Thursday, May 19, 2011

Strauss Kahn: From Apex to Abyss

By Saeed Qureshi

To err is so human. It is the almighty God that grants glory and take it away as well. The former IMF chief Dominique Strauss Kahn’s case adequately highlights that dimension. A celebrity who had the unrivaled clout and power to disburse funds to the world at large with one stoke of pen, is now placed in confinement in a New York jail notorious for heinous and most dangerous criminals. He is handcuffed, huddled in a dark, suffocating and dingy cell. His bail seemed to be an insurmountable odd.

Now finally the bail has been granted for an unprecedented hefty amount of I million dollars besides 6 millions in bonds. However, the case would prolong for quite some time. The ordinary court guards, whom he may have never even looked at or shake hands as the IMF boss, now, handcuff him and arraign him before the court by physically jostling him. He is pathetically isolated and utterly helpless to solicit help from the countries that were the beneficiary of IMF largesse and loans.

Such is the thin line between fame and infamy, grace and disgrace and glory and dishonor. With one commission of a reckless and bizarre act, this one of the most powerful bureaucrats looks like the scum of the earth and perhaps a widely condemned and chided person whose future is sealed forever. He has lost his prestigious and most dignified status that should be the envy of even the most influentials of the world including the heads of the states.

He was a favorite candidate for the French presidency and was projected to win that exalted position in the forthcoming elections. His emoluments and lavish life was resplendent with all the world luxuries that a mortal human can think of. The debtor countries would be like beggars before him and his nod in the negation or affirmation in regard to loans and economic packages would be decisive. With one moral lapse he has turned into the most wretched person and abandoned by the humanity at large, his countrymen, his office and his family.

Did he commit the crime or not is beside the point. He is castigated and caught in a malignant whirlpool that has swallowed his job, his honor and his magnificent future and tarred his past. Was this man so desperate as to attack a defenseless female maid to satiate his carnal desires? Did he not envisage a decent way that would cover his lewdity and monstrosity? He could have done that with the miracle of money but since it was ordained that he should suffer; so did he.

One shudders at this mind crippling happening that does not offer any logical explanation for a conduct that even a street urchin and a sex manic cannot put up in such loathsome and crude manner. The lesson is that we all humans wear a thin veneer of morality and rectitude and chastity and decency but within we are always vulnerable to the evil desires.

The religions ordain restraint and regulating of one’s wild desires, keep them from being blown out of proportions and hold back their morbid exhibitionism. Yet there are those who fall prey to the sinister designs and unchaste propensities but conceal them to look saints and sacred before others.

The list of lustful pursuits is long but for women, power and wealth stand out from all others. If there is modesty and steadfastness to keep such morbid desires at bay, man remains immune from many pitfalls such as Kahn has fallen in. A small wrong step or decision, or utterance spurred by emotional deluge or anger or carelessness, can mar and ruin one’s past eminence and also ruin the future splendid projections forever. Did this man Kahn ever thought he would fall from a pinnacle to the lowest ditch of wretchedness, shame and calumny that can never be sweetened with all the “perfumes of Arabia”.

The American laws treat the sexual perversion and harassment and rape with utter strictness and with zero tolerance. The law of profligacy and moral turpitude has no pardon and no reprieve. That is one way of protecting the female honor in a country where consensual sex is the order of the day.

But it is all debatable what is consensual and what is not. A married woman can get his husband arrested on the spur of the moment even if she obnoxiously accuses him of forcible sexual intercourse. The women’s voice, howsoever, flimsy and devoid of truth, is treated to be the most credible and potent in matter of forcible sex even for a feigned pretext to get rid of an unwanted husband.

The prosecutors in America are like alligators or pythons that squeeze the alleged offenders to such an unbearable limit that he succumbs to accept the so called bargain plea for softer punishment, although he might be guiltless. The courts, as the empiracle observation makes one believe, go more in favor of prosecution than the defense.

But if finally Kahn comes out clean and sinless, he has no future. He would remain a cast away figure who would be seething and corroding from within for what he had done or not done but was accused of doing. Who knows he may go to jail for several years, thus foreclosing even the remote chances for his comeback and rehabilitation in life. Life would not be the same for Kahn any longer.

In a similar case, President Bill Clinton was saved from a dreadful eventuality by a hair’s breadth, which was one vote in senate that saved him from an eternal disgrace. A former World Bank president (10th) Paul Wolfowitz had to resign his post for his love affair with one of his female subordinates. But amazingly they did not encounter as much of humiliation and roughness as being shown to Dominique Strauss Kahn. They were not even arrested.

The writer is a senior journalist and a former diplomat

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