Thursday, December 27, 2007

Consequences Become Glaringly Apparent: The Assissination of Benazir Bhutto

Shocking, they call it. They're all saying they're shocked and outraged and saddened.

But this is no shock. She knew she was a target, everyone knew she was a target.

In October, massive blasts killed over 130 people in a failed assassination attempt. People have wanted Benazir Bhutto dead since the moment she returned to Pakistan from exile.

From the NYT:

...Ms. Bhutto blamed extremist Islamic groups who she said wanted to take over the country for that attack, which narrowly missed her but killed 134 people. But she also complained that the government had taken insufficient steps to safeguard her parade.

The government has maintained that she ignored its warnings against such public gatherings and that holding them placed herself and her followers in unnecessary danger.

The assassination comes just days after Mr. Musharraf lifted a state of emergency in the country, which he had used to suspend the Constitution and arrest thousands of political opponents, and which he said he had imposed in part because of terrorist threats by extremists in Pakistan.

With frustration in Washington growing over Mr. Musharraf’s shortcomings, and his delays in returning the country to civilian rule, Ms. Bhutto had become an appealing solution for the country. She was openly critical of Mr. Musharraf’s ineffectiveness at dealing with Islamic militants and welcomed American involvement.

Bush administration officials began working behind the scenes over the summer to help Ms. Bhutto and Mr. Musharraf create a power-sharing deal to orchestrate a transition to democracy that would leave Mr. Musharraf in the presidency, while not making a mockery of President Bush’s attempts to push democracy in the Muslim world.

Interesting. I think most people would agree that President Bush's attempts to push democracy in the Muslim world have already been a mockery.

It is peculiar, given the suspicions that will arise as a result of the assassination, that Condoleezza Rice and President Bush pegged so much of their policy toward Pakistan on the ability to forge a reconciliation government in which power was shared between Bhutto and Musharraf. After the first assassination attempt on Bhutto, Musharraf's decision to declare emergency rule, Bhutto's public concerns over Musharraf's desire to provide her security, did the Bush administration not think it was necessary to intervene more aggressively on Bhutto's behalf? Did the Bush administration not consider Musharraf's lukewarm attempts to protect Bhutto, let alone include her in government, to represent an intentional resistance to US policy on Pakistan? (The same Pakistani policy that Bush badly needed so that his foreign policy would not be made into a mockery.)

Maybe this particular embarrassment wouldn't have come to pass had our President focused his War on Terror on Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden. His refusal to pursue bin Laden and to completely stabilize the democracy in Afghanistan is a primary reason for the political instability in Pakistan, now that the Taliban has regrouped and is starting to regain control of the tribal areas on the Pakistani-Afghani border.

Instead, we sent all of our military and diplomatic resources somewhere else.

We invaded Iraq.

...while not making a mockery of President Bush’s attempts to push democracy in the Muslim world.


Now, the tenuous stability in Pakistan has been completely undermined.

Juan Cole:

The Pakistani authorities are blaming Muslim militants for the assassination. That is possible, but everyone in Pakistan remembers that it was the military intelligence, or Inter-Services Intelligence, that promoted Muslim militancy in the two decades before September 11 as a wedge against India in Afghanistan and Kashmir. The Pakistan People's Party (PPP) faithful will almost certainly blame Pervez Musharraf, and sentiment here is more important than reality, whatever the reality may be.

There are now reports of riots in various cities throughout Pakistan.

President Bush is on his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

The first name that crossed my mind when I heard about Ms. Bhutto's assassination was Franz Ferdinand. Remember when the biggest story was a blow job? I miss that.


Ashley said...

Damn. I said the Ferdinand thing this morning, as well.

Hopefully, great minds that think alike are way wrong this time.

E said...

my friend A.W. said it too.

bad day. this is bad.

jeffrey said...

I think we all said it.

Also.... something about the curse, "May you live in interesting times" comes to mind.

Leigh C. said...

Assissination? As in St Francis of Assissi?