When Subhash Chandra Bose arrived in Germany in 1941, desperately seeking new strategies and alliances to drive the British from India, he was already in the eye of the holocaust.
In early 1942, soon after the infamous Wannsee Conference, held in a Berlin suburb, during which senior Nazi leaders decided on their “final solution” of genetic cleansing, Bose had established his Azad Hind Radio (Free India Radio) in Berlin and begun propagating his vision of an organized resistance movement that could release Britain’s tight fisted hold on India. It was in May of 1942 that Bose engineered a meeting with Hitler to enlist Germany’s assistance in India’s struggle for independence.
Let’s be clear, despite British efforts to paint Subhash Chandra Bose as a German stooge, he was anything but. Bose abhorred and was openly critical of the German Fuehrer’s genocidal policies.
Bose was myopically obsessed with his own vision of delivering freedom and liberty to Indians in India. His contextual lens was the scores put into prison by the British for articulating nationalistic ideas and the thousands who were beaten and subjugated and made to feel less than human in their own country.
Subhash Chandra Bose was willing to make a deal with the man he called the “bada pagal” (biggest crazy) for the sake of independent India. To that end, Bose, the strategist, believed that he could channel Hitler’s mad ambitions to defeat a common enemy-Britain.
Ultimately not much came of the proposed alliance and Bose became a hotly contested as well as a deeply admired figure in India’s independence movement. But Bose’s actions in Germany led to this moral consideration: Is it terrible to forge an objectionable alliance for a worthy cause?
Today, we are seeing a fractured focus when it comes to tackling ISIS. Each of the nations at the center of this war has its own agenda and reasons for unsavory alliances. David Von Drehle, in his Time magazine story “Beating Isis,” describes it as a failure to arrive at a consensus.
In short, America does not want to engage in a ground war from which there can be no out; Turkey wants to annihilate the Kurds who are a thorn in their flesh; The Kurds are fighting ISIS to establish their own Kurdistan; Russia is intent on helping Assad (now that may change with the bombing of the Russian jetliner) in his fight against Syrian rebel groups; Israel sees Iran as a bigger threat than ISIS; France and Belgium do not have the resources; Saudi Arabia is intent on maintaining its ethnic upper hand, especially against Iran; and Iran is more intent on keeping the Saudis in check.
With all these mixed motives in play, it is no wonder that ISIS has been underestimated thus far. Their war is not limited to western countries or non-Islamic nations. Theirs is a war against peace, multiculturalism and co-existence.
ISIS’s single-minded objective is to prey on the vulnerable. They pose more of a threat to Muslims across the world than any one nation. It seems to me, therefore, that nations across the globe must obsessively pursue the only worthy goal-preventing the conversion of dispossessed youth to a barbaric ideology. To that end, the process of rehabilitation of a marginalized people must begin with a clear understanding of their history, and their place in the world.
In order to answer the question, how do we morally reconcile the strange bedfellows we align with, let’s rephrase and ask: would it be all that terrible if the United States, France, Russia, Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia banded together to rout a common enemy? It’s been done so often in the past that there seems little need for justification. If, as Pope Francis put it, this is “piecemeal World War III,” then it’s time the nations of the world participated, whether we view them as friend or foe.
As a last note, President Obama described ISIS as “killers with good social media” skills. Let’s pause there and consider that we, in the west, invented social media. So why are we not better at using a platform that we gave the world?