Did Biden, Dodd and Edwards Kill Bhutto Too?

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david axelrod.jpg
Obama Campaign Chief Political Strategist David Axelrod
What the hell is Obama chief political strategist David Axelrod doing?
Nearly all of the major papers and a good slug of blogs have noted with some surprise his comment that Hillary Clinton bore some responsibility for Benazir Bhutto’s demise. When Obama has to backpedal for his team, something is up.
Axelrod’s basic point is that Hillary Clinton’s vote on the Iraq War Resolution motivated George W. Bush to withdraw troops from Afghanistan in order to take on Saddam Hussein. His point is that we were distracted from our true, first mission — which was to squash al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.
If you live in an exceedingly simple-minded world of binary choices, one can understand why Axelrod made this assertion — but he’s really making an argument that Hillary Clinton’s votes are sort of like the flap of a butterfly’s wings leading up to a hurricane.
I have criticized Clinton’s votes on a number of resolutions — and I think it is incumbent on her to show how she is as good with carrots as with sticks and that she will not be the kind of President (like Bush) to define her presidency through the prism of conflict, war, and high-fear politics.
However, at this point, the global equilibrium has been thrown so far out of kilter that there are going to be assassinations and other forms of political convulsion and turmoil that need something more than vapid finger-pointing to confront.
I have been surprised that Obama and his team have not done what he did so admirably in approaching the need for a new course in US-Cuba relations and providing some detail as to how he would reset this neglected and Cold-War cocooned relationship. Rather than Obama suggesting a strategy that would deal with today’s and tomorrow’s mess in much of the Muslim world, he has attacked the kind of votes that legislators are stuck with and have to stand by — but which do not carry with them the imprimatur of executive authority and decision.
I tried to deal with the question of how to measure “executive decision making capacity” when looking at legislators last week — and was pretty surprised that Senator Obama did not call a single issue-oriented hearing in his role as Senate Foreign Relations Committee Subcommittee on Europe Chairman.
Had Obama held such hearings — or even if he was planning them now for January — he might have highlighted Europe’s remarkable success in scoring the only tangible success with Iran on its nuclear program in September 2003.
Obama might also have focused his attention on Afghanistan — which Axelrod says we’ve all been distracted from — because Obama’s committee has jurisdiction over the foreign relations dimensions of NATO which is deeply embedded in the Afghanistan problem — which of course, is the Pakistan problem.
So, by David Axelrod’s own accounting, his candidate Barack Obama has complicity in our nation’s distraction from the serious, building threat of organized Islamic fundamentalist terrorism, by not commanding the resources under his control to raise attention.
And then of course, Biden, Dodd and Edwards all voted for that Iraq War Resolution in 2002 as well. Did they all help to kill Benazir Bhutto too?
I don’t think so. Obama’s foreign policy team — of which Axelrod is not really a qualified member — needs to quickly assemble and get their candidate back in the game.
He was the big picture guy, I hoped — someone who was going to address the real need that America has to leapfrog out of an incrementalist approach to siloed problems in Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Israel/Palestine.
Blaming Hillary Clinton — or Joe Biden, Chris Dodd or John Edwards — for Bhutto’s death is inane. And if many Americans get seduced into that thinking — then the candidates to look at are those with zero complicity in the votes that enabled the war — and that takes us to Kucinich, probably Ron Paul, and all of the Governors who want to live in the White House.
There are real problems brewing in Pakistan and its neighborhood today — and as I told the Baltimore Sun in an interview, the Bhutto slaying may be only a foreshock of a new type of political assassination in the region.
If I’m right — and I have a lot of fear that I am — we need something better than blame game inanity to reconnect with Muslims who are deeply alienated from the US and need a sensible, mature strategy to get a stable equilibrium back in place in the Middle East and South Asia.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

28 comments on “Did Biden, Dodd and Edwards Kill Bhutto Too?

  1. Rickey Roma says:

    Not inferring anything here…draw your own conclusions..but
    doesn’t he look like Hitler in this photo????

