Humayun Gauhar | 2 AUGUST, 2015
The Spider’s Web
“Come into my parlour said the spider to the fly” – but sometimes the spider gets trapped in it himself
As age passes heartlessly by and the inexorable “petty pace of time” remains petty no more, I am reminded of the wise statement of my friend the writer Imran Husain: “The older I get the more I realize the value of privacy. Of cultivating your circle and only letting certain people in. You can be open, honest, and real while still understanding that not everyone deserves a seat at the table of your life.”
Oncoming dotage, however, is enriched by exciting times. Though dark clouds are looming in the loaming, they have silver linings. Global multidimensional change is in the offing, hurtling along even faster than life itself. The current shift was triggered off as always by historical forces, when only a few years ago the Leviathan started morphing and convulsing to shed its old skin for a new one, the global status quo started shifting, the power pendulum swinging from west to east. For me it started with the occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union and and its subsequent defeat. The USSR crumbled soon thereafter bringing the Cold War to an end, leaving us for the first time with only one comprehensive superpower, a hegemon too young and immature to handle its unchallenged status. Out of the Soviet womb spilled forth many new states. Its demise caused miscarriages amongst its east European satellites.
Pakistan and the Afghan freedom fighters should also have been credited with the achievement but the United States claimed victory as its own alone and behaved like any other hegemon, abandoning its partners that had cast the first and most telling stones. America punished Pakistan with nuclear sanctions, abandoned the Afghan and foreign freedom fighters and went on its merry way that is merry no more. It paid the price on September 11, 2001 and is still paying it, as is the hapless world. We, for our part, should have learned lessons from US duplicity and climbed down from its lap forever and always and then forged a more equitable relationship in which there is something in it for everyone. But sole superpowerdom infected the US with the killer disease called Hubris, as it had infected every hegemon before. Thinking that it was above and beyond defeat, America made exactly the same mistake that the USSR, Persia and Britain had made before it: it attacked and occupied Afghanistan. Again Pakistan, instead of telling Bush to go forth and multiply, climbed back on America’s lap to ‘save’ itself for the moment mistaking the spider’s web for ‘opportunity’. America stuck Pakistan on its lap this time with the glue of unpayable debt and dependence and making it its fiscal colony. Serves us right for also being so stupid. When America yanks us off again, as it inevitably will when its power and influence wane even more, it will hurt like hell and our precious derrieres will lose a lot of flesh. The US president who slapped sanctions on us was Bush the Father. The US president that invaded, occupied and lost Afghanistan was Bush the Unholy Son. Not stopping at that he also occupied and destabilized Iraq for which the world and the Middle East are paying the price of increasing loss of territory to ISIS and AQAP that too are products of US stupidity. Like Dr. Frankstein, we still haven’t learned that when you create monsters they take control of your lives and ruin you. Now a third Bush, the second son, is trying to win the US presidency. If he does, he might drive the final nail in the coffin of America’s superpowerdom. However, right now a dodgy real estate magnate also trying to win the presidency is running his mouth off as if he drinks aviation fuel for breakfast and doing very well for it. If he wins, he will bury US superpowerdom. We are in for riveting times.
Afghanistan has a way of enticing hegemons into its intoxicating embrace and then crushing them, like the spider does the fly in its sticky web. America is no different. They should have asked their poodles the Brits, but led by Tony Blair the Hypocrite the Brits forgot their thrashings at Afghan hands and followed the Americans into the inferno wagging their tails. That’s what happens when you elect two idiots to lead the ‘free’ world.
Now the US is trying to cobble together peace of sorts and forging an Ashraf Ghani-Good Taliban government. But just as peace talks were to resume last Friday in Murree, the BBC announced that Afghan Taliban founder and leader Mullah Omar was dead. Hours later we were told that he had died in a Karachi hospital in April 2013. Probably America killed him because Pakistan didn’t, possibly for getting our own back at America for not droning and ‘splatting’ TTP leader Baitullah Masud on silly pretexts even though we gave them his coordinates five times. They killed Baitullah after he had killed Benazir Bhutto. What does that tell you? It must have been America who told the BBC. But why now? Because without Mullah Omar the Taliban had split into two broad factions: the pro-talks ‘Good Taliban’ and the anti-talks ‘Bad Taliban’. They needed a single leader to present a unified front to talk successfully to the Afghan government with Pakistan playing midwife and America the father needless to say.
What next? Who next? Pakistan should see what’s happening to Greece for they could be the next Greece. Greece has been declared bankrupt and made to accept a worse ‘bailout’ deal than before, laced heavily with austerity that will impoverish its people even further. If it doesn’t comply – its mindless executive and parliament without any original thought are trying their best to so far – it will be liquidated like any company, its assets seized or sold in the name of privatization and its sovereignty captured. That is what could happen to Pakistan. Our external debt is reaching unsustainable proportions if it hasn’t got there already. Don’t believe the economic figures that the government fools you with and that the IMF and ratings agencies knowingly accept to justify giving us more loans to pay interest on earlier loans, increasing our debt stock and chaining us further. We are getting crushed under odious debt and if we are ever to reclaim the considerable amount of our lost sovereignty, a future legitimate and honest government will have to invoke the Odious Debt Law or be prepared to lose sovereignty forever. Our viceroys will then be US banksters. So much for God’s ‘Khalifa’, His Vicegerents on earth, for they have sinned woefully by declaring war on God by indulging in ‘Riba’, exploitation and usury under the dark cloak of ‘interest’.
