The Algebra Of Infinite Justice

Discussion in 'General' started by Shang, Oct 15, 2001.

  1. Shang

    Shang Well-Known Member

    The Algebra Of Infinite Justice

    From the magazine "OUTLOOK"

    The Algebra Of Infinite Justice

    So here we have it. The equivocating distinction
    between civilisation and savagery, between the
    'massacre of innocent people' or, if you like, 'a
    clash of civilisations' and 'collateral damage'. The
    sophistry and fastidious algebra of Infinite
    Justice... Free Speech

    ARUNDHATI ROY

    In the aftermath of the unconscionable September 11
    suicide attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade
    Center, an American newscaster said: "Good and Evil
    rarely manifest themselves as clearly as they did last
    Tuesday. People who we don't know, massacred people
    who we do. And they did so with contemptuous glee."
    Then he broke down and wept.
    Here's the rub: America is at war against people it
    doesn't know (because they don't appear much on TV).
    Before it has properly identified or even begun to
    comprehend the nature of its enemy, the US government
    has, in a rush of publicity and embarrassing rhetoric,
    cobbled together an "International Coalition Against
    Terror", mobilised its army, its airforce, its navy
    and its media, and committed them to battle.

    The trouble is that once America goes off to war, it
    can't very well return without having fought one. If
    it doesn't find its enemy, for the sake of the enraged
    folks back home, it will have to manufacture one. Once
    war begins, it will develop a momentum, a logic and a
    justification of its own, and we'll lose sight of why
    it's being fought in the first place.

    What we're witnessing here is the spectacle of the
    world's most powerful country, reaching reflexively,
    angrily, for an old instinct to fight a new kind of
    war. Suddenly, when it comes to defending itself,
    America's streamlined warships, its Cruise missiles
    and F-16 jets look like obsolete, lumbering things. As
    deterrence, its arsenal of nuclear bombs is no longer
    worth its weight in scrap. Box-cutters, penknives, and
    cold anger are the weapons with which the wars of the
    new century will be waged. Anger is the lock pick. It
    slips through customs unnoticed. Doesn't show up in
    baggage checks.

    Who is America fighting? On September 20, the FBI said
    that it had doubts about the identities of some of the
    hijackers. On the same day, President George W. Bush
    said: "We know exactly who these people are and which
    governments are supporting them." It sounds as though
    the President knows something that the FBI and the
    American public don't.

    In his September 20 address to the US Congress,
    President Bush called the enemies of America "Enemies
    of Freedom".

    "Americans are asking why do they hate us?" he said.
    "They hate our freedomsâ€â€our freedom of religion, our
    freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble
    and disagree with each other." People are being asked
    to make two leaps of faith here. First, to assume that
    The Enemy is who the US government says it is, even
    though it has no substantial evidence to support that
    claim. And second, to assume that The Enemy's motives
    are what the US government says they are, and there's
    nothing to support that either.

    For strategic, military and economic reasons, it is
    vital for the US government to persuade the American
    public that America's commitment to freedom and
    democracy and the American Way of Life is under
    attack. In the current atmosphere of grief, outrage
    and anger, it's an easy notion to peddle. However, if
    that were true, it's reasonable to wonder why the
    symbols of America's economic and military
    dominanceâ€â€the World Trade Center and the Pentagonâ€â€were
    chosen as the targets of the attacks. Why not the
    Statue of Liberty? Could it be that the stygian anger
    that led to the attacks has its taproot not in
    American freedom and democracy, but in the US
    government's record of commitment and support to
    exactly the opposite thingsâ€â€to military and economic
    terrorism, insurgency, military dictatorship,
    religious bigotry and unimaginable genocide (outside
    America)?

    It must be hard for ordinary Americans so recently
    bereaved to look up at the world with their eyes full
    of tears and encounter what might appear to them to be
    indifference. It isn't indifference. It's just augury.
    An absence of surprise. The tired wisdom of knowing
    that what goes around, eventually comes around.
    American people ought to know that it is not them, but
    their government's policies that are so hated. They
    can't possibly doubt that they themselves, their
    extraordinary musicians, their writers, their actors,
    their spectacular sportsmen and their cinema, are
    universally welcomed.

