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30 December 2007

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Leigh

Was there an international investigation of John F. Kennedy's assassination and the "magic bullet"?
No. It was a national matter.
Seems to me the same thing should apply to Bhutto's. It is a shame that no one seems to trust the Pakistani government...but then a lot of people still don't trust the results of our government's examination of JFK's death. Talk about conspiracies! Authors have lived well off that one.

It seems to me that anyone crying for an international examination of the latest assassination only reveals a lack of foreign policy expertise or finesse.

SubKommander Dred

Charlottesville, Virginia
30 December 2007

Sir;
I'm just curious what your feeling is on this; why has there been conflicting reports out of Pakistan about how she (Banazir) died (bullet, shrapnel, head injury)? As it happens, I'm not much for conspiracy theories, but it would seem to me that the least the Pakistani government would want to do is get it's story straight over such a basic fact as to how Bhutto was killed. Medical records and autopsy reports are pretty easy to evaluate, and the confusion surrounding her demise would seem to just make matters worse with regards to the rioting/ethnic/political strife that has come to a fevered pitch in the wake of her assassination. On a related note, it is my understanding the both the US military and NATO recieve a large amount (perhaps the majority) of diesel/jet fuel from refineries in Pakistan, trucked over the border to support the war effort in Afghanistan. In addition to the worsening political crisis, there is also a grave (though undereported, at least in the MSM) energy crisis going on in Pakistan, with fuel stocks at just a few days worth of supply and load shedding of electricity, to the tune of blackouts in various parts of the country (including Islamabad and Karachi) lasting up to 4 to 6 hours a day. My concern, among others, is what happens if our guys in Afghanistan suddenly have to fight their way out of the country without enough fuel to cover their exit? I mean, the Pakistanis are running into serious fuel shortages, and the popularity of the US is in the cellar. How can Musharraf justify to his countrymen, shivering in their cold (unheated), dark (no power for lights) apartments, which they are unable to flee from because of no gas (it's going to support the American war effort next door). I can't think of a more 'Perfect Storm' in such a situation. God help Pakistan, and God help our guys in Kabul, because it sure looks like no one else will.

SubKommander Dred

martin K

Sir. Might I suggest through this forum that US handprint in Pakistan go very light? Because it is a matter of support where every faction has a part of ISI, and now the sleepers, the little local stringers, have to make a choice. If Pakistan blows, its going to be down to family. Here in Oslo we have 40000 of them, B. Bhutto was here latest in May to form a womens council.

FDChief

"International law? A pretty conceit. The strong still are strong. There will be no effective international investigation into Bhutto's death"

My question would be - will this be because the strong - in this case, the U.S. - is afraid of what an investigation might reveal (cooperation between the Musharraf government and Taliban/AQ elements? Extreme penetration of the ISI by salafists/jihadists [like THAT's news...]) or because the weak (Pakistan) is still soverign enough in its own territory to refuse outside "prying" by the strong?

ISTM that if, in fact, Musharraf's people were NOT involved they'd be the first to welcome an INTERPOL team to verify that fact. And we, as his patron, would want that, too, to ensure the dusky proles that our local aristocrat's hands are clean.

Problem being is that this is one of those "All Cretans are liars" deals. If there's no slime trail to Musharraf but no impartial testimony to that I'd be surprised if the Pakistani electorate believe it. And if there IS an investigation and it's too clearly led by, say, the FBI, I'll bet the locals will refuse to accept it just because they'll think it says what we want it to say...

Possibly the most irritatingly dangerous legacy of the loyal Bushies "more rubble = less trouble" Middle East policies is this reflexive distrust - "he must be lying, his lips are moving" - of whatever position the U.S. takes and whatever proxy we support. I mean, it's not like we were a completely honest broker before (somewhere in Hell Mossadegh grins ruefully) but we seem to be poison to what we touch now. Witness the pathetic reaction to Bush's "democracy" programs, where groups like the Iranian exile opposition recoiled with horror at the thought of being linked to U.S. "support".

What a clusterfuck.

W. Patrick Lang

All

There will be no inquiry because it is in the interest of the US for Musharraf's government to remain in office so long as we need to insure positive contriol over nuclear weapons and Pakistan's cooperation, however grudging, along the border.

