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EDITORIALS

Divorce allowed
SC rescues two women from marriage
T
HE Supreme Court has once again proved that it remains a stout champion of women’s rights. Its two latest rulings show its concern for women in distress. In both cases, it allowed the divorce petitions to help women start a new chapter in their life.

Grief and comfort
CPM and challenges of change
A
paradoxical trait of communist parties in democracies is their ability to reform and reinvent themselves to make the most of both challenges and change for furthering their political prospects.


EARLIER STORIES

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
Lingua fracas
French leave to protest English
P
RESIDENT Jacuqes Chirac has lent a whole new meaning to the term “French leave”. It means that the French President will simply leave a meeting if a Frenchman, or woman for that matter, speaks in English.
ARTICLE

Beware of communal politics
Advani yatra portends danger
by J. Sri Raman
A
S five states prepare for Assembly elections over the next two months, the country will do well to prepare for a sharp and potentially dangerous spurt in communal politics and passions.

MIDDLE

Fibbing in marriage
by I.M. Soni
A
LL truthful husbands need a crash course in telling lies! This may be called How To Lie To Your Wife. The course I am going to “sell” is based on the theory that women (read wives) are conditioned by Hindi films to react to certain scenes.

OPED

Fighting leprosy
Eradication is still a far cry
by Dr Uma Vasudeva
I
NDIA has achieved a significant milestone in bringing down the prevalence of leprosy to less than one case per 10,000 people, the goal set by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which qualifies as “elimination.”

The challenge, and the lesson, from China
by Major Gen (retd) Jatinder Singh
C
HINA, over the last few years, has been reasonably transparent in highlighting its major goals in the modernisation of its armed forces. Firstly, it is preparing its forces for a new form of future warfare.

How to stop a civil war
by Michael O’Hanlon
A
dministration officials have been right in recent weeks to argue that there is no large-scale civil war underway in Iraq. As long as the Iraqi political leadership remains generally united in trying to calm the situation, and as long as sectarian violence remains more sporadic than strategic (with no systematic ethnic cleansing, for example), true civil war remains a threat rather than a reality.

From the pages of

Editorial cartoon by Rajinder Puri


 REFLECTIONS



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Divorce allowed
SC rescues two women from marriage

THE Supreme Court has once again proved that it remains a stout champion of women’s rights. Its two latest rulings show its concern for women in distress. In both cases, it allowed the divorce petitions to help women start a new chapter in their life. In one case, the Bench consisting of Justice Ruma Pal and Justice A.R. Lakshmanan upheld a woman’s petition for divorce on the ground that her husband was mentally ill and could not perform his conjugal duties. The woman — a structural engineer from the IIT, Delhi — had filed for divorce a few months after her marriage in 1993, but was turned down by the family court and the Delhi High Court. Maintaining that the lower courts’ orders had resulted in “grave miscarriage of justice”, the Bench sought to give a new definition to cruelty to women. It said cruelty was not confined to violent acts alone but could include “injurious reproaches, complaints, accusations or taunts”. Cruelty could be mental, borne out of indifference and frigidity, hatred and abhorrence and denial of company to wife, it held.

The other ruling by the Bench consisting of Justice B.N. Agrawal, Justice A.K. Mathur and Justice Dalveer Bhandari is equally significant. “Irretrievable breakdown of marriage” is not a ground for divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. The Bench, however, permitted dissolution of a 30-year-old marriage that was never consummated. It said the Allahabad High Court was wrong in setting aside the trial court order and recommended the Union Government to amend the Hindu Marriage Act to incorporate “irretrievable breakdown of marriage” as a ground for divorce.

What is noteworthy in the two progressive rulings is that the court considered a human problem with a human approach and allowed divorce petitions of two women in distress caused by the continuance of marriage and miscarriage of justice. The judgements will surely act as guidelines for the lower courts while dealing with divorce petitions in the future. Its earlier ruling making registration of marriages compulsory is a landmark judgement because with a proof of marriage in hand, a woman can seek justice in case of desertion, bigamy and marital injustice. It augurs well for women.

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Grief and comfort
CPM and challenges of change

A paradoxical trait of communist parties in democracies is their ability to reform and reinvent themselves to make the most of both challenges and change for furthering their political prospects. For all their avowed, ideological opposition to parliamentary democracy, they are adept at surviving in it; and, some in India would say, doing better than the “bourgeois” parties — at least in some states. This may be viewed as either pragmatism or opportunism, depending on the critic’s standpoint. Two disparate developments – the demise of West Bengal CPM Secretary Anil Biswas and the Politburo’s decision to field Mr V.S. Achuthanandan in the Kerala assembly elections – testify to the Marxists’ increasing emphasis on pragmatism wrapped in ideology.