    Reply

  2. Steve Clemons says:

    Jammer — Great Post. I feel badly about going after David Axelrod too harshly as I think he was basically trying to make a comment about HRC’s bad votes in the past — and just stupidly or unfortunately, connecting these votes to the assassination. He shouldn’t have used Bhutto’s murder to wage that debate about the IRGC vote or other moves Hillary made. Her team, by the way, is completely divided itself on the IRGC vote.
    That said — Obama has put forward new approaches in foreign policy. His Cuba work was mesmerizing and surprising. His comments that he would talk to the world’s bad guys and be pro-engagement was also extremely impressive.
    Why hasn’t he done more of the same?

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  3. Jammer says:

    Kevin Hayden nails it I think. For the record, I am a Hillary supporter but not so rabid as to not recognize that as soon as she voted for Kyl-Lieberman she made a huge political mistake. Here is my take.
    1. Axelrod’s comments are not only wrong, but reveal a breathtaking ignorance of the history of Pakistan, as well as a typically American arrogance that “if only” we had someone making the right decisions we could somehow “stabilize” Pakistan.
    2. The fact that Obama is supporting Axelrod and not decrying the stupid comments is very troubling to me and makes me wonder if Obama shares this wrongheaded and simplistic view of world affairs and Americas ability to “stabilize” unstable regimes.
    3. I see no ideas promulgated by the Obama side as to exactly what he or anyone else could or should have done to alter the situation in Pakistan.
    4. I find Obama to be far less of a change candidate than others do. He is surrounded the the same old foreign policy crowd with a twist: his main ex-Clinton advisor (yes, he is surrounded as he likes to brag by ex-Clinton foreign policy people), Dr Susan Rice, was deadset against Bill Clinton intervening in Rwanda to prevent genocide, a decision he himself calls his biggest error and one which he says his wife fought with him over.
    5. I find Obama and Clinton to be almost equally unwilling to take new positions forcefully. Obama is the one who claims he can, but his record in the Senate is one of pure safety and an unwillingness to take any dramatically new or interesting positions, especially on foreign policy. I really cannot tell you how he would have voted on Iraq if he was in the senate at the time, given the apparent safety of all the positions he has taken since entering the senate.
    6. On the other hand, I think that Clinton has a much deeper understanding of the difficulties and subtleties of the big problems we face abroad and a much better understanding that it will take small steps, one after the other, consistently applied, in order to improve our position overseas, and not some grand-eloquent soaring rhetoric (of which Obama has no equal) or talk of change, when no specifics on the change overseas is offered and at least one of his advisors makes comments as vacuous and absurd as Axelrod.
    That said any Democrat nominated has my vote and support, if for no other reason than the critical issue of the Supreme Court. I just wish Obama had criticized Axelrod’s comments, as that would have re-assured me that he doesnt share them.

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  4. 1950democrat says:

    Even Obama’s July speech about possible US unilateral military action in Pakistan got him burnt in effigy there and made some Pakistanis call for martial law to meet his ‘threat’.
    Not a very stabilizing idea….

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  5. jhm says:

    Steve, while I disagree with you on this, I also am a fan of Mr. Brzezinski. That said, wasn’t Brzezinski the one who told us that Islamic terrorism was nothing to be concerned about? what role did he play during our disengagement from Afghanistan/Pakistan in the waning years of the Carter administration?
    I ask this mostly because, while I don’t actually know, it is my impression that Brzezinski/Carter have some responsibility for the subsequent problems (in the same manner as is discussed in this post. I’m not accusing anyone) originating in this area (as does Gov. Clinton for his dealings with UBL and KSA, as the Saudi was expelled from the Sudan).

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  6. Kevin Hayden says:

