Emerging counter forces to US Unilateralism: Response of the Muslim WorldIPSweb
No doubt US unilateralism is today a reality. The developments witnessed during last more than a decade are indicative of such an emerging scenario.
Policy Perspectives, Vlm 1, No.1
No doubt US unilateralism is today a reality. The developments witnessed during last more than a decade are indicative of such an emerging scenario. Now with the invasion and occupation of Iraq , US made it loud and clear and left no qualms about its intentions to continue with its unilateralist approach. With the amount of power US enjoys in political, economic, military and technological realms, no one in the world seems capable enough to pose a meaningful challenge to the threats coming from US unilateralism. Despite this, the responses are emerging – though for obvious reasons it may take some time for the counter forces to be in a position to really make an impact and check the unilateralist USA.
Muslim World is no different; rather taken as one unit, it lacks in leadership and direction. Expecting an immediate, unified and calculated response from it may therefore be too much to ask at this stage. However, a discussion on how the Muslims perceive the situation will help understand the emerging response from the Muslim World. This discourse therefore, covers the topic mainly in three parts: 1) Understanding the US unilateralism 2) Framework to respond to US unilateralism, and 3) The Muslim response.
Understanding the US unilateralism
Power has its own psyche; it asserts itself by being acceptable and self-evident. To preserve its inherent dynamic spirit to continue ceaselessly, Power aspires to crush all potential rivals. This ‘aggression to defend’ in its wake gives birth to a negative aspect i.e. the prohibitive use of power. Seen in this context, today’s power equation and the manipulative muscle game should surprise no one. On the other hand, history affirms that power is short-lived. Greatest powers in the distant past met disaster either because of the overpowering lust to dominate all peoples and lands or because they trampled upon human values and norms.
Big powers may avoid meeting the catastrophic ends provided 1) a system of checks and balances exists in the form of rival power, or 2) the dictates of a higher moral code based on justice and equality are observed.
In today’s world, one finds that while the first recipe is not applicable since the world is uni-polar and is practically devoid of a rival, the second is being followed but with gross violations and selectivity; not only the super power but also the smaller powers have adopted a code of international conduct that is based on self-interest rather than justice and fair play.
No doubt all sovereign states have the right to define and then apply strategies to secure their interests. There is nothing wrong the way this principle has been recognized in world politics and made part of international foreign policy. Trouble starts only when after recognition, this principle is applied willy-nilly for achieving the expansionist designs. This trend definitely gives absolute sway to the powerful nations over the weaker ones and that is actually what is happening today. While it is mandatory for the weaker nations to respect international treaties in the name of human and world concerns, the sole super power seems to have no bindings .
United States (US) enjoys superiority not only in terms of politics, defense and technology, it has a virtual sway over weaker nations by way of virtual monopoly over the world financial institutions like the IMF and the WB . Similarly, despite claims of a fair, free press and complete freedom of speech, it has control over its media in matters of strategic importance . This hold on media adds to influencing power that American regimes frequently employ to brainwash people and to create an environment helpful in achieving its designs.
American unilateralism as a phenomenon emerged gradually, taking shape spanning years; creeping silently without evoke an alarm. Compared to its formative speed, whatever meager response it generated had always been very slow and lacked any direction. This absence of response especially in its initial years has now pushed the entire world in alarming situation.
It goes without saying that if the prosperous and developed Western world had been so slow in responding to the phenomenon of US unilateralism, one cannot expect a cohesive and immediate response from the mostly underdeveloped and chaotic Muslim world. The sporadic incidents of anti-US sentiments can in no way be termed a Muslim response. These acts indicate a kind of rage that is natural since Muslims are among the first victims of US unilateralism. A look at some major developments in this regard may be helpful.
