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Monday, July 20, 2009

Controlling The Men In Shadows

By Firdaus Ahmed

03 March, 2007

That there is a ‘dirty tricks’ department in each state is not a figment of a radical’s imagination. Since such organizations require to be low profile by nature and calling, little evidence surfaces. Counter intuitively, democracies are no exception. Valid suspicion has arisen over the role of respective agencies of the two leading democracies of the world, the US and India, in creating an environment justifying the recourse to military means by the two states in the ‘national interest’.

In the USA, two prominent films have dared to question the media propagated and popularly accepted version of 9-11. These are ‘Loose Change’, that has since become one of the most watched internet documentaries, and Dave vonKleist’s ‘911 In Plane Site’. They have thereby undercut the rationale of export of democracy through military means that the US is currently engaged in. They marshal their evidence to try and prove that the conspiracy behind the attacks is not a theory, but a probability, and the conspiracy has not been one hatched by the Al Qaeda.

They make a persuasive case that the plane that is believed to have hit the Pentagon was actually a missile since there was no wreckage of a plane at the site seen in the pictures and media coverage of the aftermath. Of the plane that could not hit its intended target, the White House, but crashed in a Pensylvania field, there is again no convincing proof of wreckage found at the site. More interestingly, in their version, the planes that crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center were not quite passenger planes. Instead they go on to prove that the buildings were pulled down in a controlled demolition and did not fall as a result of the crashes. Further they cover the efforts at a cover up of the trail by the authorities, adding to suspicion that there was something to hide.

Finding a motive is not difficult from a viewing of subsequent actions of the US. The invasion by the US of Afghanistan and Iraq as part of the Global War on Terror has been critiqued by Chomsky et al as the US bid to control global energy resources and thereby usher in the neo-conservative’s vision of the New American Century. So as to overpower the isolationist streak in the US, those in power needed a Pearl Harbour equivalent attack to rally the nation in support of their intended wars. Now that these have run aground in appalling insurgencies and with Democrats eyeing the White House, more evidence substantiating the suspicion is will likely surface. Internal to the US, many privileges of freedom have been imposed on by homeland protection demands by the state’s security compulsions.

It is reasonable to assume that India is no stranger to the game. The Chattisingpora episode in which Sikhs were massacred in Kashmir has been competently probed by critical observers as Pankaj Mishra. There is also the case of five missing trekkers in Kashmir, abducted and killed by the Al Faran group. That the word ‘Faran’ does not exist in Arabic casts a baleful shadow over the theory of terrorist abduction.

More prominent has been the Parliament attack case. Arundhati Roy’s thirteen questions in a new book published by Penguin, ‘13 December, A Reader: The Strange Case of the Attack on the Indian Parliament’, arguing for clemency for the main accused in the Parliament attack case, Mohammad Afzal, are demanding of answers.

It bears examination as to the extent of political control over the group, its ideological inclination, composition and any checks and balances that exist within and over it. In the absence of information this can only be a theoretical effort. It is known that the National Security Council is the political body at the apex of the national security system. However, it is known that at least two of the Ministers on the Council, the then Foreign and Defence Ministers, were not in the loop on the decision on India going nuclear in 1998. Below this body is the Strategic Policy Group comprising bureaucrats. The members only have positional authority and little expertise on national security, and on this account are unlikely to be ones vested with the powers in question. Clearly the institutional setup is at variance with the reality. Absent the necessary knowledge on the inner workings, an appraisal of the underside of the system is a fair start point.

The anonymous minders of the nation’s security take the ‘hard decisions’. The core of the national security elite forms the ‘inside group’ that arrogates to itself ultimate power, the power to wage war and curtail lives and liberties in the national interest. The rationale is inevitably the larger common good, which the common man is unable to comprehend, and on that account need not be consulted. Those in this club of decision makers have an image of expertise which propels them into the inner circle. However it can be reckoned that their sense of social responsibility, democratic accountability and moral values which is germane to their contribution at this level of decision making, does not figure as criteria for induction into the apex of the system.

It is apparent that such core groups have acquired a vastly expanded power over lives of people and destinies of nations. Given the increasing cooperation between the two democracies including the Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism and the India-US Defence Policy Group, India is likely to learn from its stronger partner strategies that may prove inappropriate for our part of the world and democratic status. There is therefore, at a minimum, a need to be alert to the possibility of subversion of the state from within, and, more widely, to ascertain if those vested with power without having to account for it have a sustainable ethical grid.

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