    It would be nice if some commenters could suspend their candidate preferences to weigh this objectively. I’m an Edwards supporter, so feel free to consider that in my assessment, which is:
    1) Bush planned to go to iraq from his first month in office. Without Congressional approval, he likely would have kept twisting intel to gain a majority.
    2) Axelrod’s assertion is silly. In the closing days of a campaign, it’s just an over-reach.
    3) Osama’s foreign policy will never be driven by Axelrod.
    4) I don’t think it will have an impact on the primary voters.
    5) Musharraf may be complicit, Bhutto standing up exposed was her own error, and nobody in the US bears responsibility for her death.
    6) There’s too much unknown publicly to weigh every angle, but clearly the Pakistani military is aware of the financial entanglements of foreign governments in their previous support of AQ. As long as they know where the dirt is, they’ll gain cover from Bush. A popularly elected PM, though, doesn’t dislodge the military from power nor cause any risks to their nukes.
    7) with Bhutto out of the way, the only popular figure the country can unite behind is a soccer star. If the election gets pushed back a month, that becomes a distinct possibility. If not, continued turmoil within the middle class is likely.
    8) Bush’s foreign policy decisions remain disastrous. But in the short term, the outcome of Pakistani elections remains out of his hands.

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  7. rich says:

    Steve’s endured much undeserved criticism, some straight out of right field. Despite a series of meaty if not stellar posts these past few months.
    That said, I share Steve’s annoyance that Obama’s generalized rhetoric might substitute for concrete policy proposals. But this Axelrod plaint is off-base.
    Obama has a role model: George Bush adamantly refused to spell out policy specifics, posed as a man of character, and declared topics off limits that had been applied to his rivals. To play ‘gotcha’ with Obama is to hunt for a double standard.
    People take issue with Hillary out of that same concern for policy specifics.
    Same issue regarding policy is problematic for D.C. as well.
    Policy–effective, sound public policy–just hasn’t been a strong suit for Repubs the last eight years.
    I read in Newsweek (of all places), prior to invading Iraq, that Greg Thielmann’s and Houghton Woods’s ‘jaws dropped to the floor’ when they witnessed Colin Powell cite aluminum tubes at the UN. Not much talk about sound policy then.
    Policy? Yes, please, guvnah! Makes me feel like Ghandi on Western Civilization: it’d be a good idea.
    With Hillary hocking Edwards’ health care policy, and Repubs getting every policy question on torture dead wrong, let’s hope they all get the same level of scrutiny as Obama.
    I’d like to see Obama sternly force explicit examination of, rather than pay glib lip service to, specific provisions of the Constitution.
    The nation needs badly needs to face up to those issues. The ‘Pottery Barn’ rule has never been about fixing Iraq. It’s always been about fixing the broken social contract here at home, adn moving from politics to honest policy discussion in the process.

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  8. MarkL says:

    DC,
    Obama has threatened a unilateral invasion of Pakistan, and you criticize Hillary for meddling because she wants an international investigation of Bhutto’s death? That’s pretty odd.
    Consider also Susan Rice’s remarks:
    “Senator Clinton’s view has been closer to Bush’s, which is to see Musharraf as the linchpin but democracy as something that is desirable, but not necessarily essential to our security interests,” said Rice, “Whereas Obama feels that democracy and human rights in the context of Pakistan are essential to our security.”
    Now THAT is meddling.

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  9. DC says:

    Likewise I don’t gather, from Axelrod’s comments, that he believes HRC caused her death. Rather, I interpret the plain meaning of his words to mean that her support for an addled foreign policy aggravated an already problematic dynamic in Pakistan. Not unreasonable analysis on Axelrod’s part, I must submit. Further, HRC stated later that her prescription for this tragedy would be an “international investigation.” Surely we’ve had enough of meddling in the internal affairs of another sovereign state? Has HRC learned nothing?

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  10. PissedOffAmerican says:

    By the way, this finger pointing of Obama’s is a direct indicator of a lack of maturity in the Obama camp. It is quite easy to imagine this particular “campaign strategy” being the result of a knee jerk spontaneous brain storm that was not thought through to its logical conclusion. Some idiot, Axelrod, or one of his compatriots, perhaps even Obama himself, said, “Uh, duh, gee, this could work in our favor if we spin it right”
    Well, I don’t know about you, but I have had enough of jackasses in office that don’t think things through before they act.
    But hey, at least this Pakistan diversion will give this piece of shit Bush some elbow room to continue to screw us over on the domestic front. Watch the back pages of the media rags, ’cause Bush never misses an opportunity to ram it to us if he can do it under the radar.

