The Calculus of Miscalculated Human Misery
“Warlike aims and activities corrupt the mentality of man. Intelligent, objective human thinking is suspected and persecuted as unpatriotic.”
Myopia grips the world. Interfaith harmony, already a scant virtue among the divine religions is fast eroding. Muslims pointing guns at Christians and Jews under the banner of ‘jihad’, Christians and Jews setting some of their precision munitions and deadly war machines to churn through Muslim torsos, scoring less on ‘jihadis’ but more on innocent people being lodged in the graves, tag-marked “terrorists”. Several regions are in turmoil with ominous threats lurking on horizon of each country in one form or another. The planet assumed to be safe in a century that is characterized seemingly by knowledge and rapid communication, is no longer safe. Human misery prevails in several apparitions.
As if, as if it was not enough. Pope Benedict XVI, for mysterious reasons opted to read out derogatory remarks against Islam from a medieval text that delivered the strongest blow ever by as wise a person as the pontiff himself. Muslims backlash is obviously understandable but at this moment of fragile harmony, there was margin to grant the Pope a second breath to retract his statement if he chose to do so. The logic is simple. If I, as a practicing Muslim only know that my religion ordains me never to chastise Jesus or Moses, profanation from that high a pontiff’s platform should have been admitted with caution to allow him an opportunity to recant a confusion that would have lent an added beauty and grace to an act worthy of Islam and Holy Prophet, peace be upon him. Resultantly, as a failure to do so, diatribe against each other is picking up volume and pugnacity, leading to violence that compounds the miseries of the people only. Intellectual honesty stands corrupted. Majority of intellectuals present tainted views with bias and grudge and those; free of such malice like Noam Chomsky, are spontaneously dumped as traitors. A Christian dare not utter a word against ‘Christian’ interests and Muslims feel obliged to abet the efforts of faith fellows.
The clash of civilizations has well unfolded but the Western world constantly repudiates the claim. Some eminent scholars have given identity crowns to the civilizations; Catholics led by USA, orthodox Christians by Russia; Sino by China, Hindu by India and Islamic civilization having none though Iran, Turkey, Pakistan or Indonesia could make hard contestants. The splintered status of Islamic civilization which the West arduously worked for in the late 19th century and the beginning of 20th century by demolishing Ottoman Empire and liquidating caliphate has in fact emerged as a pain in the neck of all civilizations posing fledgling hydra headed counter to the threats posed to Muslims. Historic fix is deeply ingrained in the Western psyche that Muslims when united shall trample the world. If the Western civilizations, generally taking unified stand on global issues; particularly in the context of Muslim regions, are finding it hard to subdue resistance in Afghanistan and Iraq despite their remarkable level of scientific and technological superiority; how could a backward Muslim world, even combined, pose a threat of such a large dimension that others would dread its (caliphate) evolution. Sadly enough, some well intentioned organizations working for Muslims unity to start with have been termed as ‘terrorists’ though ‘centrality’ character of Islamic civilization would have helped all, more so the Christians to initiate purposeful dialogue.
21st Century has seen a paradigm shift. ‘Invincibility’ character of some outreaching powers; regional or global, has fast fallen in shreds. The recent conflicts bear the evidence. In the meantime a sympathy virus called ‘Osama’ is infecting 1.5 billion Muslims and also considerable number of non-Muslims with a varied severity, including those that George W Bush, at the moment would not place them in the list of Islamofascists; a term he impulsively contrived to aggravate the persisting deep schism among the civilizations--in fact between Christianity and Islam. One understands that world in general and American people in particular dismiss his barb in the same manner as they rejected his jibes like ‘Armageddon’ and ‘crusades’
The losses of 9/11 tragedy , still a mystery, have been put on the balance scale that could not be tipped by even larger number of counter human losses; which the precision weapons are heaping the world over. Certainly there will remain always tremendous space for more horrific events on the other side of 9/11 on the balance that would yet not reach the satiety mark to heal deep cleft of the inflicted wound. The West is inclined to wipe out all ‘terrorists’ but is not prepared to even discuss the root causes. Public opinion stands muzzled, as the Muslims perceive, by roaring electronic media of Jewish brand that is happily flashing killings; demolition and devastation as if these were means to restore peace and resolve conflicts. A common man is spellbound at the short memory of the imperial powers. Vietnam venture, launched on illusory premises of communist’s expansionism and posing threat to free world, later proved that such assertions were plain concoction. In the same connotation, Iraq and Afghanistan, whatever the claimed American ‘responsibility’ based on Truman Doctrine; would be recorded in the history as gross military misadventures along with mix of several other overt and covert ones, not in too distant past. As a matter of immense solace, the people have come to see clearly the tragic dichotomy in the propounded values-coated pretexts of war on terror and the hidden agenda to lynch the ‘enemy’, crafted with great sophistication. Even not-so-often-talking Mr. Powell has raised his eye brows recently about the moral fiber of the ongoing wars. Condoleezza Rice at least did not mince words once she required of her vast diplomatic corps abroad to sell US policies rather than apprising her with matter of fact appreciation of ground situation to much chagrin of Mr. Bush and Co.
