In Pervez Musharraf, the Bush administration has bet on a leader whose incompetence mirrors its own. Pakistan's hapless military dictator can't seem to do anything right: stop Taliban infiltration into Afghanistan, catch Osama bin Laden, settle the Kashmir dispute with India, or follow through on promised democratic and educational reforms. So why does the Bush administration treat him as if he's the only game in town?
Until recently, the White House's biggest fear was that its ally would be assassinated. That fear was well-founded -- Musharraf has survived at least four attempts on his life by jihadist groups. But more recently, it was the general who shot himself in the foot, and it's his political survival that's in question.
Lebanese-American scholar Fouad Ajami, who contributes to the Wall Street Journal opinion pages and consults with the Bush administration on Middle East affairs, originally became known for his dense essay collection The Dream Palace of the Arabs. In it, he harshly criticized his fellow Arabs for their predilection for failed ideologies like Arab nationalism and for unyielding, unrealistic stances regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. President Bush recently bestowed a National Humanities Medal on Ajami, who was a fervent advocate of the Iraq War.
THE MAIN EVENT. Today's meeting between President Bush and Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki in sunny, safe Amman is not likely to solve Iraq's problems. If the text of Stephen Hadley's leaked memo is any guide, the purpose is to confirm that al-Maliki is still our guy despite his inability to control the sectarian violence that is often perpetrated by factions within his governing coalition.
DID SYRIA DO IT? Never loath to leap to conclusions without evidence, the Wall Street Journal editorial page has already decided that Syria killed Pierre Gemayel, Jr. last week. The Journal is pushing back against the expectedBaker-Hamilton proposal of talks between the United States and Syria, which seem to meet with widespread approval everywhere but the Bush administration.
TRAGICALLY HIP. I'm afraid that this innovative ad campaign, which pokes fun at Lebanese sectarianism through billboards like "Parking for Maronites Only," is bound to be misunderstood. Maybe it's a little too close to Lebanon's reality for comfort?