On the path of decadence

Daily: The Nation
Date: 18.08.04

By announcing a ‘New World Order’ on January 29, 1991, President of the USA, George
Bush (Senior), in his address to the Congress, emphasized on dissemination of democracy
in the world. He also underscored a need for “the UN to become a forum for achieving
international consensus and maintain effective influence as an instrument for international
peace keeping”.

Ironically, almost after a decade, his descendant bypassed the democratic path to achieve
a consensus at the UN as to whether or not invade Iraq! Secondly, failure to gather update
and accurate information on Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) by the concerned
intelligence agencies eroded the claims of their credibility. Thirdly, undue reliance on the
‘inside’ information provided by the fugitives of the Iraq’s regime was also a grave mistake
(It seems that these fugitives equaled their score with Sadam Hussain). Fourthly, the
information obtained was not counter-checked to verify the situation on the ground. In a
nutshell, an inverted chronology of ‘war first and excuse later’ was adopted. That is how the
concept of ‘mistakes of few people for many people’ emerged. This is the same concept
that gives an impetus to the undeniable process of decadence, as per history.

In its essence it is not the US but its policies that have been airing wrong signals around the
Muslim world. The way the US has made Osama bin Laden ‘a representative’ of the Muslim
world, the gulf of misunderstanding between the West and the Muslims is widening
gradually (A ban on wearing headscarf of the Muslim women in France is a very recent
example). Today’s efficient intelligence network of the US and UK failed or was
‘compromised’ to check Osama yesterday somewhere outside of Afghanistan, perhaps in
Somalia. Overestimating one’s prowess and underestimating other’s wickedness yield these
sorts of results. Now, Osama’s Al-Qaeda is an ‘elusive enemy’ and a ‘blind war’ has been
launched (i.e. when an enemy is elusive it is better to call the war to fight with him as a
‘blind war’).

Instead of ‘winning hearts’, the ‘liberators’ are now ‘losing heads’ in Iraq. The resultant
count of human loss is mounting day by day and seems to become directly proportional to
the length of the ‘blind war’ in Iraq, as the enemy is also elusive here. There are indicators
that the ‘elusive enemy’ has been trying to test divergent tactics to ascertain what does suit
best in the Urban Warfare? Of course, the ongoing acts of bloodshed are not purposeless.
The elusive enemy seems to focus on three dimensions: First, Iraqis, so that they could not
compromise with the ‘liberators’; second, aides, so that they could leave the Anglo-
American alliance alone; and third, the ‘liberators’, so that they could not claim credit of
their job in shifting the politico-demographic balance of Iraq, as is being pledged. Success
in ‘carpet-bombing’, but failure in ‘carpet-sweeping’ has been encouraging the elusive
enemy to protract the war. That is why, it seems that the pre-November 2004 period is
going to be vital in Iraq, especially when the elections are following in Afghanistan too. In
the meantime, the pressure of the forthcoming elections in the US may prompt the US —
and even the UK — to commit certain mistakes in decision-making like adopting more
aggressive approach towards Iraq and its immediate neighbours. Hence, the role of human
mistakes may surface again in kicking pushing the events that can hasten the decadence

What Pakistanis still remember is roaming of a historical creature known commonly as ‘a
bear with strong paws’ along its western flank — to quench its ‘thirst’ for warm water. Now,
its ‘paws’ can be found along the roads of Afghanistan as rusty remains, while its ‘limbs’ are
scattered across the Eurasia — a few of which have recently joined the European Union. In
these events, there is hidden a great lesson for those who are ready to learn, that is, to get
engaged is one thing but to get disengaged is another. The former is one’s prerogative,
however, the latter is of the other party. Moreover, if one wants to get disengaged
gracefully, the situation becomes more demanding of prudence.

What concerns a Pakistani in this entire scenario is: in order to let enjoy the ‘graceful
retreat’ to the former invader of Afghanistan, Pakistan suffered internally — both politically
and economically. It is hoped that this time there will be no such demand from the ‘neo-
invader’. Pakistan is a small country and not meant for these huge tasks. Moreover,
mistakes of others should not become a sore for Pakistan. Similar are the inferences drawn
from Iraq’s present situation.

To get engaged at two places (Afghanistan and Iraq) — both of which are ungovernable —
is an uneasy proposition. At both the places, the enemy is elusive; wars are blind; and
chances of human mistakes are higher on part of the Anglo-American alliance.
Consequently, the outcome of the journey from ‘star wars’ of the past to ‘blind wars’ of the
present seems not very far — in terms of time.

In the wake of the aforementioned engagements, the major economic indicators have been
foreboding trouble for the US. At the home front, its economy is on reserve gear;
expenditures, both internal and external are increasing; savings are dwindling; and Oil
prices are soaring in international markets. Above all, China is emerging as an alternative
bigger customer of the European products. For how long this situation is sustainable is yet
to be determined. The sustainability will be gauged in terms of both economic and human
loss. Instead of tangling with ‘elusive enemies’ here and there and spending millions of
dollars to wage ‘blind wars’ at severe human and economic cost, still there is time for the US
— and its allies too — to forestall further mistakes and slow the process of decadence,
which is a writ of history. It is better late than never.

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