By Humayun Gauhar
Sorry if I sound disjointed but it’s because my back is disjointed. My back is disjointed because of a landing that was disjointed. Because my back is disjointed my thoughts are disjointed. I cannot think straight. I know: some ‘admirers’ will say, “You could never think straight anyway, so what’s there to moan about?”
Returning to Islamabad on a Thai Airways flight from Kuala Lumpur via Bangkok we had such a memorable landing that it did my back in. I’m proud that my wife screamed the loudest. The plane bounced and veered like an India rubber ball. Probably because Thai Princess Maha was on the flight the pilot overdid it trying to impress her. The weather was bad, sure, but not so bad as to call for that landing. Thank God for PIA. In the last month I have been to London and back on PIA and KL and back on Thai. It cannot compare to PIA’s smoothness and cuisine. PIA truly is ‘Smooth as Silk’, its food more than edible unlike the swill served on Thai. But when I tell people about the awful landing, they immediately ask, “PIA?” They show not just surprise but disappointment too when I say no, not PIA. We are fond of bitching about anything and everything Pakistani because we suffer from an inferiority complex. I know what PIA’s problems are and why. But we never stop to think than when we elect such leadership we will also get such management. Our pilots are the best in the world to fly under such leadership, even flying some crates instead of planes. Yes, thank God for PIA.
Superpowers create monsters that do them greater damage and cause them more grief than anyone else. They often bring superpowers crashing down or cut them down to size. Look at the late USSR and Great Britain become Little Britain, an empire on which the sun would never set. The monsters of today’s sole superpower, and the first global one too, a hyper power no less, are Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, the banking crisis, the financial meltdown, the global economic disaster, climate change, WMD and, worst of all, growing doubts about the continuing efficacy of capitalism and western electoral systems that go by the name of the creed called ‘democracy’. They seem not just outdated and redundant, having run their course, but also inefficient and destructive. It fits the saying, “As you sow, so shall you reap.”
I was wondering: shouldn’t today’s monsters be called ‘America’ just as Dr. Frankenstein’s monster was called ‘Frankenstein’? Frankenstein’s monster caused him much grief. That a superpower’s monsters cause it great grief is of little comfort to those whose lives have been destroyed. But herein lies the rub: while the damage done to others by a superpower’s monsters is great indeed, that damage is compounded when the superpower’s economy too is damaged because all national economies are dependent on the health of the superpower’s economy. But superpowers, hyper powers, empires, civilizations always come to an end and the world has to learn to adjust and adapt. It always does, but in the process the pendulum of power shifts. I have described this in my ‘Leviathan’ series of articles and recently in ‘Armageddon’. That’s how the world works. That’s how societies change and evolve, forwards or backwards.
As to us the Muslims, especially those who claim to be custodians of Islam, the feet of some are either stuck in the cement of the present while others try and move backwards. Those who wish to move forward are few and not knowing where to, they have become adept at aping the West. There is no Ijtehad or interpretation without violating the immutable fundamentals of Islam to make Muslim societies contemporary and dynamic, yet Islamic. It will take a long time, while Muslim’s own doctrinaire monsters will increase the superpower monsters’ damage. We forget that anything that does not violate the fundamental principles of Islam is fine – the emphasis is on ‘fundamental principles’, not on what some cleric masquerading as scholar divines.
In the process of humankind’s self-destruction, a lot more money and effort will hpw be spent to destabilize important Muslim states. All sorts of weapons will be used – monetary, military, media and our Quislings in the ever-growing Langley Club. There could be more direct military action or indirect by either CIA ‘contactors or the NATO gang or America’s Muslim surrogates – most likely a combination. The biggest losers would be the disunited Muslims whose Ka’aba and Qibla have shifted to Washington. Not that the prime global bully will get away: America with its surrogate states will suffer huge economic and political setbacks, the likes of which we haven’t seen for a long time. The world will change once again, but even more hugely than it did after the two Great Wars of the last century. Power, I’m afraid, with shift once again from West to East, with China at the top of the pile if it can sustain the economic setback that it will invariably suffer due to the global decline, however temporary. It will have to be wary of its social and political stability going awry. That requires great wisdom and a great sense of history along with a great civilization, all of which China has, but it will be a huge test nevertheless. The rest of the world, particularly what we call the ‘Muslim World’, seriously lacks wisdom and it is anybody’s guess how it will weather the tempest. In the short term, the biggest gainer could be Russia, not least because Putin is back and it is not energy starved.
2012 and 2013 are going to be seminal years. America, Europe and Japan, already bankrupt and in decline, will get worse. The integrity of the European Union is already under strain. There are signs if talk in European bazaars is anything to go by, which it always is. The good thing is that it will lessen their interference in other countries: they will have neither the time nor the money. There are always silver linings in the darkest of clouds: the ‘developing’ world will have to stop depending on handouts and become self-reliant. We may see the emergence of a new global currency, but what it will be based on is anybody’s guess. Not gold, surely. Boy, that would get the greatest gold rush ever.
Of the countries called BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), India is showing signs of fundamental economic weaknesses because its ‘economic miracle’ is based more on services (IT sweatshops) than on an indigenous manufacturing base, like China has created. I’ve been saying this for years but was accused of bias. Russia, like China, has to beware political setbacks, with Putin and Company still suffering an imperialist hangover. However, it is the Muslim countries that will be suffer the most, some even destroyed, while some of them may change shape. Israel, with all its Weapons of Mass Destruction fuelled by the arrogance of power caused by making the hyper power its mistress could simply get trampled over by the enormity of event, but not before burning much of the Middle East. Didn’t the USSR with much more WMD, but after causing great destruction in our neck of the woods? Israel is the real nuclear flashpoint, not India and Pakistan, Iran or North Korea. Add a desperate America as a nuclear flashpoint too (remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki?) and you have quite an uncertain world. If they do go mad and attack Iran, which I think is unlikely but cannot be ruled out since self-immolation has become a fashion, it’s over. Lights out. Things will then move very fast but very painfully, and in the dark.
America has wasted so much money in fighting wars against its old monsters – Saddam, the Mujahedeen-turned-Taliban, and fabrication of facts – that it has brought its own and the world’s economy to the brink. It has become so heavily indebted that it leaves most Third World countries in the shade. Its government debt alone is more than the size of its economy; its national debt at least three times as much. Don’t forget Credit Default Swaps on top. America has progressed from Dr. Frankenstein to Dr. Faustus, but with a difference: it has lost its soul to itself, not to anyone else like we have.