Sunday, November 25, 2007

'US Lost Moral Ground Since 9/11'

This is an assertion attributed to the global leader of the Anglican church, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

According to a brief News24 article, Williams (57) was being interviewed by the "Muslim lifestyle magazine" Emel when he agreed that the US had lost the high moral ground since 9/11.

This is not an unexpected criticism from Williams. It is quite well known that he opposes the US war in Iraq that began after 9/11.

Williams characterized the US role in global affairs by saying: "We have only one hegemonic power at the moment. It is not accumulating territory, it is trying to accumulate influence and control. That's not working."

On the inevitable comparison between US and British 'imperialisms' Williams entered into a dubious comparison. He more than implies that British imperialism in India was more mindful than the brutish and rash American kind in Iraq.

This is the comparison in his reported words:
"It is one thing to take over a territory and then pour energy and resources into administering and normalising it.

"Rigthly or wrongly, that is what the British Empire did - in India for example.

"It is another thing to go in on the assumption that a quick burst of violent action will somehow clear the decks and that you can move on and other people will put things back together again - Iraq for example."

It is not my intention to raise any doubts about the immoral and inhumane context of US imperialism and its war on the innocents in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I think though that the Archbishop has hardly made a case against the immorality of imperialism by arguing that there is, "righly or wrongly", a better case to be judged.

Britain's imperialism must be judged as harshly, if not more so, simply because of its scope and longevity.

Moreover, what is the point of critiquing the US action in Iraq when Britain has been, and is, very much part of the "willing" coalition that supports that brutal imperial war?

Archbishop Williams could have offered a more holistic critique if he condemned colonial imperialism in any form, and more specifically, at any moment in Anglo-American history.

Instead, what is offered is a rather one-sided critique that seems to harbour some competitive, and even nationalistic, finger pointing at US imperialism.

21 comments:

nunya said...

"Williams entered into a dubious comparison. He more than implies that British imperialism in India was more mindful than the brutish and rash American kind in Iraq."

I can't help but think it's more than more affection for the Brits than the Americans that prompted Williams'comparison.

Technology (video cameras, cell phone cameras, audio recordings, & instant internet transmission of such files) makes the crimes known to a much wider audience much more quickly.

shenoy said...

Hello Ridwan, hope this comment finds you in good health and times. (btw this comment is off-topic from the post, so do bear with me and do read on).

i finally did make it to your blog, if only because a friend of mine called me today to say that there are some things said about me here. i know, i know, maybe i should have done it the minute jubin or you asked/invited me to, but honestly i was in mood to ( i still ain't but hey!). coming back to the point, i found no trace of what he was talking of (and that after calling him back to confirm).

because even after trolling through your blog (immense so maybe i might have missed it (even with the 'ctrl+f')). so could you let me have a look at it man? i would like to know too, see it with my own eyes....and if for any reason you have taken it off your blog and delete, i respect that as your very personal choice or whatever that i shall not name, and shall leave it at that. but why would anybody such as you take back words already written or said? i wonder.

and to digress a little from an already digressive (?) comment (it matters not cos blogger tells me this is an author-moderated blog and this one's between you and me eh?) you can choose not to publish this comment or you can mail the text to me at tgshenoy@gmail.com.....it matters not which one, cos in the end, i hope that at least i shall know........

i also see from your blog that you have been in India. and that too at JNU!!!! damn man, you're a professor, i wouldn't have figured that if i didn't read it for meself. i don't know for how long you were here, but tell me honestly, did you not see (amongst mine people) any preference for whites over blacks. JNU i respect over DU, for it is this hub-bub of socialism and idealist thought. that being the case, you might have missed it ('it' being the preference-based-on-skin-colour-and/or-imperialist-hangover) among the students and your over-qualified (?) peers, but amongst the people out in the streets? did you not see any difference, even by inference??? how long DID you spend out here???

and i also see (this has been a revealing visit!) that you have roots in India!!! who would;ve thought that! not me. sigh. roots....well....africa be your motherland right? it is in a sense for all of us if you back long enough....but i wonder about the choices. oi! chill mate!

i also see that you are a muslim. now that! i would not have even thought you would be. holy damn! and a topic for another day.

i do hereby accept your invitation to visit your blog, and do hope you will be able to separate the content from the context. if you agree not/ don't want to, no skin off my ass, and it shall remain between you and me. but i do hope you will point the way to the post that was about me, cos honestly i would like to know. i might disagree, but i would still want to know. else, what's the fun in living eh?

shenoy said...

now this comment is about this post ('US Lost Moral Ground Since 9/11') only.

as someone from a land that was under a couple of centuries under them brit imperialists, what Williams is voicing (...pour energy and resources into administering and normalising it...yadda yadda yadda) is just claptrap that some people out here too believe in and would have us be thankful for. To name one person who the world recognises, Nirad C Chaudhri. It is this kind of thinking that delayed us being independent as before, by ages. and some people would still have us be thankful for that!

