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Bloviating Zeppelin: Reflections On The Assassination

Bloviating Zeppelin

(in-ep-toc'-ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Reflections On The Assassination

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto (54) was killed near a Rawalpindi park on Thursday evening, shot in the head and neck following a speech at an election rally. The photo below was taken seconds before the assassination. Though she rode in a bulletproof vehicle, she stuck her head and torso up through the sunroof to wave at people. Taking advantage, seconds later, shots occurred. Following the shots, the killer activated explosives which blew himself up adjacent her car, and this event killed another 20 people and injured many more.

All of Pakistan is now in chaos. It's al Qaeda 1, Western Nations 0 today.

Over 5 people have died in riots from Islamabad to Lahore and many other cities. Once her death was announced, people began rioting at the hospital to which she had been taken. Rioters turned their anger on police.

This -- in a nation that has a declared 90 nuclear warheads in possession. Perhaps more, undeclared. Some Pakistani scientists had been kicked out of their nuclear program due to Islamist leanings. Some consolation.

Bhutto was the target of a prior assassination attempt this past October, where 140+ people were killed during her "homecoming" parade.

There are, as one might guess, fingers pointing everywhere. The politics and possibilities are, unfortunately, almost endless. And, as you can see from the map, this entire territory is under heavy pressure from every direction.

And at the center is Militant Islam and al Qaeda.

From the CIA World Factbook and The Economist's 2008 Pocket World In Figures:

Pakistan is the 35th largest country in the world, median age 20.3 years, population, 164 million people, religion consists of: Muslim 97% (Sunni 77%, Shi'a 20%), other (includes Christian and Hindu) 3%.

It is estimated that of the population, 5% is completely aligned with Islamist leanings -- radical Islam. That is a very conservative figure. The bulk of the country is anti-American. Publicly.

Musharraf has been playing both ends against the middle for too long. He likes the American aid. He holds Western nations and America at arms length publicly because he doesn't want to appear too "in bed" with the West, and Islamists at arms length publicly because he recognizes their innate insanity but knows they are poised and waiting. Fundamentalist Taliban types are just waiting for Musharraf to go down. And Musharraf knows that every level of his government, from the police, the military to his intelligence venues are rife and infiltrated with Taliban. Pervez Musharraf himself has survived 9 assassination attempts since 1999.

Politically, in the U.S., the downside for the Demorats: their mantras ranging from "the war doesn't matter" to "there is no war" has now taken a second seat to reality. Obama said he'd invade Pakistan; Huckabee said he'd invade Pakistan. Both are completely out of touch on this issue. And it is entirely possible that some candidates on the Demorat side won't even mention Pakistan and foreign affairs because, quite truly, their advocates and sycophants are actually that ignorant. They simply don't care. Penguins, polar bears, trees and sodomist's "rights" trump all.

Pakistan was created to be nothing more than the "anti-India," plain and simple. Ruled by Islam. And the Clinton Administration essentially gave Pakistan the nuclear bomb. I already wrote about Pakistan here. And, of course, about the threat that Islam poses to Western Civilization.

And with this move today, we have a de facto kicked-up relationship with India. Period. Whether we like it or not.

Clue to U.S. politicians: this is a clarion call for the ramping up of our U.S. missile defense. We once had a 500 ship blue water navy. We now have a 280 ship navy. Will our potential Presidential candidates spend that needed 4% of our budget to try to re-capitalize our military? China, North Korea, Iran and many other nations are purchasing the most silent of diesel-electric submarines -- quieter than nuke subs. The geopolitical situation can not only change by the day, but by the minute. We've already been surprised by Chinese subs.

Make no mistake: Bhutto was no Mother Teresa; she sacked her country's coffers and then sacked them again. But at this point that's almost immaterial. Bhutto was a representation: in the eyes of Islamists, she was a woman. How horrible. Who wasn't wrapped up in a full beekeepers cocoon. Who wore makeup. Who carried Gucci handbags. Who took second place to no man. Who had opinions and seemed to embrace democratic ideals. In power, she was subservient to no men.

BZ Predicts:
1. Musharraf has about two days to, at most, a week to embrace Democracy and the West. Or even NATO. Absent that, his chances of staying in power are two-fold: slim and none.

