The White House and the rest of America seem to be divided on whether Iraq could become — or already is — another Vietnam. But they are reaping the whirlwind; the wind was sown by their friends who want to get out of the war: the Brits. The Iraq war may have been unpopular in Britain from the start. But it may be the result of their own divide-and-rule policy, writes Pankaj Mishra in the New Yorker.
Reviewing Indian Summer: The Secret History Of The End Of An Empire by Alex von Tunzelmann, he blames British colonial policy for exploiting religion to keep people divided.
That was the policy of Winston Churchill, according to the book. He encouraged Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the Muslim League leader in India. Jinnah opposed Gandhi and Nehru and their freedom movement which he claimed would lead to Muslims living under Hindu rule. He cooperated with the British. As a result, Churchill became “instrumental in creating the world’s first modern Islamic state”, according to the book. Jinnah got his Pakistan from the Partition of India.
Reviewing the book, Pankaj Mishra writes:
Little did Churchill know that his expedient boosting of
political Islam would eventually unleash a global jihad engulfing even distant
New York and London. The rival nationalisms and politicised religions the
British Empire brought into being now clash in an enlarged geopolitical arena…
The review doesn’t go into the Shia-Sunni clashes threatening to tear
Iraq apart — after all, the book is about India — but that’s the result
of the power structure the British left behind. Iraq, like most of the
Gulf, was once controlled by them. And there are similar tensions in
other Gulf states too.