Category Archives: iraq

Bush’s five mistakes

President George Bush has committed five major mistakes in the handling of the terrorism crisis which might cost America dear in the long run:

1. He has made the Arab attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon a matter of national ego. ‘How dare a few arrogant terrorists strike at the heart of the great, mighty, and proud United States?’ But Bush forgets two things: The first is that, however, spectacular and deadly these assaults were, America is not the only nation to suffer from terrorism. Countries like India lose thousands of lives to Islamic fundamentalism each year, without the Western world taking any notice.

Secondly, apart from its political angle, the aggression reminded America that capitalism, with all its flamboyant ego, is no more an answer to the world’s problems than was communism. We have to find another way to a more equalitarian and spiritualized society. The frenzied and hysterical reaction of the United States and Western powers (how long is CNN going to brainwash us with its ‘War on terrorism’?) is also completely overdone. What does Mr Bush mean by ‘an attack on freedom’? Did not Western nations often support bloody dictators such as Pinochet or Mobutu who produced bloodbaths on their people, sometimes more deadly than the WTC attacks?

2. George Bush has more or less ignored India, a vibrant, democratic, pro-Western nation. Why? The Asura, which the Mother of Pondichery called the ‘Lord of Nations,’ seem to be presently actively at work in the world. It is ‘he’ who makes men perceive what is true as false and who gives an aspect of truth to what is fundamentally false or even evil; it is he who precipitates countries into war; it is he who was the voice which Hitler heard dictating him what he had to do. Is it this same Asura which makes America think that Pakistan is the answer to solving their problems with terrorism?

How do you eliminate terrorism with terrorism? Because Pakistan is at the root of terrorism. The Taleban came out of Pakistani madarasas and were able to take nearly the whole of Afghanistan with the help of Pakistani officers. Pakistan has made jihad a national enterprise, not only hitting India, but also training militants who struck in the US, Bosnia and Chechnya. By lifting the economic sanctions on both India and Pakistan, the US has also — once again — put on the same footing two nations which, whatever their respective merits (all is not evil in Pakistan), cannot be compared.

India, a giant of a nation, is a bastion of freedom in an Asia torn by fundamentalism and the shadow of Chinese hegemony. Pakistan, a small country, always on the verge of bankruptcy, has been for most of its independence under military dictatorships. This equating Pakistan and India is an old perverse English strategy which had the purpose of dividing Muslims and Hindus so that the British could rule. It is sad to say that 200 years later this policy is still alive in the minds of Western leaders.

3. The third error is to think that by killing Osama bin Laden and bombing Afghanistan, he is going to solve — partly or fully — the problem of Islamic fundamentalism. Bush has also invited Muslim leaders to the White House, telling them that his fight is ‘not against Islam, but against terrorism.’ The first thing Bush should understand is that the problem is not with Muslims, who are like all other human beings in the world — some of are very good, some are okay and some are bad — but with Islam, a religion which teaches that there is only one God and that jihad is justified to convert others to the true religion.

4. The fourth error is to perceive bin Laden as a simple terrorist. If you look at the man’s eyes, you will notice a certain softness, a mystical glow even, that is not far from recalling some of the great Sufi saints. The man has incredible faith and whatever the murderous consequences of that faith, it has to be respected. The US might ultimately succeed in killing him, but will not other bin Ladens surface elsewhere in the world?

You cannot ignore the fact that Islam is the most rapidly spreading religion in the world today when Christianity is on the decline and capitalism shows its ugly, selfish and crass uniformity all over the planet. If only Islam would accept the fact that it has to adapt itself to the world, it could become a wonderful religion. Does it not care for others as no other faith does? It is enough to say anywhere in the world Salam u alli kum, to be treated like a brother, fed, clothed and sometimes helped financially. All Muslims belong to the Ouma, the great universal Muslim brotherhood. Also the pure of Islam do not smoke, do not take drugs, do not drink alcohol; and this is why the Shariat is so successful in Muslim countries.

5. Finally, there is one factor which Bush has completely overlooked. What is China going to do?

At the times of the attacks, Beijing was on the verge of strengthening its ties with the Taleban. Since then, it has closed its borders with Afghanistan for fear that some of the terrorists might spill into Xinjiang and worsen the already simmering Islamic problem there.

But China is a cold calculator and it will do only what serves its interests regardless of the moral consequences. We have seen how it armed Pakistan to counter India and gave Islamabad the technology to build nuclear weapons — and even the capability to deliver them, thanks to North Korean M-11 missiles. Will China ultimately side — even if temporarily — with the Muslim world, when it starts uniting against American imperialism? Only then will the possibility of a third World War really emerge.

Francois Gautier

Iraq and Hinduism

March 19, 2003

We see today that the whole world is shying in horror from the war America is planning against Iraq. And indeed the devastating consequences of war on human beings and the environment have been so well documented, that no man or woman, in his or her right mind, would condone it in the 21st century.

