What an adjective!
Etymology: Latin meretricius, from meretric-, meretrix prostitute, from merEre to earn — more at MERIT
1 : of or relating to a prostitute : having the nature of prostitution
2 a : tawdrily and falsely attractive b : superficially significant : PRETENTIOUS
Now read this Washington Post editorial.
The War in Pakistan: Shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush famously declared that other countries must choose between supporting the United States and supporting terrorism, and that those that harbored al Qaeda would be treated as the enemy. In the years since, he has refrained from applying that tough principle in practice — which is lucky for Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Ever since the war on terrorism began, this meretricious military ruler has tried to be counted as a U.S. ally while avoiding an all-out campaign against the Islamic extremists in his country, who almost surely include Osama bin Laden and his top deputies. Despite mounting costs in American lives and resources, he has gotten away with it.
Gen. Musharraf and his aides, such as Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, boast that Pakistan has arrested hundreds of al Qaeda militants and deployed tens of thousands of troops in the border region near Afghanistan. Yet Gen. Musharraf has never directed his forces against the Pashtun Taliban militants who use Pakistan as a base to wage war against American and Afghan forces across the border. He has never dismantled the Islamic extremist groups that carry out terrorist attacks against India. He has never cleaned up the Islamic madrassas that serve as a breeding ground for suicide bombers. He has pardoned and protected the greatest criminal proliferator of nuclear weapons technology in history, A.Q. Khan, who aided Libya, North Korea and Iran. And he has broken promises to give up his military office or return Pakistan to democracy…
In keeping with his double game, Gen. Musharraf’s government publicly criticized the latest attack even though his intelligence service reportedly cooperated with it. Now he and Mr. Aziz, who met with Mr. Bush yesterday, are saying U.S. forces should carry out no more such attacks without Pakistani agreement. We’ll assume that’s more of their bluster. Even if it is not, Mr. Bush should ignore it. Gen. Musharraf perhaps cannot be forced to side decisively with the United States against the terrorists, as the administration once hoped — though much more could be done to raise the price of his feckless cooperation. But Mr. Bush must take every available measure to eliminate the al Qaeda and Taliban operations in Pakistan. If targets can be located, they should be attacked — with or without Gen. Musharraf’s cooperation.