Sunday, September 11, 2005

King George Canute

Edited & Brought to you by ilaxi

Byline by MJ Akbar : King George Canute

T.S. Eliot wrote, famously:
This is the way the world ends,
Not with a bang but a whimper.

There are too many internet terrorists scurrying around planting stink bombs in the very heart of the Green Zone where George Bush’s credibility lives.

One of the most entertaining stink bombs that came my way compared the rain havoc in Mumbai in July with the rain havoc in New Orleans in August: 18 inches fell in New Orleans, 37 in Mumbai. Mumbai has

24 times the population of New Orleans. In 48 hours, 37 died in Mumbai and a hundred in New Orleans. In 12 hours the Indian Army and Navy were in Mumbai; it took 48 hours in America. Now which, asked this mischievous sender, is the third world country?

Four years ago, George Bush and Tony Blair were the undisputed masters of the response to arbitrary, provocative, barbaric terrorism. They strode the moral high ground.

Today a hurricane laps around the feet of King George Canute and erodes the sand below his throne while he helplessly orders the waters of New Orleans to recede.

A question does not become a fact; America is not a third world nation. But a question is always a part of an early warning system. Gods can slip and recover their footing: that is a familiar of all mythology as well as its first cousin, history. The test of leadership is the distance between slip and tip-over. For once you’ve lost your balance, descent is so much faster than ascent.

Victory is Rama; it has one face. Defeat is Ravana; it has ten faces. One of the latter is the cost of conflict. New Orleans is expected to cost $150 billion. That is not all that much for the world’s richest economy. But fifteen dollars can become difficult to find when a tycoon has crossed his credit limit many times. The most powerful businessmen, owners of the finest brands, know this — or learn it to their cost. The cost of the conflicts that Bush has taken his country into is not measured only in hard cash; it is being measured in wet blood.

Mahatma Gandhi used to say that all the hidden dirt of society flows into the hut during a flood. Hidden dirt of all kinds is flowing into American consciousness after New Orleans. The waters have to recede; the dirt will stay in the memory. New Orleans was not just a natural disaster. It was a mirror in which America saw the inherent inequality of the Bush world-view. The mind that protects the profits of oil companies at the expense of the Iraqi people is not so different from the mindset that persuades a powerful leader to head west towards a fundraiser while thousands die in the east of his own country.

George Bush has an accountant’s view of the world. On one side is a list of assets: friends, generally respectful and always obedient in a moment of need. On the other side is the column of liabilities: enemies, always evil, violent, barbaric, backward and without the redeeming virtue of having had a renaissance.

Reality, sadly, has more colours than black and white. A state of war is also a state of mind, and it is a poor leader who thinks that any conflict is a black-and-white confrontation.

On the fourth anniversary of 9/11 Bush and Blair must address one question: why have they lost so much respect across so much of the world? This collapse of trust has taken place in their own countries as well. Why were they trusted to lead a war against terrorism once and are now regarded as the Punch and Judy of a particularly nasty tragedy?

They don’t need to establish a commission to find the answer. They can take a hard look at the difference in the world’s reaction to the two wars that they launched, one in Afghanistan, and the other in Iraq. I cannot think of a nation that did not support them, particularly after the Taliban in Kabul did not hand over Osama bin Laden for trial. Pakistan, Afghanistan’s closest ally, sacrificed its strategic interests: India and Pakistan were on the same side.

By the time Bush and Blair had forced the hands of the clock towards Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, the most powerful nations of Europe, France and Germany, both their people and their governments, had publicly rejected the rationale for war against Iraq, at that time. The last phrase is important, because if Hans Blix, the UN inspector, had been given time he might have proved that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Maybe that is why he was not given time. Four years later, even the legitimacy of the presence in Afghanistan has been eroded as it begins to look like an occupation. In Iraq, there is no doubt: it is an occupation.

George Bush should have listened to the man he sacked after re-election, his former secretary of state Colin Powell. Powell supported the massing of troops on the borders of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, but he was a reluctant warrior. He did not want to tip-over into a war with all its unforeseen consequences (rarely have there been as many unforeseen consequences as in Iraq after Bush got onto an aircraft carrier in order to declare victory). Powell argued that intimidation had to be tried before the shooting started. But Bush and Blair were in heavy league with hubris. They thought that defeating Saddam was a stroll into Baghdad. That might have been true. But they did not realise that defeating Saddam was not quite the same thing as defeating the Iraqi people, and that the people would mobilise once they saw the war for what it was, and what became explicit when the records of the oil ministry were more important to the occupation forces than the treasures of the national museum. Or Bush might have thought about his father’s view of war when he successfully drove Saddam out of Kuwait. Nation-building, said Bush the Elder (and Wiser), was not something that American troops could do for Iraqis. To destroy a dictator as evil as Saddam might be important, but the world has to devise means that are morally acceptable. A moral cause cannot be sustained by immoral means. A war for freedom tends to lose its legitimacy when it ends up in the profit sheets of a Halliburton.

War is a course of last resort. It has a justification when it has a moral basis. When it becomes an occupation then those who oppose it acquire the moral strength. Bush and Blair surrendered the moral edge in Iraq that they possessed against the Taliban. To dismiss the response of the desperate in Iraq as terrorism, as Bush and Blair, will not get them anywhere. It will certainly not convince the young people who are ready to die in a battle against those they perceive to be conquerors rather than liberators. Even those who welcomed Bush and Blair because they hated Saddam and his brutal dictatorship have joined the war against the perpetrators of "collateral damage", the pretty phrase for excesses against civilians in Iraq.

T.S. Eliot wrote, famously:
This is the way the world ends,
Not with a bang but a whimper.