Anil Biswas, who took over as party secretary in West Bengal from Sailen Dasgupta in 1999, was one of the most powerful political managers with a mass base that would be the envy of bigger, national parties. Though Biswas was cast in the orthodox Stalinist mould, it was he who sold to the partymen as well as the middle class electorate the virtues of economic transformation that Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee wanted to carry out; it was Biswas the strategist who rallied the forces within the party and outside for the 2001 assembly election when the CPM faced a monumental challenge with Mr Jyoti Basu’s successor, Mr Bhattacharjee, in the saddle. The “House that Mr Biswas Built” would be on test as the Left Front faces yet another assembly election soon.

The discipline of the CPM in West Bengal that continued to be upheld by Anil Biswas is conspicuously absent in the party’s Kerala unit. There are far too many factions and indiscipline is rampant. The way the CPM in Kerala excluded the veteran Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Achuthanandan, from the list of candidates for the assembly election was ham-handed and self-defeating. The outbreak of anger and agitations against the exclusion of the party’s respected 80-plus leader forced the Politburo to step in and ensure Mr Achuthanandan’s presence in the fray. The CPM may look different in West Bengal and Kerala, but share the tendency to find practical solutions for their policy and leadership dilemmas.

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Lingua fracas
French leave to protest English

PRESIDENT Jacuqes Chirac has lent a whole new meaning to the term “French leave”. It means that the French President will simply leave a meeting if a Frenchman, or woman for that matter, speaks in English. And, that’s exactly what President Chirac did at a gathering of European Union leaders in Brussels last week. It is said that the French dine while the English eat. Yet, Monsieur Chirac could not stomach a French industrialist, Mr Ernest-Antoine Seilliere, head of the employers’ organisation, Unice, jettisoning his mother tongue to speak in English. Gallic pride was pricked to the quick, and Mr Chirac walked out in protest, along with two French ministers. When he asked Mr Seilliere why he opted for English, the answer was that it is “language of business”. Monsieur Chirac wasn’t amused over the usage benefiting “the nation of shopkeepers”.

French may be the language of love, diplomacy and much else, but essentially, more so in international forums, language is intended to communicate and not to prove linguistic superiority. However, Mr Chirac, even at the risk of being undiplomatic and unloved, never fails to let it be known that he cannot tolerate English – certainly the language, if not the people. On one occasion, he insisted on speaking in French to US President George Bush. This is indeed carrying French love too far.

Now President Chirac must also be a deeply knowledgeable man. He must know that there are over a billion people on the planet who speak English; and not all those who speak English are British. There are Americans, for one; and then a whole lot of others, too, like Indians even if what they speak is more akin to Hinglish, Tinglish or Benglish. It would be terrible if the French extended their linguistic antipathy for the British to all the English-speaking people. The French would be left talking to themselves, and saying, “Pardon my French”.

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Thought for the day

Thank heavens we do not get all of the government that we are made to pay for.

— Milton Friedman

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Beware of communal politics
Advani yatra portends danger
by J. Sri Raman

AS five states prepare for Assembly elections over the next two months, the country will do well to prepare for a sharp and potentially dangerous spurt in communal politics and passions.

This may sound like an alarmist counsel. The party most closely and commonly associated with communal politics is not a major player in four of these states — West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is only a distant third force after the Congress and the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) in Assam.

The warning may appear wide of the mark particularly as conventional wisdom credits the first four states with impregnable ideological barriers against BJP-type politics. The caution, in fact, is warranted all the more for such complacency.

Despite its relative weakness in this bunch of states, it is the BJP that recognises the potential that the elections offer. It is no coincidence that the party’s former and present helmsmen, Mr Lal Krishna Advani and Mr Rajnath Singh, have threatened to launch “yatras”, expected to last about a month, from April 6. The period of these “pilgrimages” of unholy political intent will correspond virtually to that of the Assembly polls, stretching from April 3 to May 8.

Mr Advani has left no doubt about the design behind the “yatras”, with his successor in the BJP toeing the same line in subsequent statements. The former Deputy Prime Minister, whose Ayodhya yatra led to the Babri Masjid demolition and left behind communal rubble that is yet to be cleared, has declared that he and his party now aim to warn the country against the role of “minority-ism” in the “rise of terrorism”. Varanasi has not proved another Ayodhya, but that is not going to prevent the pilgrims of communal politics from trying temple-related tactics again. They may have failed to “repeat Gujarat” elsewhere, in the sense of engineering the communal carnage and winning an assembly election. But they still fondly remember the fact that the Ayodhya yatra helped the BJP, with two seats in the Lok Sabha till then, emerge as the largest opposition party.