2. al Qaeda wants nothing but chaos; they thrive amidst chaos;

3. To achieve that end, expect assassination attempts on not only Musharraf again, but on Nawaz Sharif, Bhutto's political rival (and much more sympathetic to al Qaeda and the Taliban), as well.

Trust me on this, people: Iran is not the central issue right now.



Blogger Ranando said...

Great post BZ, the best I've seen so far.

I have nothing to add, your correct when you say he has a week or so, he's dead.

Thu Dec 27, 07:31:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Thanks, Ranando. There are just so many damned variables extant. I tried to factor as many as I could cogitate at the time.

By the way, my main propane house heater went out this past Monday, I have no propane heat as I write this, it was 19-degrees this morning, we're expecting a big storm, it's snowing right now at 7:45 PM PST, 24-degrees, I'm stoking my stove with firewood and wearing a nice thick coat.

Makes me appreciate something as simple as a functioning Williams heater. Gonna cost $1,786.00 to replace tomorrow (took me all week to get the appointment) -- that is, if their work truck can make it up into the snow AND if it has 4WD AND if there is a 30,000 BTU unit in stock at Slakey's.

Brrrrrr. . .


Thu Dec 27, 07:46:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Also: would Bhutto have won come the January 8th (now postponed) Pakistani elections? Very likely.


Thu Dec 27, 07:55:00 PM PST  
Blogger Ranando said...

If I were you I'd be stoking alot more than my stove, LOL.

By the way, I talked to my friend tonight and asked him, "What the hell is with that film The Golden Compass and what the hell made you do that? I'll be seeing him for New Years and I'll give him some more shit.

He agreed, it sucked, he's bummed.

Thu Dec 27, 08:11:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

If you see him, please tell Sam that my wife is SO bummed that his character dies in the following novel. If it gets made into another movie as was obvious at that point. Matter of fact, if I could be so bold, she wanted to see TGC only BECAUSE he was in the film. Absent him, we were both resoundingly disappointed.


Thu Dec 27, 08:52:00 PM PST  
Blogger Mike's America said...

It's a sad day for Pakistan and a sad day as well for all those who strive to achieve peace amidst the storms of evil.

I'm bothered that she would recklessly expose herself in this way by standing up through the sunroof. And that car did not appear to be armored. I caught a glimpse of the door panels when she was getting in. My Chevy Tahoe has more armor than that.

Thu Dec 27, 09:33:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Mike: she knew what she entered. The vehicle was armored. She either threw caution to the wind or was moved by fate. In any event, she evidently felt a need to "connect" with those next to her. To the advantage of her assassin.


Thu Dec 27, 10:55:00 PM PST  
Blogger TexasFred said...

About 3 weeks ago I predicted this, and I ran a poll asking which nation was perceived as the greatest threat to global security...

I had over 200 respondents, 4 of them voted Pakistan, I was one of the 4...

One of these days, maybe, just maybe, some folks will realize, I don't make this stuff up, I still have a few contacts and I get a lot of 1st hand information from that part of the world, and it's not ferreted out by a wife hanging out in back of the 'O' club getting her knees dirty while keeping little Johnny's stripes for him...

Thu Dec 27, 11:04:00 PM PST  
Blogger Rivka said...

Blo, this is the best rundown so far that I have seen as well.

You are RIGHT there are so many variables here. The main reason I like Bhutto was because the terrorists hate her. However, the liberals in America love her and are calling for Musharraf to step down. HUGE MISTAKE.

Also, i have many questions and basic beliefs about some arabs that I just can't gloss over like so many others can.

My main question is are the Pakistinians really 'for' democracy? And when they vote do they vote in tyrants consistently as the Palestinians do?

Also, why are the libs so intent about democracy in Pakistan as opposed to Iraq? It seems to me the Iraqui's are the ones who desire democracy the most.

I am telling you the whole middle east thing is confusing to say the least.

All we can do is listen to the clear thinking officials who know what they are talking about, i.e. BOLTON..

Bolton has some interesting opinions about Pakistan and this whole Bhutto incident. I tend to trust his synopsis on how we should have handled things there than anyone else I have heard.

Fri Dec 28, 05:26:00 AM PST  
Blogger Rivka said...

I also have a post on it today as well.