    All of us have been moved by the courage and grace
    shown by firefighters, rescue workers and ordinary
    office-goers in the days and weeks that followed the
    attacks.

    America's grief at what happened has been immense and
    immensely public. It would be grotesque to expect it
    to calibrate or modulate its anguish. However, it will
    be a pity if, instead of using this as an opportunity
    to try and understand why September 11 happened,
    Americans use it as an opportunity to usurp the whole
    world's sorrow to mourn and avenge only their own.
    Because then it falls to the rest of us to ask the
    hard questions and say the harsh things. And for our
    pains, for our bad timing, we will be disliked,
    ignored and perhaps eventually silenced.

    The world will probably never know what motivated
    those particular hijackers who flew planes into those
    particular American buildings. They were not glory
    boys. They left no suicide notes, no political
    messages, no organisation has claimed credit for the
    attacks. All we know is that their belief in what they
    were doing outstripped the natural human instinct for
    survival or any desire to be remembered. It's almost
    as though they could not scale down the enormity of
    their rage to anything smaller than their deeds. And
    what they did has blown a hole in the world as we know
    it. In the absence of information, politicians,
    political commentators, writers (like myself) will
    invest the act with their own politics, with their own
    interpretations. This speculation, this analysis of
    the political climate in which the attacks took place,
    can only be a good thing.

    But war is looming large. Whatever remains to be said,
    must be said quickly.
    Before America places itself at the helm of the
    "international coalition against terror", before it
    invites (and coerces) countries to actively
    participate in its almost godlike missionâ€â€Operation
    Infinite Justiceâ€â€it would help if some small
    clarifications are made. For example, Infinite Justice
    for whom? Is this America's War against Terror in
    America or against Terror in general? What exactly is
    being avenged here? Is it the tragic loss of almost
    7,000 lives, the gutting of 5 million square feet of
    office space in Manhattan, the destruction of a
    section of the Pentagon, the loss of several hundreds
    of thousands of jobs, the bankruptcy of some airline
    companies and the dip in the New York Stock Exchange?
    Or is it more than that?

    In 1996, Madeleine Albright, then US Secretary of
    State, was asked on national television what she felt
    about the fact that 5,00,000 Iraqi children had died
    as a result of US economic sanctions. She replied that
    it was "a very hard choice", but that all things
    considered, "we think the price is worth it."
    Madeleine Albright never lost her job for saying this.
    She continued to travel the world representing the
    views and aspirations of the US government. More
    pertinently, the sanctions against Iraq remain in
    place. Children continue to die.

    So here we have it. The equivocating distinction
    between civilisation and savagery, between the
    'massacre of innocent people' or, if you like, 'a
    clash of civilisations' and 'collateral damage'. The
    sophistry and fastidious algebra of Infinite Justice.
    How many dead Iraqis will it take to make the world a
    better place? How many dead Afghans for every dead
    American? How many dead women and children for every
    dead man? How many dead mujahideen for each dead
    investment banker?

    As we watch mesmerised, Operation Infinite Justice
    unfolds on TV monitors across the world. A coalition
    of the world's superpowers is closing in on
    Afghanistan, one of the poorest, most ravaged,
    war-torn countries in the world, whose ruling Taliban
    government is sheltering Osama bin Laden, the man
    being held responsible for the September 11 attacks.

    The only thing in Afghanistan that could possibly
    count as collateral value is its citizenry. (Among
    them, half a million maimed orphans. There are
    accounts of hobbling stampedes that occur when
    artificial limbs are airdropped into remote,
    inaccessible villages.) Afghanistan's economy is in a
    shambles. In fact, the problem for an invading army is
    that Afghanistan has no conventional coordinates or
    signposts to plot on a military mapâ€â€no big cities, no
    highways, no industrial complexes, no water treatment
    plants. Farms have been turned into mass graves. The
    countryside is littered with landminesâ€â€10 million is
    the most recent estimate. The American army would
    first have to clear the mines and build roads in order
    to take its soldiers in.

    Fearing an attack from America, one million citizens
    have fled from their homes and arrived at the border
    between Pakistan and Afghanistan. As supplies run
    outâ€â€food and aid agencies have been asked to leaveâ€â€the
    BBC reports that one of the worst humanitarian
    disasters of recent times has begun to unfold. Witness
    the Infinite Justice of the new century. Civilians
    starving to death, while they're waiting to be killed.


