I think this is the first time in history that Leftists, Liberals and “Progressives” have idolized a woman who was pro-life.
Via James Taranto in WSJ’s Opinion Journal Best of the Web:
On Friday we noted that the National Organization for Women had responded to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto by ignoring it completely. But it’s not that NOW doesn’t remember the dead. A reader calls our attention to a statement on the organizations Web site titled “NOW Mourns Loss of Feminist Leader Judith Meuli.” We hadn’t heard of her, but it turns out she created “a line of feminist jewelry” and also donated a bundle to NOW:
Judith Meuli, 69, died at her home in California after a long battle against cancer. Meuli, a woman of many talents, edited the National NOW publication “Do it NOW” for many years with her partner Toni Carabillo (who died in 1997), was president of Los Angeles NOW, created with Carabillo a line of feminist jewelry that raised money for NOW and the Equal Rights Amendment campaign, and co-authored with Carabillo and June Bundy Csida “The Feminist Chronicles,” a detailed history of the modern women’s movement.
Several readers also called our attention to a LifeNews.com remembrance of Bhutto:
Bhutto was a member of an international pro-life women’s movement that understood abortion causes medical, mental health and other problems for women.
When Bhutto was the prime minister of Pakistan, she helped lead a delegation to the 1994 Cairo population conference that confronted abortion advocates looking to make abortion an international right.
“I dream . . . of a world where we can commit our social resources to the development of human life and not to its destruction,” she told the United Nations panel at the time.
No wonder NOW isn’t interested in Bhutto. A real feminist is one who is interested in feminine things like jewelry and abortion.
I have read a lot of leftists praising this woman as some sort of saint and martyr for human rights and freedom and democracy, when she was anything but. Considering these leftists are completely ignorant about the corrupt, power-hungry, Taliban-supporting past of this woman, I bet they are also ignorant that she was a pro-life, anti-abortion activist as well. heh
My first two posts on this can be found here:
Thankfully, the more I travel around the blogs today, the more I see people stop heaping adulatory praise upon this woman, treating her as some sort of martyr or saint, and start analyzing this situation properly. This has included mentioning her corrupt, pro-Taliban past as Prime Minister of Pakistan, when she supported the Taliban’s rise to power in neighboring Afghanistan.
Here are some of the analyses I have read today:
December 28, 2007 — FOR the next several days, you’re going to read and hear a great deal of pious nonsense in the wake of the assassination of Pakistan’s former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto.
Her country’s better off without her. She may serve Pakistan better after her death than she did in life.
We need have no sympathy with her Islamist assassin and the extremists behind him to recognize that Bhutto was corrupt, divisive, dishonest and utterly devoid of genuine concern for her country.
She was a splendid con, persuading otherwise cynical Western politicians and “hardheaded” journalists that she was not only a brave woman crusading in the Islamic wilderness, but also a thoroughbred democrat.
In fact, Bhutto was a frivolously wealthy feudal landlord amid bleak poverty. The scion of a thieving political dynasty, she was always more concerned with power than with the wellbeing of the average Pakistani. Her program remained one of old-school patronage, not increased productivity or social decency.
Educated in expensive Western schools, she permitted Pakistan’s feeble education system to rot – opening the door to Islamists and their religious schools.
During her years as prime minister, Pakistan went backward, not forward. Her husband looted shamelessly and ended up fleeing the country, pursued by the courts. The Islamist threat – which she artfully played both ways – spread like cancer.
[ … ]
Military regimes are never appealing to Western sensibilities. Yet, there are desperate hours when they provide the only, slim hope for a country nearing collapse. Democracy is certainly preferable – but, unfortunately, it’s not always immediately possible. Like spoiled children, we have to have it now – and damn the consequences.
In Pakistan, the military has its own forms of graft; nonetheless, it remains the least corrupt institution in the country and the only force holding an unnatural state together. In Pakistan back in the ’90s, the only people I met who cared a whit about the common man were military officers.
Americans don’t like to hear that. But it’s the truth.
Bhutto embodied the flaws in Pakistan’s political system, not its potential salvation. Both she and her principal rival, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, failed to offer a practical vision for the future – their political feuds were simply about who would divvy up the spoils.
[ … ]
As a victim of fanaticism, Bhutto may shine as a rallying symbol with a far purer light than she cast while alive. The bitter joke is that, while she was never serious about freedom, women’s rights and fighting terrorism, the terrorists took her rhetoric seriously – and killed her for her words, not her actions.
Nothing’s going to make Pakistan’s political crisis disappear – this crisis may be permanent, subject only to intermittent amelioration. (Our State Department’s policy toward Islamabad amounts to a pocket full of platitudes, nostalgia for the 20th century and a liberal version of the white man’s burden mindset.)
The one slim hope is that this savage murder will – in the long term – clarify their lot for Pakistan’s citizens. The old ways, the old personalities and old parties have failed them catastrophically. The country needs new leaders – who don’t think an election victory entitles them to grab what little remains of the national patrimony.
In killing Bhutto, the Islamists over-reached (possibly aided by rogue elements in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, one of the murkiest outfits on this earth). Just as al Qaeda in Iraq overplayed its hand and alienated that country’s Sunni Arabs, this assassination may disillusion Pakistanis who lent half an ear to Islamist rhetoric.
A creature of insatiable ambition, Bhutto will now become a martyr. In death, she may pay back some of the enormous debt she owes her country.
The problem of Pakistan is the problem with Iran, but seen from different ends. Pakistan has the bomb and lots of radicals, but the radicals aren’t in power and therefore don’t have the bomb. Iran has the radicals and they’re in power, but because Iran doesn’t have the bomb (yet), the radicals don’t have the bomb. Pakistan has the bomb thanks in part to an inattentive Clinton administration that believed Benazir Bhutto’s lies about her country’s peaceful nuclear program. Given that nugget, I’ll take saber rattling at Iran over credulous inattention in Pakistan, the latter of which would go on to proliferate nuclear technology via the AQ Khan network.
Approaching Pakistan from a position of humility is definitely in order at this point. It’s nearly impossible to predict which way the country will go from here, but most of its choices don’t look good. Andrew McCarthy sees and very hostile populace in Pakistan and concludes that our war is with them and not the leadership, and he’s right as far as it goes: We’re not popular in Pakistan, and our enemy Osama bin Laden is. Sunny optimist Max Boot says we’re not popular because we support Musharraf, and that’s partly true I suppose, but surely the fact that a majority thinks highly of bin Laden says something too? Osama isn’t a liberal democrat in any sense, yet he’s popular, and we’ve allied ourselves with Musharraf, also not much of a democrat though arguably tolerably liberal, and he’s not popular. Could it be that he’s not popular precisely because Pakistan does have a seething population that wants unshirted sharia and wants to wage unfettered jihad? Could it be that what people believe actually matters to how they behave and what they want from life?
Both McCarthy and Boot are in a sense right, they’re just looking at things from different points of view. The Pakistani street isn’t our friend right now. But, ultimately, freedom may be the thing that makes them our friend. But how do we get from here to there without unleashing a democratic nuclear-armed Pakistan with a government that looks an awful lot like the one in Tehran in the interim?
As I said earlier, humility is in order, but I have an idea. [ … ]
In our rush to claim progress in the War on Terror, we sometimes forget that the enemy has the entire globe as a potential target and can strike at any time. The Bhutto assassination is a brutal reminder that this is a shooting war and that al-Qaeda is now firmly ensconced in nuclear armed Pakistan:
Today’s assassination in Pakistan of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto should be a stark reminder that terrorists are engaged in a very real war against modern civilized society. Bhutto had her own ethically questionable background; but her current public political posture was pro-Western, democratic, peaceful and against the radical Islamic terrorists who may have been responsible for her death. While the investigation must go forward, initial speculation is pointing to those radical Islamic terrorist elements operating in Pakistan, perhaps even al-Qaeda.
