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Lone Ranger Bush — gungho against World Muslims
By Karamatullah K. Ghori

Toronto: The current occupant of the White House in Washington is not known for sparks of brilliance or consistency of behaviour, but in his "crusade" against the world of Islam he has been carrying on his family tradition with great consistency and enthusiasm. This Lone Ranger, riding the white stallion of the world’s greatest military power, seems to have made it his life’s mission to take his family ‘crusade’ against Muslims to the heart of the Islamic world.

Bush had announced his crusade against the Muslims quick on the heels of September 11, though his spin doctors were as quick to explain, apologetically, that he did not have the classical sense of the Crusades in the back of his mind.

However, anyone doubting the lone sheriff’s dogged determination to pursue ‘terrorists’( his euphemism for Muslims) to the end of the earth need only look at his State of the Union address of last month to a packed joint sitting of Congress. The centre-piece of his rambling discourse was his blunt, cowboy-like, warning to the " axis of evil"—Iran, Iraq and North Korea—to either submit to his diktat or be prepared to face his blitz. As later commentaries in an otherwise cowering and timorous U.S. news media would reveal, Bush was advised by his team of speech writers and other pundits to forgo the use of the word ‘axis’ but their advice was spurned with the arrogance that has fast become Bush’s hallmark. He would not be the new Lone Ranger if he listened to sane or sensible advice.

Bush’s animus against Iraq is, understandably, congenital. The hawks likes of Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, ruling the roost in Bush’s power bastion, the Pentagon, have been egging him on since September 11 to finish the agenda against Saddam Hussain left unfinished by the Senior Bush at the end of the Gulf War of 1991. So, on cue from the Ranger, everybody down the line has been crying wolf about Iraq and raising the alarm that Saddam was about to unleash his weapons of mass destruction against America. Hence the justification that Bush must take his battle to the enemy before the enemy reached the shores of America the way Al Qaeda allegedly did.

While Bush’s tirade against Iraq may make sense, at least rhetorically if not logically, his bellicose diatribe against Iran defies all reasoning. 

Iran went out of its way to be helpful to Bush’s ruthless unleashing of America’s military might against a defenceless Afghanistan. Everybody knew that Bush was motivated solely by his fire of revenge, and his lust for Muslim blood. But Tehran still did all it could to facilitate the war of vengeance against the Taliban regime, because Afghanistan under their benighted rule had been openly hostile to Iran. Little do the Washington hawks seem to realise that by their open hostility to Iran’s moderation, they are throwing spanners in President Khatami’s earnest efforts to veer Iran towards more openness and moderation. By implication, it whets the appetite of the extremists in Iran who have been fighting a rear-guard battle of their own against Khatami’s moderate course in foreign policy. 

That Washington should show utter disregard for Tehran’s help in the war against terrorism is not surprising to those knowing the American proclivity to use a country to pull its chestnut out of the fire, and then discard it like a used Kleenex. Many countries in Iran’s neighbourhood, such as Pakistan, have been given this lesson time and time again but show no visceral ability to learn. General Musharraf of Pakistan is basking in the sunshine of American patronage as if he would remain an American icon forever. So is Hamid Karzai, an erstwhile CIA mole and employee of the American oil cartel, UNOCAL, who is currently being fawned upon as Afghanistan’s Bonaparte. Incidentally, Karzai was there as a guest of honour in the visitors’s gallery of Congress when Bush fulminated against Iran, and Karzai lustily cheered him on.

However, even the most die-hard of U.S. western allies, such as the loyal and overly faithful Britain, have no cheers for Bush’s war-mongering and are not prepared to lump his doctrine of unlimited and indiscriminate war to quench his apparently insatiable appetite for revenge. In Afghanistan alone, at least twice as many innocent civilians have been killed as the number of innocent casualties in New York’s World Trade Centre.

So, the West Europeans seem to be near exhaustion in their patience and endurance with the Lone Ranger Bush and his churlish chest-thumping for more military action in other terrains of his choice. French Foreign Minister, Hubert Vedrine, put the European frustration with Bush in the sharpest relief when he described the Bush unilateralism as "simplistic." He also decried the Bush doctrine which " reduces all problems in the world to the struggle against terrorism."

The dovetailing of North Korea with Iraq and Iran in the pack of ‘ rogue states’ allegedly threatening U.S. security makes utter nonsense of the Bush alibi for vindictive action against ‘troubling’ states. A country literally starving and at the mercy of hand-outs from the other Korea to its south, and to Japan further south, would be an apocryphal tormentor of Bush. The South Korean government in Seoul has reacted angrily to the Bush diatribe against North Korea because it upsets the careful apple cart of reconciliation between the two divided halves of Korea that Seoul has been assiduously trying to put together. But the Lone Ranger remains undaunted by any concern for nicety or subtlety. The only law known to him is the law of the jungle where the powerful rules with brute force.

The lumping of North Korea with Iraq and Iran is both convenient and clever.

It is convenient because it takes the edge off the charge that Bush’s ‘crusade’ is solely directed against Muslims and the world of Islam. North Korea’s inclusion gives it a more secular target than a purely religious vendetta.

