In the name of liberation

Published : Sep 26, 2003 00:00 IST

AMOS OZ is perhaps the most well-known Israeli novelist. I reproduce some stunning observations made by him. It shows the quality of the man and his values:

Wherever war is called peace, where oppression and persecution are referred to as security, and assassination is called liberation, the defilement of the language precedes and prepares for the defilement of life and dignity. In the end the state, the regime, the class or ideas remain in tact where human life is shattered.

I want to relate these powerful images to the incoherent, incomprehensible and deplorable policy of the United States of America in regard to Iraq. It is now abundantly clear that the U.S. and the U.K. attacked Iraq because they had convinced themselves that this was the right thing to do. Their spin doctors invented unworthy reasons for making a plausible case for the illegal invasion. What were these? 1. That Saddam Hussein posed an immediate security threat to the U.S.; 2. He had a large quantity of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) that he could use against the U.S. and the U.K. at short notice; 3. To attain these objectives, it was necessary to kill Saddam Hussein, the head of a secular country; 4. After the defeat of Saddam Hussein, the U.S. and British forces would be welcomed by the Iraqis as liberators. All these premises have been proved completely wrong. Saddam Hussein was not a security threat to the U.S., no WMDs have so far been found in Iraq, Saddam Hussein has not been killed and the American and British troops are looked upon as invaders, oppressors and much worse.

Almost all countries having friendly relations with the U.S., including India, refused to send their troops to Iraq. Why? The simple reason is that American plans and calculations for a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq went totally wrong. He was no angel but he was not presiding over a dysfunctional or failed state. More people have been killed in Iraq after the cessation of hostilities than during the war. Until the other day, the U.S. was not willing to go to the United Nations Security Council for a new resolution which would enable other countries to send a peace-keeping force with the approval of the U.N. but not under U.S. command. Eventually, good sense prevailed and the U.S. has now got through a resolution. All countries, including India, have to look at this resolution carefully so as not to get into the same situation as the U.N. peace-keeping force in Afghanistan.

The forthcoming session of the U.N. General Assembly will provide a good occasion for the Prime Minister, the External Affairs Minister and the National Security Adviser to have extensive and in-depth discussions with leaders from the U.S., U.K., Russia, France and China. Provided time is available, it would be worth our while to have discussions with influential members of the Non-Aligned Movement to see if they can play a helpful and useful role in reducing the agonies of the people of Iraq.

ON August 31, the Indian Express Group organised a musical concert entitled `Tiranga'. The concert was held at the Balayogi Auditorium, in the newly constructed Parliament Library building. The performing artists included Pandit Jasraj, Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, Vidwan U. Srinivas, Vidwan Dr. L. Subramaniam, Selva Ganesh and Vijay Ghate. The Prime Minister was present, and he sat next to Sonia Gandhi, the Leader of the Opposition, for the duration of the concert. But for the erratic sound system, the occasion was immensely enjoyable. Javed Akhtar's poems moved our hearts and minds. At the end of the concert, the Prime Minister was invited to say a few words. No one was prepared for what followed. The Prime Minister generally measures his words and phrases, but that evening he did something very uncharacteristic. He said that Sonia Gandhi had come. Had he known this in advance, he would have thought twice before coming to the concert. Had he said this in a lighter vein, that would have been different. However, what he said was said seriously. It was a display of gracelessness, which one does not generally associate with the Prime Minister, who is known for his courtesy and good manners.

We live in an age when events take precedence over ideas. The scientific and technological revolution has increased the pace of life so much that most of us engaged in public affairs do not have the time to contemplate, to introspect, to reflect on issues of vital importance to us individually or for political parties and institutions collectively. Is speed the new value? Must we all the time go about our activities at break-neck speed? Must we all the time rush from one place to another? Has not the time come to slow down the pace of life? This does not mean that we should go about our business in a leisurely manner or make postponement the mantra of our life. What I am pointing out is that we are living fragmented lives and our value system needs moral blood transfusion.

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