Benazir Bhutto Rests In Peace. Will We?

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

Millions of Americans awoke to the news; Benazir Bhutto was killed in an attack.  The daughter of a former Prime Minister, and twice Prime Minister herself, Bhutto, months ago returned to her homeland, after a self-imposed eight  year exile.

The Harvard graduate ventured forth with a hope and a dream that she might unite her mother country.  The scion and scholar arrived in Pakistan amidst much fanfare and furor.

Benazir Bhutto was a deeply controversial figure.

Western-educated and charismatic, she presented herself as a moderate, democratic force. As such she was widely courted in the West. The United States hoped she could restore popular legitimacy to President Musharraf’s failing war against Islamist militants.

But she was widely seen as having misused her office for her own financial gain and faced a number of court cases, both inside Pakistan and outside the country. Islamist militants hated her for her pro-American views.

Earlier this year, Ms Bhutto and Mr Musharraf had been working on a power-sharing agreement. The talks failed, leaving Ms Bhutto as the biggest political threat to President Musharraf, rather than an ally.

Therein lies the question many citizens of the United States ask.  Who, among the leaders in Pakistan is a friend to America and who is the foe.  Benazir Bhutto was our lover, devotee, and we her enthusiast.  Yet, for years the White House has happily courted the current President of Pakistan.

Despite talk of terrorist encampments and anti-American sentiment within Pakistan, the Bush Administration spoke of General Musharraf as a friend of the States.  Oh, the President of the United States and President, General Pervez Musharraf had their differences.  There was a time when the leaders aired their angst aloud.  However, ultimately, the two kissed and made-up as couples often do.  The world powers then walked off into the sunset, hand-in-hand.  Each, revels in the joint venture to fight against Islamic insurgents.

Granted, there were other rifts.  Commander-In-Chief, the American military commandant demanded that the General take off his uniform.  After Pakistani President, General Pervez Musharraf imposed martial law and suspended that nation’s Constitution, there was fear within the White House.  Federal officials stated our ally had gone too far. His decision to wear military garb exacerbated the situation.  An elected official cannot be considered militaristic.  During a telephone conference with the Middle Eastern Head of State, President and Commander George W. Bush expressed his distress with the man who supported the United States in its endeavor to spread democracy.

“You can’t be the president and the head of the military at the same time,” Bush said. “I had a very frank discussion with him.” . . .

“My message was that we believe strongly in elections, and that you ought to have elections soon, and you need to take off your uniform,” Bush said.

Perhaps this derision was the last straw.  It was time to move on, move forward, or stay the course with a new face at the helm.  Certainly, there is no need to imagine; were Benazir Bhutto Prime Minister of Pakistan, she too would have joined US in combat against “terrorists.”

The U.S. has long supported a return to power by Bhutto, who was perceived to be a moderate willing to work with Washington on the war on terror. She was also seen as a democratic leader who would serve as a counter to the plummeting popularity of Musharraf, who took power in a 1999 military coup. It was thought that a power-sharing deal between the two, in which Musharraf stayed on as president while Bhutto lead as prime minister, would promote stability in this nuclear armed nation of 165 million. But from the day of her arrival in Pakistan after eight years in exile, Bhutto’s return has been marred by violence.

We can only surmise that the hostile environment did not worry the Americans, the Bush Administration much.  After all, aggression is the way of this White House.  It matters not who leads or lends a hand as we go into battle.  As long as the war continues, a surge strategy is maintained, and fear is sustained.  Then, the hawks win.  All must inquire; is that not the most important aspect of this New World Strategy.

We can peruse the Pakistani papers.  We can read the rhetoric of the Right and the Left in America.  Candidates can recount their experience of Benazir Bhutto.  Still, there is reason to believe we know nothing of what really happened and why.  The common folk are not even certain they understand how to care for a tragic event that has now become a campaign battle cry.  Americans listen to the words of woe, and the warnings.  Again we are told, in the name of democracy, we are at war . . . and do not forget it!

“The United States strongly condemns this cowardly act by murderous extremists who are trying to undermine Pakistan’s democracy,” Bush said. “Those who committed this crime must be brought to justice.” . . .

