Connect with us

Americas

Vienna and Munich Agreements: Does History Repeat Itself?

Published

on

Robert A. Heinlein’s assertion “A generation which ignores history has no past; and no future,” is a good starter to understand the issue of the Vienna Agreement. After the Munich Agreement was signed, in September 1938, Britain and France deliberately abandoned Czechoslovakia to Hitler, believing this was the only way to save the world from another war. However, Winston Churchill: ““You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war. ”Exactly as in 1938, Obama had to choose between dishonor and war, and he chose dishonor. Now we all will have both the dishonor and the war.

One of the great wonders is how people translate information into knowledge. In fact, history proves that lack of knowledge stems from mental blindness, ignorance, selective hearing and information. We recycle and circulate information we hear and read without any inquiry and criticism, and believe this is the truth and the whole truth. Indeed, Thomas Jefferson declared, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” Wolfgang von Goethe reiterated this, “There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.”

All that Obama wished was to establish a legacy for his foreign policy, but he got the opposite, and we will get the disaster. This is a colossal failure. Not only has he betrayed U.S. allies in the Middle East, mainly Israel, Saudi-Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and the Persian Gulf states; not only has he deliberately strengthen Iran’s power to become a regional hegemon at the expense of these states; not only he has created a huge vacuum and brought the failed states of Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Syria; not only to the vacuum created entered all the Jihadi Islamic fanatic groups – Obama actually has also accelerated the nuclear race in the Middle East, and inevitably the outbreak of regional war in the future. This is only in the Middle East, but the decisive failure is domestic, in the American society and economy.  

What happened in the late 1930s? The shameful Allied refusal to confront Nazi aggression bestowed Hitler what he wanted time and again in exchange for his eternal promise of “peace in our time.” The shameful appeasement resulted in the outbreak of the Second World War. Most important to note: nevertheless the appeasement and the capitulation, still the aggressor, Germany, initiated the war. This is the lesson to deeply learn and adopt: appeasement never works. Appeasement comes out of defeatism and it also breeds defeat and colossal failure. Appeasement, said Winston Churchill, is feeding the dragon hoping it will devour you last. However, even being the last, the dragon will eat you, because he is dragon, and he is hungry.

If we take Winston Churchill’s saying: “In war, resolution; in defeat, defiance; in victory, magnanimity;” it seems that Obama operates just the opposite: in war – magnanimity; in defeat – resolution; in victory – defiance. This is exactly what happens today. By deliberately abandoning Israel, Saudi-Arabia and Egypt’s security concerns, Obama has paved the way for Iran not only to develop a nuclear weapon, but worse than that, he encouraged Iran’s desires to become a political and military hegemon in the Middle East. As in WWII, war will breakout in the Middle East, and the initiator will be the aggressor, Iran. That is exactly because you can never change the dragon’s character, and because appeasement means horror and it yields catastrophes.

One needs only to look now at Iran’s ideology (as no one looked at Germany’s under the Nazis): Iran is mandated by Islam to conquer the world; to make all men convert, submit or die. Ayn Rand was correct by declaring: “The spread of evil is the symptom of a vacuum. Whenever evil wins, it is only by default: by the moral failure of those who evade the fact that there can be no compromise with evil on basic principles.”

The Munich agreement was called by Churchill a “total and unmitigated defeat.” This is exactly the case of the Vienna Agreement of July 14, 2015, with Iran. In the 1930s Britain and France had sought every possible way to evade confronting Germany, by giving up and giving in and capitulating to Nazi Germany. Today the Obama Administration has been following the same track with the same results: it evolved from the assertion that “no deal is better than a bad deal” to the policy of any deal, even a bad one that can be reached, is better than having no deal at all.

During this period of time the US has proven that it is much more eager to reach an agreement with Iran than the Iranians. This is amazing because the Iranians were under the pressure of economic collapse and the depression of diplomatic isolation. Indeed, history repeats itself, as Europe before the Second World War, the US has been willing to compromise on all of its own principles, while the Iranians compromised on none. Iranian negotiators understood this bizarre situation and extorted more and more concessions. This is proof of Aldous Huxley’s assertion, “Facts do not cease to exist simply because they are ignored;” and the resulting ware will prove Ayn Rand’s, “You can ignore reality; but you cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.” Perhaps this situation belongs to George Orwell’s declaration, “There are notions that are so foolish that only an intellectual will believe in them.”