Pakistan's internal power struggle is of little inherent interest to anyone who wields real power where it counts.

The babbling of the media is of no significance.

How did she die? My crystal ball is cloudy today. pl

FDChief

And here's Bob Fisk (http://news.independent.co.uk/world/asia/article3291600.ece) asking the same question that any good detective would ask - cui bono?

So, to answer my own question: the U.S. government will quash any attempt to investigate this because the loyal Bushies don't want their master's pal Musarraf implicated...and they think he will be.

Babak Makkinejad

I think Mr. Hariri’s murder was investigated also because he had excellent connections in Saudi Arabia. They (Saudis) also wanted an investigation.

In regards to Pakistan, Saudis have their man - Nawaz Sahrif.

At any rate, Pakistan is a sovereign state and does not need foreigner to come and investigate crimes committed on her soil. No international inquiry was made into the deaths of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther Kinf, Malcolm X, Olaf Palme, that President of Brazil who died of "appendicitis" in 1984(?)...

David W

You've sliced it with Occam's Razor, Col. The fact is that we've given Musharraf over $10 Billion in cash since 9/11, in exchange for tea and conversation. While we don't know where the money went, the likely guesses are, into weapons systems to use against India, into the ISI, the Paki internal 'security' force, and the skim off the top to the Paki elite.

Meanwhile, Bhutto gets a plane ticket to return, and sweet promises from Condi. Remember the PR push about how Condi was now going to actually do her job? Well, this was her big chance, and suffice to say that she got kneecapped by the Cheney cabal, which is better than Bhutto got. How does it feel Condi?

Andy

FDChief,

To add to your two scenarios, I would add a third. Specifically, that government elements were involved in the attack but these elements acted without or contrary to Musharraf's wishes. Outside exposure that Musharraf does not have the kind of control over the country or the government one generally expects from dictatorships would not be a good thing for him. The US may realize this too. A revelation that Musharraf is even weaker than he appears might bring the whole house of cards down. There is ample precedent for "rogue" elements acting against the central government in Pakistan. Even today there are still reports of government elements providing support to the Taliban on both sides of the border, for example.

Secondly, for all of Bush's rhetoric I don't think Musharraf is our "buddy," considering he's done the absolute minimum the US has asked him too which has caused the US much frustration. Rather, it's my impression that the administration is more worried about the nukes and what might happen if Musharraf should fall. They've undoubtedly looked at possible successors, or the chance of significant and destabilizing chaos, and come away concluding that a relatively weak, unhelpful ally we know is better than the alternatives, at least for the time being. Of course, the US has played that game before and been biten in the ass as a result.

Before this latest incident, by supporting Musharraf, the US helped the little boy keep his finger in the dyke and kept chaos, at least temporarily, at bay, while hoping the electoral process would bring in someone with legitimacy and support. I think the assassination has blown another hole in that dyke and the US is trying to figure out who or what can plug it (if anything).

Finally, I doubt Musharraf had a direct role in this assassination. He must have known he would be a prime suspect if she were killed. That his government has handled the aftermath (particularly the cause of death) so poorly suggests to me a lack of planning one would expect if this was a Musharraf-ordered operation. Furthermore, ISTM it would be easier for him to simply manipulate the election to win rather than face a post-assassination crisis with all the inherent consequences, many of which unknown and/or unintended.

Jose

The more we try to make Pakistan more acceptable to the Dumbya foreign policy goals, the more unstable we make Pakistan as a nation.

After the elections in Iraq, Egypt and Palestine you think we would have learned our lessons but Condi and company keep pushing the crap.

I agree with the Col, there will be no investigation because it is in America's interest to maintain Mushareff in power as long as possible.

However, this is a short term view of things that will only make things worse in the long-term like the Iraq troop surge which makes national reconciliation harder.

Dumbya contracted Mushareff to destroy AQ so he could move to the immediate and made-up threat in Iraq (example of Strategy without Tactics). Now imagine what we could have accomplished if the Tactics currently being used in Iraq had been implemented in Afghanistan.