What happens over the next several days will be a crucial test for the Pakistani people and government. It may also indicate if this attack is part of a larger jihadist plan of action within Pakistan. Given Pakistan’s supposed critical status as an ally of the US in counter-terrorism efforts, and Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, what happens inside Pakistan over the coming days and weeks should be of grave concern to America and the West.
Already, hundreds of thousands are in the streets. Many believe the government of President Pervez Musharraf is responsible for Bhutto’s death. There may be more truth to that statement than even Musharraf is likely to admit. His failure to confront extremists over the last few years has now emboldened them where they may actually be ready to make a push for power – an absolutely intolerable turn of events from the point of view of the United States and the west. Among the Presidential candidates who all commented on the crisis, it appears to me that only Fred Thompson really gets it:
FRED THOMPSON: It is a tragedy, of course. It reminds us that things can happen in faraway places of the world that can affect the United States. I think this should be of great concern to us. It is almost a perfect storm in a very bad sense because two forces are operating against each other that are both desirable. One is democracy: they were making progress in that regard in that country. Former prime minister Bhutto was an important part of that process. But the other is stability. Pakistan is a nuclear country, and we cannot afford to let nukes fall into the hands of dangerous Muslim radicals. We are hoping those two things can be balanced out. We can see the continued progress toward a democratic society but also maintain stability in the country, which seems to be very much in doubt right now.
FAULKNER: I know you are running for the White House, so I don’t want to put you in a position to second guess the president. But I’m interested in your opinion. President Bush is due to talk with Pervez Musharraf shortly. What do you anticipate that conversation should be like?
THOMPSON: Those two things that I mention probably would be high on the agenda. What could be done to not impose martial law, to not crack down, but be mindful of the fact that there are radical elements in that country, and perhaps even within the government, that would like to see instability and chaos and see those weapons fall into the wrong hands. This is part of a bigger problem. We need to understand that this is not a criminal investigation any more – so we find the bad guys and bring them to justice – it’s a war. This proves again the mindset of the radical elements that we are dealing with. We are seeing this all across Northern Africa and various places. We’re seeing it across the Middle East and in parts of Asia including Indonesia and other places. We have to come to terms with that and do the things necessary to prevail. One of the things we need to be talking about is what Musharraf can do, additionally, to crack down on the Taliban. I think they have been insufficient in that respect.
Thompson’s statement that this is not a cops and robbers situation but rather a shooting war is spot on. And his acknowledgement that this is a world wide problem is also correct.
The question then becomes at what point does Pakistan lose its status as ally and become an enemy?
This piece by McClatchey special correspondent Saeed Shah is what makes journalism “the first draft of history:”
Bhutto turned to her deputy, Amin Fahim, and said she wanted to wave, Fahim recounted. The sunroof was opened and she stood up.
Three to five shots were fired at her, witnesses said. She was hit in the neck and slumped back in the vehicle. Blood poured from her head, and she never regained consciousness.
Moments after the shooting, there was a huge explosion to the left of the vehicle. Witnesses said that Bhutto’s bodyguards pounced on the assassin, who then blew himself up, shredding those around him. Ambulance crews collected pieces of flesh from the scene. The road turned red with pools of blood.
I was standing near the rally stage, about 30 to 40 yards away from the scene of the shooting. There was pandemonium. On hearing the shots, I started running toward the scene. Then came the explosion. I ran back a bit. I didn’t see the killer, and by the time I got to the gates, Bhutto’s SUV was driving to a Rawalpindi hospital. She didn’t have a chance.
After the US liberation of Afghanistan in 2001, the Taliban and its al Qaeda affiliates emulated the Viet Cong in the 60’s, and based their operations in the security of a neighboring country. In this instance, Pakistan assumed the role that Cambodia once served, as a sovereign haven from attack. Their ability to relocate into Pakistan and turn a perceived defeat in Afghanistan into an advantage so quickly suggests to some, including me, that al Qaeda had already planned this in response to the reprisals sure to come after the 9/11 attacks. Such a strategy plays against the predictable American reluctance to expand a war.
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf played along. Normally teetering on the edge of political irrelevancy, he had to placate a powerful jihad-centric group within his own government. This opposition force along with a shadow government of Islamic militant sympathizers within his security services and military, led him to make a settlement with these Islamic extremists in 2006 allowing the Taliban and al Qaeda to strengthen their support base and forces.
Such were the conditions that made the war in Afghanistan appear interminable. Although those forces were not a serious threat of retaking the country by military might, the endless nature of the mission posed the real threat of bringing capitulation in the countries that have seemed a bit squeamish about it since becoming involved: Britain, Germany, Canada and sundry other coalition partners. Of course, I don’t mean to give offense, but those countries do have a substantial population opposed to their involvement in Afghanistan. I exclude Australia from that list, as most of the commentary I have seen from there is far more supportive of combating these terrorist groups.
But supported at home or not, these coalition forces have held back the Taliban and al Qaeda for many years now. We have been victorious, but only keeping the wolves at bay, not hunting them down in their lairs, as would be necessary for final victory. This year in particular saw wave after wave of Taliban forces throw themselves uselessly into coalition fires.
Throughout 2007, our media has been set on a narrative of a resurgent Taliban threatening the burgeoning, democratic Afghan government. But, the real story here is that American leadership by President Bush has stiffened the resolve of the coalition to keep the wolves at bay. It is hard to imagine, given the internal political sniping over Afghanistan in those coalition countries, that their support to this mission would have lasted long without the President leading the way.
And near the end of this year comes a hint that the war in Afghanistan is on a trajectory toward the total defeat of these terrorists. While the American media was focused on the politically charged arrest of a few oppositionists in Pakistan, they completely missed the big picture. The War on Terror has finally come to Pakistan.
The assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto means that the nuclear-armed Islamic Republic of Pakistan is now a battleground just as important as those in Iraq and Afghanistan in the global war against the radical Islamists.
The Battle of Pakistan is now well underway.
Just a few days prior to Bhutto’s murder, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates warned that Al-Qaeda has “turned its face” from Iraq toward Pakistan. Now we have the bloody event that confirms that the forces of radical Islamism are opening a Pakistan front like never before. And this attack is their greatest victory to date.
Critics of recent American foreign policy (most notably, the 2003 invasion and liberation of Iraq from fascist dictatorship) will inevitably use these new events in Pakistan as an excuse to accuse the U.S. of “taking its eye off the ball”-supposedly engaging in the unnecessary “distraction” of the Iraq War, while losing focus on the “real War on Terror” in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
But these critics will reveal their lack of proper perspective on the global nature of this sweeping struggle.
Neoconservative Norman Podhoretz has written in World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism that the current war is best seen as a worldwide struggle against “Islamofascism,” a militant ideological movement that seeks to destroy modern civilization, returning to a seventh century version of fundamentalist Islam.
Those who see the Iraq and Pakistan/Afghanistan theaters of battle as divergent options in a zero-sum game will have missed the lesson of previous existential struggles between the free world and totalitarianism from World War II to the Cold War. While the enemies of freedom may be dealt serious blows in one or more theaters of battle, they can and will open new war fronts until they are ultimately defeated.
Indeed, the forces of radical Islamism appear to be quite desperate to open a new front. [ … ]
GatewayPundit has some of the best coverage, pictures and video:
Excellent analysis here: Danger Room: Who Killed Benazir?
