Thursday, 7 April 2016

The bedrock of integration includes language, food and clothing

Molenbeek's gangster jihadis ran a BBC news item on its website. While it captures in essence the genesis of terrorism in Europe, it missed out on the message. Neither have the wounds of the 1st or 2nd World Wars healed, nor have the arbitrary imposition of borders by colonial powers been effective. Obviously George Trevelyan’s “those who forget history are condemned to repeat it”, is all the more significant.

Indeed it’s a global village we live in. The consequences of our actions do not have to necessarily be played out in a longitudinally opposite part of the world, or for that matter in the near term, it can mirror our thinking and misdeeds as some mischief mongering states of the West have triggered in peaceful, prosperous Europe.

Regime change did not work for US forces in the Middle East; much less will it work for Britain with its disembowelled political worldview and an undemocratic backing of Arab Spring overseas. Arab Spring was the launch pad of the Syrian civil war and it has only ended up creating millions of refugees burdening Europe’s economic powerhouse – Germany. UK’s vain attempts at rocking a unipolar world for its own  neo colonial ambitions has burdened Europe with a Middle Eastern socio economic invasion which threatens the political foundations of Liberty, Equality and Solidarity.

Why doesn’t Britain learn from the mistake committed by the US in its endeavour of seeking regime change? UK’s national power – neither economically nor militarily can support Arab Spring’s fruition of democratic goals and aspirations in the Arab world.

US President Obama’s veiled criticism of UK’s foreign policy misadventures which sought regime change in Syria, and Britain’s Euro-scepticism mirrors the US’s lessons learnt and political maturity. A US led “illegal invasion” of Iraq in 2003 according to former UNSG Kofi Annan that sought and effected regime change was undone by President Obama to some extent.

But the cancerous legacies of war mongering in the Middle East is not letting the US withdraw gracefully or to close the door on the Middle East chapter of US history.

Former President of US George Bush’s “War on Terror”, much as it was sorely needed, lacked political strategy and ended up as recruitment fields for spawning and cloning terrorist cells world over: today no country is spared the hazard of terrorism. ISIS is the result of US’s lack of political strategy in the second Gulf War. The violent dispensation of ISIS will dig its own grave. But how long that transition will last and at what human cost is what causes concerns.

In contrast, after the unfortunate and utterly condemnable November 13 2015 Paris attacks, French President Francois Hollande affirmed his commitment to eradication of terrorism and sought political and UN support, not faulting on military aggression without the UN’s resolution.

Withdrawal of US troops in Iraq did leave a political vacuum accounting for the rise of IS, but it paved the way for administration and security in the hands of Iraqi nationals albeit fraught with risk of violence in the short term. Iraqi forces have started recapturing IS held territories like Mosul; here’s hoping that the re-establishment of Iraqi sovereignty will not have bloody consequences within or without Iraq.  

The fratricidal wars in the Middle East centred on Oil politics and mismanagement of resources coupled with dictatorships have ruined the backbone of Arabian societies...  Societies that nevertheless need strong leadership to sustain. Strong leadership and centralised administration is often confused in the Arab Nation for dictatorship much to the chagrin of the UK. 

An interesting opinion piece in the Washington Post syndicated on the website of NDTV highlights what is the challenge for Europe and begs the question what is left of and for NATO?

Political statesmanship that commits to the electorate - rural economic development, livelihood and food security, a higher human development quotient, water, sanitation, health care, environmental conservation and education – mysteriously missing in prosperous Gulf States - is the sure fire formula for eradication of terrorism because development strides on inclusive growth heightening national power internationally.

Economic infrastructure and economic progress will follow. It is enough of a challenge for any incumbent government anywhere in the world. Unnecessary meddling in foreign countries - that too without a UN mandate - is utterly uncalled for, for any country.

Mitigating internal conflict nevertheless needs political statesmanship, for it is the best way to contain spawning terrorism. Immigrants on their part must “integrate” more effectively.

Integration on counts of clothing, language and food is quintessential to inclusive growth and progress. Food and clothing are indeed agro-meteorological foundation stones for integration. Universal integration is also the bedrock of collective psychological healing of the wounds wrought by the bloody wars of the 20th century.

The BBC report highlights another grave lacuna… European jihadis are leaving peaceful Europe for the battle fronts of Syria because they are disgusted and disillusioned with the noveau riche classes and castes of Europe.

It’s a case of my enemy’s enemy is your friend as Turkish President Erdogan’s remark clearly highlights. Erdogan mentioned that the Brussels bomber Brahim el-Bakraoui was referred to in Turkish intelligence inputs but it was not acted upon by Belgium.

Universal peace initiative needs defence forces to unite against terrorism, not against other countries. Thus countries must stop fighting against each other and instead unite to defeat terrorism… achieving this economically is even more difficult than with weapons.

That was the one credible point former US President George W Bush tried to make but was lost in the emotional tirade post 9/ 11. There are also all kinds of natural and man-made disasters to fight against unitedly.

Here Gandhi’s worldview without violence – Ahimsa - is most relevant weapon in today’s terrorism-torn world.

Malini Shankar

The author is a photojournalist, radio broadcaster, blogger author and documentary filmmaker based in Bangalore, India. 

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