Friday, December 28, 2007

Another Washington failure

My deepest condolences to the family of Benazir Bhutto, who will no doubt now have to return the Bentleys they have bought in anticipation of the billions she planned to steal from Pakistan, and will have to eke by on the billions her family has already stolen.

Reading the numerous opinions on who killed her – and by the way, isn’t she just like Hillary’s long-lost twin sister in so many ways? – is like interpreting the answers to a Rorschach test, telling you much more about the prejudices of the guessers than anything about the assassination (good predictive background here).  The fact is that she was parachuted in by Washington in order to win a rigged election in a country where just about every power group absolutely hated her, a recipe for disaster.  It is not so much a question of who killed her, but who got the first opportunity to succeed. 

The Washington Post spins the power politics:

“For Benazir Bhutto, the decision to return to Pakistan was sealed during a telephone call from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice just a week before Bhutto flew home in October. The call culminated more than a year of secret diplomacy –  and came only when it became clear that the heir to Pakistan's most powerful political dynasty was the only one who could bail out Washington's key ally in the battle against terrorism.”


“’The U.S. came to understand that Bhutto was not a threat to stability, but was instead the only possible way that we could guarantee stability and keep the presidency of Musharraf intact,’ said Mark Siegel, who lobbied for Bhutto in Washington and witnessed much of the behind-the-scenes diplomacy.”


“Bhutto's assassination leaves Pakistan's future – and Musharraf's – in doubt, some experts said. ‘U.S. policy is in tatters. The administration was relying on Benazir Bhutto's participation in elections to legitimate Musharraf's continued power as president,’ said Barnett R. Rubin of New York University. ‘Now Musharraf is finished.’”


“The turning point to get Musharraf on board was a September trip by Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte to Islamabad. "He basically delivered a message to Musharraf that we would stand by him, but he needed a democratic facade on the government, and we thought Benazir was the right choice for that face," said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer and National Security Council staff member now at the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy.”


“Many career foreign policy officials were skeptical of the U.S. plan. ‘There were many inside the administration, at the State and Defense Departments and in intelligence, who thought this was a bad idea from the beginning because the prospects that the two could work together to run the country effectively were nil,’ said Riedel.

As part of the deal, Bhutto's party agreed not to protest against Musharraf's reelection in September to his third term. In return, Musharraf agreed to lift the corruption charges against Bhutto. But Bhutto sought one particular guarantee – that Washington would ensure Musharraf followed through on free and fair elections producing a civilian government.

Rice, who became engaged in the final stages of brokering a deal, called Bhutto in Dubai and pledged that Washington would see the process through, according to Siegel. A week later, on Oct. 18, Bhutto returned.

Ten weeks later, she was dead.”

The big spin part of this is that the Americans were conniving to keep Musharraf in power, but even the experts cited have trouble with that part of the story.  The neocons were always skeptical of Musharraf, whose balancing of various factions, including the Islamists, led the Israelo-Americans to think he was weak in fighting the ‘war on terror’, in other words, weak in assisting the Zionists in killing Muslims.  The failure of the US and its allies in Afghanistan could be neatly laid at the feet of Musharraf.  Bhutto, who would do anything for money, was the perfect neocon replacement, and the deal was already in place that she would allow American troops to enter the Pakistan border regions to fight those friendly to the Taliban (in stark contrast to her support for the Taliban when she was in power, and something which would have split the country apart, not a bad side-effect from the neocon point of view).  A view from Pakistan:

“While the opposition resigned en masse from the parliament to block Musharraf's re-election in a year that saw a rejuvenated judiciary challenge the president's authority, Bhutto’s Pakistan People's Party merely abstained from voting providing the general an easy run.

The extremists were annoyed with Bhutto for her unqualified support to the US 'war on terror' and her willingness to play ball with the Bush administration.

This is a policy that Musharraf has found to his chagrin remains hugely unpopular in Pakistan but, which was seen by her party as a politically correct course in order to win back power.

Bhutto's apparent grandstanding in offering to give the International Atomic Energy Agency access to disgraced nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan to probe his role in nuclear proliferation, and allow American troops to enter the Pakistani hinterland to take out al-Qaeda, sparked outrage even in the intelligentsia.”

This is yet another example, akin to Wurmser’s ‘Zionist plan for the Middle East’, of the neocon view that they can defeat ‘radical Islam’ by playing the big chess board.  The best thing about it, other than the fact that Pakistan won’t have to put up with the future depredations of Bhutto (not to mention the break-up of the country caused by the presence of American troops), is that the American plans have yet again been defeated by local resistance.  The Americans bemoaning the ‘death of democracy’ are, as usual, full of shit, as the disruption of a rigged election stage-managed from Washington has nothing to do with democracy.