This is one example of why no one should go to the mass media for info, historical context or analysis of serious worldwide situations. No matter what it is, they will always, always find a way to blame President Bush, further dividing and dumbing down this country and feeding into the BDS of many, many ignorant Americans: Newsbusters.org: Mika Finds ‘Friend’ to Blame Bush for Bhutto
BRZEZINSKI: I agree with you Joe. I actually hear the same thing among my circles that I’ve been talking to about the story. Having said that though, the one thing that does come to my mind, when you look at this campaign, and you look at all the different choices out there, and all the different visions in terms of what our place should be in the world, I just wonder if some voters will look back at post-9/11, and — [NB: it is here that Mika, on the brink of expressing her own partisan opinion, deploys the Brzezinksi Variation of the Some-Say Gambit] I have a friend who made a decision right after 9-11, holding her baby, in the polling booth, and she decided to vote for George W. Bush because she thought she would, quote, be safer. She now regrets that decision because she doesn’t feel like America is safer and she feels like this President has brought us down a path which is leading us to this very moment right here, which is massive destabilization in Pakistan.
Let’s consider for a moment Mika’s questionable time-line. Her friend made a decision “right after 9-11” to vote for George Bush “in the polling booth”? You mean, in November 2004, more than three years after 9-11?
Be that as it may, Joe rose to the occasion, marshalling facts and passion to respond to Mika in the most impressive display I’ve seen him make during his tenure as show host.
SCARBOROUGH: You can’t blame George W. Bush for what happened yesterday! Pakistan was destabilized in 1997 when they gained nuclear weapons; they had a military coup in 1999 [NB: both events occuring during the Clinton admin]. I mean this country has been unstable for years. But you know what’s so ironic about your friend that was holding that baby voting for George W. Bush? That friend right now is able to wring her hands. She’s able to be concerned about America’s foreign policy, and whether they like us at the United Nations and whether they like us in France, and whether they respect us in Turkey right now because there has been seven years without an attack on American soil.
Good on Joe.
If the multiple eyewitnesses were correct and Bhutto was back down inside the armored vehicle before the suicide bomber detonated his explosives, then there is little possibility that she was killed by shrapnel. There is also little reason to suspect that the seven doctors who examined her in the IBNlive.com article would lie about there being no signs of a bullet wound.
So what killed Benizer Bhutto? What could cause blunt-force trauma severe enough to kill the former Prime Minister, and occur before the bomb detonated, at which point multiple witnesses state she was already back inside the armored vehicle?
While merely speculating, I think that when shots were fired (they missed), her security detail pulled her back inside the vehicle quickly, and she probably hit the back of her head on the sunroof edge as she was pulled in.
That would seem to account for the lack of wounds other than blunt force trauma, though it would be very hard to prove without an autopsy that was never performed.
The assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto reminds us starkly of an unanswered question most of us would prefer to forget: how secure are Pakistan’s nuclear weapons? Could Al Qaeda or another terrorist group acquire a warhead or enough radioactive material to create a dirty bomb?
Over the years I have had the opportunity to discuss the loose nukes issue with Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf on three separate occasions. On each he insisted that there is no possibility that corrupt custodians or terrorists could steal the country’s nuclear weapons and materials. But in the third of these conversations, which occurred in December 2003, just a week after terrorists came within a second and a half of blowing him up, I managed to penetrate his standard defense. How plausible is it, I asked, that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is more secure than the president of the country himself? His answer: well, there you may have a point.
A witch’s brew that includes political instability, a burgeoning Islamic insurgency, a demoralized army and an intensely anti-American population, puts Pakistan’s nuclear weapons at risk. Washington and Islamabad have offered soothing reassurances, suggesting that some technical and procedural safeguard like a “kill switch” separates the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons from the stability of the state. As recently as November, Musharraf told reporters that Pakistan’s custodial arrangements for nuclear weapons and material are “the best in the world” and that so long as he is in power “Pakistan’s nuclear weapons will be safe.”
[ … ]
Third, potential disaffection in the army increases the odds that mini-Khans might emerge. According to Musharraf, after 9/11 the United States gave Pakistan a choice between signing up as an American ally in the war on terror or “being bombed back into the stone age.” He chose alliance. Since joining the U.S. war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, Pakistan has received about a billion dollars a year of mostly military assistance. With mounting setbacks, including the reconstitution of Al Qaeda headquarters and training camps in the country’s borders with Afghanistan, frustration over fighting “America’s war” is mounting among Pakistan’s national security establishment. And as the United States and others press the cause of democracy in ways that diminish the traditional role of the army, Pakistani officers’ ambivalence about the United States may increase. An International Republican Institute poll earlier this month found that one out of two Pakistanis believe the army should have no role in civilian government. Bhutto’s assassination may further erode the prestige and credibility of the army and security services.
Finally, the larger society has a decidedly negative view of the United States. In a 2007 Pew poll, two out of three Pakistanis named the United States as the greatest threat to their country.
From this cauldron of combustibles there is no ready exit. It would be a grave mistake, however, to take comfort from the serene assurances of officials in governments, here and there, about everything being under reasonable control.
Scott Ott of Scrappleface, the satirical website, decided to write a serious article on this issue, as he understood this was no laughing matter: Scott Ott: Bhutto Killing Puts EuroLeaders On Notice: Time to Choose
The assassination of Benazir Bhutto has put on notice the leaders of every European nation.
Your secularism, your democracy will not stand. The growing Muslim populations in your own lands that you have done so much to tolerate, protect and celebrate, will soon rise up against you. Sharia law shall become your law. The Caliph shall rule you.
It remains only for you to choose submission or assassination.
[ … ]
Cling, if you will, to your professors who drone on about the legitimate grievances of oppressed peoples who wish only to be left alone. Your cartridge clicks into the chamber.
Sing yourself to sleep each night with an ode to peaceful co-existence. The crosshairs find your throat.
Cup your hands over your ears to muffle the unthinkable warnings. The finger squeezes the trigger.
As you mount the rostrum to decry the slaying and call for calm in Pakistan, do you wonder whether your security detail could stop him?
As you send your condolences to the grieving widower, the shattered supporters and the tottering Pakistani president, himself a target of previous assassination attempts, do you have a strategy for negotiating with those who embrace murderous martyrdom?
Which will you choose — submission or assassination?
Take your time deciding, but know this: The bullet hurtles onward.
Unfortunately, Scott Ott could probably write plenty of satire about the (lack of) seriousness and intelligence of the Presidential Candidates regarding this matter. While I have read much insightful, intelligent analyses of this situation from many ordinary American citizen bloggers as well as history experts such as Mark Steyn, Andy McCarthy and Victor Davis Hanson, I have read nothing but ignorant nonsense coming from most of our Presidential candidates. Here is a sample of the bloggers reporting the nonsense coming from our elected “leaders”.
First, there is Republican Mike Huckabee, who continues to show his absolute ignorance on foreign policy, which, in an educated American electorate, should completely disqualify him from the Presidency:
On Thursday night he told reporters in Orlando, Fla.: “We ought to have an immediate, very clear monitoring of our borders and particularly to make sure if there’s any unusual activity of Pakistanis coming into the country.”
On Friday, in Pella, Iowa, he expanded on those remarks.
“When I say single them out I am making the observation that we have more Pakistani illegals coming across our border than all other nationalities except those immediately south of the border,” he told reporters in Pella. “And in light of what is happening in Pakistan it ought to give us pause as to why are so many illegals coming across these borders.”
True? Why, no. According to DHS by way of the NYT, more come from several far eastern countries. When pressed, Huck claimed that 660 Pakistanis crossed the border last year, a figure his campaign said came from a newspaper report. The only thing I can find on Google is this old Denver Post article, which gives the same number but specifies that that was the total from 2002 to 2005. In fact, per the CNN piece, DHS nabbed 721 Pakistanis just last year. But as of 2005, Pakistan didn’t even rank among the top 10 nations of origin.
