THE FIRE STILL BURNS
Several emails have recently come in asking “what the hell got into Bobby this week on Ring of Fire?” (His Saturday Air America radio show) I don’t know, but whatever set him ablaze, I will say that the man was in rare form. This was one of the best broadcasts I’ve heard from him in quite awhile.
In the opening minutes of the show, Bobby launched into a particularly passionate rant about our arms-happy economic foreign policy that left even his longtime co-host Mike “Pap” Papantonio (who has heard it all by now) speechless. Hearing him talk, one couldn’t help but be reminded of President Kennedy’s disdain for “a Pax Americana, enforced on the world by American weapons of war” in his 1963 American University commencement address.
RFK Jr. also invoked another famous presidential speech: “This is exactly the world that General Dwight Eisenhower warned us about in his farewell address to the nation in which he cautioned against the domination of our democracy by the Military-Industrial Complex.
“The U.S. traditionally was an isolationist nation.” He explained further. “We focused on our own hemisphere, we focused on developing our economy, not policing the world. We were Anti-Imperialist, that was part of our tradition. “That was not just Jefferson, but it was Madison, Adams, Hamilton and all of them…This was an Anti-Imperialist nation!
“Well now, we spend $500 billion a year on arms.” Kennedy said. “That’s more than the entire world put together! This is not something that is good for the American people.”
He also encouraged every American to do a little independent thinking and ask themselves “who benefits?” from the waging of eternal war.
Kennedy talked on at some length about how we can bring a balance of power to the Mideast and restore our standing as a nation of goodwill in the eyes of the world. He also put forward some solid ideas on how to break our oil addiction with an “Apollo project” which would bring with it a prosperous domestic economy invested in green energy technologies, and spelled out exactly how it could be done within just a few years.
* Listen to the Ring Of Fire radio show segment. (Jan. 19, 2008, Hour 1)
AND THAT WAS JUST THE FIRST HOUR…
Kennedy was just getting warmed up. In the second hour of the program, he spoke with Joseph Cirincione (Senior Fellow and Director for Nuclear Policy at the Center for American Policy) about how the Bush administration hyped a recent incident at sea between our Navy and the Iranian National Guard.
Had this “Filipino Monkey” thing actually been taken more seriously, we very easily could have had another Gulf of Tonkin on our hands or accidentally fired the first shot of WWIII.
And that’s enough to get anybody hopping mad. Especially someone named Kennedy whose father and uncle JFK diplomatically averted nuclear holocaust during the Cuban Missle Crisis. Those thirteen days in October 1962 were without question the most intense in world history; a moment when one false move, one slight misunderstanding or miscommunication could have meant The End of Everything.
Playing a dangerous game of chicken with Iran now inevitably results in close calls like this one, which Kennedy referred to as “classic American gunboat diplomacy in the 19th century sense.” Was this just another “Remember the Maine!” type incident “where we used American propaganda to hype a conflict with another nation?”
THE HOAX OF HORMUZ
“It appears that the Navy tapes that we all saw last week that allegedly showed Iranian Revolutionary Guard gunboats buzzing and harassing a convoy of American battleships were faked.” Kennedy said incredulously.
“That’s exactly right, Robert.” Cirincione concurred. “What we basically have here is The Hoax of Hormuz. We have a very misleading tape and storyline coming out last Monday, on the eve of the President’s trip to the Middle East. And it appears that the administration has once again exaggerated a threat for political purposes.”
“Clearly, the object of the United States propaganda campaign, which we all saw on television, was to inflame this situation rather than try to contain it.” Kennedy said. “In my view…that’s what our policy should be in that part of the world: to contain these incidents rather than to manufacture provocations.
“The voice we hear on the tape is clearly not a voice coming from those little Iranian speedboats. There was this phony, fake Arnold Schwarzenegger imitation voice that was just spliced in as a way to frighten the American people and hype the case for conflict.”
SPEAKING OF CONFLICT, WHAT ABOUT PAKISTAN?
Kennedy brings a unique and very personal insight to the current chaos in Pakistan. The Bhutto dynasty has drawn many comparisons to the Kennedys over the years, mainly because these two families have seen more than their share of political power struggles, coups, and violent, untimely deaths. The many similarities are indeed striking, if not even a little spooky.
The late Benazir Bhutto, Harvard classmate of the Kennedys
Most recently, the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto (by a “lone nut” sniper in a motorcade, no less) brought up the obvious comparisons to JFK and Dallas. Incidentally and by sheer coincidence, it seems, JFK’s nephew Rep. Patrick Kennedy and Sen. Arlen Specter (Warren Commission counsel and mastermind of the “Single Bullet Theory”) were in Pakistan at the time, scheduled to meet with Bhutto that very night.
THE KENNEDY-BHUTTO CONNECTION
But Bhutto shared some similarities with Bobby Jr. as well. Being the same age, they attended Harvard together and were friendly with each other’s siblings. She inherited her father’s political legacy as the eldest daughter of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who founded the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
Bhutto led the country as president and then as prime minister between 1971 and 1977, when he was arrested on murder charges following a military coup. At first a reluctant political player, Benazir Bhutto vowed to carry on her father’s work, taking over after her father was hanged by the government of General Mohammed Zia-Ul-Haq.
But the somewhat eerie connections don’t end there. During her Harvard years, Benazir (known as “Pinky” on campus) Bhutto roomed with Bobby’s sister Kathleen Kennedy, class of `73. Meanwhile, Bobby Jr. and his younger brother David (who died of a tragic drug overdose in 1984) shared rooms and good times with Benazir’s younger brother Mir Murtaza Bhutto (who was shot to death in 1996).
Bobby’s late friend Mir Bhutto’s death has been described as a politically-motivated murder by his daughter Fatima and the way this horrible event unfolded is strangely reminiscent of the assassination of Robert Kennedy Sr. in 1968. The Bhuttos, like the Kennedys, have lost far too many family members in the midst of national political upheavals — and that’s not to mention the various intrigues within the family circle itself.
The murder of Mir Bhutto, it is often rumored, was ordered from the highest levels of the Pakistani government, which at the time was run by his estranged sister, Benazir Bhutto. Then there is the troubling tale of their brother Shah, who died violently in 1985 under circumstances which can only be described as curious. As Bobby told the story on this week’s radio show:
“They (Shah and Mir) married twin sisters who were the daughters of the Soviet puppet president of Kabul. One of the sisters then murdered Shah – poisoned him in France – and Mir divorced the sister, probably prudently.
“But then Mir was involved in a hijacking which put a price on his head in Pakistan. He finally came back to Pakistan and ran for Parliament, and then was murdered in a hail of gunfire that many people believe was orchestrated by his own sister, by his elder sister (Benazir) and her husband. We don’t know…but there is strong evidence of that.”
This amazing story, with all its’ bizarre twists and turns, has to be heard to be believed. (Even then, you might have to listen a few times to fully wrap your mind around it).
Near the end of this interview, Kennedy expressed his belief that it is Pakistan, not Iran or Iraq, which is “the principal threat to all of the globe in terms of proliferation of nuclear materials to terrorist groups who may actually use them.”
“Exactly.” Cirincione agreed. “Pakistan is the most dangerous country on earth.”
* Check out the entire interview on Ring of Fire here. (January 19, 2008 show, Hour 2. The Joseph Cirincione interview starts about 18 minutes into the program.)