ALGEBRA INFINITE JUSTICE ARUNDHATI ROY PDF

And they did so with contemptuous glee. Before it has properly identified or even begun to comprehend the nature of its enemy, the US government has, in a rush of publicity and embarrassing rhetoric, cobbled together an "International Coalition Against Terror", mobilised its army, its airforce, its navy and its media, and committed them to battle. As deterrence, its arsenal of nuclear bombs is no longer worth its weight in scrap. Box-cutters, penknives, and cold anger are the weapons with which the wars of the new century will be waged. Anger is the lock pick. It slips through customs unnoticed.

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Share via Email In the aftermath of the unconscionable September 11 suicide attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Centre, an American newscaster said: "Good and evil rarely manifest themselves as clearly as they did last Tuesday.

And they did so with contemptuous glee. Before it has properly identified or even begun to comprehend the nature of its enemy, the US government has, in a rush of publicity and embarrassing rhetoric, cobbled together an "international coalition against terror", mobilised its army, its air force, its navy and its media, and committed them to battle.

As deterrence, its arsenal of nuclear bombs is no longer worth its weight in scrap. Box-cutters, penknives, and cold anger are the weapons with which the wars of the new century will be waged.

Anger is the lock pick. It slips through customs unnoticed. Who is America fighting? On September 20, the FBI said that it had doubts about the identities of some of the hijackers. On the same day President George Bush said, "We know exactly who these people are and which governments are supporting them. First, to assume that The Enemy is who the US government says it is, even though it has no substantial evidence to support that claim.

For strategic, military and economic reasons, it is vital for the US government to persuade its public that their commitment to freedom and democracy and the American Way of Life is under attack. Why not the Statue of Liberty? It must be hard for ordinary Americans, so recently bereaved, to look up at the world with their eyes full of tears and encounter what might appear to them to be indifference. An absence of surprise.

The tired wisdom of knowing that what goes around eventually comes around. All of us have been moved by the courage and grace shown by firefighters, rescue workers and ordinary office staff in the days since the attacks. It would be grotesque to expect it to calibrate or modulate its anguish. Because then it falls to the rest of us to ask the hard questions and say the harsh things. And for our pains, for our bad timing, we will be disliked, ignored and perhaps eventually silenced. The world will probably never know what motivated those particular hijackers who flew planes into those particular American buildings.

They were not glory boys. They left no suicide notes, no political messages; no organisation has claimed credit for the attacks.

All we know is that their belief in what they were doing outstripped the natural human instinct for survival, or any desire to be remembered. And what they did has blown a hole in the world as we knew it. In the absence of information, politicians, political commentators and writers like myself will invest the act with their own politics, with their own interpretations.

This speculation, this analysis of the political climate in which the attacks took place, can only be a good thing. But war is looming large. Whatever remains to be said must be said quickly. Before America places itself at the helm of the "international coalition against terror", before it invites and coerces countries to actively participate in its almost godlike mission - called Operation Infinite Justice until it was pointed out that this could be seen as an insult to Muslims, who believe that only Allah can mete out infinite justice, and was renamed Operation Enduring Freedom- it would help if some small clarifications are made.

What exactly is being avenged here? Is it the tragic loss of almost 7, lives, the gutting of five million square feet of office space in Manhattan, the destruction of a section of the Pentagon, the loss of several hundreds of thousands of jobs, the bankruptcy of some airline companies and the dip in the New York Stock Exchange?

Or is it more than that? In , Madeleine Albright, then the US secretary of state, was asked on national television what she felt about the fact that , Iraqi children had died as a result of US economic sanctions. She replied that it was "a very hard choice", but that, all things considered, "we think the price is worth it".

Albright never lost her job for saying this. She continued to travel the world representing the views and aspirations of the US government. More pertinently, the sanctions against Iraq remain in place. Children continue to die. So here we have it. The equivocating distinction between civilisation and savagery, between the "massacre of innocent people" or, if you like, "a clash of civilisations" and "collateral damage". The sophistry and fastidious algebra of infinite justice.

How many dead Iraqis will it take to make the world a better place? How many dead Afghans for every dead American? How many dead women and children for every dead man?

How many dead mojahedin for each dead investment banker? The only thing in Afghanistan that could possibly count as collateral value is its citizenry. Among them, half a million maimed orphans. There are accounts of hobbling stampedes that occur when artificial limbs are airdropped into remote, inaccessible villages. In fact, the problem for an invading army is that Afghanistan has no conventional coordinates or signposts to plot on a military map - no big cities, no highways, no industrial complexes, no water treatment plants.

Farms have been turned into mass graves. The countryside is littered with land mines - 10 million is the most recent estimate. The American army would first have to clear the mines and build roads in order to take its soldiers in. Fearing an attack from America, one million citizens have fled from their homes and arrived at the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The UN estimates that there are eight million Afghan citizens who need emergency aid. As supplies run out - food and aid agencies have been asked to leave - the BBC reports that one of the worst humanitarian disasters of recent times has begun to unfold.

