Someone somewhere has asked a very pertinent question. Where are the leaders of tomorrow? The question has gone viral across the world today. And has given way to an all-pervading sardonicism among an entire generation of global demography about politicians and politics. We agree with the question and we also have another to supplement it. Did we have a leader even yesterday who we could trust and look up to? No we did not have any and more so since the exit of charismatic Nelson Mandela from the world's political screen.
The past two decades have been rather bleak — a saga of continued betrayal of common people by their leaders and politicians. We have seen how people in the West were pushed into unwarranted wars in Afghanistan and Iraq by their leaders like George W. Bush and Tony Blair. In some Asian nations, especially in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh etc we have been seeing how the demography has been perpetually hit on their heads and continuously betrayed by their leaders.
The assaults of the leaders have been most palpable in the Arab world where a few dictators had turned their countries into their personal fiefdom. Revolutions too failed the Arabs miserably. Ben Ali, Hosni Mubarak, Muammar Gaddafi et all were pulled down and their decades of infidelity stopped. But to what avail? They were replaced by rulers who, so far at least, have not shown that they are any different from those they replaced. In fact, everywhere, be it in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, the new rulers have been found far worse.
In Israel, the story of leaders' perfidy towards the citizens has been equally naked. Benjamin Netanyahu and his predecessors who have been at the helm of matters and polity for past two decades, have all failed miserably to define future. In their perverted pursuit of suicidal national interest they have criminally defied aspirations of their own countrymen as much as they trampled the Palestinians' dreams.
British political commentator Sam Parker, known for his anti-war stands and an avowed critic of the former British prime minister who deceived not only Britain but also the world along with George W. Bush into an wanton war in Iraq, recalls how his octogenarian father all of a sudden lost his faith in his leaders when Britain walked into the war with Iraq. The octogenarian gentleman instantly became a part, however puny, of an entire generation which was robbed of their faith in politics and leaders.
Parker has described how over a million had sent a message to Blair: we don't want this war. And it wasn't just London but the message had poured forth also from Damascus, Athens, Seoul, Rome, Tokyo, Sydney — hundreds of cities worldwide. Yet, Blair and Bush ignored the collective aspiration of the world and went ahead with their illegal war with criminal impunity. Billions, across our planet, lost faith in their leaders, in their ability to make the world a better place for humanity to flourish and survive and also in their ability to lead our planet to a better future. The popular perception about our leaders and their leadership capabilities changed into what Ben Denis Aaronovitch, London-born British author is believed to have once said — we will never believe another thing that we are told by our government and perhaps also in our politicians.
Crisis of global leadership deepened to depths where even the boldest of the sharks of Atlantic would never dare to venture. Possibility of tomorrow's leadership germinating was nipped in its bud. Politicians showed how despicably they are just politicians — with all their inabilities to rise beyond their limitations. Politics remained firmly embedded in mucks. Bush and Blair are today on the top of the list of the criminals who "robbed a generation of their faith in politics."
The war on terror is indeed a gorgeous name given to camouflage a rather sordid manifestation of West's lust and greed to pillage national resources of other countries. Laurie Penny has written in New Statesman: "It was only later, after the war and the next six years of progressive assault on civil liberties had broken any faith I or my schoolmates might have had in the Labour Party." Like Parker's father she too has become a disillusioned member of her generation who lost faith in the political process and regrets that politicians have failed to comprehend the true connotation of this loss of faith. The loss, politicians have construed as apathy.
"It is tragic and positively criminal to see what Bush and Blair did to our democracy and to this generation in particular. But the left's dereliction in abandoning them to a political vacuum while they play at toy town bolshevism is positively revolting and not in the desired meaning of the word." Today, 10 years after the West's repugnant invasion of Iraq and 12 since Afghanistan was invaded, we, between ten and hundred, like Parker still care about the issues politics affect, but don't trust the political system, and don't believe in our politicians.We see it everywhere. "Ask anyone in their late twenties to name (a politician) from their lifetime they admire, and most will stare at you blankly. Plenty of us are engaged in politics, but without relish, voting in elections like we're choosing from the menu at Wimpy." So when the Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, in his Republic Day speech warned that the Indians were losing faith in their political class, he voiced the feeling of the whole generation of global demography who share the loss of faith in politicians.
There are no leaders today who can lead us tomorrow. And there were no leaders who led us yesterday. We had only thugs and betrayers and this repugnant breed shall be there even tomorrow. The author is the Opinion Editor of Times of Oman.