The NYT Bludgeons Bush with Bhutto

Everything is always Bush's fault.

The New York Times seems to blame President Bush for Mrs. Bhutto's assassination.  In an article "Salvaging U.S. Diplomacy Amid Division" the Times says:

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto on Thursday left in ruins the delicate diplomatic effort the Bush administration had pursued in the past year to reconcile Pakistan's deeply divided political factions.

The assassination highlighted, in spectacular fashion, the failure of two of President Bush's main objectives in the region: his quest to bring democracy to the Muslim world, and his drive to force out the Islamist militants who have hung on tenaciously in Pakistan, the nuclear-armed state considered ground zero in President Bush's fight against terrorism, despite the administration's long-running effort to root out Al Qaeda from the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

...That is why the administration had been fighting so hard, amid skepticism from many of its allies, to broker an agreement in which the increasingly unpopular Mr. Musharraf would share power with Ms. Bhutto after presidential and parliamentary elections. American officials viewed the power-sharing proposal partly as a way to force Mr. Musharraf onto a democratic path, and partly to relieve the growing pressure for his ouster.

What does the Times want Mr. Bush to do?  They cited his two "main goals" for the region:

  1. President Bush wants to bring democracy to the Muslim world
  2. President Bush wants to force out the Islamist militants who have hung on tenaciously in Pakistan, the nuclear-armed state considered ground zero in President Bush's fight against terrorism.

Does the Times disagree with Mr. Bush's goals?

Do they think he's wrong to try to bring democracy to Pakistan?  It's true that Islamic nations have limited experience with democracy.  Islamic theology opposes the idea of men who are not experts in the Quran making important decisions and it opposes women making any choices at all.

Does the Times believe that Mr. Bush should have backed Mr. Musharraf without limit and let him become as savage a dictator as Mr. Hussein had been in Iraq?  Mr. Hussein kept order in Iraq, but, like Stalin and Mao before him, he killed thousands of his own citizens to do so.  Is that what the Times believes Mr. Bush should have done?

What about opposing the Islamic militants? It is unquestionably true that:

  1. Pakistan has nuclear weapons.
  2. Pakistan's government could be taken over by Islamic militants.
  3. Islamic militants don't like the US very much.  We've pointed out where nuclear-armed terrorism could lead.

Does the Times think that Mr. Bush should just let Islamic militants take over Pakistan's nuclear arsenal?  Or are they afraid that admitting that the triumph of militant Islam in Pakistan would have negative consequences might lead some people to think that Mr. Bush might be doing something right? The Times gives the impression that they're afraid that saying anything negative about Islamic terrorism might suggest that Mr. Bush was right to do some of the things he has done and that they can't tolerate such a possibility.

Assuming that the Times agrees that it would be nice for Pakistani nukes not to be turned over to Islamic terrorists, what do they think Mr. Bush should have done?  Mr. Musharraf could turn Pakistan into a killing field as Mr. Hussein did in Iraq, particularly if we help him.  Is that what the Times wants?

Assuming that the Times agrees that it would be a bad long-term idea to encourage Mr. Musharraf to just kill all the Islamic militants in the tribal areas and anywhere else he can find them, what do they want Mr. Bush to do?  The Times is correct in saying that there are issues with democracy, but as Winston Churchill said, "Democracy is the worst possible form of government, until we compare it with everything else that's been tried."

Given that Mr. Bush preferred using whatever influence he had to nudge Pakistan toward democracy as opposed to becoming a murderous, totalitarian state, his only course was to persuade Mr. Musharraf to share power to give his government more credibility.  In commenting on the proposed power sharing arrangement, the Times said:

"I think it was insane," said Teresita Schaffer, a Pakistan expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, of the proposed alliance. "I don't think Musharraf ever wanted to share power."

Of course Mr. Musharraf doesn't want to share power. Who does?  Does the Times want to share power and influence with the LA Times or with the Washington Post?  Of course not.

These were the facts facing Mr. Bush:

  • Mr. Musharraf was an increasingly unpopular leader.
  • If he lost power, the likely successors to the keys to the nuclear arsenal were Islamic terrorists.
  • The only way to prop up his government was to increase its support base.
  • The only way to increase its support base was for Mr. Musharraf to share power with credible political leaders.

So Mr. Bush urged Mr. Musharraaf to share power.  Short of setting Mr. Musharraf free to kill whomever he chose, what else could Mr. Bush have done?  Unfortunately for Mrs. Bhutto, the Islamic terrorists were terrified of their women seeing her exercise public power and took her out to encourage all the other women to keep quiet, but she knew the dangers when she agreed to come back to Pakistan.

If they don't like democracy, what form of government would the Times prefer for Pakistan?  The Times seems not to like democracy; they had trouble accepting the fact that American electorate preferred Mr. Reagan over their choice for president.

It would appear that the Times has become so elitist, so politically correct, that it doesn't really believe in democracy any more.

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Partisanship.
Reader Comments
The Times will be The Times. Did you honestly expect them to take Bhutto's death in any other direction?

