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Thompson sees 'bigger picture' in Bhutto slaying

EDITOR’S NOTE: WND staff reporter Jerome Corsi is in Des Moines, Iowa, to report on the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses and to participate in the Federation for American Immigration Reform talk-radio row.

Fred Thompson in Iowa today (WND photo)

Reacting to the assassination of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson told WND, “This is a war, a clash of civilizations.”

Thompson, commenting at the FAIR talk radio row in Des Moines, Iowa, said he suspected al-Qaida was responsible for the attack.

“The chance that a secular woman had a possibility of ascending to power in Pakistan drove the more radical Islamic elements in the country to violence,” Thompson said.

The former Tennessee senator said the Bhutto assassination was “part of a much larger picture.”

“This is an international war we are engaged in,” he emphasized. “Bhutto’s assassination is not a law enforcement matter. This is a global conflict, and al-Qaida wants to bring Western civilization to its knees.”

Thompson said he hopes the Bhutto assassination won’t bring the democracy process to a halt in Pakistan.

“We have seen progress in Pakistan with Musharraf taking off the uniform, declaring an end to martial law and calling for elections early next year,” he said. “Now, there will be a temptation for the Pakistani government to declare an emergency and put back martial law, just to retain stability.”

Thompson stressed the urgency of retaining stability in Pakistan, because the nation has nuclear weapons.

“It could be a lot worse if those nukes fall into the wrong hands,” he said. “Right now, the question of stability is paramount in the short run in Pakistan.”

Iowa awoke this morning to have the rapidly approaching Jan. 3 caucus reframed by the shock of the Bhutto assassination.

The immediate speculation of campaign analysts attending the FAIR talk radio row was that the violence in Pakistan would put the issue of terrorism back on the front burner, to the detriment of the current Iowa caucus front-runner Mike Huckabee. The former Arkansas governor has admitted he had little foreign policy experience as chief of the southern state.

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