    By contributing to the killing of Afghan civilians,
    the US government will only end up helping the Taliban
    cause.

    In America there has been rough talk of "bombing
    Afghanistan back to the stone age". Someone please
    break the news that Afghanistan is already there. And
    if it's any consolation, America played no small part
    in helping it on its way. The American people may be a
    little fuzzy about where exactly Afghanistan is (we
    hear reports that there's a run on maps of
    Afghanistan), but the US government and Afghanistan
    are old friends. In 1979, after the Soviet invasion of
    Afghanistan, the CIA and Pakistan's ISI
    (Inter-Services Intelligence) launched the largest
    covert operation in the history of the CIA. Their
    purpose was to harness the energy of Afghan resistance
    to the Soviets and expand it into a holy war, an
    Islamic jehad, which would turn Muslim countries
    within the Soviet Union against the Communist regime
    and eventually destabilise it. When it began, it was
    meant to be the Soviet Union's Vietnam. It turned out
    to be much more than that. Over the years, the CIA
    funded and recruited almost 1,00,000 radical
    mujahideen from 40 Islamic countries as soldiers for
    America's proxy war. The rank and file of the
    mujahideen were unaware that their jehad was actually
    being fought on behalf of Uncle Sam.(The irony is that
    America was equally unaware that it was financing a
    future war against itself).

    By 1989, after being bloodied by 10 years of
    relentless conflict, the Russians withdrew, leaving
    behind a civilisation reduced to rubble. Civil war in
    Afghanistan raged on. The jehad spread to Chechnya,
    Kosovo and eventually to Kashmir. The CIA continued to
    pour in money and military equipment, but the
    overheads had become immense, and more money was
    needed. The mujahideen ordered farmers to plant opium
    as 'revolutionary tax'. The ISI set up hundreds of
    heroin laboratories across Afghanistan. Within two
    years of the CIA's arrival, the Pakistan-Afghanistan
    borderland had become the biggest producer of heroin
    in the world, and the single biggest source on
    American streets.

    The annual profits, said to be between 100 and 200
    billion dollars, were ploughed back into training and
    arming militants.

    In 1995, the Talibanâ€â€then a marginal sect of
    dangerous, hardline fundamentalistsâ€â€fought its way to
    power in Afghanistan. It was funded by the ISI, that
    old cohort of the CIA, and supported by many political
    parties in Pakistan. The Taliban unleashed a regime of
    terror. Its first victims were its own people,
    particularly women. It closed down girls' schools,
    dismissed women from government jobs, enforced Sharia
    laws in which women deemed to be 'immoral' are stoned
    to death, and widows guilty of being adulterous are
    buried alive. Given the Taliban government's human
    rights track record, it seems unlikely that it will in
    any way be intimidated or swerved from its purpose by
    the prospect of war, or the threat to the lives of its
    civilians.

    After all that has happened, can there be anything
    more ironic than Russia and America joining hands to
    re-destroy Afghanistan? The question is, can you
    destroy destruction? Dropping more bombs on
    Afghanistan will only shuffle the rubble, scramble
    some old graves and disturb the dead.

    The desolate landscape of Afghanistan was the burial
    ground of Soviet Communism and the springboard of a
    unipolar world dominated by America. It made the space
    for neo-capitalism and corporate globalisation, again
    dominated by America. And now Afghanistan is poised to
    be the graveyard for the unlikely soldiers who fought
    and won this war for America.
    And what of America's trusted ally? Pakistan too has
    suffered enormously. The US government has not been
    shy of supporting military dictators who have blocked
    the idea of democracy from taking root in the country.
    Before the CIA arrived, there was a small rural market
    for opium in Pakistan. Between 1979 and 1985, the
    number of heroin addicts grew from zero to one and a
    half million. There are three million Afghan refugees
    living in tented camps along the border. Pakistan's
    economy is crumbling. Sectarian violence,
    globalisation's Structural Adjustment programmes and
    drug lords are tearing the country to pieces. Set up
    to fight the Soviets, the terrorist training centres
    and madrassas, sown like dragon's teeth across the
    country, produced fundamentalists with tremendous
    popular appeal within Pakistan itself. The Taliban,
    who the Pakistan government has supported, funded and
    propped up for years, has material and strategic
    alliances with Pakistan's own political parties. Now
    the US government is asking (asking?) Pakistan to
    garrot the pet it has hand-reared in its backyard for
    so many years. President Musharraf, having pledged his
    support to the US, could well find he has something
    resembling civil war on his hands.

