Duryodhana Bush and the Middle East Mahabharata by Gaurang Bhatt, MD SignUp

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Duryodhana Bush and the Middle East Mahabharata
by Gaurang Bhatt, MD Bookmark and Share

Before the final battle of the Mahabharata, the Pandavas send Krishna as an envoy to the Kauravas to negotiate for the division of the kingdom. He demands five towns for the five Pandava princes and the promise to be left in peace. While it is unfair to the Pandavas to be equated with the Islamic akshauhini (hordes) and for Krishna to be compared with the Iraq Study Group Baker Hamilton commission, the parallel is striking.

The ISG report was a last ditch effort to allow America to withdraw honorably without losing face and still giving peace a chance. America's illegal, immoral and unprovoked aggression in Iraq was meant to capture its oil reserves, install a puppet government in Iraq, base US troops permanently in Iraq to threaten Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Gulf States and maintain a stranglehold on the oil supply and transit route jugular of Japan, EU, China and India, the potential rising powers.

The answer that Duryodhana gave to Krishna was, 'I will not give up as much territory as would be covered by the pointed end of a needle falling on the earth in my kingdom' and he ordered his minions to overpower Krishna and imprison him. Krishna then began a transformation in which he grew in size so that his big toe was larger than the sepoys of Duryodhana and walked out of the assembly.

There is a similar storytelling tactic used in the Ramayana when Indrajita, the son of Ravana orders the arrest of Rama's Vanar envoy Angada. Indrajita's guards cannot even raise Angada's foot from the ground.

Bush ordered the arrest of Iranians in Erbil, Iraq. The Iranians claimed to be diplomatic passport holding envoys.

There is some method to Bush's madness. The US is the largest debtor nation in the world. It is running nearly eight hundred billion dollars annual budget, trade and current account deficits each, not combined. This single deficit amount is larger than the annual GDP of India and when combined approaches the GDP of Japan. US needs the EU, Japan and China to maintain its hegemony. It can depend on the EU because ethnically they are white Europeans and the US has protected them in the past cold war against the USSR. It needs Japan and China to finance its deficits. The former does it because Japan is a vanquished social insect like society allowed to become mighty after its failed Greater Asia Co-prosperity strategy of WW2 under the US nuclear umbrella. China does it because it needs to provide employment for its migrant masses and improve its economic status. China's foreign exchange reserves now exceed one trillion dollars. It is no friend of America and like Shylock in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice will demand its pound of flesh (Taiwan) and will drive America to a debtor's prison. As the adage says, 'Vinaash kaale viparit buddhi'. In rough English translation, those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad. In Bush's defense god didn't have to make the effort to make him mad.

So Bush has decided to escalate the war by sending more troops to Iraq. The other reason for this folly is a question of ego, status and the legacy of his presidency as I wrote in my article on status. He does not want to go down in history as the American president who lost the war. Just as Lyndon Johnson and Nixon prolonged the war and left it for Ford to end and Hitler tried with the Battle of the Bulge, Bush Jr. will leave the presidency and pass on the mess to his successor. An even more important reason to prolong the war is the awaited passage of the oil legislation by the Iraqi parliament to irrevocably privatize the Iraqi oil and deliver it at a discount price to the US and British oil MNCs like Exxon-Mobil, Chevron-Texaco, BP and Royal Dutch-Shell in perpetuity.

Just as the British did in India when they fomented the Hindu-Muslim divide that fragmented British India into India and Pakistan, America is now widening the divide between Sunnis and Shias and will add fuel to the fire. The policy of regime change was used by the East India Company when it promulgated the law of annexation. They first emasculated the unconquered Indian Rajahs and their kingdoms by thrusting upon them British political agents and British chiefs for their armies. The Rajahs and Nawabs became mere figureheads and puppets, distracted by wine, women, shikar hunting and sports while the British exploited the resources to enrich themselves and the company.

Robert Clive, a clerk initially and then an officer and Warren Hastings retired to fabulous wealth and titles in England. If the Indian ruler had no son or if the next in line Indian heir was unacceptable to the Company bigwigs, the kingdom was annexed to the Company domain. This is what the Rani of Jhansi rebelled against in 1857. The US has followed this British imperial strategy in removing elected leaders and replacing them with compliant tyrants in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Cambodia, Chile, Congo, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Hawaii, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Philippines, Texas, Venezuela and Vietnam, just to name a few. Coups have been orchestrated in Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and recently in Somalia.

