the West too feels the pain and suffering
Now that the anger and outrage that followed the wanton killing
of innocents in Bali have subsided somewhat, the West should ask itself
why Asian and African people have not reacted in the way that Americans,
Britons and some others did.
It is not that
Asian and African people have lost their emotional moorings that
they do not empathise with the grieving families.
now people from the Philippines and across Southeast Asia such as
Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan, have suffered
from terrorism that killed or maimed thousands and made millions
of others victims of depravity.
indiscriminately killed innocents, when suicide bombers targeting
political enemies blasted men, women and children who had nothing
to do with so-called freedom fighters and their perceived political
goals, who mourned for the dead and dying? Not George W. Bush, Tony
Blair, John Howard or other western leaders.
At most, the
western classes tossed a dollar or a pound into a hat held by some
do gooder non-governmental agency preparing to civilize the natives
and proselytize them into worshipping the western ways of socio-economic
That, as far
as it went, was the western way of commiseration. Admittedly there
were many thousands of western people who had lived in Asia and
Africa, or were simply shocked by the callous arbitrariness of terrorists
who were ready to kill without compunction, people of their own
religious or ethnic group.
minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, in a lecture he gave at Chatham House
London about four years ago made the point very well. Referring
to the prevailing attitude of states to the question of terrorism,
he said there were two approaches. One he called the Nelsonian approach
- the studied indifference that argues that terrorism is happening
elsewhere, we are not affected, so why worry.
The other is
the show of sympathy - we would like to help you but we don't have
the laws in our country to help you fight terrorism. But the readiness
to fight terrorism, to take legal and other measures to make the
rhetoric effective and efficacious, is mere public grandstanding
until they themselves fall victim to the terrorist attack and their
citizens lie decapitated in pools of blood.
terrorism is unleashed by the state or sponsored by it or whether
it comes from those who wish to overthrow governments or secede
from the state, its end result is indefensible if the victims are
the countless innocents without a stake in that fight. This is another
reason why many non-westerners react with less outrage when the
west and westerners become targets of terrorism. It is not that
they don't feel morally abused when terrorism strikes. Rather they
feel that just as they suffered alone and with little help from
the west, the west must be left to feel and understand the pain
and suffering too.
they see and feel the double standards adopted by the west. It was
Queen Victoria's foreign minister Lord Palmerston who said that
England had no permanent enemies or permanent friends, only permanent
In 1967 Martin
Luther King Jr. said of the United States: "My government is
the world's leading purveyor of violence".
These two statements,
more than a century apart still stand as sentinels to the realpolitik
that guides the political and strategic actions of two nations that
are separated by the Atlantic Ocean but united by the terrorism
and violence they have unleashed themselves or sponsored, during
various times in their histories.
aware of the weapons of mass destruction that the United States
used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and later in Vietnam when this country
that now speaks of evil states and genocide used napalm and defoliants
such as "Agent Orange" against the Vietnamese and their
not forgotten the undeclared war that Washington launched against
The world has
not forgotten that Washington conspired to oust the elected leader
of Iran, Mohamed Mossadeq, tried to assassinate Fidel Castro, that
Britain and US helped Saddam Hussein to build the weapons of mass
destruction that they now decry and encouraged him to launch the
disastrous war against Ayatollah Khomeini's revolutionary regime.
These two nations
that now strike a righteous pose having violated every known norm
of civilized political conduct now dare preach to the world how
it should be saved from dictators and terrorism.. Had September
11 not happened, the west would still be wallowing in its smug self
satisfaction that it was safe from the terrorist threat because
it was economically and militarily powerful, nay invincible.Like
the Bourbons of France, the United States learned nothing and forgot
nothing. Had George W. Bush learned the art of reading, history
would have told him that ordinary peasants in black pyjamas and
wide-brimmed bamboo hats humbled the mighty Eagle and removed its
talons. It now seems he-and his sidekick Phoney Blair- want to be
taught personal lessons in humility. They might not have to wait