According to Eric Hobsbawm, the English historian, Twentieth century began with a few gunshots in Sarajevo in 1914 and ended in 1989 with the collapse of USSR and the East European block. The late beginning and an early end has inspired him to call it The Short Twentieth Century. When a score of suicide attackers hit, with sensational accuracy, the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in Manhattan and part of Pentagon in Washington on September 11, 2001, nobody was left in any doubt that long-awaited Twenty First Century has arrived.
The terrible beginning came as a shock to most Americans who reacted with a mixture of disbelief and rage, but most people in South Asia and much of the Third World began the day with a sense of doom. They knew that the New Era of 'Civilisational Clash', so frankly proposed by Sam 'Mad Dog' Huntington and so ardently desired by the latest 'Nobel Laureate' Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul, is already knocking at their door.
The difference between the two great wars of the last century and the new one at the beginning of what is certainly going to be a long century is that the imperialist combine is out to together take forcible control of the world and will then, if everything goes according to plan, like sit down to share the spoils. That is the deal that the US is offering to its allies in the operation--UK, France, Germany, Australia, Canada, Italy, Spain, etc.
There is only one country in the Third World today whose government seems to think that America's War on Afghanistan and other 'Muslim' countries is going to be good for the future of mankind in general and for the future of Hindutva in particular. The BJP-led Government of India in its comical servility to the US has forgotten all norms of decency and even the dignity of India's 1 billion people. One had expected that the Hindutva worthies like Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh and Home Minister Lal Kishan Advani will at least remember the size of the country that they happen to represent at the present juncture while trying to involve US in South Asian affairs. The only other ally they want to invite to their party is their second 'natural ally' Israel. The simple formula behind this mindset is that India is equivalent to Hindutva, US represents crusading Christianity, and the Israeli people are all Ultra Zionists.
This is the essence of the saffron strategy that is disastrous for south Asia. At a time when Pakistan is under tremendous pressure from US and is in no position to take an independent stand, the Indian government could have represented the larger interests of the south Asian people. But given its servility to the most lawless and terrorist power in the world, and its pathological hatred of Islam and Muslims, it can hardly represent the interests of a terror-free south Asia.
The threat to democracy today derives not only from Taliban and the likes of Osama bin Laden; it derives in greater measure from US imperialism armed with the might of global finance capital and propensity to arm and install the most reactionary, even fundamentalist, regimes all over the world.
The targeting of the WTC and Pentagon has logic, irrational in core, but logic nonetheless, that must be addressed for any real fight against terrorism. The choice, as people all over the world are now asserting, is not confined to choosing between “us and them”, as Bush would have them choose. The real choice is between democracy and imperialist globalisation allied with the forces of reaction and fundamentalism. And Islamic fundamentalism is not the only fundamentalism that the world faces today.
There is rich plurality in this matter. South Asia is being torn apart by the diverse forces of Hindu fundamentalism, Islamic fundamentalism, Buddhist fundamentalism, and in some measure by Sikh, Jain and Christian fundamentalisms. Zionism and Christian fundamentalisms have a powerful global presence. There is a case, therefore, for asserting that fundamentalism is fundamentalism, whether it is that of the Muslims, the Hindus or the Jews.
George Bush himself has been talking in the language of Christian fundamentalism (“Crusade”, “Infinite Justice”), as he is pushing through an alliance of imperialist globalisation against the world that can no longer be colonised in the old way. In the list of rogue states prepared by the US government, the Zionist ally Israel is predictably missing, and Saudi Arabia, one of the most reactionary monarchies known for funding fundamentalist movements continues to enjoy the status of a most favoured regime.
People of the Third World left to themselves can deal with their own fundamentalisms, but with the might of the US behind these reactionary regimes, the democratic forces all over the world are fighting with their backs to the wall.
It is simply ridiculous for Bush to characterise America’s War as mankind’s fight against terrorism and in the defense of democracy and justice. The September 11 terrorist attacks are not on American freedom, but on the symbols of domination by its own creations.
People of Afghanistan are already facing the consequences of revenge and there are plenty of reports testifying to their misery. Yet it is not only Afghanistan that is being totally devastated. The entire south Asian peoples will find their peace destroyed, their priorities changed from the struggles for a better livelihood to exacerbated tensions between themselves and security against each other, the civil rights that they should be taking for granted being undermined at the behest of the US. For a phony war whose only reality is even greater suffering for the peoples of the countries who have fought America’s war in the past and became their puppets in the bargain.
The entire Third world will have to pay with its blood, homelessness, destitution, and its peoples’ chances of survival minimised for the fault of the US government, which hoisted bin Laden on the Taliban and the Taliban on the Afghan people. Revenge will become an instrument to usher in the Brave New World of globalisation into the lives, minds and hearts of people still living in worlds where solidarity and community support is not a lost value.
The war in the name of civilisation will unleash the most savage attack on popular sovereignty. This attack will be more complete for it talks in the name of entire humanity rather than a race or religious community. Starvation deaths in the midst of plenty will become a permanent feature of the New World Order of globalisation dressed as civilisation and democracy.
Protests against this projected Order, as expressed in Seattle, Genoa, Prague and other such international gatherings of the powerful, have shaken the governments of the Western world. The collapse of the former socialist Soviet Union and the formation of the European Union have intensified the contests within the Western world. There is a felt need by them on both counts to again fight their battles for hegemony outside their own continents, and for exporting this entire battle, including the possibilities of internal tensions, into the wider world outside their own spheres of everyday life.
Tight political and military control over a large part of the world, riding roughshod over destinies of the peoples of the Third world, through ‘smoking’ and starving them out, is integral to imperialist globalisation. Such tendencies have been the norm even without the ‘war for democracy against terrorism’.
Whole populations have been terrorised in various parts of the world and prevented from exercising their political choices, and support to medieval parochial and sectarian drives by the US has handicapped and incapacitated democratic movements all over the world. It has weakened their capacity for resisting imperialism and their own absorption as cannon fodder for the goals of imperialist globalisation. America’s new war is targeted at completing this process, and must be resisted for the same reason.
The way Pakistan has been bulldozed into co-operating is an illustration of how the US wants to proceed, while the Indian government’s eagerness to leap into a war that can only be disastrous for the peoples of South Asia reflects the fragility of the democratic processes in the region. Unfortunately our part of the world is ruled by governments that see their interests in terms of becoming lackeys of US, rather than in resisting its war plans.
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