There is on top of that in the West, a growing distaste for violence, to which Christianity, which not only emphasises love for the neighbour but also adds a sense of guilt at having committed a sin when you kill someone, has greatly contributed.

In India, Buddhism and Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent philosophy, have also given rise to a similar distaste for battle, even if it is done in self-defence. It is not the purpose of this piece to debate the moral wrongs or rightfulness of an eventual war on Iraq, as it has been widely and repeatedly done — and very brilliantly — elsewhere. But rather to look at war from a Hindu point of view, a point of view that has often been the subject of many misunderstandings.

‘Man’s natural tendency,’ writes Sri Aurobindo, India’s great nationalist, yogi and prophet of the New Age, ‘is to worship nature as love and life and beauty and good — and to turn away from her grim mask of death. We adore god as Shiva, but refuse to adore him as Rudra.’

Thus, war has often baffled or even repelled man. We saw how Ashoka turned Buddhist in Kalinga, or how Gandhi refused to help in the war effort against the Nazis and the Japanese, or how today, youngsters all over the world have spontaneously risen in protest against the impending US battle against Iraq.

Five or six thousand years ago, Arjuna faced the same dilemma. Remember how, casting down the divine bow given to him by the gods for that tremendous hour, he says: ‘It is more for my welfare that the sons of Dhritarashtra, armed, should slay me unarmed and unresisting… I-will-not-fight.’

In the words of Sri Aurobindo, Arjuna’s refusal to fight, ‘is the emotional revolt of a man hitherto satisfied with action and its current standards, who finds himself cast by them into a hideous chaos where human beings are in violent conflict with each other and where there is no moral standing ground left, nothing to lay hold of and walk by, no dharma.’

Yet, if we observe man and nature closely, we find — even today — that war and destruction are not only a universal principle of our life here in its purely material aspects, but also of our mental and moral existence. Everything is a struggle in our planet, all plants, animals and human beings have to struggle against each other, right from the moment of birth; even business is a warfare in disguise. It is then evident that the actual life of man can make no real step forward without a struggle between what exists and lives and what seeks to exist.

The Gita, as we have seen, takes for its frame such a period of transition and crisis as humanity periodically experiences in its history, in which great forces clash together for a huge destruction, and reconstruction, intellectual, social, moral, religious and political.

Furthermore, in the words of India’s great avatar: ‘It is an illusion to think that our hands should remain clean and our souls unstained for the law of strife and destruction to die out from the world. On the contrary, abstention from strife and concomitant destruction may help one’s moral being, but leaves the slayer of creatures unabolished.’

We have seen for example how France has still not come to terms with the collaboration of many Frenchmen with the Germans during the Second World War, or how the neutrality of Switzerland is a sham. The prosperity of Switzerland often rests on the ill-gotten gains of dictators, or on the stolen money of Jews murdered by the great asura Hitler.

‘It is only a few religions which have had the courage, like the Indian, to lift-up the image of the force that acts in the world in the figure not only of the beneficent Durga, but also of the terrible Kali in her blood-stained dance of destruction and to say: “this too is the Mother.” And it is significant that the religion which had this unflinching honesty and tremendous courage, has succeeded in creating a profound and widespread spirituality such as no other can parallel.’

The Gita thus proceeds from the acceptance of the necessity in nature for such vehement crisises and it accepts the moral aspect of the struggle between righteousness and unrighteousness, between the self affirming law of good and the forces that oppose its progression. The Gita, concludes Sri Aurobindo, is therefore addressed to the fighters, the men of action, those whose duty in life is that of war and protection of those who are at the mercy of the strong and the violent and for the maintenance of right and justice in the world.

In this light, the proposed war on Iraq takes another shape: men in their folly, think they are the deciders, the doers, the great arbiters, but who is pulling the strings from behind? Mr Bush and his generals believe they have planned every possibility, plugged every loophole. But there is no way they can control the consequences of the action they are going to undertake.

Who is right and who is wrong in this whole affair? There is no such thing as a good Bush and a bad Saddam and the tendency of the whole Western and Indian intelligentsia to portray America as an evil empire bent on hegemony and Iraq as an innocent, persecuted nation, makes one a little uneasy. After all, has not the United States risen up and paid with its blood every time the free world was in danger and is not Iraq one of the nations which has sponsored international terrorism, particularly against Israel?

Therefore, in the present state of human nature, with its ego, ambition, lack of love and brotherhood, war is still inevitable and we have to accept it. Awaiting better times, the ‘supramental’ which Sri Aurobindo and the Mother of Pondichery came to usher, we should only remember what Krishna tells Arjuna on the eve of the Kurukshetra battle: ‘You are not killing the soul, but merely the material body: we will all be reborn, again and again, till humanity understands that love — and love only — is the only answer to all our differences.’

Francois Gautier