[ … ]
Your quote of the day, from CNN’s senior political analyst no less, dismissing the suggestion that Huck’s string of Pakistan gaffes might hurt him: “Mike Huckabee is a populist. His comments on Pakistan reflect a populist understanding of the crisis, which, is to say, not much.” [ … ]
As if that was not bad enough, the Democrat candidates are fighting over how to use the death of Benazir Bhutto to their political advantage. Nice. First, we have Hillary Clinton blatantly lying about her supposedly close relationship with Benazir Bhutto (on which, of course, the mass media did not call her out as a liar):
Hillary spoke of her very, very close relationship with Benazir Bhutto yesterday after Bhutto’s assassination while campaigning in Denison, Iowa:
“I also want to start on a very serious note if I could with the assassination of Benazir Bhutto today. The world once again is reminded of the dangers facing those who seek democracy and free elections in Pakistan and elsewhere in areas that are rife with conflict and violence and extremism and anti-democratic forces.
I have known Benazir Bhutto for a dozen years and I knew her as a leader. I knew her as someone who’s willing to take risks, to pursue democracy on behalf of the people of Pakistan.
She wrote a very moving autobiography which begins with the assassination of her father who had been the leader of Pakistan and was killed as well. I grieve for her family particularly her two children.”
The full amusing video is HERE.
That’s it. An official luncheon and a little “private conversation” afterwards.
But it’s not quite the stuff of “I came to know Mrs. Bhutto over many years, during her tenures as Prime Minister and during her years in exile.”
Of course the Hillary camp has quickly rushed out a photograph of their (one and only) historic meeting.
Still, now that Ms. Bhutto is dead Hillary will have no one to contradict her self-serving fantasies.
And then we have Barack Obama, Mr. Foreign Policy expert himself, called out on his naivety by Bryan Preston of HotAir:
“Those who made the judgment that we ought to divert our attention from Afghanistan to invade Iraq and allow al-Qaeda to reconstitute and strengthen are now having to assess the wisdom of that judgment as we may be seeing yet another manifestation of al-Qaeda’s potency,” said Susan Rice, a top Obama foreign policy advisor who was an assistant secretary of State in the Clinton administration, in an interview with Politico.
She said Pakistan illustrates a difference between Obama and Clinton’s approaches to foreign policy. Clinton, in Rice’s view, is willing to tolerate authoritarian regimes – in this case the government of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf – who might be useful to short-term U.S. goals. Obama, on the other hand, seeks a diplomacy that sees values and human rights than traditional realpolitik.
“Senator Clinton’s view has been closer to Bush’s, which is to see Musharraf as the linchpin but democracy as something that is desirable, but not necessarily essential to our security interests,” said Rice, “Whereas Obama feels that democracy and human rights in the context of Pakistan are essential to our security.”
So on 9-12-01, what would President Obama have done? Al Qaeda, harbored in Afghanistan in a symbiotic relationship with the Taliban, was behind the attack. The US needed access to Afghanistan, and happened to have a potential ally right next door in Pakistan. Pakistan had propped up the Taliban (under Bhutto’s regime, no less) but was also a longstanding strategic ally of the US. But that ally wasn’t led by a democratically elected leader. Would President Obama have demanded that Gen. Musharraf first hold an election before the US would consider requesting the use of Pakistani soil and airspace to conduct our war in Afghanistan? Obama’s line on the Bhutto assassination suggests that, yes, President Obama would have first made sure that Musharraf was democratically elected before the US would work with him. Which is insane.
Either that, or Team Obama is hopelessly naive about the world. That’s the way I’d bet.
Secondarily, Obama expresses his intolerance for the non-democratic ruler of Pakistan, who happens to be an imperfect ally of the US. But he would have left the non-democratic ruler of Iraq very much in place, though he had become nearly a perfect enemy of the US. Obama says he would have voted against the 2002 authorization to use force against Saddam, and constantly chides Clinton for voting for that authorization. But according to Obama’s formulation on Pakistan, his vote would have been a vote against human rights, no? He would be tolerating a non-democrat, no?
Barack Obama is an idealist, which is nice. It’s quaint and refreshing, even. But it ought to disqualify him from the presidency until he grows up a bit. His is the kind of thinking that fed the Clinton administration’s decision to ban CIA operatives from working with anyone who might have an unsavory past or negative associations: It pretty much tied the agents’ hands in the majority of countries around the world. But hey, it made the Clintonistas feel good about themselves at DC cocktail parties, and that’s… something.
And here we have the analysis from James Taranto at WSJ’s OpinionJournal Best of the Web:
About the only good thing that can be said about the current campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination is that Barack Obama has a great personality. The Washington Post reports that Obama and his chief rival, Hillary Clinton, responded to yesterday’s assassination in ways that, according to the subheadline, “illustrate their key differences.” But to our mind it just illustrates their shallowness.
Obama’s campaign seized on the occasion to attack . . . the liberation of Iraq:
Three hours after news of Bhutto’s slaying broke, Obama delivered a withering rebuke of [Mrs.] Clinton’s experience, depicting her lengthy political résumé as a hindrance to solving big problems, including crises abroad. In an especially charged moment, senior Obama adviser David Axelrod would later tie the killing to the Iraq war–and Clinton’s vote to approve it, which he argued diverted U.S. resources from fighting terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan, both al-Qaeda hotbeds.
“You can’t at once argue that you’re the master of a broken system in Washington and offer yourself as the person to change it,” Obama said. “You can’t fall in line behind the conventional thinking on issues as profound as war and offer yourself as the leader who is best prepared to chart a new and better course for America.”
“The Iraq war . . . diverted U.S. resources from fighting terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan” is Obama’s idea of bold and unconventional thinking. To the rest of the world, it’s liberal boilerplate.
Mrs. Clinton, for her part, “described Bhutto in terms Obama . . . could not: as a fellow mother, a pioneering woman following in a man’s footsteps, and a longtime peer on the world stage.” And if being “a fellow mother” doesn’t qualify Mrs. Clinton to be the leader of the free world, what could? CBS News quotes her:
“I have known Benazir Bhutto for more than 12 years; she’s someone whom I was honored to visit as first lady when she was prime minister,” Clinton said at a campaign event in a firehouse in western Iowa. “Certainly on a personal level, for those of us who knew her, who were impressed by her commitment, her dedication, her willingness to pick up the mantle of her father, who was also assassinated, it is a terrible, terrible tragedy,” she said.
But apparently Mrs. Clinton didn’t know Bhutto all that well. CBS News notes that Mrs. Clinton also said, “I grieve for her family, particularly her two children.” But according to India’s Economic Times, Bhutto leaves three children: son Bilawal, 19, and daughters Bakhtawar and Asifa, 17 and 14 respectively.
The Obama campaign is on to something when it suggests that Mrs. Clinton’s “experience” is not entirely an argument in her favor. In fact, it offers two arguments against her, though either one is awkward for Obama to make. The first one is illustrated by this passage from a report from Wednesday’s New York Times:
During [Bill Clinton’s] two terms in the White House, Mrs. Clinton did not hold a security clearance. She did not attend National Security Council meetings. She was not given a copy of the president’s daily intelligence briefing. She did not assert herself on the crises in Somalia, Haiti and Rwanda.
And during one of President Bill Clinton’s major tests on terrorism, whether to bomb Afghanistan and Sudan in 1998, Mrs. Clinton was barely speaking to her husband, let alone advising him, as the Lewinsky scandal sizzled.
Obama could point out that her “experience” as first lady does not make Mrs. Clinton any more qualified to be president than are Betty Ford, Rosalyn Carter, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush or Laura Bush. But then again, is Obama any more qualified to be president than any of these ladies? After all, he was a mere state legislator when Mrs. Clinton was finishing her fourth year in the Senate.
The other problem with Mrs. Clinton’s experience argument is that it reopens the question of whether her husband was an adequate foreign-policy president. This is from the same Times report:
Asked to cite a significant foreign policy object lesson from the 1990s, Mrs. Clinton also replied with broad observations. “There are a lot of them,” she said. “The whole unfortunate experience we’ve had with the Bush administration, where they haven’t done what we’ve needed to do to reach out to the rest of the world, reinforces my experience in the 1990s that public diplomacy, showing respect and understanding of people’s different perspectives — it’s more likely to at least create the conditions where we can exercise our values and pursue our interests.”