Like the Munich Agreement that culminated in the victory of the aggressor at the expense of the appeaser, the Vienna Agreement is a total defeat of the US and a great victory of Iran. Now a nuclear arms race has begun. Saudi Arabia will have a nuclear weapon from Pakistan. Egypt and Turkey will perhaps turn to Russia and China for nuclear bomb or purchasing its devices. Russia and China have both proven eager to play the double game: trading with Iran and supplying nuclear reactors to anyone who seek for it, in due prices. Another actor is North Korea, as demonstrated by Iran, is willing to engage in nuclear proliferation.

There are two kinds of Iran: nuclear Iran and conventional war-mongering aggressive Iran. Nuclear Iran is built as a strong-threatening support to war-mongering aggressive Iran. Despite the miserable propaganda message delivered by the US, the reality is that it has exacerbated the regional and the international situation. Not only it has paved the way for Iran to continue its nuclear weapon program, but it also helped Iran to strengthen its strategy of the two-track axes fronts: the “Levant Axis,” the northern one, by controlling Iraq, Syria and Lebanon; and the “Maritime Axis,” the southern one, by controlling the Hormuz and Bab al-Mandeb straits.

Both are aimed at directly threatening militarily Saudi-Arabia, Egypt and Israel, and even strangling them militarily and economically. These states know exactly the dangerous situation, however, the US has become blind and deaf, as its eyes are widely shut on Islamic Jihadi terrorism and Islamic millennialism. Moreover, the northern Axis Iran is building is also meant to constrain and contain Turkey, while the southern Axis is a direct way to influence and control the strategic area leading to Africa.

Iranian influence and stature will grow and flourish thanks to the lifting of sanctions and the resulting hundreds of billions of dollars of economic investments in Iran which will finance their terrorist activities and allies, and sustain their tyrannical regime. There is nothing in the agreement that addresses Iran’s continual violation of basic human rights. We must always recall Karl Popper’s eloquence: “If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them… We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.”

It must be recalled: the Vienna Agreement was between the U.S., Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia on the one side, and Iran, on the other. Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Persian Gulf States are not signed partners to the agreement as if it does not bind them. Now they are free to defend themselves. Though deliberately abandoned by its only ally, Israel is no Czechoslovakia. It has the power and the ability to defend itself, to deter and to retaliate against Iran. It is worth quoting Winston Churchill’s, “If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.”

We must cry out loud and clear: ‘Never again.’ It must also be recalled that in the Middle East Western-Oriented rationalism is not common, and there are not only suicidal Shi’ites and Sunnis, but wars also start unintentionally or from miscalculation. Add to this grave situation the emergence of the Islamic Caliphate State (ICS. There is no longer DAESH, ISIS, ISIL), which threatens the existence of the Middle Eastern nation-states, and the possibility that al-Qaeda will seek to regain its power and prestige among the Muslim Salafi-Jihadi groups by performing a “super-blast.”

Hear is exactly the formula to world disaster. The Vienna Agreement, like the Munich Agreement in the 1930s, and the North-Korean agreement on October 21, 1994, has a tremendous impetus to bring these horrors into reality. The Middle East is not susceptible to the discipline of mutual deterrence let alone to abiding by written agreements.

Many will say, the Iran deal is really a high-stakes, a strategic bet. This is not the situation. The Vienna Agreement is worse than that. Not only does it give Iran free license to have nuclear weapons, it also allows it to become the regional hegemonic power. Senator Lindsey Graham describes Obama’s approach to Iran as “dangerously naïve… I think he is misjudging what the Iranians want… and the best evidence of what they want is what they’re doing right now to destabilize the region without nuclear weapons.”

However, Senator Graham is mistaken. Obama does this deliberately. It seems he believes that powerful Iran as a regional hegemon will bring stability to the Middle East. Totally, the other side happens. What drives Iran the most is the need for the religious victory of the Shi’ite version of Islam against the Sunnah. Iran’s top enemy is Saudi-Arabia and the Iranian target is controlling Mecca and Medina religiously. That is, if are we honest enough to admit, Saudi-Arabia and not Israel is the primary target of Iran’s nuclear capability. That does not mean that Israel can relax. On the contrary Israel’s very existence is at stake, however Saudi-Arabia should be much more concerned as it is a greater prize for Iran.

