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Winnable rendered unwinnable
Publication Date : 26-10-2012
Where bad ideas have nowhere else to go, they emigrate to America and become university courses." This punchy remark, if a little paunchy if you know what I mean, is from Federic Raphael, himself an American, a writer -- as you can see -- brimming with a devastating sense of humour.
Such sweeping self-effacing value judgment comes by virtue of the US Constitution's First Amendment. The ultimate in free expression was exemplified in condoning even the trampling of the American flag by a maverick.
Such lofty ideals contrast with a common thread of mental fabric weaving through carpet-bombing, drone attack and sting operation. These are ammos for US War on Terror. They don't risk American lives but takes a heavy toll of others". Like America fighting to the last European, it is now fighting a War on Terror to the last terror suspect.
The philosophy is to cast the net as wide as possible and take out suspects or offenders, never mind the pillorying of the innocents for a catch of tiny fishes. A needle in haystack approach if you think of the growing ranks of people rife with reactive sentiments against America. The huge collateral damage is incalculable.
The case in point is Rezwanual Ahsan Nafis. Nine months in USA and with damp smell of Bangladeshi soil still rubbing on his body, how could he have sloughed off into a transformed youngster, ready to blow up a huge building in the heartland of New York? Unbelievable, leaves you wondering without a clue!
Of course, as a new arrival bewildered but intent on making his way through a bout of homesickness, he was a vulnerable catch to seasoned FBI operatives out to prove a point, win a trophy. After all, they have had a network spangled. Patriotism perhaps playing a "scoundrel" there.
The elaborate trap they had set up oiled by money as one of the defecting informants admitted: "It is all about money" -- worked with clockwork precision. With no established traces of terror links in the country of his origin, Nafis ran into a dark, lengthening tunnel to nowhere. Apparently mesmerised by a cluster of wily white and non-white operatives, it never for once occurred to him he was playing into their hands.
It was something of a replay of a mafia or cult culture racket sort of thing -- once, you wear the talisman of evil you have no way getting out of the rut. For you were being constantly on watch as though of a CCTV camera. He certainly could not have consented to his own unmaking; yet, like the green insect Shyama he got pulled into the fire from the frying pan, as it were.
Sting operations have come under heavy criticism within America itself on the self-evident grounds of these being wholly unethical, immoral, illegal and, therefore, without any locus in law. What is the difference between the ordinary run of police frame-ups and managed witnesses lined up to parrot from a given script to implicate a terror suspect "caught red-handed"?
The US sermonises other countries on human rights and liberalism; but isn't laying a trap based on at best pre-arranged, and at worst insidious, human intelligence any acceptable specimen of respect for human rights? The impression is gaining ground that "if non-Muslim does something bad -- it is "crime"; but if a Muslim commits the same -- he is "terrorist"."
The double standards need to be removed first by the US if it is to carry conviction with its War on Terror and truly and squarely succeed in its mission.
It is high time the costs of such arbitrary anti-terror tactics dawned on the US before it sustains any further loss of goodwill around the world. Just measure the fallouts of what they are doing. Casualties are distrust within the Muslim community as suspicion about moles grows internally; alienation between the Muslims and non-Muslims being fostered; and, above all, relations between the USA and a friendly-Muslim country like Bangladesh taking a hit.
Somerset Maugham is proven to the hilt when he says: "The only way to make ends meet is to burn a candle at both ends."
The writer is Associate Editor, The Daily Star.