Whither Justice?

Whither Justice?


This letter was written by the writer in response to an article in Newsweek on Bosnia: "So Much for the Vaunted `Safe' Areas" (24 July 1995).



In Mario Puzo's novel, "The Godfather", the law-abiding Amerigo Bonasera, who had always believed in America, decides to avenge his daughter when the sly judge in a New York criminal court virtually lets two young ruffians -- one of them the son of a very powerful politician -- go free. Both of them had brutally assaulted his daughter. He then turns to his uncomprehending wife to announce his decision to her. `They have made fools of us. We must go to Don Corleone for Justice'.

That's the point. When a society deliberately denies justice to its people, they go to Don Corleone for it.

When the international community condone persecution of a people, at least some of them are bound to go beyond `rejoicing in being persecuted'. They will rejoice in revenge. When a man's parents are killed for no good reason, when his children are massacred, when his daughter and his sister are raped right in front of his eyes, even the most learned of scholars will fail in saving him from falling prey to the bait of the terrorist justifying his terrorism as jihad (even though terrorism and jihad are two diametrically opposed terms).

In your article, you have not mentioned one other brutal lesson of Bosnia -- a lesson that the Muslims of Bosnia and of Chechnya and perhaps of the rest of the world are beginning to learn: that there's a price to be paid for hiring American guns and that the price is not the blood of thousands of innocent civilians. It's oil of rich, fat sheikhs. The Americans must continue to teach the Muslim world this lesson, for nothing unites a people more than the realization that they have a common enemy. Continued apathy of the U.S. towards Bosnia and Chechnya and the impotence of the U.N. might give the Muslim world -- from Morocco to Indonesia -- just that.

By the way, there's a question I should like to ask you regarding your cover story (Why America Dropped the bomb?): Why is an Islamist who blows up a building full of innocent civilians in the U.S. called a terrorist? I'll tell you why: because he's not an American. History is often written by the victor, not by the vanquished. Otherwise, if one comes to think of it, even the Islamist might have reasons. Perhaps, he wants to kill a few people because he thinks that's indispensable to save many more of his own. His greatest fault, therefore, is that he's not a world leader or in a position to force the world to accept what he wants. Otherwise, he too might have been able to blow up 150,000 civilians in a single instant with just two bombs for some noble objective that the world would never understand. How very Christian! Even Jesus Christ (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) couldn't have thought of a more peaceful way of ending the war.

There's one last thing I should like to say (even though I'm certain that you won't publish this `epistle', for when the downfall of a nation begins, it turns blind to its faults). The Roman Empire ruled the world for about fourteen hundred years. Its decline took about three hundred years. The U.S. has not yet seen three hundred years as a world leader. The Romans had superiority over other nations in arms and in organization. Better `technology', better `management' -- in modern terminology. Even towards the end of their empire, nothing changed much. They remained superior in these areas. But what did change was values. People change, events change, but the principles of history do not. The rise and fall of nations depends on certain values. The U.S. too was founded on the basis of certain values among which freedom and equality of man for a more just and compassionate world were of prime importance to its founding fathers. If the U.S. has lost the courage to live up to these values, then its days as the world leader are numbered, for these values were the creed to which America had pledged its life, its fortune and its sacred honour.

Yours faithfully

Asif Iftikhar

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