Another war, a bad guy and good guys, depends on which side you are betting on and the ones’ your sympathies lie with; the lines are ever so blurred as before we have seen times and again. The scene is Aleppo and the Inferno that is Syria, once a peaceful calm country just recently, embroiled in a bloody civil war. The media has its favourites, always dictated by the powers behind the scenes, journalists clambering over to get a story, the more the suffering, the more the impact of the stories especially with photojournalism reaching across the globe in a matter of seconds via the likes of Twitter, Instagram, Skype, Youtube and Facebook. Arm sales at their highest, the industry booming especially in US, UK, France and Russia. What a good way to promote your economy, fighting a war, funded by others in others’ territory. History repeated all over yet again and again!
War is fascinating, it’s always been since times immemorial, the history records them in gilded letters, we have all been brought up with our war heroes whether in folklore, religious or historic texts, no one is fascinated though with peacemakers and reflects on the horrors of war. We have all been guilty of that, Perhaps that’s how we have been brought up!
Myself for example, having seen at a very young and impressionable age, the documentaries and war movies on second world war and later lots of books on that, being guilty of being fascinated by Hitler, Guderian, Rommel and the Japanese (not the Italians by any stretch though!) and also by Montgomery, Eisenhower on the other side. Then The Falklands war, and the Iran Iraq War which gripped the region for a good part of the decade when I was opening up my eyes to the wide world around. Having lived in Libya, under a revolutionary anti West, anti American propaganda machine of the Qaddafi regime and having been taught about the nasty imperialistic occupation of the sub continent by the British Empire in the 19th century and onwards in our textbooks and how most of Africa, Latin America and parts of Asia was carved up by the European Colonialist powers through wider learning much later on; the inclination was always to support the oppressed against the deemed oppressor, lines would be blurred at many a times. But as they say, the British always love an underdog and so do I!
We followed the Falklands war on radio, I vividly remember, cheering as if it was a football match, being Maradona fans, obviously the Argentinians were favoured against the erstwhile colonial power, now my adopted country. Supported Iran morally against all odds against the might of Saddam supported by all and sundry, the Arabs and would you believe it, the US. The vision of young Iranians embracing martyrdom against an oppressor who was heavily armed and supported to occupy oil rich Iran in the post anti US era after the overthrow and exile of the Shah, again a win for the oppressed against a dictator supported by the superpower! It was a stalemate but destroyed both countries, benefitting none but Israel in the region.
Then there was always a war rhetoric, living in Pakistan, every year on Defence day and Republic Day, the display of arms and renewed will to fight off the “evil designs of our neighbouring country hell bent on destroying us” having never forgotten the partition orchestrated in a bad, possibly deliberate way by the British, hurriedly leaving after the Second World War, which marked the end of an era for the European powers having a hold in Africa and Middle East. The war cries made sure both countries Pakistan and India were armed to the teeth and any skirmish usually on the hotbed of Kashmir, (still an unresolved issue despite so many UN resolutions, showing how toothless a body it is when it comes to big powers) led to rumours of full scale war and boasts of obliterating the other. At least the nuclear deterrent, no matter what the Western world says, was a sigh of relief, making sure they are not going to war that easily! Still didn’t stop the later day Kargil and skirmishes at the Siachen Glacier.
The Gulf war in 1991 was the first one we saw live on TV, I still remember watching CNN on cable TV then, while doing my exams in 10th Grade. Saddam was suddenly made into a hero by many, forgetting his previous crimes, the reason– fighting the bigger evil; what a foresight!
We had seen the Intifada, the destruction of Beirut, Gaza shellings time and again, the Israeli excesses in Palestine, the second Gulf war, heard a lot about Vietnam and the Arab Israeli wars, The Korean war, the breakup of Yugoslavia into many pieces leading to a bloody civil war, the Serbs here were the scapegoats, and Bosnians being Muslims and oppressed our supported ones. Srebrenica always comes to mind and so does Sabra and Shatila! Who can forget Grozny and the Chechens fighting for independence from the mighty Russians.
Above all, in our region, we all supported the Afghan Mujahideens in 80s fighting against the “evil designs of the Soviets” this time Pakistani Intelligence fighting a proxy war on the behest of US, creating ongoing problems which lasted for decades and will continue to impact on both the countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan; Iran and India playing proxy roles later on, after the Russians and US washed their hands off it. Of course who could forget the role of the Saudis in that. Heroes were made out of the likes of Hikmatyar, Ahmad Shah Massoud. The War ended, the Soviets left and ultimately the country broke up, Afghanistan was blown into pieces by a far more bloodier civil war; enter the Taliban, of all the cruelty and excesses committed, give them the credit when due, even acclaimed by the American media, peace prevailed for a longer durable period, poppy production at its lowest.
The twin tower collapse in New York, seen live on TV was frightening but gave media an outlet and the Government with a free reign to raid! Afghanistan and Iraq suffered badly; in the name of collateral damage and the Middle East is a mess since then. The Arab Spring proclaimed so excitedly by the West, led to destabilization of many countries, destabilising many countries in North Africa, namely Libya and Egypt. Democracy was not seen favourably especially in Algeria, Egypt and Turkey, coups and overthrow of Governments at will, with a hidden hand always supporting. Europe started seeing the effects of terror; Paris, Madrid, London, Brussels, the major European capitals were not spared and media glared in its gory details; analysts and so called experts on regions had something to talk on. It was all fascinating stuff for many but at the cost of human misery and a bleak future for many, some who lost loved ones, some who would always live in fear in exile,how they would be treated as aliens , many in their own adopted countries and even their future generations not safe from the hate generated!
Syria is the big news these days, as Afghanistan, Iraq and ISIS are on a back burner. Kashmir and Palestine are forgotten and so is Yemen because it doesnt matter. The superpowers still playing a proxy war and the sufferers…poor civilians, being displaced in huge numbers, creating a huge crisis of immigration towards European shores where thousands are risking their lives, another story on forgotten people, people of a lesser god maybe.
When will it stop, no one knows, as its endless and will go on in one way or the other, one continent or the other, till the widespread sale of arms is not stopped and the superpowers come off their agenda of interfering in other countries!