Deplorable double standards

Gulf News, UAE
March 7 2010

Deplorable double standards

America, a nation that uses excessive violence in the name of fighting
terror carries little justification in targeting another nation,
Turkey, over ‘genocide’

By Farhan Bokhari, Special to Gulf News
Published: 00:00 March 7, 2010

Turkey’s decision last week to recall its ambassador to Washington for
consultations in reaction to a vote in a US congressional panel to
label as "genocide" the First World War killings of Armenians by
Turkish Ottoman forces, deserves wider attention.

There is never any justification for mass killings of innocent
civilians by armed forces in any conflict. If indeed innocent
civilians were targeted in that unfortunate incident, there needs to
be condemnation.

And yet, the irony is indeed that the world continues to witness
double standards even in a century which was expected by some to bring
in an era of technological harmony and economic progress.

Trouble spots ranging from Kashmir to Palestine, under occupation by
Israel, may qualify as spots targeted in varying degrees of genocide.

Similarly, conflicts in war-ravaged areas, be it the way Iraq and
subsequently Afghanistan were targeted by the US, or indeed Chinese
targeting of Muslims in Xinjiang province, can be considered examples
of conflict with events involving genocide.

Common theme

A close microscopic search through history of the so-called modern era
in the past century will probably reveal a common theme which is
essentially that genocide has no religion.

In sharp contrast, it involves the use of brute force by armed groups,
seeking revenge against helpless civilians, all to settle a real or
imaginary score.

But the ongoing spat between Turkey and the US also brings up a
fundamentally vital question. The accusation in this case, emanating
from a country which in itself can be characterised as a perpetrator
of excessive violence in the name of fighting terror, carries little
justification by targeting another on the basis of a case that remains
locked in ancient memory.

In contrast, the US could have done well for itself by adopting a
legislative initiative that sought to take a position against states,
other entities and individuals, proven to have been involved in
genocide.

Such legislation should have then been tied to a more global
initiative to seek a wider international consensus in dealing with
cases at the centre of genocide-related accusations.

However, it is amply clear that the US legislative initiative that has
apparently caused offence to Turkey, was neither well considered nor
mindful of its implications. To many around the world, a US initiative
of this kind is tantamount to the pot calling the kettle black.

Ultimately, tyranny in whatever form carries neither religion nor can
ever be wrapped around with moral justification.

To the Turks, the US action is not just offensive because it fails to
recognise their peculiar perspective which may stand in sharp contrast
to the global view of the concerned event.

More importantly, it is probably another example of a case where
countries, groups and individuals targeted for reprimand are chosen
not on the basis of their religious beliefs and ideological
orientation.

For the moment, it is impossible to tell exactly how much damage will
be caused to Turkey’s relations with the United States. The decision
by the Turkish government to recall its ambassador may not necessarily
be a permanent one.

Indeed, it is possible that the ambassador concerned will eventually
return to the United States once the decision to recall him has been
seen in Turkey as an adequate expression of anger.

It is even possible that the action taken in the US Senate is followed
by other symbolic steps that are meant by the US to underline
Washington’s appreciation of Turkey’s central role as an Islamic
state.

But the damage that this incident has done to reinforce an already
popular view in predominantly Muslim countries, of the Islamic world
being the target of prejudice in the Western world may still remain
around for some time to come.

Consequently, rather than bridging the divide between Muslims and the
Western world, the divide is more than likely to remain potentially
wide.

The best that can be expected under the prevailing circumstances is at
least the recognition that ways have to be found to stop further
aggravation of an already fragile atmosphere surrounding the Muslim
world and its relations with the West.

Farhan Bokhari is a Pakistan-based commentator who writes on political
and economic matters.

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