WTMA commentary broadcast 12/28/07

When Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated yesterday I certainly had my own thoughts on the matter. But instead of tackling the issue today, I thought it might be best to give it some time and let more evidence come to light, so that I might be able to better assess the situation and comment on it in a more comprehensive manner. That is until I heard the rest of talk radio take the exact opposite approach.

First up was Dom Giordano who was filling in for Bill O’Reilly. After listening to the painfully predictable host cut off two callers for daring to criticize President Bush’s foreign policy – including one Marine – Giordano pounded his proverbial fist insisting that Bhutto’s assassination was a reminder of just how dangerous the “Islamofascists” are. Next up was the painfully predictable Scott Hannon, who was filling in for Sean Hannity. Hannon not only repeated the mantra that Islamofascism, as demonstrated by the Bhutto killing, would never rest, but that the U.S. needed a leader willing to take strong military action. Hannon’s guest and former White House spokesman Tony Snow even suggested that those who disagreed had “no understanding of the region.”

Well Mr. Snow, apparently neither do you, your former bosses or their radio cronies.

The ruler of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf came to power through military coup in 1999 by ousting the democratically elected Nawaz Sharif. After taking power, Musharraf got rid of Pakistan’s national assembly and other parliamentary, democratic features and appointed himself head of the military. While the textbook definition of such a ruler would be “dictator” this was a small indiscretion the U.S. government was willing to forgive, as we not only monetarily and militarily aided his overthrow of the democratically elected Pakistan government, but we constantly applauded Musharraf as a strong U.S. ally.

The prime political opponent of Musharraf’s regime was Benazir Bhutto, who was twice elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, only to be removed from office quickly both times on alleged “corruption” charges. After a self-imposed exile in Dubai, some U.S. officials began to support Bhutto and urged her to return to Pakistan, which she did on October 18 of this year. While some U.S. leaders looked to Bhutto as a possible ally if something should happen to the increasingly unpopular Musharraf, most outside observers and many of her supporters thought her returning to Pakistan was unwise. Their fears were born out, first by an attempted suicide bomb attack when Bhutto’s plane landed in Pakistan on October 18, and of course, the assassination that took place yesterday.  

So why the history lesson you might ask? Because the intricacies of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East are a little more complex than the perception you might get from a Bill O’Reilly or a Sean Hannity, or worse – their 2nd rate clones. Each host yesterday had one answer and one answer only to the latest Middle Eastern tragedy – the ever-popular “Islamofascism,” a term that apparently only applies to radical fundamentalists who disagree with the United States and not ally-regimes like Saudi Arabia, from which all 19 of the 9/11 hijackers came from.

When yesterday’s hosts writhed over the possibility of the Pakistan’s reported 30-something nuclear warheads falling into the hands of “Islamofascists,” they forgot to mention that it was the United States that helped Pakistan develop those weapons. And while the know-nothings worried aloud about how Bhutto’s assassination was just more evidence of the “Islamofascist threat,” they never mentioned that the average Pakistan citizen sees the United States as the backer of their current oppressive, cruel dictator, and while preaching democracy in Iraq, we completely ignored Pakistan’s right to democracy.

To be sure, there is much more to this story, this assassination and the entire mess we find ourselves in in the Middle East. I have only begun to scratch the surface. But you can also be sure that the neoconservative lapdogs who pretend to speak for the conservative movement on talk radio and elsewhere are either content to keep you in the dark or too ignorant to understand the situation themselves. Either way, these problems aren’t going away any time soon and we can be sure they won’t be solved by those unable to understand simple cause and effect, much less common sense and practical solutions.