Crimson chronicles

Published November 16, 2023
The writer is an author.
The writer is an author.

THE dead die when ceremony replaces memory. Ask the souls of those millions who sacrificed their lives throughout the history of human conflict. They lie interred beneath the earth they fought over. They fertilise the flowers that are pleached into wreaths. They are beyond the sound of vainglorious trumpets. They lie deep, “too deep for tears”.

There was a time when news of victories or defeats in battle took days, often weeks, if not months, to reach families at home. How long, one wonders, did it take for news of Alexander’s victory over Porus near the Jhelum in 326 BCE to reach Greece and the anxious Macedonians? It took over a month in 1776, after the Declaration of Independence of July 4, for the British King George III to learn that he had lost his American colonies. News of Wellington’s victory over Napoleon in 1815 reached London’s Whitehall after three days. The telegraph and the radio, however, brought modern wars into real time.

In May 2011, news channels via satellite television allowed president Obama, secretary of state Hillary Clinton and their cast of hawks in Washington, D.C. to watch US Navy SEALs invade Pakistan, and then assassinate Osama bin Laden in distant Abbottabad.

Today, death strides with bloodied boots directly from the battlefield into our family lounges. It does not wait for a casus belli. Retaliation now precedes the provocation.

Retaliation now precedes the provocation.

There are many today who suspect that the attacks on America’s homeland on 9/11 were pre-planned by forces within the US, with Saudi help. Out of the 19 Al Qaeda terrorists who hijacked four US commercial airliners on Sept 11, 2001, 15 were Saudi citizens.

No one has been allowed to plumb the alleged role of the then Saudi ambassador to the US Prince Bandar bin Sultan. (He served both masters in D.C. for 22 years.) It has been alleged he indirectly funded some of the hijackers. His name is believed to be included in the 28 sensitive pages redacted from the final version of the 9/11 Commission report. How did Saudi and UAE nationals with US pilots’ licences agree to commit such a well-planned suicide? And who is looking after their families? (In India, Bimal Kaur — the widow of Mrs Indira Gandhi’s assassin Beant Singh — was later elected to the Lok Sabha.)

Some ask how Hamas could have amassed unaided 5,000 rockets to launch its pre-emptive attack on Israel? Whoever planned that assault must have anticipated its devastating consequences. They could foresee that the resultant punishment would not only fit the crime but was intended to exceed it.

And after the present apocalypse, what?

Many years ago, the comedian Peter Sellers starred in a satirical film The Mouse that Roared (1959). In it, a fictional tiny European Duchy of Grand Fenwick “declares war on the United States, surrenders and takes advantage of American largesse towards its defeated enemies to rebuild the defeated nation’s economy”.

If only Palestine had been another Grand Fenwick: its rehabilitation would have been assured. Instead, before the close of 2023, Palestine as a state will have been obliterated. Its rubble will be pulverised to cement the foundation for a dollar-funded reconstruction, a phoenix rising out of the ashes of Palestine into a larger Israel. Ironically, Palestine’s annihilation will be the final solution to the Palestinian problem. This would suit everyone: an ambitious Israel, its ever-loyal patron the US, a reproving but impotent UN, and a quiescent Muslim ummah which has less the properties of a camel than of an ostrich with its head buried in the sand.

Such a solution would suit everyone — except the innocent infants who fight for every breath, not for land. They are as­­sured enough inches for a grave.

Will these atrocities pass into history unchronicled?

In 1945, World War II had hardly ended when the Western media began a barrage of propaganda aimed at extolling its victories and denigrating its enemies. Quick off the mark were Lord Russell of Liverpool’s charge-sheets of German and Japanese atrocities. The first — The Scourge of the Swastika: A Short History of Nazi War Crimes — appeared in 1954. (It avoided the word ‘German’.) It was followed by The Knights of Bushido: A Short History of Japanese War Crimes (1958). No embarrassment there.

If there are any comparable volumes on the war crimes committed by the US and its allies since 1945, the White House library certainly does not have them. It would not have enough space.

A resident — president Ronald Reagan — once said: “There is no cause more important than affirming the transcendent right to life of all human beings, the right without which no other rights have any meaning.” But then, Ronald Reagan began his Hollywood career as a comedian.

The writer is an author.

www.fsaijazuddin.pk

Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2023

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