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  11. Carroll says:

    Condi just said that the US must continue to with installing “democracy” in Pakstian.
    I guess that means the Pakstian elections wil proceed.
    Oh well, I guess we can overturn their election if we don’t like the winner…didn’t we do that before somewhere…oh yea…Palestine. That’s a perk you get when you are the biggest democracy on the block…throwing out the results of others democratic elections.
    And the news says we are sending 20,000 more troops to Iraq..are they gonna be the same 20,000 we send for the first surge and then withdrew? Is this some kind of two for one promotion…round trip tickets for Surges?
    A sane person would just stop and do absolutely nothing….a sane person would let Masharraf settle down Pakstian and a sane person would leave Iraq for the Iraqis to settle…and wipe all US fingerprints off everything when we leave.

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  12. PissedOffAmerican says:

    This whole dog and pony show is a damned joke.
    The dems are just demonstrating that they are the same swiftboating back knifing slimey pieces of shit that the republicans are. Is there really any question where the Obama/Coccaine/Muslim/dealer rumors are coming from, or the Edwards/infidelity dirt is originating? Obama isn’t the only one campaigning with wedges and darts.
    Read my lips…
    NONE OF THESE PEOPLE, RIGHT OR LEFT, ARE CREDIBLE. THEY WILL SAY ANYTHING, DO ANYTHING, SCREW OVER ANYONE, LIE, CHEAT, MALIGN, MURDER OR MAIM ANYONE THAT GETS IN THEIR WAY.
    Even “news” surrounding the assasination of Bhutto cannot be believed, and it is anybody’s guess what really occurred, and who is responsible. I highly distrust it when this pathetic monkey Bush starts nattering on about “Al Qaeda” and “terrorists”. Hell, the “terrorists” of yesterday in Iraq are now being paid off to kill yesterday’s “allies”. There is absolutely NO WAY that any sane human being should trust one single damned thing we are told by this garbage in Washington. And that includes these media made sensations like this insipid little puke Obama. If you still believe anything theses people say, you must have just landed here from Mars.
    And hell, judging from the incredible malfeasance we have seen in Iraq, that is SO incredible one can easily imagine the chaos is by design, who is to say that the chaos in Pakistan isn’t part of the same game plan?
    Obama, Bush, Clinton, hell, it doesn’t matter, we can’t trust a thing these people say or do. If you, any of you, don’t understand that by now, you’re an idiot.

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  13. MarkL says:

    There’s another flaw in Axelrod/Obama’s reasoning, which is the assumption that more troops devoted to searching for Bin Laden would make Pakistan more stable. In fact, it could have the opposite effect.
    Now, it might be in our national interest to try to fight Al Qaeda in Pakistan, but to think that would make Pakistan more stable is sheer lunacy.
    Obama and Axelrod are appealing to simpletons who think that if we chase bad guys,we’ll be ok.

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  14. Carroll says:

    I just can’t work up any more hysterics over the flaps surrounding the results of our latest FUBAR meddling around the world.
    It’s been obvious to many for some time that, due in large part to US politics/politicans, the world is out of control.
    And now all their campaigns are out of control. How typical.
    If a spaceship landed and a little green man came out said “Take me to your leader”…who the hell would we take him to?
    *Note to aliens…ask to be taken to our “politicans”, we don’t have any leaders.
    BTW…Alexrod looks like Adolph with that jacket and mustache. Did you do that on purpose? Hehehe.

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  15. MarkL says:

    Dan,
    I disagree completely with you.
    Axelrod’s comments show demonstrably terrible judgment. We don’t know yet who killed Bhutto, or why. To assign blame now, when the facts are not know.. what’s worse, to assign blame to one specific Democrat.. shows the worst kind of judgment.

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  16. Dan Kervick says:

    I can find nothing substantively inaccurate in Axelrod’s comments. Hillary Clinton did in fact vote for the Iraq war authorization, and therefore bears a share in the moral responsibility for all of the harmful effects of that war. Worsening, “distressed” conditions in Pakistan are arguably among them, but are also arguably the least of them.
    I won’t say more here about the substance of Axelrod’s comments because I already posted twice on this topic in response to Larry Johnson’s vulgar, unhinged screed last night at TPM Cafe. But it is clear what is happening. Team Hillary is in a panic over the fact that the events in Pakistan will remind voters in many ways of Clinton’s sorry role in enabling the Bush Middle East policy, and her series of Middle East policy misjudgments, so they have sent their minions out to blame the messenger, change the subject, and call for a spurious unity.
    It won’t work. At long last, Clinton is about to be held accountable by the voters of Iowa and New Hampshire, and there is nothing her beltway fan club can do about it.

