Friday, August 12, 2005

Point of View - Topsy Turvy

6th & 9th August. As if to commemorate 6o years of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings were not enough, two of my friends decided to turn 30 on 6th & 9th respectively. Though - bombs they are not, bombshell may be a good description ( I am their friend, therefore possibly kinder to them than the years).

Sitting here in Den Bosch it was difficult to partake of the 30th birthday festivities in New York and Stoke respectively, hopefully I will get to meet them both in person in the next month or so to make good for the missed merriment.

As i grow older, and i do unfortunately, something that always strikes me as odd is my world view. As an adult, i think one of the most terrible human tragedies ever- has to be the US bombing of H&N. Watching some of the survivors and their maimed progeny on television, is enough to offer a brief glimpse into the catastrophic event.

It's funny though, how most of the text books in school and college completely obliterate this fact. They merely announce it as the end of the war in the Pacific and the death of Japanese imperialism. Americans = Good, and Japanese = Bad. In later years, as a student of political science, one of the different insights i had to this was not through the eyes of my jaded professors, but in fact Gar Alperovitz's then new book - 'The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb'. Over time many conspiracy theories have emerged as to the "real reasons" for the bombing such as an attempt by the US to limit Soviet expansion in Asia. But Harry Truman & his cronies were not war criminals, oh no. Well you may argue, hindsight is 20 20 , and Truman was justified.

Onto some more flip flop history. Recently I was watching King Fahd's funeral on CNN. (Don't ask me why, probably just curious about the middle east equations, and the Saudis). Expecting to find a resplendent funeral for the King, given a flamboyant royal family, I was sorely disappointed. It was an ugly, hideously overcrowded, ill managed and most importantly, ordinary funeral i had ever seen. I guess simplicity has its virtues, but this ceremony called to mind the origin of the term Barbaric, ascribed to the Arabs(Berber) by the Greeks.

Of course, the most amusing thing about the telecast had to be Octavia Nasr, CNN' s senior editor for Arab affairs. It was quite fascinating to watch her defending the non inclusion of foreigners (read - non islamic foreigners), and more importantly women, in the entire proceedings. Unless you count the footage of Dubya hugging the now king , Abdullah, a few months ago in the US, which was quite entertaining as well. Bet some of the warmth in that hug was lit by Saudi oil. Anybody interested in women's rights and public beheadings?

I would be the last person to defend some of the perpetrators of violence. I too was terrorised by 9/11, the Mumbai bombings of '93 and the recent 7/7 attacks, just like you. Yes, Hitler was an inhumane demon, the Japanese army savage and Saddam, not the most likeable of dictators. Ask the Kurds. But every now and then , there is the story of the odd German who shielded their Jewish friends. The Japanese boy who was born without ear lobes, and a nose but bears no ill will towards those that did this. I can personally vouch for a secular and westernised Iraq, one where we celebrated Durga Puja, diwali and christmas.Where attractive women roamed the streets, sans head scarves, in short skirts just like their counterparts in civilised parts of the westernised world, unlike their ilk in neighbouring Iran, or Saudi.What I am trying to say is - evil leaders don't necessarily equate evil citizens.

But what does that render Truman, Dubya and his dad? Defenders of the ark against terrible terrorists or greedy, self important mercenaries? If you really must fight terrorists, Messrs Bush, try Niger.
For a change - you may actually save some lives.

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