Thursday, December 27, 2007

holy crap.
Benazir Bhutto was killed in a bombing.
This is terrible news.

well, at least they don't have nuclear weapons to fight over in the ensuing chaos.

/oh, shit
hey, sly. how ya doin'?

just such rotten news. she was a strong woman in a part of the world where we're all told no strong women are allowed.

not that I know jack about the finer points (or even the broader issues) of politics in that part of the world. but you don't need to be the ambassador to Pakistan to know this is seriously fucked up.
This is a place where it's going to be really easy for feminists to stay the most superficial level and relate to it purely as "a strong womyn was killed". Which, well shows how little the average American knows about the rest of the world.

That's not the story here.

Firstly, no real surprises here, had folks even been watching the earlier attack on her return to Pakistan,(among other 'hints' of what was to come) this was practically 'right on schedule'. Like clockwork. Of COURSE. No shock here.

And secondly, her female anatomy alone doesn't begin to offset the ways in which she was the Bush and Bushies candidate of choice. Not a huge surprise in light of her long ties to the west, christian, American and British education, etc.

Let's just say it's a hell of a lot easier to be a 'strong' womyn with the support of the American government behind you.

And thirdly, well, from what I understand her previous administrations were no friend to the average out in the street Pakistani.

Despite her various promises of reforms for womyn in her country; development banks etc, little measurable change occurred.

Did she (and all the other people who have died in the course of this) by any stretch of the imagination 'deserve' to die for such? No.

The whole thing sucks, but it's all just parts of the ongoing destablization of Pakistan.

To relate to this at the most superficial 'oh she was killed because she was a womyn running for office/former two time Prime Minister' is to completely ignore the ways in which she allied herself with Bush, and was the candidate that this American administration had pinned their hopes upon.

She was to have been their 'friend' in Pakistan. Which of course, had everything to do with keeping those nukes in friendly hands. Her death had more to do with American hopes for control in the region than the cunt between her legs.

Let's just say there's a reason the American Enterprise Institute mourns her thusly "A powerful voice for freedom and democracy in Pakistan has been extinguished..."

"Freedom" and "Democracy", when uttered by the AEI are of course, nothing if not coded language.
"Freedom" and "Democracy", when uttered by the AEI are of course, nothing if not coded language.

well, that's disappointing.
And secondly, her female anatomy alone doesn't begin to offset the ways in which she was the Bush and Bushies candidate of choice. Not a huge surprise in light of her long ties to the west, christian, American and British education, etc.

on the other hand - it looked like she had popular support (although it might have looked like that because of skewed news reporting). And did I also hear that Musharraf had ties to the west all his own (working for Unocal, for example)?

(I mean, maybe I didn't hear that. I don't remember at the moment.)

Is it simply a matter of dueling puppets?
Bhutto was killed in an assassination, anyone else involved was killed in a bombing.

And while the US gov't is craptacular (as has been any empire throughout history), having their support does not have to make you morally suspect. That supposition is... let's say fairly superficial.

To what standards was she being held? She certainly had Western ideas with regard to women and reform. Applying them in Pakistan may not have been as expedient or effective as it might be in New Jersey. So although she accomplished what she did, its value is compromised because she did not meet the scale of her dreams. What an asshole!

"it's a hell of a lot easier to be a 'strong' womyn with the support of the American government behind you." OH REALLY?! Bhutto is now a dead woman.

I'm done here. Bimbo out.
Well, I see at least one anon mouthpiece is out and about- whatever. Rather amusing to see such attracted here.

AP- 'popular support' is a pretty difficult thing to gauge from this distance. Yeah some riots in the aftermath, but are they an indication of 'popular support' for Bhutto herself or are they more related to to the upcoming elections and the party factions? Here's a CTV (Canadaian) piece about them./

Musharraf has also played the role of American puppet, but these days is showing a bit too much draconian 'independence' for certain folks in Washington. Thus the American brokered deal to put aside the corruption charges against Bhutto, which led to her returning to the country.

There's nothing the folks in Washington hate more than when one of their puppets starts going 'off program'. Bhutto was an attempted 'course correction'.

While I don't agree with every point in this recent piece in the London Review of Books, it's an interesting and useful backgrounder by way of getting up to speed on some of the historical landscape.

Shortest answer is Pakistan ain't the U.S. and applying U.S. notions of 'how things work' over there, in policy or in assumptions just isn't going to work.

