07 March, 2014

Rushdie, Gas and Fundamentalism: the nexus


Mr. Salman Rushdie seems to have an unerring sense of timing.

Each time the West needs a spokesperson to denounce a country prior to invasion, there he is—ready to speak out in passionate defense of free speech.

It happened in 1989—as the Iran-Iraq war was just coming to an end, and America needed a good high profile reason to go to war for the second round. The Rushdie Affair was just the perfect mix of intrigue, drama and passion to get the West fired up to get behind the Persian Gulf War. Thirty-four nations joined this effort to “Liberate Kuwait”—interestingly, Mr. Saddam Hussein used to be onetime in the pay of the CIA during Bush the Senior’s time, making you wonder where he got the idea  to invade Kuwait from.

This was the biggest coalition of nations assembled against one nation since WWII. Sixty billion was spent on this Persian Gulf War—Saudi Arabia paid more than half. Imagine, would this have been possible without a Salman Rushdie and his pile of burning books? In general, Europe had taken the peaceable path towards relationships with the rest of the world. Clearly the USA needed to control the oil in the Gulf—but getting Europe to invade Iraq needed moral sanction. How else to do it then to push the “hot button” that really riles up the Europeans—mainly, religious fundamentalism? 

Mr. Rushdie, incidentally, seems to have been an advertizing whiz before he became a Great Author, and his scintillating brilliance at getting attention has been noted, before and after. The fact that he wrote a book that seems to have riled up religious sentiments at the perfect junction between one Iran-Iraq war and the next may less to do with his authorial ambitions and more to do with his uncanny sense at staging public moments.

We won’t really know if this complicity was intentional, and whether there’s a paystub somewhere showing the greatest champion of free speech has actually been in the pay of the USA national security apparatus for the last few decades.  I think the Norwegians and the Japanese are going to get mighty pissed if they find out the greatest champion of free speech may have used their translators as sacrificial fodder.

Mr. Rushdie spoke out again in 2014—just as  Russia was about to stage its Sochi Winter Olympic games. Russia had become the free speech hero, taking Edward Snowden under its wings. Suddenly America wasn’t the beacon of democracy anymore.

According to the Guardian, this letter was signed by a bevy of Nobel Prize winners, protesting new blasphemy laws and anti-gay laws in Russia. It was, of course, initiated by Salman Rushdie:

"A healthy democracy must hear the independent voices of all its citizens; the global community needs to hear, and be enriched by, the diversity of Russian opinion.
"We therefore urge the Russian authorities to repeal these laws that strangle free speech."
So far, so good. Why not get attention at the start of the Sochi games? Perfect timing, you may say.  But wait a minute, did you get that sense of déjà-vu, like hey, we’ve seen this before flash of memory? Like hey, is America just about to upset the apple cart in the Ukraine and set off massive demonstrations and unrest? Of course it is. And guess what, it’s the same old story. This time its gas, not oil.

There are discussions at high levels within the U.S. government on how to use U.S. natural gas resources as the country addresses the crisis in Ukraine, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns said on Thursday.

Remind me again how many Man Bookers Salman Rushdie won? Ten, right?

Isn’t it always a joy to find out the publishing industry has been infiltrated by the national security apparatuses of You-Know-Who? Or perhaps it is in cahoots with it, in the same way as Hollywood. Why would we be surprised to find out such is the case? I’d be glad to find out Mr. Salman Rushdie is much maligned in my blog post but we won’t know that till the files of the CIA become declassified.


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