Saturday, 1 October 2011

Terror Takes Two To Tango

I have no sympathy for terrorists. In fact, as an Indian, I consider Americans to be johnny-come-latelies to the anti-terrorism party. We in India knew of terror first-hand decades before 9/11, so it's amusing at one level to see how quickly Americans developed a sense of outrage at terrorism once it started to be directed at them. Till that point, Indians were being lectured on patience and restraint, and told to sit down and talk to the sponsors of terror to "resolve differences".

Yeah, we did see a lot of sitting down and talking between the US and Al Qaeda right after 9/11, didn't we?

In fact, after 9/11, we began to hear new vocabulary and new concepts. It was OK to detain people without trial because they were "enemy combatants". Er, wasn't there something called the Geneva Convention that specifically addressed the rights of enemy combatants? No worries there, no less a person than the US Vice-President (Dick Cheney) informed us that waterboarding was not torture. And if you were talking about real torture, that was called "enhanced interrogation" and outsourced to authoritarian allies like Hosni Mubarak's Egypt, because that wasn't something the US did. But then Abu Ghraib entered our vocabulary as well, letting us know exactly how the US itself treated its prisoners. The name didn't quite rhyme with My Lai, but there was a definite resonance.

This week, it appears American hypocrisy has reached new levels.

The radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki has been killed, and it appears that a Justice Department memo authorised his killing. We don't know for sure that Anwar al-Awlaki actually plotted any terror attacks, because State Secrets privilege was reportedly used to keep all discussion of his targetting out of the courts and out of the public eye. Sure, he preached hatred and terror, but one could argue that as an American citizen (he was born in the US) he was just exercising his First Amendment right to free speech. Hate speech is actually protected in the US, as Neo-Nazis are smugly aware.

So how is the Justice Department memo any different from a fatwa, and how is this killing any different from an assassination?

Again, let me repeat that I have no sympathy for a jihadist, because my country of birth has suffered from the effects of a jihadist philosophy from the eleventh century. I'm just pointing out that Western countries lecture others on human rights, the rule of law and due process, so what's happening here? I guess it all just means that when the chips are down, all pretence of being civilised is discarded, and it's the law of the jungle once more.

What a bunch of creeps all around, eh?

However, as they say, the wheels of God grind slow, but they grind exceedingly fine.

Now the news every day revolves around how the US is slowly turning on a country that it more and more reluctantly refers to as an ally. Call it nemesis or call it karma, decades of terror directed at India are finally receiving payback from another direction, and that's usually the way things work in this world.

And so, while the US and Pakistan are circling each other, snarling and spitting, Indians are minding their business with a studied indifference, biting their lips hard to suppress a grin. Don't look now, but doesn't that couple look absolutely made for each other?

That's some memo from that Justice Department in the sky!

Post a Comment