This is meant to be just boilerplate. But if you take Mrs. Clinton’s words seriously, they point to the fruits of her husband’s “public diplomacy” — that is to say, to the failures of his foreign policy: humiliation in Somalia, genocide in Rwanda, stalemate in Iraq, chaos in Afghanistan leading to terror attacks against America in, among other places, Kenya, Tanzania and Yemen. And it strains credulity to suggest that a breakdown in “public diplomacy” in the first 234 days of the Bush administration is what led to the attacks of Sept. 11.
So Obama could argue that Bill Clinton was a failure as a foreign-policy president. But guess how well that would go over with the Democratic primary electorate? Since Obama cannot go after Mrs. Clinton on her real substantive weaknesses, he is going to have to hope that his own personal appeal, combined with Democratic voters’ personal antipathy for her, is sufficient to win him the nomination. That it may well be, but is this any way to choose a president?
And now I leave you with these two cheery stories. One, that some American and British Muslims are celebrating Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. The other speaks of what the National Organization of Women (N.O.W. – or, as Rush likes to call them, the N.A.G.s (National Association of Gals) heheh), that wonderful American organization that champions women’s rights around the world, has to say about the assassination of Benazir Bhutto: absolutely nothing.
Benazir Bhutto’s assassination was a sort of grim feminist milestone. She was, as far as we can remember, the most important female political figure to be assassinated since Indira Gandhi in 1984. (Another was Safia Ama Jan, an official with Afghanistan’s Ministry of Women’s Affairs, who was gunned down last year.) And as silly as Hillary Clinton’s “fellow mother” comment was, she was right to describe Bhutto as “a pioneering woman” — all the more notably since South Asian Muslim societies are not as forward-looking when it comes to women’s roles as we in the West are.
So what does the National Organization for Women, America’s premier feminist organization, have to say about Bhutto’s life and death? Only this: . We did a search for “Bhutto” on NOW’s Web site and it came up empty. The top item under “Hot Topics” on NOW’s homepage is “NOW’s Naughty List: Stereotyping Toys” Here’s NOW head Kim Gandy:
Naturally the NOW office has been abuzz about the ubiquitous “Rose Petal Cottage” TV commercials. If you haven’t seen these ads, count yourself lucky. Honestly, if I didn’t know better, I would think they were beamed in from 1955, via some lost satellite in space. . . .
According to the makers at Playskool, the Rose Petal Cottage is “a place where her dreams have room to grow.” And what might those dreams be? Well, baking muffins, arranging furniture and doing the dishes. The voiceover even declares that the toy house will “entertain her imagination” just before the little girl opens the miniature washing machine and says — I kid you not — “Let’s do laundry!” . . .
Through the world of toys, girls and boys are given separate dreams to follow. Girls are prepared for a future of looking pretty, keeping house and taking care of babies. Boys are given a pass on that domain, and instead pointed toward the outside world of challenge, physical development and achievement.
NOW has a different vision. When your daughter grows up, she can follow the example of Kim Gandy: grab a broom and sweep invidious stereotypes right out of the toy aisle! International politics? That’s icky, leave it to the boys!
Since the mass media and politicians will only be saying whatever politically correct thing that fits their agenda, you will want to travel around the blogs to get the history, context, historical significance and proper analysis of the assassination of former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto. In many places today, she is being hailed as a hero, a martyr and many other glowing decriptions. While her death is a tragedy, she was anything but any of these adoring descriptions.
So before you fall into the trap of learning about this woman from soundbite summarizations, I suggest you read through these articles to get a full understanding of this woman’s background and history. Her death is tragic, but just because she was the enemy of al Qaeda did not make her a friend of America and the West.
Given Bhutto’s past corruption, deceit and heavy handedness, is it any wonder she is embraced by the idiot brigade of the left?
Ms Bhutto is hardly one to speak of the high ideals of democracy, constitutions and legality. Her antipathy directed at Pervez Musharraff is understandable. He oversaw an amendment to Pakistan’s constitution that ban prime ministers from serving more than two terms, an action that would disqualify Bhutto from holding that office again. It is in her best interest to call for mass demonstrations and to vilify Musharraff and thus seek to amend the Pakistani Constitution to serve her own best interests. Consider the following:
Arthur Herman, a U.S. historian, in a controversial letter published in The Wall Street Journal on 14 June 2007, in response to an article by Bhutto highly critical of the president and his policies, has described her as “One of the most incompetent leaders in the history of South Asia”, and asserted that she and other elites in Pakistan hate Musharraf because he is a muhajir, the son of one of millions of Indian Muslims who fled to Pakistan during partition in 1947. Herman has claimed, “Although it was muhajirs who agitated for the creation of Pakistan in the first place, many native Pakistanis view them with contempt and treat them as third-class citizens.”
Prior to being run out of Pakistan, Ms Bhutto oversaw one of the most corrupt regimes in that nation’s history – and that is quite an achievement in a nation where corruption is business as usual.
The French, Polish, Spanish and Swiss governments have provided documentary evidence to the Pakistan government of alleged corruption by Bhutto and her husband. Bhutto and her husband faced a number of legal proceedings, including a charge of laundering money through Swiss banks. Her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, spent eight years in prison on similar corruption charges. Zardari, released from jail in 2004, has suggested that his time in prison involved torture; human rights groups have supported his claim that his rights were violated.
A 1998 report indicates that Pakistani investigators have documents that uncover a network of bank accounts, all linked to the family’s lawyer in Switzerland, with Asif Zardari as the principal shareholder. According to the article, documents released by the French authorities indicated that Zadari offered exclusive rights to Dassault, a French aircraft manufacturer, to replace the air force’s fighter jets in exchange for a 5% commission to be paid to a Swiss corporation controlled by Zardari… The paper also said that Zardari’s parents, who had modest assets at the time of Bhutto’s marriage, now own a 355-acre estate south of London. The estate has been auctioned through a court order.
Bhutto maintains that the charges leveled against her and her husband are purely political. “Most of those documents are fabricated,” she said, “and the stories that have been spun around them are absolutely wrong…” [Of course. The Swiss, Poles, Spanish and French all ganged up on Hillary, er, Benazir – SC&A]
However, Bhutto and her husband still face wide-ranging allegations of theft concerning hundreds of millions of dollars of “commissions” on government contracts and tenders. Despite this, a power-sharing deal recently brokered between Bhutto and Musharraf will allow Bhutto access to her Swiss bank accounts containing £740 million ($1.5 Billion). Another one of her prime assets include her 10 bedroom mock Tudor Surrey mansion.
The New York Times has a series of articles, gathered on one web page. Bhutto Clan Leaves Trail Of Corruption is a must read.
Benazir Bhutto was a ‘pro democracy proponent’? Benazir Bhutto was a ‘soldier for democracy’?
On what planet?
Benazir Bhutto was Pakistan’s Arafat. She stole billions of dollars from her nation and was forced to leave office twice because of corruption charges and allegations she had her own brother assassinated. Her husband spent 8 years in prison, convicted of those corruption charges.
Dr Sanity quotes Cliff May and sees clearly into the neighborhood in which Ms Bhutto lived and played.
Bhutto’s murder points to a lesson we (the Foreign Policy Establishment in particular) has been slow to learn:
This is not some extraordinary event. This is not the work of some lone madman. This is how militant Islamists contest elections – not just in Pakistan but also in Lebanon and Gaza and wherever they they get a foothold.
That there are Pakistanis who hail Bhutto as a ‘democratic’ leader should come as no surprise. There are those Palestinians who venerate Arafat and the Hamas leadership despite decades of corruption and deliberate exploitation.
Arafat spend decades being feted by European and American leaders. He dined with Kings and Princes, Presidents and Prime Ministers. In the end, not even they could not camouflage his corruption, repression and oppression and bestow upon him any kind of legitimacy. Arafat’s legacy is visible in the wretched lives, poverty and hopelessness of Palestinians.