Unfortunately the agreement makes the war in the Middle East more probable. Iran’s successes will encourage the leaders of the regime to be more confident in their strategy and that they are on the track of fulfilling their mission. The Western world is nearly irrelevant, as the US is weak and Obama acts to destroy its presence as a world power. Europe suffers even more a lack of leadership, and continues its policy of appeasement and defeatism; Russia under Putin wishes to be back a world power, and it automatically confronts America on every issue. China grows more aggressive and assertive in the face of American weakness.

Moreover, the Middle East is in anarchy and chaos, with many failed states, like Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Syria; while Egypt and Saudi-Arabia are under direct threat: sub-conventional (by Salafi-Jihadi and Salafi-Takfiri Islamic groups); conventional (the consequences of the Islamic Anarchic Tribal Winter, mistakenly referred to as “Arab Spring”); and unconventional (Iran’s nuclear capability, and the following nuclear arms race). The Middle East has lost the most from Obama Administration’s faults.

This situation was clearly reflected in the negotiations. Obama offered almost unlimited concessions while ignoring all its own red lines. This was exactly the situation between Britain and France on the one hand and Germany on the other, in the late 1930s. The current colossal capitulation of the US to Iran is also marked by the fact that Russia, the EU and China will highly benefit from the deal economically. This is the only reason why they go together. The words of Douglas MacArthur fit this situation: “I am concerned for the security of our great Nation. Not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within.”

Vienna repeats the shameful October 1994 agreement of President Clinton with North Korea. The same syndrome; the same results; and still the same unlearned lessons by the political system as much as by academic “experts”, who endorsed the agreement with North Korea as successful and prolific. Unfortunately, this syndrome is worse, as in the 1930s’ issue of what to do with Nazi Germany aggression; and as in the 1990s’ issue of what to do with the North-Korean aggression; and like today’s issue of what to do with Iran’s aggression — the media and the academia have betrayed their role and took one-sided policy, that of supporting the appeasers and ignoring the aggressors threats.

These two important players have bestowed the political systems the impetus and rationalized their policies to continue their failed policies. This reality has become a syndrome. The academia-media have been betraying their balancing role of giving sense to the functioning political system. They have become, as Norman Dixon indicates in his book, Our Own Best Enemy, by denying the severe hazards coming from the aggressive states, and by rationalizing the failed policies adopted. It is the right place here to quote Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

The agreement signed on Tuesday, July 14, 2015, known as “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” (JCPOA), is weak and dangerous; it undermines American national security and discredits the US foreign policy among its allies; it poses grave threats to Israel, Saudi-Arabia and Egypt, and it promotes all-out war, perhaps nuclear, in the Middle East. From its beginning Iran’s nuclear program was acquired by deception, evasion and concealment. Iran continues this pattern today, and now it has an international legitimacy to successfully fulfill its strategy.

The only barrier left to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear threshold state is the new elected President in the US and the Congress act together to prevent this agreement from moving forward. The US Congress must invalidate this agreement. It has to learn the consequences of the agreement with North Korea and never to betray its balancing role in the American web of government.

Albert Einstein’s assertion is correct: “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” After the Nazi invasion to Poland in September 1, 1939, the British Parliament understood the huge disastrous failure of Chamberlain, and replaced him with Churchill, in May 1940. His speech at the Parliament was of historic importance. “All I can promise you is blood, sweat, and tears… We shall outlive the menace of tyranny; we shall not flag or fail; we shall never surrender… You ask: what is our aim? I can answer only in one word. It is victory; victory at all costs; victory in spite of all terror, however long or hard the road may be. For without victory there is no survival.”

The US Congress has to recall that Noah built the Ark before the Deluge. This is of utmost importance: before the Deluge, and not after it. The Free World desperately needs leaders like Winston Churchill; courageous and realist leaders to save us out of this madness. The Congress should tell President Obama loud and clear: with this signed agreement, you have become like Neville Chamberlain instead of being Winston Churchill. You lead the US and the Free World to a huge disaster.

