Saturday, May 7, 2011

Who is to blame?

Who Is To Blame?

To gain insight into the thought process of a leader of the likes of Idi Amin, one must try to figure out what drives a fanatic-such as him. Most of us are aware that behind the facade of a bigot there is a staunch supporter of equality for women/or atleast of a man who appears to give equal status to women. And I would rather stand up in support of the latter view point.
From recent reports we know of one of his famous nurses, who is a Ukranian, and fled Libya. The female in discussion also owned up that she didnt flee out of fear of the man whom she knew as 'Papik' or little father, rather she did it for personal reasons (as she was four months pregnant with the child of her Serbian Boyfriend). She confesses to being treated as royalty while she was acting as a nurse in the team of Muammar Gaddafi and trashes the claims that the nurses were a part of Gaddafi's harem.
Gaddafi's only daughter Ayesha-Al-Gaddafi(who was once married to Idi Amin) is a lawyer and was in the team defending Saddam Hussein. Ever since her divorce, she has been re-married.
Other than that, Gaddafi has an army of women bodyguards who have been adequately trained in martial arts.
While some contest that all of these facts might be evidence of his idiosyncracies, he is the only dictator alive ( and of importance) who has in fact shown such trust in women.
Getting back to the US-Libyan attacks, we must start with the 'freedom of the seas' which was/is one of the main issues between the two nations and can be termed as the germinating point of their hostile relationship.
'Freedom of the seas' was one of President Woodrow Wilson's fourteen points which was proposed during the First World War. According to the proposal, every country would have freedom to navigate the water which surrounded any other nation as it was his contention that the waters were all common, unlike territory. The concept was highle opposed by Germany, France and Britain- who rejected it.
Freedom of the Seas was replaced by United Nations Convention on the Laws of the sea. However, when in 1945, the then President of the United States, Harry S Truman, himself extended the rights of his nation to the entire continental shelf surrounding his States, many other countries like Argentina, Chile, Ecudor and Peru extended their rights to a distance of 200 nautical miles while other nations extended their territorial seas to 12 nautical miles.
However, till about 1982, when United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) III was present, the original UNCLOS was adapted and adjusted as per the policies of different nations because no consensus could be reached.
This time of confusion was also the period when in 1973, Gaddafi claimed much of the Gulf of Sidra to be within Libyan territorial waters by drawing a straight line between Benghazi and Misrata with an exclusive 62 nautical miles (115 km) fishing zone. Gaddafi declared it 'The Line of Death', the crossing of which would invite a military response.
Somehow this practice of actively charting out a region, calling it the line of death was inacceptable to the US and as per its standard practice, the US claimed its rights to conduct naval operations on international waters, at a distance of a standard of 12 nautical miles from Libya's shore. Gaddafi claimed it as territorial sea as opposed to a purely coastal area of the region.
If we look back, a lot of discussions could have been initiated from either of the two sides which would have saved a lot of lives and limb, however, the United States chose to authorize its naval forces to conduct 'Freedom of Navigation' operation in the 'Line of Death.'
For some time it was reported that military planes of the US were harassed by Libyan fighter planes, but till 1973, no major voilence was witnessed in the region.
On March 21, 1973, when Libya encounted US Air Force planes conducting signals intelligence off the Libyan coast, they intercepted and fired on the US planes. What is to be noted is that even during the clash, Libyan fighters gave signals to the C-130 of the US to land in Libya, but the American Planes chose to take evasive action. As a result the Libyans restored to firing cannons on these planes; however, the C-130 were able to escape from the spot.
What poses a question here is that if the Americans were not within 75 nautical miles from the Libyan coast then why would they try to flee, despite the fact that they were asked to land in the area?
Once again in 1986, United States Navy deployed three aircraft task force groups with 225 aircraft and approximately 30 warships across the "Line of Death" and into the disputed Gulf of Sidra. What followed was a day of conflict and an unknown number of human lives were lost in the process. Lot of harm was done to the Libyan territory, even though the Americans escaped unhurt.
Two weeks later there was a bomb explosion in La Belle of West Berlin, which resulted in wouding 200 people and killing three. Initially, Libya was targeted as the master mind of these bombings as Gaddafi had publicly announced that revenge would be sought from Western powers. The judge in the trial, on the other hand, admitted that it was not clear whether Gaddafi or Libyan intelligence had actually ordered the attack. Once again, the United States claimed to have obtained cable transcripts from Libyan agents in East Germany.
After several days of the incident, which witnessed US President Ronald Reagen entering into diplomatic talks with European and Arab forces, 37 fighter planes were ordered to strike targets in Libya. The attack lasted for about ten minutes, but killing Two American airmen, Forty-five Libyan soldiers and government officials as well as fifteen civilians. One of those killed was a child nammed Hannah, who is said to be the adopted daughter of Colonel Gaddafi. 2000 people were injured in the incident.
Whether the incidence is quoted to be a retributive measure is a questionable fact; evidently it caused much more harm than any punishment would ever suffice to guarantee.
In 1988, the 'Lockerbie Bombing' of Pan Am Flight 103 was witnessed in which former intelligence officer of the Libyan Government, Megrahi was the key accused. He was found guilty by the court even though the verdict was condemned widely as being a "spectacular miscarriage of justice". The appeals were repeatedly denied and delayed. Finally, Colonel Gaddafi compensated the victims of the crash in an attempt and formed diplomatic ties with the nations to secure release of his innocent officer.
As on this day, Colonel Gaddafi maintains that all his acts since his declaration of peace have been for defence purpose and he is not involved in any form of social injustice; he claims that his acts are misquoted by western media in an effort to deface him. It is widely known that he Muammar Gaddafi has publicly supported a lot of authoritarians, while he vehemently accused the western forces of America and Europe. Whether this support can be construed as his involvement in incidents of disruption of peace is definitely questionable.
On 17th March, 2011, the United Nations passed UNSCR, 1973 wich was proposed by France, Lebanon and UK and is adoped as a measure to ensure stability in Libya's condition. Ten members of the Security Council voted their approval for the resolution to be passed, while five of them including Russia and China (who are permanent members) abstained from voting. India was a part of the five who did not vote.
The Resolution vows to use all means necessary to protect civilians in Libya. According to a news report today, the US vows to support the rebels and provide all aid to them; the money which they propose to be so utilised would be drained out of Gaddafi's securities held with the States.
To me, the whole scenario is reminiscent of the situation in Nicargua in 1984, when the Americans were supporting the Rebels of that region. In the case, The Republic of Nicaragua v. The United States of America, the ICJ declared that America's stance was unlawful and without justification and nicargua won the case while US questioned ICJ's authority to sit in judgement. However, USA made sure that it blocked UN Security Council from enforcing the judgement and escaped without paying any compensation. This time too, a similar situation has arisen, what is sad is the fact that the world chooses to be blindfolded.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

