Pakistan's Samarra?

The Bhutto assassination is al-Qaeda's attempt to replicate its success of February 22, 2006 -- attacking the al-Askari golden dome mosque in Samarra, Iraq.  As in Iraq, the jihadis are attempting to pit factions against each other in hopes of achieving chaos and taking power.  But in Pakistan there are no American forces, immune to the hate, who can, at great cost in blood, grind down the factions and again create order.  The attack in Iraq launched a real sectarian war until the surge ended it.  The nuclear and Afghani consequences make this attack as significant if not more so.

Bhutto's people are already blaming the regime as are the jihadis.  This convergence means that suddenly the terrorists' now have the followers of their "greatest fear" following them like the pied piper.

There is no sense of moral revulsion on the part of Bhutto's followers for being used by their martyred leader's worst enemies.  In fact many Pakistanis who know full well that jihadis did this are demanding that Musharraf resign and see that conclusion as perfectly sensible.  In Islam it is logical because vengeance is justice, death is to be compensated, and reason is non-existent.  Muslims are like a giant pipe organ available to be played by any madman who knows how to work the keys.

At the NY Post December 29 two writers get it half-right:

Ralph Peters has an honest and cold-eyed look at Bhutto "Not what she seemed to be" but then believes that her death will galvanize opposition to the jihadis.

Now she's dead. And she may finally render her country a genuine service (if cynical party hacks don't try to blame Musharraf for their own benefit). After the inevitable rioting subsides and the spectacular conspiracy theories cool a bit, her murder may galvanize Pakistanis against the Islamist extremists who've never gained great support among voters, but who nonetheless threaten the state's ability to govern.

As a victim of fanaticism, Bhutto may shine as a rallying symbol with a far purer light than she cast while alive. The bitter joke is that, while she was never serious about freedom, women's rights and fighting terrorism, the terrorists took her rhetoric seriously - and killed her for her words, not her actions....

...A creature of insatiable ambition, Bhutto will now become a martyr. In death, she may pay back some of the enormous debt she owes her country.
Unfortunately, "cynical party hacks" are already blaming Musharraf for their own benefit. 

Also at the Post, Rich Lowry paints a warm and heroic picture "Bhutto's Bravery"--but he gets the aftermath:

It's always been the assassin's conceit that he can move history with a single blow. Sometimes, as most infamously with Gavrilo Princip's shot that precipitated World War I, he succeeds. But it's much harder to do in stable, institutionally mature democracies where established parties can be as important as a single man or woman. Pakistan, alternately ruled by civilian kleptocrats and generals, is not such a country....

If Bhutto's murder were to create a spiral of violence in nuclear-armed Pakistan that Musharraf couldn't control, it would be the most successful post-9/11 terrorist act since the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Iraq, which stoked a civil war that nearly brought us to our knees there. Chaos is militancy's friend, and it is much easier to bring about than lawfully constituted order....
The real hope is that Bhutto had mobilized a party of people who are much more interested in self-enrichment than jihad.  They will eventually forget their protests and go back to business.  But even if al-Qaeda is not yet able to launch Pakistan into Iraqi-style sectarian violence, they have succeeded at removing one potential prop from Musharraf just as he abandoned his position as head of the Army. 

Eventually the Army -- which is Pakistan -- will ask, "What do we need Musharraf for?"  The only real answer is as a fig-leaf in order to gain Western largesse.  At the same time many in the West are asking the same question.  Al-Qaeda is arranging Pakistan into a circular firing squad and US diplomacy is inside that circle.

Meanwhile in America, all eyes are on Iowa where we will begin to discover who inherits this mess for which, thanks to al-Qaeda, Democrats are already blaming Bush.
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