However, the problem is more aggravated, as Chamberlain stepped down from office quietly even willingly, as he understood his failure. Obama continues to believe arrogantly that he is not mistaken, that his policy is righteous. Like President Carter, He deludes himself that he is carrying out a divine mandate. But whose? And to whom? Obama proves Barbara Tuchman’s assertion in her March of Folly, of leaders who bring disasters on their own peoples out of stupidity, blind stubbornness, and permeability of mind.

July 14, 2016 was the one-year anniversary of the nuclear agreement with Iran. In his new book, Obamabomb: A Dangerous and Growing National Security Threat, Fred Fleitz, of the Center for Security Policy detailed analysis of the dangers this agreement continues to pose to U.S. and international security, including: why the threat from Iran’s nuclear weapons program is growing despite the JCPOA; how the nuclear agreement gave Iran a pass on its nuclear weapons work and led the IAEA to dumb down its reports on the Iranian nuclear program; how the agreement has made Iran a greater regional and international threat; and how the Obama administration is trying to grant further concessions to Iran.

Fleitz’s detailed analysis of this agreement not only proves the growing danger that the agreement poses to U.S. national security. For Fleitz it is clear: the nuclear deal is so dangerous that the next president should tear it and re-negotiate another nuclear pact: Iran must cease all uranium enrichment and its research. Iran must not have a heavy-water reactor or a plant to produce heavy-water. Iran must robust real and effective verification and inspections; Iran must curtail and agree to limitations on its ballistic missile program. Iran must agree to end its meddling in regional conflicts and sponsorship of international terror.

Now we hear of the cash payment of $400 million to Iran. Obama, Kerry, and others in the administration, claim it was not ransom money and had nothing to do with the release of hostages. The decision to unfreeze the money in cash was made because “the nuclear deal [was] done” and the prisoners were released. Contrary to many others, I believe in what they say. The reason is Obama’s ideological and strategic policy of bringing Iran to a regional hegemony. He has never abandoned this target. In his naïve deep misunderstanding of the situation, he still believes that Iran and Saudi-Arabia can walk together in leading the Middle East, with the US is the force “behind.”

The US continues to support the forces of evil in the Middle East, like Iran; the Jihadi groups in Syria that oppose Bashshar al-Asad but identified with al-Qaeda; and Turkey under the Erdogan dictatorship caliphate. At the same time the US continues its policy of suppressing Egypt’s al-Sisi; embarrassing Saudi Arabia; and coercing Israel to adopt policies that compromise its security.

On July 8, 2016, a Washington Post columnist wrote, “The reality that many Republicans have still not come to terms with is this: that Barack Obama was elected and reelected, fair and square, and that the American public knew what it was doing.” He is absolutely right. And that is exactly the reason the US has so deeply deteriorated in all webs of American life. To make it short: domestically, there is misery and wretchedness among the society, being on the verge of internal racial war. In foreign policy, the US has become weak and unimportant in international relations, while it has ruined the Middle East. World balance of power has vanished. The balancer of the balance of power, according to Hans Morgenthau, has ceased to exist, and the international relation is in a state of chaos.

The records of history will show that Obama has been perhaps one of the greatest failed President in the history of the US. He has changed America – for the very bad. He has stolen America from its citizens, and abandoned their cherished values: the family (“the American way of life”); the military (patriotism and believing in the greatness of America); and the country (“God Bless America”). Obama has transformed every aspect of American values to the bad.

This is not the American dream or the American spirit. According to Philip Haney, Obama is an anti-civilizational agitator whose primary goal is to create destruction and tyranny. Obama ‘dismantles’ America’s defenses. Now the big question is how America fell out in love with him from the beginning? The answer seems paradoxically simple. The majority of people is gullible, brainwashed by the Big-Left-Media, uninformed, historically illiterate, uncurious, incompetent to do background research, and possessed of an extremely slow learning curve.

Obama’s policy of coercing and forcefully imposing his Muslim believers on America is painful, awful and tragic. Muslims don’t want to assimilate or to adapt themselves to American (or any Western) principles and values, they want the US (and Europe) to adapt itself to Islam and adopt their 7th century desert values.

