Subcontinent the most dangerous region? Look west


Regular Member
May 10, 2010
Subcontinent the most dangerous region? Look west
We think that the Indian subcontinent is the world's most unstable region, given the dominance of religion, the Pakistan army's jealousy-tinged hatred of India and the rise of hatemongers like Narendra Modi.

But take a trip westward and we'll see that no part of the world is more dangerously unstable than the Arab region with Israel plonked in the centre of it thanks to the success of British machinations in 1948.

It will remain so despite Israel's current talk of "easing" the blockade of the Gaza Strip. On the ground nothing will change. It is important for Indian public opinion to be aware of the realities if only because India's own policies have been shifting in recent years.

Traditionally our sympathies have been with the Palestinians, a people driven out of their homeland. After the BJP came to power the balance tilted in favour of Israel because the BJP admired Israel's fundamentally anti-Muslim stance.

Taking advantage of the opportunity, Israel edged its way into approvals by the Congress as well, especially through defence deals. Even when some of these deals look good, we should not lose sight of the fact that Israel is a one-issue state, the issue being the establishment of an enlarged and invincible Jewish state whatever the world thinks.

The harshest demonstration of this mental fixation was the wholesale invasion of Lebanon in 1982. Israel's Prime Minister at the time was Menachem Begin and the Defence Minister Ariel Sharon, the country's bestknown fundamentalist hardliners. They contemptuously ignored all international conventions. So excessive was their use of force and so widespread the atrocities that, for the first time, Israeli citizens themselves criticised their government's actions.

The irony was that Lebanon was not a party to Israel's fight against Palestinians. Its fault was that it shared its southern border with Israel. This meant that Palestinian activists set up some camps in Lebanon as they did in other bordering countries.

Israel said its intention was only to wipe out these camps with a military putsch 25 miles into Lebanese territory. In the event they went all the way to Beirut, the capital, and the valleys and mountains to the east and north. Civilian areas were bombarded including a hospital for geriatrics and mentally afflicted patients. Only the verdant expanse of the American University of Beirut was spared.

A visitor to Beirut today can still see, a quarter century later, civilian buildings in rubble, walls bearing shell marks -- and new Palestinian camps even in the Beka Valley on the road to Damascus. Several parts of this extraordinarily beautiful city have been rebuilt, some areas modernised.

The streets are bustling, hotels full, traffic delightfully maddening, favourite fastfood-kebab joints like Bar-Bar doing roaring business. But an air of unease persists. The popular prime minister Rafiq Hariri was assassinated only five years ago.

And Israel is led again by the most extremist hardliner alive today, Benjamin Netanyahu. There's nothing that cannot happen because (a) Israel's objective includes Greater Israel with weak Arab government around and (b) it is supported by military-industrial lobbies that have a vested interest in recurring wars.

American weapons not yet used in combat are always tested in Israel's wars (nowadays also in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.) In the war against Lebanon, cluster bombs, phospherous bombs and perhaps the vacuum bomb were used although the enemy was patently weak.

Small wonder that the powerful American arms industry lobbies as vehemently for Israel as the no less powerful Jewish lobby does. Add to this the Israeli mindset. Army boss Gen. Eitan justified the war on Lebanon by saying: "Since I have built and excellent war apparatus, I must make use of it." Sharon said that since the last war was in 1973, a whole generation of Israeli soldiers had no experience of battle and needed to be given it.

These are the vested interests that keep West Asia on the boil and make the world a dangerous place for all of us.

Global Defence