By Humayun Gauhar
It was not just semantics last week when I America ‘rules’ rather than ‘runs’ Pakistan. The pun was intended: when America frowns we get the runs; when it smiles our evacuations become normal.
America has a very big say in what it considers important, including job appointments from top to lowly ambassadors, intelligence chiefs and restoration of sacked judges. It determines our foreign, defence and economic policies and their managers. We even take directions from US envoys and ambassadors. Disregard America’s will and suffer sanctions to trashing of governments. Don’t believe me? See how Hussain Haqqani was flown out of the coop? Didn’t he meet a US embassy official before leaving? Weren’t it Holbrooke and Clinton who pressured the army chief into getting the judges restored? Did you read Matthew Green’s article in the Financial Times last Thursday entitled: ‘US Monitors Pakistan’s Choice of Spymaster’? If you are as appalled as I am it’s a healthy sign, for to duck the truth means your conscience and self-esteem have died. Tu jhuka jo ghair kay agay, na mun taira na tun.
Our servile position arises primarily from our financial dependence on America. Our attraction to America is in direct correlation to the size of its wallet – like Kunta Kinte just enough to keep us going – just as a person’s eligibility is in direct correlation to the size of their wallets and the marriage’s continuing health to its shrinking or expansion. Happiness lies in perpetually getting America’s handouts, taking more to make usury payments, perpetually increasing our indebtedness and dependence. God remains stranded in rhetoric, the Devil breaks out in a dance and the people take the hindmost.
Can America change our government? Of course it can if it stops serving its purpose. ‘Rogue’ leaders are thrown out after a ‘popular’ uprising or killed. Look what happened to Chile’s Salvador Allende. How many times have they tried to kill Fidel Castro? Look what’s happened in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen and before that to Iraq and Saddam. Sure their rulers were odious tyrants, but that’s none of America’s business. Should we have thrown George W. Bush and his company of mass murderers out to stop their killings and stupidity-driven global economic destruction? America puts most tyrants in place anyhow and throws them out when they become liabilities, whenever possible making it look as they are supporting popular sentiment. When necessary, America also teaches current and future satraps a lesson – Bhutto hanged; Zia killed in a plane crash; Saddam hanged; Gaddafi horribly killed; Mubarak displayed in a cage lying on a stretcher. Doesn’t that cage look incongruous without Bush & Company in it too for crimes against humanity? If NATO warplanes had not bombed and stalled Gaddafi’s convoy he would never have been captured and brutally assassinated by America’s crazed mob. It was no mistake.
Wishful thinking aside, don’t be fooled into believing that America has ‘lost’ because ‘Islamic’ governments are taking power in Arab countries. They are America’s ‘Islamic’ governments, products of its new doctrine: “If you can’t lick ’em, join ‘em” by putting friendly mullahs in place before unfriendly ones get in. This is not unlike America’s earlier doctrine regarding dictators: “We know he’s a son-of-a-bitch but he’s our son-of-a-bitch”. Now its changed to: “We know he’s a wretched mullah but he’s our wretched mullah.” Lump it. Were that life were still so simple. The somnambulant masses are awakening; the workers of the world are uniting and breaking their chains; the ‘wretched of the earth’ are realizing that their wretchedness is not a fate ordained but stolen by man.
If I’m being simplistic it is to help explain the contours of reality. Isn’t America being overly simplistic too, imagining that if it can endlessly go on recasting the world in the image that it thinks will work for it regardless if it doesn’t work for others, all will be well with ‘The World According to America’? This thinking has defaced America’s original ideology rooted in the motto, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” that initially defined it as a great country. It is a motto at once secular and spiritual. Today, that ideology is rooted in hypocrisy and duality: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for America but not necessarily for others. If in their pursuit these ideals are denied to the rest of the world, so be it. The world’s purpose of existence is to enable America to achieve life, liberty and happiness.
To America it means that happiness (which implies life and liberty, without which there can be no happiness) can only be achieved by the pursuit and maximization of profit. This has led to the worst kind of capitalism, neither moral nor immoral but amoral. America that started out with great promise as an icon of freedom began worshiping wealth and the power that derives from it. Money and wealth-creation, once a powerful driving force and something to celebrate, became America’s Golden Calf. That initial morality of shiny eyed, bushy tailed early immigrants was replaced with wealth creation any old how not just at the expense of the world but also at the expense of its own country and people.
Ah! ‘Liberty’. The word gives one goose pimples. It was used in an earlier ideology of freedom from which America’s founding fathers probably took it. That ideology was encapsulated in the motto, Liberté, égalité, fraternité – ‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity’. Though it finds its origins in the French Revolution, it became the national motto of France after the establishment of the Third Republic at the end of the 19th century. Its authorship is disputed, but Antoine-Francois Momoro, a Parisian printer and herbalist is usually credited with it.
While fraternity means ‘brotherhood’, ‘egalite’ has been translated as ‘equality’, but it is more than that. More accurately, it is ‘egalitarianism’, meaning everyone is equal before the law no matter who they are or what office they hold. Egalitarianism is – or was – one of America’s ideological cornerstones but it lost it at home with first the passing of the Patriot Act and now the National Defence Authorization Act that gives the US military the right to arrest any US citizen indefinitely without charge or trial. Its become a police state. There never was any egalitarianism between states in the pursuit of self-interest, because “there is no morality in relations between states”.
The word ‘liberal’ comes from the word ‘liberty’ or ‘liberation’ – one who is liberated physically, nationally, and most vital, mentally. Give people the space to say and do what they want to so long as they don’t harm others. Many of our liberals lose their liberalism the moment another expresses a contrary point of view – “Humayun Gauhar and people of his ilk should be lined up against a wall and the Stalinist option used” was what one of our more celebrated liberals wrote more than 20 years ago when I first suggested that the presidential system would suit us better. Today, more and more people are talking about it. Had we all been shot no one would have dared utter a word about it again.
Whose fault is it that we are underlings? Not our stars, surely, for our destiny lies not in them but within us. We are to blame. The buck stops with us. We have to get out of mental colonization ourselves. No one will do it for us. Going by the summit between the presidents of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan, perhaps our consciences are still not completely dead. I just hope it was not just posturing. You never know given that two of the three leaders are US satraps.