State Dept Pakistan Chief: Ask Me Later About Bhutto

Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

There’s no statement as yet on Bhutto’s assassination from Richard Boucher. That’s notable, considering Boucher is the assistant secretary of state for South Asia. A spokeswoman for Boucher referred me to the general State press office before saying that she was telling reporters to watch for a statement from President Bush.

As the assassination of Benazir Bhutto throws U.S.-Pakistani relations into turmoil, it’s worth pointing out how the staffing of the U.S.’s Pakistan team indicates that Pakistan isn’t exactly a priority for the Bush administration. Boucher is a career foreign service officer, but he has no prior South Asia experience, and his highest-profile portfolios were his two turns as departmental spokesman. The current U.S. ambassador, Anne W. Patterson, used to run State’s anti-narcotics efforts — a none-too-subtle signal that combatting Afghan heroin exportation gets more attention from the administration than figuring out what to do with a nuclear-armed dictatorship that’s home to Osama bin Laden and a rising tide of Islamic extremism. Patterson, too, doesn’t have experience in the region. The previous, well-regarded ambassador to Pakistan? He’s a little busy right now somewhere else.

Matthew Yglesias recently noted how we’ve got the C-Listers on Pakistan, and suggested Dick Cheney was exploiting the dearth of expertise to control our Pakistan policies. All of which, it should be noted in fairness, are looking super-awesome right now.

Latest Muckraker

Comments are not currently available for this post.

Continue Discussion
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: