Nepali Times
Here And There


Much was rightly made in 1989 of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was a symbol of the collapse of authoritarian communism almost everywhere. The sight will not soon be forgotten of people converging on the barrier through a great European city and tearing down with their bare hands.

I wonder if the gradual collapse of the Anglo-American Iraq adventure won't be a similar moment for right wing politics around the world. There's nothing so dramatic, and little that's hopeful, in the daily deluge of bad news from Iraq.

But what's happening in London, Washington and other places is the slow self destruct of principles once held dear across the centre-right political spectrum. Iraq is the symptom but it's not the disease. The Butler report in the United Kingdom and the 9-11 panel's findings in America, along with the Senate intelligence committee earlier this month, show how hubris, ignorance and naked partisan politics have led to the deaths of thousands of innocent people. At least a thousand of them are from the invading countries in Iraq,the rest are local. All innocent lives lost are equal, and equally wasted.

For it is surely becoming plain that Tony Blair and George W Bush started a war that didn't need to be fought, a war that wasted lives and that was a waste of lives and radicalized a generation of Muslim youth. Each time we hear that both leaders at very least mislead their people to support their adventurism in Iraq. Each carefully drawn up report about human failure, political wrongdoing, and the deliberate disregard for real threats like terror.

And with their credibility of the war and the wannabe warriors who started it, so too the exoskeleton of their political project, their worldview. Ostensibly, the two men approach politics differently: Bush from the right and Blair from the centre left. But they represent a consensus that has become far too influential in global economic policy making, a consensus that has rarely, if ever, worked.

Their war is their economic record too. Any gains they might argue from freer markets, more private enterprise, unleashed entrepreneurial spirit, will get mopped up by a corrupt war economy where giant players and criminals make the running. Small, creative, risk-taking enterprises can't get a look in past the likes of Haliburton, British Aerospace, Pepsico, and countless consultants with funny acronyms for names-the advisers who advise us to hire their firm to make the changes necessary their firm.

Take Blair's government in Britain, with two parliamentary majorities in the past five years and immense good will-at first-from the people and the country's allies. What have they done? Tinkered a bit, sold off a few things, got lots of those acronymic companies to cook the books and enrich themselves, and.oh yes.invaded Iraq.

In the US, Mr Bush and his adminstration are so desparate to rally the voters in an election year, they think of nothing better than to demonise gay people and their desire for stable, public commitment to each other. Gay marriage? A challenge to civilization as we, or even they, know it? I think not.

No, political desperation at the top is so thick in the air now that you can smell it. And if you listen closely, you can hear the mob starting to dismantle something. It may not be a wall between our solitudes, but angry people everywhere just be forging a new world without totally wrecking the old. If only the warmongers will step aside and let them.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)