Challenge of occupation

Published : May 23, 2003 00:00 IST

The Cover Story has exposed the United States' motivations for the current occupation of Iraq and the pattern of dominance it seeks to impose on that country ("Challenge of occupation", May 9). For the Iraqi people, who have valiantly fought their colonisers in the past, the new occupation will not be tolerable. Marauding Central Asians sacked Baghdad in the 13th century but, Phoenix-like, it came back to life. The 1958 revolution took it out of the imperial orbit, where it remained until the invasion by the Americans, the modern Mongols. With the Americans' policy of colonialism, abetted by the communalism and fractionalism of Iraqi society, the new regime will find it difficult to manage its affairs in the years to come. For the new imperial warriors of George Bush, the going will not be easy, as Praful Bidwai puts it, because the beginning has been poor.

R.R. SamiTiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu

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The Cover Story presented a picture of the past, present and future of a devastated Iraq. America has won the war with Iraq, a country weakened by several years of sanctions, but it may not be possible for it to win over the Iraqi people. The problems of consolidation and rebuilding, and bringing in democracy and a secular regime are yet to be dealt with.

Perhaps some of those in the old regime had made some deal, but the problems this could pose are yet to come. Saddam Hussein may be a tyrant, but nationalism and self-pride stand above even such suffering.

A. Jacob Sahayamreceived on e-mail

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The article "A past pillaged" (May 9) presents a poignant picture of Iraq and the impact of the war, particularly on Baghdad. The war laid its icy hands on the National Museum of Antiquities and the Baghdad National Library, and now UNESCO, as the custodian of world culture, should rise to the occasion by taking steps to conserve the remaining antiquities of human civilisation.

B.S. TimmoliShimoga, Karnataka

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The prognostication by Samir Amin, Director of the Third World Forum, that the Iraqi people would put up a resistance against the invading army proved to be false ("An American war project", April 25). The Iraqi people were suppressed since the 1991 war by the U.S. and its allies without any valid reason. History tells us that English imperialism has no humanitarian aspects. The pseudo-interests of the imperialists divided the nations and communities in Iraq in the name of freedom.

S. Abdul RahmanPort Blair

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The defeat of Iraq is one of the most disgraceful chapters in modern history. In this entire episode, some Arab nations, who are proud of being Islamic nations, provided bases to the U.S.-led coalition forces and many others provided logistic and intelligence support.

After the fall of Baghdad, Iraqis looted their own people and their own country's history. The U.S. forces watched the fun. If they had overreacted, it would have been interpreted as U.S. highhandedness! In all these, it is Muslims who betrayed their own brethren. Many generals ended up as paper tigers. And some Iraqi generals had their cake and ate it too by betraying Saddam Hussein.

In this whole situation, some Indian Muslims and pseudo-secular leaders behaved in an unbecoming manner. It is wrong for them to eulogise Saddam Hussein. They are creating heroes out of losers.

Ashok Kumar PrasadMangalore

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After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the United States has turned out to be the Super Aggressor of the world. It cares two hoots for world opinion and treats the United Nations as one of its tenants who can be asked to quit at the drop of a hat.

The superiority complex of the U.S. is not of recent origin. Beginning with the "Hands off America" Monroe doctrine and Franklin D. Roosevelt's "cash and carry" doctrine during the first two years of the Second World War, it has now come to the Bush doctrine, "If you are not with us, you are against us".

The U.S. thinks that other countries in the world should exist only for its benefit. It can emit into the atmosphere more carbondioxide than its 1980 level of 24 per cent but others must not do so over their 1980 levels. It will test and manufacture atom bombs, but other nations should not. War should not be fought in the U.S. but it will provoke and make others fight wars.

When Dwight Eisenhower was the President of the U.S., he made his government supply warplanes, ammunition and weapons in large quantities to Pakistan. When India protested, he said nonchalantly that he would supply arms and ammunition to India if India wanted them, on a larger scale if necessary. This is naked political haughtiness.

The U.S. did the same thing in North Korea, South Korea, Vietnam and in African and South American countries. It wanted to find markets for its arms, ammunition and warplanes, even at the cost of millions of lives.

The U.S., however, has excellent relations with the media. All its acts of self-aggrandisement are described as "the white man's burden". The U.S. is not that mighty a power as it is considered to be. It could not prevent Pearl Harbour. It had to suffer an unacknowledged defeat in Vietnam, sacrificing thousands of soldiers. It could not prevent a bin Laden from smashing the World Trade Centre towers. The 50-odd personnel of the U.S. Embassy kept hostage by Iran remained there throughout Jimmy Carter's presidency. So, the U.S. is not invincible. If all developing nations join together and stop all sorts of trade with the U.S., it can be humbled into good behaviour within a short time. Do we have the courage to do that?

V.V. PrabhuKollam, Kerala

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With the illegitimate invasion of Iraq, the United States has made the U.N. irrelevant and redundant. Nevertheless, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan wants the Bush administration to let the U.N. play a role in the reconstruction of Iraq after the war in that country was over ("A range of responses", April 11). Russia, Germany and France also concluded their meeting at St. Petersburg with a clear message to the U.S., to allow the U.N. to play a central role in post-war Iraq. In view of its miserable failure to stop the genocide, it would be preposterous to give the spineless organisation any role, even if it is to be restricted to humanitarian relief.

Political administration of and reconstruction activities in Iraq should be left to the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, but outside the purview of the U.N. Since the U.N. has abysmally failed to guarantee peace among its member-nations, this is the right time to disband the organisation, which is a white elephant.

