FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

I’m Ashamed to be British

As a dual national of Pakistan and Britain, it is the loss of British credibility I find hardest to stomach.

Even the moderates here in Pakistan are outraged. Across the board, young and old, poor and rich, fundamentalist and secularist are united in their hatred of the US and their contempt for Britain. Such unprecedented unanimity in a country renowned for its ethnic and sectarian divides is a huge achievement. Qazi Hussein Ahmed, the leader of the combined religious party Majlis Muttahida Amal (MMA), announced triumphantly: “The pro-West liberals have lost conviction. Islamic movements have come alive.”

This new-found unity, which includes for the first time the pro-West élites, the liberal middle classes and the mullahs, has been boosted by a fear that Pakistan may be on the US target list. We may not be seeing burning effigies of Bush and Blair daily (although there has been some of that), but many of those with Western connections are considering severing those links. Angry and fearful, expatriate Pakistanis are returning home, and property prices are soaring despite recession. The boycott against British and US goods is growing.

The same is happening throughout the Muslim world. A previously fractured ummah is finally uniting against a perceived common foe, leaving the fundamentalists jubilant and their pro-West leaders, despite their dependence on the US, with no choice but to join the anti-war chorus.

Bush and Blair have already shown that they care little about world opinion, but what about when those feelings of resentment towards the US and Britain in Muslim countries translate into votes for virulently anti-Western fundamentalist parties? Despite their disingenuous talk of freedom and democracy, Bush and Blair must know that bringing true democracies to the Middle East, and the Muslim world in general, will have the opposite effect to the one they hope for and will go against their own interests. It is unlikely that any democratic Muslim country today will ever elect a pro-Western government.

Pakistan is a good example. Popular anger at the government’s co-operation with America’s bombing of Afghanistan (its provision of bases and intelligence) led to an unprecedented victory of the religious parties in the October 2002 election. Having never won more than 10 seats in the past 30 years, the alliance of Islamic parties is now the second biggest party in Parliament with 70 seats, and forms two out of the four provincial governments. And with each bomb dropped on Baghdad, they are growing in popularity and strength.

America can continue to count on support from the unelected puppet governments of oil-rich countries, such as the Middle Eastern monarchies. The darlings of Western oil companies, they depend on the US to stay in power. Such is the popular outrage, however, that those leaders are looking increasingly vulnerable.

As a dual national of Pakistan and Britain, it is the loss of British credibility in the eyes of the world that I find hardest to stomach. Why has Blair chosen to overlook, and in some cases propagate, the lies, misinformation and discredited evidence used by the US to justify this indefensible war? Why does Blair perpetuate Bush’s mendacious claim that Iraq “has aided, trained and harboured terrorists, including operatives of al-Qai’da”, when no evidence has ever surfaced of a link, nor has any Iraqi been implicated in terrorist acts against the US?

Why the pretence of “making the world a safer place” when we all know an unjust war will incite such hatred that new recruits will be queuing up to join al-Qa’ida? Why the persistence in the lie that Saddam represents a military threat? Why no contrition over the exposure of flawed or faked evidence? Why the lectures on Saddam’s violation of 17 UN resolutions, when Bush gives military and economic aid to Israel, which has regularly flouted at least 64 of them?

Why the sudden concern for the Iraqi people, when there have been years of protest against sanctions responsible for hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi deaths? Why the lack of concern for Iraqi children dying of hitherto-unseen cancers linked to the use of uranium-tipped shells by the British and Americans? Why the convenient amnesia over the fact that the weapons of mass destruction Iraq does possess were supplied by the US and Britain, along with France, in the first place?

Is the condemnation for dictatorships with human rights records every bit as bad as Iraq’s and no democracies to speak of, restricted to those that are not West- friendly or controllable?

In short, why the double standards, moral hypocrisy and political expediency? Do they think it goes unnoticed, or do they just not care?

