JOSEPH Stalin and his brother-in-arms Mao Zedong, were the greatest terrorists this world has seen, with the exception perhaps of Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun. They ruled through terror, which is also what Adolf Hitler did, though on a smaller scale. Between Stalin and Mao, they massacred 50 million people, just because they didn’t like them or terror was the only weapon they knew how to use.
Why did they do it? Nobody knows. Stalin had everything going for him: he had a huge country at his feet with tremendous power at his command. He could have, if he wished, turned his Russia into a paradise flowing with honey and milk, or maybe vodka, but instead he turned it into a hell for all but his Kremlin buddies. In the end, the people revolted, as they always do, and destroyed the country, down to the last hammer and sickle.
What Stalin suffered from was not only itching fingers but tremendous inferiority complex with regard to the West. No matter what the Soviets did, the West was always one up on them. Soviet Russia produced steel by the million tonne, but the Western steel mills were already ahead of them, even during the Great Depression of the thirties. This bred frustration in Moscow, and with frustration came inferiority complex. And with inferiority came, came terror.
Is history repeating itself in the Islamic world? Why are Islamists up in arms against the world? They are terrorising every one from America to Israel, and from Britain to India, for reasons they have never really explained or tried to explain. They have set up huge secret and not so secret terror groups around the world, almost all of them well armed, with the support of Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran, not to mention Pakistan and Syria. They have probably enough arms to launch a full-scale war, but all they do is go about furtively killing a few innocent people in Mumbai, London and New York and fighting, or pretending to fight, the Westerners in Afghanistan and Iraq, without inflicting much damage.
Terrorists come and go, but the world refuses to yield and life goes on as before, sometimes even better than before, for terror makes little sense and those affected take it in their stride, as happened in Mumbai in 2008, and in Pune earlier this year.
The Islamic terrorists act more out of frustration than anything else, for all around them, the world is progressing rapidly, with the sole exception of Islamic countries themselves. Take these countries: they have everything going for them. They have all the oil in the world, most of which they export. They have other resources too. On the other hand, countries like India and China, and to a certain extent, most countries in Europe, have very little oil and have to import most of it. Yet it is these countries that are doing better than most, and are growing faster than most if not all countries in the Islamic world.
You only have to compare India with Pakistan, or Israel with Palestine. India and Pakistan became free at the same time, but is run by Hindus and the other by Islamists. Since 1991, India has accelerated its growth rate to eight per cent a year, which is more than twice as much as it used to do before. India is still a developing country, in the sense its GDP per head is still rather small compared to rich countries, but it is perhaps only a matter of years before it joins their club. Despite all problems, some caused by Islamists, India has set a fast pace for itself, and is now among the fastest growing countries of the world.
Is this why the Islamists hate it so much, just as they do Israel? Israel was carved out of Palestine and is now the richest and most powerful country in its region, with living standards on par with those of the West. The Hindus of India and the Jews of Israel have been able to build and establish stable and progressive societies, though they have had to fight one war after another with their neighbour, who have never taken kindly to these new giants rising among them. On the other hand, Pakistan is virtually a failed state, run by shady characters and subsisting on the largesse of the Westerners whom they pretend to fight, but on whom they are totally dependent.
In fact, most Islamic nations are dependent on the West, including seemingly powerful nations like Saudi Arabia, the largest exporter of oil in the world. There is a standing US army in Saudi Arabia, without which the country would collapse. This is true also of Egypt which receives billions of dollars of assistance from the United States. The Islamists do not like this, but they have not found any way of doing without it.
As I said earlier, the new vicious phase of the Islamic terror against Hindus in India, and other races elsewhere began with the rapid rise of the Indian economy, and with it the Indian state, in 1991 and thereabouts. Before that, there used to be minor skirmishes and low-level terror attacks in Kashmir. It is as if the Islamists have declared a full-scale war on India, or, rather on Hindus, just as they have declared war on the Jews and the Westerners. But this has not affected these countries and races in the least.
The Islamic countries, on the other hand, are mired in their own problems, or rather problems of their own making, from which there seems to be no respite. They are now entirely dependent, more than ever, on the West and its resources, for the solution of their problems. The Islamists cannot say they did not ask for the invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan. There would have been no reason for these invasions, had they not aroused anger by attacking them in the first place. Terror begets terror. Adolf Hitler may have begun by launching small invasions in Austria and Czechoslovakia, but the small fires he started ultimately engulfed the whole world and the flames incinerated the man who started in initial small fires.
The Islamists and their patrons cannot but think in terms of violence and terror, directed both internally against their own governments and externally towards other countries, which, like India, continue to progress and flourish. This gives rise to frustration and then to more violence.
The Islamists were doing pretty well for themselves until recently and had flourishing empires of their own. But a kind of perversity seems to have taken hold of them, the kind of perversity that leads otherwise sane men like MF Husain, who has been spending too much time among them, to do provocatively nude pictures of Hindu deities, for no other reason that they are Hindu, all in the name of freedom of expression. And where is he living now? In an Islamist country in the Middle East whose love for freedom of expression and other freedoms is well known! Husain is his own worst enemy, and so are his Islamic friends from whom he now gets his inspiration!
(The writer can be contacted at 301, Mani Kancahn Apts, Kanchan Galli, Law College Road, Pune-411004)