    India, thanks in part to its geography, and in part to
    the vision of its former leaders, has so far been
    fortunate enough to be left out of this Great Game.
    Had it been drawn in, it's more than likely that our
    democracy, such as it is, would not have survived.
    Today, as some of us watch in horror, the Indian
    government is furiously gyrating its hips, begging the
    US to set up its base in India rather than Pakistan.
    Having had this ringside view of Pakistan's sordid
    fate, it isn't just odd, it's unthinkable that India
    should want to do this. Any Third World country with a
    fragile economy and a complex social base should know
    by now that to invite a superpower like America in
    (whether it says it's staying or just passing through)
    would be like inviting a brick to drop through your
    windscreen.

    In the media blitz that followed the September 11
    events, no mainstream TV station thought it fit to
    tell the story of America's involvement with
    Afghanistan. So, to those unfamiliar with the story,
    the coverage of the attacks could have been moving,
    disturbing and perhaps to cynics, self-indulgent.
    However, to those of us who are familiar with
    Afghanistan's recent history, American television
    coverage and the rhetoric of the "International
    Coalition Against Terror" is just plain insulting.
    America's 'free press' like its 'free market' has a
    lot to account for.

    Operation Infinite Justice is ostensibly being fought
    to uphold the American Way of Life. It'll probably end
    up undermining it completely. It will spawn more anger
    and more terror across the world. For ordinary people
    in America, it will mean lives lived in a climate of
    sickening uncertainty: will my child be safe in
    school? Will there be nerve gas in the subway? A bomb
    in the cinema hall? Will my love come home tonight?
    Already CNN is warning people against the possibility
    of biological warfareâ€â€small pox, bubonic plague,
    anthraxâ€â€being waged by innocuous crop duster aircraft.
    Being picked off a few at a time may end up being
    worse than being annihilated all at once by a nuclear
    bomb.

    The US government, and no doubt governments all over
    the world, will use the climate of war as an excuse to
    curtail civil liberties, deny free speech, lay off
    workers, harass ethnic and religious minorities, cut
    back on public spending and divert huge amounts of
    money to the defence industry.

    To what purpose? President George Bush can no more
    "rid the world of evil-doers" than he can stock it
    with saints. It's absurd for the US government to even
    toy with the notion that it can stamp out terrorism
    with more violence and oppression. Terrorism is the
    symptom, not the disease. Terrorism has no country.
    It's transnational, as global an enterprise as Coke or
    Pepsi or Nike. At the first sign of trouble,
    terrorists can pull up stakes and move their
    'factories' from country to country in search of a
    better deal. Just like the multinationals.

    Terrorism as a phenomenon may never go away. But if it
    is to be contained, the first step is for America to
    at least acknowledge that it shares the planet with
    other nations, with other human beings, who, even if
    they are not on TV, have loves and griefs and stories
    and songs and sorrows and, for heaven's sake, rights.
    Instead, when Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence
    Secretary, was asked what he would call a victory in
    America's New War, he said that if he could convince
    the world that Americans must be allowed to continue
    with their way of life, he would consider it a
    victory.

    The September 11 attacks were a monstrous calling card
    from a world gone horribly wrong. The message may have
    been written by Osama bin Laden (who knows?) and
    delivered by his couriers, but it could well have been
    signed by the ghosts of the victims of America's old
    wars.

    The millions killed in Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia,
    the 17,500 killed when Israelâ€â€backed by the USâ€â€invaded
    Lebanon in 1982, the 2,00,000 Iraqis killed in
    Operation Desert Storm, the thousands of Palestinians
    who have died fighting Israel's occupation of the West
    Bank. And the millions who died, in Yugoslavia,
    Somalia, Haiti, Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, the
    Dominican republic, Panama, at the hands of all the
    terrorists, dictators and genocidists who the American
    government supported, trained, bankrolled and supplied
    with arms.

