Random Thoughts

America's Mahabharata

There is a key incident in the Hindu epic Mahabharata, where its invincible hero Arjuna, who has been the prime factor in the victory of the good Pandavas over the evil Kaurava cousins, is assigned the job of escorting the clanswomen of his mentor Krishna to Dwarika in western India from Kurukshetra in north-central India. The unmatched warrior is somewhat miffed as he sullenly sets off, with his inexhaustible quiver of arrows and his unfailingly accurate bow Gandiva. The scene is now set for how pride leads to downfall. He is attacked by ordinary highwaymen and the Yadava women are looted and possibly raped, as Arjuna finds his quiver empty, when he stretches his hand backwards to retrieve an arrow. The bowstring of the Gandiva snaps and he is compelled to retreat from battle to save himself.

The explanation of all this has already been given earlier in the epic in the universally known section called The Bhagwad Gita. It is the famous verse, which begins as "Kalo Asmi" and was quoted by Oppenheimer after the successful detonation of the first nuclear weapon. He unfortunately mistranslated it as "Now I have become Death, the destroyer of all". The correct meaning of the Sanskrit words is "Now I am Time (not death), the destroyer of all…". 

Even more eloquently in Ecclesiastes - To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

The United States has a record of a Midas touch with Western Europe, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, but is unwilling to consider that times have changed or maybe there was something inherent in the core structure of these elements, which allowed their transmutation to stable gold. The record in South and Central America, Caribbean, Indonesia and even China is far from satisfactory and the attempts may have been half-hearted, insincere or early experimental. In dealing with Afghanistan and Pakistan, it has been a clear case of trying to aim a steady stream of dollar particles on these chunks of lead, which have in the past been transmuted to radioactive gold with a very short half-life, which radiates back large quantities of lethal particles of terrorists, detrimental to our health. Yet like a moth drawn to the deadly flame of a candle (burning at both ends), we keep repeating the grievous errors by going back to Pakistan with the speed and surety of a heroin addict returning to the drug dealer.

It is true that our past policies are partly responsible for the terrorist attack and we need to at least reassess if not change them and in the world of political reality, if the behavior of the lone superpower is unfair, selfish and unprincipled, it has still to be couched in a modicum of diplomacy and without preaching or patronizing.

The problem of how much fair play and the rule of law should dictate our behavior also has a parallel in the episode of the final battle between Karna, whose chariot wheel is sinking into quicksand and Arjuna, out to avenge the death of his son Abhimanyu. Karna asks Arjuna to desist from war, by referring to the rules of chivalrous combat, until he can untangle his chariot. Arjuna hesitates, but Krishna spurs him on by saying, that no one thought of the rules of chivalry, when seven of them ganged up on your solitary disarmed son. The Phrase used is "Shathhaam Shaathhyam" - to rogues, roguery. Finally Arjuna takes an oath to kill Jayadratha, the final culprit killer of his son, before the day ends. Jayadratha is hidden in the crowd and has been given a boon that if he is beheaded and if his head falls to the ground, his killer's head will shatter. If the head falls in the lap of another individual, the head of the person, in whose lap Jayadratha's head falls, will be shattered. Krishna reminds Arjuna to use the appropriate missile and then temporarily obscures the sun. Jayadratha raises his head because he thinks the sun has set. Arjuna launches the missile, which severs Jayadratha's head and carries it and drops it into the lap of Jayadratha's father, who was responsible for grnerating this terrorist devil and the source of terror is shattered as well. The sun comes out as Krishna removes the veil of his magic. This would be a good way to deal with these modern sons of a new Gandhari (woman of Kandahar). 

Wooing, bribing and cajoling the corrupt, non-representative, hypocritical and dictatorial Islamic regimes is unlikely to help USA, because Osama Bin Laden is the darling and champion of the uneducated and oppressed Islamic masses. If anything those Islamic governments, which actively help the United States are likely to become even more hated by the common citizens. It is best to seek the co-operation of the former Soviet Republics, where Islam has been suppressed and is newly resurgent. The heads of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan have suffered from Islamic insurgencies promoted by Afghanistan and are willing to co-operate. It is easier to nip early on, the product of an acorn in the bud, then to bring it down later, when it is an oak tree (Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia). The populations of these countries have no love for their governments and are seething with anger and silent with fear. To them Bin Laden is the hero they wish they could have been. Pakistan's transport and drug Mafia encouraged and financed the Taliban, who had studied in Saudi Arabia funded fanatic brainwashing schools. Pakistan intelligence service and military provided material, manpower, logistical support and lessons in strategy to install them as the ruling faction to gain strategic depth to carry out attacks on India from the safe base of a nominally separate independent and seemingly non-belligerent platform in Afghanistan. Yet USA chooses to embrace the reluctant four Muslim wives viz. Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Against Iraq, Saudis had to be dragged to the altar, Egypt was bought by forgiveness of billions of dollars, Jordan sided with Iraq and Pakistan kept mum and shot a few American personnel! With friends like these, who needs enemies! To support such non-representative tyrants we have lost the goodwill of the common people in the Middle East and with our immoral cohabitation with them, spawned the devil terrorists, who claim to be our self-appointed Nemesis.

We cannot just ignore such attacks or turn the other cheek. Terrorists must be starved of money and access to targets and means.

The sensible military option would be, to have logistic bases in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan with the help of Russia and provide air support and tactical strikes against massed Taliban planes, armor and artillery, while supplying materiel to the Northern Alliance. Probing and reconnaissance by special units, drones and satellites could be conducted without verbal diarrhea on the part of the administration. The only mantra that needs to be loudly and repeatedly chanted is we are against terrorists but not all Islam and we should scream from rooftops that we are feeding the draught affected Afghans and mindful not to cause any civilian casualties. The name of Bin Laden should be religiously avoided until incontrovertible proof of his involvement can be publicly shown. If the Taliban government falls, he will fall into our hands. The search for him must continue quietly and without depending predominantly on Pakistani intelligence, for that is truly building on treacherous sand. There is a strong possibility that Bin Laden is already in Pakistan or in the sliver of a corridor in the Pamirs, from where he can easily go to Uighur portions of China or Pakistan occupied Kashmir. The only US presence that is required in Pakistan is to prevent its nuclear material from falling into the hands of terrorists or maybe a pit stop for refueling our planes en route to Afghanistan and allowing the pilots to pee!

Dhritarashtra, the blind American public: 

So my dear Sanjaya, on this battlefield of Dharmakshetra (field of morality) and Kurukshetra (Afghanistan) how did America fare?

Sanjaya the TV anchorman (Divyachakshu): 

Tune in next time for the soul-searching battle and its epilogue of tragedy, just like its prologue!  


More by :  Gaurang Bhatt, MD

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