Dalrymple Gets Bhutto Right

The Times Op-Ed page has a contribution from one of my favorite writers, William Dalrymple, that cuts through the hagiography (which has been skewered brilliantly elsewhere.

It was under Ms. Bhutto’s watch that the Pakistani intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, first installed the Taliban in Afghanistan. It was also at that time that hundreds of young Islamic militants were recruited from the madrassas to do the agency’s dirty work in Indian Kashmir. It seems that, like some terrorist equivalent of Frankenstein’s monster, the extremists turned on both the person and the state that had helped bring them into being.

It’s worth briefly considering this analysis through the lens of immaculate foreign policy. My guess is that Dalrymple would say something similar about the US role in Afghanistan. But of course given the costs and benefits, it seems clear that the miscalculations were of a different order of magnitude. Once again, we Americans have, by virtue of relative isolation and wealth and power, lucked out.