Back to Earth

I’ve been floating on my own little pink cloud of joy the last several days. With the holidays, and then the good news about my daughter’s engagement, I was determined not to let anything burst my little bubble.

Well, that couple of days were nice, but they’re over now.

The first news of the world I heard this morning upon waking was that Benazir Bhutto had been assassinated in Pakistan. The news was both breathtaking and … after an instant’s thought, not surprising.

The next news item that made a big impression today was that 3,900 U.S. soldiers have now died in Iraq, victims of George W. Bush’s War That Did Not Have to Be. Three-thousand, nine-hundred men and women, many of them killed in unspeakable violence, for … what? Bush has never answered Cindy Sheehan’s simple question: Exactly what “noble cause” did her son Casey die for? Indeed, what “noble cause” have the other 3,899 soldiers died for?

We’ll likely never really know, since the answer is so despicable. My guess? All these soldiers died for oil, for wildly lucrative business deals, for George’s vanity, for the opportunity to destroy the America we once knew in order to benefit a few, very rich individuals. Maybe I’m wrong. There are sure a lot of people out there who’d tell me so in an instant.

But could they answer the question? Would they? What is the “noble cause” we’re sending our loved ones to be slaughtered for?

I’ve heard news of Benazir Bhutto since I was quite young. She was learning about life at about the same time I was — she was just three years older than I. She learned more than I did, though, attending Princeton and Oxford, and eventually becoming the prime minister of her country. Think about that. Although the elegant and opinionated Bhutto was not allowed much time in the position, the very fact that she rose to it through the will of her people is deeply significant. A woman was prime minister of a Muslim country. She was … extraordinary, whatever her faults. And now she’s gone, shot dead by an assassin who moments later blew himself and at least 20 other innocent people to bits.

The coward. May he be reincarnated as a dung beetle.

I’m not terribly surprised that Bhutto was assassinated. She represented a huge threat to President Pervez Musharraf’s dictatorial control of Pakistan. Did he have something to do with her assassination?

I doubt we’ll ever know. But today Pakistan, one of our greatest “allies” in the war on terror is tottering badly after having squandered billions of U.S. taxpayer money. All our efforts to secure Afghanistan and rebuild that country as a democracy may end up being for naught after all. Musharraf is weak and getting weaker. Bhutto’s death will only cause more trouble — perhaps more than he, or we, can handle. And then Pakistan falls to the mullahs.

Welcome back to Earth.

Note: I noticed that Paul Krugman, one of my favorite progressive columnists, feels that the word “cowardly” in reference to a suicide bomber is the wrong word to use. I disagree, mainly because the bomber, however brave in taking his own life for his cause, is still too cowardly to face life as a living, breathing, struggling human being with the rest of us. He also has no honor, taking the lives of others as if he has a right to them. And finally, the people who put him up to this terrible act of violence against himself and against the random innocents who happen to be near when he detonates — they’re cowards, too, because they won’t fight for their cause in the clear and in the open.

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