I am no defender of any religion, least of all Islam which has been a travesty for India and is the present scourge of America. Islam has two redeeming factors, equality of all with no caste system and mandated charity. The first is not followed in practice as shown by the treatment of the more African origin Muslims by other Muslims in Sudan (case of Darfur), Saudi Arabia and Iraq (descendants of African slaves) and Pakistan (atavistic remnants of the Hindu converts' caste). I am a secular humanist and an educated liberal. My definition of an educated liberal is one who not only considers one's own point of view alone, but is willing to look at any matter from the point of view of concerned other parties. So let us look at America's behavior and foreign policy over the last fifty years from the Middle East and Muslim point of view.

Major oil discoveries began in the latter part of the nineteenth century in Pennsylvania, USA. Britain, the then prevalent hegemon discovered oil in Iran and signed an exploitative agreement with the weak, greedy and stupid Qajar dynasty ruler of Iran to monopolize Iranian oil. The Iranian workers were treated horribly and the country received meager crumbs while the British navy wisely and smartly converted the Royal Navy from coal fired steamships to oil fired engines. This is why Britain created Kuwait and the Gulf Sheikhdoms in a policy of divide and rule. America, the rising power destined to takeover the mantle of Britain muscled its way into the Middle East when Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed an agreement to militarily back the insecure kingdom of Saudi Arabia by signing an agreement with the king aboard an American ship. The US elbowed its way into Iranian oil by orchestrating the coup against Mossadeq in Iran and installing the tyrant puppet Shah in 1953. It got a piece of the Iranian oil. The US bowing to the domestic pressure of the Jewish lobby supported, armed and sustained the nascent state of Israel, established by force at a cost of displacement and massacre of Muslim and Christian Palestinians. The crimes against the Jews were committed by the German Nazis in Europe and the land was taken away from Palestinians to reward the Jews. The argument was that 2000 years ago there was a Jewish state there. On that basis why don't we return the whole of North America and South America to the American Indians or return Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan to India?

From 1967 onwards, the US has armed and financed the systematic oppression of Palestinians and upheld the non-democratic rule of tyrants in Indonesia, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Gulf Sheikhdoms, Lebanon, Pakistan, Iran and even Iraq (Saddam was brought to power with the help of the CIA). The wealth of Arab oil has been recycled as petrodollars to the West and the obscenely profligate spending of the powerful to the detriment of the common Muslim populations who live in relative poverty without education, power or progress. Freedom of press and speech have been stifled and penalized with imprisonment, torture and murder at the hands of the secret police often trained by the US in the School of the Americas (Just as for Carribean, Central American and South American tyrants and their governments). Indonesia's leftist leader Sukarno was overthrown by General Suharto with US backing and nearly a million Indonesian Muslims, predominantly communists were killed. In 1970, in support of the Pakistani government which was helping Nixon open the China door, the US connived at the death, injury and rape of half a million East Pakistanis, Muslims and some Hindus by the army of West Pakistan.

In the 1980s the US instigated and militarily and financially backed an Iraqi aggression on Iran using chemical weapons. A million Iranians died or were wounded. In 1991, the US turned on its previous favorite Saddam. It is said that he had cleared his invasion of Kuwait with the US ambassador and gotten a no objection green light. Then he was attacked and nearly 250,000 Iraqis killed or injured. Bush Sr. Encouraged the Kurds and Shiites to rebel against Saddam and allowed him to use helicopter gun-ships against the rebels. Tens of thousands of Shiites were killed or wounded. Sanctions were imposed which led to the death of over half a million Iraqi children. On the false pretext of WMDs and association with Al Qaeda, Iraq was attacked again in 2003 and according to the British journal Lancet, nearly 700,000 Iraqis have been killed in four years. A million or more have become refugees. When prior lies for the aggression on Iraq did not stand the test of time, the new excuse was to spread democracy and freedom. This fell flat when the routine practice of torture was revealed at Abu Ghraib in Iraq, Bagram in Afghanistan and Guantanamo in Cuba.

