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Metamorphosis of democracy
Syed Fattahul Alim

          America promised the world the moon when they were fighting their enemy on the Eastern front along with its Nato allies in the Cold War era. The promise was that the world will be a freer place once the Berlin wall was pulled down and the devil of socialism was killed. After the fall of the erstwhile Soviet Russia along with its Warsaw Pact allies there appeared on the horizon the old monster of terrorism in religious garb. So, again a new war became necessary to exorcise the world possessed by this spirit of terror born of religious fundamentalism. The Talebans of Afghanistan or Laden and his followers provided the Americans with the necessary ideological arsenal to start this yet new war. The war was on when Saddam with invisible Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) caught the imagination of the quixotic deliverers of the world from the new destroyers of western civilisation. But the irony is, the Taleban brand of fundamentalists in Afghanistan and the warlords there had received generous moral and material support from America when the erstwhile Soviet Union in the fag end of its power and influence had installed a pro-communist regime in Kabul. Similarly, before the Gulf War, Saddam, the possessor of WMD, was a darling of America as the he was then engaged in a war with the Islamic Iran under the Ayatollahs.
After the withdrawal of the Soviet army from Afghanistan it was with the West's, particularly the US's, blessing that the different varieties of fundamentalists and warlords and their coalitions ruled the country. The Talebans, too, were one of those variations. And during Iraq's eight-year war with neighbouring Iran, the US provided all the necessary support to Saddam. Being the enemy's enemy he was a friend of USA at that time. And the US government was so kind and considerate towards the Saddam regime of that time that it even looked the other away when one of US's warship with a large number of Marines on board was destroyed by an Iraqi missile in the Gulf. The USA was then too happy that Saddam had at least said sorry for the 'friendly' missile attack. The US government of that time did not also mind Saddam's use of WMD or chemical weapons against the Iranian civilians or the Kurd rebels in his own country. But what a twist of fate, the selfsame Saddam turned out to be the worst dictator and the enemy of democracy and whatever good that western civilisation stands for. Small wonder the Talebans in Afghanistan after a similar twist of fate became the worst enemy of mankind. And the abominable Laden and his al-Qaeda? Well, the world at large was completely unaware of this phenomenon until the US told it so. The outside world understands little what scores he or his organisation has to settle with the US and the West if one recalls the friendly past he once shared with them. It is again and again the same story of how a one-time good friend of the US in course of time turns into a werewolf. And once declared an enemy of the USA, the government or person so branded becomes the enemy of humanity. The masses of the people in USA, who enjoy the fruits of democracy in their own country, do not bother to think what a metamorphosis their sacred ideal called democracy undergoes once it crosses the Atlantic and enters the uncivilised territories of the Orient. Here democracy has other connotations for those people. The democracy that the Americans and Europeans enjoy is not the same as that proposed for the Iraqis or the Afghans. One can well have an inkling of that if one cares to look at the goings-on in Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib prison. Is the concept of human right, which is a corollary of democracy, same for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza as dictated by Israel? It is as if the convoluted postmodernist discourse of the reality is being enacted in real life, where everything has been turned inside out. One power move by the lone superpower on earth has, as it were, changed the entire grand narrative of the Enlightenment-the meanings of reason, liberty democracy and equality. It is then not surprising when some in the US administration called the sacking of Baghdad by the anarchists and looters a sign of a people revelling in their freshly won freedom! Then it is also not hard to imagine what this new version of democracy its American architects are designing in Iraq would be like?
It is time the Americano or Anglophiles of the Third World countries, who still believe that whatever their gurus in the West say is sacrosanct, change their views. The crocodile tears that the West used to shed so profusely for democracy, human rights and justice in the Cold War era is now a thing of past. As many friends of the US have metamorphosed into it enemies in the meanwhile so have many abstract concepts and values. One must either begin to understand this new shift in the vocabulary or paradigm or go to pot.
The exigencies of time have even changed the meanings of many emancipatory terms once held so dear. It is the rationale, if any, for the continued survival of the political behemoth, called superpower, that is dictating terms now. The concept of superpower has lost much of its meaning after the erstwhile two-some global polarisation of power has been reduced to a lonesome dispensation of things. But no power is of itself going to give itself up. Though time has already rendered the very concept of superpower anachronistic and hence redundant, the still looming presence of the lone superpower will continue to impose its own interpretation of things on the rest of the world. The Iraqis or the Afghans, to all intents and purposes, are not willing to accept this meaning of peace, freedom and democracy. So they are fighting tooth and nail against such freedom imposed from outside. The Americans might have conveniently forgotten that the Afghans in the past had in a similar fashion opposed the Soviet version of revolution and freedom imposed on them, an attempt the West would at that time term as export of revolution. But what about exported democracy? Why should then those fighting against this imposed version of freedom or democracy in Iraq be termed as terrorists?


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