Rarely do I say this but Paul Krugman could not be more right:
To all the presidential campaigns trying to claim that the atrocity in Pakistan somehow proves that they have the right candidate — please stop.
This isn’t about you; in fact, as far as I can tell, it isn’t about America. It’s about the fact that Pakistan is a very messed-up place. This has very bad consequences for us, but it’s hard to see what, if anything, it says about US policy.
Krugman is right that no matter what policy choices we might have made in the past, what’s going on in Pakistan is the natural consequence of Pakistan being a failing state. Democracy isn’t going to flourish there because there’s a sizable fraction of the population—if not an outright majority—who has no interest in democracy or peaceful coexistence. Years of poor policy choices by Pakistani leaders have created a cauldron of instability, and an event like the assassination of Benazir Bhutto was an inevitability.
However, this disaster is relevant inasmuch as it makes one consider which candidate is the best fit to lead this country in a turbulent world. Mike Huckabee has been demonstrating that he’s terminally clueless on international affairs. John Edwards once again demonstrated a complete and utter lack of common sense by calling up Musharraf during the middle of this crisis. The last thing Musharraf needed was a Presidential candidate—and not even one who has a shot of getting his party’s nomination—giving him unsolicited advice.
John Podhoretz wondered yesterday if this would spell an end to this political season’s “holiday from history” and force American politicians to get serious about the very real threats that this country will face in the future. Sadly, as Krugman points out, what we’re hearing tends to be more idle boasting than real thought.