This includes using U.S. ideas of feminism as the yardstick by which to understand Bhutto and her death.
Well, I see at least one anon mouthpiece is out and about- whatever. Rather amusing to see such attracted here.

disagree as y'all will (remember, opposing viewpoints are mandatory, as we useta say at the bottom of every flyer) - but that wasn't anonymous. that was Bimbo, not a random drive-by.

It's okay, she's with the band, so to speak. (more accurately - she has a backstage pass to my whole life.)

doesn't make her right, doesn't make her wrong, just makes her non-anon.

I think she was having problems with her login.

re the topic at hand - it's pretty easy for me to pontificate from the relative safety of my privileged, fat little life in privileged, fat america. what I have to say on the subject is not exactly going to be smart or important.

but I am interested in everyone else's take on it, and any other links y'all can provide (thanks, Habu!).

I'm still trying to sort out whom the US propped up over there and to what purpose.
note - musharraf is not the Unocal guy.
hamid karzai of Afghanistan is the Unocal guy.

serves me right for getting my news from a half-awake husband before his morning coffee.

anyway, we at the bates motel regret the error.
agreeing with sly, mostly.

absolutely, it's more complicated than a simple "strong woman for Freedom On The March" was killed. the one Pakistani I know refers to her as an "asshole."

but...yeah, chaos + a lot of very VERY angry fundamentalists & others + also Bush admin in charge & having poked all those goddam hornet's nest + nukes =

*hides behind the sofa* where I'm at.

but that doesn't help either, i suppose.

and it's like...i think Hillary's kind of an asshole too, and in many ways no friend to the average ___ on the street...but I think it's fairly straightforward that even if I'm not "supporting" her I'd still damn well rather she NOT be shot two weeks before the election, esp. if she were say running against Dubya who'd recently suspended the Constitution and already seemed to be in the process of making himself a -very- unsteady Dictator For Life, propped up by all sorts of unsavory interests all over the world and now his only real competition seemed to be the increasingly out of control Christian fundamentalists who're calling for his head because he's not fanatically right wing -enough-


now imagine the situation having been way more unstable than it is (here, currently) for decades and decades.

Just: Not Good. At All. No.
and yeah, duelling puppets, more or less, I gather; certainly Musharraf is. but at least Bhutto was a relatively fresh (since last time she left the country anyway) face; and Musharraf was on -real- thin ice as it was, as is/has been the entire country.
and yeah, totally agree: for me the feminist aspect is the least of it, except I suppose in a very broad, abstract sense, if you want to make the argument that out of control patriarchy is part of the root of the whole problem. certainly I expect her gender was a part of what was fuelling the rage of the fundamentalists: more Western corruption. But...even if she'd been a man, with all else being equal, chances are/were excellent that sooner or later there'd have been a similar outcome.

yes, symbolically it's great to have a female leader; but in reality it doesn't, of itself, mean a whole hell of a lot, I don't think.
Belledame said: "... even if she'd been a man ... there'd have been a similar outcome."

It is my admittedly limited understanding that, in Pakistan, male politicians have a longer political shelf life than female politicians, provided they (the men)stay alive and out of prison. Nawaz Sharif, provided he stays alive and legally free, can presumably leave and re-enter politics as often as his allies will allow him.

Benazir Bhutto, on the other hand, must have felt that time was running out for her as an electoral candidate -- or at any rate, that's the only way I can make sense of why she would return to what she had long known was near-certain death by assassination -- and returning as a pro-American candidate, no less. Her refusal, on the campaign trail, to hide behind bullet-proof protection whenever her supporters wanted to see her in person, to me looks like an act of sheer political desperation. By calling it "desperation," I'm not devaluing her behavior or blaming her, exactly, for her assassination, but considering that she had adopted a pro-American stance and knew she was targeted for death, she must have known that exposing herself even for a minute was nearly suicidal. She must have felt that making near-physical contact with her supporters was absolutely necessary for her to carry the election, despite the near-certain risk of death. My guess is that a male candidate would not have felt the need to take such risks in order to carry an election, and that he could re-enter politics later when he might conceivably be in less danger. Perhaps Habu can correct me on the above speculation, but female candidates in Pakistan seem to run for office or hold office on a make-or-break basis. Perhaps Pakistani political parties are less willing to make a long-term investment in female candidates.

Re: Habu's comments on Benazir Bhutto as an American-directed course correction for Musharraf -- I think Bhutto came close to presenting herself to Pakistani voters as a pro-American course correction to Musharraf. At any rate, regardless of whether Musharraf was directly involved in her assassination, Musharraf can once more hold hostage U.S. foreign policy in Pakistan, as, once again, Musharraf's government alone stands between terrorists and Pakistani nukes.
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