    And this is far from being a comprehensive list. For a
    country involved in so much warfare and conflict, the
    American people have been extremely fortunate. The
    strikes on September 11 were only the second on
    American soil in over a century. The first was Pearl
    Harbour. The reprisal for this took a long route,
    but ended with Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This time the
    world waits with bated breath for the horrors to come.

    Someone recently said that if Osama bin Laden didn't
    exist, America would have had to invent him. But, in a
    way, America did invent him. He was among the jehadis
    who moved to Afghanistan in 1979 when the CIA
    commenced operations. Osama bin Laden has the
    distinction of being created by the CIA and wanted by
    the FBI. In the course of a fortnight, he has been
    promoted from Suspect, to Prime Suspect, and then,
    despite the lack of any real evidence, straight up the
    charts to being "wanted dead or alive".

    >From all accounts, it will be impossible to produce
    evidence (of the sort that would stand scrutiny in a
    court of law) to link Osama bin Laden to the September
    11 attacks. So far, it appears that the most
    incriminating piece of evidence against him is the
    fact that he has not condemned them.

    >From what is known about the location and the living
    conditions from which Osama bin Laden operates, it's
    entirely possible that he did not personally plan and
    carry out the attacksâ€â€that he is the inspirational
    figure, 'the CEO of the Holding Company'.

    The Taliban's response to US demands for the
    extradition of Osama bin Laden has been
    uncharacteristically reasonable: Produce the evidence,
    we'll hand him over. President Bush's response is that
    the demand is "non-negotiable".

    (While talks are on for the extradition of CEOsâ€â€can
    India put in a side-request for the extradition of
    Warren Anderson of the USA? He was Chairman of Union
    Carbide, responsible for the Bhopal gas leak that
    killed 16,000 people in 1984. We have collated the
    necessary evidence. It's all in the files. Could we
    have him, please?)

    But who is Osama bin Laden really?

    Let me rephrase that. What is Osama bin Laden?

    He's America's family secret. He is the American
    President's dark doppelganger. The savage twin of all
    that purports to be beautiful and civilised. He has
    been sculpted from the spare rib of a world laid to
    waste by America's foreign policy: its gunboat
    diplomacy, its nuclear arsenal, its vulgarly stated
    policy of "full spectrum dominance", its chilling
    disregard for non-American lives, its barbarous
    military interventions, its support for despotic and
    dictatorial regimes, its merciless economic agenda
    that has munched through the economies of poor
    countries like a cloud of locusts. Its marauding
    multinationals who are taking over the air we breathe,
    the ground we stand on, the water we drink, the
    thoughts we think.

    Now that the family secret has been spilled, the twins
    are blurring into one another and gradually becoming
    interchangeable. Their guns, bombs, money and drugs
    have been going around in the loop for a while. (The
    Stinger missiles that will greet US helicopters were
    supplied by the CIA. The heroin used by America's
    drug-addicts comes from Afghanistan. The Bush
    administration recently gave Afghanistan a $43 million
    subsidy for a "war on drugs"...) Now they've even
    begun to borrow each other's rhetoric. Each refers to
    the other as 'the head of the snake'. Both invoke God
    and use the loose millenarian currency of Good and
    Evil as their terms of reference. Both are engaged in
    unequivocal political crimes. Both are dangerously
    armedâ€â€one with the nuclear arsenal of the obscenely
    powerful, the other with the incandescent, destructive
    power of the utterly hopeless. The fireball and the
    ice pick. The bludgeon and the axe. The important
    thing to keep in mind is that neither is an acceptable
    alternative to the other.

    President Bush's ultimatum to the people of the
    worldâ€â€"If you're not with us, you're against s"â€â€is a
    piece of presumptuous arrogance.

    It's not a choice that people want to, need to, or
    should have to make.
     
  2. Hayai_JiJi

    Hayai_JiJi Well-Known Member

    Re: The Algebra Of Infinite Justice

    It good to hear a alternative take on this. The american media has been very reluctant to say things of this nature. The climate in America is very strange right now. It's either you agree with us or we call you unamerican.

    Under the surface of the most jaded cynic lies a dissappointed idealist- George Carlin
     

Share This Page