14 September 2012

The wages of believing one’s own lies

Eleven years ago, when the World Trade Centre, NY, the White House and the Pentagon were subjected to multiple attacks, the world was shocked.  Americans of the United States were shocked beyond belief.  World-shock was probably prompted by two things.  First, the audacity of the attack and the tragedy it produced, and secondly on account of the unthinkable having happened; the US was supposed to be invincible or that is the impression that Washington-based media-spin industry had created. 

When the shock abated, as often happens, sympathy for victim was laced with the whispered expression, ‘just deserts’.  People talked of cocks coming home to roost, of what went around coming around.  The ‘shock’ felt by the USA was quickly replaced by belligerence, revenge-intent and unbridled racism.  Nothing went from the people of Iraq or those of Afghanistan, but they were bombed into the Middle Ages. In the name of justice and democracy. 
Then came the turn of the Middle East and the now infamous ‘Arab Spring’ which, after a few hopeful months, settled into an unending winter of discontent.  The USA instigated rebellion.  Rebels were armed.  Al Qaeda operatives in these countries suddenly became bosom buddies.  The USA, as a nation, cheered when the Libyan leader was murdered in cold blood. 

And two days ago, the US Ambassador to Libya, J Christopher Stevens, was killed in an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi.  It is reported that unidentified armed men had stormed the grounds overnight amid uproar among Muslims over a US-produced film said to insult Prophet Muhammed. 
Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State is upset, naturally.  She says ‘many Americans (sic) are asking how such an attack could have happened in a country America (sic) had helped to liberate’.  The answer lies perhaps in a shocking inability to extricate oneself from the lies one propagates.  Propaganda is an inevitable part of politics, but it remains something that comes in the ‘overstatement’ column.  It is about inflation.  It tweaks or (in most cases) exaggerates the dimensions of truth.  The astute politician will see it as tool but will not believe his/her own lie.

There is a reason why the world understood 9/11 and understood it differently from the way the US chose to read it.  There is a reason why the world understands this horrific act that took the life of Stevens, even though the world will not approve. 
The USA must wake up from its drunken imperialist stupor.  Clinton and Obama and any others who may want to be President and/or Secretary of State in that country must understand that the world is not fooled by media spin.  They must understand that if they continue to operate in the manner they have, where queries about crimes against humanity are brushed aside with ‘don’t ask me that question’ or ‘we are executing a plan’ or some such nonsense, no Ambassador or US representative anywhere in the world is safe.  Steven is a victim of US foreign policy in the first instance and secondly that of a mob attack.  Mobs, Clinton should also understand, are made not just by fanatics but by those who stoke the fires of fanaticism by their own brand of religious intolerance. 

The USA is not a tolerant nation.  In the mad rush to ‘Save the USA from terrorism’, her leaders have forgotten that fostering terrorism has been a longtime strategy of containment and that terrorism is a preferred and frequently used fighting option (from Hiroshima/Nagasaki through CIA-led assassination to the drone attacks in Afghanistan).  The world is no less safe.  And no one is less safe than Americans (of the US) abroad.  J Christopher Stevens’ death testifies to this.  Clinton must understand.