The grand alliance that the US has rigged up to shadow box terrorism is a collage of disparate interests with a marked absence of commitment to the cause. It smacks more of crass opportunism rather than a willing cooperation to take on the evil of naked terror.
Every country that has promised to go along with America has done so for a price –something in return for the active or passive efforts that they may make in pursuance of anti–terrorism agenda. Even the US, for all its rhetoric, is looking at the problem in the narrow ambit of its own interests. In their rabidity to assemble a coalition against Osama bin Laden, the Americans have sacrificed their avowed commitments to root out globally the evil of terror.
The Arabs have laid down their own conditions, seeking more active role for the US in the Middle East in meeting the Palestinian aspirations. Musharaff has made the best of adversity and cunningly extracted a pound of flesh that interalia includes the end of sanctions, debt relief, millions of dollars in aid for refugees, a role in post-Taliban dispensation and above all legitimacy for the regime. One marvels at his balancing acumen of realpolitik with faith, and ingenuity at image building, media manipulation and of course, India baiting, in which he excels par excellence.
When it came to terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), the US administration has made it abundantly clear to India that its priorities lie elsewhere. Its harp on phasing the operations is neither ethical nor pragmatic, particularly in view of the overwhelming evidence of involvement of the notorious terrorist Masood Azhar, of hijack fame and the founder of Jaish e Mohammed (JeM) with spider web of connections on the money trail. Washington has yet to give a convincing proof of bin Laden’s involvement, on the other hand, JeM has owned the responsibility cocking a snook and daring the civilized. Whereas India has fallen head over heels in its unqualified support to the US, convincingly construed by its detractors as abject placation, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has been blunt to the point of effrontery, admonishing Washington, “Do not try to appease the Arabs at our expense.”
Like India, Russia too stands vindicated. Chechnya and J&K were proving grounds for “Jihad” – a prologue to WTC. Russians however are far from being naÃƒÂ¯ve. It is apparent that they have bargained prudently. Criticism of Chechnya has been muted, even doings legitimized in what was earlier denounced as “atrocities”. Besides, Russians could now bank on Western help in developing their economy and infrastructure.
China has joined the coalition because it perceives an opportunity to put down Muslim insurgency in the western region of Xinjiang province. China prefers to go alone and eschew publicity to its efforts. It is believed that after the attack on America, China quietly intensified counter insurgency operations and executed at least seven persons and arrested dozens more. In other times the US would have been leading China badgers in crying foul and would have called it yet another evidence of repression a la Tiananmen Square. Following Jiang Zemin’s offer of condolences and support to Bush, a Chinese foreign office spokesman sought quid pro quo in dealing with Uighur separatists and independence seekers in Tibet and Taiwan.
Japan has shed its pretence and is willing to provide logistic support to the US, its scope undefined. Ironically the Japanese are questioning the status of their own military which was relegated after World War II. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has increased diplomatic efforts in backing the coalition with visits to China and South Korea. Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country has given the endorsement to America’s war on terrorism in return for an aid package worth $600 million. Malaysia, Thailand and Philippines have likewise tried to balance economic and diplomatic pressures with internal fissures and threats from the extremists.
There is a lesson for us. The asymmetric attacks on the most powerful nation in the world has shown how tenuous the world order is and how skin deep is the commitment to coalition. Let us therefore stand on our own and not look elsewhere to fight our wars against violence and terror. Besides, there is no virtue in being taken for granted.