    Reply

  17. Democrats Against Hillary says:

    I think this was a gaffe by Obama’s camp…
    Big deal though. In the sense that it brings up more discussion of Hillary’s Iraq vote, it’s probably a wash…

    Reply

  18. rich says:

    Steve!
    Is that really the correct link?? –>
    http://thepage.time.com/axelrod-on-bhutto-assassination/
    Because there’s no there there.
    Let’s have the quote in which Axelrod is supposed to attribute Bhutto’s assassination specifically to Hillary Clinton. It is not there. Axelrod makes NO “butterfly-flap-and-Pakistan-disintegrates-with-an-assassination” statement.
    Axelrod clearly and reasonably points out that Establishment Washington has maintained a bipartisan Party Line that “Saddam Hussein Posed a Threat and Must Be Dealt With.”
    Axelrod:
    “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.
    If that’s all he said, Steve, I’m at a loss.
    In no way, shape or form can that be reduced to ‘Hillary killed Benazir.’
    Axelrod’s clearly accurate in his assessment: the DLC / Repubs / & Establishment D.C. have tried to enforce the Party Line that Bush & D.C. faced an Either/Or choice re Iraq. Nothing of the sort is true.
    So it is ironic, Steve–at best–that you should throw the far too-flip slam that:
    “If you live in an exceedingly simple-minded world of binary choices, one can understand why Axelrod made this assertion…”
    The binary choices are Bush’s: “You’re-either-with-us-or-against-us.” It’s held and cherished by a Senate that’s forgotten its job. So who’s with US? If Bush isn’t so much against Osama that he’s willing to do something about bin Laden in 8 years, I don’t know what to tell ya. ‘Cept maybe: Rose Garden. George Patton must be rolling in his grave.
    Axelrod simply did not make the ‘butterfly-wings-to-hurricane’ statement. He said Hillary didn’t do her job in the Senate. Which is primarily to Declare War, not rubber stamp it after the fact as though governance is a game of wait-for-me-Iwanna-come-to-the-war-toooo!
    And of course, to keep the Prznt’s eye on teh ball.
    Let’s be frank: If Jimmy CARTER had let Osama bin Laden off the hook, free as a bird, there’d be a rose-garden feeding frenzy & excoriation the likes of which Washington has never seen, or imagined.
    Yet George W. Bush isn’t given a single scintilla of grief for not bringing in the wanted man who killed ~3,000 Americans on 9/11. And he got us into a quagmire to boot. And the staggering cost to that modern society has been willfully ignored–here.
    So Obama hasn’t held hearings to suit ya. Clinton hasn’t offered a windblown reed’s worth of resistance to the patently false two-party Party Line that Saddam Hussein was a threat—nor has she offered even a single clarion call hunt down Osama bin Laden and hunt down the reason he broke from his alliance with the CIA.
    I don’t know what earth-shattering hearings the Honorable Senator Hillary Clinton has called that merit such a pass.
    I do know that ignoring the real issue Axelrod raised–that not facing al Qaeda & Osama head-on in Pakistan has generated enormous costs within that country, radicalized it, and fundamentally altered the circumstances of Bhutto’s return, with fatal consequencs–is incontrovertible.
    GIVING Bush his own political Rose Garden–one not afforded Jimmy Carter, has had an impact. Assisting Bush invade Iraq, when I could read in the papers that Bush’s claims were false, has had an impact. If I could see the claims were false and the course taken insane, why couldn’t they?
    The consequence is a resurgent of militia resistance to Western occupying forces in Afghanistan & Pakistan. Circumstances haven’t festered, they’ve metastasized.
    I’m not likely to vote Obama. But he’s right in saying:
    “You can’t at once argue that you’re the master of a broken system in Washington and offer yourself as the person to change it,” Obama said. “You can’t fall in line behind the conventional thinking on issues as profound as war and offer yourself as the leader who is best prepared to chart a new and better course for America.”
    It’s clear Axelrod’s just voicing what many of us have been trying to get through to major Dem & Repub figures—from Day One. We’ve been heard, and ignored. You can’t possibly expect to manufacture a “gotcha” for Obama—when YES, Dodd and Biden and even Edwards bear the same responsibility for making the same mistake. That leveling move to equate all these figures won’t wash for an instant. It speaks to leadership.
    Difference is, how they handling that now?

