In a conversation with Mike O’Hanlon, a foreign policy expert at Brookings who supports Hillary Clinton, he argued that while the assassination of Benazir Bhutto will probably have minimal, if any, affect on the presidential race, a slight edge would go to Clinton.
“Overall I think it helps Clinton over Obama but only marginally,” O’Hanlon said.
He argued that the two had basically identical stances towards Pakistan when it came to foreign assistance for economic development, increasing the army (in the event that Pakistan leadership should require American assistance to keep order), and making a greater commitment towards Pakistani stability. The difference, he said, had to do with the style of diplomacy.
“Of course Obama’s signature idea is we should talk to foreign leaders,” he said. “Well we have been talking to Musharraf for a long time. That was not the problem here. We have been talking to Bhutto for a long time. I think that Clinton’s idea of sending a special envoy makes more sense because it allows you to burrow into the complexities of the situation.”
“Such a person,” he added, “is better placed to wrestle with the complex problems in a place like Pakistan and the idea of just saying well I’m going to turn over a new leaf in American diplomacy, and not be George Bush and talk to foreign leaders. That leaves you with no guidance on how to deal with Pakistan.”
Clinton’s idea, he said, allows for a “more thoughtful, nuanced and appropriate” for dealing with the present situation. “Obama’s signature slogans are without applicability here.”