Monday, October 2, 2006

'Daily Show' interview couples intelligent discourse with comedy

Jon Stewart’s interview with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf on “The Daily Show” Sept. 26 was complete with its fair share of comic moments. Stewart’s serving Musharraf jasmine tea and Twinkies particularly stands out. Amid the jovial banter, however, were a few interesting comments that shed some light on the motivations behind the actions of heads of state.

When Stewart asked Musharraf why he cooperated with the United States in its invasion of Afghanistan, Musharraf replied that he knew the United States would pursue Osama bin Laden whether Pakistan assisted in the effort or not. In this case, it was rational to side with the United States, because the only way to Afghanistan is through Pakistan. Musharraf also discussed the treaty he signed with pro-Taliban tribal leaders near the Pakistani border, promising the withdrawal of military forces in exchange for the termination of militant terrorist activity.

These two statements demonstrate the pursuit of national interest and the importance of geopolitics in making policy decisions. In cooperating with the United States, Musharraf recognized the geopolitical realities, namely that the United States would need to go through Pakistan and had the ability to do so. In light of this, he clearly made a rational decision for his country. Similarly, in cooperating with pro-Taliban forces, he is recognizing that establishing security is a requirement that must be fulfilled, even if the pursuit of security does not allow ideological considerations to be tantamount.

This exemplifies that instead of rhapsodizing about how leaders should behave, the more intelligent course of action would be to recognize how and why they do behave the way they do.

Lydia Pfaff
*DI* columnist

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