So when the out-sourced problems of AQ become a major problem in Pakistan we resort the democratic elections will correct all our problems (Tactics without Strategy). Then, Dumbya endorses a candidate that will defeat AQ, fight the ISI, and deal with all the corrupt officials in Pakistan and we wonder why she was assassinated (noise before defeat).

Happy New Year to all.

jonst

Does it matter how she died? Does it matter if there was, or was not, an investigation by outside investigators? Would we know any more, either way? See Hariri investigation as Col points out.

Leigh, I hope many of the authors you refer to ARE living well of their efforts on the JFK murder. They do a service, in some cases, anyway.

FDChief

Andy: I agree with you - I doubt that Musharraf himself or even anyone in his circle signed off on this as an operation.

However, I also agree that an investigation would potentially turn over several rocks that both the Pakistani AND U.S. governments would like to remain out of the daylight, including how tenuous Musharraf's control over parts of both his country and his military are, the extent to which he has both had to and wanted to mortgage his defense establishment to the salafis as a counterweight to India...

All this piddling around in southcentral Asia just reminds me of how badly the U.S. "does" imperial projects. The Brits spent two centuries along the same border applying the only formula that appears to work: you keep the fist on the neck of your conquered peoples (in the Punjab amd Sind), coopting the local elites as necessary...and you let the barbarians outside the gate go their own way, applying brutal punitive force whenever they venture over Hadrian's Wall (or the Khyber Pass, whatever).

Our "Middle East" policy seems designed to violate all three of the principles once elucidated for a successful general in foreign parts: we neither pay well, discipline well nor hang well. Add that to the fundamental geopolitical ignorance of the Cheney crew (for whom all politics are simply about who gets to rule along the Potomac) and you've got a pretty ugly mess.

The sad part is that I don't see anyone, from either side of the U.S. political aisle, who seems to have a more coherent worldview along the lines of COL Lang's "Concert of the Middle East"...I'd venture that we're in for a bumpy decade or more, at this rate.

Mad Dogs

Shorter Administration position: "We don't want to know how sausage gets made. We just want to continue to have sausage for breakfast."

parvati_roma

My thinking is there will be an international - preferably UN - investigation: because 1) Bhutto's PPP party is officially demanding one; 2) because Musharraf himself doesn't seem to be "directly" implicated (The "names named" by Benazir in her letter to Musharraf are former Punjab chief minister Pervaiz Elahi, former Sindh chief minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim, Intelligence Bureau chief Ijaz Shah and ex-ISI chief Hameed Gul, using hitmen supplied by AQ-linked Sunni-sectarianist terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Janghvi); 3) because Saudis'-man Nawaz Sharif isn't implicated; 4) more importantly still, because neither US nor UK nor French nor Russian nor Chinese intel are implicated ... and 5)because last-but-not-least it provides a great opportunity to get rid of both Hamid Gul and Ijaz Shah ..:-)

See also my forum-post collection of IndoPak blog n' news reports here">http://www.strategytalk.org/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=60156#60156">here
for informative sublinks.

JohnS

Does it matter how she died?

If an autopsy were to reveal that Benazir Bhutto without-a-doubt died from bullet and/or shrapnel wounds, she might be up for the part of Martyr to Democracy, something that those currently in charge in Pakistan might find problematic...

jon

I just saw on another site that some random person is blaming the Mossad. Yeah, that's the ticket! not.

But perhaps if it could be alleged that the assassination was at Syria's behest, then there could be a full and impartial inquiry.

And if that is plausible, then perhaps Benazir suicided herself. Couldn't wait for martyrdom and her legacy. Kind of a bold Jimmy & Janis career move. But she'd been clever enough to complain about the government's poor security arrangements for her in the past week.

It seems fairly obvious that she and Musharraf had a deal about her being the front person for his regime. Perhaps she reneged, or he did.

But realistically, maybe the Pakistani's are fully capable of investigating all of this themselves and coming to the truth and exacting some justice. Not that anyone would necessarily trust them on it.

Of course, if the investigation pointed to the government or military it could get sticky. And it was the military that removed Bhutto previously - for causes of graft and maladministration, which seem accurate.

Bhutto's assassination is more like Bobby Kennedy's or George Wallace's than JFK's. She represented certain portions of Pakistani society as was passionately hated by many other sectors.

