Guest Writings

Despots, East and West by Satya Sagar



On March 14, 2003 when the United States initiated its illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq I strongly believed that George Bush Jr. deserved to be put in the same prison cell as Saddam Hussein. Two years of war is a long time and I no longer hold that simplistic, emotional view.

I am fully convinced now that Bush Jr. deserves to be put away in a separate cell of his own. After all he has earned his no-share, single bed place in the global hall of infamy so why should he be put in the same league as some two bit ageing Iraqi dictator.

Seriously, if there is anything truly, truly foolish to do in our world – it is to naively equate an Occidental despot with an Oriental one. And it is a harsh realization to make for someone from Asia but the simple truth is that there is no comparison at all – the Western demagogue or dictator is way more devastating than anything the East has ever produced.

When it comes to both the scale and sophistication of modern despotism, ‘the East is east and the West is west, and never shall the Twain Meet’. (One can add ‘Except when the East falls at the West’s feet’ as I will explain later).

Here are some reasons why I believe a Western Despot like Bush Jr., the latest in a long historical line, is much, much superior to his Eastern counterparts and deserves a special cell of his own if not an entire prison (preferably privatized). For convenience sake henceforth Western Despots shall be referred to as WDs and Eastern ones as EDs.

You know what? There is really no such thing as a WD, whereas the world is full of EDs: You can understand what I am getting at by observing how difficult it is to put an adjective as lovely as ‘Western’ together with ugly ones like ‘demagogue’ and ‘dictator’ without provoking many to raise their eyebrows way beyond physical or internationally permissible limits.

Going by the mythology of mainstream media, leave alone official propaganda (spot the difference) the leaders of the Western world are always, always democratic. This is because they have an institution called the ‘general election’ and every leader produced by this procedure is naturally democratic. While this is not historically true even in the West (after all even Hitler was ‘elected’ to power) it is a patent falsehood when one considers how so called ‘democratic’ Western governments ran outright dictatorships in their colonies around the world for much of the past few centuries.

Winston Churchill, (Dubya’ self-confessed role model) as British Prime Minister, presided over the easily preventable deaths of 3 million Indians during the Great Bengal Famine of 1942-44?? And yet this fat monster manages to get away with a historical appraisal that treats him like a cross between an action hero and a holy saint.

So just because a certain section of US citizens happen to elect George Bush Jr. as their President it does not mean he gets the right to take away the lives of men, women and children in other countries who had no say in his bloody election. The fact that he does get away with mass murder, and does not have even a bad adjective slapped against him, leave alone a prison sentence, shows how the WDs of our world are surely quite an invisible lot except to those hapless millions who bear the brunt of their wicked deeds.

WDs (if they exist at all) are always right even when they are wrong, EDs are never right: The invasion of Iraq after all was undertaken on the pretext of preventing Saddam from developing Weapons of Mass Destruction. But when no WMDs were discovered it became all about removing Saddam the ED. And then it was about fighting the Iraqi resistance painted as the new Al Qaeda clones. Finally it turns out that the entire exercise in mass slaughter of Iraqis was undertaken to promote ‘freedom and democracy’ throughout the Middle-East.

And what is most amazing about all these brazen lies put out by the US rulers to justify an obviously colonial adventure is that they still have takers among those who believe that the invasion was a genuine ‘mistake’ and that US troops should now stay on till they ‘finish’ the wonderful civilizing mission they are on. This brings us to the essential difference between a WD and an ED- both make ‘mistakes’ but only the latter get hanged for it.

WDs are always cool, EDs are clumsy clods: There used to be a fellow in my town in central India who made quite a name for himself by speaking entire paragraphs that sounded exactly like English. All this was without ever using a single word from the ‘holy’ language. It was all about mimicking the drawls, twangs and accent of the native English speaker- in a Jabberwocky sort of way- that for most of us was awesomely like English. So what if it meant nothing.

