The tragic assassination of Benazir Bhutto seems to have given neo-con pundits a collective sigh of relief. They view this as another vindication of their belief that the U.S. government must do whatever it takes to fight "Islamo-fascism", including continuing to prop up ruthless dictators like Pervez Musharraf.
Unfortunately for the neo-cons, Benazir Bhutto had a different view. In November, Parade Magazine asked her what she would like to tell President Bush. She replied: "Your policy of supporting dictatorship is breaking up my country. I now think al-Qaeda can be marching on Islamabad in two to four years."
The most troubling thing about the people who pass for "conservatives" nowadays is their stubborn refusal to understand Bhutto's point -- that U.S. government policy in the Middle East is a key cause of the troubles we face with terrorism today.
During the Cold War, the Soviets and the U.S. government propped up opposing dictatorships around the world. The Soviets had people like Fidel Castro and Daniel Ortega. We countered with people like Augusto Pinochet and the Shah of Iran. I don't have any axe to grind whatsoever with what the U.S. government did during the Cold War. We were fighting an organized, ideological enemy, with a huge military capability that enslaved half the people in the world. We had to do whatever it took to win.
A funny thing happened when the Cold War ended. The U.S. government stopped propping up dictators in Latin America and Asia. However, it continued to do so in the Middle East. Billions of U.S. dollars continued to flow into the hands of some very nasty tyrants. That helped radicalize their populations against us.
The U.S. government has given over $50 billion to Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak has ruled Egypt under a state of emergency since 1981. Every 6 years, he stages a rigged election. Reports of the torture of political prisoners in Egypt are frequent, credible and widespread. The lead suicide pilot on 9/11 was Mohamed Atta, who was born in Egypt.
The Saudi Royal family has been a reliable ally for the U.S. government for 5 decades. They also run the most brutal regime in the world. Osama bin Laden is from Saudi Arabia, as were 15 of the 19 hijackers.
The U.S. government has also given Musharraf over $10 billion and violent opposition to his dictatorship has only gotten worse.
Why is it so hard for neo-con pundits and politicians to understand that there might be some relationship between U.S. government support of tyrants in the Middle East and the suicide terrorists? The CIA knows there is. They call it "blowback". I actually think there are a lot of neo-cons who really do understand. They just won't admit it because they are scared. No, they aren't afraid of the terrorists. They are worried that the only thing keeping the old Reagan coalition together is the so-called war on terror. After all, given the last 7 years no one honestly believes that the GOP stands for small government and fiscal responsibility any longer.
Fighting communism was the one banner that the entire diverse Reagan coalition could rally behind. After the Cold War ended, some conservatives, most notably Pat Buchanan, started questioning the need for the U.S. to maintain troops in 130 countries. This potential crack in the coalition alarmed the neo-cons, so they went looking for a new villain. For a while it looked like that villain might be China and the neo-cons beat the war drums against them for 10 years. Then came 9/11 and they were handed their new focus of evil in the world, except that al-Qaeda isn't a state, with a huge army, and tons of nuclear weapons. Rather, it's nothing more than a tiny band of criminals who managed to pull off 9/11 largely due to the incompetence of the FBI.
The neo-cons are alarmed again today by Ron Paul because he is the only candidate brave enough to question whether U.S. government policy in the Middle East might have something to do with the terrorist threat we face today. The neo-cons are demonizing Ron Paul every bit as much as they demonized Buchanan.
Anyway, the quote from Benazir Bhutto will appear in Parade magazine on January 8th. That will be too late for the Iowa caucuses, but maybe it will start to wake enough people up before Super Tuesday to make a positive difference to our future.