Friday, December 28, 2007

She's Gone Oh I, Oh I'd better learn how to face it

Big Tent Democrat writing at Talk Left has the vapors re: Obama spokesperson David Axelrod's statement on the Bhutto assassination:
Axelrod disgustingly blames Hillary for the Bhutto assassination:
Bhutto’s death will “call into issue the judgment: who’s made the right judgments,” [Obama campaign manager David] Axelrod said. “Obviously, one of the reasons that Pakistan is in the distress that it’s in is because al-Qaeda is resurgent, has become more powerful within that country and that’s a consequence of us taking the eye off the ball and making the wrong judgment in going into Iraq. That’s a serious difference between these candidates and I’m sure that people will take that into consideration.” . . . “She was a strong supporter of the war in Iraq, which we would submit, was one of the reasons why we were diverted from Afghanistan, Pakistan and al-Qaeda, who may have been players in this event today, so that’s a judgment she’ll have to defend,” Axelrod said.

Wow! I can not believe he said that. Beyond the fact that the problems of resources in Pakistan are not related to Iraq (indeed, the Bush Administration has given away resources that the Pakistanis diverted to issues other than fighting Al Qaida), where was Obama on funding of Iraq and Pakistan for his tenure in the Senate? What did He do? According to Axelrod, is Obama to blame for the Bhutto assassination too? Outrageous stuff from the Obama campaign.

Um, not really. In this, as well as several other posts over there, he is quick to criticize Axelrod, & Obama, and even offers this:
The Obama campaign seems to be going down in flames.

While this seems to me perhaps a case of Obama Derangement Syndrome, I think the criticism of Axelrod's comments is parsing pretty finely. Put simply, GWBushCo did indeed take military resources out of the 2 -stans, thus ending the hunt for Bin Laden, to start the Iraq debacle. Whether or not continuing the actions in the -stans would have helped or hurt Musharraf's dictatorship is hard to know, and a foolish debate since American forces left.

And the American push to have Bhutto share power with Musharraf, while pretty misguided like everything out of this White House, didn't directly connect with Iraq policy. But I think a long-term military presence in the 2 -stans might have led to Musharraf reigning in some of the more fanatical elements in his army, who likely had some part in the Bhutto assassination.

Pure speculation on my part. But shooting the messenger ("where was Obama on funding of Iraq and Pakistan for his tenure in the Senate?") is a little silly, IMHO. HRC was a supporter of invading Iraq, which meant we took troops out of the -stans, with consequences unknown. Except for the renewal of the Taliban, and the burgeoning of al Qaeda in other parts of the world.

Did those players have anything to do with Bhutto's death? Heck, even our White House Press folks think so:
I've seen and I'm aware that al Qaeda may have claimed responsibility. I'm aware of news reports of that, but I don't have any specifics for you on that. But certainly whoever perpetrated this attack is an enemy of democracy, and has used a tactic which al Qaeda is very familiar with, and that is suicide bombing and the taking of innocent life to try to disrupt a democratic process.
And the Pakistani government is spinning that story hard:
The government said al-Qaida and the Taliban were responsible for her death, claiming it intercepted an al-Qaida leader's message of congratulation for the assassination.
But many of Bhutto's furious supporters blamed President Pervez Musharraf's government for the shooting and bombing attack on the former prime minister, Musharraf's most powerful opponent. They rampaged through several cities in violence that left at least 23 dead less than two weeks before crucial parliamentary elections.
"We have the evidence that al-Qaida and Taliban were behind the suicide attack on Benazir Bhutto," Interior Minister Hamid Nawaz said.

Update: from partner darkblack in comments (this piece deserves wide-spread analysis and reporting-hint hint):
The roots of the crisis go back to the blind bargain Washington made after 9/11 with the regime that had heretofore been the Taliban's main patron: ignoring Musharraf's despotism in return for his promises to crack down on al-Qaeda and cut the Taliban loose. Today, despite $10 billion in U.S. aid to Pakistan since 2001, that bargain is in tatters; the Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan, and al-Qaeda's senior leadership has set up another haven inside Pakistan's chaotic border regions.

The problem is exacerbated by a dramatic drop-off in U.S. expertise on Pakistan. Retired American officials say that, for the first time in U.S. history, nobody with serious Pakistan experience is working in the South Asia bureau of the State Department, on State's policy planning staff, on the National Security Council staff or even in Vice President Cheney's office. Anne W. Patterson, the new U.S. ambassador to Islamabad, is an expert on Latin American "drugs and thugs"; Richard A. Boucher, the assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, is a former department spokesman who served three tours in Hong Kong and China but never was posted in South Asia. "They know nothing of Pakistan," a former senior U.S. diplomat said.

Current and past U.S. officials tell me that Pakistan policy is essentially being run from Cheney's office. The vice president, they say, is close to Musharraf and refuses to brook any U.S. criticism of him. This all fits; in recent months, I'm told, Pakistani opposition politicians visiting Washington have been ushered in to meet Cheney's aides, rather than taken to the State Department.

All I can say is shit-pies!