They have already announced the package of communally provocative issues to be raised during the proposed pilgrimages. The issues range from job reservations for Muslims and the idea of a Muslim headcount in the Army to the Supreme Court’s scrapping of the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983, or the IMDT Act, and the Union government’s subsequent minority-friendly amendment of the Foreigners Act. The pilgrimages and the package are clearly calculated to promote communal politics in the coming elections, even if the “yatras” skip the five states, with poll-time priorities preventing deployment of adequate police protection for the BJP leaders in these places.

Assam is the obvious example of the electoral potential of the “yatras”. The issue of migrants is sure to figure most prominently in the manifestos and campaigns of all the contending parties in the state. The AGP, of course, will spearhead opposition here to New Delhi’s initiative to negate any adverse impact of the apex court decision on those whom the Congress and the Left consider innocent victims of a communally driven campaign against “illegal migration”. The state BJP’s attempt to forge an electoral alliance with the AGP has failed so far. This, however, does not detract one whit from the importance of the issue for the BJP, especially in its current hurry to return to its Hindutva roots.

At the national level, the BJP hailed the court verdict as a stricture on the Centre’s “softness on terrorism”. It is debatable whether the description fits a provision that puts the onus of proof of guilt on the accuser and not the accused. The more important point is the utterly communal character of the crusade against “illegal migrants” (identified invariably as “infiltrators” until the other day). For a glimpse of the ground-level campaign on this count, one must go not to the court verdict but to the petition filed by All-Assam Students Union (AASU) leader Sarbananda Sonowal. Nothing in the judgement indicates the court’s endorsement of the contention in the petition that the “illegal migration” would eventually end up in the absorption of entire Assam into “a Greater Bangladesh”. The BJP could not have agreed more with the petitioner.

It is not as if “illegal migration” were a non-issue in neighbouring West Bengal. The Left’s rule here does not make it any less an issue in the border districts, at any rate. And the BJP is out to make it a bigger electoral plank. State BJP president Tathagata Roy sounds very much like Mr Sonowal when he says in an interview: “You don’t expect part of America to break away and join Mexico, but over here, the problem is that if a part of India becomes a Muslim majority, then we’d be scared.”

Mr Roy’s party may have less than a marginal presence in West Bengal, but the BJP here has unlikely proxies to raise the issue on its behalf. Illustrative is the complaint by the state CPM that both the Congress and the Trinamool Congress are attacking one of the Marxist members of parliament as an “illegal” migrant.

The issue may matter little in the other major Left bastion, Kerala. Despite the BJP’s negligible presence, however, communal politics has succeeded in associating terrorism with the Muslim minority at least to some extent in this southern state as well. The run-up to the elections here is likely to witness repeated references to the recent adoption by the state assembly of a resolution asking for the release on compassionate grounds of Abdul Nasser Madani, the main accused in the Coimbatore bomb blasts case dating back to 1998.

That the case has dragged on for eight long years without clinching evidence being found against Madani is not the only fact that the BJP and its band in Kerala forget. They also conceal the fact that the plea for a compassionate approach to the case of disabled Madani has been made repeatedly earlier by prominent personalities, including former Chief Justice of India V R Krishna Iyer. Madani sympathisers also argue that his detractors are determined to forget that he was originally arrested on charges of making inflammatory speeches and that he has been acquitted in at least six of these instances.

On paper, the BJP is a puny force in neighbouring Tamil Nadu (and Pondicherry), where Madani has spent most of his time behind bars. Communal politics, however, is no outcast in the state that boasts of a “Dravidian rationalism”. No ideological considerations have prevented either of the two major Dravidian parties — the DMK and the AIADMK — from partnering the BJP at the national level for the sake of power.

On March 19, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad staged a rally in Tamil Nadu with the proclaimed objective of mobilising a “Hindu vote” in the coming elections. The BJP and its friends here may begin their campaign with an attempt at an all-caste Hindu mobilisation against job reservations for Muslims, which both Dravidian parties have promised to legislate if voted to power.

As the Indian summer hots up over April and May, it will be for the common people, vindicated by Varanasi, to keep communal temperatures under control in the poll-going states and the rest of the country.

