For about 100 years, the British took it absolutely for granted that they had a God-given right to tell the American colonists how to conduct their own affairs.First, there was no "or else" that I recall reading about in the news. Yes, Bush urged Musharraf to hold elections, but there was no threat of attack or invasion as an alternative to elections. Even if Bush threatened the cessation of American aid to Pakistan, how does that compare to continued English tyranny of the American colonies?
Then, quite out of the blue - to the utter amazement of the British - the Americans started, quite literally, to shoot the British soldiers rather than continue accepting their orders. What had seemed perfectly normal before was suddenly transformed into an intolerable affront.
I was remembering this last week after reading about how President Bush had telephoned President Musharraf to tell him to hold an election... or else.
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A cosmic shift of something of the same order, I believe, is now happening between the West and the Islamic world. Rather as the very idea of an English monarch bossing the Americans around has become unthinkable, so has the very idea of an American president bullying the leaders of Islam. It has become part of a vanished world. Not yet in the mind of George Bush, for sure. But then George III, too, was a slow learner.
Second, Musharraf is hardly a "leader of Islam". He's the political-military leader of a nominally secular government.
Lastly, since when has the west ever treated a religion as an "equal"? The "west", as well as modern governments elsewhere, deal with the governments of nation-states, not with their religious leaders. OK, so world leaders occasionally meet with the Pope, or the Dalai Lama, or other such figureheads, but they're not treated as heads of state as a general rule.