In a very, very narrow sense, he has a point: I argued at the time of the emergency rule that we were pushing too hard and too soon on Musharraf, a man attempting to lead a country that is about as riven with difficulty as a country can get. I argued that the course of pushing democracy was too risky at this point, and that the Bush administration ought to take a long look at what democracy delivered on Israel’s borders before pushing for more of the same in Pakistan. Pakistan is peculiarly troubled: All of its heroes, including Bhutto, are deeply flawed; neither Musharraf, Bhutto or Nawaz Sharif trust each other; all of them would benefit in one way or another if one or both of the others weren’t around, yet they all claim to be the only thing that can save Pakistan; and any could also be weakened by the untimely demise of any of the others. Behind them there’s the rising Islamist threat that, sorry John Derbyshire, Patriot Paul does not understand to a depth greater than a nanometer. The problems in Pakistan are not, ultimately, the results of busted American foreign policy. Our short-term policy hasn’t helped, but the environment in which the problems thrive goes back a few decades, or a few centuries. As we ought to have learned in Afghanistan during the 1990s, rubble can make a very great deal of trouble indeed.
But in Ron Paul’s world, all problems are the result of the US taking action. Any action. Anywhere. Against anyone, doing anything. In the case of Pakistan, he says we should cut off aid to our “puppet” in Pakistan and make sure not to march in there with troops. There is, of course, at most a neglible possibility that we’ll send troops into Pakistan to do anything beyond taking on al Qaeda or securing the nukes. India might, but even that’s highly unlikely. And never mind that Pakistan’s history with democracy is sketchy, to say the least. Should we not have attempted to work with Musharraf against al Qaeda, Patriot Paul? Paul also tosses out the canard that we supported Osama bin Laden. Someone really needs to disabuse him of that notion one of these days. Someone should bone him up on the history of al Qaeda as well. It didn’t form because we support Musharraf, as Paul seems to think.
Paul doesn’t even offer a pro forma statement of condolences either for Bhutto or Pakistan. As a doctor, he must have had splendid bedside manner.
Update: My mistake, Patriot Paul did issue a pro forma statement that Bhutto’s assassination is a “horrible tragedy.” It’s in the last third of the clip, and was short enough that I missed it the first couple of times I listened to the clip to summarize it.
Update: Ron Paul is, indeed, a first-rate ignoramus and a high-voiced crank. Here’s a response to today’s events that’s a little closer to my thinking. And I’m sure that if it gets enough exposure it’ll cause Patriot Paul to have an aneurysm.
I just got an e-mail from a buddy who’s now a senior enlisted military man, who says:
Musharraf, or the Pakistani people or who ever is still in charge, needs to open the northwest sector of their country up to us and we can hunt the [Al Qaeda terrorists] down and kill them like rabbits running out of a fire.
Special Forces, air support, a few drones with Hellfires attached. Nothing fancy.