02 April 2014

Brats do become ‘elders’ by and by

These are times of 'experts'.  These are times of name-dropping and name-calling.  These are times when pretty sick people are hailed as benefactors of humankind.  These are times when principles of natural justice are routinely rubbished.  These are times when people sit in judgment and pronounce verdict.  These are the very times, then, that people should exercise vigilance, dive beneath surfaces, dissect claims and examine sources.  The following was written about three years ago. Maybe 'these times' have always been with us. All the more reason to revisit.

We all know that death is inevitable.  Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino, the Philippine Senator murdered at the Manila International Airport upon returning home from exile in the United States, an assassination that catapulted his wife Corazon to the Presidency following the overthrow of Ferdinand Marcos, put it nicely: ‘Each moment following our birth we move closer to death; what a paradox, living is dying’. 

Living/dying is a process of decay, this we know.  Jathi (birth), jaraa (decay) and marana (death) is the ultimate process of equalization, of all beings and all things, including ideas.  This is why when we look at an infant, we could imagine the old man trapped within him/her, and when we look at the aged, see a young person, a teenager, a child and an infant.  The elderly, then, were at some point infants, at some point even brats.  

I am thinking of ‘an elder’ right now.  His name is Martti Ahtisaari, Nobel Laureate and former President of Finland.  He is an ‘Elder’, i.e. a member of the club that has tried to rap Sri Lanka’s knuckles (while looking the other way when the USA and its allies use knuckle dusters to pummel decency, civilization, culture etc., not to mention millions of innocent people into dust, literally).

Ahtisaari is hailed as ‘peace maker’.  He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize largely on account of his role in the ‘diplomatic’ end to NATO’s 1999 war against Yugoslavia.  Ahtisaari’s claim to greatness however is not related to ‘peace’ but the imposition of a ‘peace’ preferred by key players in the conflict. NATO wanted ‘an independent Kosovo’ and Ahtisaari delivered this.  Sad to say, all things considered, there is nothing to celebrate in what he did.

Ahtisaari’s ‘achievement’ did not fall from the sky.  Before he entered the equation, NATO had bombed Yugoslavia to no avail.  The Yugoslav troops had emerged unscathed despite US General Wesley Clark having got ‘the maximum violence’ he had demanded.   Sustained terror bombing saw purely residential areas flattened; cluster bombs struck hospitals, schools, apartment complexes, factories, bridges and office buildings.  Ahtisaari’s task was to articulate NATO’s final terms to President Milosevic.  This is how the drama unfolded.

Ahtisaari set the stage with the conclusive, ‘we are not here to discuss or negotiate’.  Apparently Milosevic had asked about the possibility of modifying the ‘plan’.  After reading ‘the plan’, he had asked, ‘what will happen if I do not sign’. 

Ahtisaari had made a gesture on the table and then moved aside the flower centerpiece: ‘Belgrade will be like this table; we will immediately begin carpet-bombing Belgrade’.  He had repeated the gesture; that of sweeping everything off the table: ‘This is what we will do to Belgrade’.  By way of driving home the point, he added, for good measure, ‘There will be half a million dead within a week’.

The rest, as they say, is history. NATO violated this ‘peace’ agreement, allowing the Kosovo Liberation Army to go on a rampage, looting and burning houses, murdering and expelling thousands of Serbs, Roma, Turks, Slavic Muslims, Gorans, Egyptians, Croats and pro-Yugoslav Albanians.  Even after NATO troops entered Kosovo, they engaged in thumb-twiddling, letting the KLA run riot.   
Ahtisaari’s elevation to ‘peace-maker’ and Nobel Laureate, then, appears as minutely scripted as the monumental crimes against humanity that NATO perpetrated in Yugoslavia.  Today, this butchery-advocating and butchery-facilitating thug is an ‘Elder’. He gets his name read out in the same breath as that of Nelson Mandela.  ‘Mandela pau machang’ (pity Mandela!) someone said.  

If this is how brats become elders, then there’s something really wrong about the world.  It is far better to grow onions or something and not be conferred with titles.   

Ahtisaari won’t do much with the bunch of confused and clearly ill-informed old people calling themselves ‘The Elders’, no disrespect intended of course.  It is good to know that peace making is a business and is scripted to deliver particular outcomes. 

Don’t take my word for it. Read Gregory Elich’s ‘Strange Liberators: Militarism, Mayhem and the Pursuit of Profit’. 

We are all born, we age and we perish.  We are different only in the place of birth, the pathways towards death and the location where we give the earth our final sigh.  There are many ways to travel, many ways of being ‘brats’ and many ways to be ‘elderly’.  If Ahtisaari is an exemplary ‘elder’, I think I would plan to grow onions in my last years.  And I believe I would remain in constant wonderment at how people like Desmond Tutu found novel ways of insulting Nelson Mandela (by inducting into a club he, Mandela, founded a butcher like Ahtisaari).  Indeed, I am beginning to wonder about Nelson himself. 



Sum said...

'Problem- Reaction-Solution' method of international interventions

surprisingly/not the Problem and Solution both comes from the 'Elder' likes...