Fri Dec 28, 05:27:00 AM PST  
Blogger Ranando said...

I will say this until the cows come home.

Iraq was a mistake and now we’re seeing just how bad Bush’s decisions have been. We should have stayed in Afghanistan and kept our eyes on al-Qaeda. Just think where we would be right now if we would have taken the lives and the money that’s been wasted in Iraq and stayed on target against al-Qaeda.

Al-Qaeda claims responsibilities for Bhutto’s assassination, what the Fuck are these people claiming anything. We should be in control of this situation, not al-Qaeda, God help us.

How many more victories are we willing to hand to al-Qaeda?

Bolton, WTF?

If it was up to Bolton we would had attacked Iran months ago. Can you imagine us fighting in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and this happen in Pakistan?

Al-Qaeda and radical Islam, that’s where we need to focus no matter where it takes us and no matter what any World Leader thinks about it. You either help us or get the Fuck out of the way.

That’s what I want to hear a candidate say, Lead, Follow, or Lose your country.

There's a New Sheriff in town and he goes by the name, USA.

Oh and one more thing, Bhutto was a crook.

Fri Dec 28, 07:24:00 AM PST  
Anonymous WMD_Maker said...

We would be in an even worse place if we had not gone into Iraq. Osama would still be hiding in the Pakistani mountains and his training camps would be in Iraq. Sadam would have gladly taken Al Qeadas money for the camps and sold him the WMDs he had to defaeat the "evil western infadels" in Afghanistan.
The only way Osama is going to be beaten is if Pakistan decides to go after the extremeists in the NE of their country. That will take a heavy toll on their country and BIG FREAKING BALLS by their leader.

Fri Dec 28, 07:48:00 AM PST  
Blogger Ranando said...

If on September 12, 2001 the right decisions had been made I can tell you Osama would not be hiding in Pakistan today, he would be gone forever.

Iraq was under control. If training camps popped up we could have taken them out. We didn't need to lose 3000 Americans and Billions of dollars to accomplish that. We were in the skys of Iraq 24/7 and when we didn't like what we saw, we took it out.

They couldn't even sneeze without us knowing about it, they were no threat to anyone.

Fri Dec 28, 08:02:00 AM PST  
Anonymous WMD_Maker said...

"If on September 12, 2001 the right decisions had been made I can tell you Osama would not be hiding in Pakistan today, he would be gone forever."

Osama went into Pakistan as soon as we set foot in Afghanistan. We couldnt put the number of troops into the eastern mountains of Afghanistan st the Paki border because they would have been sitting ducks with no support. They area is among the most inhospitible in the world. There are very few roads/paths that anything besides a person on foot or a donkey can navigate.

" We were in the skys of Iraq 24/7 and when we didn't like what we saw, we took it out."

for 10 yrs we let Sadam get away with all the shit he wanted. We only had no fly zones in the extreme north and the southern 1/3 of the country.

Fri Dec 28, 08:58:00 AM PST  
Blogger Ranando said...

Osama went into Pakistan as soon as we set foot in Afghanistan. We couldnt put the number of troops into the eastern mountains of Afghanistan st the Paki border because they would have been sitting ducks with no support. They area is among the most inhospitible in the world. There are very few roads/paths that anything besides a person on foot or a donkey can navigate.

We can go round and round on this, you have your views and I have mine.

Can we or can we not read the Date on a Dime from Outer-Space?

If we can read the date, don't you think we could see some asshat on foot or on a donkey?

If we can't give our troops the support needed to win with over-whelming force then we should charge the SOB that sent them into harm's way with Treason.

Are we or are we not the best of the best?

We can win a war without ever putting a soldier on the ground. We win it by bringing the enemy to their knees by using our superior air-power.

I remember the days where we would put a missle right through the front door.

Fri Dec 28, 09:21:00 AM PST  
Blogger Ranando said...

We should have bombed those mountains in Afghanistan with 100's, 1000's, 100,000's bombs a day and everyday, day after day after day until the job was done.

We didn't and now the Taliban is back and Osama killing people like Bhutto.

Hell, we should be bombing the hell out of that place today, IMO.

Fri Dec 28, 09:29:00 AM PST  
Anonymous WMD_Maker said...