In 2001, the US attacked Afghanistan and tens of thousands of Afghans have died in five years. There is rampant violence, corruption, bribery, warlordism, drug running, with starving Afghans selling their daughters, under the puppet Karzai government. In the interim period the US stalled the peace process and allowed Israel to prosecute a devastating bombing in Lebanon which destroyed the infrastructure, killed thousands and displaced nearly half a million people. Us arms and support led to the suppression of a duly elected government in Algeria with massacre of nearly 100,000 Algerians in the past two decades. In the last week, the US planned and supported an Ethiopian army attack on Islamists in Somalia and used its favorite tactic of aerial bombing of civilian areas, naturally incapable of discriminating terrorists from innocent civilians whose deaths are swept under the catchall phrase of collateral damage, now routine in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Somalia.

In Afghanistan and Iraq before and now in Somalia, the Islamic insurgents will blend into the population and the insurgency will keep smoldering for years. It will be financed by American and other unsympathetic countries' money because the price of oil is a tax that all countries pay to keep their economy going. These dollars go to the Arab OPEC members and the richer and not so rich Muslims now convinced of a clash of civilizations give their charities to insurgents. As Kissinger is said to have stated 'Even paranoids have real enemies'. The Taliban in Afghanistan also finance their insurgency from heroin and once again the financing comes from western consumers.

Bush's thoughtless folly in Iraq has cost America 3,000 dead and 25,000 wounded plus 500 billion dollars so far, and will cost another trillion dollars in death, pension and health benefits for veterans. Other oil importing nations have lost 500 billion dollars due to higher oil prices due to Bush's blunder.

The arrest of Iranian diplomats will and can be justified by the holding of US diplomats hostage by Iran in 1979. More worrisome are the escalating accusations against Iran of supporting and arming the Iraqi insurgency and the Mahdi militia. One more aircraft carrier group has been dispatched to the Persian Gulf and the heating of rhetoric seems to be a prelude to attacking Iran, as sanctions are likely to fail. There is sufficient justification for targeting terrorists but when the US ignores the safe havens for them in Pakistan and uses the same pretext to bomb them in Somalia, the arguments and reasons sound hollow and contrived. It is the same hypocrisy as touting democracy for Iraq and Iran and then supporting the illegitimate rulers of Algeria, Egypt, Gulf States, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Indiscriminate aerial bombing leading to civilian deaths is written off as collateral damage while similar atrocities by the other party are called terrorism. There is little doubt that the Islamic terrorists must be dealt with severely and even lethally, but selectively, otherwise the death of innocents will only increase Muslim hatred for America and help to recruit more terrorists.

The Muslim problem is absence of political freedom, freedom of speech and economic opportunity, due to the oppressive policies of unelected leaders supported and backed up by America and the total connivance at and military and financial support of Israel's brutal occupation of Palestinian lands. There is also a lack of education and awareness amongst Muslim populations.

 I will cite two examples of Muslim behavior in a predominantly non-Muslim country like India. While it is true that Saddam did not get a fair or full trial and was hanged quickly to avoid revelations that would have proved embarrassing to the US, there is no doubt that he deserved the severest penalty for his mass killing of Iranians, Kurds and Shiites. A Muslim village in Bihar petitioned the government to change its name to Saddamabad. There is nothing about Saddam, his life or actions that can be considered laudable and while his trial was in a kangaroo court and the sentence premature, there is not the slightest reason to honor him.

Another example is a soft corner in some Indian hearts for Hitler because he was an enemy of the British who ruled India. The British rule was bad, biased and unjust, but Hitler deserves no praise or memorials. He killed six million Jews for no other reason but that they were Jews. Most educated Indians are ignorant and unaware that he killed 500,000 gypsies who are clearly of Indian origin. This shows the stupidity of some idiot Muslim or Hindu who named his restaurant in Mumbai, Hitler Caf'.

Of course ignorance and bigotry are not the exclusive privilege of Muslims, Hindus or Jews. Americans are equally afflicted as eight out of ten Americans, whites and blacks believed that Saddam was responsible for 9-11 and supported Al Qaeda, even though the 9-11 Commission report explicitly stated otherwise. This was because of the persistent lies of the president, vice president and their sundry hacks, the supine media propaganda machine and the natural gullibility of people in general. Herman and Chomsky's book Manufacturing Consent deserves re-reading as we live through a life based on the script of 'Endless War' as in Orwell's 1984.

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