Distinction in travel journalism
Is independent travel journalism important to you?
Click here to keep it independent

13 Nov, 2005

Treating the Symptoms and Not the Cause Is a Recipe for Death

Originally Published: 13 Nov 2005

As the war on Islam spreads both in depth and breadth, here’s a very simple question for the “international community”: At which global body/tribunal/court can the world’s Muslims seek settlement of unresolved political disputes peacefully, fairly and democratically?

Certainly not the UN, where the US, Britain and France have a veto. Not the International Court of Justice whose decisions are non-binding.

Then where?

These are important questions because they go to the heart of the pursuit of justice, without which there can be no peace.

It’s one thing to blame Muslims for being “terrorists” and prone to “violence.” Even if that sweeping generalisation was true, the policies used to combat “Islamic terrorism” since 9/11 are proving to be a total failure.

Instead, Mahatma Gandhi’s dictum is proving true, “An eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind.” If the “war on terror”, is now said to be set for the long-haul, how much longer can the world afford to see it hauled?

Taking up Gandhi’s physiological example, a doctor treating a patient will not blindly take the knife to any ailment that comes along, but rather attempt to treat it with a course of medication that a) is appropriate and b) does not have serious side-effects.

If the medication does not work or yields intolerable side-effects, the doctor would have to be an idiot to continue it. In which case, the patient would have to be an even bigger idiot not to change the doctor.

The “medication” being prescribed for the “war on terror” is clearly not working. Israel, whose advice is regularly sought as the world’s most effective “doctor” for combatting terrorism, is the biggest failure.

Unable to stop the violence for nearly 50 years, inspite of its high-tech prowess, checkpoints, infiltration, home demolitions and “targeted assassinations”, it finally had to put up physical walls to divide entire populations.

As repeatedly proven by Jewish terrorists like Yigal Amir, Tamil Tiger terrorists who killed Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Sikh terrorists who killed another Indian Prime Minister, Mrs Indira Gandhi, and various other terrorist-assassins who have shot Martin Luther King, John F Kennedy, Anwar Sadat and Mahatma Gandhi over the years, there is no way to provide 100 per cent security for anyone.

If driven by deeper political issues, a more cost-effective and rational way is by settling the problems that fuel the violence. Or, in medical terms, addressing the cause rather than the symptoms.

But that is not the way the situation is being addressed.

From the assassinations of Palestinians to the treatment of prisoners in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo bay, from the attempts (specifically by the French) to suppress the wearing of headscarves to the negative portrayal of Arabs in Hollywood movies and the hate-filled Islamophobic websites, there is a very unmistakeable global campaign to make anything and everything Islamic appear backward, uncivilised and negative.

Syria is pressured to pull out of Lebanon, and Indonesia from East Timor, but not Israel from Palestine. Iran is pressured to let in nuclear inspectors but not Israel. Turkey has to meet a long list of European (read, Judeo-Christian) conditions before it can even begin talks to join the European Union.

Islamic investment institutions and charities are subject to scrutiny for “financing terrorism” but not Jewish businessmen funding the illegal occupation of Palestine.

Muslim visa applicants are singled out for special interviews, placed on watch lists and, according to the latest announcement by US Homeland Security, asked to register before they travel so that people with similar names as terrorist suspects don’t get mistaken for one.

Vehement condemnations follow violence by “suspected Islamic militants” but not those by Basques in Spain or the Maoists in Nepal or Naxalites in India. Muslim women are supposedly “oppressed” and mosques monitored for “preaching hate.”

Arab countries supposedly need “reform” to make them more democratic, transparent and accountable, but there is no transparency and accountability from Western leaders whose lies have caused thousands of deaths in Iraq.

This well-planned and -executed campaign is producing results, but not the desired ones. The hypocrisy and double standards, plus the lack of clear avenues to seek justice, are much too obvious and triggering more violence.

In response, the “doctors” suggest even heavier doses of antibiotics and/or chemotherapy on the grounds that the course has to be completed before results begin to emerge.

Except that they have no idea of the duration of the prescribed course. Nor do they show any interest in considering an alternative.

For the patient, changing doctors is virtually impossible because they are all working hand-in-glove, like the referral-business cliques in medical communities.

Meanwhile, the virus is developing a resistance to the drugs, further sapping the patient and frustrating the doctor. And the side-effects are mounting.

The “freedom and democracy” valued so highly by the “international community” is under threat. The much-feared media that once helped eject lying governments, now props them up. Civil liberties, academic freedom and debate are regressing. Big business has become virtually unaccountable.

All this while, the patient continues paying the bills in the form of security upgrades, X-ray machines, bomb detectors, etc.

And for what? Install the gadgetry at airports, and weak-spots like subways and beach restaurants come under attack. Crowds are everywhere, and there is absolutely no way to check each and every individual without gridlocking public movement.

Security experts claim that this “war on terror” can never be won, only managed to an extent where the casualties remain at “an acceptable level.” That is debatable.

Settling underlying conflicts is not difficult for leaders with low levels of pride and egotism and high levels of wisdom, humility and selflessness. It also requires adjudicating institutions with neutral, unbiased and non-corrupt judges.

The unipolar global platform currently lacks both leaders and institutions of that hue. Unless that vacuum is filled, an increasingly globalised world will continue to experience globalised violence, Islamic or otherwise.