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Friday, December 28, 2007

Sadly Inevitable

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto is a blow to the prospect of democratic change in Pakistan - but sadly, it was wholly predictable and perhaps, inevitable. As Mark Steyn notes, she was a walking neon sign that screamed "apostasy."

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.

It is a loss, because Bhutto was the only potential leader of Pakistan who had enough of a mass following that she could actively compete with jihadists. Of course, as Hitch notes, we should not make the fact that she was more amenable to the West impose in our minds that she was some sort of martyr for liberalism.

Daughter of Destiny is the title she gave to her autobiography. She always displayed the same unironic lack of embarrassment. How prettily she lied to me, I remember, and with such a level gaze from those topaz eyes, about how exclusively peaceful and civilian Pakistan's nuclear program was.

But most of all, what the Bhutto assassination should illustrate for most Americans is that we are not yet, as the presidential candidates seem to have thought, in a position to take a vacation from history. We are in an extremely dangerous position now. We have allowed hope and wishful thinking to be the main butresses in our South Asia plan of engagement.

We are one bullet away from a Taliban bomb, and have been so for several years. The next President is going to have to get this right. It's time to get serious about this instead of punting the ball farther down field and blaming the Bush Administration.

For those of you who were wondering how long it would take ranking Democrats to blame the Bhutto assassination on the Bush administration and the Iraq war, wonder no more. Russ Feingold has done the honors:

The focus on Iraq has been a real disservice to focusing on this part of the world where a great, frankly somebody who had great leadership and following, has been killed.

Talk about being un-serious.


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