Well, one does not need to be a rocket scientist to know that war is evil, is a bad phenomenon for humanity, for social development, for environment, for economy, and yes, for politics. Whether you are an aggressor or the conquered, whether you are guilty as charged by politicians of different colours, or just being made a scapegoat in order to hide evil plans by ‘he who must not be named’, you know at the bottom of your heart that you are going to pay dearly for starting or getting involved in a war.
Pro-war advocators passionately argue that war has made and destroyed civilisations for centuries. War is evil, but, war is also proved to be, in some historically turning points, a lesser evil of no war and of accepting evil of status quo. A ‘no war’ policy can lead to more catastrophic and disastrous events that war could have prevented.
Iran’s issue, and the internationally feared war with the IRI, is a case that has been on the desk of every politician who matter, and on the minds of millions in the West and in the Middle East.
Statesmen in the Middle East argue frantically against war. They can feel and observe the social and religious barometer shooting up when news of an imminent airstrike on Iran’s nuclear sites is aired. The bedrock of Arab and Middle East society does not see Iranian Muslim brothers as much a serious threat to their existence as they see the American expansionist policy in Iraq or Israel’s abusive and aggressive policies in Palestine. The attitude could have been very much different, if the Middle East were calm, if tension were not accumulating as it is now, and if turmoil were not on the rise in Pakistan, Turkey, Palestine, Lebanon, and naturally in Iraq and Afghanistan. It might have been then a lot easier to explain how dangerous an Islamic Nuke could be.
Currently, for a Muslim layman, the issue is not a matter of who is right or wrong, nor it is a matter of who is dangerous or not, but just a matter of pride and something to be identified with. Muslims in the Middle East have been badly bashed up, and unfairly treated. They read news of daily destruction of Iraq and its possible disintegration. They see pictures of masses of children and women displaced to camps in Jordan, and other neighbouring States. They can smell death and carnage of their Muslim brothers and sisters. And they blame America for it, though Islamic Republic has also played a destructive role by spreading hatred among the Shiites and Sonnies, and by increasing its military presence in Iraq. For all Middle Easterners Iraq has become pivotal to voice their concerns and protest against the aggressors. What alarms the regional statesmen is the quick pace people have gathered round this point.
The silent but passionate protest against Iraq war has endangered the very existence of many regimes in the Middle East. Current rulers could be replaced by radical Islamists. The war in Iraq has also threatened the process of democracy in the region which is moving towards radical Islam. Regional politicians have seen and experienced the full impact of the Islamic regime in Iran. They have seen and experienced the rise, fall and now again rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and have observed the bloody consequences in both countries. They fear the whole Middle East region fall into a long lasting fire which could burn foes and friends. But the secularists are getting more defenceless against a very powerful instrument, that is, Allah.
The Islamists have used, misused, and abused Islam and Allah for stirring Muslim men and women and for recruiting ready to die young Muslim men and girls. Party of Allah, Army of Allah, and jihadists are formed to fight against the infidels, the Zionists, the occupiers, and in short the Americans and their ‘puppets’ in the Middle East. Shedding blood has become the sole purpose of young suicide bombers. Naturally, this is unacceptable. International community can cohabit with religious fanatics. It can survive political movements with the aim of removing favoured regimes, but cannot accept the politicised Islam that aims to expand from east of India to west of Africa, and to wipe Israel off the map gets stronger and become the sole voice in the region. For this, lesser of two evils is ‘war in order to secure a lasting peace’.
Intellectuals and most anti-war activists argue that ‘war’ is no longer a gang of soldiers bashing up another gang of soldiers, but more an ‘ideological war’. Referring to the cases of Iraq and Afghanistan, they point out that there is no use occupying a land if one cannot win the hearts and minds of the masses.
The pro-war advocators, however, argue there is no way to win the hearts and minds of the masses, unless there is a possibility for communicating with the masses. Islamists in Iran have learnt to channelize information reaching the ordinary men and women. They have control of the army, have the elite Revolutionary Guard Corps, have control of media, and are ready to torture and kill whoever tries to get out of this tight noose; and therefore there is no way to win the ‘war of ideology’ unless the controller of the hearts and minds is preliminarily removed. Good portion of the society in the Middle East cannot read or write. Large portions have only read a small section of Koran, or nothing at all. Their religious stance, (even in those who blast few dozen innocents with themselves up), does not spring out from knowing and following words of Allah, but from following the local religious Mullahs. The fact that Saudi Arabia has spent millions on distributions of free copies of Koran in Madrassas, for example in Pakistan, is undeniable. Equally the fact that Ayatollahs of the Islamic Republic have spent millions on training fundamentalist militiamen in Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine is irrefutable. Each flares up sectarian confrontation, which in turn leads to civil war as has developed in Lebanon, Iraq, and somehow in Palestine.
Anti-war group dismisses this, pointing out that removing a ruler forcefully and without directly involving ordinary men and women, could only turn ‘a war for peace’ to a ‘war against Muslims’ A war against Muslims is a war against Allah, which consequently calls for Jihadists to shed blood. Religious flavoured war has a major set back. It strengthens sectarianism and therefore delays any possible democratic regime change. Currently, in the absence of democracy, Islamo-fascism is on the rise, which in turn has initiated fascism linked to other religions and denominations.
Religion has always been a major parameter in inciting violence. Guy Fawkes, the Crusaders, or the recently resolved conflict in Ireland are a few to mention. Historically speaking, religious leaders have always collaborated with politicians to stir up passionate feelings in ordinary people. Franco’s Fascism was actively supported by the Catholic clergies, indeed some accounts tell that 7000 Catholic clergies died (or if you like, were martyred) during the Spanish Civil War. Pope Benedict XVI recently beatified 498 Roman Catholics killed before and during the Spanish Civil War, whilst not mentioning his comment that martyrdom is a realistic possibility for entire Christian people. You see, hailing martyrdom is not confined to Islamists, and it is not just a thing of the past. Christian leaders still beat the drum for possible rainy days.
I cannot see bombing Iran’s nuclear sites can prevent Islamo-fascism from spreading. Yes, it will prevent Ayatollahs from getting a bomb, but arms them with a much more powerful weapon. Over a night, the Ayatollahs’ status changes from the supporters of terrorists to a bunch of blameless victims of American aggressive expansionism. Mullahs become defenders of the Middle East sufferers. Besides, Ayatollahs know war has no substantial support among the American people. Recently in pole published by USA Today, only 18% have blessed the pro-war advocators.
The problem, in my view, is therefore neither with Allah nor with the Holey Ghost. The problem begins when religious leaders yearn to be both holy man and politician, and, somehow more complex and definitely dangerous, problem begins when some leading politicians allow their religious beliefs have impact on the country’s foreign policies.
6 Nov. 2007