Although I doubt that her murder was done to strike at the US, (and it's certainly not about our elections) we could do well to learn from the event. She was rightly identified as being close to the US government. I don't think that many Pakistani's appreciate US expectations that their internal politics be conducted for the primary benefit of the US, or that the US gets a seat at the table or vote when new governments are formed. The less there is the fact or appearance of our meddling, the better for all.

The US does have interests in Pakistan, that it has made critical to our defense, military and foreign policy. The US can be expected to continue to maneuver for position and advantage. The first concern will be to maintain stability in the country. Next is to assist the peaceful, orderly transition to a more stable and durable (and one hopes democratic) government and society, that is no less disposed to US interests. Too many wrong moves and Pakistan could morph into Iran or Myanmar. With actual, verified nukes.

Musharaff has given up his general's braid, so he needs a parachute of some sort if he is to be eased out of government. I don't think he'll be wanting to join AQ Khan for bridge.

Pakistan has functioned fitfully as a democracy, so it's possible for it to be restored. But success will be a governing coalition that is moderately representative and able to govern robustly, else the military will step in yet again.

Weaning the military (and/or ISI) from support of the Taliban and madrassas would be a cherry on top. Ultimately essential, but impossible without the military's comfort about the progress of the country overall.

Too bad we weren't willing to wait another 2 weeks for the Taliban to hand over Osama. A few billion to them, then, would seem like the deal of the century compared to what Musharraf has coughed up for his end of the bargain...

Curious

Hey, I have a brilliant idea.

Let's make that 19 yrs old kid in charge of nuke!

(holy cow. if this isn't a comedy in pan galactic proportion.)

FB Ali

There won’t be any enquiry. Even if there were one, it is very doubtful that it would be able to discover who did it. To answer that question in terms of probability one should look at the motives (as for opportunity, it was wide open for all comers).

Benazir Bhutto alive posed no threat to Musharraf and his ability to remain in power (remember, she was there as part of a deal with him brokered by the US). In fact, she would have served the useful purpose of taking on much of the heat that Washington is now directing at him for the al Qaeda-Taliban situation. Dead, she greatly complicates life for him, and endangers his survival (something that he could have easily foreseen).

The aim of the jihadis is to destabilize Pakistan, because that way alone can they effectively attack the power of the state. Assassinating political and government figures would further that aim. They are also the only ones who can produce suicide bombers. Whether there are jihadi sympathisers in the lower echelons of the military and the security services is an open question.

There is much loose talk in the Western media (and on blogs) about the fate of Pakistan’s “nukes”. These are the crown jewels of the Pakistan state and military; no one is going to get their hands on them unless they first take control of the army. That is where the focus should be. If there is widespread and prolonged civil disorder which the army is called out to suppress, there is a danger that it might at some point start to fracture; that would provide an opportunity to Islamists within the army to take control.

Babak Makkinejad

There is no reason to characterize the situation in Pakistan as "chaotic". The Armed Forces of Pakistan (including even the Sunni fundamentalist generals) will keep that country together - in a similar manner that the Armed Forces of Indonesia have kept that country together.

I do not think that there is any threat to the current political order in Pakistan since there is no visible condition or situation that could cause the Armed Forces of Pakistan to fracture.

I think the real danger to Pakistan's state stability is the poverty of the landless peasants and the urban slum dwellers.

Chaos in Pakistan, if it ever comes to that, is a threat to her neighbors much more than to the United States. In fact, it is concievable that a US threat of disengagement from Pakistan could be used by US as leverage.

pbrownlee

Seen this by William Dalrymple?

"Behind Pakistan's endless swings between military government and democracy lies a surprising continuity of elitist interests: to some extent, Pakistan's industrial, military and landowning classes are all interrelated and they look after each other. They do not, however, do much to look after the poor. The government education system barely functions in Pakistan and for the poor, justice is almost impossible to come by. According to political scientist Ayesha Siddiqa: 'Both the military and the political parties have all failed to create an environment where the poor can get what they need from the state. So the poor have begun to look to alternatives for justice. In the long term, flaws in the system will create more room for the fundamentalists.'