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Fibbing in marriage
by I.M. Soni

ALL truthful husbands need a crash course in telling lies! This may be called How To Lie To Your Wife.

The course I am going to “sell” is based on the theory that women (read wives) are conditioned by Hindi films to react to certain scenes. Errant husband should apply actor’s technique to get scowls or smiles as and when he wants.

Is the dimpled darling darkly suspicious? Give her Raaj Kumar sarcasm. Is she crazy? Turn on Dilip Kumar downcast eyes. Is she errant? Try Raj Kapoor sneer, one swirling lip.

Be a good actor. If you are already one, polish your performance. Some typical situations you are likely to find yourself in, are given along with the way-outs. You are flirting with a woman. The eye-darts your wife is shooting in your direction mean trouble is brewing for your bedtime.

Now, begin to write your script. Even Dilip Kumar does not adlib! You have to convince dear wife that it was serious business work which tempted or prompted you to be so much attentive to her. She is chief’s wife, not an ordinary woman.

Wind up your lie with a compliment to wife paid in an offhand manner which carries a ring of genuineness Avoid stereotype sweet-nothings of loyalty like ”saat-janam ke phere.”

However, hasten to add, “When I talk to such women, I see the contrast between them and you. I can’t help thinking what hell life would have been had I married one of that kind. Now I know the difference between sour and sweet, chalk and cheese.”

When you make a fool of yourself in the company of sugary women, chances are you are tongue-tied and inhibited at your own home pitch but you have to create dramatic effect.

Use dim lights. Semi-darkness conceals tell-tale facial expressions. The scene played in such an atmosphere depends upon voice to carry conviction. Use Dilip Kumar method of voice which relies on tears-in-the-throat. Say in a choked voice, “But I cannot live without you. Without you, I cannot live.”

When you offend better half in the presence of others, especially her own kith and kin, you can depend on Shah Rukh acting. Open the shirt collar, pace up and down the place, look surprised and suitably, sufficiently hurt. Then, in shocked voice and tone utter: “You are definitely mistaken. For once, you are. Believe me. Can you imagine me doing it you? Not on my life”.

You come home more loaded than a gun. You are in terrible trouble. You have only one way to protect you — tears of apology. Act Sunil Shetty as you are already unshaven chin and check.

Stand yourself in the dock and admit the folly of overindulgence. Deliver your lines standing near a window. Look outside-your back to the wife. You avoid looking at sparks smoldering in her eyes.

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Fighting leprosy
Eradication is still a far cry
by Dr Uma Vasudeva

INDIA has achieved a significant milestone in bringing down the prevalence of leprosy to less than one case per 10,000 people, the goal set by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which qualifies as “elimination.”

Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramdoss has acknowledged that elimination is not synonymous with eradication. This is a sober policy approach to meeting the challenge of a crippling and deeply stigmatized disease, because as the medical literature shows, the leprosy bacterium is frustratingly resilient – it can survive outside a host for up to 45 days. It is capable of infecting people in countries long thought to be free from the disease.

Leprosy elimination achievements have been enormous in the last two decades. This has been made possible with a definite cure with free multi drug therapy (MDT) services promoted by WHO and adopted by leprosy endemic countries worldwide. This programme has been made successful in India with the support of NIPPON Foundation, Novartis, International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Association and WHO. However, the biggest challenge before the country is to maintain the tempo. Complete eradication is a far cry.

There are a number of impediments to the Leprosy Elimination Programme because there is no vaccine to prevent leprosy, onset is slow and incubation period is long at three to five years. The severity of the disease is related to the immune response of the patient. In high immunity, infection is mild and may be self-healed.

The lower strata of society with poor economic and social conditions in states like Chattisgarh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Maharashtra and West Bengal are still in the clutches of the disease and carry 60 percent of the case load in the country. Poor nutritional and unhygienic living conditions result in poor immunity and susceptibility to acquire infection transmitted from untreated person’s nasal discharge as droplets infect others. Leprosy bacillus infects only human beings who are the reservoir and potential source of spreading infection to others. Early detection and early treatment with MDT will prevent transmission, reduction in new cases and disability.

The problem of Leprosy in Chandigarh and Delhi is directly related to the migrants from the seven endemic states mentioned above. Though the prevalence rate has come down in these areas yet the new case detection rate in Chandigarh and Delhi remains the same. There is continuous flow of new cases and also partially treated / defaulter cases, especially from UP and Bihar.

