July 4 marks the Independence Day of United States of America
Dr. Ikramul Haq
July 4, 1776 has special significance in American history. The great liberation movement against colonial rule was pioneered in this land and founding-fathers of this historic struggle showed the subjugated nations a novel path of hope. They started a new beginning of self-rule. It took a couple hundred years for American society to struggle on all fronts and make its mark as one of the leading nations of the world. For many countries, the United States of America (USA) became a role model in political evolution achieving great cohesion and solidarity amongst federating units within the constitutional framework. Great movements for human rights and against bigotry, intolerance, discrimination, exploitation, inequality and racism made the country a noteworthy example for others to follow. The democratic set-up is a unique and noteworthy achievement quite different from the conventional British system backed by monarchy, and stems from indigenous roots that has established and developed its own principles.
What happened on May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis in the aftermath of death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man, while in police custody, reminded the Americans that struggle for a just society free of racial biases and hate, maltreating the black and other non-white races, is a continuous process. It has never ended, and will not go away as long as there are hate mongers, war maniacs, bigots, people with vested interest and those who use race, caste and creed and all other aberrated forms of superiority for their political gains. In this context, the Time magazine wrote in 2018 that Trump “rode race, the third rail of American politics, straight to the White House. He challenged Obama’s citizenship, called Mexicans rapists and criminals, proposed to ban all Muslims from entering the country, insisted on the need for “law and order,” argued that immigration was changing the “character” of the United States and openly courted white supremacists”.
Though punishment was given on June 25, 2021 to the offender Derek Chauvin of 22 1/2 years in prison—a punishment that exceeded the state’s minimum guidelines but falls short of prosecutors’ request of a 30-year sentence. However, the issue remains what Jenipher Camino Gonzalez raised in Systemic racism is the real ‘American carnage: “A majority of white Americans still cannot come to terms with what black people have known forever: Racism is systemic, systematic, and nowhere near gone. White America must step up not just for peace, but for justice”. Hopefully, now that the era of Donald Trump has ended, his awful legacy dividing the great nation will not last long. The 9/11 type inquiry on Capitol Hill was still blocked by the Republicans. People get punishment, hawkish presidents lose elections, but changing thinking process takes decades.
From the day of Trump’s taking oath (January 20, 2017) to inaugural speech of 46th President Joe Biden amidst deadly Covid-19 endemic on January 21, 2021, Americans suffered immensely. Not only due to deadly coronavirus, but also due to 4-year criminal rule and the way matters pertaining to blacks and other minorities was handled. It was thus not surprising that Joe Biden in his inaugural speech said: “This is democracy’s day” and that the US “has much to do in this winter of peril, much to repair“.
David Smith of The Guardian rightly noted: ‘Trump’s entire political identity was constructed around conflict. At the height of the demonstrations, he staged a bizarre photo op outside a church after law enforcement used tear gas to clear peaceful protesters outside the White House. In an unprecedented announcement….General Mark Milley, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, apologised for taking part”.
Nell Irvin Painter, author of Exodusters: Black Migration to Kansas After Reconstruction and The History of White People in an article, Trump revives the idea of a ‘white man’s country’, America’s original sin, published in The Guardian on July 20, 2019 noted that, “Just as Trump has carried his just-happen-to-be-white into proud-to-be-white followers and into white nationalism, anti-Trump Americans must carry the nation in a saner direction. And just as Trump’s racism calls up old themes in America’s history, anti-racists must now act on a history of their own, one sufficiently powerful to defeat Trumpism, as it defeated slavery, segregation and disfranchisement.
USA of Trump was different from what its founder fathers conceived. But it was also not close to George W. Bush Jr. who tried to make USA a hegemonic state committed to waging wars for oil, drugs and weapons with Dick Cheney and late Donald Rumsfeld, who died on June 29, 2021. Trump, committed all possible sins but above all converted America into ‘Land of Conflicts”.
The day Bush was installed as president of USA in 2000 by a 5-4 vote of the US Supreme Court, Zalmay Khalilzad headed the Bush-Cheney transition team for the Defence Department and advised incoming Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, USA became a different state—captive in the hands of hawkish war mongers—such was never dreamt of by its founder fathers, nor the people. At that point, only a few commentaries in the American media unveiled the military campaign of Bush-Cheney, including the San Francisco Chronicle on September 26, 2001 as its staff writer Frank Viviano, observed: “The hidden stakes in the war against terrorism can be summed up in a single word: oil. The map of terrorist sanctuaries and targets in the Middle East and Central Asia is also, to an extraordinary degree, a map of the world’s principal energy sources in the 21st century…It is inevitable that the war against terrorism will be seen by many as a war on behalf of America’s Chevron, Exxon, and Arco; France’s TotalFinaElf; British Petroleum; Royal Dutch Shell and other multinational giants, which have hundreds of billions of dollars of investment in the region.”
