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1 Mar, 1998

America should stop playing judge, jury and executioner

Originally Published: 1 March 1998

Though the recent diplomatic effort by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to avert the US bombing of Iraq is being touted as a victory for him and the UN, it was first and foremost a victory for the power of prayer.

No doubt, millions of people world-wide, and especially within Iraq, must have been praying fervently to avert a war that would not only have killed thousands of innocent Iraqis but further destabilised the global economy, causing more bankruptcies and destroying many families totally uninvolved with the Iraq-US war.

But the UN has managed to avert only one war. It is now facing a bigger and more formidable one.

Behind the overt Iraq vs America and IMF vs Indonesia conflicts, lurks the war now being fought by proxy between Islam and Judaism which will never go away until its central cause is settled, the Arab-Israeli conflict over the future of Palestine.

Islamic communities world-wide are bristling at the dictatorial attempt to foist American military and monetary muscle upon two Islamic countries.

The anger is being fanned by a list making the rounds of the Internet showing the number of Jews in the Cabinet of Bill Clinton, especially the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Treasury, both in charge of military and monetary affairs, the twin weapons of war in the modern world.

The Islamic world is also having a good Internet-based laugh over the naivete of Clinton who allegedly could not resist the charms of a Jewish lady, thus effectively falling victim to one of the most common forms of entrapment in the world of international relations, according to one Muslim message circulating the Net.

And America is being called upon to exert the same pressure being faced by Iraq and Indonesia to get Israel to observe the many UN resolutions demanding its withdrawal from occupied Palestinian territories.

If it doesn’t, the Islamic world will know that inspite of all its pronouncements about chemical or biological weapons, or global currency stability, America is not a fair, just and honest broker of international affairs but more interested in serving its own interests and those of Israel.

The instability and divisions within the Arab and Islamic world work very much in US/Israeli interests. Having corrupt dictators running Islamic countries also helps that cause. The US does not mind dealing with them, such as those in Indonesia or the Gulf countries, when it suits its purpose.

Recently, there has been much discussion over conspiracy theories. Setting those aside, here are some facts:

— The Jewish and Islamic faiths have long been at odds, primarily over religious dogma. In the Middle East, those differences boil over into the political realm.

— The US has long been attempting to play honest broker in the Middle East. In the days of Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, it signed the Oslo Accords, that committed it to ensuring that a just and sustainable peace is attained.

— When Iraq spurns UN resolutions, it gets threatened, bludgeoned and hit with sanctions. When Indonesia does not do what the IMF says, it gets threatened with withholding of IMF funds. When Israel spurns UN resolutions and the Oslo Accords, nothing happens.

— The security of the Gulf Arab/Islamic countries is only of interest to the US insofar as ensuring access to their oil and neutralising them vis a vis Israel.

— When the key members of the “world community” like China and Russia say they oppose a military strike on Iraq, the US says it matters not what they say.

Since the demise of communism, America has turned its attentions towards the containment of Islam, a religion it has seldom sought to understand. Unlike communism, however, Islam will never fold. It may be weakened and divided, albeit temporarily, but never crushed.

Certainly, the Jews should understand this better than anyone else, given the tragic and devastating experience of their Holocaust.

When it comes to the feud between Islam and Judaism, America has to decide whether it is a just country. If it agrees that it is far too much influenced by one group with clear vested interests, it should avoid playing judge, jury and executioner. Eventually, those who are at the receiving end of the injustice will rise against it.

America’s menacing external “or else….” tone flies in the face of the many internal values it has long espoused. In the US, Muslims enjoy freedom of speech and congregation that they would never in their own countries. By playing an even-handed role, the US also helped bring peace to Bosnia, saving many thousands of lives, both Muslim and Christian.

However, Indonesia, like Thailand and other countries now on IMF dole, is facing the prospect of tutelage of the financiers in Washington for years to come. One wrong move, and markets will move. Currency speculators and institutional investors lurk on the sidelines to ensure that the country remains on track.

What is the US really trying to achieve in Indonesia, Muslims wonder? And who is keeping an eye on Indonesia’s compliance with IMF terms? Look at the by-lines of the Jakarta-based reporters for some of the major US media groups and make up your own mind. Enter the third major weapon of global warfare: The media.

The global implications of the Judaeo-Islamic war need some careful thinking. The Islamic world is not going to take much more one-sided sabre-rattling. Even the US should know that its policy is only treating the symptoms, not the cause.

A fundamental tenet of this column has been to always take the pacifist approach. That has not changed. Given a strong sense of justice and rationality, coupled with patience, there is no problem that cannot be solved peacefully and fairly.

This world is already fighting enough wars against poverty, crime, drugs and environmental degradation which daily claim far more lives than military wars. Once out of the Pandora’s box, violence and bloodshed only breed more of the same.

For many years, the anti-US stand of former Thai foreign minister Dr Thanat Khoman was thought to be way off the mark. Recent letters to the editor appear to be indicating some shift in sympathy towards him.

If the US, the world’s sole remaining judge, jury and executioner, can put its policies on even keel, the world will be a safer place. That will clearly be in US interests, and certainly in everyone else’s, including Thailand’s.

There is still much more to be prayed for.