President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan said yesterday that after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks the United States threatened to bomb his country if it did not cooperate with the American campaign against the Taliban in Afghanistan.I'm not sure what I think of this.
General Musharraf, in an interview with “60 Minutes” that will be broadcast Sunday on CBS, said the threat came from Richard L. Armitage, then the deputy secretary of state, and was made to General Musharraf’s intelligence director.
General Musharraf said the intelligence director had told him that Mr. Armitage had said: “ ‘Be prepared to be bombed. Be prepared to go back to the Stone Age.’ ”
General Musharraf added, “I think it was a very rude remark.”
Mr. Armitage was not immediately available to comment. A Bush administration official said there would be no comment on a “reported conversation between Mr. Armitage and a Pakistani official.”
Even assuming that Armitage issued this threat to Musharraf, I'm curious why Musharraf would disclose this now. Making this public disclosure will only inflame anti-American feelings within Pakistan.
Is this Musharraf's way to placate Muslim extremists by making them think his cooperation with America's "war on terror" was secured only reluctantly?
Musharraf may feel this disclosure will cast the Bush administration in a bad light, and he may be right if he's thinking of international opinion. But my guess is that most Americans are likely to view Bush a little more favorably after hearing of this alleged threat from someone in his administration.
This will probably reinforce the perception among many Americans that Bush may not be the smartest guy around, but he is a no-nonsense, unwavering leader -- the "you know where I stand" message.