With the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses just a week away, U.S. presidential candidates also swiftly condemned the killing and stressed the need to fight terrorism.

The assassins who killed Bhutto “must be brought to justice,” Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani said Thursday.

“Her death is a tragedy for her country and a terrible reminder of the work that remains to bring peace, stability and hope to regions of the globe too often paralyzed by fear, hatred and violence,” said Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who is trailing fellow Democrats Clinton and Barack Obama in polls, said a leader has died in Pakistan “but democracy must live.”

“It is in the interests of the U.S. that there be a democratic Pakistan that relentlessly hunts down terrorists,” Richardson said in a statement.

Campaigning in Florida, current Iowa-caucus Republican frontrunner Mike Huckabee said he is “deeply troubled” by the news of Bhutto’s killing. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, meanwhile, said the U.S. must stand with moderate forces across the Islamic world “and together face the defining challenge of our generation — the struggle against violent, radical jihadists.”

“For those who think Iraq is the sole front in the war on terror, one must look no further than what has happened today,” said Romney, a Republican. . . .

Giuliani, who was mayor of New York City during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack that brought down the World Trade Center, said Bhutto’s death is a reminder that terrorism anywhere “is an enemy of freedom.”

“We must redouble our efforts to win the terrorists’ war on us,” Giuliani said in a statement.

“This is devastating news for the people of Pakistan, and my prayers go out to them as we follow developments regarding this dire situation,” Huckabee said in a statement.

Once again, Americans must acknowledge that purposely, we are not fully informed.  As long as war remains in the wind, we cannot and will not speak of peace.  In an era where faux-Progressives stress the need for global tranquility, as they plan to wage war for at least another term, we must remember that when conflict is the cause of strife, it will also be the effect.

Americans and citizen worldwide can only hope that we, as  a world will decide not to focus on assignations and the aggressive demeanors that lead to these.  We might dream of the impossible, harmony, and create it.  

Together let us take a moment and rest in peace.  Perchance, we might listen to the words of the one Presidential hopeful from either nation, Pakistan or the United states, who wishes only for serenity planet-wide.  The aspirant that believes we can achieve the impossible, what same think absurd offers his words of wisdom.

U.S. Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) issued the following statement after learning of the death of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Bhutto was killed in Rawalpindi, Pakistan in a suicide attack following a campaign rally.

“This is a very dangerous moment for the world,” Kucinich said. . . .

“The United States must change its policy direction in the region. It must stop adding fuel to the fire.”

If we truly wish to establish world unity, Americans and Pakistanis alike cannot condone combat, in any form, on foreign or domestic shores.  If we are to authentically invite and work for peace, we, as a nation, as individual people must live  our lives in harmony.  We must be calm when in the company of our neighbors, strangers and genuinely care for our selves.

Peace, Pax. Hasiti. Amniat.

Source of Serenity or Strife . . .

Giuliani Attacks Ron Paul; Disputes Theological Theories

Ron Paul on CNN talking about the debate 5-16-07.mpg

© copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert

I marvel at the ignorance, the ability to “ignore” information or the lack of knowledge expressed by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.  While the Mayor may wish to accentuate his actions during the September 11, 2001 clean-up operations, how can he negate a lesson that we all learn over time.  “What we do unto others, will be done unto us.”  Rarely, if ever does any being attack another without what they believe to be reason.

Even if the broadly “accepted” theory were true, “they hate us for what we have,” I doubt the rage would be quite so deep.  Often, people strive to obtain what they covet.  America has “played” in the Middle East for decades.  We want their oil.  However, when humans feel victimized, they react.  As theologians might remind us, it is “an eye for an eye” often motivates brutal aggression.

To state that he, Giuliani has never heard the contention Congressman Ron Paul made during the May 15, 2007 Republican debate is ludicrous.  Where might the Mayor have been in the last six years?  For that matter where was he as a child.  Did Mayor Giuliani merely walk onto the scene of a crime against humanity and declare this is unwarranted, unprovoked, and unnecessary?

