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:

Commentary November 17, 2015, 6:41 pm

Shaky Foundations

The Clintons’ so-called charitable enterprise has served as a vehicle to launder money and to enrich family friends.

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

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

December 2016

Separated at Birth

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Priest in the Trees

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Lightness

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

With Child

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Standing Rock Speaks

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Prose by Any Other Name

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
With Child·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. 'Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.'"
Photograph (detail) by Lara Shipley
Article
Swat Team·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"As we shall see, for the sort of people who write and edit the opinion pages of the Post, there was something deeply threatening about Sanders and his political views."
Illustration (detail) by John Ritter
Article
Escape from The Caliphate·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"When Matti invited me on a tour of the neighborhood, I asked about security. 'The message has already been passed to ISIS that you’re here,' he said. 'But don’t worry. I guarantee I could bring even you in and out of the Islamic State.'"
Photograph (detail) by Alice Martins
Article
In This One·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. 'Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.'"
Illustration (detail) by Shonagh Rae
Article
“Don’t Touch My Medicare!”·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Medicare’s popularity, however, comes with almost no understanding of what the program is and how it works."
Illustration (detail) by Nate Kitch

Rank of Richard Nixon masks among the top U.S. costumer’s best-selling political masks over the last five years:

1

A small meteorite injured an adolescent German.

It was reported that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called Trump to discuss issues relating to women and families, and Trump handed the phone to his daughter.

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

HARPER’S FINEST

Who Goes Nazi?

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."

Subscribe Today