Yesterday, Hillary Clinton made a sensible proposal in the critical area of foreign policy, which Barack Obama immediately opposed:
Clinton also called for an independent, international investigation into Bhutto’s death, “perhaps along the lines of what the United Nations have been doing with respect to the assassination of Prime Minister Hariri in Lebanon.”
Obama said he doesn’t share that view.
“It is important to us to not give the idea that Pakistan is unable to handle its own affairs,” he said.
Obama proudly advocates a public policy of an attack on Pakistan by U.S. armed forces to root out “terrorists” if President Musharraf “won’t act”. But Obama opposes an investigation of Bhutto’s assassination.
Let’s repeat: Obama is advocating a public policy of military attack on Pakistan, but an “independent, international investigation into Bhutto’s death” Obama perceives as somehow unfair to Pakistan.
Why Obama thinks a military attack on Pakistan is at a lower threshold of Pakistan “unable to handle its own affairs” and therefore OK, but an “independent, international investigation” is violative of Pakistan ability “to handle its own affairs” is a mystery. Maybe it’s one of those “intuitive” foreign policy lessons Obama acquired as a six year old.
Hillary Clinton’s sensible proposal for an independent, international probe is consistent with respect for Pakistani sovereignty and interests:
“I’m calling for a full, independent, international investigation,” Clinton said in an interview with CNN.
“I think it’s critically important that we get answers and really those are due first and foremost to the people of Pakistan,” Clinton said.
The former first lady suggested the probe could be along the lines of the international investigation that followed the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri in 2005.
“I don’t think the Pakistani government at this time under President (Pervez) Musharraf has any credibility at all. They have disbanded an independent judiciary, they oppressed a free press.”
Obama meanwhile, presumably still not wanting to give the idea that Pakistan is unable to handle its own affairs called for imposition of his will on Pakistan:
Obama, campaigning in Williamsburg, Iowa, said Washington should cut military aid to Pakistan, until Musharraf embraced democracy, and said the US invasion of Iraq was a distraction from the “war on terror.”
“We’ve got to reverse policies, but we’ve got to see this in a bigger context which is that our invasion of Iraq resulted in us taking our eye off the ball,” Obama said.
“We should have been focused in Afghanistan, finishing off Al-Qaeda.”
While Democracy is a laudable goal, we don’t understand how forcing democracy on Musharraf and Pakistan by cutting off military aid is less intrusive than an independent international investigation into the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Anyone? Can anyone explain how a cutoff of military aid, and a forced return to Democracy is less intrusive than an investigation?
Obama must have been off having a cigarette, or something, when his international relations class discussed Pakistan if he thinks a return to Democracy is as easy as he describes. We won’t even go into the ramifications of nuclear Pakistan left to go its own way if Musharraf decided to end the alliance with the United States.
Maybe Obama is not conversant with complexity, as a concept in general, or specifically with respect to Pakistan. Obama should be tutored that the military seized power in Pakistan in 1958, one year after it was founded. Pakistan’s problems are not due to Iraq. And Pakistan as a nuclear power (along with nuclear power India) cannot be ignored.
Several military dictatorships, only occasionally interrupted by civilian rule, have been the normal for Pakistan — General Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s followed by General Musharraf, have ruled Pakistan for about 30 years. Benazir’s father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was the civilian president from 1972-1977 (killed in 1979 by dubious court order and replaced by Zia-ul-Haq. Zia-ul-Haq was killed in an airplane crash in 1988 and replaced by Benazir Bhutto. Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif traded the presidency for about a decade. In 1999 General Musharraf assumed powers in a military coup).
Pakistan has the sixth largest population in the world as well as the second biggest population of Muslims in the world. Tensions with neighbors India and Afghanistan and Pakistan’s geographic position (Central Asia meets Middle East) add to the complex puzzle which is the region.
Perhaps Obama’s problem is that he needs tutoring not only in the history of Pakistan but possibly in the history of Lebanon. We won’t provide Obama his needed education here, but we will give a brief description of what Hillary was talking about when she proposed an independent, international investigation into Bhutto’s death, “perhaps along the lines of what the United Nations have been doing with respect to the assassination of Prime Minister Hariri in Lebanon.”
Rafik Hariri was the Prime Minister of Lebanon from 1992 to 1998. On February 14, 2005 Hariri was assassinated. Much like the situation with Benazir Bhutto, Hariri was killed when explosives detonated killing him in his car. Again, like the Bhutto assassination there is a complex political situation with many suspects (Syria being a prime suspect) in the killing, a potential suicide bomber and a country wracked by years of turmoil. Immediately after Hariri’s killing there were all sorts of bogus government explanations and suspects.
Hariri’s killing, led to massive demonstrations in Lebanon, and eventually the politically forced withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon. The killing also led to an international commission to investigate the assassination. The “Cedar Revolution” led to elections and some reforms. The “Cedar Revolution” continues to this day.
The point of this history lesson is that sensible people should support Hillary’s call for an independent international investigation of the Bhutto assassination. An independent international investigation could lead to a soft return to Democracy in Pakistan – not an American imposed, and soon to be resented, imposition of Democracy.
All sensible people should support the idea of an independent international investigation.
But, Obama is not sensible. Obama is reckless.
We need a sensible leader for a change.