K.P. RajanMumbai

Sri Lanka

The coverage on Sri Lanka in the May 9 issue portends a disturbing future. The peace talks between the Ranil Wickremasinghe-led Sri Lankan government and the LTTE, moderated by Norway, seem to be near a collapse, with the LTTE suspending its participation in the talks after the U.S. did not invite it to a meeting in Washington on the funds for Sri Lanka's reconstruction. In effect the LTTE remains a terrorist organisation in Washington's eyes - a view shared by India, which refuses to have anything to do with an organisation whose cadre assassinated former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Other Tamil groups have begun to flex their muscles; they are refusing to recognise the LTTE as an organisation with undisputed sway over the Tamil-speaking parts of Sri Lanka. The LTTE is finding itself isolated and is hitting out intemperately at its rivals.

Meanwhile, President Chandrika Kumaratunga has gone on record as saying that her relations with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe are "horrendous". She is a hawk vis-a-vis the LTTE and the Prime Minister. After years of mindless violence, Sri Lanka seems to be sliding back to another round of anarchy. The international community must get together to prevent this.

Vinod ChowdhuryNew Delhi

SARS epidemic

One wonders whether the latest SARS epidemic is all that new ("The SARS epidemic", May 9). It is still not clear how it originated in China in the first place, and whether it has taken the animal route to reach human beings. However, it has spread rapidly to several countries owing to air travellers visiting SARS-infected countries. Fortunately, so far only a handful of cases have been found in India, thanks to the quick measures taken by the authorities in screening air passengers, quarantining those with symptoms, and isolating SARS victims.

We have to be more alert to the possibility of diseases spreading rapidly thanks to the shrinking globe due to air travel. China and Hong Kong are supposed to be very clean and hygienic, yet SARS has taken off from this region, which is a matter of concern and investigation. If China had not been so secretive, perhaps the SARS epidemic could have been contained sooner. What has come out clearly from the SARS alert is that there is no substitute to quick and reliable information and warning on epidemics that could cause havoc. The WHO, which has done a commendable job in containing the spread of SARS, should consider innovative measures that could prevent or contain the spread of such diseases.

D.B.N. MurthyBangalore

Soothing feature

I salute Frontline for publishing, "A different image" (May 9), an article that highlights the peaceful co-existence of various religions and communities in `Gods Own Country', at a time when most other magazines in the country lay emphasis on news and features on communal disharmony, war and tensions. Such articles are testimony to the fact that the world is still a nice place to live in; they soothe the minds of many a reader.

I wish priests around the country follow the practice of the local Hindu temple priest who suspends his prayer session to allow the muezzin at the mosque to be heard, before resuming his amplified chants.

G.J. HamiltonMarthandam, Kanyakumari

Queen Mary's College

It pains me to read that there is a proposal to demolish the Queen Mary's College building to create new office space ("The end of a women's college", April 25). If this really happens, it will be a great mistake, for the college and the building represent what is good about Chennai and its education system, nurtured over many generations. I had the honour and pleasure to give a lecture there some years back. It will be an act of environmental and educational vandalism if the building is brought down by the government. I very much hope that the citizens of Chennai, and Tamil Nadu at large, resist this with peaceful protests and demonstrations.

Raja JayaramanAssociate Professor of SociologyUniversity of Western SydneyBankstown campus, Australia


In his review article titled "Irish lessons for Kashmir" (April 11), A.G. Noorani says that "in contrast to the British who claim to have no selfish strategic or economic interest in Northern Ireland", India has legitimate strategic, political and moral interests in Kashmir. I think he is totally wrong. What is it that India, a nation of disease-ridden destitutes, has gained by agreeing to look after the defence and development of a totally autonomous Jammu and Kashmir? Nothing. It was the opportunistic aspirations of Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah that have landed the people of India and Jammu and Kashmir in this quagmire called the Kashmir problem.

Nehru wanted a Muslim majority State included in India to show to the Muslim League that its `Two Nation' theory was wrong and Sheikh Abdullah wanted to be recognised as the sole leader of the entire State of Jammu and Kashmir and rule it as a jagirdar.

A solution to India's Kashmir problem can be found by asking a simple question: Why is it that a great democrat like Nehru shied away from conducting a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir after promising to do so umpteen times? The simple answer is that he knew that the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir would not vote for India. This feeling was with him even after he got rid of the Dogra ruler of Jammu and Kashmir and installed Sheikh Abdullah as the absolute ruler and also helped Abdullah in confiscating the lands of Hindu landlords without paying a paisa as compensation to them and distributing these lands to Muslim farmers.

I think that the best solution to the Kashmir problem is the same as that was found for the Muslim problem of British India: partition of the State along communal lines. Such a solution has already been proposed by General Musharaff of Pakistan in the form of the `Chenab Plan'. According to this plan, areas to the north and west of the Chenab river will go out of India and areas to the south and east of it will stay with India. India should accept this plan.

Even after solving the Kashmir problem, Pakistan will certainly continue its adversarial relationship with India. To get rid of this Pakistan problem, India should break off all relationships with Pakistan and build a five-foot-thick and 10-foot-high wall along its border with it. This `Peace Wall' will assure the people of Pakistan that India does not covet their territory. This arrangement will help Pakistan to move away from the Indian subcontinent and integrate itself with its Muslim neighbours in West and Central Asia.

Will this plan not lead to the disintegration of the Indian nation? No, because once it has solved the Kashmir and Pakistan problems, India will gain a peace dividend of at least Rs.10,000 crores, which can be invested in development works that will strengthen the Indian nation further.

Girish V. WaghBangalore

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