"Can we or can we not read the Date on a Dime from Outer-Space?"

Supposedly yes but for only 5 minutes out of 24 hrs and there are other places those few satelites are needed.

"If we can't give our troops the support needed to win with over-whelming force"

The problem in those mountains is the terrain itself. You can send in all the supplies you want but if you cant get them to the frontline troops its the same as not having it there. You can only move so many people along a 1-person wide path. And there is a very much higher likelyhood of someone getting hit when you have 10000 men waiting to use the path than 100. Helicopters dont work verry well above 10k feet and those mountains are in the 15-25k range. Very few have large enough oxygen for an extended operation for the pilot let alone the guys you are dropping off.

"We can win a war without ever putting a soldier on the ground. We win it by bringing the enemy to their knees by using our superior air-power."

Actually no you cant Vietnam proved that. Wars will always be left to the ground forces.

"I remember the days where we would put a missle right through the front door."

Did you ever notice that those picts were in the open flat ground area not in the mountains. When the thing is moving at 1200 mph you need some manuevering room.

"We should have bombed those mountains in Afghanistan with 100's, 1000's, 100,000's bombs a day and everyday, day after day after day until the job was done."

Probably do as much good as it did in WWII against the dug in Japanese or the Viet Cong. But it would really have messed up the donkey paths and kept them in their holes till the ground forces could get there.

"Hell, we should be bombing the hell out of that place today, IMO."

Definately no shock and awe like a flock of B52s carpet bombing.

Fri Dec 28, 09:48:00 AM PST  
Blogger TexasFred said...

Some folks are gonna support whatever Bush does regardless...

Ranando, you're beating a dead horse... Sorry to put it so bluntly, but facts are facts, you're arguing with another version of Amy...

Fri Dec 28, 11:36:00 AM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Musharraf knows he's in a precarious position. Sharif may know the same thing and, though much more of a sympathizer to AQ, I'm sure he would be sacrificed in a heartbeat if it served AQ's ends -- which it might. Leaderless on two levels (current leader and "leaders just awaiting to step in"), rudderless, Pakistan could be marshaled up by those with the greatest number of guns and will: al Qaeda and its sympathizers -- not just active sympathizers who will act, but sympathizers who will turn every blind eye necessary.


Fri Dec 28, 01:05:00 PM PST  
Blogger Ranando said...

Did we need ground forces in Nagasaki or Hiroshima?

Oh, the good old days.

Fri Dec 28, 01:44:00 PM PST  
Blogger shoprat said...

Several things bother and astonish me.

First off Pakistanis protest the assassination by burning down their own homes, shops and businesses.

I am more concerned that they will begin to target any politician, writer, filmmaker, educator etc. who refuses to let them call the shorts.

Fri Dec 28, 04:41:00 PM PST  
Blogger A Jacksonian said...

The argument for Afghanistan is not phrased properly. It should be: if America put as many troops in as the Soviets did, what would the results be? Mountain Warfare trumps high-tech, no matter what you do. America did not have the 10MD available due to all of the previous Administration's 'peacekeeping' missions so we married high-tech with what *works* time and again, for millenia in mountain warfare: small organized troop units, often single men or targeting pairs. In two weeks by the time the US could even begin to get regular troops in, the Taliban had been defeated and had fled out-country with al Qaeda.

Now picture a 250,000 low land occupation force not used to mountain warfare, gaining local resentment and being sniped at continually. I am pretty sure China, Russia or the Red Mafia would supply MANPADs to begin neutralizing airpower. That force would be disorganized, unmotivated, harassed continually and, yes, worn down... just like every large army that has gone into Afghanistan has for *centuries*.

High tech buys you scant advantage in that region and we already find it difficult with *low* troop concentrations. We don't have more MD organization and the SF folks are tiny and yet just 'right sized' for Afghanistan. The largest impact since the original invasion was last winter's Canadian MW forces coming in... they did something that no one has done since Alexander the Great *including* the US: they ran a winter campaign. The results this year are obvious with the training camps emptying, Talibe getting pushed out and hundreds, if not a few thousand of Pashtun Talibe and al Qaeda dead. Without camps and without forward operators they are now down to tribal lines of communications which the Afghanis are better suited for than we are.