Generally Muslims assume to have the margin to vent their anger through ‘jihad’ because they perceive themselves as the only direct victims whose strategic assets and the territories are under occupation. Iranian leadership is even bitterer and places pivot of all evils on Israel, calling for its obliteration from the face of the earth. It is only another way to express no tolerance for Israel, while her neighbors harbor historic grudge, though some of them are pretending ‘peace’ with her? Concomitantly the worlds are bent upon dictating to Iran and not redress its decades long miseries it has floundered through. Freezing of its assets by USA, laying Caspian stranglehold on it since 1996 in the wake of clamping ‘Iran and Libya Sanctions Act’ persistent threat of regime change and economic sanctions have not helped fostering ‘peace’ even by a jot in the Middle East. When transparency and symmetry in international relations is made a flexible commodity to apply with exceptions, then the volcano of conflicts is bound to erupt. As a consequence another conflict is brewing up in Middle East in an immediate scenario. Mr. Bush appears to suffer from chronic power intoxication to believe that he could wash his Iraq-sins with Iran-bashing. Such moves can be termed anything but a vibrant diplomacy. Hawks in his team are already looking over the shoulders to desert him, if not the people will throw them out anyway.
Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya, Nagorno-Karabakh, Xingjian, Abkhazia, Dagestan, South Ossetia, Transdaneister and Kurd Territories remain the bed-rock of instability for last several decades in the given perceived priorities that have the potentials to turn malignant. The present elected Hamas government has no appeal for Israel and hence obviously not even for the West to negotiate with. Diplomacy has been left to mourn the sight of such festering wounds. Jews justify reaching for liquidating even a minor threat with hammer because it is a question of their survival. Israel’s Lebanon tomfoolery will remain perhaps the worst blow that has boomeranged on it nationally as well internationally. Of late Preemption Doctrine has been stamped unfortunately as the moral right of the ‘giants’ in the international arena even if it means trampling over other sovereign states. Ironically, despite the courageous UN Secretary Generals’ efforts who appears to be safe guarding UNO prestige, not without perils, the ‘bigs’ want to take it for the ride. His, sort of a farewell address, on 20 September 2006 in the General Assembly was nothing less than an epitaph that the current mode of global geo-strategy might force to erect at a place(UN) in the vicinity of existing ‘ground-zero’, not by Usama-bin Laden this time but by the powers that owe responsibility to the mankind.
Where physical occupation has not befallen on third world countries, comprising largely Muslim population, these have been coerced into compliance with the coalition agenda even if they are authoritarian inwardly, tyrannizing the innocent people within their own territories. The champions of war on terrorism have contrived flexible ethics to let authoritarians perpetuate tyranny. Any of them not falling in the line is expeditiously branded as ‘totalitarian’ state and stands high on the risk of reprisal by the free world (North Korea would remain an exception for its merits that need exclusive focus) through several kinds of machinations. Incidentally, the authoritarian heads of the states are the most trust worthy lieutenants of the powers that claim respect for human rights, free expression, religious freedom and just system of governance, what the West calls it ‘democracy’. The consequences of such politics of ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’ are far reaching for Middle East; South Asia and Eurasian Balkan, internal turmoil and sitting over powder keg-like situation of some collaborating states notwithstanding. Shrewd and frank voices always emerge but these are smothered under the clatter of ‘responsibility’ hoax. Transatlantic relationship is showing visible strains. The European actors like France, Germany, Italy and Russia (non-NATO) are prone to increasing tendency of pursuing independent approach to the world’s cataclysmic issues. Public fever in US, Britain and some other coalition countries is hitting their leader’s popularity. Their corrupt and the fallacious international relationing have generated so much of moral stress within their own parties that a large number of the legislators are now inclined to revolt. The world stands ‘bewildered’ with passing of each day. Humanity’s chance of peaceful coexistence is getting remote despite churning out ghastly ‘concepts’ and ‘doctrines’; purportedly perceived by the most able of the think tanks. The prospects and hope of liberation and reconstruction of the devastated regions is yet a far cry. Gitmo, Abugharib, CIA’s secret cells and clipping the civil liberties in contravention to the court ruling are some of the litmus tests that prove the hollowness of the sincerity; governments ought to owe to their public. Human Right organizations loud protests fall on the deaf ears. If anything is sustaining, that is the uncertainty, despair, devastation and destruction of the innocent people from both side of the divide. When would the people misery end? Perhaps never, except for the dead who have seen already the end of it. Rule on ‘O Misery’; thy honor has the most prolific destiny. Thanks to the ‘hubris’ of the victors by claim but to avert ugly conflagrations, there may still be a chance. Tough decision making is need of the hour, the decisions that would stand the grind of truth, justice and transparency.
*The author, with about 32 years of military career, is a defense analyst and PhD Research Scholar since 2002. BrigGen (ret) Muhammad Aslam Khan Niazi from Pakistan is also a member of the WSN International Advisory Board.([email protected]).