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As the American media continues to grant Benazir Bhutto sainthood status, it’s worth looking at a few sections from Steve Coll’s Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden. Here’s a bit on Bhutto’s background:
Pakistan’s newly elected prime minister was Benazir Bhutto, at thirty-six a beautiful, charismatic, and self-absorbed politician with no government experience… She had taken office with American support, and she cultivated American connections. Raised in a gilded world of feudal aristocratic entitlements, Bhutto had attended Radcliffe College at Harvard University as an undergraduate and retained many friend in Washington.
And here’s a bit more on her support while prime minister for the Taliban, before it seized power in Afghanistan:
Benazir Bhutto, who was secretly authorizing the Taliban’s covert aid, did not let the Americans know. She visited Washington in the spring of 1995, met with President Clinton, and promoted the Taliban as a pro-Pakistan force that could help stabilize Afghanistan… During her visit and for many months afterward Bhutto and her aides repeatedly lied to American government officials and members of Congress about the extent of Pakistani military and financial aid to the Taliban… Bhutto had decided it was more important to appease the Pakistani army and intelligence service than to level with her American friends.
Kabul fell to the Taliban in 1996. Bhutto, Coll says in his book, “had capitulated…to [Pakistani intelligence’s] persistent requests for unlimited covert aid to the Islamic militia.”
Bhutto, of course, had some admirable qualities. She may have also had strong political and geopolitical reasons for backing the Taliban. Either way, it’s an important part of her biography that shouldn’t be elided from her obituary, yet it seems no one wants to write about this now.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”