Give up and give us what we need. Peace
WRITE HAND BY AJAZ-UL-HAQUE
It’s been a war and peace story all these years between India and Pakistan. Whenever clouds of war loom large, some grave concerns are expressed, some forgotten questions resurface and some stock answers rescue us at last. Forget India and Pakistan, see what war does. As long as it remains confined to the statements being hurled against each other, nothing matters. But once it breaks out, it makes us run for our lives. Peace we talk every day, today let’s have a war-talk.
Eric Hobsbawm, a noted historian of our times, describes the horrors of modern warfare in his Age of Extremes. Describing the two great wars which the world has witnessed so far as `total wars’, the historian sees beyond the apparent victory and defeat of the nations involved. The war ruined victors and vanquished both. Hobsbawm holds. It led one to revolution and rebellion and the other to bankruptcy and physical exhaustion. A zero-sum game in which gain of one nation immediately meant the loss of the other. A simple question. Then why did nations fight? A simple answer. Ambition. An endless desire of an imperial overstretch to extend your empire beyond territories.
Herodotus, the great historian of ancient times begins his classic HISTORY with the same belief. Nations were doomed and what caused it was a restless ambition which didn’t let their rulers be at peace with themselves. To seek that peace they could not help but be at war with others. The lust could not be put to an end. Out of a spark was ignited a big fire that flared out of control. It made the whole world hell hot for those who wanted to live and let live.
Nations, as Hobsbawm analyses tried to overpower each other not partially, but completely. And in the same completion were destroyed not just those who got killed but those who survived too. `What little chance the peace had, was torpedoed by the refusal of the victor powers to reintegrate the losers’, Hobsbawm writes. What they aimed at, was a `total repression’. Though apparently it was put to a formal end, the first war left something unfinished. The fight nevertheless ended, but the war was potentially there. The seeds of revenge which took just three decades to ripen up. The beast reared its head once again. Some unsettled scores had to be settled and some more human hands were out to give it a shot. Death ruled and life could not find a better place than a graveyard to hide itself from the fright and sight of cannons and bayonets. Humankind witnessed a war more devastating, unforgettably bigger in scale and scare than the first one. This one had a touch of technology which made it even more lethal. The same technology, which Hobsbawm so poignantly summarises, `made its victims invisible’. Earlier we had human beings as target, now what stood in front of a permanently fixed machine gun were not men, but statistics. You couldn’t see the one you killed. This made the warfare so chilling that Stalin could not help but say, `one death is a tragedy, a million statistic’. Lives lost were not for survivors to mourn over, but for the statisticians to keep note of. God saw His own servants turn masters of their fate and the rest is history.
States and territories are meaningless, if held against the wishes of those who inhabit them. History has it, one imperial move has lead to an endless streak of grab and rule. World wars too were, as perceived by the politicians of the time, fought for peace. The same rhetoric which finds a good market in the world politics today.
So the trouble is obvious, what is the solution. Solution lies in giving up. Giving up gracefully in the honour of human life. Territories wherever occupied, peoples wherever subjugated, communities wherever persecuted are to be freed. And this will also let you enjoy your own freedom. As Orwell sums up, the easiest way to end a war is to lose it.
The pre-historic man who fought with pen-knives and daggers had at-least to see the one he would swipe at. He needed someone as his enemy and he could not kill except the one who wanted to kill him. But the modern warfare is too blind to make this distinction. In bed room or battle-field, we all fall a fodder. Sitters or fighters, die we must, if war is to be won. How many? It never says never again.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 16 Jan 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 16 Jan 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 17 Jan 2010 00:00:00 IST
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