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Why I support America

We should embrace the American position and use it as the basis of our own national security policy.

india Updated: Mar 30, 2003 19:09 IST

Now that the war in Iraq is finally underway, let’s pause to consider what America has to say. This is a just war, according to Washington, because it seeks to remove an unelected dictator who possesses weapons of mass destruction, has previously attacked a neighbouring country, and has oppressed vast sections of his own population.

India, in common with most of the world, has rejected this position. We argue that America has acted too hastily, that it should have given more time to the weapons inspectors and that it should not act unilaterally (with only England and Australia as significant allies) without UN sanction.

I believe we are making a mistake. We should drop our objections. Instead we should embrace the American position and use it as the basis of our own national security policy. After all, as Donald Rumsfeld keeps suggesting, America is now the greatest power in the world and makes all the rules.

So, let’s stop protesting. Let’s just learn these new rules and apply them to our own national security — chiefly to our relations with Pakistan.

Here are the new principles —as enunciated by America — and here’s how we can follow them to safeguard ourselves from the evildoers in our neighbourhood.

** British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw was on TV last week telling the world that while one must always talk and negotiate to avoid a conflict, there comes a time when we must accept that talking has failed. Then, it is a question of having the courage to go forward and use force to do whatever is right.

I think that this is an admirable principle but it is one that Straw and his Prime Minister, Tony Blair, leave at home when they visit New Delhi. I would suggest that we remind them of it when they next come calling and tell them how impressed we are with their grasp of international morality.

We too have tried to talking to Pakistan. Our Prime Minister went to Lahore and signed a document which the Pakistanis now say they no longer recognise. We invited their dictator to Agra and tried to negotiate with him.

But somehow nothing has worked. Despite our best efforts, talking has failed. Surely, the time has now come to go forward and use force to do whatever is right?

** “We respect the United Nations,” George W Bush has said on more than one occasion. But, as he also made clear a fortnight ago, respecting the UN does not mean that a country must not do whatever it needs to in the pursuit of its own security.

Absolutely, We couldn’t agree more. We respect the UN too. In fact, we were the ones who took the Kashmir issue to the Security Council. But it’s been over 50 years now and we are no closer to securing the return of that part of Kashmir that has been illegally occupied by Pakistan.

Worse still, Pakistan uses this occupied territory to smuggle terrorists across our borders to kill and maim innocent civilians. During last year’s assembly election campaign in Kashmir hundreds of people were murdered by such terrorists.

So, as much as we respect the United Nations, we must now do what we need to protect our own security interests. Bush’s answer has been to launch an invasion. That sounds like just the sort of thing we need to do as well.

** The problem with the world, Tony Blair tells us, is rogue regimes which have got their hands on weapons of mass destruction. Often these weapons have been assembled from components smuggled out of the West and then illicitly assembled. The world can never live in peace as long as such regimes possess these weapons. The best solution is to ensure that these regimes destroy their weapons. Failing that, we need to change these regimes.

Spot on! Take the case of Pakistan which clandestinely imported the components for a nuclear bomb from many Western countries (and had other components sent to it by undemocratic and repressive China), and whose scientists were caught and arrested all over the world, trying to break embargoes by collecting such components.

Sadly, the international community did not act till it was too late. Now Pakistan has weapons of mass destruction — nuclear devices — whose destructive power vastly exceeds anything that Iraq possesses.

Nor has changing the regime made any difference. No matter which democratic government is elected, the army invariably ends up toppling it and taking control. And no matter which General has his finger on the nuclear button, the Pakistani army always retains the power to vapourise lakhs of people in a matter of minutes.

Surely Tony Blair is right! We must invade and ensure that these weapons of mass destruction are destroyed.

(Don’t worry too much about our own weapons of mass destruction. Nobody minds that Britain, which has no enemies at all, possesses over 250 nuclear bombs.)

** The thing about Saddam Hussein, we are told, is that he is unelected. He is a dictator. Oh yes, he stages fraudulent elections at which he’s the only candidate but that’s hardly an example of democracy in action.

The world needs to remove such unelected dictators and replace them with genuinely democratic regimes that respect human rights and liberal freedoms.

Too right! Take the case of Pervez Musharraf, a general who seized power in Pakistan by overthrowing the legally elected government and exiling the Prime Minister (after first arresting him). Musharraf has never been elected. Oh yes, he had a fraudulent referendum in which he was the only candidate but nobody believes that this was fair.

As true democrats, we need to march into his capital, effect a regime change and give the peace-loving people of Pakistan a chance to enjoy the liberal freedom that those of us who live in democracies have always taken for granted.

** “I cannot make that claim,” George Bush told Britain’s Sky News when asked if Saddam was in league with Al Qaeda. But, as his aides have explained, there is evidence of links between elements in the Iraqi regime and Osama bin Laden. Besides, as the Americans point out, the greatest threat to world peace is if rogue states with weapons of mass destruction link up with terrorists. So, just as the world hunts down the terrorists, it must simultaneously effect regime-changes in the rogue states.

What a convincing argument! None of us can claim that Pervez Musharraf is in league with bin Laden. But we do know that Al Qaeda was protected by the Taliban, which was created by Pakistan’s ISI. We know also that elements in the ISI and the Pakistani military have links with Al Qaeda. And we know that much of Al Qaeda’s leadership is hiding in safe houses in such cities as Rawalpindi. Top Al Qaeda leaders keep being arrested from large homes in Pakistani suburbs and there is reason to believe that bin Laden himself is in Pakistan.

Suppose now, that these dangerous Al Qaeda terrorists were to link up with those who controlled Pakistan’s weapons of mass destruction. What a disaster that would be for world peace!

The logic is infallible: We must not be content with merely hunting down bin Laden. We must simultaneously invade Pakistan to effect a regime change.

** We know, say the Americans, that Saddam is a menace to his neighbourhood because, over a decade ago, he invaded and tried to annex part of a neighbouring country (Kuwait) on the dubious and specious grounds that Iraq had a claim to its territory. How can it be good for world peace to let such an invader remain in power?

Spot on! Likewise, we know that General Musharraf is a menace to his neighbourhood because five years ago, he planned and executed an invasion of Kargil which belonged to his neighbour on the dubious and specious grounds that Pakistan had a claim to that territory. How can it be good for world peace to let such an invader remain in power?

** And finally, if we don’t have the stomach to do all this, let’s do what Donald Rumsfeld called ‘decapitating” the regime. That is, let’s launch lots of missiles and air strikes to try and kill the leader of the evildoers. What better way is there to bring peace to the world than a spot of high-tech murder!

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

There’s only one problem: if we did exactly what America is doing for exactly the same reasons and using exactly the same arguments, America would be the first country to oppose us.

That’s the new world order: the world should do what America orders.

First Published: Mar 22, 2003 23:47 IST