In the last two days, I got accused of being an Islamophobe, a leftist, a neo-con right wing Hindu warmonger, and an anti-semite Nazi. All in a span of two days. Even when you do consider the practical possibility of this exceptional feat, that how exactly can a 28 year old man, with a generally soft-spoken disposition, be all that at the same time, the situation was so outright hilarious, that I fathomed I must have said something right for once in my life, that I managed to cheese off so many people at the same time. Such is the power of truth, as ol’ Gandhi gramps would have said. (I am not a fan of Gandhi, or a Gandhian by any chance, really…you can accuse me of anything, but please not that!)
What be the cause? A former student of mine from Kolkata, mailed me, asking what I think of the present Syria situation. I was planning to reply, when I heard of the bomb blast in New Delhi, where the wife of an Israeli diplomat was injured. And then subsequently in Georgia, and Thailand too, probably all the three are interconnected as it seems. That evening I planned to sit with a few of my students on chat, discussing the general situation, and found their mind in a state of heightened excitement. Resulting in all those lovely adjectives. I guess it is the subject, Middle East, aided much by the youth and fiery romanticism that elicits that kind of response from people. I didn’t mind ofcourse, they were not serious anyway, and I am too old and cynical to take late teenagers seriously anymore. But I gathered it would be nice to get a few articles and reading materials together and a general background of the situation in a post, which I might be able to pass on to them, without being petrified of the in-your-face vocal indignation. Since I am taking a break from writing columns, so a blogpost would be just fine.
So, do I support a war or intervention in Syria? In one word, NO. Infact, for the first time in my life I am actually happy that Russia and China VETOed the UN motion against Syria. (Here is a fantastic piece on Russia’s role in that VETO) Hence I was told I am a leftist. But allow me to explain why.
As I said in this article in Washington Examiner around a year ago, Arabia is not a singular, uniform, ideologically linear entity like pre 1989 Eastern Europe. The social fabric is also vastly different and varied from Tunisia in the west to Oman in the east. It was puerile then, as it is now to club them into a singular “Arab Spring” movement like the Spring of 1989 in Europe, or the Colour revolutions of the former Soviets in more recent years. Tunisia and Egypt happened, Libya was made to happen (trust me, without NATO, nothing would have changed), Bahrain, Saudi, Yemen will never happen, Syria and Lebanon also might never happen unless something really extraordinary incites such a change. In short, that is a crude way of putting it. I think, it is about time, we should leave the Arabs to fight out their own battle, forge their own destiny. If a war was wrong in Iraq, then it is wrong in Libya and Syria. Any dodgy arguement on the contrary is in lack of better words, hypocritical.
I am not even getting into the issue of the current situation of Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. With the Islamists now firmly in power in all the three countries, the World is in for a lot of surprise in the near future, glimpses of which we are already seeing, like storming of University, banning Valentine’s day, and imposing Sharia law. Basher Assad maybe a brutal dictator, (depends on which side of the spectrum you are actually, he is regarded a hero among the minority Alawites in his country. That is exactly what it is, an ethno-tribal-sectarian war for power and control, and not any revolution for freedom.) but he is atleast sane and secular and not an uneducated religious zealot. I repeat, even while sounding controversial, I think it is very prudent to actually leave him alone, if not support him. We are seeing the fruits of revolutions in the other three country, and I am clearly sceptical of bogging down any further.
By the way, in case you missed, my aforementioned point made me an Islamophobe.
But Iran on the other hand, is a wholly different issue. I wrote a long piece last month in World Tribune dissecting the threat perception of Asia, particularly Iran. Little did I know, that I would be proved correct within a month, by the bomb blasts in New Delhi and Bangkok, and the attempted blast in Tbilisi. THIS, my friends, was exactly what I meant by the “bargaining chips” which Iran is so desperate to have. Imagine, Iran with nuclear deterrent spreading terror across the World through its agents and proxies like Hezbollah and Hamas, a thousand times worse than Pakistan, a state failed at best, and rogue at worst. Daniel Schwammenthal wrote a piece saying exactly the same thing today in Wall Street Journal. You cannot argue, contain, logic, reason, or question criminally delusional and insanely rigid and religious people. Of any religion, if I may happily add. There are times when you have to make the hard choice and I guess the time is nigh. (Therefore I am a warmonger.)
So what am I exactly? You decide. All I can say is I am not against war, infact I believe it is an inevitable natural progression. Like the beautiful and eloquent quote of Chris Hedges goes :
” War is a force that gives us meaning. I learned early on that war forms its own culture. The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug, one I ingested for many years. And yet there is a part of me that remains nostalgic for war’s simplicity and high. The enduring attraction of war is this: Even with its destruction and carnage it gives us what we all long for in life. It gives us purpose, meaning, a reason for living. Only when we are in the midst of conflict does the shallowness and vapidness of our lives become apparent. Trivia dominates our conversations and increasingly our news. And war is an enticing elixir. It gives us resolve, a cause. It allows us to be noble. Even for those that have the least meaning in their lives… “
The last photo reminds me, happy belated Valentine’s day, everyone. Hope you liked a bit of war mongering in the week of love. Tough love, I reckon…
P.S. : One good news, President Obama nominated Amartya Sen for US Humanities Medal. Cheers!