A Disastrous Trip

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari calls the recent flooding that has devasted the country “a natural calamity unprecedented in our history.” In addition to making a pitch for foreign assistance, Zardari also takes the opportunity to defend himself against charges that his globetrotting during the crisis “represented aloofness.” No, he says, it was a choice between symbolism or substance (he picked the latter), and he used the trip to “mobilize” help from the leaders of France, Britain, and NATO. He also points out that the “horror” of the West’s losses committed by terrorists “pales in comparison” to what Pakistan has gone through—twice as many Pakistani civilians have died as did Americans in the 9/11 attacks. He wraps it up with a note about his wife’s assassination, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, one more plug for his trip as a worthwhile activity, and a plea for donations from the United States.

Meanwhile, the New York Times editorial board offers up a pep talk for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, urging him to enter talks proposed by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. The Times says that Abbas would be playing with a strong hand, with the backing of the Arab League and the chance to collar Netanyahu into prolonging the moratorium on settlement construction while the negotiations are on. Finally, the editors warn, “staying on the sidelines” would paint Abbas into a corner with Hamas, instead of giving peace a chance.