Road map to Baghdad and beyond
Writing's on the wall
March 17, 2003
The historically and literary minded will recall another event involving the
British and the Spanish, immortalised in Tennyson's poem, The Revenge. The
first line was familiar to generations of school children. "At Flores in the
Azores, Sir Richard Grenville lay".
Grenville was one of the mariners (pirates in the Spanish view) so loved by Queen
Elizabeth I. But the Spanish fleet in the Azores caught him and his little ship --
Revenge -- fought alone and to the death - a typically inspiring story of
heroic British failure. The poem is full of anti-Spanish sentiment ("Let us
bang these dogs of Seville, the children of the devil").
One wonders if Mr Blair will recite it to Jose Maria Aznar as they look out across
the waters and consider how alliances change. Choosing the mid-Atlantic setting of
the Azores, Tony Blair does not have to be seen running to the White House; Mr Bush
tries to show that he is not directing it all from Washington; Mr Aznar gets his
reward for co-sponsoring the resolution and provides another European figure to demonstrate
that Britain is not alone on its side of the ocean.
The current situation has forced a remarkable turn of events forcing even the United
States to compromise on its foreign policy agenda. Indeed, Mr Bush made an announcement
on Friday that he was also going to release the long delayed "road map"
for negotiations leading to a Palestinian state.
White House officials were even saying that the soon to be appointed Palestinian
Prime Minister Abu Mazen, would be received by the President in due course. Even
the United States has been forced into political bribery.
The proposal espoused by the current leaders is that Saddam Hussein should be given
a chance to go into exile or face war. The White House spokesman Ari Fleischer made
a point: "There is still time for Saddam Hussein to see the writing on the wall
and to get out of Iraq."
The reference to the "writing on the wall" was particularly apt. It comes
from a story in the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament in which Belshazzar
saw writing predicting his doom appear on the wall during a feast. He was overthrown
and killed that same night. Belshazzar was the son of Nebuchadnezzar, conqueror of
Jerusalem and builder of Babylon and a king to whom Saddam Hussein compares himself.
It is a shame to see the UN becoming irrelevant for the sake of criminals and cowards.
Neither characters espouse egalitarianism, nor liberate or are in any way icons of
fraternity. To decimate the relevance of the UN for indicted war criminals such as
Saddam is the greatest tragedy of this new century.
The Russians, Chinese and French will definitely regret their decision in a couple
of week's time when liberation forces shall be garlanded in downtown Baghdad. Beware
one and all; the liberation of Baghdad is drawing near.
The freedom of long suffering Iraqis is on hand and the polarization of this whole
liberation objective counts as a despicable act of global diplomacy. The "the
moment of truth", as Mr Bush's national security adviser Condoleezza Rice put
it, is at hand. What "the moment of truth" means is abandoning attempts
to get the elusive second resolution and taking a decision to go to war.
If any one talks to Iraqis the story is quite different; "Saddam is a killer,"
said Mohammed, an engineer from Baghdad. Speaking near the Seida Zeinab Mosque, a
Shiite shrine on the outskirts of Damascus where many Iraqis have come to wait out
a possible war, Mohammed said 99 per cent of Iraqis wanted Saddam gone and the 1
per cent that didn't were those connected to the regime.
Expecting to be back in Baghdad soon after the war, Mohammed predicted Saddam's fall
would be rapid. "It will take two days of hell. I know my people. They will
help the American army get rid of Saddam's government." Mohammed's wife Farah
nodded. "The people will throw flowers on to the street to greet the American
army," she said. "The people are very happy. It's only a matter of waiting
White House speechwriters have already started work on Mr Bush's address in which
he will tell the American people that they are going to war. It is no more a language
of diplomacy - it is the language of preparing people for war. A cursory glance at
history bears testament to this statement.
Iraqi callous regime has brought this all upon itself this is the wrath of Allah
on clemency cries of thousands of Muslims recklessly mutilated by Saddam. When tyrants
like Saddam, who in his Anfal campaign used chemical weapons on Kurdish men, women
and children, is defended by political Islam it is indicative of the deep malaise
within that philosophy.
This ideology must free itself of the medieval constraints and tarnished reputation
of being associated with authoritarians, who conveniently hijack the religion to
suit their own demonic beliefs. As human beings endowed with the freedom of choice
and action we cannot in good conscience rest our collective responsibility upon the
shoulders of God or nature but ourselves.
For tyrants to appeal to the divine, as an absolution
from their actions is a cowardly act for their citizens, whom they had shackled for
so long, must hold them accountable. Saddam cannot escape from the wrath of his people
and it is our obligation, as citizens of the free world and especially as Muslims,
to make sure he does not.
Common sense and pragmatic rationalism seems to be a premium when Muslim peoples
defend Saddam so vehemently despite his actions towards the Muslims populaces of
Iran, Iraq and Kuwait. Until they shed the fanatical anachronisms of the past Muslims
will continue to remain subject to the whims of tyrants like Saddam, who have a monopoly
on the masses.
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