Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Bhutto assassination and effects in the US

There is no mystery -- the assassination of Benazir Bhutto is a strike against American foreign policy. Bill Roggio reports that al-Qaeda claims responsibility for killing her.

The commentariat is just starting to analyze what the Bhutto assassination means in the world as a whole and in the US.

First, John Podhoretz says that the assassination prevents a presidential campaign that would take us on yet another holiday from history. He notes that

The success of the surge in Iraq, coupled with the bizarre “we’re safe” reading of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, drained some of the passion from the anti-war fervor in the Democratic primary electorate and from the hawkish fervor of the Republican primary electorate. In their place came the Christian identity-politics rise of Mike Huckabee on the Republican side and the 'we need a nice new politics' rise of Barack Obama on the Democratic side.

Thus, the Bhutto assassination could make the presidential candidates smarten up because "It is a sobering and frightening reminder of the challenges and threats and dangers posed to the United States by radical Islam, the nature of the struggle being waged against the effort to extend democratic freedoms in the Muslim world, and the awful possibility of a nuclear Pakistan overrun by Islamofascists."

Mark Steyn sees blood on the hands of the US in this because

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.

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross says the assassination is not surprising:

The most likely culprit in Bhutto’s death is al-Qaeda and aligned militant groups — the same groups who swore they would kill Bhutto when her return to Pakistan was announced, the same groups who tried to kill her in October. If al-Qaeda was indeed responsible, this is another stark reminder of the group’s regeneration in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Al-Qaeda’s senior leadership has returned to the levels of power they enjoyed in Afghanistan before U.S. forces toppled the Taliban, and Bhutto’s death has to be considered a major victory for them.

Cliff May discusses an effective election tactic that the Bhutto assassination represents:

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.

Victor Hanson believes the US needs to come to grips with the reality of Pakistan:

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.

The Wall Street Journal has Bhutto's own reflections after the failed attempt on her life in October 2007, and Bret Stephens' column on his interview with her, which originally appeared in the 8-11-07 WSJ.

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