When you live in the United States, with the roar of the free market, the roar of this huge military power, the roar of being at the heart of empire, it’s hard to hear the whispering of the rest of the world. And I think many U.S. citizens want to. I don’t think that all of them necessarily are co-conspirators in this concept of empire. And those who are not, need to listen to other stories in the world – other voices, other people.
Under the shelter of the U.S. government’s rhetoric about the war against terror, politicians the world over have decided that this technique is their best way of settling old scores. So whether it’s the Russian government hunting down the Chechens, or Ariel Sharon in Palestine, or the Indian government carrying out its fascist agenda against Muslims, particularly in Kashmir, everybody’s borrowing the rhetoric. They are all fitting their mouths around George Bush’s bloody words.
After the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament on December 13, 2001, the Indian government blamed Pakistan (with no evidence to back its claim) and moved all its soldiers to the border. War is now considered a legitimate reaction to terrorist strikes. Now through the hottest summers, through the bleakest winters, we have a million armed men on hair-trigger alert facing each other on the border between India and Pakistan. They’ve been on red alert for months together. India and Pakistan are threatening each other with nuclear annihilation. So, in effect, terrorists now have the power to ignite war. They almost have their finger on the nuclear button. They almost have the status of heads of state. And that has enhanced the effectiveness and romance of terrorism.
The U.S. government’s response to September 11 has actually privileged terrorism. It has given it a huge impetus, and made it look like terrorism is the only effective way to be heard. Over the years, every kind of nonviolent resistance movement has been crushed, ignored, kicked aside. But if you’re a terrorist, you have a great chance of being negotiated with, of being on TV, of getting all the attention you couldn’t have dreamt of earlier.
(…) The policies the U.S. government is following are dangerous for its citizens. It’s true that you can bomb or buy out anybody that you want to, but you can’t control the rage that’s building in the world. You just can’t. And that rage will express itself in some way or the other. Condemning violence is not going to be enough. How can you condemn violence when a section of your economy is based on selling weapons and making bombs and piling up chemical and biological weapons? When the soul of your culture worships violence? On what grounds are you going to condemn terrorism, unless you change your attitude toward violence?
ARUNDATHI ROY. The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile – Conversations With David Barsamian, Foreword by Naomi Klein. South End Press. Published in 2004. p. 51/52 & 117. Available at Toronto Public Library.
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In 1997, Arundhati Roy’s first novel “The God of Small Things” made her the first Indian woman to win the prestigious Booker Prize. More than six million copies of the book were sold worldwide.
Since then, she has turned her pen to politics. During the Bush years, she was a fierce critic, calling the invasion of Afghanistan “an act of terror on the people of the world”.
In India, she has campaigned against mega dams projects, denounced the rise of Hindu nationalism, and has been imprisoned by the Supreme Court of India for “corrupting public morality”.
Her latest essay describes her trip into the heart of India’s Maoist insurgency, the movement that India’s government has launched a major military campaign to crush…
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