American politics in the world arena

American Politics in the World Arena

Having heard about the (much) sic. Controversial death of the Al-Qaeda head, Osama Bin Laden, I'm forced to nurture my deep rooted dismay at American Politics which uses the world as its playground. The same emotion had vibrated through every nerve in my body, when, in 2006, Saddam Hussein was sent to the gallows.

Knowing that the 9/11 attack and it's repercussions gave little to no-evidence to the American politicians against the Taliban, it becomes rather difficult to digest the fact that America felt that it was justified in entering Iraq to take matters in its ownhands.

It all began when from 1979 through 1989 under U.S. Presidents Carter and Reagan, the United States CIA providedcovert financial aid, arms and training to Osama's Islamic JihadMujahedeen through Operation Cyclone and Reagan Doctrine. President Reagan often praised the Mujahideen as Afghanistan's "Freedom Fighters."

Thereafter, social unrest was witnessed in Iraq among Shi'ite Muslims, Kurds, and military units; the uprising was repressed by Saddam's Government. Whether the uprising was silenced in an ethical manner or not, is not a matter which should have been considered by the outsiders. what needs a curious eye is-what or who brought such disruption among the major social groups which existed in the region. The world knows that the United States had been a major cause for the rebellion but it did nothing to show its support to the rebellion when the needarose. What I fail to understand is that if at one point in time US felt that it was in the right for supporting people to act against the Iraqi Government, then why was it so difficult for itto come up front and show active strength to the retaliating groups?

