Ambiguous role of democracies

It has been more than four weeks since the current Middle East conflict began. More than a million Palestinians have become homeless, nearly ten thousand perished, including more than four thousand children, and millions are existing without hope. Gaza has become a graveyard. Major powers have added fuel to the fire, and no one listens to the United Nation (‘UN’). The UN Security Council (‘UNSC’) fights itself, as does the rest of the fractured world.

The rubble and ruins of Gaza must be left untouched, as sacrosanct monuments, and as an ugly reminder for the rest of world and future humans to see the abysmal level of brutality that was done to the humans who lived here under the watch and conscience of those who, ironically, in a distant past, fought against the human oppression of a similar kind.

How humanitarian is a ‘humanitarian pause’ that politicians and diplomats talk about? Even if Israel approves it, won’t the bombings continue after the pause and raze the remaining portions of Gaza to ground and finish the lives of the surviving Palestinians? Isn’t a complete ‘ceasefire’ humanitarian enough unless the Palestinian lives don’t matter at all?

How weird is it that a handful of career politicians and average diplomats show the audacity that the rest of the world is too stupid to judge them. Is it because much smarter, common people are taken for a ride every day of their lives by a very few, not-so-smart individuals and made to slog like slaves over their entire lives, and tricked to vote like programmable robots?

Denial of justice and a blatant lack of fairness — consciously, or out of complacency, incompetence or inadequacy — by the privileged and the powerful, who enjoy unhindered dominance over the weak and the unprivileged, ultimately brings an ocean of tears to one and all, including the oppressor and the oppressed. Deliberately brushing away serious humanitarian issues under the carpet is never wise.

All UNSC member countries talk peace, but none means it, as their individual histories indicate. Paradoxically, when they talk of peace, they actually work behind the curtain on monstrous plans for a decisive war, which may potentially turn the planet into cinders. This won’t be the first time when the world goes to war, and not the last, as powers feed on wars.

Most people in flawed, oppressive democracies or known autocracies may actually welcome a decisive world war to become liberated from the years of suffering and oppression under their brutal regimes.

The United Nation’s Role

How bizarre is that, while the UNSC played around with the ‘words’ of a much-needed resolution for immediate ceasefire — due to a lack of empathy or urgency of the member countries, or their respective geopolitical egos and axes to grind — precious human lives have been butchered?

The UNSC has redistributed the world ownership amongst its member countries, to establish a new world order.

Even if a worldwide war does not break out, the recent UNGA vote on Gaza (a) exposed deep ruptures within the human world, and (b) eroded away any remnant, minuscule trust factor that may have existed between the countries that voted ‘yes’ (to stop the bombs) and the countries that absented from the vote or voted ‘no’ (to allow the bombs). The world saw that not all human lives are seen as equal by those who did not vote ‘yes’. Shockingly, Ukraine abstained from the vote. Domestic politics was played at the UNGA.

Out of the Five Eyes group of nations, the US cast a ‘no’ vote, New Zealand (‘NZ’) a ‘yes’ vote, and the remaining three nations (Canada, UK and Australia) abstained from the vote. If it was a conscience vote, NZ stood out. If it was a humanitarian vote, NZ stands out. Why is NZ different? How does it compare with the other four countries in terms of parameters related to democracy, liveability and happiness?

A ‘yes’ vote in the UNGA would have helped to stop the bombs from falling over the civilians, albeit it is a different thing if the bombs would have listened to the Five Eyes.

Bombs are blind and deaf, they don’t see or listen to anyone, they just kill everyone, they are made to kill.

Not only the bombs, but the powers also that gave a tacit approval to rain them incessantly over Gaza, without any humanitarian restraint, must bear the prime responsibility for the human catastrophe in Gaza. Ostensibly, we may appear to be civil, the fact is we are still medieval.

The UN must nonetheless be acknowledged for working hard, with sincerity and obvious desperation and urgency, to stop the bombs from being rained on the civilians but, sadly, did not succeed for brazen lack of support from some key UNSC member countries. History recorded everything; it was a test for civility and humanity.