James A. Lyons, retired Admiral, put it on May 9, 2016: How Obama transformed the military. There is no question that America’s worldwide leadership, power and influence have been significantly degraded over the last seven and a half years. The basic reason is that Obama has been very successful in the implementation of his goal to fundamentally transform America. In so doing, he has undercut the Judeo-Christian foundation of this great country while at the same time promoting the advancement of Islam throughout our society — including the U.S. military. This transformation, at its core, is anti-American and anti-Western. Yet it is also pro-Islam, pro-Iranian and pro-Muslim Brotherhood. Compounding this travesty is Mr. Obama’s decision to embrace our sworn enemies. Unbelievable.

The ‘multicultural’ makeover of our military threatens to undermine the very fabric of our military forces, and is being accelerated with no apparent opposition from military or congressional leaders. Mr. Obama has used the military’s founding principle of civilian control to impose his debilitating directives which are destroying the military’s warrior mentality and the ‘will to win.’”

Maureen Scott has called Obama “the Architect of Destruction.” Obama appears to be a tormented man who is filled with resentment, anger, and disdain for anyone of an opinion or view other than his. He acts in the most hateful, spiteful, malevolent, vindictive ways in order to manipulate and maintain power and control over others. Have we ever heard Obama speak lovingly of the U.S. or its people, with deep appreciation and genuine respect for our history, our customs, our sufferings and our blessings? Obama is void of the basic emotions that most feel regarding this country and is insensitive to the pride we have in our national heritage. Not a day goes by that he is not attempting to defy our laws, remove our rights, over-ride established procedures, install controversial appointees, enact divisive mandates, and assert a dictatorial form of power. Obama thrives on tearing us down, rather than building us up. He is the Architect of the decline of America, and the epitome of a demagogue.

This paper has only one aim: to introduce the similarities between leaders in the process of creating a political vacuum that enables the onslaught and encroachment of evil forces to ruin the existing world order and balance of power.

Continue Reading
Comments

Americas

Murder of George Floyd – On Camera Murder by Neo Ku Klux Klan

M. Abdul Basit

Published

on

image credit: Flickr, Fibonacci Blue

Now that the doors of racism have been shut down by law, the de facto persecution of blacks carry on. The cold-blooded murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis officers is one of the many such cases. If the four racist cops could strangulate a handcuffed person on camera, one should be fearful to assume what could they be doing off camera. Until the lion learns how to write, every story will keep glorifying the hunter.

The persecution and segregation of colored people has been done since long. Gone are the days when Rosa Parks could be ordered to leave her seat on bus for a white. And gone should have been the days when Eugene Bull Connor could use state authority to subjugate unarmed protestors in Birmingham during Civil Rights Movement while being filmed on Television. George Floyd kept on begging to let the air in for he was suffocating.The racist cop told him to be easy while putting more pressure on his neck while Floyd laid down on ground with his hands cuffed behind his back. The four armed cops apparently could not find a better way to handle him except strangling him to death. Or perhaps they did not wish to.

The inhumane treatment, especially when done by state authorities, develop grievances in vulnerable communities. A liberal state is meant to treat everyone equally. When Jim Crow Laws were on a high and Ku Klux Klan started to target humans on basis of skin color, it led to the formation of violent groups in African Americans like Black Panther. Violence against particular groups cannot sustain for long in a developed world. When USA tries to proliferate liberal values across the world, it should not remain aloof that despite being the world’s oldest democracy, blacks are still victims of oppression in America.

The white supremacy is not a myth. The Minneapolis officers were able to kill a person while being filmed as well as begged by the civilians to do mercy on Floyd for he didn’t put any threat to them. The cops gave him a slow death without any shame like they were living in a pre-Lincoln era. Luckily, the heinous crime was filmed and all the cops have been terminated but it is likely that without being prosecuted for the cold-blooded murder, it may not give a lesson to other state authorities regarding misuse of their powers.

