Sunday, April 13, 2003

From A conservative blog for peace correspondent Samer al-Batal
Pillagers strip Iraqi museum of priceless artefacts

A civilisation torn to pieces

Samer al-Batal: This is the crown of humiliation, a symbolic loss, a shame,
and the climax of mocking irony placed over all the dead bodies as a taunt.
I was worried over the ancient cultural heritage of the country, afraid the bombs
would threaten it, when instead its destruction comes at the hands of looters.
Just as NATO, using the Albanians, facilitated the utter destruction of ancient
monasteries and churches in Kosovo, the attack on an ancient heritage that survived the
Ottomans, the "coalition" forces have brought about this sacrilege by way of the
chaos they have unleashed in the city. In both situations cockamamie excuses
such as "revenge attacks" and "pent-up anger" have been used to allow cultural
destruction to continue unhindered while troops ignore what happens before them.
I'm beginning to wonder whether the New World Order has a thing against ancient
culture and heritage
. Do you think?

More on pillage and war crimes (or ‘we don’t target civilians, really we don’t’ strikes)
by Robert Fisk, The Independent

More from Mr Fisk:
Is there some element in the US military that wants to take out journalists?

Final proof that war is about the failure of the human spirit

More on the human suffering in Iraq

From A conservative blog for peace correspondent Lee Penn
The end of the West
by Farish Noor

The West is dead. Its death did not come in the form of a massive
terrorist attack that wiped out its governments, economies or
devastated its societies. It was not wiped out by an apocalypse of
epic proportions. Nor was it overcome by hordes of barbarians from
beyond the pale of civilisation. The West is dead, and it has died
from within, devoured and undermined by its own internal
contradictions.

The 'West' here refers to the great Western idea: the belief and
understanding that the West represented something that was higher,
nobler and more universal than itself. It is the West of the
Enlightenment project, the West of Reason and Ethics, the West of
International diplomacy and the rule of law. It is the West of
Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Locke, Hume, Leibniz, Spinoza and
Emmanuel Kant. All of that is dead now, destroyed in a hail of bombs
that have rained on the people of Iraq, a nation numbering no more
than 18 million people and which, we are told by the resident of the
White House, is a threat to humanity.

The War on Iraq is, without doubt, a colossal moral and political
disaster for humanity as a whole. International diplomacy and the
rule of law is all but gone, and we live in a Hobbesian state of
nature where might is right and the natural condition of Man is
reduced to the brute struggle of savages. The United States has
broken every single norm and rule of international diplomacy as well
as the laws of civilised combat by attacking this nation that can
barely stand on its own two feet, much less pose a
threat to any other country in the world. The aims of the US
political, military and business elite are clear, despite their
protestations of goodwill and nobler intentions. America stands
unmasked, and in the arena of global politics stands alone as the
skin-headed bully with lead pipe and chain in hand.

But along with the destruction of Iraq has come the destruction of
the very Western idea itself. All that the West has and could have
stood for is now laid to ruin. Never again will the world believe
that America stands for human rights and democracy, for how can one
impose a democracy at gun point, and how can one serve the cause of
human rights at the end of a bayonet? One cannot impose democratic
change and social reform to a country with violence, any more than
one can bring peace to the world through war. The contradictions are
so apparent they are almost laughable.

In the lead-up to this monumental catastrophe we watched the sordid
drama of that infant nation the United States berate and ridicule
the governments of Old Europe. America, the young straping nation of
ever-hopefuls was scornful of the ways of the past and the
traditions of its elders. But we should not forget that the older
nations of Europe have come where they are today only through
hardship and enormous suffering: millions of people had to die in
order for old Europe to learn the important lesson that war is not
the solution.

Yet America, unchained and let loose upon the world has seen fit to
deride and deminish the lessons of history - and in the process
forget its own recent past and its misadventures in Vietnam,
Indonesia, Philippines, Nicaragua, Chile, El Salvador, Iran,
Afghanistan and elsewhere. In a fit of collective amnesia and an
orgy of self-pity (in the wake of 11 September) it has girded its
loins and unsheathed the sword of vengeance which now falls heavily
on the world as a whole. This is perhaps the first time that the
world is watching a nation shamelessly commit war purely for the
sake of revenge and power.

At least in the past when the Western nations tried to colonise and
dominate the world, they did so via recourse to a higher purpose,
such as civilising the Other. Here we are witnessing raw power set
free with no moral restraint or ethical justification whatsoever. No
wonder the children are crying: such madness on a global scale is
unprecedented.

And so the West has died. From today, none of us will live with the
delusion that America is a force for good in the world. Nor will we
ever be able to live in peace, security and comfort ever again,
knowing that this maverick power is lurking out there somewhere,
constantly in search for enemies - both real and imagined - that it
has to eliminate and overcome.

But the worst thing of all is that with the death of the West has
come the death of the Western idea and its civilisational project.
The tradition of rationalist discourse and the appeal to universal
reason has been shattered irreperably by the hawks of Washington.
Fearful of the enemy without, they have proven themselves to be the
true savages within. The West is dead, killed by its errant
offsprings of war led by the one man who has done more damage to the
image of the West than all the Osamas, Mullah Omars, Saddams put
together: George W. Bush, murderer of Western civilisation and the
epitome of unreason.

Farish Noor is a British Muslim.

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