The ruins and rubble of Gaza reflect a spectacular failure of international diplomacy and years of neglect of people of Gaza.

The American role

The founding fathers of the US must be utterly dejected by a drastic change that the US has undergone since it last fought the nazis and the fascists during World War II. Humanitarianism required an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. A timely resolution in the UNSC, and a ‘yes’ vote in the UNGA resolution was an opportunity for the US to show that it stood for humanity, for peace.

America may have turned into what it once fought against. Its support — implicit, explicit or complicit — to merciless bombing of Gaza raises questions about the direction it has headed into over the past decades. This is undoubtedly not the same America that once stood against oppression and fought Hitler.

In all reasonableness and logic, the US should have seen the Hamas attack coming and taken all preventive, humane measures to avert the human catastrophe that followed the attack. Instead, it actively engaged the world and prevented any outside interference in the annihilation and plunder of Gaza and allow enough time for it to be razed to the ground, potentially sans Palestinian life. The US is, therefore, a party to the potential extinction of the Palestinians.

It was a rare opportunity for President Biden to rise above politics in his sunset years and transcend and emerge as a champion for peace for not only the Middle East but the rest of the world. He could have left a lasting legacy. One can’t help wondering if he was in the second term of his Presidency, without the fear of a re-election, would he have been more statesmanlike and assertive for a ceasefire?

The US continues to influence the West but is fast losing its influence in the rest of the world. China is silently growing its influence in the Islamic world and parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Russia is embroiled in Ukraine. Europe is struggling with its own issues. The UK still pretends the Sun does not set in the British Empire.

On the surface, the American diplomacy looks either clueless — given that no one in the Middle East listens to it, not even the warring parties — or is just confused, or is deliberately wasting precious time, knowing a child dies every 10 minutes in Gaza while it talks. Unnecessarily running from pillar to post, asking Arab countries to exercise restraint for the sake of ‘peace’, it exposes its vagueness and incompetence or absence of influence. Instead of burning precious aviation fuel and the hardworking American taxpayers’ money, it should have just picked up a phone and sternly demanded an immediate ceasefire in the region. How difficult was that?

The real plan, intent and influence of the American diplomacy must intrigue every intelligent mind although, on the surface, it seems vague and confusing. Either Israel is completely out of the American control, despite receiving unimpeded all-weather American assistance, or Israel is the real boss between the two.

America’s obvious desperation and helplessness in stopping the war in the Middle East reflects a significant erosion of its geopolitical influence in the region, which could be due to: (a) a lack of neutrality in its geopolitical affairs, (b) double standards, (c) significant weaknesses in its increasingly fractured domestic politics, and (d) a phenomenal rise of China and the Chinese economy, without causing or fuelling wars around the world.

America has allowed the emergence of a multi-centered world.

Flaunting the Statue of Liberty is not enough for the so-called ‘free world’ to be called a champion of liberty. It should have stepped up and done much more to be seen as a ‘fair and just’ world, and not discriminated between the value of human lives.

India’s role.

Abstention from the recent UNGA vote must disappoint the founding fathers of (an original, secular, non-aligned, democratic) India and the Father of Nation, Mahatma Gandhi.

Ostensibly, India claims to be the ‘world leader’ (Vishwa-guru) and ‘Mother of Democracy’ despite a fast erosion in its democratic credentials over the last decade, or any great relationships with its immediate neighbours.

On a reflection, how did Dr Manmohan Singh respond to the Mumbai terrorist attack, in November 2008, when he was the prime minister? Like Israel, did he immediately attack Pakistan and kill thousands of innocent people? No, he chose another path — a civilised and diplomatic path, with maximum effect, and not barbaric or medieval. His non-violent path was visionary, and his decision was of based on prudence, wisdom, common sense, befitting and patient. It was an educated gentleman’s decision, a decision of a civilised people.

