In Memoriam: Benazir Bhutto

The tragic murder of Benazir Bhutto, Pakistani moderate and champion of democracy, is yet another reminder of the instability in so many parts of our challenged world.  It is not clear to me how other countries will react if Pakistan falls into chaos.  Bhutto’s assassination, and the ongoing attacks on General Musharaff, bring that possibility closer as Pakistan’s hopes for a quality democracy drift again into the shadows.  

Strategically wise or not, I do not think the US, and perhaps even India, would tolerate nuclear weapons in the hands of some of the Pakistani  fundamentalist groups.  India and Pakistan have been very antagonistic towards each other since Pakistan’s fiery birth soon after Indian independence from Britain.  Disputes over the Kashmir region, claimed by both countries, flare up regularly.

Instability favors the extremists and those who support them.   The irony of extremist actions is that they rarely bring the changes desired by the extremists – rather they waste lives and resources, waste blood and treasure that could have been used to help those in need, and consolidate power in the hands of non-extremist but still questionable groups.

6 thoughts on “In Memoriam: Benazir Bhutto

  1. I can’t help but wonder what would happen if we just started flooding that region with kindness. We could inundate them with aid, friendly visitors and volunteer workers, casseroles, Jimmy Stewart movies, and puppies. What do you suppose they would make of that?

  2. “The tragic murder of Benazir Bhutto, Pakistani moderate and champion of democracy, is yet another reminder of the instability in so many parts of our challenged world.”

    Tragic it is, and rather frightening, especially when considering that Pakistan appears to be on the edge of anarchy. In that sort of turmoil, zealots (one is tempted to use the non-PC “I-word”—as in islamofascists) could conceivably gain command of nukes, and thereby increase the tragedy exponentially.

    Hitchens penned an interesting and typically provocative Slate piece on Ms Bhutto’s demise, not nearly as glowing as some of the insta-eulogies. While I do not ditto Hitchens’ ideas or politics across the board, his “RealPolitik” interpretations of middle-eastern affairs–and terrorism— still seem fairly close to the mark, however cynical.

    “””””Who knows who did this deed? ……. 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.””””””

  3. Jay I certainly think it’s worth a try, since our military efforts usually have questionable results and contrary to what many conservatives think have generally cost more in blood and money than they have returned to us in safety.

    That said, I don’t think *anything* will solve the problems that are coming from two huge cultural worldviews that are fundamentally incompatible.

    At best we can try to contain the violence, and ideally spend our blood and treasure in areas where we can make much more of a difference with health care and infrastructure.

  4. Horatiox I’ll check out that Slate article. Hitchens is one of those guys I usually kind of wince at as he writes or speaks, and then wind up agreeing with almost entirely. He does not suffer any foolishness gladly, and I give him a lot of credit for that.

  5. Just as the Congress Party of India considers its leadership to be hereditary in the Gandhi family, Benazir Bhutto was given her political position due to her lineage and she would never have faced opposition within her party. All politicians in South Asia are corrupt to some degree, and the struggle for power in Pakistan is more reminiscent of Al Capone in 1920’s Chicago than the Iowa caucuses.

    It’s unfortunate that she got murdered, but she was basically one of many politicians in Pakistan making promises to poor people to get their support, promises that would never be fulfilled. There’s little reason to suppose she could have successfully run the government. We can regret her death without sanctifying her.

  6. the struggle for power in Pakistan is more reminiscent of Al Capone in 1920’s Chicago than the Iowa caucuses

    Bert I think this is an excellent point, though I’m not sure I’d want to hold the caucuses, let alone our US process, as “great”. But it sure beats victory by lies, conspiracies, and assassinations which still govern results in far too many of the nations.

    Personally I like Parliamentary style government best because it’s easier to avoid the “all or nothing” problems we face here. Presidents win by a very slim margin (or lose popular vote and then win as in 2000), and are then allowed to set an aqenda that is entirely out of synch with about half the population. Not sure how to solve this, but it’s a problem.

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