Iraq crisis can lead to ‘race’ war


  • Letters
  • Thursday, 13 Mar 2003

THE announcement by George W. Bush that the US will wage war on Iraq even if there is a veto against it at the United Nations Security Council raises the spectre of a “race’’ war. 

Billed as the “New Hiroshima,” such an attack will quickly realign current perceptions as a war by “Judeo-Christian” countries against Arab Muslims. 

It will become intertwined with further perceptions as a war waged against the countries because their citizens are not Judeo-Christian. 

Such perceptions can, under a situation such as a unilateral war against Iraq, easily manifest as a war against non-white people.  

These perceptions have, in fact, been building up to a crescendo, particularly over the past decade, with the US' continued indirect support for Israel's “war’’ against Palestinians. 

This has seriously aggravated the sense of powerlessness and deep frustration among Arab Muslims.  

This feeling of hopelessness and inability to institute meaningful changes is clearly manifested in the scenario where, because life itself has little meaning, the people are prepared to give up their lives in the struggle for the betterment of their people.  

This supreme sacrifice, seen in the context of the Palestine suicide bombers targeted against Israel, highlights the differences in “racial’’ identity between the two groups. 

But perceptions of a “race’’ war elsewhere are also becoming clear and a unilateral attack, backed by the West to the detriment of the rest, can further accelerate retribution on the basis that all whites represent Americans and therefore are legitimate targets anywhere in the world.  

This is not an alarmist vision of gloom and doom.  

There have already been many individual incidents where whites have been assassinated or attacked, implicitly or explicitly, as retaliation on the basis of perception and meanings attached to their racial identity. 

The Bali tragedy is a classic case in point.  

The confessions of the perpetrators were very clear.  

Bali was targeted because it was a holiday resort for tourists, most of whom were from “white” countries that supported the war against the Muslim people. 

Therefore the tourists were legitimate targets because the perpetrators wanted to get back at their countries of origin.  

 

There are of course other compelling precipitating factors such as the frenzied and nightmarish steps taken against people of Arabic and Asian descent in attempts in the US to contain the terrorist threat since Sept 11, 2001.  

 

We must remember the recent experience of Acting Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who, despite his known political status and diplomatic passport, was subjected to humiliating treatment at the hands of US immigration, not unlike that given to suspected common criminals. 

This is not surprising because as succinctly pointed out by the Vice-Chancellor of Universiti Sains Malaysia recently: “Muslims are being demonised as destroyers, terrorists and extremists ? the first casualty of the US backlash (of the Sept 11 attacks) was Afghanistan and now the Iraqi people are under threat.” 

 

The question being widely asked in other countries is “Who will the US target next?” 

 

An appropriate and timely assessment of this situation, particularly in the current UN Security Council debate, must surely be an excerpt from a statement by the Prime Minister. 

 

It is a warning to those nations preparing to plunge the world into war despite a possible UN Security Council veto and totally ignoring the hundreds of thousands throughout the world who strongly condemn any war against Iraq. 

At the plenary session on “Trust and Governance for a New Era’’ at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland on Jan 23, Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad said: “It is going to be a long war because hatred, anger and bitterness rule our hearts. We both want revenge. We both will retaliate. If you kill our people, we will kill your people. And so it will go on and on. Sanity has deserted both sides.” 

 

DR COLLIN ABRAHAM, 

Kuala Lumpur. 

(via e-mail)  


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