Friday, December 28, 2007

Bhutto’s Rule and Legacy

Christopher Hitchens at Slate offers an informed, sensitive, and unsentimental profile of Benazir Bhutto and a very worrisome assessment of her legacy to Pakistan and the world.

According to Hitchens - - -

The sternest critic of Benazir Bhutto would not have been able to deny that she possessed an extraordinary degree of physical courage. When her father was lying in prison under sentence of death from Pakistan's military dictatorship in 1979, and other members of her family were trying to escape the country, she boldly flew back in.

Her subsequent confrontation with the brutal Gen. Zia-ul-Haq cost her five years of her life, spent in prison. She seemed merely to disdain the experience, as she did the vicious little man who had inflicted it upon her.

Benazir saw one of her brothers, Shahnawaz, die in mysterious circumstances in the south of France in 1985, and the other, Mir Murtaza, shot down outside the family home in Karachi by uniformed police in 1996.

It was at that famous address—70 Clifton Road—that I went to meet her in November 1988, on the last night of the election campaign, and I found out firsthand how brave she was. Taking the wheel of a jeep and scorning all bodyguards, she set off with me on a hair-raising tour of the Karachi slums.

Every now and then, she would get out, climb on the roof of the jeep with a bullhorn, and harangue the mob that pressed in close enough to turn the vehicle over. On the following day, her Pakistan Peoples Party won in a landslide, making her, at the age of 35, the first woman to be elected the leader of a Muslim country.

Her tenure ended—as did her subsequent "comeback" tenure—in a sorry welter of corruption charges and political intrigue, and in a gilded exile in Dubai. But clearly she understood that exile would be its own form of political death. (She speaks well on this point in an excellent recent profile by Amy Wilentz in More magazine.) . . .

Who knows who did this deed? It is grotesque, of course, that the murder should have occurred in Rawalpindi, the garrison town of the Pakistani military elite and the site of Flashman's Hotel. It is as if she had been slain on a visit to West Point or Quantico.

But it's hard to construct any cui bono analysis on which Gen. Pervez Musharraf is the beneficiary of her death.

The likeliest culprit is the al-Qaida/Taliban axis, perhaps with some assistance from its many covert and not-so-covert sympathizers in the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence. These were the people at whom she had been pointing the finger since the huge bomb that devastated her welcome-home motorcade on Oct. 18.

She would have been in a good position to know about this connection, because when she was prime minister, she pursued a very active pro-Taliban policy, designed to extend and entrench Pakistani control over Afghanistan and to give Pakistan strategic depth in its long confrontation with India over Kashmir.

The fact of the matter is that Benazir's undoubted courage had a certain fanaticism to it. She had the largest Electra complex of any female politician in modern history, entirely consecrated to the memory of her executed father, the charming and unscrupulous Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who had once boasted that the people of Pakistan would eat grass before they would give up the struggle to acquire a nuclear weapon. (He was rather prescient there—the country now does have nukes, and millions of its inhabitants can barely feed themselves.)

A nominal socialist, Zulfikar Bhutto was an autocratic opportunist, and this family tradition was carried on by the PPP, a supposedly populist party that never had a genuine internal election and was in fact—like quite a lot else in Pakistan—Bhutto family property.

Daughter of Destiny is the title she gave to her autobiography. She always displayed the same unironic lack of embarrassment.

How prettily she lied to me, I remember, and with such a level gaze from those topaz eyes, about how exclusively peaceful and civilian Pakistan's nuclear program was.

How righteously indignant she always sounded when asked unwelcome questions about the vast corruption alleged against her and her playboy husband, Asif Ali Zardari. (The Swiss courts recently found against her in this matter; an excellent background piece was written by John Burns in the New York Times in 1998.)

And now the two main legacies of Bhutto rule—the nukes and the empowered Islamists—have moved measurably closer together. […] ____________________________________________________

Hitchens’ entire article is here and well worth reading.


Anonymous said...


Do you know why you can't post at Liestoppers any longer?

Strange, that.

Have a wonderful new year.


Deborah Correll

Anonymous said...

Hi: Does anyone know what ever happened to the repulsive, lying whore? Does she still have custody of her chillenz? Anyone sue her?

Thanks, and God bless you John for your great work. You are truly 1 of the heroes of the hoax.

Anonymous said...

What About Crystal Gail Mangum?

Mike McPherson, May 25, 2007

As the curtain closes on the final act of the Duke Rape Hoax, several questions remain, but one stands out: What about Crystal Gail Mangum? Miss Mangum is the stripper—lionized as the black, female single mother, dancing to put herself through college—who was cruelly violated by the rich, white Duke Lacrosse team. It was her tale of rape and degradation that plunged three innocent young men and their families into a nightmare that may have ended legally on Tuesday, April 11, but will carry on long after in terms of damaged reputations and exhausted finances.

In dismissing the charges, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper had little to say about Mangum. He hinted at her mental problems, and said he didn’t think it would be “in the interests of justice” to pursue legal action against her. Victims’ rights advocates have fretted that if she were humiliated it could discourage victims from “coming forward.”

Terry Moran of ABC news urges us “not to feel too sorry for the Dukies.” He explained that while Crystal Gail Mangum was “either a vicious liar or a troubled fantasist,” the social status of the Duke boys “is a very large cushion under them.” They got “high-priced legal representation” that led to a “high-profile, high-minded vindication.” Mr. Moran notes that reckless, defamatory prosecution is hardly unheard of, but that the majority of victims are not nearly so well equipped to combat it. The “Dukies,” says Mr. Terry, were “young men victimized by a reckless prosecutor, who had the resources to fight him off.”

No, they weren’t. While Mike Nifong—the district attorney who filed the charges—is a loathsome character, Colin Finnerty, Reade Seligman and David Evans were not victimized by him; they were victimized by Crystal Gail Mangum. Mike Nifong made it possible. The liberal obsession with demonizing white men and romanticizing the “other”—that’s blacks, women and homosexuals in order of precedence—made it inevitable. Race hustlers have promoted the idea that if a white commits a crime against a black, it is not a crime committed by one person against another; it is a crime committed by a whole race against another. It doesn’t work the other way, of course. The media have no interest in even the most heinous assaults on whites (See “The Wichita Massacre” or the murders of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom in Knoxville Kentucky (see “Details Of Double Slaying Emerge,” “Carjacking Details Revealed,” and “The Knoxville Horror: The Crime and the Cover-Up”), even as they trumpet crimes against minorities as if they were an epidemic (as in the case of James Byrd Jr., Jasper Texas). Feminists knew a good thing when they saw it, and began calling rape an act of “systematic oppression” committed by all men against all women.

Essential to this movement was the myth that women never lie about rape. Of course women lie about rape. The idea that subjecting allegations of rape to serious scrutiny will prevent legitimate victims from coming forward changes the standard of criminal conviction from “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt” to “we’ll take her word for it.” The inevitable result is that innocent men are railroaded, and rape itself is trivialized by very public false allegations Let us therefore take nothing away from Attorney General Cooper. His dismissal of the charges against the three Duke boys was forceful and principled, laying the responsibility for the fiasco at the feet of a “rogue prosecutor.” This was good but incomplete. Crystal Gail Mangum cuts a pathetic figure, but she has nevertheless shown that being black, a stripper, a drug-taker, and a single mother with a criminal record are no impediments to bringing outrageous charges against anyone in our society. And if the alleged victim and perpetrator fit the right profiles, society itself has shown it will disregard even the most compelling evidence and let the mob rule.

Anonymous said...


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