Thursday, December 27, 2007
From today's NYTimes ...
December 28, 2007, nytimes.com
Editorial After Benazir Bhutto
Benazir Bhutto was a flawed and undeniably courageous leader. Her return to Pakistan two months ago raised hopes that her country might find its way toward democracy and stability. Her assassination on Thursday is yet one more horrifying reminder of how far Pakistan is from both — and how close it is to the brink.
Ms. Bhutto's death leaves the Bush administration with no visible strategy for extricating Pakistan from its crisis or rooting out Al Qaeda and the Taliban, which have made the country their most important rear base.
Is this co-written by Bush? Extricating countries from crises is the crisis (for Christ's sake)! Shut the fuck up and stay the fuck out of it. That's what you do.
The rest of the editorial is below, but the nonsense doesn't stop: "The United States cannot afford to have Pakistan unravel any further. ... American policy must now be directed at building a strong democracy in Pakistan that has the respect and the support of its own citizens and the will and the means to fight Al Qaeda and the Taliban ..." arrrrgghh! How can we win? Like Kerry 4 years ago, the anti-Bushists are better and more zealous Bushists than Bush. This is a formula for--no, more, a plea for--more meddling, intervention, interference.
As I've mentioned ad nauseum, what is distressing is that these comments are meant to be a decisive repudiation of Busherrors, and a strong way forward. But they are not. They are more of the same. They are a license to redo Iraq, over and over and over again.
You get out, you stay out. You reward good behaviour. You punish bad behaviour. You play smart, you play hard. It's that simple. People learn, countries learn.
Betting America's security (and Pakistan's nuclear arsenal) on an unaccountable military dictator, President Pervez Musharraf, did not work. Betting it on a back-room alliance between that dictator and Ms. Bhutto, who had hoped to win a third term as prime minister next month, is no longer possible.
That leaves Mr. Bush with the principled, if unfamiliar, option of using American prestige and resources to fortify Pakistan's badly battered democratic institutions. There is no time to waste.
With next month's parliamentary elections already scrambled, Washington must now call for new ground rules to assure a truly democratic vote.
That means a relatively brief delay to allow Ms. Bhutto's party, probably the country's largest, to choose a new candidate for prime minister and mount an abbreviated campaign. Washington must also demand that Pakistan's other main opposition leader, Nawaz Sharif, be allowed to run. And it must insist that Mr. Musharraf reinstate the impartial Supreme Court judges he fired last month in order to block them from overturning his rigged election.
Mr. Musharraf is stubborn. Washington will need to send the same message to Pakistan's military leaders, perhaps the ex-general's only remaining backers.
Ms. Bhutto and her father and political mentor, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, were democratic, but flawed political leaders - imperious, indifferent to human rights and, in her case, tolerant of gross corruption among close associates. The father was deposed by a military coup and then hanged. The daughter was twice elected and twice deposed. But both had one undeniable asset: electoral legitimacy — legitimacy that the generals and the Islamic extremists could only seek to destroy or, in Mr. Musharraf's case, hope to borrow.
The Bush administration has to rethink more than just its unhealthy and destructive enabling of Mr. Musharraf. It also must take a hard look at the billions it is funneling to Pakistan's military. That money is supposed to finance the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. But, as a report in The Times on Monday showed, Washington was lax in monitoring, and much of it has gone to projects that interested Mr. Musharraf and the Pakistani Army more, like building weapons systems aimed at America's ally, India. Meanwhile, Al Qaeda and the Taliban continued, and continue, to make alarming gains.
The United States cannot afford to have Pakistan unravel any further. The lesson of the last six years is that authoritarian leaders — even ones backed with billions in American aid — don't make reliable allies, and they can't guarantee security.
American policy must now be directed at building a strong democracy in Pakistan that has the respect and the support of its own citizens and the will and the means to fight Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Pakistan is a nation of 165 million people. The days of Washington mortgaging its interests there to one or two individuals must finally come to an end.