It is little wonder that Muslims around the world, pondering these questions while watching images of maimed Iraqi women and children as lucrative reconstruction contracts are doled out to US companies, are reacting with increasing incredulity, anger and trepidation.

The only thing that tempers my own rage and shame is the knowledge that there are millions like me who oppose war in Iraq not because they are Muslims or pacifists or appeasers or anti-West or anti-American or left wing, but simply because they remain utterly unconvinced by the arguments put forward for war. With British and US credibility in tatters, no one in the Muslim world now believes that this is really all about “making the world a safer place”, about al-Qa’ida and the War on Terror, about Saddam and his weapons of mass destruction, about the imminent threat to the “civilised world”, or the violation of UN resolutions; far less about the emancipation of the Iraqi people. Instead, many are asking the question: Which country is really in need of regime change and, in the words of the great statesman Nelson Mandela, is “the greatest threat to world peace”?

JEMIMA KHAN is a human rights activists and the daughter of Sir James Goldsmith.

Today’s Features

William S. Lind
The Pitfalls of War Planning

Jorge Mariscal
Latinos on the Frontlines, Again

Paul de Rooij
Arrogant Propaganda

Jo Wilding
From Baghdad: “I Am His Mother”

Tarif Abboushi
Operation Embedded Folly

Lee Sustar
Labor’s War at Home

Akiva Eldar
Israeli Dreams of Iraqi Oil

Bernard Weiner
The Vietnam Connection

Robert Fisk
The Graveyard at Baghdad’s North Gate

Steve Perry
War Web Log 04/01

Keep CounterPunch Alive:
Make a Tax-Deductible Donation Today Online!

home / subscribe / about us / books / archives / search / links /

More articles by:

December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
Ajamu Baraka
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Time to De-Colonize Human Rights!
Andrew Levine
Thoughts on Strategy for a Left Opposition
Jennifer Matsui
Dead of Night Redux: A Zombie Rises, A Spook Falls
Rob Urie
Degrowth: Toward a Green Revolution
Binoy Kampmark
The Bomb that Did Not Detonate: Julian Assange, Manafort and The Guardian
Robert Hunziker
The Deathly Insect Dilemma
Robert Fisk
Spare Me the American Tears for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Joseph Natoli
Tribal Justice
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Macdonald Stainsby
Unist’ot’en Camp is Under Threat in Northern Canada
Senator Tom Harkin
Questions for Vice-President Bush on Posada Carriles
W. T. Whitney
Two Years and Colombia’s Peace Agreement is in Shreds
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Ramzy Baroud
The Conspiracy Against Refugees
David Rosen
The Swamp Stinks: Trump & Washington’s Rot
Raouf Halaby
Wall-to-Wall Whitewashing
Daniel Falcone
Noam Chomsky Turns 90
Dean Baker
An Inverted Bond Yield Curve: Is a Recession Coming?
Nick Pemberton
The Case For Chuck Mertz (Not Noam Chomsky) as America’s Leading Intellectual
Ralph Nader
New Book about Ethics and Whistleblowing for Engineers Affects Us All!
Dan Kovalik
The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Exposing the Crimes of the CIAs Fair-Haired Boy, Paul Kagame, and the Rwandan Patriotic Front
Jasmine Aguilera
Lessons From South of the Border
Manuel García, Jr.
A Formula for U.S. Election Outcomes
Sam Pizzigati
Drug Company Execs Make Millions Misleading Cancer Patients. Here’s One Way to Stop Them
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Agriculture as Wrong Turn
James McEnteer
And That’s The Way It Is: Essential Journalism Books of 2018
Chris Gilbert
Biplav’s Communist Party of Nepal on the Move: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian
Judith Deutsch
Siloed Thinking, Climate, and Disposable People: COP 24 and Our Discontent
Jill Richardson
Republicans Don’t Want Your Vote to Count
John Feffer
‘Get Me Outta Here’: Trump Turns the G20 into the G19
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail