Bay and Bhutto

Austin Bay nabs an interview with Benazir Bhutto, the only woman to ever head an Islamic state, in which she talks about the future prospects for democracy in the Middle East.

There is certainly a surge towards democracy. This year has been a remarkable one. In some ways like the year when the Berlin Wall fell and the momentum for freedom we’ve had elections Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine. And we’ve seen how the people of Lebanon are now on the streets and talking about their independence. However, the militants are still there and the beneficiaries of the old order are still there. We must remember that while the masses are on one side, there is also an entrenched vested interest that has been created through years of dictatorship or subjugation and these people are waiting to hit out at every single opportunity and they can hit out through several different ways and they can hit out with intrigue or conspiracy or hit out by violent means – beheadings, car bombs, assassination. In fact Iraq is very critical to future direction the Middle East. Success or failure in Iraq will have a profound impact of the future direction of the e Middle East,. And certainly those people who are carrying out the b the beheadings and the kidnappings and tape-recording with the videotapes of their victims.

The video tapes of the beheadings—[they are] trying to create the terror at the horror, to lead to an early pullout, or diversion of the international communities attention so they [international community] leave. That must not happen. We’ve got to remember of Germany and Japan. It took a generation to build the political and social institutions the judicial barristers, the civil services that enable those countries to continue as vibrant successful democracies. We must remember after WWII, if the allied powers had turned their attention away after a year or two, well at that time the Nazi forces were still pretty entrenched, They may have tried a comeback. I think there needs to be a commitment to the promotion of freedom and patience and perseverance are required in knowing that people liberated from decades of repression and cruelty without any political institutions or political systems need the help of the international community. And while there may be voices that say why should the international community continue to stay after all let the people.

There's more.

Though her words sound great, Bhutto herself has sordid past that includes accusations of widespread corruption during her tenure. Millions of dollars are claimed to been received as kickbacks for political favoritism. Her government supported the Taliban when they took over Afghanistan but she "regrets" the initial assistance. It's hard for me to keep the seeds of doubt away as I read her laud "vibrant successful democracies" when, if the charges are true, she fleeced the citizens under her rule to her own benefit. Then again, the cynic in me recalls what a wise man once said about democracy...

The best futures trader I have ever known has a saying - "In the midst of confusion, there's profit to be made." Similarly, in the midst of rapid socio-political change, there are opportunitists looking to exploit the circumstances. I don't know if Bhutto is being genuine in the interview, nor do I know the validity of the charges of corruption from her past. For all I know, she may be completely sincere in the interview; the accusations against her may all be false.

Conversely, she may be looking for a foot in the door to regain power and satiate the political ambition she has never lost. In the coming months there are going to be all kinds of rogues and knaves seeking to caplitalize on the transition going on in the Middle East. As always, it's prudent to treat politicians' rhetoric with a baseline inclination of skepticism.

Share this

Skepticism is *always*

Skepticism is *always* appropriate.

There's no reason she can't be sincere and corrupt.