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Baron Von Richtofen, 2003 (Photo courtesy: Wikimedia)

It is an auspicious moment. 11 years back this month, a President came out and preened in front of the international media, dressed in a flight suit, a flying helmet jauntily held in the crook of his elbow, looking like a Baron Von Richtoffen (albeit a much stupider looking version).

He stood on the deck of the 100000 ton nuclear powered aircraft carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln, a shining example of US military might. Behind him, fluttering in the light ocean breeze, even though it was restrained on all four sides, was a banner that was 25 feet long and read ‘Mission accomplished’.

Not able to contain himself any further, the President held forth……

“My fellow Americans, major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle for Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country……may God bless America….”

The year was 2003.

 

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“God bless America. Oh, and those suckers, our allies….” (Photo courtesy: npr.org)

God has indeed blessed America. The US President had actually meant ‘securing and reconstructing’ the Iraqi oilfields. Iraqi oil is secure, tied up in no-bid contracts to Exxon-Mobil. Iraqi President, Nouri Al-Maliki, has ‘played ball’. His many Grand Caymans and Swiss bank accounts are bulging at the seams. The bankers are thinking of investing in bigger vaults. Al-Maliki’s relatives attend ivy league universities at no cost.

America has indeed prevailed.

No matter that ordinary Iraqis show no signs of being at peace with themselves or having been secured and reconstructed. In fact, 2013 has been the bloodiest year of the inevitable Sunni backlash against the Shia majority. Sunni and Shia Muslims hate each other even more than they hate non-Muslims. Left to themselves, they will destroy and obliterate each other if they can. This is a fact that escapes others.

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Mission accomplished. Falujah September 2013 (Photo courtesy: Wikimedia)

The Americans, and for that matter the world at large, repeatedly fail to understand the Muslim ethos, choosing to be superficially nice to them but keeping them at an arm’s length, instead of getting to know what makes them tick. Shia and Sunni Muslims follow the time-tested adage – when you have differences of opinion with someone in your own family, you tend to despise him more than if it had been an outsider. The Americans had not factored in the gravity of that age-old sectarianism. But then the Americans rarely factor anything into their conflicts.

There is yet another angle. Both, the Christians and Muslims, are by nature aggressive war-like cultures. For centuries, they have built their edifices on the philosophy that everyone around you is a threat and has to be either eliminated outright or subjugated. While the Muslims will simply ram it into you the first chance they get, the Christians are silky and devious, preferring to garner public opinion first, before they go for the jugular. They seem more ‘civilized’ in the process, making every act of theirs seem like it is for your own good. I couldn’t have put it any better than Bishop Desmond Tutu, who once referred to the first Christian missionaries in Africa and said ruefully, “When they came here, they had the bibles and we had the land. Now, we hold the bibles while they hold the land.”

Those two are constantly looking for a chance to start a conflict, though they will tell you it is for a ’cause’, not an excuse. Perhaps sharing their prophets has something to do with it, I don’t know. They don’t fail to invoke the name of God in between every syllable they utter. In that grandiose ‘Mission accomplished’ speech, the US President uttered the words ‘may God bless America…’ at least 7 times.

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US Marines, invoking the Lord’s name before kicking Iraqi butt, invasion 2003. I wonder what exactly they were praying for. That they should be safe while the other bastard, the Aye-rab, died? But wasn’t he also a soldier like these guys? If he was praying too, as surely he was, wouldn’t God be in a dilemma? (Photo courtesy: thebrokeronline.eu)

Muslims aren’t far behind in their frequent pleas to the almighty. For ordinary Muslims, the words  ‘bismillah’, ‘Inshallah’, and other references to Allah, pepper their speech every time they open their mouths to make even the most mundane comments. Tell a Muslim something inane, like, “Hey, I’m going to the grocery store to get bananas’ and I can wager anything that he is going to reply with at least one of the terms I mentioned above, to mean something like ‘may God be with you’.

‘May God be with me at the grocery store and send me away with nice ripe Columbian bananas’. Great. God, could you do the veggies, maybe pick up some anchovies and nuts too? I’ll do the non-veg and the eggs. See you at the cash counter, Lord. Oh I forgot, with you around I don’t have ta pay. Thank you, Sire. Ummm… maybe I could pick up a six-pack while you are around..huh?

Woefully, these two demographics, the Christians and the Muslims, have a total following that comprises more than 56% of the world. There is even more bad news. They appear to be growing at a pace that is far quicker than all the others combined. Millions of Chinese, Russians, Poles, Lithuanians, Estonians, Ukrainians, Romanians, Bulgarians and Albanians have turned to Christianity after the collapse of communism.

The Muslims are not far behind. Breakaway republics in Russia and a whole region of western China have suddenly turned fanatically Muslim in the recent decades and they claim that they have been mandated by Allah to multiply as fast as they can, to help in the spread of Islam. They are now copulating and populating. I don’t know what the name of the region in China is right now, probably ‘Humpazhong’ or something. They intend to shtup their way into majority territory. Should be a fun mandate actually. Imagine walking up to a comely lass and telling her it is her duty to have sex with you and she comes along gamely.

Pew Research says that, by the end of the 21st century, 70% of the world’s population shall be either Muslim or Christian. And between them, they are most likely to author most of the death and destruction that lies ahead for all of us. It will all be in the name of God, of course. And why shouldn’t they? They are in the fast-track queue for being blessed by the Lord, a.k.a Allah.

Poor Lord. He must be finding himself on a slippery slope these days. Imagine an American M1A1 Abrams rolling into Faluja. Looking out at the eerie silence that hangs over the deserted bombed out street, the tank commander intones,” May God bless us all. Okay, lets kick some Aye-Rab butt, guys.” On the other side, behind that brick wall, the keffiyeh-swathed insurgent, peering through the sights of his trusty rocket launcher, takes aim and says,” Allah-o-Akbar. Lets burn the infidel.”

And God is thinking….. “Hey that white guy just said for me to bless him. No, wait that other guy, the Arab, now says I’m great. And both want to kick ass. What in heavens do I do? There isn’t even anyone I can turn to.”

Sometimes I feel sorry for the Lord. I think I know what my prayer, if I ever had one, would be….. ‘there, there. You did what you could, Sire. Now lets skip town and make it to Hawaii. You need some of those grass skirts you created.’

In the meanwhile, hoping against hope that He is still in control, the following invocation is a panicked splutter from the rest of us…..

God help us!