By M.V. Kamath
If even half of what Mahmood Mamdani says about the United States in his remarkable book: Good Muslim, Bad Muslim is true it surely must be the most despicable nation on earth.
Sure, India must be friendly with Washington; national interests come first, as the late J.N. Dixit, National Security Adviser would have said, but even when making friends, we should have no illusions about what our friends are like, in this case, the United States of America.
Every reader would remember how the US initiated a search for Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. What is the true story behind this search? First, in order to contain Iranian nationalism and the force of its example, the United States turned to Iraq. Says Mamdani: ?Neither the brutal dictatorship that Saddam Hussein ran at home nor his determination to create a modern and independent state made much difference at that time.?
The United States shipped seven strains of the deadly anthrax to Iraq from 1978 to 1988-and this according to the New York Times. Training in the use of chemical and biological agents to Iraqi military officers was provided by the US as early as the 1960s. The US Army trained 19 Iraqi military officers in the United States in offensive and defensive chemical biological and radiological warfare from 1957 to 1967. When Saddam Hussein began using poison gas against the Kurdish minorities, the US instead of protesting, was providing Iraq aid worth $500 million a year. In spite of public revelations about the use of chemical weapons, the United States doubled aid to Saddam Hussein'sregime. As long as one Muslim nation was fighting another, America had no use for principles. The US, of course, had no use for the United Nations either which it treated with utter contempt. Trouble began when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and by implication, British and American oil interests. For that Iraq was punished severely.
British and American forces flew more than 650 strike and strike-support sorties, British and American navy ships and submarines fired 325 cruise missiles, in addition to 90 cruise missiles fired by the US Air Force B-52s. Pulitzer prize winning New York Time reporter Neil Sheehan concluded that ?the air war may constitute a massive war crime by the American government and its leaders?. One can be sure that the United States and Britain would similarly have bombed India when it took over Goa if Goa had oil.
The US theory was that as long as Muslim killed another Muslim, it was fine; if Sunnis killed Shias or vice versa it was even better. But Muslim encroachment of American oil fields was a sin that needed to be more than adequately dealt with, no matter how many innocent civilians, including women and children, were killed and maimed. Much the same approach was undertaken in the Afghanistan War. During the Reagan administration, there was sustained cooperation between the CIA and Pakistan'sInter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
The US, of course, had no use for the United Nations either, which it treated with utter contempt. Trouble began when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and by implication, British and American oil interests.
Mamdani writes: ?Both military agencies came to share a dual objective: militarily to provide maximum firepower to the mujahideen and politically, to recruit the most radically anit-communist Islamists to counter Soviet forces then in Afghanistan. The combined result was to flood the region not only with all kinds of weapons but also with the most radical Islamist recruits.? The entire Jihad in Afghanistan was worked out by the CIA in collaboration with the ISI. They were called Islamic radicalists. It suited the US to call terrorists by that name. The recruits came from many Muslim countries. The Pakistani Embassy alone issued 2,800 visas to Algerian ?volunteers? during the 1980s. The CIA looked for a Saudi prince to lead the Jihadists but was unable to find one. So it settled for the next best.
Mamdani writes: ?Osama bin Laden was recruited, with US approval, at the highest level, by Prince Turki al-Faisal, then head of Saudi intelligence.? Let us remember this: bin Laden was accepted with US approval. But just as Saddam Hussein turned against the US, bin Laden, too, was later to turn against it. The only trouble is that these Jihadists are now turning their attention to Jammu and Kashmir as well and we have to thank the United States for that. And where were these Jihadists-we should call them terrorists-trained? Many were trained in Pakistan. But some ?high-level? terrorists were trained in US camps.
Mamdani fearlessly names them. They include High Rock Gun Club in Naugatuck, Connecticut, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, CIA'sown Camp Perry in Williamsburg, Virginia and two other camps also in Virginia not to mention a CIA-used Army Special Camp at Harvey Point, North Carolina.
In all according to Brigadier Muhammad Yusuf, Chief of the Afghan Cell of ISI for four years, in four years some 80,000 mujahideen were trained from 43 Islamic countries. In Pakistan, with active US support, over 2,500 madrasas were set up with an annual crop of 225,000 students many of whom are aiming their US provided guns to hit at Jammu and Kashmir. And how much were these mujahideen paid? To quote Mamdani again: ?Fighters in the Peshawar-based Muslim ?international brigade? received the relatively high salary of around $1,500 per month.? Or approximately Rs.75,000 a month. And how was this money raised? There was always the drug trade. Since Afghanistan'sdrug lords were in open rebellion against the new Soviet-supported regime in Kabul, the CIA counted on them as readily available and dependeable allies. The CIA also knew too well from experience that drug money was always the most reliable source of income. This was fully exploited. But now that the Afghanistan War is over, what is one to do with the Jihadists? Some of them have been forcibly sent back to their homes. But many remain and are training their guns at Jammu and Kashmir.
Either the ISI is still directly or indirectly supporting them or Musharraf is turning a blind eye to their presence. Only this will explain the recent fire in a government office building right in the middle of Srinagar. Whom do we have to blame: the unemployed mujahideen, the ISI, Musharraf, the CIA or the US government?
In the final analysis, let us face it, the blame lies squarely on the shoulders of the US. It continues to support Musharraf who, to this day, has still not been able to capture Osama bin Laden. For every drop of Indian blood shed, the final responsibility is that of Washington. The mujahideen, the ISI, Osama bin Laden are all the creation of the United States of America, a nation entirely unprincipled. Let this be always remembered when we befriend America. As long as Musharraf serves America'spurpose, he will continue to stay in power. Let him deviate even slightly and he will get the attention Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden have attracted. America does not want friends. It wants only collaborators.