This is simply a Neo Ku Klux Klan where the Blacks are being oppressed on the basis of color and the murderers get a clean chit. A similar case happened in 2014 when Eric Garner was strangulated when he kept saying “I can’t breathe” while dying and the white officers didn’t face federal charges despite being filmed doing the murder. In the same year, a 12 year old black boy Tamir Rice was carrying a toy gun and he was killed by a white cop. In 2016, Philando Castile was murdered in his car when the situation could be handled pacifically but the police used preemptive measure to kill him right away. There are many cases in recent past that make it evident that The United States of America has not fixed the problem of Ku Klux Klan; rather it is a neo Ku Klux Klan that is de facto segregating and oppressing the colored community. One in every 1000 black males can expect to die at the hands of police in USA.

The Neo Ku Klux Klan needs to be stopped. State institutions must function as they are supposed to perform and not to deal humans with discrimination depending on what color of skin they carry on their flesh. Racism should have been buried when President Kennedy got successful in calling civil rights a moral cause. But racism thrives till today and now with President Donald Trump, it is far from possible to end racism in American society when he himself dehumanizes the blacks. If the state institutions as well as the public does not proactively try to resolve the issues that are a direct threat to human security when it comes to black lives, the dreams of Equality, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness will remain a hoax.

Continue Reading

Americas

What do Donald Trump and ultra-conservative Pakistani imams have in common?

Dr. James M. Dorsey

Published

on

Authors: James M. Dorsey and Tehmina Qureshi*

US President Donald J. Trump and ultra-conservative Pakistani religious scholars may have more in common than either would want to admit: a belief that congregation is an essential pillar of prayer irrespective of public health concerns.

Mr. Trump, however, may wish that he had the kind of less polarized and/or more compliant audience that Pakistani clerics address.

Scores of religious leaders and groups in the United States have sought to protect their communities by advocating virtual rather than physical congregation at the time of a pandemic in which the coronavirus has yet to be brought under control.

Religious authorities in much of the Muslim world, Pakistan being the exception that proves the rule, have heeded government instructions and medical and public health advice.

That advice ranged from the closure of mosques to bans on social gatherings that precluded traditional iftar meals breaking the Ramadan fast and celebrations of this week’s end of the holy month to Saudi Arabia’s suspension of the umrah, the lesser pilgrimage to Mecca and possibly the haj too.

Leaving aside the question whether he has the legal power to do so, Mr. Trump vowed to overrule governors who refused to open houses of worship, noting that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) had issued guidelines that included physical distancing.

The move designed to play to Mr. Trump’s Evangelist voter base received a mixed reception among American faith communities.

It appealed to those segments of the community with an unqualified belief in God’s ability and will to protect and that often are steeped in notions of Christian manhood that have deep roots in American Evangelism and were boosted by the 9/11 attacks on New York’s World Trade Towers and the Pentagon in Washington.

Mr. Trump’s recognition of prayer as an “essential” societal activity further drew a line intended to give houses of worship autonomy in an environment in which state intrusion into people’s lives has expanded greatly in a bid to fight the pandemic.

In that sense, the president was fighting a battle similar to that of Pakistani Sunni and Shia Muslim leaders who rejected a total closure of mosques but were willing to accept guidance on issues such as physical distancing.

The leaders see mosques “as spaces where you cultivate  and express a communal religious identity that is very central to…their vision of the Pakistani state,” said a Pakistani Islamic scholar.

The clerics’ determination to retain control of religious spaces was reinforced by Prime Minister Imran Khan’s flip flops that resembled Mr. Trump’s zig zags.

Mr. Khan initially sought to appeal to religious circles by meeting in the early days of the pandemic with Maulana Tariq Jameel, a leader of Tablighi Jamaat, who initially denied the contagious aspect of the virus.

Mr. Jameel reversed course and embraced physical distancing after his movement’s mass gatherings in Pakistan, Malaysia, India and Indonesia turned into super spreaders of the coronavirus.

Mr. Khan’s government further complicated issues by initially agreeing with religious leaders on a division of labour that would have empowered the clerics to advise their followers to stay at home, avoid congregational prayer and maintain physical distancing and then jumping the gun to announce the measures without coordination.