When Saddam's army won against the crisis which was disrupting its nation, the U.S launched a missile attack at Iraq's intelligence headquarters in Baghdad in 1993. The basis was as obscure as was the attack itself. It was claimed that Iraq had violated the 'no-fly zones' which were imposed after the Gulf War and for their invasion of Kuwait. The Iraqi invasion of Quwait under Sadddam Hussein on August 2, 1990 put the Saudi kingdom at risk. Bin Laden met with King Fahd tellinghim not to depend on non-Muslim assistance from the United States and others, offering to help defend Saudi Arabia with his mujahideen. Bin Laden's offer was rebuffed, and after the Saudi monarchy invited the deployment of U.S. troops in Saudi territory, Osama publicly denounced Saudi Arabia's dependence on the U.S. military. What is obscene is not only the fact that the US was condemning its ally with the sole responsebility of the attack on Quwait but the fact that in the same era, the Clinton Government had itself launched air-strikes in the 'Iraqi no-fly zones'.

Iraqi oil exports were blocked by the UN which resulted in the economy of the nation getting hit in a manner which would never allow it to re-emerge from the crisis. Again, playing by the rule of the thumb, the US tried to create an illusion of a well-wisher where in fact it was the cause of the disruption to begin with. As a result, in 1996, the United Nations allowed Saddam's Government to begin selling limited oil for food. Forthe next two years, Iraq survived UN's access to suspected weapons of mass destruction and it became the cause for US and British missile strikes on Iraq in 1998. Eventually, in 2001 US and British warplanes struck hard in Baghdad. What poses a huge question here is whether a mere suspicion authorized the world powers to do that- which they had opposed and accused the Iraqi's of and that too in a more uncivilized manner? At this junction it is important to remember that Iraq had not tried to show non-cooperation for allowing the UN suspicion to die down, there were, in fact intermittent spells of Iraqi co-operation with UN inspection teams.

In 2002, a resolution was passed by the European Union and the Commission for Human Rights which accused President Saddam Hussein's Government of gross violations of Human rights. At this point in time, it must be understood that most of these violations culminated from the point in time when the Gulf War backed by the US and the social-boycott were exercised by the US and the UN in conjugation with each other. Whether, physical and mental abuse of people is not carried out in other democracies is for the world to consider; but when the people rise in opposition of such injustice then it is unjustified for other countries to sit in judgement over such issues, because the whole process of social subjugation isexisting across the world and is not limited to specific regions.Some nations are able to subside controversies by show of strength and (as in the present case) others have to sit before a panel of equally corrupt nations.

In 2001, information compiled by the Western intelligence agencies was released by British Prime Minister, Tony Blair that shows a connection between Osama bin Laden and the Taliban in Afghanistan. It was 'suspected' that the Taliban government gave protection to Osama bin Laden in the years leading up to 9/11 attack on US and that the al-Qaeda network'may' have had a close relationship with the Taliban army and police.

The United States directed the Taliban to shut down all al-Qaeda based activities in Afghanistan, opening them up for inspection and turning over Osama Bin Laden to the States. However, all these requests were refused even though the Government offered to extradite Osama bin Laden to an Islamic country. Such extradition was for the purpose of trial under Islamic law but only on one condition- if the United States presented evidence of Osama's guilt. Evidence was put forth by the US which the Taliban deemed insufficient for the purpose of extradition. Whether the Taliban was supposed to act as a stooge in the hands of the Western powers and lose all power of independent decision making is questionable. If a nation is restricted from taking such decisions after evaluating the evidence put before it, then I clearly fail to see the 'Independence" which can be bestowed on a Free State.

The Bush Government invaded and overthrew the Taliban in 2001. As per a statement of the Bush Administration released at that time, the US was unwilling to make a distinction between the terrorists and those who harbor them. This clearly proved the autocratic tendencies which the Administration harbored and its show of power which refused to accept the independent enquiry led by a so-called free nation. In, early 2003, Saddam Hussein was part of a three hour interview with CBS News and during the interview he expressed a wish to have a live televised debate with the then President of U.S, Mr. George W.Bush, but the same was declined. If the U.S had come to the battle-field with clean hands then I do not see a reason why the offer should have been declined.

On November 29, 2007 a videotape was released, which the CIA says was likely to be from Osama Bin Laden and by way of which the speaker takes sole responsibility for the attacks and specifically denies any prior knowledge of them by The Taliban or the Afghan People. But, it was too late in the day to make a difference, since a lot of water had already flown under the Bridge, a lot of innocent lives had already been sacrificed on both corners of the world, and the most prominent scapegoat among them was Saddam Hussein.

What really made a lot of people across the world furious about the whole process was the fact that the Man who was once a President of a nation was not only broadcasted in his underwear of leading daily magazines, but was so maltreated while in prison that it should have been shameful for a nation(like US) which believed in civilized way of judgement.