The same is true in Pakistan.
As the idiot brigades opines on the situation in Pakistan turn into anti Bush bash, (here is an example of stupidity on display), completely ignoring Bhutto’s corrupt and dictatorial past, there is at least one Pakistani who knows Benazir Bhutto and has plenty to say. One absolute idiot asks that leftists ‘stand united’ with Bhutto and Hillary Clinton.
In an editorial in today’s LA Times, entitled Aunt Benazir’s False Promises, Fatima Bhutto, niece of Benazir Bhutto, clarifies a few issues.
Perhaps the most bizarre part of this circus has been the hijacking of the democratic cause by my aunt, the twice-disgraced former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto. While she was hashing out a deal to share power with Gen. Pervez Musharraf last month, she repeatedly insisted that without her, democracy in Pakistan would be a lost cause. Now that the situation has changed, she’s saying that she wants Musharraf to step down and that she’d like to make a deal with his opponents — but still, she says, she’s the savior of democracy.
…Yes, she now appears to be facing seven days of house arrest, but what does that really mean? While she was supposedly under house arrest at her Islamabad residence last week, 50 or so of her party members were comfortably allowed to join her. She addressed the media twice from her garden, protected by police given to her by the state, and was not reprimanded for holding a news conference. (By contrast, the very suggestion that they might hold a news conference has placed hundreds of other political activists under real arrest, in real jails.)
It is widely believed that Ms. Bhutto lost both her governments on grounds of massive corruption. She and her husband, a man who came to be known in Pakistan as “Mr. 10%,” have been accused of stealing more than $1 billion from Pakistan’s treasury. She is appealing a money-laundering conviction by the Swiss courts involving about $11 million. Corruption cases in Britain and Spain are ongoing…
Why did Ms. Bhutto and her party cronies demand that her corruption cases be dropped…?
Ms. Bhutto’s repeated promises to end fundamentalism and terrorism in Pakistan strain credulity because, after all, the Taliban government that ran Afghanistan was recognized by Pakistan under her last government — making Pakistan one of only three governments in the world to do so. [emp-SC&A]
My father was Benazir’s younger brother. To this day, her role in his assassination has never been adequately answered, although the tribunal convened after his death under the leadership of three respected judges concluded that it could not have taken place without approval from a “much higher” political authority…
Benazir Bhutto’s younger brother is by no means the only death in which she has been implicated. Killings and death plots are common in that part of the world and Ms Bhutto has clearly shown she can ‘play with the boys.’ In fact, another of her brothers died under mysterious circumstances in 1996. The suspicion that surrounded her was so great that she was forced to resign, with most Pakistanis believing she was implicated in the killings.
Victor Davis Hanson
We don’t know exactly who assassinated Ms. Bhutto, but, given the infiltration of the Pakistani secret services by Islamic extremists, it seems likely that al-Qaeda-like jihadists, with the deliberate blind eye of the government, were responsible. Same old, same old in the Middle East: The jihadists are cruel and crazy, the dictatorial alternative is duplicitous and illegitimate, and the democratic third way is weak and vulnerable.
Pakistan is a nuclear dictatorship, with a thin Westernized elite sitting atop a vast medieval Islamist badlands that it cannot control. Today’s events show that the very notion of a pro-Western politician coming to power legitimately is unlikely for the immediate future.
Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee, among others, have suggested that it’s about time to consider incursions into Pakistan to strike al-Qaeda. That would be like putting a needle into a doughboy: The problem is not a particular region, or a particular Pakistani figure, but Pakistan itself, founded as an Islamic state, and by nature prone to extremism. It is the most anti-American country in the region and we should accept that and move on.
Our relations were always based on the flawed idea its Islamic and autocratic essence made it a good bulwark against communist Russia and socialist India. But the world has changed, and we should too. It is long past time to smile and curtail aid — and quit arming it with weapons that are more likely to be used against our friend India as bin Laden.
I would imagine once most of the “reform” candidates are killed or cowered, the emboldened terrorist animals will turn on their government feeders — even as the Pakistani street somehow blames us.
A recent CNN poll showed that 46 percent of Pakistanis approve of Osama bin Laden.
Aspirants to the American presidency should hope to score so highly in the United States. In Pakistan, though, the al-Qaeda emir easily beat out that country’s current president, Pervez Musharraf, who polled at 38 percent.
President George Bush, the face of a campaign to bring democracy — or, at least, some form of sharia-lite that might pass for democracy — to the Islamic world, registered nine percent. Nine!
If you want to know what to make of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s murder today in Pakistan, ponder that.
There is the Pakistan of our fantasy. The burgeoning democracy in whose vanguard are judges and lawyers and human rights activists using the “rule of law” as a cudgel to bring down a military junta. In the fantasy, Bhutto, an attractive, American-educated socialist whose prominent family made common cause with Soviets and whose tenures were rife with corruption, was somehow the second coming of James Madison.
Then there is the real Pakistan: an enemy of the United States and the West.
All that being said, it is not hyperbole to say that the biggest story of 2007 just happened today with less than a week left in the year. If this event touches off a wider war a la the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, everything just changed. Everything.
[ … ]
It is worth remembering as we begin our own campaign season in earnest next week that no matter how acrimonious the political discussion becomes, we live in a country where those who root for the death of their political opponents exist far outside the mainstream and that even if an assassination attempt were to occur here, there is zero risk of anything but an orderly transition of power on January 20, 2009.
Who knows who did this deed? It is grotesque, of course, that the murder should have occurred in Rawalpindi, the garrison town of the Pakistani military elite and the site of Flashman’s Hotel. It is as if she had been slain on a visit to West Point or Quantico. But it’s hard to construct any cui bono analysis on which Gen. Pervez Musharraf is the beneficiary of her death. The likeliest culprit is the al-Qaida/Taliban axis, perhaps with some assistance from its many covert and not-so-covert sympathizers in the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence. These were the people at whom she had been pointing the finger since the huge bomb that devastated her welcome-home motorcade on Oct. 18.
She would have been in a good position to know about this connection, because when she was prime minister, she pursued a very active pro-Taliban policy, designed to extend and entrench Pakistani control over Afghanistan and to give Pakistan strategic depth in its long confrontation with India over Kashmir. The fact of the matter is that Benazir’s undoubted courage had a certain fanaticism to it. She had the largest Electra complex of any female politician in modern history, entirely consecrated to the memory of her executed father, the charming and unscrupulous Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who had once boasted that the people of Pakistan would eat grass before they would give up the struggle to acquire a nuclear weapon.
Her faults were also profound, as the well-documented grand corruption cases brought against her and her husband attest. She did indeed treat her country like it was a family-owned business, with corrosive results. The corruption provided the excuse for her removal from power in 1990 and again in 1996, weakening her politically and telegraphing to others that they could siphon funds, too. The corruption was thus central in preventing the Bhutto governments from delivering the reforms needed to make Pakistan’s government responsive to the needs of its people.
There are now widespread reports suggesting that an imminent official statement is expected from Egyptian Al-Qaida spokesman Mustafa Abu Yazid claiming responsibility for the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
Earlier today, Al-Qaida issued a separate statement from Mustafa Abu Yazid denying any role in recent blasts targeting mosques in the Pakistani border city of Peshawar. According to that communique from Abu Yazid (dated December 24), “We do not attack targets in mosques or in public places where there are crowds of Muslims in order to safeguard Muslim blood and to respect the sanctity of mosques. This is our approach generally, and we inform all of our supporters in Pakistan — and everywhere else — about these facts.”