What some think of as “just,” may seem unreasonable to another.  The person inflicting pain thinks his or her behavior is apt.  The individual or group attacked has a different perspective.  The roles are often reversed simultaneously.  Ultimately, we must acknowledge that every [wo]man has a reason for each reaction.  If only we might walk a mile in the moccasins of others before we engage militarily. 

Cable News Network contributor Roland Martin phrases a similar thought in this manner.  “We need to understand history and how it impacts what is happening today.”  He offers a brilliant assessment of the recent rhetoric.  Martin writes . . .

What has been overlooked is that Paul based his position on the effects of the 1953 ouster by the CIA of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh.

An excellent account of this story is revealed in Stephen Kinzer’s alarming and revealing book, “Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq,” where he writes that Iran was establishing a government close to a democracy.  But Mossadegh wasn’t happy that the profit from the country’s primary resource — oil — was not staying in the country.

Instead, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now known British Petroleum, or BP) was getting 93 percent of the profits.  Mossadegh didn’t like that, and wanted a 50-50 split.  Kinzer writes that that didn’t sit too well with the British government, but it didn’t want to use force to protect its interests.  But their biggest friend, the United States, didn’t mind, and sought to undermine Mossadegh’s tenure as president.  After all kinds of measures that disrupted the nation, a coup was financed and led by President Dwight Eisenhower’s CIA, and the Shah of Iran was installed as the leader.  We trained his goon squads, thus angering generations of Iranians for meddling in that nation’s affairs.

As [Ron] Paul noted, what happened in 1953 had a direct relationship to the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in 1979.  We viewed that as terrorists who dared attack America.  They saw it as ending years of oppression at the hands of the ruthless U.S.-backed Shah regime.

As Americans, we believe in forgiving and forgetting, and are terrible at understanding how history affects us today.  We are arrogant in not recognizing that when we benefit, someone else may suffer.  That will lead to resentment and anger, and if suppressed, will boil over one day.

Does that provide a moral justification for what the terrorists did on September 11?

Of course not.  But we should at least attempt to understand why.

Think about it.  Do we have the moral justification to explain the killings of more than 100,000 Iraqis as a result of this war?  Can we defend the efforts to overthrow other governments whose actions we perceived would jeopardize American business interests?

Ahhh, Mister Martin, I love your musings.  For me, your words sing of truth.  This text might be considered biblical in its proportions.  The conclusion you offer is as Congressman Paul claims, the essence of his message.  Were it not for time, Ron Paul would have liked to utter the Testament phrase

“[T]he children will pay for the sins of their fathers.”

The United States is certainly paying for the sins of our fathers.  It is said that salvation comes through work.  Salvation is motivated by love.  Americans profess to believe,  ‘Love they neighbor as you love thyself.’  Yet, often we do not.  Thus, our country might reap as we sow. 

Former United States Attorney General Ramsey Clark often reflects as Ron Paul did. In a recent interview with Cable News Network Correspondent Wolf Blitzer, the two address the sanctions imposed on Iraq.  Again, Americans accept, allow, and advance policies that are contrary to religious teachings.

On the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Lawyer, legal scholar, and Civil Rights Activist Ramsey Clark recounted American history.  In a reflective speech, Clark recalled . . .  . .

The most fundamental, dangerous and harmful violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on its fifteenth birthday is economic sanctions imposed on entire populations. The United States alone blockades eleven million Cubans in the face of the most recent General Assembly resolution approved by 157 nations condemning the blockade, with only the United States and Israel in opposition. The entire population of Cuba and every Cuban has had the “right to a standard of living adequate for health and well being… including food, clothing, housing and medical care” deliberately violated by the United States blockade.

Security Council sanctions against Iraq, which are forced by the United States, have devastated the entire nation, taking the lives of more than 1,500,000 people, mostly infants, children, chronically ill and elderly, and harming millions more by hunger, sickness and sorrow. The sanctions destroy the “dignity and rights” of the people of Iraq and are the most extreme form of “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” which are prohibited by the Declaration.

