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The NYT Bludgeons Bush with Bhutto

Everything is always Bush's fault.

By Will Offensicht  |  December 29, 2007

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:

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.