Sunday, May 29, 2005

War, Interrupted

To our friends puzzled by our bellicosity on Pakistan: we neither wish for war, nor -- conversely & crucially -- understand wishful thinking about war.

With Pakistan, we may presently have a war, interrupted -- but it's war all the same, an unprovoked war imposed on us by an unrepentant enemy. Many Indians -- good folks all -- wishfully interpret this present interruption as the war's end, this mere comma as a full stop. Instinctively, they now seek a win-win aftermath to war.

Yes, war is a terrible thing, however its unquenched embers are even worse; this still-smoldering coal is hardly good foundation even for castles in the air.

Let's be crystal clear about one thing: there may be win-win outcomes in love, but never in war. Here, either one prevails or one goes down.

By prevailing, we don't mean destroying cities and traumatizing the enemy's people (in Pakistan's case, its people are as much a victim of their rulers' dark hearts as Indians are); we mean defeating the enemy in his mind: savaging his assumptions, debasing his dreams, charring his resolve, and eliminating his war-waging capacity.

Only then, from this rubble of the enemy's neutered psyche, we can finally begin imagining a win-win future.

Have we learnt nothing from the ugly wars of the century just passed? After the first great European war, Versailles naively left intact defeated Germany's intent and capacity for war. A beaten, but unbroken, Germany then burned Europe to ground in less than 25 years. After the second great European war, Germany was psychologically crushed. Its post-war prosperity was then built on the foundation of Third Reich's rubble.

In 1991, Saddam Hussein was repulsed from Kuwait, but his megalomania and his war-machine wasn't smashed. He then portrayed himself as an Arab victim of American hegemony, and viciously crushed his Shia subjects. In 2003, after his globally-beamed dental exam, that game was finally over.

Let's return to Pakistan. India did not seek partition; it was imposed on us. India did not seek the subsequent wars; every one of them were imposed on us.

The Pakistani assumptions underlying this dark history, as we know well, are quite racist in nature. Most Pakistani kids are brought up on the tripe that Indians are lesser than them, a weak -- and immoral -- people, unfairly ruling a large geography that should be fragmented.

Pakistan dreams of being an equal to India in geo-political clout; some there even dream of hoisting their flag on Delhi's Red Fort.

In a supposedly conciliatory speech after December 13th, 2001, Pervez Musharraf spoke about Kashmir running in his blood. He was alluding there to his nation's -- his army's, his people's -- jihadist resolve to, one day, pry away the Himalayan territory from an inherently "weak" India. He's also repeatedly articulated his reasons for Pakistan's so-called "U-Turns" on terrorism and war: these are tactical adjustments given 9/11. Why should we assume this as a permanent change of heart?

As for Pakistan's war-making capacity, it has an economy sufficiently large to support, if necessary, a conventional war that can damage India greatly. It also has the bomb.

So, when our bellicose enemy stands proud with his racist assumptions, his covetous dreams, his jihadist resolve, and his war-machinery intact, how is it that thoughtful Indians think the war is over? Are we really sure we want to open up our greatest asset -- the ambition and enterprise of our free and heterogeneous people -- to an enemy whose uncreating and bigoted hand will burn it all down?

We pose these questions to our friends, and finally this: how can trading trinkets with evil possibly vanquish the darkness in its heart?


Patrix said...

An excellent post! You have answered your critics effectively and I agree wholeheartedly. War in an evil but inevitable truth. Man hasn't found an alternative to war in all his years of 'civilized' existence; in fact it has gotten worse. But that still doesn't wish away all hope and peace can only be wished for if two sides are honest with each other and be aware of their weaknesses. Pakistan is not there yet. But we sure can try.

Primary Red said...

Thanks, Patrix.

Anil said...

Well you have given some good examples in Iraq and Germany but I think you should consider the U.S.S.R. and the cold war, there was a clash of ideologies there too. Soviet kids were taught democracy was for losers but when the time came people yearned for peace and freedom and the once mighty empire fell.

I ask you, Is it wishful to hope that some day people in Pakistan will see reason too?, is it wishful to think someday a leader who genuinely want peace comes to power in Pakistan?, is it wishful to think that by talking with them we can save millions of people on both sides from a nuclear holocaust?.

No, I would rather wait another 50 years for peace rather than going to a war that would kill millions of innocents.

Why don't you see it like this, if we have more contact with the people of Pakistan they will get to know the real India, the freedoms we enjoy, the rights India provides to its people. Wouldn't it change their perception of India?, wouldn't it set a example for them what democracy and peaceful living can do .

Just my thoughts.

amit varma said...

Primary Red,

I understand where you're coming from, but I disagree with the position you take. I think the question you pose, ("How can trading trinkets with evil possibly vanquish the darkness in its heart?) contains a misconception. You are right in stating that successive governments of Pakistan have had a consistent policy of covert aggression against India (which you characterise as "war, interrupted"). Fair enough. But Pakistan is not just its government, but its people. And they are not evil.

However hawkishly they may be indoctrinated - and there is a fair amount of indoctrination in India as well - isn't it possible that the people of Pakistan really just want better lives, not war with India? I have many Pakistani friends, and many of my colleagues went to Pakistan when the Indian cricket team toured there last year and returned with touching stories of the affection with which they were treated. From what I read and hear, and see around me, people of both countries are sick of this enmity, which both are ill-served by.

Now let me refer back to the objectives you state in your post, with reference to those in Pakistan who wish to defeat us. We must aim at "savaging his assumptions, debasing his dreams, charring his resolve", you say. How better to do this than by drying up support for him within his country? The only thing that can do this is not war, which will engender further hatred, but prosperity. Let us trade trinkets. And rice and salt and whetever else. Trade is what turns a backward society into a progressive one, and a progressive society will defeat those you rail against.


Primary Red said...


If trade turns backward societies into progressive one's, should the world not have imposed trade sanctions on apartheid South Africa?

Best regards.


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