Thursday, December 27, 2007

Benazir Bhutto, Sarajevo, and Bobby Kennedy

I was driving back from the Keys just before noon when I heard the news of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

Two thoughts immediately came to mind: Sarajevo and Bobby Kennedy.

In June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated as he and his wife rode through the city of Sarajevo. Long-simmering intransigence and tension between crumbling monarchies bubbled to the surface. The death of the archduke and his wife became the excuse for ultimatums between nations, and less than two months later, to the beginning of World War I.

And Bobby Kennedy came to mind because Benazir Bhutto represented a chance for change and a new direction in Pakistan, and in the eyes of many in that tortured nation, she could not be allowed to continue.

What I am afraid of most with the death of Ms. Bhutto, aside from the devastating loss this is to her family, her country and the hopes for a new direction, is that too many people will see it as an excuse for the re-imposition of martial law against the wrong people — after all, it isn’t the people who backed Ms. Bhutto who know where Al-Qaida is — and it will be seen by some people in this country as an excuse to exert more of our neocon will on a nation and a region that most assuredly does not need our interference. There are any number of Ms. Bhutto’s supporters in Pakistan and elsewhere who will blame this on Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, and, by proxy, the Bush administration.

For the sake of that nation, and ours, I sure hope that they are wrong.