Tuesday, August 31

God Bless Pakistan!

Sometime in my post-911 existence (whenever you hear the expression "post-9/11 reality" or "post-9/11 world," you know that a fool, or a crook, is speaking, so please taste the irony of my words here)... sometime early on in my post-9/11 existence, I had the desire to purchase, make, or somehow obtain a big bumper sticker (and perhaps a car on which to place it) proclaiming "God Bless Pakistan!"
I thought, too, that a bumper sticker placed next to it proclaiming "Mess with America, and we will kill you!" might add a little confusion to the irony. The irony I dreamt of was more than just a consequence of the fact that Pakistan is a massively Islamic nation (although Bush has co-opted Allah in public statements wherein he declares that everyone's deity is the same deity and so, in a sign of things to come, this smaller irony suffered an unexpected reversal before it could see the light of day). At the time (my early post-9/11 life), still suffering from a bit of pre-9/11 naivety, I thought that such a declaration, or blessing, or command, was the perfect antidote to all the mindless "God Bless America!" signs that seemed to be cropping up like rogue weeds across the nation. "Pak-i" (pure) "stan" (country) seemed like a good choice for reasons other than etymological. Although news from this year concerning the proliferation of nuclear technology to "axis of evil" nations by one of Pakistan's national heroes and Pervez Musharraf's limp efforts at assailing Al-Qaeda operatives within Pakistan do confirm my general image of Pakistan as existing outside the pale of international lawfulness and respectability (assuming such a pale exists somewhere), little did I realize at the time that the two countries appear, within the post-9/11 geopolitical horizon opened up by the Bush "war on terror," to be remarkably in step with one another and that, therefore, the ironic effect I hoped to achieve by means of a stealthy substitution was rendered void. Still, in light of this surprising allegiance to Musharraf's regime, is it not just a little unsettling when one thinks of how mutually self-serving the Bush Administration and Al-Qaeda have become? Without Al-Qaeda, where would the Republicans be today? And what in the world would they beat their chests over in their convention speeches? Health care? Prescription drugs for seniors? Can anyone even fathom such speeches today?

Returning to the folly of my bumper sticker idea, today, in my post-9/11 enlightenment, I see that the confusion was entirely mine insofar as I thought of Pakistan as exemplifying what American politicians alone give themselves the privilege to designate (when speaking of other nations, of course), namely, a "rogue state." One cannot fight a "war on terror" and be a rogue state at the same time (the Bush Administration constantly reminds us of this, almost to the point where its insistence appears compensatory or at the very least suspicious). Of course, the argument has been made that Pakistan is very much a rogue state, almost as much as the United States itself. Pakistan needs a token victory over this or that terrorist "cell" from time to time to maintain the lush influx of Washington millions, and the Bush administration needs a flash of victory against "Al-Qaeda" or at least an occasional declaration that such victories are being had somewhere in the world, to maintain good standing in the eyes of their ill-informed, terror-threat-dazed supporters. And we have seen the window-dressing, back-door deals that these two regimes have struck with one another for purely political purposes, as Pakistan, for instance, arrests a few characters for the sixth or seventh time in the span of a few years, and the news is hailed Stateside as a major breakthrough in the "war on terror."

To put a point to this whole hair-brained scheme of mine, if I were to show off such a bumper sticker today, rather than crinkle eyebrows in confusion, or ruffle the feathers on a few right wings, I might just find others nodding in go-get-'em approval with the sound of Bush's simplisms ringing righteously in their ears.

So much for the history of a once-hoped-for irony. Today, in my post-9/11 epiphany, I raise my arms with my fellow citizens and proclaim across the globe, in the United Nations, and in mosques and churches everywhere: God Bless Pakistan!