Mosques in major Pakistani cities were packed in recent days, despite religious leaders paying lip service to physical distancing, in a reflection of the degree to which ultra-conservatism has woven itself into the fabric of Pakistani society and in stark contrast to Saudi Arabia’s pre-emptive response to the health crisis.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled against government lockdowns, suggesting that the coronavirus was not a pandemic. Religious leaders have since backed away from their acceptance of physical distancing, demanding that the advice be abandoned.

Mr. Trump’s recognition of prayer as essential aligned itself with notions of concepts of religious freedom promoted by his administration, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the lead, that in effect serve to legitimize discrimination against minorities of various stripes.

Few doubt that Mr. Trump made his move with an eye on the US presidential election in November. Mr. Trump was embarking on a road on which mainstream ultra-conservative Pakistani clerics were also travelling.

The clerics remained silent when Ahmadis, a sect viewed as heretic by mainstream Muslims, were excluded from a national commission created by the government earlier this month to promote religious tolerance and counter persecution of minorities.

Pakistan’s religious affairs ministry barred inclusion of Ahmadis, who are among Pakistan’s most discriminated minorities, on grounds that they did not qualify as a minority and refuse to recognize the country’s constitution.

A 1974 amendment of the constitution bars Ahmadis from identifying themselves as Muslims because they do not recognize Mohammed as the last prophet.

Compared to the polarising environment that Mr. Trump operates in and likes to entrench, Pakistani clerics have it a lot easier. Except for liberals and human rights activists, few in Pakistan are willing to stand up for Ahmadi rights.

Moreover, the government shied away from imposing its will on the religious establishment during the pandemic as did the military, which built quarantine centres in various cities and helped local authorities implement a lockdown.

Pakistan lacks truly influential, more liberal religious voices in the mould of for example Reverend Curtiss DeYoung, CEO of the Minnesota Council of Churches that groups African-American denominations, the mainline church and the Greek Orthodox Church.

“We listen to communities of colour, and many of our congregations’ people are engaged in representing refugees and immigrants, African-Americans, Latinos, even seniors, they’re saying, why the urgency?” Mr. DeYoung said in response to Mr. Trump’s push.

“They’re…directly affected. They’re actually afraid in many cases to go into group gatherings…We feel that we need to make our decisions based on good science and the recommendations of our health department,” the reverend added.

Mr. DeYoung was joined by his Muslim counterparts in contrast to their Pakistani brethren.

“American Muslim scholars and community leaders have already determined that mosques will not be open in the near future because of the health concerns brought on by the pandemic. That’s a determination for them to make not for the president to make,” said Ibrahim Hooper, communications director of the Council on American–Islamic Relations, the largest US Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization.

To be sure, the United States and Pakistan are vastly different countries. Pakistan has been hard hit by the pandemic with 55,657 cases of infection to date and 1,155 deaths. Yet, that is  a far cry from the United States’ 1,613,324 cases and 96,659 deaths.

Pakistan, nonetheless, saw its number of cases quadruple during the month of Ramadan and the rate of new infections jump by 30 percent in the last week as the holy month neared its end .

Yet, when it comes to employing religion to entrench power at the cost of striking a balance between faith and science, Mr. Trump and Pakistani religious scholars share the kind of opportunism and worldview that serve their short-term interests irrespective of the cost to human life and potentially to already battered economies.

*Tehmina Qureshi is a multi-platform journalist and editorial writer at Dawn, Pakistan’s leading English-language newspaper.

Continue Reading

Americas

COVID-19’s Weakness Is Its Strength

Rich Berdan

Published

on

About 4/5ths or 80% of the deaths come from 1/5th or 20% of the Canadian population. Our seniors and those living in long-term care facilities have been held with obscure and unregulated measures to say the least. Conversely, roughly 1/5th or 20% of the deaths have come from 4/5th or 80% of the population that are younger than or senior community and perhaps some underlying health issues. While not short of devastating to families affected, it is roughly a thousand deaths in 80% of the population or about 1 in 40,000 deaths in this sizeable wedge of our communities. The mortalities equate to a relatively small number of 2.5 per deaths for every 100,000 Canadians.

