23 July 2011

A note on power, truth and their relative lifetimes

The worth of a statement is not necessarily associated with its truth-value.  Truth does stand on its own, but very often by the time it is so recognized and even consecrated, a lot of water has already passed under the bridge. Blood-stained, we might add.

How many innocents have been slaughtered in the name of justice courtesy the death penalty? How many communities, cultures and languages have been obliterated from the face of the earth in the name of progress?  How many thousands are being rendered homeless, orphaned, widowed, limbless and distraught even as I write, all in the name of pursuing democracy and peace?
We all know that things are seldom as they seem. When the USA invaded Iraq, the excuse trotted out was ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’. Tommy rot, it turned out to be. Barack Obama’s Libyan testosterone-test was about no-fire zones and protecting civilians. Both Bush and Obama were cheered all the way by the mainstream media in the West. The cheering has not stopped.  Crimes against humanity are being perpetrated in gay abandon and with 100 per cent impunity. Truth, like justice, is slaughtered on the altar of expedience. This was how it was and this is how it is. There is no reason to believe it will not be so in the future.
It is all about power. Glen Ford in an article titled ‘African Union says ‘UP YOURS!’ to International Criminal Court’ (published on July 7, 2011 by Black Agenda Report), lays it all out. He talks of the US-led attack on Libya and how original reason has been left far behind and how the International Criminal Court appears to be half or almost totally blind when it comes to crimes against humanity perpetrated by the West, in particular the USA and the UK.  Israel too is a no-no as far as the ICC is concerned, one notes. The ICC does not see what the West is doing in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.
Ford tells us what the current AU Chairman, Jean Ping, had to say about Navaneethan Pillai, the UN Human Rights Commissioner, the lady with more than a soft spot for LTTE terrorists.  It is worth a full quote:
‘Without doubt, the International Criminal Court is as Eurocentric in its view of the world as are the governments in Paris, London and Washington. So is the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillai, who had the nerve to chastise China for ignoring the ICC indictment against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Bashir has travelled in Africa and the Middle East on state visits, and went to China for high level talks, last week. Navi Pillai, the Human Rights Commissioner, whined that she was disappointed with China for not arresting Bashir – although China, like the United States and Russia, is not a member of the International Criminal Court.
‘Nevertheless, Pillai showed herself to be a true servant of the West. “The whole world favours” putting Bashir on trial,” said the bureaucrat. Most of the continent of Africa does not want to put Bashir on trial. Isn't Africa part of the world? China does not want to put Bashir on trial. And one out of every five people in the world is Chinese!’
We haven’t heard Pillai calling for George W Bush’s arrest or for that matter the arrest of Barack Obama, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Nicolai Sarkozy or David Miliband. She hasn’t expressed regret or dismay that countries these gentlemen have visited had not arrested them.
Ping lays it out as thick as it deserves: ‘Pillai thinks the whole world revolves around Paris, London and Washington. So does ICC chief prosecutor Luis Morena Ocampo, who wants to deputize the United States military to enforce the criminal court's arrest warrants – regardless of what the African world or the Chinese world or anybody that is not European or American thinks. It's sad to say, but at this point in history, the UN serves the Empire.’

There is no such thing as unadulterated truth, ladies and gentlemen. Truth comes out of the barrel of a gun. It is something that strains out of power realities and relevant structures of approval and rejection.
The most important thing to remember is that truth does not win the day.  Power does. Truth wins. Later. It keeps us waiting, very often. In the long run, we are all dead, they say. In the long run, our children may be alive and if not, their children would. Time is longer than life, some Africans say. This is true. Time beats power. That’s small consolation for us of course. 

Civilizations, however, outlasts tyrant and idiot both. That’s why we are Sri Lanka, have been, are and will be. A bump along the road will trip the Obama’s, not a nation, a civilization and a culture.