Are you surprised then why I would love to be in Athens when Mount Olympus erupts and Greece explodes and implodes simultaneously? Doubt if I will have to wait long. The IMF is balking at the new deal. Without it on board the German and other EU parliaments will create quite a ruckus and may not agree. Wonder what Aristotle and Socrates would have made of their once powerful Athens being fiscally colonized? Would they regard their present compatriots with abomination or despair for not learning their teachings about guarding sovereignty and independence jealously and selling their once great country down the drain to, of all people, the Germans?
Alexis Tsipras was elected on anti-austerity populism, the very DNA of his party, its raison d’etre. But after first rejecting a bad deal from the EU and its creditors, calling a referendum in which the majority heartily voted ‘No’ to EU ‘bailout’ proposals, he started groveling, afraid that he couldn’t handle Grexit with his ruptured banks closed, sacked his finance minister whom the EU negotiators hated for truthfully calling them “fiscal terrorists” and started negotiating thinking he would get a better deal after the ‘No’ vote. In the jousting that followed he lost his nerve, blinked and fell off his horse called ‘Anti-austerity’ and ended up getting a worse deal with harsher austerity conditions. He caved in. In raising the unnecessary kerfuffle he actually ended up tilting at the windmills, Don Quixote like. In the process he lost whatever fiscal sovereignty he had, Greece’s assets will be sold at whatever price to whom the EU determines, increased Greece’s debt stock to Euro 400 billion, made life much more difficult for his people who had placed faith in him. Greece is looking forward to a much messier Grexit later than it would have sooner. The lessons for all who have also wholly or partially lost their fiscal sovereignty are:
1. Hegemony and colonialism are alive and well. But the strategy of hegemons and their banks, banksters and multilateral agencies giving unsustainable loans to fiscally colonize other countries is as unviable and outdated today as military conquest and occupation have become. Hegemony is as old as the hills, innate and inherent in mammals and we can never wish it away. Future hegemons will now have to establishing hegemony through conquering world market shares instead of territory and treasuries. Their weapons come from their huge accounts in their knowledge banks: countries with knowledge accounts in deficit and vast accounts of accumulated ignorance and darkness of the mind are simply waiting to be colonized.
2. Beware of populist politicians who are demagogues really. They create a feel good factor for an angry and frustrated people to get cheap votes and then plop, be they from rich and powerful countries or poor and weak ones.
3. Germany’s third attempt at conquering Europe, this time fiscally, not militarily, is working. The rest of the EU member states are its stooges like the conquered often become to get fiefs and titles. Germany has conquered Greece, but can it hold on without destroying the Euro, the EU and itself? There may be no Marshall Plan this time to put it back on its feet. Such a brilliant race proves that brilliance is not enough when perfidy is afoot and it comes to the plans of mice and men defeating historical forces.
4. It is too early for humankind to work with a common currency and still insist on their total sovereignty so a political and fiscal union doesn’t stand a chance just yet.
5. Associations, unions etc. don’t work beyond trade and fall victim to the largest and financially and militarily the most powerful member.
Let’s not pass final judgment on Tsipras. He might be up to something, though I wouldn’t bet on it. He may be buying time for Grexit or it could simply be a product of delusional misjudgment and stupidity. Time to prepare for Grexit. Make the Drachma. Make understandings with other countries like China. The Russian Mafias have already consumed a lot of Greece.
We Pakistanis should try and make the OIC meaningful as Musharraf and Abdullah Badawi tried to and do a rethink on SAARC. The rest are harmless even if they are not much useful beyond providing a common talk shop and expensive jaunts and joyrides paid for by the poor.
All Mr. Tsipras has shown is that persons who talk big deliver little. You have to think big, but realistically and rationally. He caved in. Yanis Varoufakis is the only winner so far. He played his politics by putting the cat amongst the pigeons and then slipping out smelling like a hero, leaving Tsipras to deal with the fallout. Reminds me a lot of Bhutto who inveigled Ayub Khan into the 1965 war, played a major role in drafting the Tashkent Declaration, defended it in parliament and then getting shipped out like a sulking hero, calling the Tashkent Declaration a sellout by Ayub and promising that he would let the cat out of the bag. He’s taken the bag with him to the grave for there was no bag or cat, only mice battling it out for petty power. Whether Varoufakis gets power and turns out to be an even bigger bozo than Tsipras remain to be seen. Chances are that he will. It is a lesson for others on the skids.