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Soft Power


“We will not forget, we will not forgive, we will hunt you down and make you pay,” said US President Joe Biden in his televised address after the Kabul bomb blasts. This was the very sentiment that brought the US to Afghanistan twenty years ago to avenge the 9-11 killings. Despite hoping to end that ‘involvement’, matters came full circle for the US, with the promise of another vendetta. While the hunt for al-Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden had ended with his elimination, ironically enough, in Pakistan’s Abbotabad, the chain of events unleashed by US intervention in Afghanistan has continued to the present day. So, while it may be part of the ‘Wild West’ psyche to head out with a posse to gun down the rustlers, it provides no lasting solutions to the actual problem.

If it was thought that the Taliban were on the way to being mainstreamed by becoming a ‘responsible’ government in Afghanistan, the explosive emergence on the scene of the ISIS-Khorasan has shown that the challenge is not just about ‘power-sharing’. It has everything to do about the ideology that inspires these terror organisations. It is also not just geographically located in certain parts of the world – it is very much present in the US and the other ‘developed’ democracies, as also in India. The devil of political correctness does not permit the people to see it for what it is, thereby undermining any effort to deal with it effectively. Even those who suffer its worst depredations – such as the majority of people in Afghanistan – cannot cohere enough to fight it because of their own hesitation in addressing the reality.

If Joe Biden and his allies in Europe truly wish to hunt down the evil-doers, they must cleanse their own societies of the belief system that creates zombie armies such as the Taliban. Inhumane and anti-social practices cannot be promoted under the cover of ‘religious freedom’. It is a battle for the mind rather than occupation of lands and slaughter in the battlefield. Humanity has to awaken its collective consciousness to a basic level that responds to logic and reality. The blind beliefs of all faith systems that cannot keep up must be discarded. From this must emerge the missiles of ‘soft power’ that need to be fired relentlessly through whatever blinds of prejudice that may have been drawn over innocent minds by the purveyors of hate. It is a battle much less spectacular, but more effective. Those who oppose it will come in many guises; they must be recognised and countered if success is to be achieved.