The Rosett Report

And Hello 2008, North Korea, Pakistan...

OK, Jan. 1 is a good day for contemplation, but I can’t stay away from the news either. Between the slam!-bam!-thud! of presidential wannabes slugging it out in Iowa and New Hampshire, there’s plenty bubbling up from the world the lucky winner will inherit: murderous post-election riots in Kenya; Hamas and Fatah taking time out from attacking Israel in order to kill each other (or do they dual-task on these things?); the murder of an American diplomat and his Sudanese driver in Khartoum (a city which by this account is one of the safest cities in Africa, which doesn’t exactly sound like a compliment to the rest) …

So two notes for the day. As expected, North Korea has failed to meet the end-of-2007 deadline for delivering a full accounting of its nuclear program (an event marked by the International Herald Tribune with the headline: “North Korea calls on U.S. to abandon hostility“), thus demonstrating yet again that in negotiating with Kim Jong Il’s government, the only things we can depend on are that Pyongyang will lie and cheat — and as part of that, the only thing North Korea will do on time is miss deadlines.

And on the Pakistan front, the canonization of Benazir Bhutto continues (or, as my fellow Pajamas blogger Roger Kimball has noted, the Diana-ization). That might be harmless, except that nuclear-armed terrorist-infested Pakistan is a place where it is a good idea, if possible, to keep a grip on reality in calibrating policy decisions. As Bhutto’s husband and son take up her mantle, here’s a link to the best article I’ve seen yet on the real Benazir Bhutto, by William Dalrymple, writing in the U.K.’s Observer, on “Pakistan’s Flawed and Feudal Princess.” Providing some instructive detail on the Bhutto lifestyle, and calling Benazir Bhutto “as much a central part of Pakistan’s problems as she was the solution to them,” Dalrymple says — and I think he has this right — that “much of the success of the Islamists in countries such as Pakistan comes from the Islamists’ ability to portray themselves as champions of social justice, fighting people such as Benazir Bhutto from the Islamic elite that rules most of the Muslim world from Karachi to Beirut, Ramallah and Cairo.”