Bush Jr. has mastered the same art apparently of saying nonsensical things with a smirk, a frown or whatever suits the occasion – all of which sound very important. There are too many people in the world – except again those losing kith, kin or life and limb to American bombs- who do not really care whether he makes sense or not as long as he sounds confident and convincing. Saddam could never get away with something like this- because he does not know how to imitate ‘native’ English leave alone speak it. Boy, if only Saddam spoke English with a British accent, the course of modern history would have been so different- who knows he might have still been the Bush family’s best friend.

WDs kill because they love people, EDs because they hate them: For me the most symbolic image of the entire US invasion of Iraq was the photograph from Falluja last year of a US Marine shooting an unarmed, injured Iraqi inside a mosque out of ‘sheer mercy’. So that is what the entire thing has been about all along- ‘mercy killing’. These suffering Arabs/Muslims need to be ‘liberated’ from life itself and who is more qualified to carry out this mission of ‘love and kindness’ than the compassionate conservatives of the United States?

From the days of St. Augustine (who was Moroccan by the way) the refrain of a dominant section of Western philosophy has been ‘if you really love that Heathen out there, kill him rather than watch him suffer in ignorance of the True Path’. Outside Auschwitz is the sign ‘Work shall set you Free’. In the mass graves of Iraq or at Abu Ghraib someone should write ‘Freedom shall give you Life’.

Well, thanks folks, but I would rather that you drop this fertilizer about Compassion, Love, and Freedom, Whatever and just left us alone to our unbelieving ways? If you don’t I can tell you for sure there are a lot of us here who are going start ‘Loving’ you as much as you ‘Love’ us. Surely those who run the US regime realize the age-old truth that when it comes to ‘love’ you really do get as much as you give- sometimes even more.

WDs may be tough but they are clean, honest folk. EDs are thieves and murderers: WDs stealing oil or any assets thousands of miles away is clean and honest activity especially when these belong to people who do not look and talk like you and have strange names to boot. In fact it is quite a lot of fun too, ha, ha, ha! But if an ED attempts to imitate his WD counterparts and does something as foolish as capturing his neighbouring country’s oil fields that is a very bad thing indeed.

Saddam’s real problem was not that he was a dictator or a thief or a murderer – it was simply that he was a fool. And according to the twisted rules of the imperialist’s stupidity is the gravest of all crimes- surely punishable by humiliation and death. And even more so if you happen to be a stupid dictator sitting on large pools of precious motor fuel.

WDs have the real toys, EDs work with borrowed or stolen ones: Bigger and better weapons are really what give WDs the edge over EDs. That is why when the EDs of Iran or North Korea or Libya tries to acquire the same set of toys the WDs get hopping mad. The ED is forever supposed to fight with bows and arrows to the eternal amusement of the WD. If they acquire weapons that level the playing field that is not ‘fair play’ at all says the WD.

Come on fellas, give us a chance. True, the East pays too little attention to the development of basic science and technology and is still far from matching its Western peers. But while we play catch up to the West, surely there can be nothing wrong with you guys sharing a few toys with us? Who knows, we might be able to give you a few of our own some day. Remember gunpowder?

EDs are good, only when the WDs need them desperately: Marcos, Suharto, Sarit, Zia-ul-Haq- all of these were EDs who survived because of their utility to the WDs in their paranoid Cold War against the communists. Since direct plunder and pillage through colonial rule had become difficult the EDs – nurtured and cultivated from amidst Eastern elites- were useful to keep the ‘rebellious natives’ under control.

I suspect however the relationship between the WDs and EDs during the Cold War became less and less like ‘patron-client’ and more like ‘parent-child’. When Kissinger infamously said ‘he might be a son-of-a-bitch, but he is our son-of-a-bitch’ that was like a good mother talking about her evil offspring.

Having proved my point so well with all my very convincing arguments I suddenly realize that George Bush Jr. should not be in the same cell as Saddam for another reason also- Saddam does not deserve such company. For all the varied crimes he committed during two decades of misrule in Iraq have been far surpassed by Bush Jr. within just the past five years.

Two countries bombed back to the Stone Age, over a 150,000 people dead, several more countries in the crosshair; Bush Jr. really deserves a Pyramid – complete with all the stolen Iraqi gold by his side.

Satya Sagar is a writer, journalist, video maker based in Thailand. He can be contacted at

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