Saturday, April 11, 2009

Watch Out for War Anarchy or Revolution

Watch Out for War Anarchy or Revolution
Syed Ali Mujtaba

I am back after attending the Asia Media Conclave, organized by the Asia Media Forum and Asia Resource Foundation, on March 25-27, 2009 at Bangkok, Thailand. There were about 75 journalists from 20 Asian countries gathered there and took part in the deliberations that went on for three days on various issues pertaining to media and global politics. I may like share couple of points that I feel should interest a larger audience.

A speaker from India built an argument that every global economic recession leads to war, anarchy or revolution and one may watch for this to be happening in the days ahead. He attributed the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990 to the economic crisis. Even Perestroika and Glasnosts could not turn around the Soviet economy. The resulted was the passing of an empire.

The speaker then cited the oil crisis in the 1970s that led to the nine years of war between Iran- Iraq. He attributed the World War II to the economic depression of 1927 and the rise of Hitler. Similarly, he said the economic recession led to World War I (1914-18) and the Bolshevik revolution in Russia in 1917.

The main thesis of his argument was now the global economic recession is an established fact, what is to follow is a war, revolution or anarchy. I feel this is a significant point made and worth pondering keeping the global political canvass in mind.

As far as war is concerned, the economic recession has followed the War and not the vice versa. The economics of two battles fronts; one in Iraq and other in Afghanistan perhaps has triggered the economic meltdown. The indications are that rather than rekindling the war fires, the current recession may extinguish them.

If war is a probability then it could be against North Korea or Iran, the two axis of evil on the US radar. However, the point is; can US afford to open two more battle fronts in the current stage of economic recession. One has to be a lunatic to say YEH!

The other possibility for war could be China may capture Taiwan taking advantage of the economic meltdown. In such situation can US fight a Kuwait liberation type war against China to liberate Taiwan? Can it mobiles global coalition of forces as it has done before on two occasions against Iraq. The probability is quite dim.

In the global canvass, South Asia has always remained a flash point for war between India and Pakistan over the festering problem of Kashmir. However, since the impact of economic recession is not so profound on the region, a war between India and Pakistan is completely ruled out.

As a matter of fact, the possibility of war seems to be less probable option in the current global scenario.

Then is revolution a possibility? Pakistan seems to be only place sitting on the embers of Islamic revolution. There is apparent political mismanagement of the country. The economic meltdown is causing hardship to the people and in turn fueling religious extremism. In this backdrop the rise of Taliban has to be seen who are gaining popularity as an alternative to civil-military rule in that country. So if at all a revolution can happen in the world then it could be probably in Pakistan.

Where we should look for anarchy? The most probable fall out of the economic recession is felt on the US. With so many jobs lost, so many companies going bust, it could breed social tension, crime rate may escalate and a whole lot of domino effect attached to it could lead to anarchic situation in the US.

Notwithstanding the facts, the above argument appears to be bit flimsy when weighed in the context of globalization and integration of the new world order. The G-20 summit in London has demonstrated that the global concern of economic recession has to be tackled collectively.

All this appears to be fine but the possibilities of war, anarchy or revolution can also be not ruled out.

I am still not done with the Bangkok media conclave. There were few interesting points made about the media scene as well.

In most of the Asian countries, there is a deficit of democracy and genuine space of independent journalism. The attack on journalists in the Asia countries and their fatalities substantiate this fact. Sri Lanka is supposed to be a democratic country, so is Nepal, and Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, but in these countries journalists are highly vulnerable species.

There is a rampant corporatisation of media and there is less space for activist media. The space for entertainment media is growing at the expense of socially committed media. There is less space for media as expressions of social justice and dissent, and still less for the voice of the marginalized. As a result activist journalists who believe in human rights and basic freedom of expression are at the receiving end.

The silver lining in the media scene is its future trajectory suggests that in the next 10 years or so, the face of existing media would substantially change. There will be new actors, including citizen journalists that will be more active and in turn create new forms of digital democratization. This change has already started happening.

Last but not the least, something that may be relevant in the current election scenario in India, is a chat with fellow journalist from Thailand on the tricks to sustain political meetings in his country. He said there are three major requirements; good Music, on high voltage, sound system, good food to all the participants and lastly good quality of mobile toilets with comfortable seats to recharge the pain of hunger. This is besides the daily wage allowance that’s given in advance by the political group to sustain the crowd.

If we compare this with India, there is some similarity but not much of sophistication. Here, people are transported in tractors and lorries to the political meetings, some music is also there but not loud enough to make them dance, people get their allowance at the end of the meeting, and are transported back to their locations. It seems toilets have not caught the imagination of the people attending political meetings in India.

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a working journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at

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