Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Wrong foreign policy scandal opportunity, GOP

Benghazi is not ever going to amount to anything except a molehill on Fox News for Republicans, and even they seem to finally understand this.  And it's not because they are beginning to comprehend the hypocrisy associated with their MIA outrage at the thirteen attacks and over sixty deaths at American embassies on George W. Bush's watch.

The real blunder they have made is that if they had wanted to tar Obama with a actual scandal, they could have gone after this.

Amid a deadly backlash again vaccinations and a resurgence of polio in Pakistan, the White House has promised that the CIA will never again use an immunization campaign as a tool of spycraft.


The Central Intelligence Agency had enlisted a Pakistani doctor, Shakil Afridi, to collect intelligence under the guise of an immunization effort in the city of Abbottabad as part of planning for the high-risk May 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound there.

The agency aimed to confirm intelligence that bin Laden was at the compound by comparing DNA obtained from children living there to a sample from the fugitive al-Qaida chief’s late sister, the Guardian newspaper reported in July 2011.

Even before those revelations, the Taliban in Pakistan had already opposed Western-backed vaccination campaigns, claiming that they were secret efforts to sterilize Muslim children. But the CIA’s actions helped fuel an armed backlash against immunization workers, reportedly killing 56 people between December 2012 and May 2014. The victims include not just medical workers but police officers assigned to guard them.
Another result of the CIA’s actions was to lead many Pakistani parents to forgo vaccinations for ailments like polio. The crippling and sometimes fatal illness has no known cure – but there are several safe and effective vaccines, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Of the 77 documented new cases of polio worldwide in calendar year 2014, 61 were in Pakistan, mostly from the remote and restive Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) region, which serves as a Taliban stronghold.

Maybe it's that presidents just aren't interested in reigning in the CIA.  Maybe they simply are unable to, or are fearful of repercussions if they attempt (a la JFK conspiracy theory).  But that's a separate quandary from "how do we make Obama look bad on this".

Irrespective of the glamorous drama of the CIA analyst's life in shows like '24' and 'Homeland', it's not all guns and bombs, as the disclosure of Valerie Wilson Plame's secret agent double life revealed.  Being deployed by State in a foreign country is both boring and exciting at the same time, dangerous and monotonous simultaneously.  It comes with mostly intrinsic rewards in exchange for the elevated risk of being violently killed.  Update (5/22): Please note the distinction I should have more clearly made between a diplomat and a spy.  And an ambassador's risk of violent death varies by nation, with Caroline Kennedy's risk being exponentially less than Christopher Stevens'.

If Republicans had chosen this vaccination scandal instead of Benghazi, then it certainly follows that they would have had to condemn the CIA.  More problematically IMO, they would have been forced to express sympathy for little brown children dying of an easily eradicable disease... because American security interests in Pakistan were more important.

And it's difficult to care about poor children in Pakistan when you don't care about poor children in America, or even in your own state.  At least Republicans are consistent, in other words.  Mean, sorry, and stupid, but consistent.  Oh well, suppressing the vote and sustaining the Obamacare outrage seems to be working for them, so why should they worry too much about 2014?


Gadfly said...

Re Benghazi, let's not forget IT was a spook shop, too. The GOP's been very careful in only being outraged about security there, and not being outraged about why the hell we were there at all.

Grung_e_Gene said...

Gadfly's got it. The consulate was a thinly veiled CIA forward operating base. But PDiddie i wouldn't go giving them any new ideas although as we have seen w/ umbrella gate and fist bump gate and USMC cover gate the right needs no help crafting faux scandals.