In 1914, an obscure Archduke and his wife were assassinated in Sarajevo, a place that, to most Western Europeans and Americans, was the back of beyond. It should have been nothing more than a bloody moment in local history that quickly vanished into the backwash of time. It didn’t, of course. Instead, it set in motion a series of events that led to World War I, one of the bloodiest wars in modern history and a war that set the stage for World War II and the Cold War.
I couldn’t help but think of 1914 and Sarajevo when I woke up today to read about Benazir Bhutto’s assassination today in Pakistan. It wasn’t a surprise, of course, considering the fact that this was the third known try against her in only two months. If people are trying that hard to kill someone — and if they are not worried about either their own deaths or collateral damage — they’re eventually going to succeed.
It remains to be seen who was responsible for that assassination. Al Qaeda has already volunteered itself as a suspect, but that may simply be opportunistic blather. Many suspect President Pervez Musharraf, of course, since he was facing an election against Bhutto, but it could just as easily have been Musharraf’s Islamist enemies. Pakistan is certainly not a place lacking people who are motivated to kill. Indeed, to the extent that the increased instability in Pakistan may benefit the Republican candidates, who are seen (rightly, I think), as more prepared to deal with threats against America’s security, I’m sure there are many lining up in the nutroots rooms to blame the assassination on Karl Rove.
I’m not sufficiently well-versed in events in Pakistan to venture any predictions about how this event will play out, both in Pakistan and abroad. My only hope is that it doesn’t take World War IV from a luke warm war to a hot, hot war.
UPDATE: You might have noticed that my blogging rate is low today, despite the big happenings. We were to have been driving to the mountains today, but got snowed out. Instead, my husband suggested that we clean closets, which I thought was a good way to end the old year and see in the new. The one problem is that, in terms of blogging, that’s almost as bad for my output as being in a car. Since I’m incapable of deep thoughts right now, let me pass you on to the Captain who has, I think, some of the better posts about the assassination’s meaning at home and abroad.
UPDATE II: And, of course, Mark Steyn.
UPDATE III: Christopher Hitchens also offers extremely interesting comments about Bhutto’s personality and legacy.