It should be noted that is not the first time that Al-Qaida and its affiliates have allegedly targeted Benazir Bhutto for assassination. During the Philippine police interrogation of Abdul Hakim Murad — an associate of 1993 World Trade Center bombing mastermind Ramzi Yousef — Murad recalled that Yousef “once made a statement that BHUTTO should be replaced as PM of Pakistan since Islamic belief does not allow a woman to occupy such position and that [mujahideen organizations] should do something to unseat her. Said statement indicates that [Yousef] might be planning to carry out an attack against the PM of Pakistan.” Likewise, during the mid-1990s, the FBI recorded several telephone conversations involving Kifah Jayyousi and Adham Hassoun (who were recently convicted in federal court for their role in recruiting would-be Al-Qaida operative Jose Padilla) in which the men discussed “getting rid” of the late Pakistani Prime Minister — who they referred to as “Khanazir Bhutto” (“Bhutto the Pig”): “She’s done… done… she… she was finished… finished, my brother… I was reading about the life… the life of the Prophet, peace and blessing upon him… ‘Men are ruined if they are to obey women’. Praise to God.”
Benazir Bhutto’s return to Pakistan had a mad recklessness about it which give today’s events a horrible inevitability. As I always say when I’m asked about her, she was my next-door neighbor for a while – which affects a kind of intimacy, though in fact I knew her only for sidewalk pleasantries. She was beautiful and charming and sophisticated and smart and modern, and everything we in the west would like a Muslim leader to be – though in practice, as Pakistan’s Prime Minister, she was just another grubby wardheeler from one of the world’s most corrupt political classes.
Since her last spell in power, Pakistan has changed, profoundly. Its sovereignty is meaningless in increasingly significant chunks of its territory, and, within the portions Musharraf is just about holding together, to an ever more radicalized generation of young Muslim men Miss Bhutto was entirely unacceptable as the leader of their nation. “Everyone’s an expert on Pakistan, a faraway country of which we know everything,” I wrote last month. “It seems to me a certain humility is appropriate.” The State Department geniuses thought they had it all figured out. They’d arranged a shotgun marriage between the Bhutto and Sharif factions as a “united” “democratic” “movement” and were pushing Musharraf to reach a deal with them. That’s what diplomats do: They find guys in suits and get ’em round a table. But none of those representatives represents the rapidly evolving reality of Pakistan. Miss Bhutto could never have been a viable leader of a post-Musharraf settlement, and the delusion that she could have been sent her to her death
What does all this portend for Pakistan? Ms. Bhutto is by turns hopeful and despondent. “Pakistan is still caught in a time warp, it is still the same battle lines between the modernizers and the extremists. But unfortunately the long period of military rule has emboldened the extremists. . . . I think it is just a matter of five to 10 years, if they continue building as many militant headquarters as they have in the last five years, it may be too late. They have been building and building and building.”
The remedy to all this, says Ms. Bhutto, is democracy, plain and simple. She does not believe that Pakistani society has become more illiberal in its political outlook, despite the almost metastatic growth of radical madrassas (religious schools) in recent years. On the contrary, she argues that the increasing–and increasingly unrestrained–power of militants to compel or kill ordinary people to get what they want has created a huge backlash, one that could make itself felt at the ballot box if people are given the chance to vote their consciences. Radicals and militants, she says, recalling the fate of the moderate Mensheviks at the hands of the Bolsheviks in 1917, “are not enough to tilt an election. But they are enough to unleash against the population, to rig an election, to kidnap police, to kill the army, and therefore to make it possible to take over the state.”
Ms. Bhutto plans to return to Pakistan quite soon, perhaps within a matter of weeks. She worries that Mr. Musharraf could have her arrested, or that he will declare a state of emergency (as it seems he was nearly prepared to do this week), or that he will use brazen or subtle methods to rig the elections. She is plainly confident that her party will score big at the polls if given a fair chance, and that, whether as prime minister or from behind the scenes, she will be at its helm. In a life marked by the sharpest reversals of fortune, it’s another turn of, and at, the wheel.
[For the reaction to this event from the 2008 Presidential candidates, go here: USA Today: Bhutto’s Death: Candidates React]
As Matt Burden at Blackfive notes, “this is very bad news for freedom and democracy“. He also adds:
Benazir Bhutto, educated at Harvard and Oxford, was hated by the Taliban and Al Qaeda for being a woman in the highest position in the land, for being a supporter of the West and Democracy. She also included in her election platform a promise to go after Al Qaeda in the tribal regions of Pakistan.
Make no mistake, this was a huge victory for Islamic extremists.
The response by Bhutto’s party and President Musharraf will decide whether or not Pakistan remains on the razor’s edge of stability. Bhutto’s martyrdom could be used in a way that she would have wanted – to unify the forces for stability and democracy against the Islamic extremists. Or her legacy will be used to plummit Pakistan into chaos.
Matt also recommends Bill Roggio’s The Long War Journal for updates: Pakistan: Benazir Bhutto assassinated
The mode of attack suggests a level of training, discipline, and expertise of a military organization. If bullets penetrated Bhutto’s vehicle windshield, which was no doubt was bullet proof, the shooter was using armor-piercing rounds and had good aim. There is the possibility a sniper was placed elsewhere and aided the assault, although this has not been confirmed. The shooter also had the discipline to detonate his suicide vest after the confusion of firing into her vehicle.
Today’s attack occurred in the military garrison city of Rawalpindi, which the Pakistani military presumably controls. This was was the fifth bombing targeting military and political leaders in Rawalpindi since July.
This was the second strike against Bhutto since her return to Pakistan in mid-October. The first attack also showed a level of sophistication, training and discipline of a military operation. In the October attack on Bhutto’s return processional in Karachi, snipers, suicide bombers, and a car bomb were coordinated among a blanket of security. The attack came close to killing Bhutto. Over 132 Pakistanis were killed and upwards of 500 wounded.
Bhutto supporters have begun to blame President Pervez Musharraf for her death. The sophistication of the attack, the governments reported refusal to provide adequate security, and the location of the bombing have created distrust among Bhutto supporters.
But this attack was most likely carried out by the Taliban and al Qaeda. Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the newly united Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, or Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, threatened to kill Bhutto upon her return in October. The Taliban and al Qaeda manage training camps in Pakistan’s tribal areas and have trainers and recruits from the Pakistani military in their ranks.
Jules Crittenden asks some questions and explains why this is a huge deal in The Long War against Islamic Totalitarianism: Bhutto Assassinated
No peaceful transition to civilian leadership for Pakistan, with the murder of a major popular pro-American secularist. Questions:
Jihadis, ISI, or some combination?
Does this unite them against jihadis or just further fragment Pakistan to the jihadis benefit?
Does the election even go ahead, or is it straight to martial law? Short-term or long-term suspension, and in the event of an election, who rises?
If they buy the “dog Musharraf dog” line, or if it’s true, how bloody will the demonstrations be, and will they lead to a coup? If there’s a coup, who and what ends up on top?
No good answers to any of that yet. I have a very bad feeling about all of this. The potential for critically destablizing a flank that was difficult enough as it was, is huge. I’d feel slightly better if Rumsfeld had doubled the size of the Army, and wish Bush and Congress would crank that up. This war is far from over. This war is no artificial Bush creation or figment of anyone’s imagination, and should still be very much part of our own election, wishful thinking notwithstanding.
When Mr. Crittenden alludes to “destabilizing a flank”, he is referring to Pakistan being a flank in the anti-terrorism coalition. The problem, as he notes, is that the Pakistan government was only grudgingly assisting in The Long War (on terror) under pressure from the Bush Administration to do so. The other problem? Pakistan is a nuclear-armed nation. So now we have a nuclear-armed nation in chaos. Not good.
As Stratfor, linked by Mr. Crittenden, notes:
Given the modus operandi, it is likely the work of jihadists linked with the Taliban and/or al Qaeda. This assassination could not have been possible without the jihadists being enabled by elements within the government because both the jihadists and many within the regime fear the possibility of Bhutto’s party emerging strong in the Jan. 8 polls. This attack further highlights the murky links between Islamist militants and elements within the Pakistani security/intelligence establishment.
