US administrations have been blighted since 9/11 by a deadly cocktail of arrogance and ignorance with a twist of strong desire for revenge thrown in. But before you take aim and fire you have to know your enemy, and the scattergun policies of the Bush Junior and Obama regimes have served only to create hatred and mistrust against the US in areas where it was never really present before. In fact, far from driving the likes of al-Qaeda into oblivion, this strategy turned America into al-Qaeda’s most successful recruiting officer.
Just like their intelligence agencies, these successive US administrations have chosen only to listen to those who give them the sort of information they want to hear, even if it is a far removed from reality. As a result, a deluded Iraqi codenamed “Curve Ball” conned US intelligence and in turn President George W Bush over the existence of WMD in his country. It was all Bush and his neo-cons needed and wanted to hear to justify their illegal invasion, assuring the world as they threw their troops at the country that they would find Weapons of Mass Destruction therein. It was, of course, a blatant lie. It mattered not that the real experts, weapons inspectors like Scott Ritter and Hans Von Sponek, said WMD simply no longer existed in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. It matters not, it seems, that up to a million human beings have paid the blood price for this arrogance and ignorance. It matters not that today Iraq is still in turmoil almost 8 years after that fateful invasion.
With the same reckless abandon the USA has been sucked into a war in Afghanistan from which it cannot retreat or make progress, never mind peace. Bush told us the invasion of Afghanistan was all about getting Osama bin Laden and liberating Afghan women, neither of which has been achieved. And now, the Middle East is on fire with a Peoples’ Revolution ready to eliminate the Arab dictators installed and supported by the US. It has not passed unnoticed that the tear gas and bullets used against the Egyptian protesters were made in America.
All of this could have been avoided if only the White House had listened: listened to their own citizens in the growing American anti-war movement; listened to ordinary peace activists who mobilised in their tens of millions around the world to march against wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; listened to the tens of millions across the Muslim world about the injustices committed against the Palestinian people by Israel, the tail which wags the American dog.
Instead, the Bush and Obama administrations opted to listen to a few right-wing extremists and fanatics who think they can achieve whatever they want by pointing the barrel of a gun made in America. They’re wrong, of course; might is neither right nor guarantees victory. Ordinary people across the Middle East look set to seize back their freedom from those who stole it using guns made in America. Tahrir Square in Egypt has been turned into the democratic capital of the Arab world and not one of the leaders of the revolution is armed with anything more than hopes and desires for a better future free from tyranny.
For God’s sake Mr President, listen to the people before it is too late. There is a cauldron boiling so fiercely in the region and if you don’t do something about it the seismic and heroic events unfolding today in Tahrir Square will by tomorrow begin to look more like a Tupperware party in comparison to what might happen.
Pakistan is on the brink and so is Afghanistan; Uzbekistan is not far behind; the Palestinians have been waiting more than sixty years for justice. Where there is injustice there can never be peace and as long as Americans and their proxies are seen to trample on culture, customs and laws with blind arrogance it will come back to bite them in a big way. When a young Tunisian man called Tarek al-Tayyib Muhammad ibn Bouazizi turned himself into a human torch in December he also ignited a flame which has now become the Arab Peoples’ Revolution. History illustrates that it is always seemingly small, insignificant events which trigger great revolutions; just a couple of bullets in Sarajevo ignited the First World War.
So I am asking the White House to pay special attention to the incident involving Raymond Davis, allegedly a US diplomat, who is now in custody in Pakistan suspected of killing three Pakistanis in Lahore last week. American lawmakers are already banging on about the Vienna Conventions only because they now appear to need them so badly. These are the same Vienna Conventions ignored by America when His Excellency Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeeff, the Ambassador to Pakistan from Afghanistan, was stripped naked, beaten and handed over to US soldiers in January 2002 before being carted off to Guantanamo Bay. These are the same Vienna Conventions which were trampled on when Dr Aafia Siddiqui was shot by US soldiers at point blank range in a police cell in Afghanistan then kidnapped and renditioned to America in July 2008. It was nearly four weeks before she was given any consular access, yet US Ambassador Anne Patterson stood in Islamabad and lied and lied and lied about the case of Dr Siddiqui, claiming that her rights were not violated.
The sad thing is that Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton have probably never heard of Aafia Siddiqui. Why would they bother with a minor detail when they’ve got full-scale wars to wage? Their advisers, at the very least, need to read her story; the real one. Her story is important because she epitomises all of the injustices of the War on Terror and she is now becoming a rallying point for the Pakistani people. Don’t believe the propaganda that she’s the poster girl of the Islamists; please stop falling for these stupid lies.
President Obama, please take note: Dr Aafia Siddiqui is another Tarek al-Tayyib Muhammad ibn Bouazizi. I am telling you this in good faith because it is something your best friends, paid informers, stooges and ill-informed intelligence agencies won’t tell you. Sometimes correcting the smaller issues – though they are by no means small to the families and individuals involved – will help you with the much larger events.
The time has come for America to show humility and return Dr Siddiqui to her home in Karachi where she can be reunited with her children; and then – and only then – start concerning yourself with Raymond Davis and his activities. If he is guilty of anything, put faith in Pakistan’s judiciary and let him stand trial in the country where his alleged crime was committed. The US has to start respecting other country’s laws instead of making up their own as they go along to cover up and protect American-made blunders and mistakes. The blatant disregard for international laws and conventions shown by Israel, with full American political, financial and military support, has allowed the Zionist state to trample on Palestinians’ rights for decades; US support for dictators across the Arab world which has blunted threats to Israel is obvious; Hosni Mubarak in Egypt is but one of a number of US-backed despots whose human rights records shame America’s claim to be a champion of democracy.
The US is neither the peoples’ friend nor their master but the influence it has brought to bear in the Muslim world in recent years has been extremely negative. This influence has wrecked US foreign policy in the Middle East and will destroy its goals (which we still do not really know) especially in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and a peaceful solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. While America has been meddling in everyone else’s backyard, perhaps President Obama needs to start looking in his own. There’s a great many very unhappy US citizens facing rising unemployment, home repossessions and lack of health care; amazingly, in the land of the free and the home of the brave, the self-appointed global policeman that is the US of A, more than 50 million people rely on food stamps to survive. It’s time to call a halt to America’s foreign adventures and attend to more pressing issues at home; the American Dream is a nightmare for millions around the world, especially across the Middle East; now it’s beginning to look that way in the USA too.
*British journalist Yvonne Ridley is the European President of the International Muslim Women’s Union
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.
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