In a little noticed remark on Fox News last week, President George W. Bush's former ambassador to the UN remarked that the US should have kept Pakistan's dictator in power and derided those who "think democracy is always the answer."
John Bolton, whose nomination was so controversial Bush tapped him during a Senate recess and then declined to resubmit him after his recess appointment expired, made the comments on Fox News Thursday. The discussion was highlighted Saturday by ThinkProgress, a liberal blog.
"[D]emocracy and civilian governments in Pakistan have been so discredited because of incompetence and corruption," Bolton said. "I thought the Musharraf government, military, authoritarian rule that it was, was the most likely kind of government to be able to make the changes we made. [...] I would have kept Musharraf in power. I think the Bush administration made a mistake in pushing him out. In Pakistan they call the military the “steel skeleton” because it really is the only thing that holds the country together. That offends some people who think democracy is always the answer. Personally, I would put American interests above that. I wouldn’t have gotten rid of Musharraf."
Noted ThinkProgress' Ben Armbuster: "So it seems that Bolton has officially taken himself out of the democracy promotion crowd. But his prescription for stability in Pakistan appears to be at odds with what he himself said in 2007, that the military regime that governed the country at the time was untrustworthy and “filled with fundamentalists.'"
“If the military comes unstuck, if it divides, then the technical fixes won’t protect those weapons,” Bolton was quoted as saying. “Even the military is filled with Islamic fundamentalists that he’s tried to keep in lower positions.”
Bolton has been known to be quotable. When Democrats contested his UN nomination, they cited a remark he once made in which he said, "“There's no such thing as the United Nations. If the U.N. secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference.”