Ramish Kamal Syed : 18/09/2017
“International politics is never about democracy and human rights. It’s about the interests of states. Remember that, no matter what you are told in history lessons.”
― Egon Bahr
These few controversial words spoken by a nearly forgotten figure from 20th century Germany are as true and relevant today as they would’ve been had they been uttered in the era of Alexander the Great, Julius Ceasar, Tamerlane or any other great political or military figure of history. The simple fact they convey is that with respect to matters that concern the vital interests of the state, the nation, the tribe and the self; man is for the most part, very rational in his decision-making and logical in his approach towards bringing about circumstances and conditions that protect and advance his own self-interests at the expense of others if need be.
Wars have been waged, crimes have been committed, nations have been burnt and entire peoples have been made to disappear from existence itself as a consequence of man’s quest to advance, maintain and protect his interests at home and abroad. All of recorded Human History is a testament to the fact that political figures, at least those who are competent as political figures, have rarely if ever refrained from any direct or indirect act of evil or injustice if they assumed it carried with it substantial economic or political profit. The famous and celebrated British prime minister during the second World war Winston Churchill by diverting rations from Bengal ( A province of British India) into the custody of the British army fighting the war lead to the deaths of an estimated 3 million Indians by starvation however this unfortunate tale from the second world war is scarcely remembered in popular imagination.
Is this selfish form of behaviour and greedy way of thinking in any way moral or ethical? No! Most codes of ethics&morality will downright spit at such vindictive and egoistic conduct and most ordinary people in contemporary times, having been raised to maintain a certain moral standard, will find such sentiments and the actions associated with them repulsive and unattractive. It is partly for that reason that we have such rampant deceit, secrecy, insincerity, and ambiguity in the world of government and international power politics.
“The Politicians always lie!” it’s a popular line that I think we’ve all heard at some point in our lives as our parents, friends, relatives or significant others express frustration at current events. How the newly elected president with great oratory and colorful language promised great changes and momentous improvement yet conveniently expels many of his office winning promises to the waste-bin of popular memory after being sworn into office.
Only the most recent example of this treachery is US president Donald Trump’s failure to avoid military intervention in Syria against the Assad regime, despite his campaign promises, as well as the rapid deterioration of Russo-American relations that took place during his tenure, despite all visible and verbal signs pointing to the exact opposite scenario being the most likely during election campaign. In the Islamic Republic Of Pakistan, we have also, unfortunately, been blessed with several such individuals in quick succession for past 50 years at the very least lead to an angry, dissatisfied and malcontent populace, understandably so.
Ask yourself: In this chronic scenario who is more to blame for such gross inadequacy?
(I) The Politicians for making promises they cannot keep but must do so due to the necessity for attaining office and maintaining their careers?
(II) Those who naively allowed themselves to be seduced by idealistic rhetoric and brought into the reins of power individuals of questionable merit and agenda.
(III) Those who engineered such an arrangement where the holders of high office suffer no significant penalty for forfeiting their campaign promises? Certainly, an elected leader may lose significant support and popularity but once in office, there is no compulsion to deliver barring that which is absolutely necessary.
Are politicians the natural predators of the hopes and dreams of the masses either due to their own inherent nature or are they, by the intrinsic realities of their occupation, left with no option other than the pragmatic and hence cannot be solely held accountable? Is the common man so daft a political animal that he is almost doomed to eternal regret either due to his own nature or the nature of the society he lives in that leaves him largely unprepared, uninterested and unconcerned with the affairs of governance? If so, is society simply incapable of fostering widespread political literacy and education in the nation due to a multitude of restrictions and limitations or is society capable but simply unwilling to do so for a plethora of reasons?
Before you decide, however, who is most appropriate to be burdened with fault do keep in mind the Machiavellian nature of man mentioned above, do not assume anything in the hearts and minds of men other than the rational pursuit of self-interest to its greatest possible extent. Of course, this assumption does not hold true for all individuals equally, thinking so otherwise is quite unrealistic and an exaggerated exercise in cynicism.
Featured Image Credits: (Photo: Brian Blanco, Getty Images)