In contrast, the top 5 leading causes of death in Canada per 100,000 are:

  1. Cancer: 68,000 deaths or 207.7 per 100,000
  2. Heart Disease: 50,000 deaths or 152.8 per 100,000
  3. Cerebrovascular Disease: 14,000 deaths or 42.3 per 100,000
  4. Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases: 10,000 deaths or 30.0 per 100,000
  5. Accidents: 9,700 deaths or 29.5 per 100,000

In 2018 there were 4,157 suicides in Canada: making it the 9th leading cause of death behind Alzheimer’s Disease. With an economy currently on life support in some sectors, the number of suicides will likely climb higher this year as people succumb to job loss, the inability to pay their mortgage or credit loans, and bankruptcies. In the last month alone, there have been nine spouses murdered in domestic violence and likely thousands of cases of abuse and violence in family homes going unreported.

While the initial unknowns and actions around the pandemic were undoubtedly justified, Canada and the world should be better equipped to understand what is necessary to sustain a more robust economy if there is indeed a second wave of the virus. The most dangerous characteristic of COVID-19 is its weakness to kill. Unlike more deadly viruses that dispatch the host quickly and have a tapered prospect to vault to others and dies out, COVID-19 is carried by asymptomatic humans who unknowingly infect those most vulnerable to the illness.

The best solution following a crippling downturn in the market from the first wave will not be a nation-wide shutdown in the next go around. It would rather be a laser focus to take care of our seniors, specifically in our long-term care facilities, and self-isolate our most at-risk population and those with underlying medical issues. One must wonder how the leading causes of death in Canada will pop well above the number of COVID-19 related deaths with postponed cancer treatments and the like over the year.

One then must also examine whether the prolonged lockdowns and restrictions throughout the country, not to mention the crippling debt load and taxes to ensue, was the best reaction overall. It is safe to say, lives were saved through physical distancing practices, and the sacrificial deeds by individuals taking coronavirus very seriously was prudent. If only intense attention were placed on long-term care facilities during the onset, Canada would have come out relatively unscathed by the pandemic.

A full financial recovery will be painful for many, and it will likely take several years to see some semblance to a roaring economy. We do know many life savings for retirement have withered, numerous sectors in the marketplace. Such areas as automotive, travel, hospitality, and oil and gas will not bounce back any time soon, and many Canadians will never return to the jobs they once worked.

It is also apparent through this pandemic that if you have an alternative opinion, one is quickly shunned or dismissed as irresponsible if you are not a medical professional or virologist. Specifically, predicting models of death or advocating ever-changing protective measures or restrictions that shifts the goalposts almost daily.

Rule changes and lockdowns are more readily accepted when one’s income stream is uninterrupted. However, it is a far different story for those on the cusp of their business dissolving in debt or a neighbor prevented from earning a living and placed in the dire predicament in having to choose between paying their rent or buying groceries to feed the kids.

The effects of COVID-19 are far-reaching today and will be far-lasting tomorrow. One thing for sure, the adversity we have all faced through the pandemic has introduced us to ourselves.

From our partner RIAC

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

South Asia1 hour ago

China’s Kashmir Move: The Great Geopolitical Puzzle of South Asian Chessboard

“We will not attack unless we are attacked. But if we are attacked, we will certainly counter-attack”. –Cited by Chinese...

Terrorism3 hours ago

Sri Lanka’s fight against LTTE terrorism: In retrospect

Authors: Ms. Nathasha Fernando and Ms. Ayodhya Krishani Amarajeewa On the 19th of May 2020 Sri Lanka celebrated the National...

Energy5 hours ago

Oil and gas geopolitics and its end

Let us see how oil barrel prices have really fluctuated in recent weeks: in April, in fact, the European and...

Russia8 hours ago

Russia Postpones BRICS Summit to Later Date

The summits of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member states have...

Reports10 hours ago

Vietnam’s Development Strategy for Next Decade Must Put Productivity Growth Front and Center

A productivity-driven development model–combining innovation with balanced development and allocation of private, public, human and natural capital–will be key for...

Newsdesk11 hours ago

ADB Approves $400 Million Loan to Support Philippines’ Capital Market Development

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $400 million policy-based loan to support the Philippine government’s efforts to strengthen...

New Social Compact12 hours ago

Spanish Flu and COVID-19 – are there lessons for the world of work?

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many look to the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918/19, which killed an estimated...

Trending