End-20th century saw quite a few instances that reshaped the entire world politics and American political thought in particular. In this perspective, four milestones are worth consideration: 1) 1972-3, when oil was used as weapon, 2) 1989, when Afghans humiliated USSR, 3) September 11, 2001, when US claimed it has been attacked, and 4) March 20, 2003 when US invaded Iraq. Instances are interlinked; one sets the ground for the other and therefore need a little more discussion:
In 1972-3, oil rich Arab countries for the first time proposed to employ oil as tool to thwart malicious persecution of the Third World; in particular the Arab World. The instance brought forth the idea of a just World Order with the thesis that mere financial aid does not meet the ends for which it is advanced to the Third World countries. This paradigm stressed the need to do away with the inequalities inherent in the world.
The initiative to apply oil power as leverage to secure interests leased a new life to the developing nations in general and the Muslim World in particular. The idea bolstered their confidence to play a pivotal role in world politics and to avail opportunities for development. The road to progress was not mere figment of imagination rather it was crucially needed since long in all the Third World countries. But, instead of taking this as a wake up call, the idea was taken differently by the developed world. Instead of coming forward to actually do away with inequalities and injustices so rampant in the world, it felt threatened and alarmed. This set into motion a wave of policy formulations and designs which the developed world in general and US in particular thought fit to curb and in fact control the conditions that lead to the very propagation of such ideas.
The second significant reference point is the departure of USSR from Afghanistan in 1989. USSR not only faced retreat but also disintegration. Decision to pull out forces from Afghanistan spurred a chain reaction that resulted in fall of Berlin Wall, birth of Central Asian States and independence of East European countries. Resultantly, America emerged as the sole super power pushing the world from bi- to uni-polarity. With this, agenda for global hegemony took roots in the form of projecting themes like the end of history and the clash of civilizations . Unfortunately, the idea of unipolarity so acute today faced no notable resistance from any quarter of the world during its infancy in this period and thus was legitimized for good.
- September 11 inflicted another blow to the efforts for turning world into a more peaceful and secure place. US aggressively adopted coercive diplomacy and use of force as policy for all its retributive actions. Use of force and exerting pressure replaced both, the dialogue and adoption of pacific means for resolution of issues .
These acts brought a negative shift in international real politick in two ways, one; to justify a strong hand’s aggression against the weaker on legal or moral grounds was no more needed and, two; to secure interests, use of force was legitimized. This is in effect rewriting of law and reshaping of the entire global system that has so painstakingly been carved out during more than two hundred years.
- The gradual shift in world politics witnessed towards the end of 20th century culminated into a clear and concrete policy on March 20, 2003 when USA attacked Iraq to invade it. While the value of moral high ground for waging war had already eroded when Afghanistan was attacked, War on Iraq subdued public opinion and displayed an undermining of the UNO – the world peace organization. America crafted various positions not to let lose an opportunity to attack Iraq and thus exhibited before world its immense military prowess .
If seen in Muslim perspective, the problems that the uni-polar world posed are nothing new; the new political setting have simply aggravated these problems. Neither bi- nor the uni-polar worlds could settle Kashmir or Palestine issues pending on UN agenda since the last over 50 years. Rather by mere use of force and blatant disregard of UN resolutions, Israel during the 1967 and 1973 wars occupied more of the Arab lands . Despite this, America openly vetoed any and all anti-Israel resolutions in the Security Council. More so, it was the bi-polar world amidst which Afghanistan was torn apart by the powerful nations. The Central Asian Muslim States could not nudge world attention despite enduring worst 70 years under yoke of a powerful nation. Similar had been the fate of Muslim independence movements in Arakan, Philippines and other regions of the world. With shift in world from bi- to uni-polarity, some of the problems may have changed in nature but there has still been no resolution of issues in sight. In Somalia, Bosnia and Chechnya problems compounded for Muslims.
It must be made clear while discussing American Unilateralism that the present American conduct is new form of globalization patronized by a handful but powerful American interest groups. The process to alter world political process started initially in the form of free movement of goods, services and capital. With passing time, the element of militarily pushing and pinning was added into it as a form of coercive apparatus to pressurize the weaker nations. The process is gradually attaining its ultimate form – unilateralism from unipolarism made possible courtesy the doctrine of pre-emptive strikes and bypassing the UNO.