In Chandigarh, Leprosy Elimination Campaigns were carried out by creating awareness through intensive Information Education and Communication (IEC) activities. Five modified Leprosy Elimination Campaigns and 31 skin camps were organized. The response was very good and there was detection of a large number of new cases. Unfortunately compliance was poor as many newly detected cases slipped out of hands of the District Leprosy Society Clinics after one or two doses of MDT. Many of these newly detected cases were visitors to Chandigarh and could give no local / contact address. All out efforts were made to hold them and to retrieve them but failed.

A large number of cases from neighboring states of Punjab, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh, report to Chandigarh, as better treatment facilities are available. Seven Reporting Centres in Chandigarh have been established with dermatologists for confirmation of each and every new Leprosy case. For integration of leprosy services with General Health Care Staff, there are twelve drug delivery centers with trained and efficient staff to provide quality management of cases. There are 10 Community Health Workers engaged from local colonies from target areas to ensure regular and un-interrupted delivery of MDT at patient’s doorstep and defaulter retrieval system for reporting simplified information system is practiced.

In order to keep a strict check of re-registration of already registered cases elsewhere, each case is thoroughly screened by the Medical Officer. Even one dose of MDT taken anywhere earlier is not registered as a new case. These patients are neither shown as admission nor discharged. Each detected patient’s local / contact permanent address is noted for follow up. Counseling and motivation of newly detected patients and their families for their support are done for continuation of full course of MDT and complications arising during the course of the treatment. Identity cards are issued to each new patient with important directions in writing for impending complications and to report immediately if any of the signs or symptoms appear at the earliest.

In spite of all-out efforts at every step we still find a large number of patients on registers that are not traced. They remain on registers for 6 to 12 months. Some of them do come back after a gap of 6 to 12 months. Therefore the clearing of the registers is carried out regularly as per instructions of authorities. Since these patients are not fully cured, their names are deleted from the registers as defaulters, thus showing a drop in prevalence rate.

According to the Bulletin of the “Leprosy Elimination Alliance January-June 2005”, it is feared that more number of cases has been deleted in 2005 than would be warranted by the discharge and cured cases alone, bringing down the prevalence rate to two per 10,000 in Chandigarh (1.7 is among the migrant population and 0.3 indigenous cases).

A large number of defaulters deleted from the registers are still not fully treated and they are mingling with society and spreading infection. Results of these are likely to start showing as a resurgence after a couple of years. We may be back to square one again.

The writer is Medical Officer, District Leprosy Society, Chandigarh.

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The challenge, and the lesson, from China
by Major Gen (retd) Jatinder Singh

CHINA, over the last few years, has been reasonably transparent in highlighting its major goals in the modernisation of its armed forces.

Firstly, it is preparing its forces for a new form of future warfare. Its forces are striving to adapt themselves to characteristics of modern warfare, focusing on defensive operations under high technology conditions as the main objective. Secondly, China is striving to secure a stable regional environment for continuing development. Thirdly, it wants to engage in multilateral and regional institutions based on stronger economic and military cooperation.

The Pentagon’s latest annual assessment of China’s military capabilities has highlighted the advanced military equipment the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is buying or seeking and its emphasis on western style training, military education and doctrine, which can strengthen military capability more than just high tech equipment alone.

While the report makes a clear stab at assessing the PLA’s capabilities, in the absence of an understanding of what Beijing intents to do with the advanced weaponry it is acquiring, the report leaves open the possibility – couched in diplomatic terms as “strategic cross roads” – that China could pursue a benign path or a more aggressive one.

To avoid miscalculation, senior US officials have called for more transparency from China. Chinese officials have ridiculed the demand for transparency suggesting that Washington was looking to replace the Soviet Union with a new enemy and was playing up China’s military capabilities. Many long term China watchers in USA agree that the latest report is a balanced one that also conveys a growing sense of alarm over China’s capabilities.

The RAND Corporation in a US Air Force commissioned report, “A New Direction for China’s Defence Industry” as a follow up to an earlier report, has highlighted that notwithstanding the general perception that China’s defence infrastructure is ancient, four factors point to a major improvement.

Firstly, a consistent rise in weapons spending, up 153 per cent between 1997 and 2003, fueled by a booming economy. Secondly, the exposure of government owned defense companies to commercialization, improving their research, development and production. Thirdly, consistent access to limited amounts of foreign military equipment and technical assistance in the last decade particularly from Russia and Israel. Fourthly, defence procurement reforms introduced since 1998. China is seeking international cooperation in space.

