Bhutto's return and her assassination has once again dredged up the question of democracy in the third world. Her assassination though should be a reminder yet again that politics is played by different rules outside the West. Bhutto was no martyr or saint, she was the daughter of a man who though "democratically" elected had authorized the execution of a political opponent. Bhutto herself has been accused of numerous murders and ethnic cleansing, including the murder of her own brother by her niece. If Musharraf did indeed order the death of Bhutto or at least turn a blind eye to it, he would have acted no differently than Bhutto herself had.
With Bhutto, Americans embraced not a record but a message, the articulate Oxford educated tone of a woman whose rhetoric was Westernized but her approach was the usual Third World combination of kleptocracy, brutality and deceit. Beginning with her father Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan sponsored Islamic terrorism in Kashmir and supported terrorism in the Middle East, including Arafat. Bhutto's father groomed the fundamentalist Islamic general who would overthrow him and Bhutto groomed the Taliban who would provide a warm home to the Islamic terrorists who would eventually kill her.
While Bhutto was adept at delivering one message to the West, the reality was otherwise. Those mourning Bhutto's death as the murder of a woman by Islamists might do well to remember just how many women Bhutto had been responsible for killing, both in her failure to repeal the Hudood laws, which made rape prosecutions virtually impossible while making adultery prosecutions on behalf of those rapists absurdly easy, and her promotion of the Kashmiri Jihad, particularly against the Hindu Pandits of Kashmir.
In Bhutto's desire to seize Kashmir from India, Pakistan backed and trained Islamic terrorist groups who engaged in a brutal campaign of atrocities against the Pandit reminiscent of Sudan that all but eliminated their population. This campaign included murders, gang rapes, arson, kidnapping and torture. Rather than being some sort of patron saint of Democracy in Pakistan, Bhutto backed and armed Islamic fundamentalists in Kashir and Afghanistan, those same Jihadist thugs who committed numberless atrocities against women.
While Westerns remain eager to find sources of moderation and friends of democracy in Pakistan, the country is a boiling pot. Musharraf is simply the man with his hand on top of the pot trying to keep it from boiling over. Most of the third world does not consist of democracies, it consists of oligarchies and kleptocracies. Democracy in the third world is simply an unstable oligarchy.
The philosophical belief that all it takes to remedy a dictatorship is to give the people freedom and a chance to vote ignores the troubling result that such elections inevitably mirror the unstable hatreds and rivalries of the country itself. No ruler could stay in power unless he reflects the wills and wishes of a sizable portion of the population. That is a reality that we repeatedly ignore at our own peril because it forces us to acknowledge that these countries have cultures that substantially diverge in morals and preferences from our own.
The United States would not be a democracy unless Americans wished it so. If we were incapable of handling Democracy and backed radicals and settled disputes with guns and fists, we wouldn't have a democracy. If Pakistan's population really were ready for a democracy, they would have one. They instead have a system of government that accurately reflects their culture, it's an ugly truth but an inescapable one.
Democracy is the virtue of a culture, not something inherent in mankind. Elections become the Rorschach blot of a nation reflecting its values and its leaders, elected or unelected, reflect its deepest heart. Stalin was the Russian Father-God made flesh, a dread beloved tyrant by a nation of slaves. Hitler was the Burgher-agitator, the worst of Germany wearing sane clothing over its insane mad nakedness. Saddam was the Father-Sheikh, the ultimate tribal paternalistic figure doling out favors to his family and brutal death to his enemies.
To become a democracy takes more than a ballot box, it requires that a culture, a people and a nation become ready for democracy. Without first growing up, democracy in the third world runs into a dead end.