In order to maintain the power it now enjoys in the world, US has chalked out clear goals, i.e. control on energy resources in the world in particular ; military presence in areas of vital strategic importance; promotion of defense technology and control over its trade along with clear military domination of air and land; complete freedom in space technology; sway on world financial institutions; direct command over information technology, and last but not the least; employing the military and economic power to alter world map according to its interests and to further consolidate its power as world superior .
The presence of a sole, secure Israeli state in the hotbed of Middle East help materialize all the above-referred US goals and that’s why US-Israel nexus is so imperative for US. This way, preservation, protection, promotion and maintaining peace in Israel all by itself become another major goal of US world policy. These goals though threatening for the entire world, hold special significance for the Muslim world. To approach these goals, following strategy is being propagated:
- Unlimited authority: American administration has decidedly embarked upon the policy to practically disregard UNO as a world body for peace and war. The US unilateralist posture has outgrown to the limit that even world opinion has paled before it. The sort of presidential imperialism being witnessed today is unsurpassed in American history. President has virtually taken over the sole US congress’ constitutional prerogative to decide and declare war.
- Freedom to wage war: America can attack a sovereign state pre-emptively to avert any threat of war from it in remote future. This it can do without the other nation’s provocation or giving any reasons for attack. Add to this, America can attack and invade another country to change regime as has recently been done in Afghanistan and Iraq.
- Unlimited access of American agencies: According to “The National Security Strategy of the United States,” transmitted to Congress as a declaration of the Administration’s policy on September 20, 2002, a system that was running under the title of ‘National Sovereignty’ has been declared null and void. It has been clearly stated in the new policy that:
“…The United States must and will maintain the capability to defeat any attempt by an enemy – whether a state or non-state actor – to impose its will on the United States, our allies, or our friends. We will maintain the forces sufficient to support our obligations, and to defend freedom. Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States …”
The same document envisages the setting up of Information Awareness office for intelligence gathering necessary for achieving the objectives of pre-emptive strikes.
“… We must transform our intelligence capabilities and build new ones to keep pace with the nature of these threats. Intelligence must be appropriately integrated with our defense and law enforcement systems … We need to protect the capabilities we have so that we do not arm our enemies with the knowledge of how best to surprise us. Those who would harm us also seek the benefit of surprise to limit our prevention and response options and to maximize injury…”
Arabic, Persian, Pashto, Darri and some other languages spoken in Muslim countries have been declared high terrorist risk languages.
- Imposing pet regimes in name of democracy: In the name of promoting democracy especially in the Arab world, a multi-dimensional strategy has been evolved. This program shall be put into operation in all countries that US deems fit for the so-called political reforms in the form of democratization. The ingredients of this program are: influencing the print and electronic media in the target countries; special training programs for promotion of American agenda; disbursement of funds for individuals and organizations cooperating in achieving this goal, and; integrating the like-minded individuals, administrations and political parties for future role.
- Creating rift among Muslims: While on the one hand, Islam and Muslim-bashing has been accepted as a rule, on the other, efforts are afoot to create and promote rift among Muslim ranks and foils. Muslims are being divided into groups – Orthodox and the Moderates. Since it is a bit difficult to deal with over a billion Muslims at one go, they are being split into categories; peace loving and jingoists, extremists and moderates, revolutionaries/radicals or passives. The divisions in fact label the objectives they shall be used for in future. This war has an intellectual aspect as well that questions are being raised which have till now been appropriately replied by Muslim scholars. Efforts are being made to compartmentalize and rationalize Islam into religious and political divisions.
Framework for response to US unilateralism
It is evident from the above analysis that difficulties of today’s world stem from the absence of a world order based on justice and equality and not from bi- or uni-polar worlds. This is the vacuum that has to be filled in most urgently to achieve the objectives of sustainable peace, harmony and development in the world. This needs efforts by all the key players both in the short and long-term perspective. A framework for these efforts should focus on the following:
- Protests from within: role of US civil society: The level and intensity of the protests that a large majority of American street and intelligentsia recorded against American approach and policies in war on Iraq is encouraging to note. US public opinion could be the most suitable weapon that can do away with the menace of US unilateralism. Recently, American human rights conditions and civil liberties are rapidly at a loss . Americans face insecurity and have to undergo fear constantly all their day. Overseas Americans face alarming conditions around the world where their lives always remain in danger. American people need to be further emphasized that their government’s unjust and unfair policies certainly will have a negative fall out and it is they who can check these policies . If they do not stand up against these unjust policies today, they shall lose whatever they have achieved in the form of civil liberties through a sustained struggle spread over centuries.
