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Assassination Diplomacy
Pakistan’s Suicide Note to Dick Cheney

Shake of death

Somebody told the bomber Dick Cheney was coming.

It’s never—never—entirely acceptable when a head of state, or someone approaching that title (or usurping it, as in the present case) is the target of an assassination attempt. In the present circumstances irony is a powerful counter-argument. Dick Cheney went to Pakistan on Monday to tell his counterpart, the little mustachioed dictator running Pakistan, to make his alliance with al-Qaeda and the Taliban less obvious, at least as long as Democrats are running the Congressional show in Washington. The trip was “unscheduled,” as they say in official Washington, even though everything in politics is “unscheduled,” or at least ought to be: running human affairs shouldn’t be that predictable (one of the many problems with the Bush junta has been its deterministic presumptions: it acts as if the world is its Genesis, for it to make and remake in its image, on its timetable). Projecting a trip as “unscheduled” is of course another variation of the faking of urgent news Daniel Boortsin told us about in 1962. It’s a pseudo-event, an attempted manipulation of a reality that doesn’t exist, as Dick Cheney found out: Unscheduled as it was, at least one bomber knew the sclerotic vice-p was going to spend a furtive night under the Kabul stars, which should worry the men and boys back in the White House Situation Room: Dick Cheney went to tell the little dictator to calm down his Taliban brigades only for the little dictator to tip off the Taliban about Cheney’s next stop.

It couldn’t have been a clearer message. The big powerful American vice-p lecturing the little dictator, the little dictator taking umbrage—no one, but no one I tell you speaks to me like that, not even that goddamn face-blasting fat man from gassy Wyoming—and sending a quick message to his henchmen on the other side of the Kush mountains: Send him a quick, blasted message. Order given. Order answered. The suicide bomber shredded himself “at the first security gate of the base, far from where Mr. Cheney was staying,” the ever-submissive Times wrote. Far from where Cheney was staying? It’s as close as a bomb has ever been to a member of the Bush junta. It killed fifteen people, including three American soldiers. They’re not (well, they unfortunately are, metaphorically and physically) chopped liver, are they?

The Times story obligingly misses the point, too: “Mr. Cheney’s trip to the region had been shrouded in unusual secrecy,” the Times wrote. “News organizations that were aware of Mr. Cheney’s travels were asked to withhold any mention of the trip until he had left Pakistan. This appeared to reflect growing concern about the strength of Al Qaeda and Taliban forces in the region, and continuing questions about the loyalties of the intelligence services of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.” There is a point at which cautious understatement in journalism becomes cover for conspiratorial lies. It’s understandable that the Bush junta doesn’t want it more obviously known than it already is that in allying itself with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, it has allied itself with the true axis of evil. It’s incomprehensible that, faced with such obvious evidence, the Times and the rest of them, manipulated and humiliated so many times over in the last six and a half years, would once again play dead to the obvious. Pervez Musharraf has just sent a Taliban bomber to blow up Dick Cheney, and the best they can all do, Cheney among them, is paste smiles on their faces, pose for handshaking pictures, and call the trip another great success in the most successful of wars on terror.

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