it is this 'we had the best of both worlds' mentality that had the pre-independence congress led by the 'greats' request for Dominion Status and not Absolute Freedom. sigh. figure.

if i could, i would ask Williams that if it was a connected world a century or more earlier, with the media and blogs and etc. etc., would british imperialism not been as 'brutish and rash [as the] American kind in Iraq' and not just mindful??? how comforting to know that it was mindful....

hegemony is hegemony. imperialism is imperialism. colonist or capitalist. a rose by any name would still prick you with its thorns and the people would bleed as they do....so point in going one-up on that, someone should tell williams.

and we're talking of britain here. whose PM acted like a minister of Bush!

in closing, it is interesting that this interesting aside was the result of Muslim Lifestyle Magazine. Again i digress, sorry, but, what are your thoughts on the recent comments made by Martin Amis?

Ridwan said...

Thanks Nunya. That may be true about technology but I think that Williams' comparison is a little heavy handed.

He is not merely weighing the manner of brutality. He is speaking to the influence of hegemonic power.

In India he sees British hegemony and colonialism as thought through ... the US he sees as uncommitted and without a plan in Iraq.

Beneath his conversation I detect some 'civilizing' baggage but would have to read more about him to really know.

The Anglican church has taken on radical positions in the past.

For example, Alred Stubbs who put together Steve Biko's "I Write What I Like" was very supportive of the Black Consciousness movement.

Stubbs used to stay with my family when he visited my hometown.

Some have pointed out that Biko's thinking was supported inside the Church.

The, of course, there is Archbishop Tutu. No finer man and a committed revolutionary who will call injustice when he sees it.

So, I want to read more on Williams before advancing a further argument.

But, what I see in the article makes me stand by my cursory assessment.

Peace and Struggle,
Ridwan

Dione said...

These seem to be good insights. I have to admit to not knowing anything about Williams before now. Most clergy and all religious leaders seem to agree with the war on Iraq being wrong, so his stand point would not be surprising. I read a little about Williams out of curiosity, he’s had the quintessential Ivy League education, and has lived abroad. This is only significant if you’re thinking about whom he comes into contact with.
America is guilty in its actions, but I find it refreshing that someone finally points out that America has become somewhat of a scapegoat when it comes to pointing the finger at global issues, especially anything war related.
I freely admit to not being an expert on India, however from what I do know that country has taken a serious hit from British Colonialisation. English is widely spoken there for a reason to put it into simple terms. I found my class on India years ago to be very interesting. It’s very interesting that today, hardly anything is discussed about Britain’s role there. So, very refreshing point of view on that 

Ana said...

Countries with histories of genocide and slavery against people for profit gives both the US & the UK absolutely no moral basis at all in my eyes. What is this continual refusal to snap out of denial? I would agree with your assessment brother dont point the finger when (Brit) imperialism is just as rotten as the US kind.

Respect & Regards
Ana

Dione said...

Shenoy,
I think its an important lesson learned not to judge someone.

Ridwan said...

Shenoy your friend is only partially right about what appeared in a post entitled:

I'm "Some Sort of a Mongrel"

I took deep offense at one of the replies where you referred to me as "some kind of mongrel".

These words bite deep in racist societies and particularly in ones like South Africa where folks like me with part Indian ancestry are considered "half breed" or "mongrel".

It may have been helpful for you to have visited the blog here to understand a little more context. (I visited your blog before replying to you.)

I decided to raise the level here.

Please do not see my response as an invitation to open up a debate about the content of my remarks at Jubin's, or the content of that now deleted post.

I can assure you that I zoomed in only on the race aspects of your comments but also quoted your viral attack on my person.

I do not know you as a person and cannot make brash statements about your being, etc.

Yet I also recognized that I was particularly offended by you saying that struggle causes I attend/support are tarnished by my association.

That was a wide slap that still boggles my mind.

I have read our exchange and wish that is was less enflamed. But I still do not see me questioning anything but your views.

It may be the manner that you write and engage.

But let me be clear so we can stand of firm ground here:

In your first comment above about my African roots you say you wonder about my choices on Africa (africa be your motherland right).

I am not entirely sure at what you are driving with this Shenoy It is not your place to question my choices or even to raise this as a topic for your "wonder".

And you seem shocked by my religion.

I will not entertain any conversations about my religion and its value to anyone.

I am a Muslim above all else. One out of six people in the world are. There is a proud tradition among Muslims who struggled against colonialism and apartheid in South Africa.

No shock there. No inconsistencies for my broader politics neither.

My engagement over at Jubin's was on race and racism.