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  19. David G. Stahl says:

    I’m still trying to digest all the political maneuvers that have blossomed in the tragedy that is Pakistan.
    I do agree with Axlerod’s assertion that a key part of the problem in Pakistan is the inability of the US Senate to control the US Executive branch. We now reap in Pakistan what we sowed (see Roger Cohen’s very insightful op-ed in NY Times http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/27/opinion/27cohen.html) .
    I also thought Clinton’s assertion of knowing Bhutto to be fairly political (and not very helpful). The real political problem is that no one really knows what to do about Pakistan, and it is because we have been disengaged for too long from this important place. Getting re-engaged is a long hard slog – and will not be easy.
    I still stand by my comment that none of this will play any meaningful role in American politics. Managing your political advisers is never easy – guilt by association or complicity is a diplomatic game – Presidential politics in the US is not diplomatic.
    My guess is that the economic news may provide a benefit to Edwards who has been strong on economic issues (even while I disagree with much of his policy). We will soon find out just how worried about the economy Iowa caucus participants are, and who they see as Presidential.
    Yours,
    David G. Stahl

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  20. section9 says:

    Sorry, Steve, but Axelrod is actually correct, which is why Obama sent him out to do the dirty deed.
    This is fun to watch the Dems get all huffy and serious over the Benazir assassination. Ralph Peters’ column today about Benazir was refreshing. Benazir was a thief. Most Pakistani politicians are thieves. There hasn’t been an honest Pakistani politician since Jinna, with the possible exception of Yahyah Khan, and we saw what happened to him.
    It took you guys all of six hours to blame an Al Qaeda assassination hit on George Bush. Nice try.
    Yet something changed in Benazir. I guess she grew up and decided to try and salvage something of her career when she was in exile. Her sin was to see the danger in Osama’s kingdom in the West. Musharraff tolerated the Talib and their AQ paymasters. Turns out the the old buzzard is alive today because he understood that his intelligence service is shot through with jihadist sympathizers. They were unsympathetic with Benazir’s call for a campaign in the Frontier States as a means to shake down the Americans for untold billions of dollars in aid. That she lived this long should surprise everyone.
    I don’t blame Condi at all for trying to do a deal with Musharraff through Benazir. You haven’t been listening to Condi lately, have you, Steve. Nations don’t have permanent friends or permanent enemies, only permanent interests. Now Benazir is dead. Condi will find other friends. Benazir is now a martyr. Her thievery will be forgotten.
    If Musharaff is smart, and I think he is, he will embrace Benazir’s memory and play the anti-Saudi, anti-Arab card. Natioanalism always helps. Remember how Iraqi nationalism killed Al Qaeda in Anbar, it was Petraeus’ secret weapon.
    The Army in Pakistan was always the most progressive, forward looking institution in the country. The politicians are dogs, representatives of Plutocratic families who have stolen from the Peasants, the workers, and the Middle Classes since Independence. Bhutto, apparently, caught on to this and mended her ways, which is why the Middle Class started to warm to her.
    It is the Pakistani Army that will save Pakistan from the corruption of its political class and the fanaticism of the Taliban. Only the Army has thought of the nation as a whole. Now, Musharaff has his chance to deliver, and I suspect he will.
    He is the ultimate survivor. I would not underestimate him.

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  21. Chris Brown says:

    Steve,
    I agree with your sentiments. I do,however, think it would be fair to include the question inane that was asked of Axelrod.
    Just for the record, being an expatriate I will have no part in selecting the nominee but will be extremely happy with any of the democrats running. So, with apologies to President Clinton, I don’t have a dog in this hunt.