Despite the cruelest destruction of the most basic human rights and liberties of all the people in Iraq, including rights to medicine, safe drinking water and sufficient food, the United States government, with the major mass media in near perfect harmony, proclaims itself the world’s champion of liberty and human rights. The problem as Lincoln surely knew is not merely one of definitions. It is a problem of power, will, and accountability. The United States intends to have its way and serve its own interests, with Iraq, Cuba, Libya, Iran, the Sudan and many other countries whatever the consequences to the liberties and rights of those who live there.

The United States control over and its concerted action with the mass media enables it to demonize such countries, its victims, for “terrorism,” threats to world peace and human rights violations at the very time it rains Tomahawk cruise missiles on them and motivates and finances armed insurrections and violence against them. At the same time, the United States increases its own staggeringly large prison industry, more than a million persons confined, including 40% of all African American males between 17 and 27 years old in the State of California.

Simultaneously the U.S. spends more on its military than the ten largest military budgets of other nations combined, sells most of the arms and sophisticated weapons still increasing worldwide while rejecting an international convention to prohibit land mines and an international court of criminal justice. And the U.S. maintains and deploys the great majority of all weapons of mass destruction existent on earth, nuclear, chemical, biological and the most deadly of all — economic sanctions.

Are we to believe that causing hunger, illness, and distress equates to loving our brethren as we would ourselves.  Such hypocrisy, I believe breeds the brutality that befalls us and did on that day of infamy.  Congressman Paul and the Iraq Study Commission Report concur.  There is little excuse for obfuscating the facts and for occupying another nation.  What Americans do and have done is not democratic; nor will our behavior advance egalitarian principles. 

Man’s inhumanity to man explains much of what we are witnessing today.  This construct defines much of what we are part of and propagate.

I ask us all to imagine what the world might be like if Americans used the ingenuity we often speak of to originate peace and prosperity for all, equally. 

If citizens of this gluttonous country did not build a nation dependent on petroleum, would wars be as they are.  At least, the magnitude of these might be less.  Man devises the fuel consuming machines that now drive him.

Granted, humankind might find another cause for hatred.  Nonetheless, if we, the people create a world whose mission is balance, if we work to live in harmony with nature, and did not choose to fight our fellow man for fossil fuels perchance the perils would be fewer.

Those on the “Right,” frequently considered religious, G-d fearing followers of Ten Commandments, might do well to honor the laws of the Lord Almighty. 

‘Thou shalt not kill.’

‘Thou shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.’

Then the sanctimonious “religious right” might know as atheists and agnostics experience.  Violate the Golden Rule; you, and your progeny shall be damned.  If the Lord does not admonish you for your brutal behaviors or reprimand you for your voracity, your fellow man or woman will.

References, Resources, Religious, and Human Rights . . .

  • Martin: Paul’s 9/11 explanation deserves to be debated, By Roland Martin.  Cable News Network. May 18, 2007
  • Ramsey Clark on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Third World Traveler.
  • Text of the Ten Commandments. Religious Tolerance.
  • Salvation: Historical and Christian Beliefs. Religious Tolerance.
  • Thou Shalt Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself.  Law of God.  Topical Bible Studies.
  • Mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: cluster sample survey.  By Les Roberts, Riyadh Lafta, Richard Garfield, Jamal Khudhairi, Gilbert Burnham. October 29, 2004
  • Sanctions and the Oil-For-Food Programme Global Policy Forum.
  • Iraq Study Report. Iraq Study Group.
  • Hate Abortion. Love Planned Parenthood!

    Our Bodies, Our Choice

    © copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert.

    I never thought I might share a conviction with the former Mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani.  All week we have heard the news, “Conservatives Step Up Attacks On Giuliani’s Abortion Stance.”  When asked to discuss the question of abortion, during the Republican debate, the “Right” says Giuliani flinched.  He shrugged his shoulders.  His words were “I hate abortion”; yet, his body said he was fine with the “gross” practice.

    Later in the week when it was revealed Mayor Giuliani donated to Planned Parenthood on numerous occasions, there was ample outrage.  The “Right” loudly proclaimed, ‘How could a Conservative, a Republican, and a Presidential candidate no less, be so bold as to contribute to an organization that is well-known as abortion clinic.’

