Jilly, writing over at jillysheep has prompted me to write something about the assassination today of Benazir Bhutto, although I was not intending to do so as I don't usually descend into international politics.
Sadly I have to agree with Jilly's sentiments of being "shocked ... but hardly surprised" and hoping "this does not make the situation in Pakistan worse than it already is, though I can't help feeling it will do".
This was a disaster waiting to happen, entirely predictable and IMO should have been avoidable without Ms Bhutto having to return to exile. But of course her presence was unwelcome by the existing dictatorship who could well have had some part in the affair (not that we will likely ever know if they did) and she is less of a problem dead than waiting in exile.
I fear that Imran Khan may well be the next martyr (sorry, victim) on the list. I also fear that Pakistan is likely to descend into a blood-bath before the situation gets sorted out – and that the sorting out could well be at the hands of the Taliban. I also reckon South Africa won't be far behind once Nelson Mandela dies – I think he still wields a controlling influence over many of the factions. Similar internecine warfare seems quite likely in Zimbabwe too when Mugabe goes. And countries like Russia, while paying lip-service to democracy, seem still to be ruled by old-style dictators.
But should we really be surprised? I don't think so. We must remember that these people have no tradition of democracy; they've always had tribal, monarchical and/or feudal rulers of one form or another. We started on the road to democracy some 700 years ago with Magna Carta and to get to meaningful and stable democracy took us two civil wars, an interregnum, numerous petty squabbles and over 500 years. And we expect to be able to impose our view of democracy on these countries effectively overnight. I ask you: what chance do Pakistan, South Africa, Zimbabwe or even Russia stand? Absolutely none!
Another Afghanistan or Iraq anyone?