- Making a distinction between US establishment and the people: While framing response there is need to distinguish between US establishment and US people. If one follows the intensity of shift in policy from bi- to uni-polarity that initiated first after demise of USSR in 1989, the Republicans Bush senior and now Bush junior shall appear as harbingers of unilateralism. The intervening Clintonian two terms appear rather calm especially in this respect. This indicates the trend and setting that has near proximity with the Republicans. A group of conservatives, the neocons, have recently appeared target of public debate that is without doubt held responsible for worsening conditions in the world. It is enough proof that the American popular perception and the opinion held by a coterie are two distinct and separate shades of thought that should be kept and addressed as such. Generalization that the entire American perception is one of disregard of human values shall not hold truth.
The American administration itself is hostage to the powerful big trade and the mega business groups’ monopoly that virtually hold sway over the process of policymaking. These groups’ stakes lie in vicious circle of promoting conflict that in its wake leads to use, trade and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the world . The same groups also possess the capability to modify and influence human conduct and behavior largely due to vast production resource base and immense media power at their disposal. Because of this, over a period of time these groups have achieved the capacity to convert all and every emerging situation around the world into a yet another opportunity for enhancement of their trade and commerce. The element of fear at home is inevitable part of environment so conducive for promoting conflict in world. Steps are taken at once whenever the American policy makers feel that there is relative toning down of the feeling of unease, insecurity and alarm among the public. In this context, there is need to mobilize public opinion against this powerful vested interest group and let American people know that if they hold their freedom and constitutional liberties dear and wish to play role in world peace, they have to get rid of the same element of fear and insecurity and for this other nations of the world have to help them.
- The issue of Terrorism: Terrorism is a bare fact of today’s world and it should be fought against with full force . But without eradicating the causes, superficial, cosmetic efforts to arrest it are futile. American people need to underline the fact that despite huge military power, if Israel today cannot stop suicidal attacks, how come America claim in face of a very hostile international setting to uproot terrorism.
- Media and Intellectuals: Today the world is witnessing the impact of the mighty media. The field of pure research and scholarship also seems to validate this new force. The department of public relations within think-tanks is symbol of this recognition. In this context, it shall not be out of place to mention that American media patronizes that research and that scholarship which avowedly verifies the unilateralist stance. To see persons like Huntington – an advocate of clash rather than peace – personified as visionary is therefore one of the ironies of the 21st century world. Today’s world needs visionaries, scholars and intellectuals and a helpful media that may project the basic human values of justice, equality and fair play.
- Unified stand against unilateralism: There is no gainsaying the fact that America is the most dominant world power technologically, economically, and militarily and have far surpassed all Muslim nations joined together. Not only the Muslims, there is not a single political, geographic or ethnic bloc in the entire world today that can claim parity with America in these fields. This disparity of power seems so great that for years to come, nobody shall be in a position to challenge US authority. For this, the whole world shall have to take a unified stand against the unilateralist approach of US. Comity of world nations’ pining hopes with America for self-interests shall further strengthen the unilateralist stance of the super power.
- International Image and public opinion: The initial Iraqi response and resistance to America in the recent Iraq war strengthens the stance that America is not invincible. This can be stated without doubt since we know that despite immense military might and power of media, America found itself in a fix in convincing the Iraqi people that it was there to liberate and help them .
That world conscious and public opinion lies over and far ahead and has the power to counter and negate political, economic and military superiority emerged as an undeniable fact in the most recent period of unrest and turmoil right before the Iraq war. Hail to the Muslim world that came out in unison at least at the popular levels. Though different groups reacted differently yet their protests against US policies and policy makers were loud and clear around the world. Muslims resented and in fact displayed intense feelings of hate against the US policies despite lack of freedom of speech and a democratic environment in most of the countries.
