Of puppets and pawns

Western world breaching responsibility by picking and choosing which Arab unrest to quell and which to ignore?


Saleha Riaz May 03, 2011

Back in June 2010, when I had read about the Pentagon discovering minerals in Afghanistan worth trillions of dollars, I had written an angry blog about how this was why the Americans were in Afghanistan, assuming that they must have known all along. Freedom, shreedom. What country wants to spend billions on a far away country unless they know they’re going to make trillions in return? Why couldn’t the US go back to its days of isolationism? But later, I felt I had let emotion and bias get the better of me, unforgivable traits for an aspiring journalist.

And yet here I am, with a sense of déjà vu, after I read that, when Britain and Italy’s embassies along with the UN offices in Tripoli were attacked — in response to the killing of Qaddafi’s son and grandchildren in an allied air strike  — the UK foreign secretary said that “the Vienna Convention requires the Qaddafi regime to protect diplomatic missions in Tripoli," and that “the regime has once again breached its international responsibilities”.

Well, Mr foreign secretary, are you and the rest of the western world not breaching international responsibilities by picking and choosing which Arab unrest you wish to quell and which you choose to ignore? Was it internationally responsible of you to kill those children?

I’m not saying a dictatorship is the way to go, and I’m not saying democracy isn’t the best system around, but it does have an inherent flaw that needs to be accepted — that people vote other people into power and the latter, for the sake of that power, will say and do anything. And while no one is denying that if politicians don’t deliver they won’t be voted into power in the next elections, what if the damage done by them during their tenure is irreversible? If religion, the so-called opium of the masses, can be misused to drug the masses into submission, can democracy become the opium of the elite?

Furthermore, should the UN be allowed to sanction intervention? The League of Nations, its predecessor, infamously failed to prevent WW2, and the UN is failing to prevent the chaos we see today. Its rules appear to apply only to ‘small’ countries, whereas ‘big’ countries do as they please — case in point: The US and the UK’s decision to attack Iraq because of Weapons of Mass Destruction (which do not exist) even though the UN was against this. Point to note: The greatest revolution we know, which took place back in 1789, overthrew its cake-eating monarchy without international intervention. (Speaking of eating cake, about a month back the president of the New York Federal Reserve was explaining to the citizens of Queens, N.Y., why they shouldn't worry about inflation: “Today you can buy an iPad 2 that costs the same as an iPad 1, that is twice as powerful. You have to look at the prices of all things,” when someone in the audience said: “I can’t eat an iPad.” Ah, irony. Wasn’t it a Frenchman who said the more things change, the more they stay the same?)

Just like democracy, the UN, while great on paper, has its flaws. Should we be content with where they currently stand?

The night after I wrote this article came the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death. Half asleep, I thought, have they finally got what they wanted? Is there really reason to celebrate? Wait, why are they showing pictures of the World Trade Centre, wasn’t it Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who masterminded 9/11? Hang on, buried at sea?

Am I the only one who feels that we are pawns, waiting for someone to move us around the chessboard as and when they please, knowing that neither side will be saying checkmate any time soon?

Perhaps we should be worried. Or perhaps this Facebook status holds the key to making it through another day of this madness: “They killed Osama. Cry cry laugh laugh win win lose lose boohoo. Okay anyway, so has anyone noticed that Hollywood is literally JUST making remakes and superhero movies?”

Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2011.

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COMMENTS (25)

Rubab A Zaidi | 10 years ago | Reply Very well-written!!! Loved your sarcasm and disbelief ! Keep it up!!
Saad Durrani | 10 years ago | Reply @Rizwan: It seems that you have not read the blogs section of this website. It is a beautiful journey. I think as an LSE graduate, she did a very fine job. She spoke with the voice of the common people in Pakistan.
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