In a speech focusing on the terrorist attack in Mumbai, the British Foreign Secretary, Mr. David Miliband, asserted that the idea of "war on terror" is "misleading and mistaken". In a concurrent article that appeared in the Guardian, Mr.Miliband repeated this assertion, and then, more. Shorn of the usual platitudes that one expects these days from liberals and appeasers from around the world strictures against targeting minorities when combating terrorism, ‘an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind’, etc. there are still a couple of things in the speech that I find worth blogging.
The "war on terror" also implied that the correct response was primarily military. But as General Petraeus said to me and others in Iraq, the coalition there could not kill its way out of the problems of insurgency and civil strife... We must respond to terrorism by championing the rule of law, not subordinating it, for it is the cornerstone of the democratic society. [emphasis mine]
Diplomats are known to select the words they use carefully. Nuances are exploited fully, both to illuminate and obfuscate the ideas that are communicated. Note that Mr. Miliband stops with championing the rule of law. Why not champion democracy, of which the rule of law is but only a cornerstone? A lame attempt to distance oneself from a lame-duck president?
Not withstanding Mr. Miliband's hesitation on democracy, championing the rule of law looks like a reasonable proposition. I don't, however, believe that "championing the rule of law" is the exclusive domain of the good guys here. The bad guys the terrorists are also campaigning for the rule of law. Only, the rule of law that they champion is quite distinct from what the good guys think is the rule of law.
Whose rule of law should prevail? A theocratic constitution that proclaims a state religion, subordinating the former to the latter, or a secular constitution? Should it be the Indian Penal Code or the Shariat, that determines the punishment for crimes? What constitutes a crime and what does not? Should criticism of the alleged gods and their messengers be deemed a crime? Would you prefer that adultery be punishable by stoning to death, or be valid grounds for a divorce? What if the law, not only condoned terrorizing and killing the infidels, but also mandated it as the cardinal duty of the believers? Such details are, of course, beyond the pale of diplomatic prevarication and political correctness.
Let's ignore the effeteness of Mr. Miliband's proposal to champion the rule of law. How precisely does he intend to go about implementing it? The magic word is "cooperation".
... on my [Mr. Miliband's] visit to south Asia this week, I am arguing that the best antidote to the terrorist threat in the long term is cooperation. Although I understand the current difficulties, resolution of the dispute over Kashmir would help deny extremists in the region one of their main calls to arms, and allow Pakistani authorities to focus more effectively on tackling the threat on their western borders.
It is interesting that the above proposal on Kashmir appeared in the Guardian article, but was not mentioned in Mr. Miliband's speech in Mumbai, a day later. Did Mr. Miliband change his mind in-flight to India, or is it yet another example of diplomatic double talk, bearing in mind the sensitivities of the audience at hand?
To his credit, Mr. Miliband recognizes that cooperation may not amount to much in a Hawk-Dove game, as it may in a Prisoners' Dilemma. What should India do if the terrorists refused to voluntarily convert to Ahimsa [non-violence]? It should yield Kashmir to the Sharia hawks, Mr. Miliband declares in carefully camouflaged phrases, and the rest of India will live in peace and harmony ever after. How naive can a Foreign Secretary of a permanent member of thw UN Security Council be?
Mr. Miliband's fellow citizen, Ghiyasuddin Siddiqui, leader of the Muslim Parliament in Britain, said this of his religion:
... Islam does have an ideology which is very deep-rooted separatist and isolationist, based on the belief that unless jehadis fight against non-believers, their mission is not complete. This is sheer madness, and the time has come for the Muslim community to come out and confront these ideas on a religious and theological basis.
The linkage between Quran and the Caliphate is undisputed in the Islamist circles. An attack on the Caliphate is considered an attack on Islam. And, a revival of the old Caliphate is considered a great leap forward for Islam in its mission to conquer the world. Witness the events during the Khilafat movement in India in 1920. A mere rumor that the Caliphate has been restored with its capital in Delhi, was enough to cause the Muslims to erupt in violence, setting the path to the Moplah Massacre of Hindus in Kerala. Madame Annie Besant remarked on this:
They [Moplahs] murdered and plundered abundantly, and killed or drove away all Hindus who would not apostatise. Somewhere about a lakh (100,000) of people were driven from their homes with nothing but their clothes they had on, stripped of everything… Malabar has taught us what Islamic rule still means, and we do not want to see another specimen of the Khilafat Raj in India.In the twenty-first century, the Islamic Republic of Iran has emerged as the self-proclaimed torch-bearer for a global caliphate. As recently as January 9, speaking in Kabul, Iranian President Ahmadinejad has this to say on jehad:
"There is no truth on earth but monotheism and following tenets of Islam and there is no way for salvation of mankind but rule of Islam over mankind" said Ahmadinejad in a meeting with Afghan Sunni and Shiite ulama at Iranian Embassy in Kabul. He said that the world is on verge of a great upheaval and ulama at this juncture shoulder a heavy responsibility that is introducing genuine Islam as it is. "Nations today have no haven but religion," the Iranian president announced, cautioning Muslim nations against enemies' divisive plots. He said, "All of us have the duty to resist the enemy by closing our ranks."
For anyone who is willing to take off their blinkers of appeasement, it's unmistakable who is the enemy that Mr. Ahmadinejad is referring to. And, it's amply clear that the terrorists are not about to lay down their bombs because Mr. Miliband and his ilk plea for cooperation. AlQaeda, Hamas, Jemaah Islamiyah, Lashkar e Taiba, or whatever they choose to call themselves depending on the time of day and place, will not end terrorism until the entire world is brought under the rule of law. Their rule of law.
Rule of law is a necessary condition for democracy, but it is not sufficient. If it is, every Islamic Republic or Kingdom Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia... where the Shariat rules, will be a democracy. It is not. It's the phrase, "championing the rule of law", which is misleading, and mistaken. Not the phrase "war on terror", which is quite clear about what its intentions are.
UpdateTaking the cue from Mr. Miliband, the chairman of the Hurriyat, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, has declared that the dream of peace in the sub-continent will remain just that until the Kashmir issue was resolved according to "the aspirations of the Kashmiri people".
Aspirations of the Kashmiri people? What may these aspirations be? Become an acclaimed rocket scientist, and the President of India? Perhaps, the highest paid lead actor in the Bollywood? An opportunity to learn computers, ride a bike, watch movies... for Mehnaaz, Nargis, and Shagufta? Or, could it be that Mr. Farooq is implying an unfullfilled desire to have acid thrown on the face, for not covering it with a burqua, or worse, for daring to attend school?