The assassination of Benazir Bhutto is a reminder of how quickly conditions can change for the worse when you’ve spent a decade wasting your resources in the pursuit of fantastic dreams based on telegrams from God.
Bhutto as Bush’s last-ditch effort to save the sinking Pakistani ship was never a great bet; now it’s gone entirely. Pakistan’s January elections, if held at all, will be meaningless, and the Musharraf dictatorship, which now lacks any semblance of fig leaf over its unlovely nether regions, will have to fall back on the support of the discredited army and intelligence apparatus, at least portions of which must loathe him. Nothing in the present scenario suggests that the comparisons with Iran circa 1979, much dismissed a month ago, are off the mark.
Meanwhile, the unexpected event blew the skirts of the U.S. presidential candidates up over their heads as well. Most of them showed signs of megalomaniac dementia in announcing that Bhutto’s death was really about them, a reflection of their core belief that the United States is the center of the known universe and that the republic’s heart in fact beats within their own hoary breasts.
Giuliani promptly scheduled more Twin Tower ads, proving the truth of Joe Biden’s mock that he couldn’t form a sentence about Bhutto or anything else without ‘9/11’ appearing as a particle. For his part, Biden at least threw down the gauntlet at Musharraf and suggested that security for Mrs Bhutto was lax, a hint at negligent collusion in her death.
But Biden couldn’t resist mentioning that he had told Perv as much personally twice—just so we see how awesomely plugged in he is.
McCain and Clinton said the event proved the need for ‘experienced’ pols at the helm, i.e. themselves, while the untutored Romney said there was plenty of good advice to be had at the State Department without actually citing any of it.
Obama sounded unconvincing and lost, declaring that ‘we’ve got a very big problem there.’ Thank you for sharing that, but I’d say the Pakistanis have rather a larger problem there.
After Biden, only Richardson showed any substantial grasp of the situation and addressed it rather than the mirror bearing his own likeness. He was the only Democrat to offer a policy shift and a bold one at that, saying that U.S. military aid should be suspended and Musharraf step down.
In response, Edwards echoed the Bushite line and sounded like the noon briefer at the State Department with some facile, holiday b.s. about letting Pakistan ‘continue on the path to democratization.’ Ho ho ho!
The United States, whether led by Bush, a Democrat or Balthazar of Smyrna, is likely to have damn little to say about what goes on in Pakistan for the foreseeable future. The war on Al-Qaeda was never popular there, but Bush went ahead and then pursued it in the worst possible way, half-heartedly, while his real passion was the conquest of Iraq. So now we have a fine mess and nothing much left in the policy arsenal to do about it. Musharraf, like the Shah of Iran in 1979, was the Americans’ default position because policymakers in Washington thought that anything that followed him could only be worse. So they dug their, and our, grave deeper and deeper. The results have been with us ever since.