Maybe blogs about national security often take a dour tone because of the subject matter. Or maybe if your bodily humors lean in a melancholic direction, you find yourself attracted to national security studies. Whatever.
Anyway, a few days ago, I was ready to say a few positive words about the Bush Administration's willingness to put some distance between itself and Musharraf. It may be a few years overdue, but it's there.
However, the "few years overdue" part is significant, given the volatility of Pakistani politics. No amount of Western support ensured the survival of Bhutto, Zia, or other past occupants of Musharraf's current role. Certainly, you don't want to undermine the top leader of Pakistan, but you don't want to bind your fortunes to his person too much.
While Musharraf is still alive, the role he played in US policy for Central Asia is in jeopardy. If Musharraf uses the Bhutto assassination to justify jailing more politicians and journalists, giving the security forces more latitude in deciding which war they want to fight, or suspending the elections, the US-Musharraf relationship will be effectively moribund. What then?
While US officials dither or decide, the problems that Musharraf was supposed to help the United States solve or contain remain. The civil war in Afghanistan continues; so do worries about Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.
Whoa, here comes that melancholy again.