Bolton Faults U.S. in Bhutto Assassination

January 6, 2008

John R. Bolton, Former U.S. Ambassador to the United NationsFollowing Benazir Bhutto’s 27 December 2007 assassination in Pakistan, much ink was devoted to the blame game. But this little gem from the always-blunt and sometimes controversial John R. Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, didn’t receive much press coverage. Bolton believes that the U.S. helped set in motion a chain of events leading to former prime minister Bhutto’s murder. As reported by PressTV of Iran’s online edition, Bolton said: “By exceeding [acceding] to Beazir Bhutto’s desire to get back into the game in Pakistan and seeing her as an alternative to the country’s current leader, Pervez Musharraf, we in effect helped precipitate this dynamic that led to her tragic assassination.” He added: “It’s hard to see how that was the road to success. . . You can’t say this wasn’t foreseeable, and it’s obviously led to her death. . .Hardly a successful strategy.”

Bolton also criticized the United States for attempting to “micromanage” events in foreign countries, saying that the present situation in Pakistan is a “prescription for chaos.”

More developments in the blame game included a report in The Post, a national newspaper in Pakistan, which reported that Bhutto became increasingly fearful about her security, particularly after her homecoming parade was attacked on October 18 by a suicide bomber. More than 140 people died as a result. She contacted diplomats, friends and government officials in Europe, the Persian Gulf and the United States, asking them to urge Mushareff to increase her security.

Benazir Bhutto Denied Security by Pakistan President Pervez MusharrafBhutto also tried to hire foreign security firms, including the Blackwater Corp. of North Carolina and the Armour Group of London, but President Pervez Musharraf refused to allow the foreign operatives to work in Pakistan. Bhutto’s U.S. spokesperson, Mark Siegel, said: “She asked to bring in trained security personnel from abroad. . .In fact, she and her husband repeatedly tried to get visas for such protection, but they were denied by the government of Pakistan.” While declining to confirm details, a Blackwater spokeswoman confirmed that negotiations to provide Bhutto’s security had taken place. The Armour Group, known for guarding British diplomats in the Middle East, refused to confirm or deny reports of negotiations.

Husain Haqqani, director of the Center for International Relations and a professor at Boston University, also served as a U.S. advisor to Bhutto; he said that the U.S. was reluctant to pressure Musharraf.

Former CIA office Bruce Riedel, also the former National Security Council director for South Asia, commented: “It’s odd and disturbing that the Pakistan government did not do a better job of protecting her and that the U.S. apparently could not do more to persuade them. . . She made it very clear privately and publicly that she did not have enough security. That was abundantly clear after the attack on her return.”

Read Mark Twain’s classic war prayer.

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