“If you drop a pebble in a pond, it sends out ripples.” So says Jason Scott Lee as he portrays Bruce Lee in the Hollywood version of his life, “Dragon”. I believe some such ripples have been set in motion by today’s assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
Benazir Bhutto is a former Pakistani Prime Minister, popular with many of her countrymen and pro West in her views. Her party, the Pakistan People’s Party, was expected to do well in the upcoming legislative elections. Her presence and leadership once again in Pakistan offered her people choice and hope that the seeming dictatorship of President Pervez Musharraf could be kept in better check. She was more pro West in her views and wanted closer ties with the United States. Her presence personally gave me hope that she would grow in stature to exert the kind of influence necessary to clean out these al Qaida nests that seem to dot the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan while also quelling the rising Islamic radicalism in Pakistan. A more cooperative Pakistani leadership would serve the United States well in its war with al Qaida and its sympathizers. I saw her as a constructive possibility in nudging this US war closer to a finish.
This successful assassination of such a prominent, pivotal and potential leader in the war against al Qaida is quite a feather in the cap for the anarchists, whoever they may be, who undertook it. How does the ripple of this assassination reach our shores? Al Qaida hopes to gain power by wreaking anarchy on governments in the hope it will topple existing regimes. I think al Qaida has had more success in its program against the US then we give it credit. Since al Qaida’s attack on the World Trade Center, we have seen unprecedented loss of our human rights, especially in the area of privacy. The Bush administration also attempts to hold American citizens without following due process. The US has come to have an Attorney General who cannot determine if water boarding is torture. We have crossed the bridge into grave potential danger when we began to undermine the US Constitution and international treaties, not only for our immediate protection but because of the inconvenience the Constitution offers in securing certain agendas.
No matter the supposed good served, once we are comfortable with weakening the strength of our Constitution, we have taken a big step that puts all citizens at risk. The long-term effects of our newly acquired ease in sidestepping the protections our Constitution provided can result in great potential damage to our free, human rights oriented nation. A powerful, intrusive and fear based government is the greatest danger any citizen faces. When we permit the Constitution to be circumvented, we teach our children that for short- term gain it is all right to subvert protections that the wisdom of the centuries taught the Founders were necessary for the free, safe life we have here. Some of our constitutional protections, I fear, will never be restored once lost, especially because we are teaching our children, the future gatekeepers of this very special document, that it is all right to side step the Constitution for short term gain. After al Qaida's assault on us on 9/11, will America ever know the freedoms and protections it once enjoyed? With the Bhutto assassination, no matter who is unltimately responsible, al Qaida and its sympathizers got quite a good shot in the arm to invigorate its struggle with the world and with the US just when we hoped the progress in Iraq would hail an end to so much violence. Should this war heat up as a result of this assassination, will we see more threats to our own way of life at the expense of our hard won freedoms and protections? Time will tell.