The world needs many more leaders like Dr Singh, those who speak only when required, without inflaming the world, work sincerely, and carefully walk their talk, and perform their duties as expected. Notable, India recorded its highest economy growth during his 10-year long, peaceful tenure.

What lies ahead for the Middle East?

When sincere diplomacy fails and justice is denied, wars erupt. An American and world diplomacy failure in the timely resolution of the decades-long Israel-Palestine conflict led to a pressure-cooker situation in Gaza, which exploded on 7 Oct 2023. What happened on that day is undoubtedly horrendous and condemnable, but why did it happen at all?

The world is incessantly committing horrendous crimes against humanity in Gaza. Such abominable rage, such despicable hate against the repressed, such unfounded fear of a peaceful coexistence! Does it really matter who emerges victorious in the end, considering the human cost?

A 3-Point Plan (‘SAT’) is needed urgently for sustainable peace in the Middle East:

  • STOP bombing of Gaza (and the occupied West Bank) immediately.
  • AID rushed immediately to Gaza.
  • TALK across the table and facilitate the 2-State solution to fruition.

At the end of the day, the people of Israel — majority of whom are just, moral and peace-loving, and have been protesting for months against their government — must decide what they inherit from the wrath of a person, who distracted their attention and plunged them into a chaotic state of military warfare against stateless Palestinians, who have been under decades of occupation and intrusive control of Israel, thereby, attracting wrath and hate from the Muslim world and, thereby, compromising the peace and security of all current and future generations in the region.

All sane parents ensure their children live in a friendly neighbourhood. Where this is not possible, the family moves to safer neighbourhoods. In case of countries, however, such geographical movements are not possible. Israel must learn to coexist and cohabitate with its neighbours, including the Palestinians in Gaza and in the West Bank.

Israel can’t move from the Middle East or destroy all its neighbouring countries, even if its politicians mull dropping a nuclear bomb over Gaza justifying that horrendous act by the US’ past use of two nuclear bombs over Japan seven decades ago.

The only way Israel can ensure a sustainable peace for its current and future generations is to allow the Palestinians live in their autonomous State of Palestine, where their live a responsible life like the people of any other country. The stakeholders must earnestly work on such a plan to save further loss of lives, and usher in permanent peace to the region. Lest we regret missing this opportunity.

A free State of Palestine means peace to the State of Israel and the entire region.

The real power is in the hands of an overwhelming majority of peace-loving humans across the world. Collectively, if we fail to bring an immediate ceasefire in the Middle East, we must stop claiming to be democratic or civilised. The blood of children and innocents will be on the hands of all silent bystanders.

Ambiguous democracies

Not many democratically elected governments at the present genuinely represent their people. These governments have no clue how to address the daily life struggles of common people. Inadequate political leadership, exacerbated by poor foreign diplomacy, help to create international issues like war (or sensational warlike situations) to distract people away from domestic issues. Not many of these governments will possibly return to power given how unashamedly they ignore and misrepresent their common people that comprise more than 95-percent of their respective populations.

The far right, capitalistic factions have hijacked the democratic world, practically, blurring the distinction between the prominent democracies and prominent non-democracies. Democracy must reinvent itself; it has acquired strong stripes of authoritarian dictatorships.

Democracy becomes horribly redundant when people’s options are systematically trimmed down, through a viscous campaign of disinformation and misinformation, and a wealthy political party emerges with the help of its crony capitalists, in an environment of cronyism, which enjoys unchallenged hegemony over its weakened opposition. The regime, which such a distorted, authoritarian democracy produces, turns out to be much more archaic and oppressive than most brutal monarchies of the past.

The world must not vote for megalomaniacs. One must vote wisely to prevent a possible dystopian scenario from occurring. For peace, the world does not need warmongers who have their personnel ambitions to fulfill. Let the human race not be doomed by a handful of megalomaniac warmongers.

Bill K Koul [7 November 2023, Perth, Western Australia]

Copyright © Bill K Koul

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