The instances of public demonstrations in most parts of the world have to a great extent rid Muslims of the age-old political isolation. The Iraq war has created wider public awareness about political maneuverings that is a positive sign. Not only the people around the world, but those living at the heart of the super power have come forward with the same sentiments of utter rage and anger. While the Western world was totally organized and came out harmoniously against the war in Iraq, Muslims were devoid of any such organization. More so, there was no indication that the protests in Muslim world had any unanimity with the Western world. Despite this lacking aspect, the world’s coming together for a cause is a ray of hope for future peace in world and needs to be further emphasized.
With this, the level of popular uprising is worth mentioning. Popular anti-war protests started before war, continued through war and have not gone away even today. The persisting voices of dissent indicate the developing feelings of disenchantment and alienation with American policies at world level.
No doubt, America has invaded Iraq successfully, but on moral and legal fronts it has lost miserably. Besides numerous others, one main symptom of this defeat is non-recognition of America’s war at popular and world levels. The way this non-recognition has been openly voiced is perhaps the first challenge for the uni-lateral USA. Strains have appeared and are very apparent. Europe, Russia and China have in their own capacities fully castigated the American approach towards conflict resolution. They have adopted the policy not to remain neutral but to oppose and delink from whatever US was up to.
Another grave strain has been the disapproval of the UN . It is on record that 150 out of 190 countries did not endorse US’ use of force against Iraq. While President Bush had said on January 30, 2003 that nine countries have agreed to commit troops in the event of war with Iraq . Practically only four countries of the so-called allied Forces sent troops for participation in war operations. Presently, the intensity of the UN protests might not look forceful but in coming days one expects hard times for US unilateralism. Opposition to any hegemonistic designs should continue at the UN. In that case while it is expected that the present US-UN friction shall continue in future this shall definitely help in restoring the credibility of the UN and enable it to play its desired role.
The Muslim response
It is natural that flow of information and knowledge gradually alters the human perceptions. These perceptions subsequently transform into a set of beliefs, thoughts and faith. This ultimate precipitation reflects upon relations, likes and dislikes. One then starts recognizing his friends or foes through faith and beliefs and his acts affirm to what he holds most dear. Since today America has complete command over media and thus influences the perceptions, Muslim response to its aggressive designs is perplexing. American strategy also seems to be one of defocusing, complicating and in fact dissuading any such response by rapid bombardment of information. One should keep this in view while gauging response of the Muslim World. Also it is necessary to have a look at the Muslim World before we discuss its response.
It is a fact that Muslims constitute 1.3 billion of world population and that one out of every five people now inhabiting earth is a Muslim. This population mainly resides in 56 Muslim countries but a sizable majority also resides in other countries as well. Since Muslim countries are located in geo-strategically important regions of the world, their role and activity at once nudges the attention regionally as well as internationally. Seen in the economic perspective, though these countries are not technological advanced, yet their natural and human resource makes them a force to be reckoned with. Middle East and Central Asia in particular possess the largest known and present oil reserves on face of earth. But this is one optimistic side of the Muslim image. Other relatively pessimistic side of the picture should also be understood.
Most Muslim countries won independence after WWII but they still lack in perceiving the true meanings of freedom because of the persisting influence of their masters, psychologically and for all practical purposes. Out of the 56 independent Muslim countries, those that count in political, economic and defense realms are no more than 10 or 15 at the most. While 1/3rd of 1.3 billion Muslims live in non-Muslim countries , the majority of the rest 2/3rd lives in the same 10 to 15 countries. This much of the information necessitates we study the level and scope of response specifically focusing these countries only.
Domestic and regional stability are prerequisites that a country must meet to play an effective role of any sort on international level. Seen in this pretext, none of the Muslim countries today stands a chance to be worth consideration. On the one hand, majority Muslim countries are devoid of internal unity and thus are unstable. On the other hand, most significant countries are entangled in regional conflicts, i.e. Kashmir and Palestine. They are consuming their energies on resolving these conflicts of perpetual anxiety. Muslims thus face three-pronged threats; from Israel, India and now from America as well. In the same vein they now fear US-Indo-Israel nexus of a sort that stands a chance to emerge in future.