If you don't look at the type of terrain and the needs of it, then you can't even begin to figure out the logistics problem. Name any single time where 'a brave handfull of men stopped an army' and I will show you a mountain warfare scenario. When a large army goes into such surroundings you get one, and only one, result: large amounts of casualties, often only from the weather as the Persians found out. Its a real bite to find half-your force dead because of a sudden temperature inversion. The Persians never took Afghanistan, nor the Germans in the Balkans. The only force to be more successful *in history* had far fewer men (10,000) and walked through the place taking it in less than two years, plus most of modern Pakistan and the Punjab into India - that was Alexander the Great.

Afghanistan is a damned *miracle* as it is and *nothing* would have done *better*. Even our A-10 pilots have problems with the wind shear and we are lucky not to have lost any due to it. Our problem is not getting NATO Nations to fork over their MW/Alpine forces for this work... that *might* have worked a bit better. And damn those countries for not handing us such small amounts of forces that are highly effective at altitude.

As for Pakistan, we are left with a century of poor decisions. Literally. Some of the British Imperial decrees are expiring now and the Afghanis never paid much attention to them. Nor Pakistan all that much, save when it suited them. Pakistan has *two* ethnic groups who feel they should be separate Nations: Pashtuns and Baluchs. Pakistan, in its great and utter wisdom, decided to define one set of muslims as *not being muslim*. Isn't that a fine thing to do, and don't mind the blood on the streets because of it. Pakistan thought they might be able to use insurgents/terrorists to get Kashmir and set up their ISI and State Dept to do that... in the 1950's.

Iraq? Only about 500x as difficult as our diplomats ever thought it was. Pakistan is way more complex than *that*. Have to love it where the most 'democratic party' that being the PPP, supported one of the most venomous Islamic radicals around the region... basically put him in business to fight the Soviets. Hekmatyar is *still* pissing folks off, strongly Nationalist, strongly Islamic, brutal, and tied in with the Red Mafia. He's Pashtun, BTW, and doesn't think much of bin Laden, either. He turned on the Soviets, turned on the Taliban, turned on the US, turned on anyone who doesn't suit his needs and outlook.

What, he didn't make the top three to worry about? He's my #1 threat as he has got his hands in the money stream of heroin, gold, and semi-precious stones out of Kashmir... actually he runs a pretty large terror group stretching from Tajikistan to Kashmir all the way down to Indian Ocean. Are you *sure* he didn't make your top 3 in threats?

If he has turned on the ISI (and, really, no one has done that and survived) and continues to play Mr. Moneystream for other groups like the Talibe and al Qaeda, showing favor or disfavor to get what he wants, then *who* is the most threatened by a relatively stable and peaceful Pakistan? That would shut out money sources from ISI and Kashmir, about 1/2 to 2/3 of his income for funding terror. By being ethnic Pashtun he can make the Talibe jump, by being more radical than Osama he can play hot/cold barbarian to get them to do as he wants, he can then make up to China after killing a few thousand Chinese in the '90s, and then deal with the Red Don for what he needs.

If you think *he is bad* you should see some of the radical splinter groups that left him... those that could survive, at least, he is very good at killing. So, what is worth more on the black market than heroin?

Nuclear weapons.

Thats why al Qaeda has been nosing around the Pakistani facilities the last few weeks... they want to get them before he does, because then they will have to *pay him*.

Is this picture starting to come in just a bit clearer now?

The real kicker is his force size, estimated at below 20,000. Small, dedicated, fanatical led by someone who knows what they are doing. We thought that we had captured him *once*, killed him *twice* and he is still around. I'm hoping old age gets him. We sure as hell haven't, nor the Pakistanis, nor any of the lesser radicals around him.

He is successfully fighting a Private War.

We are successfully clueless as a Nation.

That latter *must* change and damned fast in this era of asymmetrical war. So far, no dice. Thus we are down to the 'glassy surface' answer to what happens: it works, so long as you make sure you get all of the enemy's devices. One SSBN solves the problem of an internal collapse in Pakistan... and we are whittling anything else we *could* have done down to that. And, really, I am very, very glad we have only a small force contingent in Afghanistan because of our inability to learn. Because if we don't do that, then we will pay a steeply for our stupidity.

Fri Dec 28, 04:49:00 PM PST  

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