Those are two of my professional areas. I merely reacted to what you wrote and left all else alone.

So I would like to leave this conversation here. Please respect my decision not to continue the tenor of what started over at Jubin's.

You are of course welcome to comment on any other matters as pertain to the posts here.

You will find that most days it is quite a respectful bunch of committed activists who are working for justice in the US, South Africa, India, and elsewhere.

Best wishes nontheless,
Ridwan

Ridwan said...

Peace to you sista Ana. Thank you for looking in today.

I was a little taken by Williams' comments.

He speaks as if there is not 400 plus years of slavery and genocide to be considered.

Even if he meant to 'disarm' the US, he should of done so with a deeper appreciation of Britain's past and present role in global oppression.

Anyway, I trust you are well.

Onward sista!

Ridwan

Eugene said...

The Anglican Church raped THOUSANDS of native children in Canada. They have also done everything they can to cover up this crime instead of dealing with it honestly. They, like the Catholics, have moved KNOWN pedophiles from one parish to the other. I guess that is a kinder, sweeter, form of genocide. I mean, the priests get something out of it, don't they? Besides, the Anglicans were also solidly locked arms with the empire in order to commit genocide against the Indigenous of canada. Saying the U.S. has no moral authority... Yeah, and England does... Uh huh.

REVOLUTION NOW!

Eugene said...

Moral high ground? There is no moral high ground in empire. Empire has to kill and destroy in order to steal. There is nothing moral about that, and the U.S. and UK have NEVER held any moral high ground under that definition.

It is all a matter of how you LOOK like you have moral high ground. The U.S. is currently more blatant about their murder and destruction of others. That's all. They've always done this in one form or another, JUST LIKE THE UK.

One more comment on those horrific genocidal anglican pieces of sh**; there was a massive lawsuit by native survivors of sexual abuse by the anglican church in Canada. Raping was systematic within the church, and like I said, thousands of native children were raped by these folks with "moral high ground." So, the anglican church's way of dealing with the lawsuit, instead of using the truth, delayed for years. The reason being is they were hoping to outlast the lives of those bringing the lawsuit against them, thus, saving them some of that "moral high ground" money they'd lose in the lawsuit. Many did die, one I even read about committed suicide.

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't there some sort of big huge feasty party thrown by some excessively wealthy Indian or Brit in India, say around WWII, possibly before. I heard about this on KBOO. And during this extravagant party thousands upon thousands of dollars worth of food and drinks were served to already excessively wealthy guests. And during this "moral high ground" party, on the other side of India, houses of poor people were being bulldozed. I believe the phenomenal number I heard was 300,000 homes. Or was it 30,000. Moral High Ground... Yeah, right.

The only folks that have the "moral high ground," as it were, are the victims of the horrific criminals forcing their genocidal empire down their throats. But of course, they are propagandized as evil since they won't simply give everything to those who want to steal it, aka, empire.

nunya said...

Well, whoever's idea the Iraq war was didn't think it through, he was correct in that assessment.

I think the Brits may have been just as brutal in India as those under Rumsfeld's command in Iraq, but nobody stuck the evidence on the internet ex: Abu Graib photos.

As an American, I was completely humiliated, disgusted and terrified by those.

Dione said...

Every nation seems to have its own selective memories about Slavery, and when they think that it ended- if it ceased at all!
Humanity in general should be ashamed, at its savagery!
Enslavement of human beings, racism, have we really evolved? I think it’s pretty safe to say no in so many ways.
Making individuals aware of their attitudes, of their bigotries and what really happened in the past are some of the best ways to have history not repeat itself. We can hope…
Realizing that slavery still exists, and that racism is wide spread currently is a start also.
We need to thank protesters, and others who put themselves out there for humanity.

Dione said...

ps. Shenoy's cat looks like Hitler

Steve Hayes said...

The Anglo-American American invasion of Iraq did in fact invite comparisons with similar actions by British imperialism in the past.

One was the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879, which was just as unjustified, and left just as much of a mess. The British government embarked on "regime change", but having got rid of Cetshwayo's government, which they didn't like, they had nothing better to replace it with. That is something I thought a lot about in the first three months of 2003, but the Bush/Blair regime did not, and nor apparently has Williams.

And similar things could be said about the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902, which Milner rashly embarked upon, without taking into account the resistance.

Williams was right when he said that US imperialism had created the worst of all worlds, but Brit imperialism was really no better.

Ridwan said...

Hello there Steve. Thanks for looking in here and welcome.

You raise important points I have not considered before.

Your example of the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 is indeed informative.

I guess the old adage that "history repeats itself" is brutally apparent.

And what a disaster, again.

Thanks for adding more complexity to the post Steve.

Peace,
Ridwan

shenoy said...

