And Theodor Mommsen might have added, it can be a bitch. What in the world was Laura Bush talking about today in her commencement address at Roger Williams?

In the weeks that followed September 11th, Americans were shocked by the pictures that emerged from Afghanistan. Especially haunting were the images of Afghan woman denied their rights — the right to work, even the right to be educated. Seeing those pictures, American women realized that we had taken these rights for granted. And during those weeks, as I traveled around our country, I was impressed by how proud American women were to stand with the women of Afghanistan, and how eager they were to help in any way we could.

As often as not, a person’s version of chronology is a good window into her mind, even her soul. In this instance, the chronology we’re given is both warped and egocentric.

The ‘theme’ of Bush’s speech, if that’s not too grandiose a term, was that you can’t go through your life ignoring others who are in need. Yet to judge by her own chronology here, until 9 months into her husband’s presidency, she had pretty successfully ignored the plight of Afghans, male and female, under the Taliban. That was while the rest of the world was up in arms over the bastards’ treatment of everyone and everything in Afghanistan.
You may remember there was a bit of a to-do the world round in March 2001 as the Taliban began systematically destroying ancient rock carvings in rural Afghanistan. But it was for the rest of the world to focus on the Taliban outrages, not for Mrs. Bush.

You may remember that that summer foreign aid workers were held by the Taliban, accused of preaching Christianity. Mrs. Bush did not notice, evidently.

As late as August 2001, according to reports, her husband’s government was trying to cut a deal with the Taliban to get their cooperation with the Turkmenistan to Pakistan oil pipeline.

The last meeting between U.S. and Taliban representatives took place five weeks before the attacks on New York and Washington; on that occasion, Christina Rocca, in charge of Central Asian affairs for the U.S. government, met the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan in Islamabad on August 2, 2001. Rocca said the Taliban representative, Mr. Zaeef, was aware of the strong U.S. commitment to help the Afghan people and the fact that the United States had provided $132 million in relief assistance so far that year.

Somehow, all the attention that Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney were devoting to the Taliban that summer did not even pique her interest in Afghanistan, not even a little bit to judge by her speech. Then, after Sept. 11, Laura Bush suddenly noticed that the Taliban were bad, bad people. Chiz.

Crossposted at Inconvenient News.

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