If there's one phrase that exemplifies US politics, it is this: crass opportunism
While Bhutto's body wasn't even cold on Thursday, presidential candidates from both of the major parties stood over her corpse like vultures ready to feast on the recent kill; birds of prey who would use the reality of her death to pump up their own foreign policy credentials (as if they all actually have any) while making the case against their opponents whom they tried to push aside as they craved more blood and glory.Crass opportunism
at its absolute worst.
Need some examples?
Here's one - after predictably working 9/11 into his commentary on the news of Bhutto's assassination in the immediate aftermath earlier in the day, Giuliani (no doubt corrected by his handlers - certainly not by his conscience) had this to say on Larry King Live
while Blitzer was filling in as the guest host.
We'll start off with this tidbit of cluelessness:
BLITZER: ...I want to bring in the Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani right now. He's the former mayor of New York.
Did you ever meet her, by the way, mayor, Benazir Bhutto, over the years?
RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't believe so, Wolf. I know quite a bit about her, but I don't believe I've met her.
Either you met her or you didn't, Rudy. Yes or no. Sheesh.
BLITZER: John McCain was trying to make the point that you need a president of the United States with extensive national security and foreign policy experience. He said today: "My theme has been, throughout this campaign, that I am the one with the experience, the knowledge and the judgment. So perhaps it may serve to enhance those credentials, to make people understand that I've been to Pakistan, I know Musharraf, can pick up the phone and call him. I know Benazir Bhutto.
What do you say to that argument he's now making that the American people should trust him...
BLITZER: ...to deal with national security?
GIULIANI: I would say that each of us has our own different kinds of experience. I've had foreign policy experience negotiating with governments when I was in the Justice Department. I was mayor of a city that required a significant amount of crisis management and problem solving, where foreign policy issues are something you had to be familiar with. And then over the last five or six years, I've been on 90 plus foreign trips in 34 or 35 different countries. So I believe I have a full range of experience.
But I don't think tonight is the night to be making a political point on my behalf or somebody else's behalf. Tonight is the night to offer our sympathy and support to the people of Pakistan, to the Bhutto family and to work internally in a very, very careful and measured way -- without a lot of political arguments being made on the outside -- to make sure that we help to achieve stability in Pakistan, get them back to that as quickly as possible, and then get them on a track to democracy, again, as quickly as we can, consistent with a stable Pakistan.
I think that, you know, getting it involved in a presidential campaign obviously -- it's -- questions should be asked about it, but you don't want to make too much of a political point out of this. This is a national security issue for them and it has implications for us, as well, since there's this challenge of Islamic terrorism that has us all kind of united here in understanding that we have to deal with it.
See how he snuck in his foreign policy experience along with a vague reference to 9/11 and then
made the point that it shouldn't be the
issue while her body is still warm, going on to highlight how it actually is an issue?Crass opportunism
And he certainly wasn't the only one. Both CNN
were quick on the draw within hours of the news of the assassination to present coverage of the presidential candidates' reactions: Hillary's memories of her personal relationship with Bhutto, Obama's dry statement of standard condolences, Biden appearing on both channels saying 'I told you so' since he has been in the forefront pushing for tougher action on Musharraf.
Check out this headline (more crass opportunism) from the Washington Post
: 'Clinton, Obama Seize on Killing
As if the Republicans acted any differently. Romney used the standard talking point with a mistake and a condemnation of guilt that he then immediately rescinded. Via MSNBC
"This points out again the extraordinary reality of global violent radical jihadism. We don't know who is responsible for this attack but there is no question that the violence we see throughout the world is violence which is not limited to Iran, excuse me, Iraq, and Afghanistan -- but is more global in nature."
Iran? Whoops. Wrong warmongering point there, Mitt. Note how he blames it on GVRJ (global violent radical jihadism) and then admits he has no idea who killed her. That doesn't seem to matter though. Despite the fact that Musharraf had a lot to gain from Bhutto's death as well (and Bhutto held him responsible, regardless of who actually pulled the trigger*), it's the bogeyman "jihadists" who were immediately judged guilty as soon as the news was announced. The FBI and so-called Homeland Security Department were quick to say they received a claim of responsibility from al Qaeda
- a very unreliable one though, but who cares, really? Right? And, of course, the thread running through all of the candidates' reactions was the supposition that only
the US can save the world - once again.
