Friday, December 28, 2007

Did Bhutto Or An Idea Die?

An AP article that appeared in Friday’s papers seems to be a pretty good analysis of who killed Benazir Bhutto. The article points a finger at many suspects, but comes to no firm conclusion. Seems that the killer was connected to radical Islamic elements in the Pakistani security force, which is a known collaborator of Al-Queda. Pundits doubt Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf was involved, but not it is extremely convenient that his primary opponent is eliminated from the election scheduled for Jan 8. Those analysts with a literary tile think the entire tragic episode reads like the first act of a murder mystery.

The idea of assassinating an idea as represented by a person is a very narrow view of this issue. Many in the west believe that the idea can't be killed, just as many believe the soul never dies, only the body. Some intellectuals have reached the conclusion that ideas can indeed be killed if their primary promulgator is eliminated. Some wonder if Stalinism would have wrecked the havoc it did on Russia without Stalin. Others point out that although Chou En-lai was the real power in the early stages of Chinese Communism, himself an appointee of Stalin, it was really Mao who implemented the Stalinist policies showing a cruel egocentric bloodthirstiness none of his rivals displayed. Lastly they cite Adolph Hitler, who could have been eliminated in the early nineteen twenties. These scholars question if the ideas these despots espoused didn’t indeed die with these men? History sort of indicates the ideas did die, sooner or later. It seems that the idea fades as the force of personality that carried the idea evaporates, sometimes slowly. And the scholars point out they are only talking about the last century, but that human history is replete with such examples.

The test of Bhutto's legacy will be if someone else can manage to pick up the banner and ride with it to victory. Based on the assumption of these intellectuals of a leader's unique influence on the population, and the lack of anyone else in her party with her stature, most analyst doubt a replacement for Bhutto is on the horizon..

We all know about the rise of Islamic Fundamentalism as a movement. According to many analysts the radical Moslems view Pakistan as their next stop. The government is filled with radical sympathizers; the borders are replete with Al Queda and like-minded tribes, including the Taliban who are still looking for a new home. Pakistan is a dangerous place, made more so because they have the "Bomb." We all also know that it was a Pakistani scientist who passed his nations nuclear secrets to the Islamic world.

What we in the west are facing is to us a cancer that is spreading. Science has defined over 1,000 strains of cancer, but has only found the cure, or effective treatment, for a handful. Cures or treatments for each strain of cancer take time, a lot of time, and a bank full of money. What the radiation treatments do is try to burn away the cancerous cells, the drugs try to starve them or send other cells to destroy them. But none have yet figured out the root cause of the disease, because there is no one root cause. There are a thousand root causes, depending on any of the thousand strains of cancer, probably found in the mutation of stem cells.. The West has to find these stem cells of terrorism and stop them from mutating, and remove those that have already begun to mutate. But like the cures for cancer, these types of treatments are still a long way off.

To those with a diametrically opposed mindset, the west, and democracy are the cancer, and they, in this case the racial Moslems, are the solution,. They firmly believe that without this solution of ridding the world of western decadence the world will spin out of control and be destroyed by a vengeful God. To fundamentalist Moslems the idea of Benazir Bhutto as a prime minister was as abhorrent as an ultra-orthodox Jew accepting women in their “Minyan” making up the ten souls, or allowing a woman to lead the prayers or read from a Torah scroll; or imagining that the Messiah could be a woman.. The very idea is so revolting to the orthodox of both sects that they believe the heavens might just crumble, or at least they’d personally be denied entry into Heaven, for such abhorrent behavior.

As a consequence the radicals do whatever they think is necessary to keep the world spinning, even if it means spilling buckets, or lakes, even oceans, of blood. Even if it means murdering others of their own religious beliefs, but differing orientation: the Shia’s killing the Sunni’s for example. To these groups the other is the cancer, not only the west. Every side, it seems, believes they have God behind them. God, in all His wisdom, has not seen fit to make his own opinions known at this time.

Meanwhile the west is back to the standard procedures, arresting the terrorists when they can be identified, assassinating them, as Israel is doing in Gaza, when they can't be arrested. Still, these are only holding actions, like radiation therapy, and chemo, and only work to destroy certain strains, having only limited effect on others. And as science has learned to their dismay, one mutant cell left in a tissue after a tumor is excised by surgery is enough to rebound into a deadly mass.

In Hebrew there is a saying, "Talmud Torah Neged Kulam," The teaching of the bible against everything. Or simply, education protects us. Perhaps that's the solution to stop the killing of well-intentioned people like Bhutto: education. Somehow reach the stem cells before they mutate, stop them from ever turning into malignant growths.

Leo Tolstoy's General Kutuzov, in fighting off Napoleon, waited in Moscow while the French approached, with the Russian winter racing in. "there is no more powerful adversary than those two: patience and time --- they will do it all."

One hopes Tolstoy's words are just as true today as they were when Napoleon was at Russia's gates.