This is the way some Presidents and Prime Ministers end, not with a halo but as a joke, destroyed by a stink bomb.

2 comments:

Muslimeen said...

Dear Sir,

This is comment about your interview, after your OIC meeting.

I am aware you are going to be cross at me for what I am going to write.
Nevertheless I am bounded by my duty as vicegerent of Allah to object to the way you presented your invitation to holy city, in your interview on Islamic net, about your meeting on Sept 9, 2005 in OIC interview.

1. To the question number 4
"Q: What does the presence of a high-profile Indian Muslim scholar, writer and prominent editor at such a prestigious world conference in the holiest of Muslim places indicate?"

A momin and muslimeen's answer should be "Praise be to Allah, who made this possible". It is not King Abdullah to whom you should be greatful. It is Allah to whom you should be greatful that he put this thought and light in King Abdullah's mind that he should invite you to holy city of Mecca.

The difference in attitude and allegiance is vast as you see.

Emphasis number 2:to Question number 1:

If I were you, my answer to the first question would be of much mroe emphasis and pride that if today's world has democracy it is because of Islam. It is from Islam democratic principles have been derived and practiced. Europe's dark ages were during Islamic Golden age. When Europe was surrounded by filthy rats, plague, hunger and famine ravaged by taxes imposed by cruel kings who made merry atthe cost of people's sweat and blood, and when Catholic priests joined them, Islam was light which came in their lives. Protestantism which was product of Renaissance and Reformation ages was influenced heavily by Islamic practices and inventions. Europe took from Islam and adopted principles of democracy in polity, hygiene in day to day life to such an extent that every invention made by Islamic scholars and written down by scribes has been plagiarised by Europeans, the proofs of which have been completely destroyed. Obviously if such proof of invention existed and associated itself with Islamic knowledge and technology, mischief of restricting the technology to few rich and powerful cannot be prapogated. Lest other people commit the same mischief as themselves, which means plagiarising, concept of "patenting" has been invented.

A thief or plagiariser know the methodolgyof stealing any lying and he is stopping other people from doing the same thing to him by wearign white clothes and that is called "patenting", denying the benefits to everyone unless it is paid or tagged to the needs of individuals. people who lead simple lives donot feel the need of such patented products, and therefore their simple lives have to be destoryed and dumped as "fundamentalist" lives. Do u see how a theif is ruling the world with white lies?

This is how Europe( in 18 th century, the discriminated in Europe ran to America and destroyed the simple lives of Aboriginal Indians and burnt their scrolls of knowledge and hence no different from Europeans in committing wrath on simple lives ) became rich, plagiarising from Islamic knowledge and denying the claims that it has been plagiarised.
What better proof than burning of scrolls of evidences in libraries. Alexandria library had many evidences of this knowledge and Christian crusaders burnt it and raged it to the ground. What is left is "classified" and not to be told to the World that all this knowledge and technology which people are enjoying today had been from Islam after all.

Sad part of Islam today is not the non-muslims. It is muslims who donot adhere to the faith in its true spirit and yet claim themselves to be Muslims. This is where corruption is occuring.

Today's Muslim World are willing to do business with Jews and Christians by misinterpreting that this social and economic interaction is allowed.

No! It is not true.

If Jews were perfect, and adhered to their faith, Jesus Christ did not have to come and question the priests of corrupting the God's word.

If Chrisitians were adhering to Injil or Bible, Prophet Muhammad need not have to come.

The fact that they have come as source of Solace and Peace to us to abrogate the corrupt practices itself is a proof that other religions largely have become corrupt in interpreting the word of Unseen Light which pervades all our lives.

Our Prophet has rightly pointed out there were one group of jews and they will become 71 sects. there were one group of Christians and they will become 72 sects, and there was one sunnah of Prophet's followers and they will become 73 sects. Only one group of Jews, One group of Christians and one group of Muslims who adhered to the word of Allah, given to Moses,(May Allah's pbuh) or Jesus Christ(May Allah' pbuh) and Prophet Muhammad (May Allah's pbuh ) will enter Jannah and rest will enter Hell fire. Don't we see they already did. Day after day we see fire on TV, Internet, Media.

It is this one sect of Jews ( Real Rabbihs ), Christians ( rare small group) and Muslims ( those who adhere to sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) who will have to face hardships until the end of time. Till then, all fake jews, fake Christians and fake Muslims will make merry in this life and that is what we are seeing.

If Muslims are suffering today it is of their own making and they have not adhered to the principles of faith enough. This is my emphasis.

But what you are propagating is the same but in order to survive you are pleading to Muslims : not to adhere to faith as solution, which I openly condemn.

This I call it as opportunism and cowardliness.

Indeed you are one among those who is adopting Kufr.

There are enough clever people in this world in media to accept what is going on and express resentment and they don't have to be just Muslims. They are from any group. One doesnot have to be a Muslim to codemn this. It is humanity and the earth ( Adam) with which they are made of which is making them condemn the atrocities. Yet they do not realise that they are being eaten up by fire ( Iblis) raged between them in the name of sects, castes, religious corruption and corrupt practices. Fire is earth's enemy and it is going to destroy humanity( earth ) in humans.


Like you,these famous people, present all the facts and resentments but in the end they twist it to adopt to their survival needs.

One does not need to take up a sword. To say : that "Muslims are suffering because they didnot adhere to their faith enough" and practice it without offending anyone around you itslef is an act of takign up a sword/pen.

This is why I do not agree with them or you, as you end up twisting it agaisnt Islam.

May Allah guide you towards his path and light. Ameen.

guile said...

mr eliot was right..