COLLATERAL DAMAGE is a collection of Nikesh Murali’s political columns published in newsmagazines, dailies and sites such as SPANDANAM, CASTLEBAR NEWS etc to name a few.
They are in fact essays detailing the Asian perspective on issues such as SEPTEMBER 11, THE AFGHAN WAR, PREVENTION OF TERRORISM ORDINANCE, KASHMIR ISSUE, THE PITFALLS IN AMERICAN DIPLOMACY etc. It strives to prove that viewing the global political scenario from ground zero is a totally different experience and behind the veil of lies are prejudices which are inhuman. Dissecting the tall claims and the half-truths, the author shines light on the darker intentions and vile factors that fuel such atrocities. The double standards and war games the major powers play? How they have dictated the course of the lives of third world nations? The treacherous silence that turned Kashmir into a killing field? All your unanswered questions will be answered. Confront the SHOCKING TRUTHS! For a perspective you have missed, details you have skipped, argumentations that ring true; an essential guide for all you debaters out there. A must read!
Excerpt from the section titled: What’s in a name?
Who can forget the grotesque images that flashed across our Television sets, the phantasmagoria our eyes feasted upon, on the fateful day-9/11? That is how the Americans (fondly?) remember the day. The rather flashy idea was borrowed from tinsel town where blockbusters are occasionally granted short forms (Independence Day was called ID-4) of their scintillating names for the convenience of the fans that find the process of chanting the shorter version of the name a thrilling experience.
This particular detail prompted me to think of the name the present campaign in Afghanistan sports.’ OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM. Personally I would have preferred the name OPERATION FOREVER AND EVER, but then I have always underestimated the Americans. Lets turn our attention to the dictionary meaning of the world "Endurance".
TO BEAR PATIENTLY FOR A LONG TIME.
Time and the again the Americans have proved me wrong. How apt in the context of the recent terror, the ‘Saviours of the World ‘ are inflicting upon innocent Afghans. Their watery eyes, thin frame and banged limbs will speak volumes and each time a plume of smoke kisses the Afghan sky an innocent being bleeds to the death, his blood soaking the sandy graveyards of despair. The ones alive are bearing patiently the brunt of the divine assault (supposedly vital to the existence of freedom). They shift and turn, enduring sleepless nights under starry skies (The talk about ‘shelters’ is one big joke!). When morning comes, there is the occasional scramble for food, the yellow ‘things’ dropped from the skies, which usually leave behind bloody entrails as the evidence of a mass skirmish by hungry, starved stomachs because the American for the convenience of the poor have painted the food pack as well their cluster bombs, the same sickening yellow color. The Freedom part of the name exits as monument to the unyielding, fascinating American sarcasm, words dipped in honey, which have been mouthed by every body starting from Roosevelt to Hannibal Lecter. So we arrive at the conclusion that Americans are better than I am when it comes to commissioning names.
A brief (Not so brief!) note on the suggestions for an alternative name, which may look attractive, is what we will ponder over in the next few paragraphs. Like parents troubled by the horde of names relatives suggest for their newborn, Americans are not doing well to cope up with this seemingly nonsensical activity. The Americans have made it clear that the war may drag on for 2 more years and winter or no winter (Raman or no Ramzan -a trickier one!) they are going ahead with the ground assaults. This statement has finally stripped the American of their blatant pretences and their so-called ‘Non-existent Frustration’ has finally met blinding daylight. It is true that the NA along with their American friends is pestering the Taliban. But with a recent controversial article by an American Journalist referring to a failed mission undertaken by the elite delta force wherein heavy casualties have prompted the bereaved soldiers to vehemently speak against the blunders they are supposed to commit because some tactless general had constipation. And more importantly fall in International support. The price they will have to pay for uprooting the Taliban regime will certainly give Rumsfield and party a few nightmares. So OPERATION SLEEPLESS NIGHTS is proving to be a credible alterative.
Whenever I find a pensive Zaheer Shah, the ousted Afghan king, I am reminded of Caesar who refused the crown Anthony offered him three times in a row. He is certainly having a hard time convincing others that he is very uncomfortable with the present scenario and is busily analyzing the equations, organizing the Pashtoon and waiting patiently to grace the post-Taliban scenario with his royal presence. The old king is convinced that OPERATION MY TICKET TO HOME is the best choice, for the outcome of the war will result in a red carpet welcome for him.
The days of frustration are now over for the Northern Alliance; they now fight hand in hand with the airdropped ‘Global Fighters of Terrorism’. Moreover the American jets are pounding the Taliban with gusto, thus guaranteeing a hassle-free march towards Kabul. But it is certainly not the Taliban tanks and posts which were blasted to smithereens that have got the NA fighters all excited. It is the new winter gear Uncle Sam has fondly gifted them (Complete with ‘heat seeking undergarments’ (Joking!). I think they would prefer OPERATION LOOK AT MY NEW CLOTHES to OEF.