Benazir Bhutto’s assassination at a rally in Rawalpindi, Pakistan has created political chaos–and possibly civil war–in one of the most dangerous areas of the world. The punditocracy are worrying about the threat posed by an unstable Pakistan. What if al Qaeda or extremist Muslim groups take control?

Good question. But for me Bhutto’s assassination has simply highlighted what has been the case for 20 years: the threat of Muslim extremism emanates from Afghanistan and Pakistan–not from the place Bush and Cheney chose to emphasize after 9/11. So the question posed by an unstable Pakistan isn’t merely what to do, its why have we ignored it? Why did we risk encouraging and empowering al Qaeda by invading an oil-rich Muslim country unconnected to al Qaeda? Why aren’t Bush and Cheney and others who enabled that fiasco held accountable? Why doesn’t public opinion drive them from office?

Was Bhutto’s death avoidable? Who knows? But there is little question that our presence in Iraq empowered al Qaeda and the radicals inside Pakistan who are likely responsible for her death. There is little question that our military is weakened because of it, and our influence around the world diminished.

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