What is common nowadays between America, Israel, India, Pakistan and Britain? They all are infected. It’s a bug. The one which corrupts the sequence of zeroes and ones in any software. And while different nations have been affected in different quantities the symptoms are visible. These include gratuitous anger, loss of reason, conscience and taste and fear of all things unfamiliar. The victim is often found susceptible to strange bouts of behavioural changes where one minute he is talking to you rationally, the next minute he flies off the handle and aggressively starts parroting same argument over and over. It is where the bug corrupts the core memory streams and affects the parts of brain where sense and sensibility reside. Beware! Don’t dismiss it as a joke. It is a life threatening and contagious disease and has cost many precious lives already.
This disease of political insanity has its origins in the triumph of neoconservatives in the 2000 US elections and was borne out of expediency which perhaps was considered the need of the hour. The manner in which power was assumed left much to be desired. The Republicans, especially the neocons, were desperate to come to power after eight long years of Clinton rule. The Supreme Court verdict that led to the transition was highly contentious. Now the real force behind the new throne had to justify this all. Truth had to be bent, new moral system invented with exceptions and the new set sold to the masses. These were clever men. They knew what they were unleashing. They would reverse it soon when their agenda of greater good kicked in and these moral exceptions would be forgotten. So they said let there be a Fox and there it was. Media blitz ensued. But before this reversal could materialise and the moral compass restored to its preset, there came a terrible catastrophe.
The trauma caused by 9/11 infused the new invention with unsurmountable anger. Action had to be taken. Restoring the inner harmony could wait. The adulterated system of logic would come handy if exceptional and a bit dubious power was to be employed. This then became the Bush administration’s prism to see the entire world for eight years. Action was first taken against the hideouts of al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Easy. No moral tweaking needed. Then came that autocrat who had constantly annoyed papa. So Iraq had to be invaded. But here Europe refused to play the ball. So Rumsfeld came up with the distinction of old and new Europe. Facts had to be invented. Good people like Colin Powell forced to say things that even a sixth grader wouldn’t say without raising an eyebrow. The entire system around the world was corrupted and transparency thrown out of the window.
When amid crashing economy and tanking global reputation Bush and co left, the neocons retreated to hyperspace without making necessary amends. Meanwhile, an imperfect world they had inherited had developed neocon subsets of its own. At the time of their ascension Pakistan was ruled by a dictator, India by a hardcore right-wing party. Pretty soon Israel also saw formation of Ariel Sharon’s rightwing government with Netanyahu in the cabinet. By the time neocons left office Tony Blair’s rule had also been corrupted. Consequently, the above mentioned disease has grown beyond proportion. India is ruled by Modi, the fringe of the fringe. Israel by Netanyahu. UK has witnessed Brexit. Democratic transition in Pakistan is jolted by shadows that have nothing to do with the state itself. And the United States faces ultimate disfigurement at the hands of Donald Trump.
Technical necessities when not corrected in time become ideological choices, observes Howard Zinn. That has already happened. But before it mutates into uglier things the trend has to stop. That is what’s at stake in the US this election. And elsewhere. Now that most neocons have switched sides they can help find a cure. This broken world needs serious mending.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2016.