    The consensus was, or is, a person cannot be pro-life and pro-choice.  Yet, I believe many are, me among them.

    I am not writing in support of candidate Rudy Giuliani. I do not endorse him or his campaign. The reasons are many.

    I consider myself a bleeding heart Liberal. I am a Progressive.  More often than not, Democrats are too moderate for me. I purposely did not use the term “conservative,” for I think a person can be defined as an open-minded radical and still choose to conserve.  Environmentally, too may Liberals do not wish to eliminate what makes their lives easy. Socially and economically, I think Democrats are frequently shortsighted.  They, as their counterparts, often prefer simple solutions. I rather live for the Seventh Generation.  Nevertheless; forgive me, I digress.

    I have been a patient of Planned Parenthood since I was sixteen. I entered the clinic with my parents’ knowledge and permission.  Yes, I am a person that believes wholeheartedly in complete communication and comprehensive understanding.  I did discuss my choice with my Mom and Dad.  In fact, the dialogue began when I was first able to speak.

    Before my birth, I know not when; although I trust that my older siblings experienced similar, volumes of written material were placed in every bathroom. My Mom made certain we had ample access to biology books.  Some of the resources were meant for adults; others helped young children learn.  Tomes addressed reproduction.  A few of the volumes were humorous. ; These too taught lessons; however, the approach was amusing.

    Often, too frequently for a young child that had little interest in “sex,” my Mom would discuss what I read. She asked questions, wanting to affirm my knowledge was accurate.  When I reached the age of five, my Mom was confident, I understood.  Reproductive organs and the act of procreation were not mysteries to me.

    The issue was integrated into my life early on.  As a family, we did not dwell on the topic, nor was it avoided.

    I was fascinated when children at school and in my neighborhood broached the discussion with winks, nods, and laughter. They smirked, sneered, and said the silliest things. There was so much misinformation. They thought their childish jokes funny; I found them folly.

    I often wondered whether these children understood conception.  Could they conceive of how they came to be?

    I strongly suspect many of these young persons were not wanted. It seemed evident if only they bothered to assess the quality of their lives.  Perhaps, some were scheduled to be aborted.  I was.

    Although, when I was an embryo the procedure was illegal, if a couple, or an individual could raise the cash there was always someone willing to do the deed.  If finding funds was impossible, there were other ways to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

    Believe as you might, my Mom thinks she changed her mind; however, I am certain the decision was mine. Nonetheless, my own birth history has less influence on my reasoning, my belief in the need for legal and safe abortions than other factors might.

    We all have choices and we invoke our right to choose in every moment.  Whether my Mom was influenced by my fetal feelings or not need not matter when we consider the topic.

    When I was twelve my parents said to me, ‘When you think you are ready to engage in physical intimacies, please tell us so that we might make arrangements.’ Contraception was an option they thought vital.  I agreed.  As an adolescent, I did not wish to give birth to a baby.

    A few years later, Mommy and Daddy handed me a periodical.  The type was printed on newsprint.  I believe the National Organization for Women produced this publication.  I believe, somewhere in my house I still have this magazine.  I spent hours reading it.  It was interesting. In many ways, it spoke of the mechanics as did the books in the bathrooms. However, it also provided references and resources for a pubescent mind.

    Throughout my life, my Mom and Dad spoke of the differences between sex and love, lust, longing, and an affection born out of knowledge, sharing, and caring.  They helped me to understand that “sex” is “sex.”  Bodies bending, bumping, and grinding together is not necessarily a loving act.  It can just as easily be gratifying a physical need, as much as it might be satisfying an emotional deficit.  

    In the case of “rape,” violence and control are the motive.  A baby produced through such an encounter may suffer emotional repercussions.  He or she may not. Only we can choose for ourselves what is.  Mothers, fathers, and babies may never agree when considering what was, what will be, or why our birth and life is as it is.

    At the time of my reading, I knew that for me, pregnancy was not my preferred path.  At the age of sixteen, I imagined I was the only virgin left on the face of the planet.  A close friend was experimenting.  While she told herself she was in love, I wondered.  I am not a romantic.