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  22. MarkL says:

    Axelrod,
    So you think that putting more troops on the border with Pakistan, and maybe even invading Pakistan to find Bin Laden, was a surefire path towards stability?
    Great “judgment” there, pal.

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  23. Steve Clemons says:

    Forest Ranger — thanks for reading regularly. I was astonished by Axelrod’s statement — which I read very, very carefully — because there was a way to talk about complicity and the region — but the link to Bhutto was bad.
    And the part that I find most fascinating is that I agree with the impulse of Zbigniew Brzezinski (read below) — who is one of Obama’s key advisors and would not have concurred with either Obama’s statement or Axelrod’s. Brzezinski is someone who has greater facility in discussing the harsh edges and the nuances of what needs to be done — and what shouldn’t be done — in the Middle East and in South Asia.
    I am not about the blame game at this point — and I have little patience for platitudes in discussing what needs to be done whether such comments come from Obama, HIllary Clinton or any other of the candidates.
    I just posted a proposal that these tit-for-tat, one upping each other candidates consider a joint sessions drawing on real expertise as a way to demonstrate real leadership.
    best regards — and thanks for posting,
    steve clemons

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  24. MarkL says:

    Forest Ranger,
    Obama made it completely clear that he holds Hillary responsble.. not DIRECTLY, mind you, but indirectly.
    He can’t walk away from that.

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  25. Forest Ranger says:

    I agree with “Axelrod is 100%.” The main point is that Pakistan may be stablized if the US had not abandoned the job in Afghanistan and gone to Iraq.
    Axelrod is NOT stating that Senator Clinton is responsible for Bhutto’s death, and linking his statement with that type of accusation is a stretch. As an avid reader of TWN, I expect better insight.

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  26. anon says:

    Hillary is ready to be our President now. Obama has some years to put in before his time is right.

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  27. Axelrod is 100% correct says:

    Voting for a $2.4 trillion war to remove non-existent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was as inane in 2002 as it will be regarded as inane in November 2008. Flip flop decision-making on issues of this magnitude has been tried and failed the test. One of the primary reasons for the rise in violent religious extremism in Pakistan and throughout the region over the past 5 years has been the neglect of Afghanistan and Pakistan by GWB and too many in the U.S. Congress, as well as the forever unwarranted invasion of Iraq – noisily championed by some of our most experienced Washingtonians, including Colin Powell. All of these monumental policy errors concerning Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Middle East have resulted in the deaths of uncounted thousands of Muslim Arabs and the commensurately mounting discontent of those millions in the region whom we never see on CNN and who observe this folly. Meanwhile, Osama bin Laden laughing.

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  28. MarkL says:

    This comes very close to making Obama unacceptable as a nominee.
    As you probably know by now, Obama defended Axelrod’s remarks, saying that he wasn’t trying to DIRECTLY blame Hillary for Bhutto’s death. Wow, that just makes me feel so much better!
    There are several problems with what Axelrod said, on substance.
    First of all, we don’t know yet who killed Bhutto or why. For Obama’s camp to start assigning blame when she’s not even buried shows incredibly poor judgment—and aren’t we supposed to evaluate Obama on his judgment? Furthermore, it makes no sense at all to single out Hillary, and not even mention Republicans. Did he even mention Bush by name?
    Another problem I see with Axelrod’s remarks, which cover all of Hillary’s votes until the present, is that the logic of assigning blame to Hillary while not examining Obama’s actions—or lack thereof, is that Obama is weak, while Hillary is strong. Hillary is to blame because she could have done something; Obama is not to blame because he could not have done anything.
    One last point: it is incredibly stupid for Obama to start blaming other Democrats for problems in Pakistan. Did he forget that his remarks on positioning troops at the Pakistan border, along with his threat to unilaterally invade Pakistan, cause such turmoil that Musharraf said he might need to declare a state of emergency?
    Someone is going to ask him about this soon, I’m sure, and he will have no answer.
    I think we have a definitive answer now as to whether Obama is ready to be President. He is catastrophically unprepared—you might even say he’s Bush-league.

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