Thursday, August 14, 2008

This is how it started ...

Unarguably, the most important event of the 20th century was World War II. Overall, the historians agree than it started officially in September 1939, with the German invasion of Poland and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by the United Kingdom, France and the British Dominions. It went on for six years straight and took away the lives of 60 million people of this planet. It presented the world with concepts such as genocide and ethnic cleansing, reducing the Jewish population on this planet by more than half. Lastly, the emotional and mental trauma that humanity had to endure as a result of this war will take centuries to properly heal and be forgotten. We have elephant’s memory when it comes to tragedy. Even today when a Muslim refers to how Richard the Lionheart butchered their people during the crusade 800 years back, I don’t foresee the animosity resulting out of such bitter events to fade away anytime soon. Thus, more than what these events cause in the present, the potential fallout that they may have on the future of our race is what makes them critically important.

Looking back, I am sure if the allied nations must have thought that if only they had picked up the early warning signs that this as not going to be just another war, they would have acted differently and prevent this catastrophe. When Hitler became the German chancellor in 1933 and in open defiance of the Treaty of Versailles started remilitarizing Germany … that should have drawn their attention. When he started giving hate speeches based on his racist doctrine ... started talking about a global empire fulfilling his lifelong ambition of world domination by his so-called ‘Aryan’ people … that should have raised their eyebrows. Finally, eleven months before the official start of the war, when Germany invaded Czech Sudetenland in October, 1938 ... that should have been the early warning sign that it needs to be stopped ... through aggressive negotiation and, if need be, military confrontation. Instead, Stalin shamelessly signed an official treaty with Nazi Germany where they freely looted and plundered the weaker Eastern European nations and the Baltic States. The ever-aristocratic British under Chamberlain (and the French led by Daladier) tried to engage in a dialogue with Hitler to find a middle ground in this insanity. This only fueled Hitler’s confidence and strengthened his resolve and, finally, in open defiance to all deals, treaties and natural and social laws, pushed us into the most devastating global conflicts humanity has ever witnessed.

63 years after the end of this war when I would like to believe that we have come a long way and socially evolved into a different species, I sadly witness the that phrase “History teaches us nothing” is not just a cliché. As the Russian tanks march through South Ossetia, I feel magically drawn towards its similarity with the events surrounding the German invasion of Sudentenland. Instead of being apologetic for violating the sanctity of another sovereign nation, for making the United Nations look pointless, and, for forming a precedent for any nation to single-handedly occupy territories that are disputed bilaterally … they started bombing the Georgian mainland. They have blatantly admitted that they are not even open to discussing giving Sudetenland back to the Georgians and feel that Abkazhia should follow South Ossetia in seceding from the Georgian nation. Again, you would think that there would be checks and balances and that the other superpowers in the world would jump in and do what’s right and justified. Apart from all the meaningless anti-Russian rhetoric that has been flowing around, nothing concrete has been done. France, as usual, went the diplomatic route and hastily brokered a peace deal, which only the Georgians (getting their butt royally kicked) seem to be complying with, while the Russians, while ‘being a part of the deal” are doing whatever they wish to at this point. United States, as usual, is watching it with a cautious eye. With their military powers spread thin fighting two unnecessary war … one in the name of futile revenge in Afghanistan and the other in the name of cheap oil in Iraq … the Government has ruled out any military action. The situation would have been totally different if South Ossetia had been sitting on oil. They then would have found hundreds of reasons to go to war. Remember all the flow charts and the satellite images that Collin Powell made at the floor of the UN to falsely justify the invasion of Iraq?

While we celebrate our independence day, take a moment to imagine a situation where Pakistani tanks are rolling into Srinagar or the Chinese army entering Arunachal Pradesh and starting to bomb New Delhi … and we are made to hopelessly wait while the world engages in round table discussions with the enemy!! I am sure your blood has started to boil at this thought and you are immediately thinking about our weapons arsenal and the great Indian Armed forces … but pause for a second and think that not every country may afford to take on the Russian army head on …

This is exactly how it started … and if we don’t stop it right now … the end might just be a bit more brutal than last time.

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