In the wake of the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the one thing that isn't needed in that country is more chaos. As distasteful as the rule of Pervez Musharraf is to democracy, it would be far worse for that nuclear-armed nation to plunge into a maelstrom that could end with radical Islamists armed with nuclear weapons.
You'd think that would be something that Democrats would understand and even embrace.
It appears that analysis is wrong.
The one Democratic presidential hopeful that had the most foreign policy experience coming in is the one whose foreign policy pronouncements are, to put it bluntly, the most insane. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and special envoy has advocated pulling all U.S. troops out of Iraq yesterday and damn the consequences.
Similarly, in the wake of Bhutto's murder, Richardson calls on the United States to oust Musharraf with little care for the turmoil that would likely follow such a rash action.
We must use our diplomatic leverage and force the enemies of democracy to yield: President Bush should press Musharraf to step aside, and a broad-based coalition government, consisting of all the democratic parties, should be formed immediately. Until this happens, we should suspend military aid to the Pakistani government. Free and fair elections must also be held as soon as possible.
It is in the interests of the US that there be a democratic Pakistan that relentlessly hunts down terrorists. Musharraf has failed, and his attempts to cling to power are destabilizing his country. He must go."
I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry. Is the way to make sure that Pakistan continues to work with us on hunting down terrorists and safeguarding its nuclear weapons to cut off military aid? Is a new, broad-based coalition government -- with all of the political maneuvering sure to follow -- really going to be better at relentlessly hunting down terrorists than the status quo?
The United States should press for democratic reforms and free and fair elections in Pakistan. But Richardson's prescription for Pakistan's troubles is akin to advocating a heart transplant when an aspirin tablet will do.
Pakistan needs less turmoil, not more right now. Richardson would do better to think things through instead of voicing the knee-jerk platitudes of the extreme left.