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15 Oct, 2006

Good WILL triumph over evil, but evil will not go down without a fight

Originally Published: 15 Oct 2006

The day after my last column appeared a fortnight ago, excerpts began appearing in the US media from “State of Denial,” the newest book by Watergate sleuth Bob Woodward.

The book effectively says what I have been saying for years: The Bush administration lied to the world about the reasons for launching the war in Iraq and continues to live in a state of denial about it.

Woodward shies away from using the word “lies” but by all accounts, that is the unmentioned implication. Another journalist, Helen Thomas, dean of the White House Press corps, had no such misgivings in her earlier book “Watchdogs of Democracy?”, which was released last year but did not get much publicity.

Woodward, along with fellow Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein, was responsible for reports that set in motion the trail of events that ultimately led to the resignation of former president Richard Nixon in August 1974.

This time, however, Woodward is a johnny-come-lately in coming out of the woodwork to uncover what many critics of the war, including this columnist, have long known. It is also unlikely that his revelations will come anywhere close to triggering the resignation of President George W. Bush, in spite of the fact that the consequences of Bush’s deceit are far worse than Nixon’s.

The brief burst of publicity for Woodward’s book was soon buried by a barrage of other scandals and controversies — the vicious killings of the five Amish children, the resignation of US Senator John Foley over the sex scandal, and various global developments like the election of the next UN secretary-general, the Iran issue and the row over the North Korean nuclear test.

With another election coming up next month, the “war president” badly needs more distractions to deflect attention from his stupidity, and minimise the widely-expected electoral anti-Republican backlash, with all the recriminations and blame-game that will follow.

The key question, however, is how much deeper this “state of denial” will remain entrenched before being acknowledged for what it is. How many more young lives will it claim? How many more billions of wasted dollars? How much more futile and tiresome conflict between religions and societies?

I waited earnestly for Woodward to be attacked and called some of the choice names I have been called in Postbag. Naturally, nothing appeared, which only proved true another of my assertions – double standards and hypocrisy are alive and well, and not just in the power corridors of Washington DC.

Woodward’s book has only strengthened the wind in my sails, the numerous efforts to gag me notwithstanding.

Those who continue to live in that “state of denial” will insist on scapegoating the religion of Islam for their own self-inflicted problems. Indeed, the problems of the Islamic world are identical to those faced by the West.

If Islam is a religion of violence, how would one describe the sick gun-culture which creates monsters such as the killer of those innocent Amish children?

Many critics of that gun-culture and the unadulterated violence spewed out by Hollywood movies have warned of how easy it is for those with long-entrenched grudges to become a victim of their own demons and open fire on the innocent.

But “freedom” gives Americans a constitutional right to carry firearms. Freedom of expression gives Hollywood the right to make those gratuitous movies. Self-defence gives the United States the right to carry out pre-emptive strikes against anyone it deems a threat to “freedom and democracy.”

None of that matters to those who imperviously believe that it is only those rascal Muslims and their ‘religion of violence’ which must be brought to heel and held accountable.

Violence perpetuated by the people, governments and leaders of the West always seems to have some justifiable explanation which we are supposed to accept as being certifiably true because it emanates from the “civilised world.”

Take a close look at the Amish. It would be easy to describe them as fundamentalists. Those long skirts and bonnets appear to be very much similar to the dress-code of conservative Muslim women who are considered to be “oppressed”.

Last week, Bush emerged from one “state of denial” to hold a summit to discuss school violence, which is not altogether different from another sporadic American quirk, workplace violence.

To address that home-grown violence, the focus was on “root causes” viz., the psychological frustrations and grievances that lead to those explosions – such as broken homes, childhood abuse, etc.

“Root causes?” Nah, those are “conspiracy theories.” Remember that line, “there’s no justification for killing of innocent civilians?” Well, let’s apply it, and combat this home-grown terrorism the Israeli way, by bulldozing the suspect’s home, arresting his family members and building an eight-metre high wall around his hometown.

Why not equip all the schools and workplaces in America with metal detectors, X-ray machines, CCTVs and finger-printing machines?

If the first step towards addressing a problem is to recognise that there is one, Woodward’s “State of Denial” is one step in that direction.

Exactly like the Vietnam war and the Watergate scandal, many more pinprick leaks are set to emerge, especially after the Bush administration fades from the scene, emboldening those who are watching the gradual erosion of American freedom and democracy but having to bide their time before “coming out.”

If the noble ideals of Islam – and indeed the noble ideals of Christianity, Hinduism and Judaism – have been hijacked by each of their own home-grown extremists, fanatics and fundamentalists, exactly the same applies to those much more dangerous men and women occupying the seats of power in Washington DC.

Good WILL triumph over evil. But evil is not going to go down without a fight, unfortunately claiming many victims along the way.

Last week, a Johns Hopkins study estimated that “as of July 2006, there have been 654,965 excess Iraqi deaths as a consequence of the war,” equivalent to about 2.5% of the total Iraqi population, with an average of nearly 500 unexpected violent deaths per day.

All for the sake of “freedom and democracy”. Of course, it’s the stupid Iraqis who just don’t know what’s good for them.