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December 24, 2015

Incorrect assumptions


December 24, 2015

Notwithstanding massive breakthroughs in science, predicting the future remains a fantastic but impossible dream to realise. The human mind is prone to making errors in judgement as a result of its inherent limitations.

Trends and patterns may take a different turn over time. And, above all, the causal ambiguity underlying the social phenomena is difficult to unravel.

All this is especially true in the case of wars. At the heart of a typical war lies a sizeable volume of ignorance of the facts on the ground, arrogance of power, greed for more, and nostalgia. In the case of Iraq, the US went berserk and now the world has to learn to live with the new Middle East where chaos reigns and uncertainty haunts.

Every stakeholder has his own approach to the problem and everyone tries to earn as much as possible at low cost. But the rules of global politics are dictated by power, not justice.

Let’s illustrate this with an interesting parable. Once upon a time a lion, a wolf, and a fox formed a strategic alliance to hunt together with clear definition of roles. One day, they conducted a joint operation and brought home a cow, a sheep, and a hen in prey. The lion asked the wolf for equitable distribution of the game. As common sense demanded, the wolf presented the cow with all necessary protocols to the lion, reserved the sheep for himself, and pushed the hen towards the fox.

The king was extremely displeased by this distribution. With a single blow, the wolf found himself down in a deep stream and breathed his last without knowing the reason for having been killed. After a while, the lion asked his second partner, the fox, to distribute the game. The fox, being known for ‘shrewdness’, offered himself first to be eaten up followed by the hunted animals. The lion expressed his extreme pleasure and spared the fox. The fox had actually learnt a lasting lesson from the wolf.

The US does not believe in equality of humanity and sovereignty of states. With its technological reach and economic prowess, it bends every international law to its advantage. That is sheer arrogance.

Coupled with arrogance, it was sheer stupidity on the part of the US government to remove rulers without a post-war strategy for reconciliation and reconstruction. The war itself was launched on erroneous assumptions, concocted intelligence, and flawed arguments.

The most dangerous assumption happened to be the effectiveness of regime change without social fallout. Bush-Blair assumed that order would emerge from chaos over time and the Iraqis would not have any problem in accepting the new order. The strong man, who had somehow kept Iraq integrated and stable, was forced out, arrested in humiliation, and hanged. One does not have any love lost for Saddam but the way he was removed and executed made him into a martyr and an icon of resistance.

Isis is said to be a conglomerate of different disgruntled and deprived elements – most of them offshoots of misguided US policies. The Iraq army was dismantled, public servants with Baathist leanings were removed, and Sunni Muslims were particularly kept out from influential political positions in addition to the humiliating treatment of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib Jail.

This created the perfect conditions for civil war and the subsequent emergence of Isis. Now hardly anyone looks at the background of terror-related incidents that take place in Europe, Asia, and America.

No one can and should justify violence in the name of religion but what is happening in Iraq and Syria has more to do with political economy than religion. Unless the US is stopped from meddling in the internal affairs of other states in the name of democracy and human rights, it will be hard to usher in any durable peace in the world. At present, China presents a good model of international engagement.

Instead of following a win-lose strategy, which breeds and nurtures conflicts, the US should adjust itself with the new world which believes in multilateralism and cooperation if it wants to remain a relevant force for good.

The writer teaches at FAST-NU, Peshawar.

Email: [email protected]

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