Saturday, April 24, 2010

The politics of listening to the elders

It is not possible to decipher correct information through print and electronic media, nor is it possible from hearsay. Getting unbiased information is only possible through experiencing it. Let me put forward my arguments: Looking at the Pakistani soaps, dramas, movies, sitcom and all such mediums claiming to represent Pakistan; an outsider would think that Pakistan is a place where there is love everywhere, Pakistan looks something quite similar to UAE or Thailand, and that girl-guy chasing around is very obvious. But let me assure you that Pakistan is nothing close to such notions.

Similarly, we all hear from people visiting the US that the family structure there has annihilated. We see in the soaps and movies of armed macho men and fighting people, happy marriages, easy college life, happy-go-luckies, freewheeling car chases, burgers and cokes for a penny each and what not. These movies and dramas portray a life where you are free after seventeen or eighteen years of age, to do whatever you want to do. The print and electronic media show us that the Americans are free to make whatever decisions right or wrong even if their parents oppose. My notion was that the Americans are very well-mannered and polite, just like the British gentlemen are supposed to be, I could not imagine them Americans not listening to their elders. In fact I always thought that we the Asians, supposed to revere our parents, are actually not doing so but the Americans do so.

To believe it you have to first see it. What I saw is truly outrageous and annoying. I never thought that kids over there would not listen to their elders and make use of the experience that they transfer. But this is exactly what Mr. Former President Bush did. Whatever his reasons to attack Iraq, let us assume them to be true (which have been proven otherwise) should he have done what he did? His father also attacked Iraq, in fact he led the world’s largest deployment after World War-2 to attack Iraq and liberate Kuwait. But Mr. Bush Senior and his successor, Mr. Clinton knew that if they dislodge Saddam instability will ensue that they will not be able to control. That is why they did not dislodge Saddam and controlled him through ‘other means’. Americans could have attacked Afghanistan during Clinton’s tenure, but sense prevailed to some extent at least, and he settled for only some surgical strikes.

But the smartest President of the American history did the otherwise. True enough he followed in his father’s footsteps by attacking first Afghanistan and then Iraq, but then he tried to outgrow the boots, and now look at him! Not only did the Americans started hating him (a fact represented by elections and his popularity ratings), the war acted as a catalyst to the economic bane induced by the mortgage scandal. Now Americans are losing jobs faster than the speed of light. One of the reasons why Americans had to move towards d├ętente during the early 1970s was that there was stagflation and they were in a crunch because of heavy financial losses in Vietnam. The Soviets, it is alleged, was felled by the little strokes of Afghans, into retreat just like the Americans in Vietnam. It is an anomaly that big powers lose small wars; and I suppose that since the US is the biggest power today it should lose the smallest war (that will be decided by history).

What’s the catch for us? Nothing; we the people of Pakistan have nothing to gain. However, the US aid, on which depends the lifeline of our ruling elite, is not pumping in enough blood to keep us up. Already the state of Pakistan is feeling numb in the feet (Baluchistan and Karachi) and we have a backache in NWFP. There are symptoms that there is stomach upset because the breadbasket is on a diet because of wheat shortage. I do not buy into the Balkanization theories because such things have been in the news since Pakistan was created. Just another passing comment before we move on: Those who talk of our Atom bomb falling in the wrong hands should not forget that to use modern light weapons there has to be at least a month’s training, even if the nuclear arsenal (God forbid) falls into the wrong hands the best use they’ll be able put it to would be to sell it in scrap (talk about proliferation!)

So what does Mr. Obama do to control the damage in Iraq? Simple, wash the dirty hands off the problem and leave the job unfinished. He can’t be blamed, he didn’t do it, and there is no way it can be mended. What does history teach as a lesson to our brand new Mr. Obama? When the US pulled out of Vietnam they did not try to find another place to make a scapegoat. But the only lesson that history teaches is that people don’t learn lessons from history. This is exactly what Mr. Obama is doing; now he wants to shift the theatre from Iraq and slowly from Afghanistan and right into Pakistan. He should have at least asked the former presidents who met him, and Mrs. Clinton should once in a while ask her husband what he suggests doing. I don’t want to warn him because he would not listen. I just want to let the readers know that a rolling stone gathers no moss, only remorse – but then it’ll be too late. The readers can wait and see if I am wrong or right. The motivation factor behind Obama’s change (for better or for worse)is that he carries the name between Barack and Obama is Hussein. This, and the other fact that he being an African American, make him more prone to criticisms that he is not a true American. To counter this argument Obama will go beyond the limits not yet crossed by any other President of the US.

The lesson learnt here is that the Americans really have lost it in the cultural and moral landscape, at least it is true for the American presidents of present times. They don’t listen to their elders and they don’t try to learn from past mistakes, experiences and history. For once I am forced to believe that there is some truth in what the media portrays.