A Pakistani woman was murdered the other day. Almost immediately after she was killed, American politicians began to sound the chicken hawk cluck and squawk about her death being a reason to vote for them. Yes, they are the ones we need to protect us from the evil-doers. It was as if they were saying, “I, President (Jerk-of-choice’s name here) shall wield our military might to bomb and slaughter all those who don’t like us. And even the ones who look like those who don’t like us.” Yup. Our next President Blood and Guts shall courageously lead us to victory over the scary foreign tribesmen once and for all.
The assassinated woman had more courage than all these egotistic power seekers combined. How many of them would dare to face crowds with the minimal or non-existent security she had? How many of these would-be guardians of America would speak openly at rallies with all the death threats made against them?
Benazir Bhutto knew her life was in danger when she went back to Pakistan. She was attacked immediately. She continued with her campaign, knowing fully the intentional lack of security by the Musharraf regime could contribute to her death. Her doom was sealed when she played into the cruel and merciless arena of Bush’s neo-con inspired meddling in her country’s affairs.
It was nothing short of tragic for Bhutto to get mixed up in the game of empire. She had the best of intentions to restore hope and democracy to her people. She should have known that her efforts were seen as being associated with the United States. At least seventy percent of Pakistanis have a low level of approval toward us, to put it mildly.
The Bush administration wanted to use her as a façade of democracy and reform in order to maintain the dictatorship of General Musharraf. Although admired and loved by much of the country, the poor woman was hopelessly caught in the meat grinder between the radical Islamists and the tyrannical regimes of Musharraf and Bush. She didn’t stand a chance.
It has been heartbreaking to watch such promise and hope reduced to utter destruction. She deserved a far better fate. I remember the time when she first came to our attention.
Back in the dark days of Reagan/Bush America we glimpsed an inspiring vision of possibility. Not here, though. In our country we saw the beginning of the end of America’s middle class. It was unfolding with all the corporate deregulation and union busting ever dreamed of by a greedy CEO. From under the clouds of corporatism gathering over us, we caught a glimmer of light over the eastern horizon.
Something happened in Pakistan that has yet to happen here. A woman was elected to a high national executive office in the government. In an Islamic country, no less. Benazir Bhutto was elected, not once but twice, as Prime Minister of Pakistan.
I was impressed, and wished that such an event would bring hope to the entire world. I also felt the apprehension that this could be too good to be true. Soon enough, it became clear that she wasn’t welcome in the Old Boy’s Club after all. She was accused of corruption and forced out of office in both terms.
I wonder, was this alleged corruption as serious as having a vice-president agitating for a war for the profit of his military contracting company? Or was she lying about something that could have resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent people? Naw, nobody could be that corrupt without being executed for treason.
Her position of Prime Minister had serious weaknesses. Like a Democratic Congress with a Bush White House, her power and influence were constrained.
Peter W. Galbraith, a former U.S. ambassador and friend of Bhutto from their days at Harvard said, "She had been prime minister twice, and had not been able to accomplish very much because she did not have power over the most important institutions in Pakistan -- the ISI [intelligence agency], the military and the nuclear establishment. Without controlling those, she couldn't pursue peace with India, go after extremists or transfer funds from the military to social programs.”
She would have been the perfect prop for Bush to point to and claim another “victory for democracy.” No matter. He will continue to give his “General General” our money anyway.
And so ends the latest Bush Administration game of good cop, bad cop. And so ends the life of one more bright light of humanity.