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 A while back we noted the rise of various scions of old long established oligarch families in America, the Carters, the Quayles and of course the most fashionable and telegenic family of them all, the Kennedys.  With each new election it seems more of these sprigs of the old tree try out for office.

It’s not of course just in America that you find oligarchy in the political system, but what might interest is the connections between the oligarchs in different countries and how they may assist each in maintaining oligarchy, even if otherwise the countries might appear poles apart.  Like oh, say, Pakistan with which is not a country I suspect Americans feel they have a natural affinity with.  Many US congressmen would declare it a terrorist state.

The picture above by Column PK is of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the young son of the Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto.  Mrs Bhutto who was always known to her admirers as “BB” (is the pun there intentional?) was murdered in 2007 at a rally, blown up by opponents.

Bilawal lost not just his mother to violent political ends.  His grandfather Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged in 1979, his uncle Murtaza shot dead by police in 1996 and another uncle, Shahnawaz, was poisoned in 1985.  The feelings of empathy with the Kennedys must be overwhelming

And it’s not just coincidence.

Prime Minister Zulficar was accused of corruption and money laundering, but kept close contact with the Bush family whilst also lending money to Mark Pen a strategist for Hillary Clinton in 2007.  He moved from an anti American stance to becoming her friend whilst all the time being a conduit.

Whilst his daughter Benazir had the usual standard connections with former ambassadors like Peter Galbraith, son of economist J K Galbriath, Senators like  Charles Percy, media types such as E J Dionne and Michael Kinsley,other contacts were more personal.  She roomed at Harvard with Kathleen Kennedy and studied with Bobby Kennedy jr.  The Kennedy family kept close contact with the Bhuttos thereafter, and indeed on the day she was killed Rep. Patrick Kennedy jr was visiting her in Pakistan.

She was a close friend of Arianna Huffington founder of the Huffington Post, and her niece Fatima is in turn a prolific writer for The Daily Beast, New Statesman and the Independent newspaper.

But you might say all this is just coincidence, simply the fact that likeable intelligent political animals rub up against each other at University, and keep in touch afterwards; families that share an understanding of how bloody the costs of doing politics are.  Perhaps.  Perhaps if the Bhutto connection was the only interesting foreign family connections the Kennedys show.

Remember Victoria Kennedy?  She married the late Senator Kennedy and has all sorts of interesting middle eastern connections.

Victoria’s father Edmund Reggie, who was born in Lebanon, was a member of the Central Committee of the Democratic party and a four time Louisiana delegate to the Democratic National Conventions.  A real smoky-back-room boy, he was considered a “kingmaker” amongst the party apparatchiks.  His wife Doris Boustany, was as deeply involved with the party serving on the party’s Platform & Finance Committees.


But old Doris had another string to her bow. For our Doris was a first cousin to Beachir Gemayel, the President elect of Lebanon, who was assassinated prior to taking up his post, and who was succeeded by his brother Amire Gemayel.  Both these brothers were the sons of her great uncle Pierre Gemayel, President of Lebanon and founder of the Kataeb party, which is better known in the West as the Phalangists, a strongly nationalistic and anti Syrian grouping. Amire’s son Pierre Amine Gemayel, named for his grandfather, was himself gunned down in a hail of 9mm bullets in 2006.  Solid reliably oligarchical, and for this part of the Kennedy clan the bloodshed in the middle east is very close to home.

The Kennedys have some interesting family friends.

Copyright David Macadam 2012