It is tactically clever because North Korea has been regularly faulted by America’s bosom friend, Israel, as the source of missile technology for not only Iraq and Iran but also Pakistan.

Which, then, lets the cat out of the bag. It is not only his own agenda that Bush wishes to implement but also, in equal measure if not more, an Israeli hit list which has been wagging Washington’s tail relentlessly.

The camaraderie between Bush and Israel’s Ariel Sharon is an open secret, and a devastating and lethal combination between two inveterate enemies of world Muslims. Sharon’s blood lust for the Palestinians in particular and the Muslims in general has struck a deep chord of sympathy in the Bush White House where he is a frequent visitor. The Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is anathema to Bush, who has given Sharon a carte blanche to go after the Palestinians with a ferocity unknown before this terrible duo. And Sharon is helping himself to his heart’s content with daily bloody raids against the hapless, stone-throwing Palestinians.

But Sharon has his sights set on drawing blood from both Iraq and Iran too, because these two countries have refused to be daunted by Israel’s brute force and naked barbarism. They have also been supportive of the Palestinians and the Lebanese in their legitimate struggle for freedom and dignity against the Israeli military and territorial expansionism. No wonder that inspired and instigated by Sharon, Bush has branded both Hizbollah and Hamas as terrorists, something the West Europeans have resisted to follow suit. 

French Foreign Minister Vedrine, once again, put the European dilemma with an aggrandizing Bush in its proper perspective when he recently observed after Bush’s jingoistic state of the union address : " European countries do not agree with the White House Middle East policy and think it is a mistake to support Ariel Sharon’s purely repressive policies."

Not that repression is anything alien to America’s own war culture. Millions of native American Indians were brutally put to the sword to make room for white settlers in the new world. America was actively involved in all major wars of the 20th century, especially the wars fought in the years since World W ar II were largely instigated by U.S, including the Korean War and the war in Vietnam. Repression at a massive scale was used by U.S and its client states in Latin America where banana republics were uprooted and replanted with impunity by the likes of CIA with Washington’s unabated and unstinted moral and material support.

But one of the least reported or remembered acts of American repression took place in the Philippines in the early years of the 20th century against Filipino Muslims.

Not many in the world are aware of the fact that the Philippines was a predominantly Muslim state in the early 16th century when it was invaded and occupied by the Spanish armada under Magellan. The capital city of the Muslim kingdom of Raja Sulaiman was then known by its Islamic name, Min Allah, which was soon corrupted into Manila.. The Filipino Muslims were driven under force to the south of the country where they continued to resist the Spanish rule. The Muslim resistance was still active when Spain was defeated by the U.S. in the twilight of the 19th century, and the Philippines became an American colony for the next half a century. 

As at the hands of the Spanish conquistadores 4 centuries earlier, the fearless Filipino Muslims bore the brunt of American repression in their stronghold in the south. General John J. Pershing, who later became an American icon in the First World War in Europe, let loose a reign of anti-Muslim terror in Southern Philippines. This writer was told gory tales of America’s brute might by the descendants of those Muslims in Zamboanga whose forefathers were massacred by U.S. troops in a show of strength. More than 15000 Muslims were slaughtered in a 14-year long " pacification campaign" in Southern Philippines, between 1899 and 1913, under Pershing. In Zamboanga City alone, where the Christian settlers later erected a grand monument to General Pershing as a great ‘ benefactor’ of the Filipinos, more than a thousand Muslims were brutally massacred in a week-long operation.

The Zamboanga massacre’s memory has been refreshed by what Bush has been quietly doing in the Philippines, on the side lines of his global war against the Muslims.

Bush has sent a contingent of 600 American soldiers, and allocated 100 million dollars, to beef up the military efforts of his old college friend, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of the Philippines engaged in a battle of nerves against a ragtag band of Muslim rebels under Abu Sayyaf. Sayyaf is alleged to have had links, yet unproved, with Al Qaeda. Hence Bush is prepared to lend any and all help to Arroyo in her own crusade to flush out of the jungles a mere 100 or so of Abu Sayyaf rebels against her repressive rule.

Bush’s active involvement on the side of a repressive Filipino regime against its Muslim rebels fighting for their rights, gives the lie to his claim that his crusade does not have an anti-Muslim bias. It only proves the increasing suspicion, indeed fear, that this crusading Lone Ranger in the American saddle would go to any lengths to chase his chimera of ridding the world of those whom he regards as enemies to his interests, and those of his friends in Israel.

Not to mention foreign critics of America’s gungho militarism under Bush, even the former Secretary of State under President Clinton, Madeleine Albright—no friend of the Muslims—has been forced to observe in reaction to Bush’s state of the union address : "The world now thinks the U.S. has lost its mind." This is the same Albright who had said ,at the prime of her power, that the lives of half a million Iraqi children was a fitting cost for keeping Iraq under relentless sanctions. What prompted Albright to denounce Bush so categorically ? Perhaps her fear that the cost Bush has on his mind may be too big even for the world’s lone super power to bear, or justify.
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