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The political and emotional climate in which the human family lives and breathes has changed a lot after the sudden collapse of the twin towers in New York in September, 2001. The US government condemned the terrorist attack as blatant aggression on the soil of a sovereign state and took it as a challenge to the greatest military power today on the planet. If the solitary Super-Power was not safe from the reach of terrorism entire humanity stood in the gravest peril, so they said. Indeed, the government and the American people, as a whole, did find themselves engulfed by a deep sense of humiliation and of insecurity.

The giant brought the matter before the bar of the UN. This was, indeed, the proper course, but soon afterwards the reference to the august world body changed, first, into an imperious demand and, then, into a threat. The giant named the President of Iraq as the culprit and the super villain of the ongoing drama of world terrorism and ordered, as it were, the entire free world to teach an instant lesson to a reborn Hitler. Even as the world body was still deliberating on the complex issue the giant flexed its awesome muscles and its still more awesome death machine came to a roaring and blinding start. The stated war aim was the defence of the American people, indeed, the defence of liberty for entire humanity, and the liberation of the oppressed millions of Iraq and the entire region.

Assuming the giant was sincere, can any impartial observer of the human scene seriously doubt that the giant's motive was 90%, atavistic rage and revenge, 9% the effective safeguarding of oil interests, and only 1%, the liberation of the oppressed millions of the regions concerned? In all humility, I submit that the rage was caused by the trauma of the collapse of the twin towers, though the concern for protecting oil interests was and remains quite understandable. The concern for oil, however, was overshadowed by the giant's bewilderment in the face of a strange terrorist ethos that exalts suicide as supreme victory and Divine reward.

Its analytical and rational capabilities benumbed by an unsuspected and powerful challenge from an insignificant quarter, the Super Power regressed, as it were, to a tragic response. The tragedy was that the principal architect, financier and director of the UN turned into a peeved cynical mocker of the system as such. It was as if the Godmother and midwife of the UN, in a fit of rage at not being able to convince the UN strangulated its own baby. Did not this amount to turning back the clock of humanity's progress on the tortuous journey to the ideal of peaceful settlement, through dialogue, of all international disputes? There was, however, one redeeming feature-as President Bush and Prime Minister Blair were engaged in giving bad reasons in public to seduce wiser heads to their way of thinking, at that very moment, millions of ordinary citizens of the

Western world were staging marches and rallies in their capitals to defend the legacy of Locke, Voltaire, Goethe, Jefferson, Lincoln and Mill. May this happen whenever and wherever the need may arise in any part of the world.

Dissident opinion in the UN was, by no means, hostile to the Bush-Blair line. The European Powers, Russia, China and India merely wished that the US should not precipitate any retaliatory vengeance against Iraq or others without solid proof of complicity in the attack on the twin towers or possession of WMD, and without the full involvement of the UN. This was all the more necessary and desirable because the Iraqi imbroglio was itself a cumulative byproduct of American Realpolitik in West Asia after the end of world war n, specially its dubious role in inciting Iraq against Iran.

The spectacular American victory over the Taliban forces in Afghanistan where, a few years earlier the Soviet Union had met its Waterloo, had perhaps, turned the healthy American confidence and pride in its military and technological supremacy into hubris. The Taliban and other religious fundamentalists were also in a state of rather irrational euphoria due to their remarkable military triumph over the 'enemies of God.

Sociologically speaking, the cause of the remarkable success of the 'Mujahideen' was three-fold-poor morale of the Soviet fighters and establishment, the power of the 'jehadi' ideology, and the power of American arms and money. However, the Muslim world gave primacy to the second factor, while the Western world, in general, to the third. The 'jehadi' Muslims went on to argue that if the enemies of Allah could be humbled in Afghanistan, so could they be in Palestine and other places. Indeed, Osama bin Laden, former friend and protégé of the US turned into a foe and vowed to turn the tables against the West. The American establishment, on the other hand, felt it was well within their power and, indeed, their sacred mission to make the entire human family fall in line and beg for development aid from the Super Power. Their success in the first round in Afghanistan whetted their appetite but they could not get hold of Laden.

The Dream That Failed
BY Jamal Khwaja

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