This is not a time for nationalistic bravado
Stabroek News
October 8, 2001

Dear Editor,

The sadistic acts of misanthropy unleashed against the American people on September 11th, will be recorded among the most xenophobic calamities in the infamy of human behavior. The horror has forever transfixed the world as we know it. However, while the quest for justice is non-negotiable, this vehemence must not be distorted by the illusion of passionate and emotional retribution. The application of sound reason and logic along with deep contemplation into the motivation of terrorist inclinations is gathering increasing validity as the drumbeats of war gain momentum.

The United States in responding to the provocation of the Taliban regime must realize that being the more logical thinker of the two, it is morally obligated with the responsibility to protect the Afghan people who have endured perpetual emasculation from a cynical and barbaric governing body. It will have to accept contrition for abandoning Afghanistan after the decimation of the war with the former Soviet Union. After the Afghan war with the soviets, a ubiquitous climate of melancholy, hopelessness and betrayal permeated the mountains of Afghanistan as a country whose psyche was razed by the raw horrors of unimaginable destruction. The American pullout of the equation only compounded the gloom. The tragedy gave credibility and succor to ultra? fundamentalists like Mullah Omar to seize power by force; hence, the seizure of Afghanistan's political control by the Taliban is the result of shallow thinking by the United States.

It should be understood that Afghanistan is not the Heaven for terrorists but rather it is the Taliban that condones and fosters terrorism, hence the American decision to wreak more demolition upon the Afghan people who have been held hostage by an illegitimate and sinister rulership with air strikes and ground invasions would be pure myopia. The millions of Afghans who have flooded Pakistani refugee camps after Sept 11, rather than remaining to fight are testimony to the general Afghan rejection of the Taliban. The Taliban's volition to refuse the turning over of Osama Bin Laden and agreeing to go to war in his defense shows that their cardinal intent is the maintenance of their interests rather than that of the Afghan people. What kind of a Government would be willing to go to war, knowing fully well that more desolation would be inflicted upon its already battered people?

America's response for justice has to be a strategic coalition building process with the Islamic world in the forefront with the specific objective of supplanting the Taliban with a democratic regime. The Northern Alliance currently in opposition to the Taliban will have to play a pivotal role in this process. While military action would be inevitable, this should be ratified and approved by the Islamic world. If America barrages into war with Afghanistan, it risks inflaming public opinion in the Islamic world with indignation. Taking into consideration that intense public anger and frustration have a tendency in the Islamic world to manifest itself in coups and hostile takeovers, any support for America by the more moderate Islamic administrations is more than likely to instigate these attempts. If the ultra fundamentalist militants are able to seize power in places like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, (the more moderate), a completely new gamut of worries can be sparked. Pakistan has nuclear capability, which can fall into the hands of the Taliban.

If Saudi Arabia, an influential American ally in its coalition against Saddam Hussein is seized by its Wahhabi militant creed, that sensitive partnership would certainly be destroyed, US troops on Saudi soil would be a thing of the past and there would be a disastrous halt in western oil supplies. It would be either these calamitous repercussions or World War III. This is indeed not a time for impulsive American nationalistic bravado, but rather perspicacity and foresight.

Ian McDonald articulated eloquently the way forward in his recent column Lament for our species. He said, "We hope that the response will be, above all, non escalatory. It should also mirror the original attack in that it should have the capacity to astonish. A utopian example: the crippled and benighted people of Afghanistan, hunkering down for a winter of famine, should not be bombarded with cruise missiles; they should be bombarded with consignments of food, firmly marked Lendlease-USA". The Bush administration must be circumspect in handling this intricate and precarious predicament. This is what the erudition of reason and logic demands.

Then there is the reality that the ousting of the Taliban and the capture of Bin laden though helpful will not be enough to eliminate the plague of terrorism. The United States will have to re-examine its hegemonic and insular policies in the Middle East, primarily with regard to the issue of a Palestinian state currently stifled by Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. Finding a solution to the Israeli? Palestinian conflict would be a real impetus in the fight against terrorism because the existence of terrorist groups that operate with the approval of the Islamic world: the approval in the name of Jihad to fight for the Palestinian cause would be vitiated. Because of America's ideological siding with Israel, it is difficult to avoid viewing this as a conflict between two civilizations.

In these very tense times, I found Mr. McDonald conceptionalization of " species consciousness" of great relevance. In my culture, it is called "Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam": the world is but one family. This is indeed a time to transcend religious, political and ethnic barriers when our very existence is under threat.

Yours faithfully

Amar Panday