"In the West, many right-wing commentators on the Islamic world tend to see the march of political Islam as the triumph of an anti-liberal and irrational 'Islamo-fascism'. Yet much of the success of the Islamists in countries such as Pakistan comes from the Islamists' ability to portray themselves as champions of social justice, fighting people such as Benazir Bhutto from the Islamic elite that rules most of the Muslim world from Karachi to Beirut, Ramallah and Cairo."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,2233334,00.html

Also Tariq Ali in the LRB:

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v29/n24/print/ali_01_.html

and Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,2232700,00.html

Also Ben Anderson with the Grenadier Guards, MPs and scared kids in Afghanistan:

"On the way in, a British military policeman who is training the Afghan National Police (ANP) told me he had to fire two men who had been caught smoking opium too many times. He’d just come from a base that was being guarded by a 12-year-old in uniform with a machine-gun. When I told him I was filming with the OMLT, he asked how long the soldiers thought it would take to train the ANA. I told him about ten years and asked about his guys. ‘Double that, at least.’"

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v30/n01/print/ande03_.html

Let's look forward to 2027!

meletius

Does this analysis mean that no powerful country has an interest in knowing how Bhutto died?

Why?

Babak Makkinejad

Mr. Bhutto, a Sindhi, was the only Pakistani leader that, to my knowledge, was willing to initiate limited reforms (including land reform) into Pakistan. His party was opposed by the Ulema in the name of Islam but pious Pakistanis voted for him in spite of that. He was willing to go against the interests of his landlord class for the broader interests of the Pakistani polity and state; in my opinion.

General Zia, a Punjabi, overthrew the constitutional order, executed Mr. Bhutto, introduced Sharia blindly, and plunged Pakistan into the Afghan adventure which has militarized NWFP for more than a generation. I say Afghan adventure since the Pakistani elite mistakenly believed that Afghanistan could be controlled and manipulated into providing them with strategic depth – she is only a liability.

In the meantime, the security situation all over Pakistan has deteriorated; 20 years ago Karachi was a safe city; now it is not safe for anyone. 30 years ago, there was very little Shia-Sunni violence in Pakistan; now that is an everyday event.

The return of so-called civilian rule did not modify the above trends. And Ms. Bhutto and Mr. Sharif seemed to run Pakistan for their own pocket-books; sort of like Berlusconi in Italy.

In my opinion, Pakistan has been on the wrong path since the coup d’état against Mr. Bhutto. It has taken her this long to get here and it will probably take an equally long time to get out of it to the hopeful days of Mr. Bhutto.

I personally do not believe that the elite in Pakistan are willing to pay the costs to avoid a social revolution in that polity [unlike FDR and the New Deal in US]. They can go and tinker around as much as they like with the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan but they will do nothing to make sure that the constitutional order in Pakistan is respected – they had their chance with Bhutto.

I might, however, be wrong.

Babak Makkinejad

pbrownlee:

In regards to the training of Afghan police by the English and Germans - it is hard to find anything more stupid than that. The English and the Germans are training the Afghan Police to be policemen in Europe and not in Afghanistan. And as far as I know, the training does not extend to joint exercises – it is class-room based.

The Afghan Police could have been trained more cheaply and more effectively by the Iranians for reasons of language, religions, and culture. But, of course, that's a No-No.

It is difficult to protect people against their own stupidities, I shall judge.

Valleyof Baca

http://progressiveindependent.com/dc/dcboard.php?az=show_topic&forum=104&topic_id=80322 US to integrage its missile system with Israel ?! House vote- 394-30

Dec-31-07

WTF - Israel to integrage its missile system with America's?

Our missile defense system isn't even integrated with NATO and we're going to integrate it with Israel? This is effing obscene. Why not just save ourselves a lot of trouble, hand them the launch keys and directly subordinate our military to Tel Aviv?


Bill includes U.S.-Israel missile coordination

Published: 12/14/2007

Congress is set to approve a plan to integrate the U.S. and Israeli missile defense systems.

eaken

Babak, you are so very correct.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, the solutions yielding the best results would have in almost every case been the cheaper solution.

The cheaper solution is almost always a No-No.

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