When right goes wrong [Archives:2004/738/Opinion]

May 17 2004

Hassan Al-Haifi
The phenomenal results of the Indian elections have shed light on a very important outcome that is not just profoundly important for India, but should signal a clear message to other democracies where right wing parties have become overpowered by their own arrogance and self-righteousness. There is an overriding message that the Spanish elections last month and now the Indian elections of last week that can be deciphered. If the ultra right are given an opportunity to show their acumen at managing the public affairs, dogmatism and a claim to moral suasions based on a claim to upholding fundamental religious dogma and ultra conservative political theory are in the end checked by the inevitable adjudication of the ballot box. In this kind of adjudication, performance and consideration of the welfare of the electorate and overall national political will are what matters. The historical founders of real democratic governance were astute in making sure that the whole idea of democratic rule is to let the people decide on the merits of their chosen leaders. Accordingly these visionary leaders safeguarded their people's interests and fate over the long run from the sometimes overpowering tendency of politicians to translate the mandate given by the ballot box as a God given chance to impose political dogma, and their own economic and social visions. To ensure their hold on this mandate, these selfish power wielders will tend to ignore the welfare and even the rights of the constituencies that they govern and will empower themselves with all the excessive authority they may need to carry out their platforms and impose their selfish agendas. This would entail a reliance on the manipulation of the channels of information flow and communications so that only their arguments prevail and any opposition, in thought or in the interpretation of national interests is tantamount to treason. The ultra-right wing government of India controlled by the ultra conservative Bharatiya Janata Party, led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, ruled India for ten years forgetting that strict adherence to a crude allegiance to fundamentalist dogma and the exaggerated self-assessment of their performance, not to mention a zealous exploitation of emotion and sentiment, especially associated with religious convictions is simply bad insurance against the accountability criteria set out by the ballot box. Oh sure, the economic picture of India might have seen some symbolic strides that point to significant growth and superficial appearances of extravagance here and there. But beneath all that, the insistence of upholding “nationalistic” pride and the use of extraordinary measures to limit the fruits of economic gains to a small minority amidst 1 billion people, especially in a country with 350 million people living below the poverty line, not to mention containing political dissent or rejecting the rights of minorities and fueling ethnic conflict, all of which were bound to ricochet and strike back hard at the FJP.
It is no secret that thousands of lives in India died due to police repression and ethnic conflict fuelled by the Prevention of Terrorism Act (Indian synonym for the USA version, the Patriot Act). The democracy that India prided on being was crushed aside by the reality of a free-handed security and police apparatus and mob violence due to ethnic tensions fuelled by the FJP.
Perhaps, the reasonable leaders in the Republican Party in the United States may detect the strong analogies to the performance of the Republican Administration in the White House and bring back some political sense into the mistakenly self-confident rouge RP members that have brought the United States to a low standing in the international community of an unparalled dimension, not to mention the arrogance perceived by many people, even those, who are considered in the right of the political spectrum, and the poor trial and error management of public affairs in the domestic theater and overseas, again fuelled by the exploitation of misrepresented sentiment and emotions.

Ghraib and Greb
There are some in the United States, who use the unfortunate murder of Nick Breg in Iraq to suggest that the crimes against humanity in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere are second tier evils. This would be an appalling misreading of the facts and certainly do not do any justice to Nick Breg, let alone the Iraqi and other victims in the tens of detention facilities now manned by the United States forces and its allies in Iraq and all over the world. In this context. One should not forget that had it not been for the uncalled for and miscalculated invasion of Iraq by the United States, neither the blatant and systematic tortures (and deaths) of mostly innocent Iraqis revealed in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere in Iraq, nor the equally distasteful horrifying murder of Nick Breg would have been causes for all of us to ask, just where is this world heading? In other words, the jubilant American service men and service women, who carried out the heinous mistreatment of the Iraqis would not be in the setting that “induced” them to be “un-American”. Similarly, the barbarians, who murdered Nick Breg, whoever they are, would not have been able to enter Iraq, let alone enjoy the security vacuum left by an illegal invasion to wreak havoc to satisfy their appetite for spilt blood. To those who rushed to view Nick's murder as a manifestation of Islamic terrorism one should not forget the hundreds of Moslems, who have become victims of the same dubious kind of bloodletting that have been perpetrated from Indonesia to the World Trade Center, none of which have anything to do with Moslem dogma or the character and attitudes of the overwhelming majority of Moslems and Arabs throughout the world.
Yes, Nick Breg's untimely loss of life in such a cruel and senseless manner was atrocious, but then again so are the tortures and indemnifying treatment accorded to the Iraqis in Abu Ghraib, the majority of whom would be hit with the same convulsion at the gross murder of Nick Breg. Abu Ghraib has nothing to do with the fight against terror, and absolutely nothing to contribute to bringing democracy and human rights to the Iraqi people. On the other hand, the murder of Nick Breg has nothing to do with the war for the liberation of Iraq from the occupiers or with the defense of Islam. This observer and many analysts are simply not ready to shrug off the possibility that both transgressions emanate from the same fiendish masterminds, who will go to any lengths to serve their narrow minded and satanic agendas.