In his traditiol Christmas message last Monday, Pope Francis lamented the “winds of war” blowing across the globe and the “outdated model of development” that keeps the curve of “human, societal and environmental decline” going further down unceasingly. He prayers went out for a two-state solution to the tangle in the Middle East – with an obstite Dold Trump declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel while most countries in the West opposed it in the UN, including India – and for a formula to end the stalemate in the Korean Peninsula, held hostage by North Korea’s defiance of all intertiol norms as it embarks on a catastrophic nuclear path, its hydrogen bomb project being its latest pet enterprise as though fission-triggered nuclear bombs would be insufficient to call the shots against humanity. The pontiff also talked of Syria having to remain “marked by war”, Iraq lying “wounded and torn” by 15 years of fighting, and the ongoing conflict in Yemen that “has been largely forgotten”. These are all conflict zones of the most serious kind, with innocent civilians sandwiched between state forces out to vanquish potent non-state actors equipped with the most sophisticated of armouries and the rebels, mostly of the most savage kind, out to run their writ even by butchering women and children in the me of ‘revolution’ and ‘freedom’ – the most favoured words for what is nothing but cowardly terrorism out to wipe human civilization out of the face of earth. Such conflict zones are manifestations of the evil that has taken deep roots in the virtually irreversibly indoctrited minds of outfits such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Al Qaeda, the Taliban, the Haqqani network operating from Pakistan’s unruly areas in the northwest, and of course the Pakistan’s ISI-tutored terror monsters such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba. The North Korean story is a different one, with the insanity of its rogue dictator Kim Jong-un compounding with the unchecked tests of ballistic missiles (with nuclear warheads) and nuke arsel – this person pressured by bizarre and crazy ambitions to be the sole political leader of the world without realizing the futility of such misadventures except the cost of absolute innocence to be paid by his own people, something that cannot affect such perverse minds as Jong-un’s. Since the North Korean civilians have no say at all in the affairs of their country that must choose a course, however disastrous, that its arrogant dictator drunk with absolute power and pelf would like it to go in for, the very fact of Jong-un wielding power of the most cruel and ucceptable kind is nothing less than a war against the humanity that comprises his helpless and hapless countrymen themselves. Such a dictator cannot be expected to think in intertiol peace terms at all. The Pope is well aware of the reality of the day, and hence his fervent call for peace on a day when one of the profoundest priests of peace, Jesus, descended on Planet Earth.
Reversing the 'Winds of War'
Nonetheless, the crux of the matter is that even if the North Korean dictator were to be reined in and its super-ambitious nuclear industry demolished, there cannot be any room for peace whatsoever unless and until the vast and proliferating bedrock and body of Islamic terror is uprooted to the last diabolic brick. This counter-terror mechanism has to be intertiolly institutiolized, with efficient intelligence agencies of repute and proven track record such as the CIA of the US, the Mossad of Israel, MI-16 of the UK and our own RAW acting in tandem to preclude terror machines from operating and succeeding before some savage terror incident involving toll of the unimagible kind such as Mumbai 26/11 happens and shakes the very foundation of the civilized world. It is here that the role of institutiolization of an intertiol counter-terror mechanism comes into play, for which the worst-affected countries need to rally around a common agenda forgetting other differences, political or economic, in the domain of geostrategic equations and chalk out an intelligence-centric roadmap to secure the lives of innocent millions and make this world a peaceful planet to live in. It is in this context that the Pope’s sensible Christmas message has to be read and decoded as we step into New Year 2018 with the heavy baggage of past in which terrorists seemed to have made a resolve of sheer evil – and cowardice – to create hell out of a heaven possibility. It is this possibility – of peace and progress on every inch of land on earth – that must inform us of our determition to defeat and totally elimite the evil by any means.
Fortutely, in Northeast India, home to a varied mix of ethnic militias, the winds of war have lost their erstwhile intensity, thanks to effective counter-militancy operations, ceasefire agreements, return of sanity in the minds of armed rebels, and the steady change in the outlook of the youth of the region who have fortutely been able to see through the hogwash of ‘revolution’ when the Indian Constitution has so many developmental things to offer provided they are prepared to work to earn a living and to ultimately contribute to their own overall well-being, peace, progress and prosperity. Let 2018 be witness to a total reversal of the last wave of any winds of war, of whatever kind, whatever its origin is, whatever the past wounds may be, and however tough the road ahead seems to be. Needless to say, for all this to happen and sustain in the long run, what could prove to be crucial is civil society activism of the right kind beyond selfish or vested interests and within the arc of the people’s interests at large. The people must win – people whose thirst for peace must be quenched, people who deserve a life of peace, love, compassion, fellow feeling and progress.
Goodbye 2017. The year that will unfold tomorrow must be one of promise and things, socio-economic and political, far more beautiful. And it is possible. Here lies a hope.