To add insult to the injury for the US, the infamous andmalicious case of the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison was exposed. Gross violations of human rights and ethical prisoner abuse were being carried out at the hands of US soldiers who were in charge of the Prison in Baghdad. But what did the US do to counter the situation; did it hang the accused-like it did in the case of Saddam Hussein? One of the main accused, Charles A. Graner, Jr., (born 1968 was convicted of in connection with theAbu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal. He was found guilty of all charges on January 14, 2005, and sentenced to 10 years in prison, demotion to private, dishonorable discharge and forfeiture of pay and allowances. The fate of others like him was no different.

The reason why I get furious about America's stand as a reformist and an avenger is that it trots on areas which lie beyond its own territory and jurisdiction. The reason which it gives in support of such incursion is either insufficient or unreasonable, but never unbiased. The US basis its whole theory on one fact-that inhumanity will not be accepted and that no leader has the power to sit in judgement over its subjects in a way which would either treat them in an inhumanly manner or would kill such subjects. But then what US itself inflicts on such leaders is no less inhumane. If their basic presumption is that no person has the power to send the other to the gallows then how do they justify their acts of infiltration, massacre andinsurgency? After all, what Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein were getting involved in was their way of sitting in judgement. If a nation does not approve of these tactics, then how does it justify itself stooping to the lowly levels of those whom it condemns by meting out the same treatment to those whom it disapproves of? In fact, isn't it using the same tactic as was used by the Taliban and the Al-Qaeda and which it vehemently condemns?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Why should we choose to be blindfolded by strangers adorning the garb of virtue???

Ok Mr. V. S achuthanandan- trust me your cause to stand in favour of ban on endosulfan is good. But I think it's more of a gimmick.
Afterall, did you not ask for an all party delegation from Kerala to visit the Stockholm convention in geneva? Im sorry, but i did not realize that a picnic was on the cards. While we are at it- why dont you tell us your choice of world class airlines, hotel and the menu???
Also you expect me to believe that you care for the victims of endosulfan even when once upon a time you passed lewd remarks against major unnikrishnan and his family? Ah well, i should not be overtly critical here. Right? You might say that those poor people who were the victims of endosulfan didnt bring it on themselves whereas the major attracted danger by entering the service. RIGHT???Not to forget- did you organise an exhibition of paintings as a prelude to your program? yeah well maybe thats a great way to raise money rather than knowledge about the perils of the substance.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

We the people of india

It all began three days back for me; my landlady was fervently watching the news channel so that it could propel her anxious self to new levels of frenzy. As I entered the fourth floor apartment located in "town", Mumbai I found myself asking her, "What is it today aunty, what will you be filling me in with?"


The splendor and spark in her eyes were hard to dismiss.

"What is it? Please tell me about it."

My Landlady filled me in with the current situation, about the rejection of the Lok Pal Bills and the magnificence of the Man called Anna. All I could gather on my part was his slogan of anti-corruption (of course).

As easy as it is for me to enquire about the current position of the country and the news surrounding us, is the fact that my appetite for it is quenched quite easily. By the time I came back from work the next evening, I was greeted by umpteen status messages, posts and videos of Anna Hazare. Most of them dealing with who he is and a cursory line or two about corruption and his hunger strike.

I watched the video which gave a glimpse of his life and his determination. Mid way I found myself becoming smug andquitting it to resume my studies.

News, views and commotion ruled yesterday's morning for me. It seemed there was only one man the nation wanted to discuss and support. That was when I felt I needed to devote myself to the study of the cause.

Having been informed that the Grand Old Man wanted to introduce a Draft Bill in the Parliament which would be contemplated upon by the citizenry and the Govt. Officials in equal ratio; I felt it legitimate for someone to Demand the same; and up went a status message from my corner of the world about how it was constitutional for Dear Anna to be clearabout his rights even though some clauses (as contested by the Govt.) in his draft are unconstitutional.

Once again, the evening came and in walked my landlady with a pamphlet, a poster and a batch, one saying, "I support Anna" and the other saying, "We want money back from the Swiss Bank Accounts."

It was the pamphlet handed over to me which propelled me to contemplate whether I really supported the demands of the Manwho was pushing India to re-unite after the much hyped about World Cup of 2011.

