Washington Babylon — December 28, 2007, 11:23 am

Bhutto: A short break from the hagiography

“I’m all in favor of Benazir Bhutto’s return to Pakistan, but the fawning over the former Prime Minister by American political leaders and the media is way out of control,” I wrote back in October. “If she manages to stay alive, Bhutto’s return might well push her county back towards democracy. But she’s not a saint.”

Bhutto’s assassination was disgusting and depressing, but that doesn’t mean we should now suspend all critical thinking–and yet her sainthood status has now been confirmed in the saturation media coverage following her death.

A former U.S. intelligence official with whom I spoke had this to say:

Without being disrespectful of Bhutto’s memory or of her tragic death, a dispassionate analysis suggests that she was a calculating politician, regardless of the saintly mantle her followers and supporters are bestowing on her after her death. She did not accomplish much as prime minister; in fact, her tenure was marred by corruption, nepotism, and poor governance.

Unfortunately for Benazir, she was a creation of the West, but she had no chance of defeating Musharraf in the coming elections or expediting the return of democracy to Pakistan. She returned to Pakistan after securing a political deal with Musharraf, under U.S. auspices and guarantees; she naively thought she could beat Musharraf in the elections or that she could persuade him to give up power and restore democracy to that country.

Her U.S. supporters pushed her forward without a clear plan of how to deal with Musharraf or how to remove him should he resist U.S. pressure to go democratic. Let’s not forget that Musharraf only reluctantly allowed her to return and only begrudgingly voided the corruption charges against her. It was wishful thinking at best and ignorant at worst to have expected Musharraf to share power with Benazir or to tolerate an electoral victory by her. His donning a civilian suit in place of the military uniform has not made him a democrat. Benazir Bhutto was bound to fail had she lived, and it is doubly tragic that in death she is perceived as the savior of Pakistan.

Share
Single Page

More from Ken Silverstein:

From the November 2013 issue

Dirty South

The foul legacy of Louisiana oil

Perspective October 23, 2013, 8:00 am

On Brining and Dining

How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy

Postcard October 16, 2013, 8:00 am

The Most Cajun Place on Earth

A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits 

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

January 2015

Come With Us If You Want to Live

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Body Politic

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Problem of Pain Management

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Game On

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Love Crimes

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The Body Politic·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“‘He wrote all these love poems, but he was a son of a bitch,’ said a reporter from a wire service.”
Illustration by Steven Dana
Article
Love Crimes·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“If a man rapes a woman, she might be forced to marry him, because in Afghanistan sex before marriage is dishonorable.”
Photographs © Andrew Quilty/Oculi/Agence VU
Article
Game On·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union had posed a truly existential threat.”
Illustration by Taylor Callery
Article
Come With Us If You Want to Live·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“I was startled that all these negative ideologies could be condensed so easily into a positive worldview.”
Illustration by Darrel Rees
Article
Christmas in Prison·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Just so you motherfuckers know, I’ll be spending Christmas with my family, eating a good meal, and you’ll all be here, right where you belong.”
Photographer unknown. Artwork courtesy Alyse Emdur

Acres of hemp grown by “patriotic‚” U.S. farmers in 1942 at the behest of the U.S. government:

36,000

A study suggested that the health effects of exposure to nuclear radiation at Chernobyl were no worse than ill health resulting from smoking and normal urban air pollution.

Greenpeace apologized after activists accidentally defaced the site of Peru’s 2,000-year-old Nazca Lines when they unfurled cloth letters reading “time for change” near the ancient sand drawings. “We fully understand,” the group wrote in a statement, “that this looks bad.”

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

In Praise of Idleness

By

I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Subscribe Today