Nice graphical updates! Hope you guys have a lot of traffic in '08
December 29, 2007 7:29 PM
I believe that Bush is to blame for Bhutto and just about every international incident that will happen for the next decade at least. When you run around and do what you want, without consulting other countries or caring who disagrees with you, bad things happen. The fallout from this administration's policies and attitude will be enormous.
December 30, 2007 11:02 AM
What Gary said reflects the prevailing attitude of the Mainstream Media. If he's going to criticize Mr. Bush, however, he should offer alternatives.

Gary says that the bad fallout from what Mr. Bush has done will be enormous. He could be right. Assume that he is right. Gary now has hindsight, which Mr. Bush did not have when he made the decisions he made. With the benefit of hindsight, Gary, please tell us:

1) How should Mr. Bush have responded to 911 if at all?

2) Given that the Taliban and other Islamic militants were and are based in the tribal areas of Pakistan, what should Mr. Bush have done about the possibility that they would take over the government of Pakistan and with it, the Pakistani nuclear arsenal?

Without listing alternatives, criticism is reduced to mere cant.
December 30, 2007 2:13 PM
Liberals will be liberals. I'll bet you $50 that you get no credible response from your friend.

Rulebook for liberals-->

a. Put your head in the sand when something tragic happens that needs a strong leader

b. When "fallout" occurs from the response, jump out of the sand. Yell. Scream. Point fingers. Blame. Say "you knew this was going to happen". Avoid figuring out a solution.
December 30, 2007 3:29 PM
Thank you, TS, we'll see if there's any response.

You won't be surprised to hear that the Wall Street Journal agrees with Scragged. On Dec. 28 P A13 "Bhutto's Legacy" said, "Democracy works in Pakistan. The US should support it." Unfortunately, the article doesn't explain how to balance support for democracy with the need to keep the militants away from the nukes; the Palestinians voted for Hamas over Fatah, and we all know how that turned out.

But there's more. On Dec 29, p A10, in "Grieving for Benazir"

"They killed a Jew, Daniel Perl. They killed Ahmed Shah Massoud, a great guerrilla leader against the Taliban, a moderate Muslim, a cultivated man, and free spirit. They tried for years to kill a man, Salman Rushdie, who dared say that to be a man is also sometimes to choose your own destiny."

"And now they have killed Benazir Bhutto -- killed her because she was a woman, because she had a woman's face, unadorned, yet filled with unswerving strength, because she was living out her destiny and refusing the curse that, according to the new fascists (the jihadists) floats over the human face of woman."


"For those men she was more than a political threat, she was an ontological threat. She would have been merciless. They knew it, and they killed her"

It will be interesting to see what Mr. Murdoch does with the WSJ. I hope he takes the fees off their web edition. Making the web edition free is one thing the NYT got right.
December 30, 2007 3:53 PM
"If they don't like democracy, what form of government would The Times prefer for Pakistan?"

NYT wants the taliban and militant groups to take over pakistan. Remember, above all, the NYT hates the US. if Militants take over the middle east and get nucular weapons, they will hurt the US. That is what NYT wants.
December 30, 2007 10:28 PM
Goef's comment about the NYT wanting to hurt America sounds like the simplest explanation for some of the unworkable positions they take, but I'm not convinced it applies here. If the fall of Pakistan meant merely that the terrorists would have another country from which to attack us, the Times might favor such a setback for a Republican administration but we're talking about Islamic militants who have attacked the US several times taking over a nuclear arsenal.

The Times appears to understand the destructive potential of nuclear weapons.

As I understand the Times, the publisher, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, is privileged to hire and fire editors and tell them what to do. A senior Times editor recently lost his job for overlooking too much plagiarism by a favored Times employee, for example.

Mr. Sulzberger has a keen sense of self-preservation. If you google "Sulzberger gun license" you'll run across many articles including

which quotes the Wall Street Journal of Jan 10, 1985, as saying that Mr. Sulzberger has a gun license even though the Times takes a strong anti-gun position. Mr. Sulzberger evidently feels that the protection offered by the official forces of law and order is so weak that he wants to be prepared to defend himself.

I find it hard to believe that a man who as opposed to risking his elitist aristocratic corpus as Mr. Sulzberger would allow his employees to advocate a policy that might result in Islamic militants getting hold of nuclear weapons. These guys kept attacking the World Trade Center until they put it down. If they had nukes, they'd probably try to take out the city.

I don't see Mr. Sulzberger favoring an editorial policy that would risk his life.

It's unclear that the Times editors hate the US that much; they could afford to move to any other country if they liked another country better than they like America. I agree with Will that they hate Mr. Bush so much that they can't admit that the terrorists whom Mr. Bush opposes are a real threat because that might make Mr. Bush look good.
December 31, 2007 12:16 AM
Then all hope is lost. What you are saying is that the US media is willing to say one thing over and over but believes something entirely different themselves.
December 31, 2007 10:14 AM

points out the dangers of the militants getting their hands on the Pakistani nuclear arsenal. This is NOT all that far-fetched.
January 10, 2009 2:06 PM
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