Wednesday, August 22, 2007

a modern prince

The Times interviewed General Musharraf. The propaganda element of this article, from the decision to commission an interview with this unelected leader and not others, is no doubt to show the General somewhat domesticated; if not justified at least putting his side of the story. The idea of dialogue can be connected with the General. An intimacy of sorts is established.

There's also the ludicrous sub-editing:

"Hard man in a rocky place"

"He’s the West’s night watchman — an Islamic leader holding the flanks in the front line of the war against terror. His country harbours Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. But is Pakistan’s President Musharraf doing enough — or is he fomenting civil war?"

(as if the perfect nightwatchman was a fantasist:)

"The exchange illustrated one of the problems Musharraf’s critics have consistently complained of: that when the truth is inconvenient, he simply tends to ignore it, crossing the frontier from fact into fiction as nonchalantly as he once ordered his troops to cross the border from Pakistan into India at Kargil. This is very evident in his memoir. As a reviewer in The Wall Street Journal noted, “believe little of what you read… Though there’s much the book doesn’t tell us, it does offer invaluable (and frequently hilarious) insights into the levels of delusion a man may reach when he is accountable to no one, elected by no one and trusted by no one”.

If Musharraf’s book was accused of having an inventive approach to the facts, it was also widely said to be, as The Economist put it, both “boringly boastful” and “bafflingly rude” about the leaders of other countries. The first time that the general showed either of these tendencies during our conversation was when I asked him what he felt when the world’s press published photographs of Dick Cheney lecturing him during a recent visit to Pakistan. At this, the general showed a brief flash of his famous amour-propre. “Dick Cheney never wagged his finger at me,” he said, in direct contradiction of pictures beamed across the world. “People may say that, but in fact… Dick is rather a quiet man. A great listener. I talked 90% of the time.” There was an irritable pause. Then the general added: “Everyone thinks we had a dressing-down. It’s not true.” Another pause, then: “At official levels there is total understanding between the US and Pakistan. We’re together in the same coalition. There can be differences, but…” He left the sentence unfinished."

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