Salman Rushdie notices America's "double standards "
This just in: Salman Rushdie has noticed that America has double standards!
Read and reflect.
Double Standards Make Enemies
By Salman Rushdie
The Washington Post
On Sept. 5 and 6 the State Department will host a high-powered conference on
anti-Americanism, an unusual step indicating the depth of American concern
about this increasingly globalized phenomenon. Anti-Americanism can be mere
shallow name-calling. A recent article in Britain's Guardian newspaper
described Americans as having "a bug up their collective arse the size of
Manhattan" and suggested that " 'American' is a type of personality which is
intense, humourless, partial to psychobabble and utterly convinced of its
own importance." More seriously, anti-Americanism can be contradictory: When
the United States failed to intervene in Bosnia, that was considered wrong,
but when it did subsequently intervene in Kosovo, that was wrong too.
Anti-Americanism can be hypocritical: wearing blue jeans or Donna Karan,
eating fast food or Alice Waters-style cuisine, their heads full of American
music, movies, poetry and literature, the apparatchiks of the international
cultural commissariat decry the baleful influence of the American culture
that nobody is forcing them to consume. It can be misguided; the logical
implication of the Western-liberal opposition to America's Afghan war is
that it would be better if the Taliban were still in power. And it can be
ugly; the post-Sept. 11 crowing of the serves-you-right brigade was
However, during the past year the Bush administration has made a string of
foreign policy miscalculations, and the State Department conference must
acknowledge this. After the brief flirtation with consensus-building during
the Afghan operation, the United States' brazen return to unilateralism has
angered even its natural allies. The Republican grandee James Baker has
warned President Bush not to go it alone, at least in the little matter of
effecting a "regime change" in Iraq.
In the year's major crisis zones, the Bushies have been getting things badly
wrong. According to a Security Council source, the reason for the United
Nations' lamentable inaction during the recent Kashmir crisis was that the
United States (with Russian backing) blocked all attempts by member states
to mandate the United Nations to act. But if the United Nations is not to be
allowed to intervene in a bitter dispute between two member states, both
nuclear powers of growing political volatility, in an attempt to defuse the
danger of nuclear war, then what on Earth is it for? Many observers of the
problems of the region will also be wondering how long Pakistani-backed
terrorism in Kashmir will be winked at by America because of Pakistan's
support for the "war against terror" on its other frontier. Many Kashmiris
will be angry that their long-standing desire for an autonomous state is
being ignored for the sake of U.S. realpolitik. And as the Pakistani
dictator Pervez Musharraf seizes more and more power and does more and more
damage to his country's constitution, the U.S. government's decision to go
on hailing him as a champion of democracy does more damage to America's
already shredded regional credibility.
Nor is Kashmir the only South Asian grievance. The massacres in the Indian
state of Gujarat, mostly of Indian Muslims by fundamentalist Hindu mobs,
have been shown to be the result of planned attacks led by Hindu political
organizations. But in spite of testimony presented to a congressional
commission, the U.S. administration has done nothing to investigate
U.S.-based organizations that are funding these groups, such as the World
Hindu Council. Just as American Irish fundraisers once bankrolled the
terrorists of the Provisional IRA, so, now, shadowy bodies across America
are helping to pay for mass murder in India, while the U.S. government turns
a blind eye. Once again, the supposedly high-principled rhetoric of the "war
against terror" is being made to look like a smoke screen for a highly
selective pursuit of American vendettas.
Apparently Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein are terrorists who matter;
Hindu fanatics and Kashmiri killers aren't. This double standard makes
In the heat of the dispute over Iraq strategy, South Asia has become a
sideshow. (America's short attention span creates enemies, too.) And it is
in Iraq that George W. Bush may be about to make his biggest mistake, and to
unleash a generation-long plague of anti-Americanism that could make the
present epidemic look like a time of rude good health.
Inevitably, the reasons lie in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Like it or
not, much of the world thinks of Israel as the 51st state, America's client
and surrogate, and Bush's obvious rapport with Ariel Sharon does nothing to
change the world's mind. Of course the suicide bombings are vile, but until
America persuades Israel to make a lasting settlement with the Palestinians,
anti-American feeling will continue to rise; and if, in the present highly
charged atmosphere, the United States does embark on the huge, risky
military operation suggested Monday by Vice President Dick Cheney, then the
result may very well be the creation of that united Islamic force that was
bin Laden's dream. Saudi Arabia would almost certainly feel obliged to expel
U.S. forces from its soil (thus capitulating to one of bin Laden's main
demands). Iran -- which so recently fought a long, brutal war against
Iraq -- would surely support its erstwhile enemy, and might even come into
the conflict on the Iraqi side.
The entire Arab world would be radicalized and destabilized. What a
disastrous twist of fate it would be if the feared Islamic jihad were
brought into being not by the al Qaeda gang but by the president of the
United States and his close advisers.
Do those close advisers include Colin Powell, who clearly prefers diplomacy
to war? Or is the State Department's foregrounding of the issue of
anti-Americanism a means of providing hard evidence to support the Powell
line and undermining the positions of the hawks to whom Bush listens most
closely? It seems possible. Paradoxically, a sober look at the case against
America may serve American interests better than the patriotic "let's roll"
arguments that are being trumpeted on every side.