Friday, March 21, 2003, Chandigarh, India


S P E C I A L  E D I T O R I A L

The road to nowhere
Hari Jaisingh

War as an instrument of policy can never solve a problem. This is an elementary lesson the history of global wars has taught human beings. Still, certain wars are either thrust or are born of sheer necessity to fight "evil forces". Just wars for just causes, therefore, may be seen differently, howsoever obnoxious and destructive might be the consequences of such a course. The Adolf Hitlers have to be challenged forcefully. This is how World War II started, causing massive destruction of human lives and property. There is, of course, no point in getting lost in the labyrinth of history. Tomorrow's history will judge President George W. Bush's offensive against President Saddam Hussein. We always thought that the world's most vocal democracy would set high moral standards to strengthen the people's confidence in the values of democracy. Today, that confidence stands shattered.

President Bush might have his own justification for launching the offensive against Iraq. But is it convincing enough? Has the democratic USA the right to eliminate a leader it does not like? Wasn't this a matter for the UN to tackle? What then, pray, is the sanctity of the world body?

Regrettably, by its unilateral action against Baghdad, Washington has bypassed its own great liberal traditions on which the very foundations of American society rest. True, such aberrations have been seen even in the past. It is a long list, from Vietnam to Afghanistan, etc. If we look around, ironically, the US establishment, from time to time, has promoted and over-protected some of the most ruthless dictatorships around the world which, again, cuts across the very roots of the value system of American democracy.

Perhaps, the arrogance of power has disoriented the wisdom of the US policy-makers. At one time Dr Fidel Castro of Cuba was seen as a symbol of all the evils in the world. Later, the focus shifted to Colonel Gaddafi of Libya. A recent target was the Saudi billionaire and fugitive Osama bin Laden who was, again, a creation of the CIA and Pakistan's ISI and the ruling dictators in Islamabad. What happened to Bin Laden remains shrouded in an enigma.

Whether we admit it or not, terrorism continues to thrive with the backing of those very forces in Pakistan with peace-loving democracies like India suffering the most. And amidst the proxy war, even crocodile tears have not been shed on the loss of innocent lives in Jammu and Kashmir and some other parts of the country! The crucial point that stands out is the way the USA has used the instruments of its might to aid and abet the very evil forces of terror it is pitted against. This is a great paradox, indeed. The question here is not who is striking anti-or -pro-American postures. The issues are fundamental in nature, on the right answer to which the future of human civilisation lies.

President Bush may not like the face of Mr Saddam Hussein, but the means adopted by the former to eliminate the latter are singularly arbitrary and go against the provisions of the UN Charter and the will of the people amply demonstrated by anti-war rallies the world over, including in those countries which are America's allies.

We thought the 21st century would be different from the earlier ones, but the Bush Administration has put the clock back to the old war and Cold War times. It is very unfortunate that the "remove Saddam regime" operation carries the seeds of a new form of terrorism which might result in strengthening the very "evil forces" the USA decided to fight after the tragic events of September 11, 2001. We feel sorry for the US policy-makers for having not learnt any lesson from history in the right perspective. The question is not of the collapse or survival of President Saddam Hussein and his regime following the offensive from the mighty superpower. The problem before humanity tomorrow will be the rearing of yet another monster of terror threatening peace and justice all over the world. 

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