IF President George Bush attacked Iraq in conjunction with his friend and ally British Prime Minister Tony Blair as part of his war on terror, he must now confess that instead of containing terrorism he has actually converted that unfortunate country into a fertile breeding ground of terrorists. I have used the word 'if' and please don't be amazed at its use because Mr. Bush is known to have cited varied grounds at various occasions as his reason for invading Iraq with awfully lethal weapons, manufactured by the sophisticated military industrial complex of Texas, the US state whose Governor he was prior to his advent to the white house as the world's mightiest man as President of the lone surviving super-power. One does not really know whether Bush would stick to his latest justification of the war in Iraq as being part of his effort to knock out terrorism from the face of the earth. Only the future - when time grants enough perspectives to events - will tell whether Bush's war hysteria was provoked by a genuine urge to wipe out terrorism or a strong desire to feed the burgeoning military industrial complex of his native state with better business.
Whatever President Bush and his allies may claim, the current situation in Iraq is far from normal. Rather it is increasingly becoming more chaotic and dangerous for the non-combatant Iraqis and the allied forces as days pass by. Some American soldiers are getting killed almost every alternate day in ambush or way-laid traps by the Iraqis opposed to the US military presence, call them guerrilla or rebels or whatever. One may ignore the killing of numerous Iraqis by the allied forces in this continuing war, declared to have ended long ago, as their lives do not seem to count to Mr. Bush and his friend Tony Blair. But the killing of the American soldiers who are our brothers and sisters, as fellow human beings, bothers me. Already more than 2300 US soldiers are reported to have been killed and more than 60000 wounded in fierce conflicts with the combatant Iraqis. God alone knows how many more may have to die before durable peace returned to this arid land, which hardly ever tolerated foreign occupation. It's no longer the Sunnis alone, usually branded as pro-Saddam activists, who are confronting the allied forces led by the Americans with arms. Iraqi Shias, loyal to Shia religious leader Moqtada Sadr who had previously opposed the presence of allied forces in his country and was then temporarily passive, have once again taken up arms against the occupying forces. It seems that more gates of hell are being opened.
"In the footsteps of great leaders, we hear the rolling thunders of history", wrote former republican US President Richard Nixon in his book "Leaders". Nixon was partly guilty of intensifying the Vietnam war which he had inherited. Of course, he later hurriedly withdrew the American soldiers from Vietnam after arriving at the Paris peace accord, which won his secretary of state Henry Kissinger the Nobel Peace Prize along with Lee Duc Thu of Vietnam, the two men who negotiated the accord. Even westerners joke that it's an accord that never held. President George Bush, also a republican, seems to be a distant able successor of Nixon who had the ignominy of bowing out of office with the blame for the Watergate scandal on his head. Bush has been subjecting the world to thunder bolts with his heavy footsteps to acquire a lasting place in history. One cannot say right now whether or not his secretary of state Condoleezza Rice will also win a Nobel Peace Prize together with an Iraqi in future. But you can be pretty sure that a future secretary of state will.
Criticising his foreign policy, former US President Bill Clinton publicly accused Bush of alienating the world instead of uniting it although he has not ever been hard on Bush for his Iraq policy. Perhaps Clinton will privately say on Iraq war exactly what many conscientious men and women have argued across the world. Former British foreign secretary Robin Cook, who died after a fatal fall from a steep hill in Scotland, had resigned from Tony Blair's government to record his opposition to the Iraq war. Anti-war demonstrations took place in the United States and Britain wholly at the initiative of local people prior to invasion of the country. It is now widely apprehended that Bush's war of words against neighbouring Iran may turn into a war of actions if Teheran proceeds defiantly in spite of likely UN sanctions against it with its nuclear programme. If Iran is invaded, the battle field for the Americans and their allies will spread unmanageably beyond that country bringing almost the entire Iraqi Shias alongside the Sunnis to confront them. Lebanon where there are pro-Iran Hizbullahas, will become restive along with most of the Palestinians having genuine grievances against the United States. Syria may not rest either as it will apprehend from clues dropped earlier by Bush himself that after Iran it will be its turn to face an American onslaught. Should the world become an inferno for mankind?
President George Bush is known to be an MBA. But he seems to be mismanaging the US world affairs and through it the whole world. Has Tony Blair, a barrister, lost his knowledge of logic? Both of them may revisit Shakespeare to acquire the essential wisdom for conducting the nations foreign policies prudently to let the world progress steadily towards mankind's cherished goals of unhindered peace, prosperity and justice. In Shakespeare's "Merchant of Venice" while explaining to Solarino why he insisted on a pound of flesh of Antonio, Shylock said, " He hath disgraced me, and hindered me half a million; laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated my enemies; and what's reason? I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility ? revenge; if a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge. The villany you teach me, I will execute; and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction".
May I pray to both these leaders to please draw wisdom from these unforgettable sentences from Shakespeare as much of the future of mankind hinges on how they approach the world affairs now.