pakistan and the controversy over McCain’s ridiculous assertion that Pakistan was a ‘failed state’ in 1999 when Musharraf made his coup, see my “McCain’s Holiday from History” from last February (the terms of the debate between McCain and Obama on these issues, interestingly hasn’t changed).
But one thing that has changed is that Pakistan made its transition from military to civilian rule, a transition McCain was not enthusiastic about– he supported military dictator Pervez Musharraf.
By the way, Nawaz Sharif, the former prime minister against whom Musharraf made the coup, is the leader of the major opposition party in parliament, the Muslim League. Isn’t McCain dissing Nawaz Sharif big time, equating his term as prime minister with Somalia? Moreover, Musharraf kept the current president of Pakistan, Asaf Ali Zardari, in prison for several years and threatened his wife, Benazir Bhutto, with a jail sentence as well, as a way of keeping civilian politicians out of power.
Given this ‘failed state’ allegation against the civilian politicians now in power in Pakistan, hasn’t McCain just screwed up any chance he had of a close working relationship with the new government?
I mean, it would be like saying that dictator Leonid Kuchma of the Ukraine was doing his best and had to act as he did in cracking down on dissent in the Ukraine because it was a failed state, and then saying you hope to have a good working relationship with dissident activist and now president Viktor Yushchenko today! (McCain probably would have adopted that stance if Kuchma had been a right-wing dictator instead of a Soviet holdover.
And, imagine, McCain accused Obama of poisoning relations with Pakistan by saying he’d take the shot at Bin Laden if we found him!