*Dione.
Hi.
That is intentionally so. This particular cat belongs to a ‘category’ called Kitlers. It’s obvious why. And the reason why I chose it as my icon (apart from the fact that I like cats).

*Ridwan,
How true.
Marx said ‘History repeats itself. First as tragedy, second as farce.’
How true.

Dione said...

Its pretty messed up that there are people out there that intentionally want to breed animals to resemble Hitler, although he’s a fitting icon for you Shenoy.

Interesting point about Marx. I guess philosophically speaking; Freud says that there are no mistakes. So I’m sure he and your kitler would agree that your almost apologetic previous posts were a Marxist farce.

Ridwan said...

Hey there Dione. Thanks for your comments about slavery and memory. Also, I did not notice the
"kitler" icon.

Shenoy thanks for your comment too. Marx was speaking against dialectical stagnation (lack of progress) for sure.

There are certainly strengths in the view of "farce" as an indication that nothing important, or rather constructive, was gained from viewing the past as Steve so rightly points out above.

On the cat issue, and it is really not the topic here, but nontheless I think Dione is expressing some discomfort about making an icon (if even a "farce") out of Hitler.

Jewish folk who read here, and others, may see a "kitler" as demeaning of their experiences at the hands of the Nazis.

That said I hope we can keep exchanges here respectful of all.

Thanks you both for your input.

Peace,
Ridwan

shenoy said...

*Ridwan
Keeping it respectful is ok and welcome. Till it gets equated with weakness, and becomes synonymous with apologetic, as has happened with me here. I will leave this at that.

Sorry for being off-topic again. It wasn't ever my intention to explain my icon but since Dione mentioned it i replied. that said, this has been my icon ever since i have been blogging, and intentionally chosen. definitely not as a farce. it is not meant to be disrespectful to anybody, and certainly not to demean anybody. I do want to go forward with this here, I have addressed it on my blog. And do leave your comments.

*Dione.
Fitting it is eh? Thank you for the compliment. If you visit my blog you will know why, for I do not want to use Ridwan’s blog and this post to counter your very obvious hate for me. Do visit my blog and read the post ‘questioning your questions’.

Also, do understand that being polite and courteous is not the same as being apologetic. i haven't apologised, nor have have i taken back any words. Being understanding does not imply weakness. I do not have to explain to you. But what I do have is the ability to separate content from context. i don't see what i have said to you/about you that so enrages you. Btw, kitlers are not bred, they are just born….coincidences and curiosities.

Dione said...

Well, for someone who really feels like they don’t have to explain themselves, you sure have done a lot of explaining, Shenoy.
When you had made references to Ridwan as a mongrel, I felt as though you had a Hitleresque quality, in the dirtiest of racial senses. I find your Kitler image there fore quite funny and fitting from this stand point. No one has such an image, and does not want people to question it. You and the people who are proud to wear the confederate flag. It is for publicity, even though it is negative it its true sense.
I don’t mind explaining myself to you, or others it is a part of the learning and discovery that is important to the survival of the human race- that can eventually make us better people. The one only race is the human race. The rest of the categories, as you are well aware have been created by society.
I am not of the Jewish faith, nor am I what you would consider a person of color yet Hitler is still an icon that is offensive to me, and that the German people are ashamed of for a reason. I have German relatives, who are still alive to tell me that people there loved his ideas until they went way out of control. Hitler by the way stole the Swastika image; it had been a symbol of the free world until his empire which was not a free world, except in his eyes. Hitler felt that the world needed to be freed of all not white people, and the people who do not conform to his beliefs. You mention that religious icons offend you,and were pretty quick to point out the star and crecent moon Islamic sybol, a religon proud enough to not worship idols.
I am still reminded of the book The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison and other works that discuss racism, and sad ways that people value phenotypical traits of whiteness. People are obsessed by these things, Hitler was for sure. I find it interesting that even though Hitler would have chosen for you to die, Shenoy that you still respect and admire him for his principles of hatred, and a leadership based upon brainwashing.
The American society is brainwashed, I readily admit. My manager at my last job on one of my last days there told me she hated her face, her looks are very Italian and Jewish, and I felt compelled to ask her to think about why she felt that way. The fools I worked with liked my greenish hazel eyes, and I explained that green eyes are actually brown eyes with yellow pigmentation, and did they still like them after all, and in one of my lectures to ignorant people, also explained that the most important aspect of eyes is that they work for seeing. Still human, I must admit the most beautiful eyes I have seen, are brown and peeking behind a set of glasses that he says cost him almost nothing :) The eyes are the window to the soul they say, and I ask if your eyes can see past “race” and class Shenoy. I wonder about this, India’s caste system you are a part of may be influencing your views, much like Hitler’s, and colonialism for that matter.
You should feed Hitler junior some pickled herring for the German New Year. I love cats, and hate to see them suffer hateful masters.