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29 Sep, 2003

The Twin Tragedy: Those Who Lie for the Cause, and Die for the Cause

Originally Published: 29 Sept 2003

Global conflict today can be traced back to two sources —  those who are ready to die for the cause, and those who lie for the cause.

The distinction between the two is that those who are willing to die for the cause, actually die for the cause, while those who lie for the cause send some other poor soul to die on their behalf.

As both kill innocent people, readers can decide which group is more abhorrent.

For some years, much viciousness has been directed at those who are willing to die for the cause, specifically the suicide bombers in the Middle East. They have been described in most foul terms.

In fact, history is full of people who have died for the cause, people consumed by a passionate love for their countries and faiths.

Life, the most valuable of possessions, nevertheless is seen as a worthy short-term sacrifice to attain a long-term goal, be it statehood for a country, freedom from dictatorships or a place in paradise.

Japanese kamikaze bombers made missiles out of their aircraft and crashed them into ships and other military targets. Sri Lankan Tamil Tigers also claimed many a victim, including Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on 21 May 1991, almost exactly 10 years before the attacks of 9/11.

History does not describe them in the same vile terms as today’s suicide bombers. Indeed, for 10 years, the term ‘suicide bombers’ was a mere dot on the political fringe.

It is only after the Palestinians turned this weapon loose on the occupying Israelis and 9/11 that it took on a new frenzy. Pursuing terrorists and suicide bombers simply did not carry as much weight as it did after the reality came home to roost, literally speaking.

Suicide bombers are considered reprehensible human beings because, in the process of dying for the cause, they kill innocent people. The much-vaunted catch-phrase is “Nothing justifies such an attack….”


If any ASEAN country were to come under occupation by its neighbour, how far would it be willing to go to oust the occupiers and regain freedom and independence? What weapons would it use if it had nothing while the other country was armed with the latest military technology money could buy and yes, even nuclear weapons?

If that occupation was to last nearly 40 years, would the occupied people be angry, bitter and frustrated enough to try anything, perhaps even suicide bombings, and take a few innocent people of the occupying country along with them?

And what kind of language would the occupied people direct at those who would give financial and military succour to the occupiers even while lecturing  the occupied about why “Nothing justifies such attacks….”?

If suicide bombers kill innocent people, so do commanders-in-chief in Armani suits and/or leather jackets, as well as their delivery-boys, the pilots in F-16s.

In Iraq today, American soldiers are dying because their power-hungry, crony-riddled, immoral and utterly contemptible leaders have done a lot of lying. For the pitiful pay of a few hundred dollars a month, the poor soldiers are laying their lives on the line.

One can only imagine their stress and mental turmoil. Many will be maimed for life, others will suffer from all kinds of family and social problems — all for the cause of “freedom and democracy.”

Unlike suicide bombers, the soldiers certainly DON’T want to die for the cause. Many would rather that their leaders share in that dying rather than confining themselves only to gratuitous lying from the comfort of their offices.

How times have changed!

For years, leaders of the developed industrialised countries claimed the high moral ground, parlaying democratic traditions, technological prowess and industrialised status as the path to political, social, economic and cultural nirvana.

Now, they have become proven liars and, like the Quran says, “reversed in nature” — a mirror image of those they pursue and demonise, perhaps worse.

They hedge and fudge, deny responsibility, blame underlings and the media, refuse to testify before committees, restrict individual freedoms (such as through the Patriot Act), hold suspects without trial (as in Guantanamo bay), support those who occupy another people, violate UN resolutions and carry out extra-judicial “targetted killings” (like Israel).

And then they wonder why some are willing to die in order to bring down those who lie.

The Palestinians have for years been denied freedom and independence by the Israelis; yet, the American/British governments felt it to be of greater priority to “free” the Iraqis from Saddam Hussein. And they still claim that this was not about oil — another blistering lie!

What the American/British governments don’t seem to understand, or don’t want to, is that “freedom and democracy” needs to be evenly applied, without double standards and hypocrisy. If the Iraqis deserve freedom and democracy, so do the Palestinians.

If they wanted to truly democratise the Middle East, they could have tried pressuring Israel via sanctions, diplomatic rebukes, denial of aid and all the other methods they use against so-called ‘failed states’, to abide by the same UN resolutions that they accused Iraq of violating and give freedom to the Palestinians.

They could have then rewarded the Palestinians with the required aid and assistance to set up democratic institutions. Those institutions could well have become role models for the rest of the Middle East.

It would not have cost a single life.

They can still do it, but they won’t.

Instead, they will continue to lie while sending their children to die.

In the New World Order to come, it is now official: Lying pays!

This is the new benchmark and standard of democracy, as set by its self-proclaimed purveyors.

What definition of rule of law, accountability and transparency does this new reality subscribe to? Do those who put themselves above the law really deserve to lead? Is there an alternative? What is stopping one from emerging?

These serious questions deserve some serious soul-searching.

Unless those who lie for the cause are confronted with the same degree of opposition as those who die for the cause, the two are going to be locked in perpetual conflict.

Frankly, the world would be better off without either of them.