Gandhi, Mandela and al-Zarqawi
"When I look back on it all now the amazing thing is that all the so called terrorists, such as Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, ended up having tea with the queen as heads of Commonwealth countries."
The above quote, from an article by Tony Benn, got me thinking about the nature of how public enemies are slowly rehabilitated by the authorities they spent a career fighting. The question is, is it likely that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi will ever get invited for tea and voul au vents at Buckingham Palace by King Charles in the future, after the glorious success of democracy and the wholesale acceptance of Western-style capitalism in Iraq? Sounds far-fetched but it could be argued that is almost what happened exactly in the case of India.
At some point Gandhi, Mandela and al-Zarqawi have been or are regarded as dangerous revolutionaries. Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela instilled the same fear and hatred in their day amongst British ruliong classes as al-Zarqawi does in the US Administration. There is absolutely no difference in their ends - which was this: The expulsion of a foreign aggressor from their countries who were maintaining rule without the consent of the majority of the indigenous people of their respective countries. In other words, to instigate a revolution to resist the a colonialist aggressor.
As for their means, they are identical insofar as all at some point used violence. Gandhi only rejected violence as an option after he met with other intellectuals in India. He was not averse to the use of violence in South Africa, only because the nature of the 'enemy' was different (see below). But lets be clear:
1) The British handed India back to Indians when it became apparent that it was no longer possible to rule a country that was not industrialised. The monetary cost to bring India to that level was too much for Britain to bear. So they dropped India and walked away, sucked dry of resources.
2) Gandhi did not have to use force because Britain was not resorting to carpet bombing and cluster bombs to break the country's resolve like the USA did in Iraq. India had already got into bed, culturally and institutionally with the "King of England" 200 years before Gandhi came along.
3) Apartheid in South Africa fell apart for the same reasons the British Raj collapsed in India. It was financial rather than ideological. In other words, the bottom fell out of South African economy. Also, Mandela was still holed up in Robin Island when power was handed to the ANC.
The insurgents, or al-Zarqawi if you want a name and a face to hate and throw darts at, has to fight on just as Gandhi and Mandela did. Whether they are directly related to USA leaving Iraq is immaterial, he will be regarded as the man who took on the USA in Iraq.