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Wake up Now ! جاگو ، جاگو ، جاگو

Wake up Pakistan ! Presently the Muslim societies are in a state of ideological confusion and flux. Materialism, terrorism,...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

USA Friend or Foe -2

The Curse Of Nationalism 

THE either-or definition of America’s friends and foes runs the risk of mixing up its self-induced paranoia with alleged prejudice that many across the world are thought to exude, or mask, towards that multi-layered and controversial country.

In a way what Hillary Clinton seemed to tell the people of Pakistan last week or even what the learned Stephen Cohen has said about Pakistan’s army in an interview to Dawn — that it seems more anti-American than ideologically radical — requires a considered pause.

What constitutes anti-Americanism in their view? The question flows from a plethora of self-serving definitions of what could be deemed a slight to a country’s collective pride.

Chest-thumping Indian nationalists, for example, have periodically slandered fellow compatriots, usually Muslims, as anti-Indian, all because they backed a different cricket team. Likewise, groups of Christians are declared anti-national for spreading the word of Christ among the socially shunned lower strata of indigenous Indians.

There is no end to the tangled web of narrow definitions between the self-declared nation-loving individual and the quintessential punching bag — the stereotyped anti-Indian Indian, for example. A homegrown movement against big dams is readily branded as national treachery, as is someone visiting Srinagar to release a book on Kashmir’s struggle against military occupation.

When it comes to fudging facts there is no one to beat Israel. It has cleverly turned the tables on the most agreeable critics of Zionism by labelling them anti-Semitic. Therefore, anyone opposing its policies, no matter how fair they are, would run the risk of being declared an enemy of the Jewish people. President George W. Bush used elements of this brazen nationalism as a role model to muscle his way to create a make-believe consensus on the occupation of two sovereign countries.

Pakistan’s perceived anti-Americanism is all the more intriguing since its cheer leaders who are today denouncing Washington constitute followers of an Islamic worldview that was opposed, even hostile, to the idea of Pakistan’s creation in 1947.

Moreover, they include the same stock of people who had all but worshipped American prowess and its legendary gifts of Patton tanks and Saber jets to confront India with.

Is the intensity and spread of anti-Americanism more pervasive in Pakistan than it has been in post-revolution Iran for decades? If so, there is not too much to worry about. There can be no doubt that Iran has remained the biggest critic of the United States ever since the Islamic revolution arrived in 1979.

America, declaimed Khomeini, was Shaitan-i-Buzurg, the Great Satan. Right up to the 1990s, there were typically four loud chants of condemnation reserved after the main Friday prayer at the Tehran University. The sprawling grounds would reverberate with calls for the destruction of Saddam Hussein, the United States, Israel and the Soviet Union, in that order. If there is a spring in the walk of the regime’s acolytes today it is at least partly because they sense that 50 per cent of their resolve was accomplished with America’s help.

However, the flip side of the narrative is just as absorbing. Underneath the chador, the younger women have not abandoned their love of jeans, universally seen as an exclusively American symbol.

Up to the 1990s, there was this familiar portrait of a beaming Col Saunders, creator of Kentucky Fried Chicken, flashed across a restaurant billboard in Tehran. It announced jujeh rolls and chelo kebab instead of the standard American fare. An Indian relative who taught English grammar to Iranian students after the revolution, lost his job because his accent was not considered American enough.

Young men and women north of Tehran’s Farmaniyeh district, along the corrugated slopes of Damawand mountains were an unlikely mainstay of the revolution through the 1980s, yet you could not miss the rock and roll music blaring from their lavish homes; nor men and unveiled women skiers etching love messages in English in the snow-clad hills.

My camera was confiscated by a pasdar for focusing on the little-known support system of the revolution. And who can forget the love that surged through the corridors of state power in Iran when the Republicans were plotting the fall of Jimmy Carter in cahoots with the mullahs?

The idea of what precisely defines anti-Americanism has been debated hotly. Noam Chomsky suggests the use of the term within the United States has parallels with methods employed by totalitarian states.

“The concept ‘anti-American’ is an interesting one,” he says. “The counterpart is used only in totalitarian states or military dictatorships … Thus, in the old Soviet Union, dissidents were condemned as ‘anti-Soviet’. That’s a natural usage among people with deeply rooted totalitarian instincts, which identify state policy with the society, the people, the culture. In
contrast, people with even the slightest concept of democracy treat such notions with ridicule and contempt.”

A variant of anti-Americanism precedes the alliances and the fallout the United States has had with the Muslim world. “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of Negroes?” asked Samuel Johnson in 1775. “I am willing to love all mankind, except an American,” he famously stated.

Charles Dickens was equally indignant. He said: “The heaviest blow ever dealt at liberty will be dealt by this country [America], in the failure of its example to the earth.” Who could better affirm the pitfalls of slander inherent in narrow nationalism than President Barack Obama himself?

Frank Chapman, a member of the US Peace Council Executive Committee, wrote of his victory in the Iowa Democrat Party caucuses: “Marx once compared [the] revolutionary new era of struggle with the work of the mole, who sometimes burrows so far beneath the ground that he leaves no trace of his movement on the surface. This [Obama] is the old revolutionary ‘mole’, not only showing his traces on the surface but also breaking through.”

A comforting facet of narrow nationalism is that, like the sheep in Animal Farm, it often switches its tune with the need of the occasion. Even so it is a curse.
Related Links:

USA - A Friend or Foe of Pakistan? -1  http://t.co/MzEkrPV
Don’t be Deceived, Know the Real Enemies of PEACE: http://fb.me/128f56sVg
How is India Reacting to the PNS Mehran Crisis? http://t.co/NVcRKD8
Analysis-Terrorist Attack at Pakistan Naval Air Base...http://t.co/DzNdtvb
Pakistan must Stand Up for itself: http://t.co/eBvzMEC
Shattering Some Myths – Naval Base Attack: http://t.co/QEfQjpY
Wisdom and Faith http://t.co/OTjaGV5