    Years earlier I thought another acquaintance had engaged in intimate entanglements.  Her home life was not as it might have been, it was perhaps, not as she believed was best.  There were so many secrets.  She never knew who her biological father was.  This bothered her.  Granted, the man that acted as her Dad was great and Mom was wonderful in many ways.  Still, something was missing.  She was often looking for love.

    Given these two girls, who I thought had experienced as I never had, I concluded I was ready.  However, months before I embarked, while walking through the kitchen, the telephone rang.  I picked up the receiver and said “Angert residence,” or did I just say hello.  I think had I known that this call would alter my life forever, I would recall my exact words in that moment more precisely.

    The voice was unfamiliar.  The caller was a man; he asked to speak with my Mom.  I cried out “Mommy . . .”  She was in the basement intensely involved in doing laundry.  She requested I take a message.  The baritone breathed deeply and then stated with a sigh, “Anna is fine.  We found out later the doctor is a butcher.  However, everything is going to be all right.”  I thanked the stranger for the message and went to talk with my Mom.

    Anna is a loved one, someone I knew since birth.  I had not seen her or spoken with her in years.  What happened?  Did Mommy comprehend what seemed so cryptic to me.

    Berenice Barbara understood what was meant.  Mommy shared that Anna had an abortion; she discovered she was pregnant.  Anna was scared.  What was she to do?  The young and lovely woman reached out, asking my Mom for assistance, guidance.  Anna needed a shoulder to cry on.  Sweet and scholarly Anna was in college, she had plans.  She never thought . . . I believe she had taken precautions.  I am uncertain; however, I know many that did and still the unexpected occurred.

    Whatever the reasons, Anna felt it best to abort.  I understand.  Women have and will likely continue to release themselves from what may be a medical, psychological, or emotional  emergency.  Females, and males, will save one soul and without wanting to, sacrifice another.  We can never fully comprehend what people believe is their only choice.  We, as a society, can only establish a safe and sane means for whatever a person feels they must do.

    I am well aware that my Mom instilled a desire in me to never hurt another.  She also helped me to understand that I need to be happy.  These two truisms must work in concert or chaos will ensue.

    I personally, do not believe I would be able to ever have an abortion.  Killing any being hurts my heart.  Even accidental deaths cause me great pain.  When I witness an animal in the road, bloody, and belly up I cry.

    I cannot bear to think of initiating pain on any organism.  I love life forms.  That is why I have supported Planned Parenthood for as long as I can remember.  

    I was aware of the good this organization does before I first entered one of the numerous centers.  Since becoming a  patient, I lived in three states and many cities.  I regularly received services at four offices over the years.  Now, in a new home, a fifth location meets my needs.

    This organization is extremely conservative and careful.  After decades of regular appointments, I know. On only a few occasions, I have entered a personal physician’s office for gynecological needs.  Each time I was astounded.  Medical professionals outside of Planned Parenthood do not interview a patient, or at least they did not consult with me, in depth.  Doctors do not require the details I must deliver each time I enter the doors of a Planned Parenthood center.

    Planned Parenthood does as their name states, they assist people in parenting decisions.  Initially, I sat through a four-hour seminar.  Questions and answers came at the end.  The clinicians insisted that each individual understood their bodies, their choices, the reason for conception, the hazards, and the best methods for ensuring problems would not arise.

    Medical examinations are mandatory.  Consultations are continuous.  In my own life, it was Planned Parenthood that “forced” me to go to a doctor for further diagnosis.  My blood pressure is low.  My heart on occasion murmurs.  Were it not for this wonderful community I would not necessarily know the simple statistics, cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose count, and other facts about my body.  Examinations required by Planned Parenthood are often not suggested by the private physicians’ friends of mine see.

    It is with thanks to Planned Parenthood and the Roe versus Wade Supreme Court decision, that I trust no woman will be told after ending a pregnancy,  “The doctor is a butcher.”  Do not worry everything is going to be all right.

    Citations and Situations  . . .