Bhutto’s death will trigger a serious backlash in the form of violence and unrest in the country, which could derail the polls, which the opposition is claiming will be rigged by the establishment. The unrest and violence following her death could also lead to the imposition of martial law.
For some of the best coverage and analysis of this ongoing huge story on the web, be sure to go back to the previous blogs I linked for updates, and visit these bloggers as well:
AllahPundit links to this article from TIME: TIME: Making a Martyr of Bhutto – “I am not afraid,” she told TIME last month, “I am ready to die for my country.”
UPDATE at 13:08 EST on 27 DEC 2007: Debbie Schlussel provides a bit of a realily check on the lionizing of Benazir Bhutto in the comments at HotAir.com and at her website: Karma: Terrorism-Supporter Bhutto Was No Saint . . . And “Jimmy Carter” Bush Moves Predicated This Outcome
The “moderate” Bhutto was actually a Saudi-backed, anti-Semitic, pro-Palestinian-terrorism force of instability, anarchy, and protest in Pakistan. Her return to Paki politics would only divide and conquer pro-U.S. forces in the country, allowing the more popular Islamists to dominate. That she was assassinated was not a good thing. But that she is now gone from Pakistani politics is a positive development in a myriad of ways.
The George W. Bush-orchestrated move of returning Bhutto to Pakistan from exile in the Gulf was a bad move on so many levels. It echoes the Jimmy Carter era of ushering out the pro-U.S. Shah of Iran and ushering in the never-ending Ayatollah Khomeini/Mahmoud Ahmadinejad era. This time around, Bhutto’s opposition to Musharraf would have ushered out a pro-U.S. dictator, Pervez Musharraf, and ushered in Islamist chaos, HAMASastan-style.
True, Musharraf is not exactly the greatest counter-terrorist. He came to office in a coup which ousted Bhutto, and he comes from atop an army dominated by the pro-Al-Qaeda I.S.I. He may even be protecting the wherabouts of Bin Laden and isn’t the greatest ally of the U.S.. But he is not the worst, either, and he is far better than the alternative, including the would-be now-late Bhutto. Without Musharraf atop the country, it will revert to the natural state of what really is Greater Barbaria bubbling beneath the entire Islamic and Arab worlds. If you liked the Daniel Pearl beheading and dismemberment in Karachi, you’d love Pakistan under a short-lived Bhutto return and long-lived post-Bhutto Iran, er . . . Pakistan.
One Khalid Sheikh Mohammed running free through the streets of Pakistan, plotting murders of thousands of Americans? Under a Bhutto, or post-Bhutto overthrow revolutionary “government” in Pakistan, the country would be overrun with them, and they’d be running the country.
A few of her comments left at HotAir.com:
To all of you who ignorantly lionize and beatify this woman, Benazir Bhutto supported Islamic terrorism. She defended Palestinian homicide bombers. This is your “reasonable” woman, whom you want more of in America? Hello . . . . Get a clue. You clearly don’t know much about this woman, who only brought more instability to Pakistan than it had already. Learn about Benazir Bhutto before making her into the saint that she most certainly is not. If you like Iran, you’d have loved the second post-Bhutto Pakistan. Bush and his re-insertion of this woman into Pakistan and calls for democracy would have made this another Gaza. The woman would have surely been overthrown.
She brought “more instability” to the region? Right out of the American Left playbook….and I see you (suprise!) blame Bush for this as well…unreal. No, Bhutto was no “saint” as you put it, but she was a driving force behind moderates in a region where that is sorely needed.
JetBoy on December 27, 2007 at 12:36 PM
Riiiight. Like the moderates of Iran who were sorely needed instead of the Shah? What is moderate about defending Palestinian homicide bombings? How is that more “moderate” than U.S.-allied Musharraf? No, that’s not out of the American Left playbook. It’s out of the Those Who Understand the Middle East Playbook. And the Those Who Watched The HAMAS Elections, Hezbollah Elections, Muslim Brotherhood Elections Playbook. Yes, those were all because of Bush’s “democracy” failures that brought increasing destabilization throughout the Mid-East. That’s not a left-wing view. Left-wingers are the ones who support this “democracy in the Muslim world” BS. If you think this–Bush’s mistaken re-insertion of Bhutto into Paki politics–is different than any of the “democratic elections” cited above, you haven’t been paying attention.
I’m guessing we are too ignorant to disagree with you. No one on this board has “beatified” Bhutto. In interviews I saw with Bhutto, she wanted democracy to prevail in Pakistan and to bring an end to Al Queda in her Country.
This ignorant person (me) sorta kinda believed her.
That being said, who can actually be trusted in that area of the world? I’ve supported our President in his decisions regarding these Middle Eastern crazies. He knows more than we do about the subject and I prefer to keep it that way.
SouthernPride on December 27, 2007 at 12:43 PM
How do you like the democracy Bush obtained in Gaza, Lebanon (where Hezbollah gained seats and ministerial positions), Egypt (where the Muslim Brotherhood gained seats)? He knows more than we do? Hilarious. The only thing he knows how to do is create Shi’ite and Sunni extremist revolutions at the ballot box, and force Israel to give up more of its country in exchange for nothing. He knows very little about this topic, except how to outdo Jimmy Carter in failing in the Mid-East. Even John Bolton, his own UN guy, has been saying the same as me, in his book. He says that George Bush is now pursuing the policies of the left all over the world, esp. in the Mid-East. So, if you believe he knows more than we do, you must think Jimmy Carter knew more than we do. Speak for yourself.
I’m not sure why you keep blaming Bush for “re-inserting” Bhutto into Paki politics . . . .there’s nothing that says the Bush Admin. was in any way responsible for putting her there. . . .
And I’m not sure how you equate the extremist takeover (read: not democratically elected) in Iran…Iran today is a prime example of how ignoring the situation fails. Our concern these days is that Iran is pursuing nuclear ambitions…whereas Pakistan already HAS that.
JetBoy on December 27, 2007 at 1:08 PM
America openly pressured/forced Musharraf to allow Bhutto to return to Pakistan. That’s undisputed (except by you).
Re-Iran, do you remember a guy named “The Shah”? Do you remember how Jimmy Carter helped usher him out in favor of “democratic elections”? Did you know that they had “democratic elections,” which elected Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a long line of post-Shah extremists “democratically” elected to run Iran? If you can’t realize that democratic elections Bush has pushed all over the Mid-East, ie., election of HAMAS, Hezbollah gains in Lebanon, Muslim Brotherhood gains in Egypt, etc., are any different than what will happen now that Bush has pressured Musharraf into elections, then I don’t know what to tell you.
What’s happening in Iran today did not just happen in a vacuum. It is the result of the progression of things since Jimmy Carter ushered out a pro-US dictator and ushered in “democracy.” Think it’s different anywhere else in the Mid-East (except Israel)? Why not push for the Saudi Royal Family to hold elections today? Guess who’d win? Bin Laden. And he’s the most popular figure in Pakistan, too.
Debbie, I always thought we did not go after UBL in Pakistan to try to preserve Musharrif’s power there for the sake of the nukes. If GWB undermined him after all, why didn’t we just invade years ago?
Buck Turgidson on December 27, 2007 at 1:17 PM
That is a belief that has a lot of credibility. And that’s a great question, which only the Condi-Bush Admin can answer. Even John Bolton has pointed out in his book and in recent interviews, that in the last year or two, Bush has radically reversed his foreign policy to a disastrous one that imitates that of the Clinton Administration and a left-wing President. And it’s bad for America.
Like every President, Bush wants his legacy. And he is now in his lame duck days, so this is his last chance to get one. I think he wants to say his legacy is democracy in the Mid-East. (And that is his legacy–HAMAS democracy, Hezbollah democracy, etc.)
UPDATE at 14:24 EST on 27 DEC 2007: Some interesting related links at PajamasMedia related to the background of Benazir Bhutto: