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Whaat "WMD," whaat "principle"...
March 31, 2003
I know, I know: I've been a baddd girl. To tell you the truth, I'd have been bad a lot longer if not for a subterfuge by the sainted editor which dragged me back here. And, no, said subterfuge had nothing to do with the views of a section of rediff.com's readership -- which views had me so riled that I postponed resuming this column.
Let me enlighten those who -- wisely -- keep away from the postings at HinduUnity.org: Early February, there began an online campaign against rediff.com, with stuff like: "I got a call from a close friend of mine in Bombay. He had been to the Press Club where some of the senior editors of India Abroad-Rediff were out drinking. One of them, Saisuresh Sivaswamy was openly boasting that he was putting 'Hindu fundamentalists' in North America is their place... My friend told me 'India Abroad editors are not pseudo-secularists. They are strongly anti-Hindu and they are quite proud of it'... India Abroad now has only Muslim or Christian editors and that is why they are anti-Hindu. This is true."
Actually, this is unadulterated garbage -- take it from a staunch Savarkarite. I will not dignify the accusations by identifying the fabrications or laying out the realities. Garbage must be disposed off as garbage.
Then came the second wave: "The Anti-Hindu Stance displayed by Rediff/India Abroad is becoming stronger in every issue. Something needs to be done. It's time we Hindus set an example so that other papers realize that being anti-Hindu is going to be profit loosing venture... India Abroad's fascist editors exposed!!! Read article below..."
The article in question was "India Abroad's Brood of Opinion Writers -- Analysts or Ideologues?" by Ramesh Rao -- a very Hindu writer, indeed.
That's when I smelled oodles of fish. You see, in the preface of the recently published book, Gujarat After Godhra, its compilers, Koenraad Elst and Ramesh Rao, write: "The majority of the essays have appeared in non-mainstream newspapers in India, on internet sites in the US, and on Rediff on the Net, a rare news portal whose editors manage to give their readers views ranging the political spectrum in India."
Naturally, I questioned Ramesh. His response: "The piece was written in 1998! And I don't know who is circulating it now as a propaganda piece. Yes, I do have some complaints about the present India Abroad, and I have written a letter about their participation in the campaign against IDRF. But to use my old piece written when India Abroad was in different hands is sheer lunacy."
Hmmm... it's really quite simple if one takes note of the aim of the campaign, viz, "boycott the businesses involved." If rediff.com should be eliminated, which publication would dare to take on Lavakare, Srinivasan and Bhosle as weekly columnists? How many publications are there that give frequent space to Francois Gautier and David Frawley? Why would Hindutvawadis boycott an independent webzine which, in fact, created a Hindu writers' bloc when none existed...? Before aiming at rediff.com, how come these dorks didn't think of targeting Frontline or Outlook...?
I think we can all agree that the VHP's acolytes will never be accused of being bright. It would be child's play for anyone acquainted with the Hegelian Dialectic to manipulate the tiny brains of the online "Hindu activists" to make them cut off their own nose, and happily, at that. I wonder about the scumbag and his mythical friend who started all this off.
Nonetheless, I admit: rediff.com does have more "secular" columnists than the Hindutva kind. But that's perfectly fair! For, leave alone Arvindrao and Raj, it takes far more than one twit to "balance" me, hahahahahaha...
India's. That's the only side I'm on.
If you press further, I'd say, yes, I absolutely want M/s Bush and Blair to win. For if they don't, there'll be a very different kind of blood raging through the veins of Al Qaeda -- which, for me, includes Lashkar-e-Tayiba, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Hizbul Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Al Barq, the ISI, SIMI and sundry terrorist groups. My rationale remains untouched by the bad vibes between Osama and Saddam, or the warmth between India and Iraq, or America's motives. It's more like, my worst enemy's worst enemy is my current friend. The defeat of the US-led coalition will mean the victory of Islamic terrorism -- everywhere.
Coupled with that is this conviction: Anything that the pinkos push must be very damaging for India. For instance, the call for a strong resolution condemning the US. I'm grateful that the government hasn't yet caved in to the dipweeds' demands. Arey, apun ko kya karnaay? Chup-chaap baitho, tamasha dekho...
If you ask me whether this country is right or that country is wrong, I'd say, no exceptions, they are all the same. In fact, they are all so same that I wouldn't be able to choose the lesser devil. Look at the players in this theatre:
- Saddam Hussein -- In 1984, Iraq became the first nation to use a nerve agent on the battlefield when it deployed tabun-filled bombs during the Iran-Iraq War; more than 5,000 Iranians were killed with this chemical weapon. In addition, about 16,000 Iranians were killed by mustard gas between August 1983 and February 1986, despite Iraq being a party to the 1925 Chemical Weapons Treaty. Iraqi forces killed several thousand Iranian POWs, despite Iraq being a party to the Geneva Conventions of 1949. Between 60,000 and 100,000 Iraqi Kurdish civilians were killed in the Anfal campaign under the aegis of Saddam's cousin Ali Hassan alMajid (the infamous "Chemical Ali"). This genocide includes the disaster at Halabja in northeastern Iraq, where, in March 1988, Saddam ordered the use of chemical weapons, killing an estimated 5,000 Kurds at once.
- Russia -- Russian companies have been selling Global Positioning System jammers, anti-tank missiles and night-vision goggles to the Saddam regime, in violation of UN sanctions. In fact, Russian technicians were in Baghdad last week, teaching Iraqis how to use the devices. The Russian government initially denied the existence of the GPS-selling company, Aviaconversiya, then said it was "closely monitoring" the company...
- Germany -- Khidhir Hamza, the former director of Saddam's nuclear programme, states: "Germany was the hub of Iraq's military purchases in the 1980s. Our commercial attaché, Ali Abdul Mutalib, was allocated billions of dollars to spend each year on German military industry imports. These imports included many proscribed technologies, with the German government looking the other way. In 1989, German engineer Karl Schaab sold us classified technology to build and operate the centrifuges we needed for our uranium-enrichment program. German authorities have since found Schaab guilty of selling nuclear secrets, but because the technology was considered 'dual use' he was fined only $32,000 and given five years probation."
- France -- Again, according to Mr Hamza: "In 1974, I headed an Iraqi delegation to France to purchase a nuclear reactor. It was a 40-megawatt research reactor that our sources in the IAEA told us should cost no more than $50 million. But the French deal ended up costing Baghdad more than $200 million... With these kinds of deals coming their way, is it any surprise that the French are so desperate to save Saddam?"
- The US -- The Congressional Records of Senator Donald J Riegle's investigation of the Gulf War Syndrome show that the US government approved sales of chemical and biological materials to Iraq. These included anthrax (Riegle, speaking on the floor of the Senate on February 9, 1994, criticized the approved shipment of anthrax and other lethal materials to Iraq by American Type Culture Collection), components of mustard gas, botulinum toxins, histoplasma, and other nasties. The New York Times revealed on August 18, 2002: "The Pentagon 'wasn't so horrified by Iraq's use of gas,' said one veteran of the program. 'It was just another way of killing people -- whether with a bullet or phosgene, it didn't make any difference'."
The US not only helped arm Iraq with military equipment right up to the time of the Kuwait invasion in 1989 -- as did Germany, Britain, France and Russia -- but also sold and helped Iraq to integrate chemical weapons into their battle plans against Iran. Therefore, whaaat "WMD" and whaat "acting out of principle" and whaat "integrity of the Iraqi nation"?? Every player -- as always -- is looking at his own future interests. And, so should India.
Here's a thought: Those who oppose the Haj subsidy should voluntarily finance the entire airfare of Muslims travelling westwards to achieve certain other Islamic objectives. I propose we begin with Maulana Mohammed Rafique, who recently pledged, "We will reach there, Baghdad or Basra, when the first attack takes place. We are not afraid of dying in Iraq. It will be for an Islamic cause. We will become immortal!"
The 100-strong squad of Muslim Indians, led by the Maulana and a dozen Islamic scholars, had planned to leave in the second week of March to join other "human shields" from Europe and the US. Unfortunately, that very week came the news of an Israeli Army bulldozer crushing to death an American, female "human shield" who had knelt on the ground to prevent the vehicle from destroying a Palestinian home in the Gaza Strip. Result: we haven't heard from the Maulana and his happy campers after that. Darn it.
Honestly, what is this peculiar breed called "human shields"? Exactly what do they think they can achieve against missiles whose routes are programmed in Florida or Fairfax? Too bad, almost all of them bolted on the eve of war on being directed by their gentle hosts to guard Iraqi military sites; only 15 of the over-200 remain in Baghdad.
One of the last "shields" to scoot away -- but long before war broke -- was former US marine Ken O'Keefe, who provided us with delightful soundbites like: "Dark forces have worked against me, but I have survived. My mission is hard-core, in-your-face activism." Oh boy, no wonder the ground war ain't going too well for the US...
I couldn't possibly end without expressing my gratitude to all the readers who kept mailing rediff.com, inquiring about my absence. You have no idea how grrreat it feels to be missed by people one hasn't even seen! I thank all of you for that wonderful experience, and I hope I can live up to your war-mongering expectations.
What tickled me no end was the mini-campaign in sulekha.com: Thanks, all of you, including the ass who kept me in splits for hours with "some of my dislike of Versha is subjective that is just bcos of her language! I am very perticular abt English and i really get ratty when ppl make basic mistakes or become foulmouthed! If one wants to, one can be infinately subtle and at the same time be very insulting or offensive! If one does not have such command why write in English!" Why, indeed...
All said, if you really wanna know why I've been AWOL, well, here are both reasons:
I figured, columns come and columns go, but babies are a precocious year old for toooo short a time. I just wanted to enjoy my bro's twins -- all else be damned.