After 25 years of concerted effect to improve its defense industrial base, China is turning out products of a sophistication and quality that have surprised American analysts. Certain other reasons for China’s gains are its rapidly growing economy which underwrites substantial defence investment. Low labour costs make for a manufacturing haven and magnet for sophisticated technologies.

India needs to ponder on China’s growing power. Half a century after independence, we cannot even manufacture good quality small arms, what to talk of major weapon systems. The government controlled Indian defence industries have between them paid foreign countries for more Transfer of Technology (TOT) money than probably any other country in the world. We need to realise that unless we open up major weapon system and ammunition manufacturing activities to the private sector we will always be looking for imported systems at a tremendous cost.

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How to stop a civil war
by Michael O’Hanlon

Administration officials have been right in recent weeks to argue that there is no large-scale civil war underway in Iraq. As long as the Iraqi political leadership remains generally united in trying to calm the situation, and as long as sectarian violence remains more sporadic than strategic (with no systematic ethnic cleansing, for example), true civil war remains a threat rather than a reality.

But as US President Bush himself recognized in his March 13 speech on Iraq, whoever attacked the Golden Mosque in Samarra on Feb. 22 was trying to spark a civil war. Sunday’s gruesome events, including the discovery of 30 beheaded bodies near Baqubah, heavy fighting in parts of Baghdad and the firing of fatal mortar rounds at Moqtada al-Sadr’s compound in Najaf, suggest that such attempts will likely continue.

Of course, preventing a civil war is primarily a political task. In this light, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad has been right to push Iraqis to form a coalition government. He might also encourage them to start thinking about what policies such a government would pursue. For example, in debating whether Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari should retain his post, Iraqis might think a bit less about the past year and instead ask al-Jaafari about his plans for the future: for sharing oil revenue among provinces, rehabilitating lower-level Baathists to re-enter the society, integrating security forces and creating jobs.

But if the political process continues to falter and the risk of civil war looms larger, we will also need a military plan for quelling it. Much of the American debate has been asking how to handle an all-out conflict in which Iraq has already fractured and violence is rampant. But the more important question is how to quell violence in the early stages, before such a scenario develops fully. And this is not the typical debate over how fast and soon we can draw down U.S. troops in Iraq; rather, it is a debate about what they do while they are there.

On this point, initial indications are that American thinking is on the wrong track. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has stated that U.S. forces would not become heavily involved in any civil strife, leaving it instead to Iraqis to sort out the problem. This approach, which mirrors the relatively passive approach U.S. troops took to the reprisal violence after the Feb. 22 bombing, has an understandable appeal. But it is akin to our decision to stand aside and allow wanton looting after Saddam Hussein fell in April 2003, and it could have comparably disastrous consequences.

If civil war begins in Iraq, it will probably consist of increasingly active vigilante justice—as well as random, pointless acts of violent rage—by Iraq’s powerful militias. They will attack defenseless mosques, homes of important figures from other ethnic and religious groups, and defenseless citizens. They will begin to perpetrate ethnic cleansing with cold, premeditated purpose.

As time goes on, hearing about similar behavior by other militias from other sectarian groups, they will also be motivated by a desire for vengeance — not just for Saddam’s atrocities of yesteryear but for what happened last week and last night.

These are the typical dynamics of civil conflicts, as analyzed by scholars such as John Mueller, Barry Posen, Steve Stedman and Chaim Kaufmann. Civil wars with a heavy ethnic dimension do not typically begin as full-blown conflicts but rather develop an internal dynamic in which hate, rage and fear increasingly influence the actions of a growing number of people. In such a situation, stemming violence early is critical.

By arrangement with LA Times — Washington Post

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From the pages of

December 20, 1935

THE PARIS PROPOSALS

According to the League circles, the Paris proposals are dead and the only outstanding question is how the remains are to be disposed of. Signor Mussolini has by his latest thunders made even this task easier. In an uncompromising speech, at the inauguration of the township of Pontinia the Italian dictator announced his decision to defy the sanctions and his determination to impose his will on East Africa. “It is the war of the poor and the masses”, he said. “Against us are ranged ranks of conservatism, egoism and hypocrisy. It is a hard battle but we shall carry it through to a finish.” The words have a Napoleonic ring about them, with these essential differences, that Mussolini is not Napoleon, and the war in which he is now engaged has nothing in common with the wars which Napoleon fought.

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Laziness is one of the greatest pitfalls before man. If stops a person from continuing with his efforts towards self-realisation. It makes him want to relax and be indulgent.

— Bhagavadgita

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