Witness the infinite justice of the new century. In America there has been rough talk of "bombing Afghanistan back to the stone age". Someone please break the news that Afghanistan is already there. Their purpose was to harness the energy of Afghan resistance to the Soviets and expand it into a holy war, an Islamic jihad, which would turn Muslim countries within the Soviet Union against the communist regime and eventually destabilise it.

It turned out to be much more than that. The rank and file of the mojahedin were unaware that their jihad was actually being fought on behalf of Uncle Sam. The irony is that America was equally unaware that it was financing a future war against itself. In , after being bloodied by 10 years of relentless conflict, the Russians withdrew, leaving behind a civilisation reduced to rubble. Civil war in Afghanistan raged on.

The jihad spread to Chechnya, Kosovo and eventually to Kashmir. The CIA continued to pour in money and military equipment, but the overheads had become immense, and more money was needed. The mojahedin ordered farmers to plant opium as a "revolutionary tax". The ISI set up hundreds of heroin laboratories across Afghanistan. In , the Taliban - then a marginal sect of dangerous, hardline fundamentalists - fought its way to power in Afghanistan.

The Taliban unleashed a regime of terror. Its first victims were its own people, particularly women. After all that has happened, can there be anything more ironic than Russia and America joining hands to re-destroy Afghanistan? The question is, can you destroy destruction? Dropping more bombs on Afghanistan will only shuffle the rubble, scramble some old graves and disturb the dead. The desolate landscape of Afghanistan was the burial ground of Soviet communism and the springboard of a unipolar world dominated by America.

It made the space for neocapitalism and corporate globalisation, again dominated by America. And now Afghanistan is poised to become the graveyard for the unlikely soldiers who fought and won this war for America.

Pakistan too has suffered enormously. The US government has not been shy of supporting military dictators who have blocked the idea of democracy from taking root in the country. Before the CIA arrived, there was a small rural market for opium in Pakistan. Between and , the number of heroin addicts grew from zero to one-and-a-half million. Even before September 11, there were three million Afghan refugees living in tented camps along the border.

Now the US government is asking asking? Pakistan to garotte the pet it has hand-reared in its backyard for so many years. President Musharraf, having pledged his support to the US, could well find he has something resembling civil war on his hands. India, thanks in part to its geography, and in part to the vision of its former leaders, has so far been fortunate enough to be left out of this Great Game. Today, as some of us watch in horror, the Indian government is furiously gyrating its hips, begging the US to set up its base in India rather than Pakistan.

It will spawn more anger and more terror across the world. For ordinary people in America, it will mean lives lived in a climate of sickening uncertainty: will my child be safe in school? Will there be nerve gas in the subway? A bomb in the cinema hall? Will my love come home tonight?

There have been warnings about the possibility of biological warfare - smallpox, bubonic plague, anthrax - the deadly payload of innocuous crop-duster aircraft. Being picked off a few at a time may end up being worse than being annihilated all at once by a nuclear bomb. The US government, and no doubt governments all over the world, will use the climate of war as an excuse to curtail civil liberties, deny free speech, lay off workers, harass ethnic and religious minorities, cut back on public spending and divert huge amounts of money to the defence industry.

To what purpose? President Bush can no more "rid the world of evil-doers" than he can stock it with saints. Terrorism is the symptom, not the disease.

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The algebra of infinite justice

Share via Email In the aftermath of the unconscionable September 11 suicide attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Centre, an American newscaster said: "Good and evil rarely manifest themselves as clearly as they did last Tuesday. And they did so with contemptuous glee. Before it has properly identified or even begun to comprehend the nature of its enemy, the US government has, in a rush of publicity and embarrassing rhetoric, cobbled together an "international coalition against terror", mobilised its army, its air force, its navy and its media, and committed them to battle. As deterrence, its arsenal of nuclear bombs is no longer worth its weight in scrap. Box-cutters, penknives, and cold anger are the weapons with which the wars of the new century will be waged. Anger is the lock pick. It slips through customs unnoticed.

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The Algebra of Infinite Justice

I am not a left-winger. I have chopped off my right wing as well few years back. Standing at the center and tilting either way as the situation demands is hypocrisy, in my opinion. So I just stand away from the line and observe. And that gives me an opportunity to view all in sort of an unbiased way. But, Arundhati Roy has a stand.

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The Algebra of Infinite Justice by Arundhati Roy The Progressive magazine, December It must be hard for ordinary Americans, so recently bereaved, to look up at the world with their eyes full of tears and encounter what might appear to them to be indifference. An absence of surprise. The tired wisdom of knowing that what goes around eventually comes around. In , Madeleine Albright, then the U. Ambassador to the United Nations, was asked on national television what she felt about the fact that , Iraqi children had died as a result of economic sanctions the U. She replied that it was "a very hard choice," but that all things considered, "we think the price is worth it. She continued to travel the world representing the views and aspirations of the U.

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