Among the varied clauses which my eye pondered upon, I found three eye catching demands, which seemed quite absurd to me:

The LokPal Committee will be allowed to take action suomoto;
The CBI would work in conjugation with the Committee and both of them would act as an investigative agency for the cases which come before the Committee; The Committee would have police powers.
The Committee along with its Chairman would act as a judge and be free to decide the cases which come before it.

As a student of Law, I have had the opportunity to not only know what our Constitution gives to us but why it gives me the rights in a manner which is guaranteed by it. For instance, one of the fundamentals of our Constitution is that the basic structure of Our Government would be such that "We give to ourselves" a Government where there is a clear distribution of power. The three organs of the entire system are so distinctly situate that the Legislature, Executive and the Judiciary have an independent standing and are not influenced by each other.

To take it a step further, the police and the CBI are independent bodies who carry out investigations with a liberate authority.

Not that I do not agree that India's political scene is grim, not that I say that corruption is not the order of the day, but there is a different perspective that I like to stick up to when it comes to the LOKPAL Bill. Here are a few thoughts which I shared with my friends, colleagues and facebook acquaintances.

Friend: "Don't you think that the Government needs to say yes to LOKPAL, the powers and the duties can be chalked out later?"

I: "Certain aspects of the Draft will have an impact on the state machinery. Making the existent structure a parallel to what is proposed. To throw the constitution out of the window is not logical; If what Anna is proposing is from a Bird's eye view-correct but needs amendment (on a closer look) then even thought I appreciate his willingness to take a stand, I essentially don't think his view point is agreeable.

To bring about anti-corruption measures with the kind of support he is enjoying, I think that he could have entered the process in a fair and square manner rather than whining over it and calling it Gandhigiri. After all, it is not the Brits whomwe are fighting against. This is something which we have bestowed upon ourselves; a democracy."

Friend: "But then, is it that easy to enter politics, especially if everyone around you is driven by corruption?"

I: "I agree that it isn't easy at all to enter politics in the first place-be it for the corrupt or the not-so-corrupt. But if what you say is correct and all the people who are a part of the current system are (all) corrupt then it seems that the corrupt are more driven than the people who demand anti-corruption.At least the corrupt are doing something to help themselves in helping their own case of making money."

Acquaintance: "Don't you see it? We have given to ourselves a system which is easily ridiculed at the hands of the merciless and which is driving our economy and our nation towards doom. Isn't it high time?"

I: "The basic crux of the problem is whether there is a problem with the way the system is modeled or the way in which we allow it to be worked upon. If distribution of powers could not check corruption then would the handing over of all the powers to one single body be an answer to the problems of the nation? Are the supporters hinting that we should move from democracy to autocracy which on the outset is yelling about anti-corruption? Do we need a Nazi way of rule which is different from the Nazi way of rule only by way of it yelling from rooftops about claiming to be a people's king?"

Colleague1: "Why is it wrong to support the introduction of a Draft which will be deliberated upon before becoming law?

I: "For a thing to be supported, one should start from the grass roots. The problem with the likes of you is that you would choose a political party first and expect to see its show of party principals once the party is ruling the roost.

For me, I would rather evaluate what the party commands and then decide whether it is liable to be accepted by me. Only once that is done, would I go about supporting them."

Colleague2: "I don't even understand the fresco behind the whole debate. I'm least bothered, in the end it's all the same."

I: "Most of the people who are supporting the cause are devoted to your way of thinking most of the time. Interestingly, they are irritated with the current scenario but when it comes to taking action they are so smug with their daily life that their priority shifts to better things in life such as whether they have enough milk in their refrigerator. Out of all these people who are in active support of anti-corruption, how many have done at least3 of the things listed below?

Cast their vote
Stood up for/ been on hunger strike/ or actively supported the NO VOTE OPTION
Taken part/attended/ actively understood what is said in the political rallies of different parties and raised a query when the party did not live up to its promises
Filed an RTI application (not to forget that the RTI is their beloved Anna's gift to the nation)
Lodged a complaint against injustice at any level"

From my understanding of the entire scenario, I do not see the need to change the workings of a government; I need to see a change in the way the people take action. I want them to lodge a complaint and raise their voice at every small instance of injustice and not take out candle vigils/ processions/ protests/hunger fasts only once the situation has already been blown out of proportion.

In the past 40 years or so ever since the first lokpal bill wasintroduced, two generations have spent their youth and middle age on the soil of India, but have failed to not only decrease the levels of corruption but to keep it in check; what does that have to say about the kind of smugness that we enjoy in our daily lives?