Well let's get real here:
1. Bush has backed Musharraf to the tune of billions of dollars since 9/11 after which Richard Armitage threatened to bomb Pakistan back to the stone age
if Mush didn't cooperate in the GWOT. And how has that worked out? Hint: He signed an agreement with the insurgents in Waziristan to take the pressure off of them so they could keep supplying fresh bodies for the Afghanistan war.
2. Bush and all of his preciously tough Republicans dropped the ball on Afghanistan after they dropped tons of bombs there to pursue his misadventure in Iraq. As a result, NATO has been left to clean up the mess. And how has that worked out? Hint: there isn't one week that goes by without NATO begging for more troops while the situation stagnates in the hands of the warlords and the corrupt Afghanistan government. Did I mention the countless number of civilians who have died as a result - not to mention the troops?
3. Bushco then came up with a secret deal
with Bhutto to bring her back to Pakistan - setting her up as a sacrificial lamb.
4. Mush 'cooperates' by declaring martial law and rounding up all of the lawyers and human rights activists who he claimed were the real threat to so-called democracy in Pakistan.
Robin Wright in WaPo
confirms what those of us who have been following Bhutto's return knew all along:
For Benazir Bhutto, the decision to return to Pakistan was sealed during a telephone call from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice just a week before Bhutto flew home in October. The call culminated more than a year of secret diplomacy -- and came only when it became clear that the heir to Pakistan's most powerful political dynasty was the only one who could bail out Washington's key ally in the battle against terrorism.
Condi - worst.US.secretary.of.state.ever. Her faint efforts at 'diplomacy' (in between her shoe-shopping trips and photo ops) have left a trail of murder and mayhem throughout Asia and the Middle East. No doubt, she will be given a Presidential Medal of Freedom for the heckuva job
she's done on the neocons' behalf. Her modus operandi has simply been to let them all kill each other so they can sort things out later - somehow - while the US government swoops in for the spoils. That is
the American Way™.
Meanwhile, cable news commentators were tripping all over each other on Thursday to proclaim that news of Bhutto's assassination will now make the GWOT the number one issue in the US election again. I doubt it. This event is just another blip on the American news scene that will soon be overshadowed by whatever the networks pick up on next. According to the most recent polls, Americans are more concerned about domestic issues now like the economy and health care and the Iraq war has dropped off as the main bone of contention in the country - mainly because the meme that the so-called surge is working has medicated the maddened masses. Conveniently calmed by the "there hasn't been another 9/11" mantra, terrorism
against America has become a miserable memory (unless you're one of the many radical right pants-wetters like Michelle Malkin and her ilk who think Islamic terrorists are behind absolutely every bad thing that happens.)
Through all of the Bush years, it seems the American public has kept as much distance as possible from the fact that its country is involved in 2 major wars - only getting really upset when it seemed that military glory was not to be found in Iraq. There appears to be a limit on the amount of outrage that can be sustained by a people whose country has been completely fucked over by an administration that continually violates the constitution and breaks laws with impunity enabled by a congress - whether Republican or Democratic - that does absolutely nothing to punish the boy king and his dangerous, cunning jesters. That outrage died earlier this year. It shouldn't be allowed to RIP.
It is truly unfortunate that it's taken Bhutto's murder to once again shine a light on the situation in Afghanistan. But you certainly can't take it for granted that the US government will actually do
anything about it - not those in power now or those who are running to lead the next government. Both parties are too busy balancing their interests
(ie. warmongering lobbyists) with their political ambitions and fortunes. In the meantime, those who might actually provide a different plan of action are considered too 'fringe' to take seriously - the Ron Pauls
(not that I'm endorsing his platform) and Dennis Kuciniches
of the world. No. Just stick with the status quo. That, as well, is the American Way™.
Pakistan continues to exist in turmoil. Bush-backed Musharraf still rules with impunity. al Quaeda remains protected. bin Laden is a faint memory. More people will die in Afghanistan in an unwinnable war. But hey, why miss an opportunity to tout yourself as the next US superhero who can spread American-style democracy around the world?Crass opportunism
. It might win elections, but it doesn't win any peace - for anyone. It's all a very deadly, staged sideshow and it's not about 'democracy'. It's about power
:* Musharraf failed to protect me: Bhutto in e-mailJustin Raimondo: Election '08: The Collapse of the 'Frontrunners'The Nation: Another Death in Rawalpindi
Labels: Benazir Bhutto, Bhutto assassination, Election '08, Pakistan