Later events testify his point. The invasion of Iraq by US and its allies using the myth of weapons of mass destruction [which was just a hoax] and appointment of Khalilzad as US Ambassador proved beyond any doubt that the reality of ‘war against terrorism’ was nothing but quest for OIL. Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele [TIME, May 19, 2003] remarkably exposed the dark side of American oil policy from classified government documents and oil industry memos, involving a pair of Iraq’s neighbours, Iran and Afghanistan.
The USA first changed from enviable democracy to a fanatic state under Bush-Cheney and then to ‘Land of Hatred and Racism’ under Trump. On both occasions, the state made subservient to billionaires, running all kinds of businesses, especially oil, arms and drugs, who know how to move money from one part of the world to another, buy government functionaries, control politicians, law enforcement officials and get the profits they want—all at the expense of innumerable poor and helpless people around the world.
But movement started for justice after the brutal killing of George Floyd at the hands of police and winning of Joe Biden rekindled the hope that the people of USA would regain justice for all—the substance of democracy. The enlightened Americans undoubtedly deserve salutation. The country has produced in the modern era scholars like Edward W. Said and Noam Chomsky, who showed the world how one can struggle and expose those who exploit others for their petty interests. The great historic tradition of resistance against injustice by majority of Americans, a vibrant nation, and their ongoing movement against racism at its heart is to end economic exploitation, war hysteria and achieve equality for all human beings beyond class and race. USA under Joe Biden and his team from various origins can lead to a new America becoming again inspiration for all those, who have been fighting against all forms of oppression and exploitation in any part of the world.
The real test of American nation will now be how to avert start of biological warfare and improving its relations with Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan. The Hindutva of Modi must be denounced and atrocities at state level in India or any part of the world—may it be Kashmir, Israel-occupied Palestine or wherever rights of the weak and minorities are violated without any exception on economic and political interests. Americans have a long history of standing with the victims of atrocities and ethnic cleansings or genocides on any grounds. This I personally discussed in a one-to-one meeting with late Richard Charles Albert Holbrooke during my visit to Washington in 2010 after he was made Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. I appreciated him for playing a vital role in helping to stop the genocide of Muslims in Bosnia Herzegovina. We discussed the exit of Americans from Afghanistan while ensuring peace and tranquility in the region. The details I will write in my new book New Great Game and its ramifications, glimpsed were highlighted in Friend for all seasons, Narratives, May 8, 2021 and Phony wars, The News, June 26, 2021.
It is hoped that Joe Biden has evaluated the ramifications of leaving Afghanistan to Taliban/Daesh and allowing Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and similar networks in Pakistan or elsewhere to destabilise the entire areas. It can be an irreparable mistake, more dangerous than earlier one as explained in Taliban, Americans, terrorism & drug trade, Business Recorder, June 25, 2021 and Hidden agenda & “deal” with Taliban—I, Business Recorder, September 11, 2020 and Hidden agenda & “deal” with Taliban—II, Business Recorder, September 13, 2020.
Misha Ketchell in his write-up aptly concludes: The American story is indeed the story of a heroic perennial battle between good (light and unity) and evil (darkness and division), between idealism (what we must be) and the sometimes “harsh ugly reality” that has “long torn the country apart.” Biden called it once again a “time of testing,” “our historic moment of crisis and challenge,” a chance to “come out stronger for it.” Joe Biden has a historic chance to come out stronger and successful from Afghanistan and unlike his predecessors avoid pushing the region into another dark era,
Dr. Ikramul Haq, Advocate Supreme Court, specialises in constitutional, corporate, media, IT, intellectual property, arbitration and international tax laws. He established Huzaima & Ikram in 1996 and is presently its chief partner as well as partner in Huzaima Ikram & Ijaz. He studied journalism, English literature and law. He is Chief Editor of Taxation. He isVisiting Faculty at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) and member Advisory Board and Visiting Senior Fellow of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE).
He has coauthored with Huzaima Bukhari many books that include Tax Reforms in Pakistan: Historic & Critical Review, Towards Flat, Low-rate, Broad and Predictable Taxes (revised & Expanded Edition, Pakistan: Enigma of Taxation, Towards Flat, Low-rate, Broad and Predictable Taxes (revised/enlarged edition of December 2020), Law & Practice of Income Tax, Law , Practice of Sales Tax, Law and Practice of Corporate Law, Law & Practice of Federal Excise, Law & Practice of Sales Tax on Services, Federal Tax Laws of Pakistan, Provincial Tax Laws, Practical Handbook of Income Tax, Tax Laws of Pakistan, Principles of Income Tax with Glossary andMaster Tax Guide, Income Tax Digest 1886-2011 (with judicial analysis).
The recent publication, coauthored with Abdul Rauf Shakoori and Huzaima Bukhari is Pakistan Tackling FATF: Challenges & Solutions
available at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08RXH8W46
He is author of Commentary on Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreements signed by Pakistan, Pakistan: From Hash to Heroin, its sequelPakistan: Drug-trap to Debt-trap and Practical Handbook of Income Tax. He regularly writes columns for many Pakistani newspapers and international journals and has contributed over 2500 articles on a variety of issues of public interest, printed in various journals, magazines and newspapers at home and abroad.