Certainly, Muslim response is one of shock, anger, helplessness and uncertainty. Muslim World is not monolithic. It is composed of diverse thoughts and different shades of conduct. With passing time, this silent world shall have to assume a position. Since on the one hand the whole world peace is in danger, on the other it is their brethren whose lives are at stakes today. So naturally Muslims are expected to be in a state of unease more than other nations and people. But seen as a whole their response and reaction is not different from other peace loving nations of the world.
A look at the Muslim societies shows that specific responses are emerging and may have an impact on the future developments provided these are well knit, well directed and well coordinated. At the moment there are various streams of thoughts resulting in responses having different dimensions: These are being discussed in the following.
- Dimension One – Critical Evaluation and Road to self-reliance: That America is powerful militarily, politically and economically is irrefutable. To fight it on any of these fronts, we need to critically evaluate ourselves, remove weaknesses and build on the strengths. It is most Muslim countries’ dependence on America that has always stopped them short of reaction or response. This equation will have to be changed but is not expected to change unless Muslim countries adopt the road to self-reliance.
- Dimension Two – Long-term perspective: Education, technology and the democratic setup of governance have braced America with superiority worldwide. Since Muslim world is far behind America in all such fields, it has to overcome this disparity to actually respond to its designs. With this mindset, the view is that Muslims should make it a long-term policy stepping one after the other, gradually attaining expertise and specialization in all the fields. A workable strategy in this direction would require:
- Unity in the Muslim world: If it cannot be a harmonious whole attention should be given for cooperation in various fields.
- A commitment for a long journey: Even if Muslims start their journey to progress today; the void that lies between them and the most developed nations may require decades to be filled.
- Learning to live on its own: Muslims should know that US will never tolerate aspiring Muslims to come at par with it nor the other non-Muslim world would be interested in alleviating Muslim world from depravity.
- A simultaneous focus on the moral values: It should be noted that if accumulation of technology, secular education and democracy were the real harbingers of peace; why is there no peace despite the sole super power’s having them all? Why the exact reverse occurred on earth? In this context, it is necessary to emphasize that powerful economic entity cannot stop moral regeneration but an ethically sound one can get rid of economic problems.
- Dimension Three – Cooperation and dialogue: American establishment and the American people are and must be taken as two distinct entities, and then there seems no logical ground for Muslims to confront American people. That differences between American people and the establishment are ever increasing is a fact. American anti-war rallies and protests, International condemnation of war on Iraq including Catholic reaction have created a positive and soothing impact on Muslims. This perception is still to take concrete shape once different sects of Muslims shall come to debate the issue on table anytime in coming days. Another consolidating factor shall be American masses continuing dissention against their own government’s negative policies. Muslims would like this process to continue. This way, it is expected that an environment conducive for cooperation, dialogue and confidence building shall be produced which shall recreate balanced conditions so prevalent in bi-polar world.
- Dimension Four – The breaking point: Muslims see themselves as aggrieved and direct victims of American aggressive policies. Like power having a peculiar psyche, the aggrieved has its own typical psyche. Oppression culminates into a breaking point when it crosses limits. If subjugation has a sliver lining of liberty at the end, it becomes bearable. Though physical subjugation is difficult to bear, yet mental torture, hopelessness and humiliation pose complexities of a greater degree. The two mixed together signal the onset of breaking point. While the pure physical oppression keeps the spirit alive, torture heralds the feeling of despair. For a hopeless human being life and death mean the same. A group of Muslims is on the verge of this limit today.
The feelings of rage and hate due to oppression are natural instinctive notions that the Creator has crafted into man. To stop a brutal hand from committing an act of cruelty is part of self-defense that lies in composition of a rational man . Thus one can conclude safely that sense of rage may play a vital positive role in social life provided it is accompanied by intelligence and guided by a leadership. In absence of leadership or if intelligence is not discreet the rage transforms into infatuation. An infatuated group of men can create havoc for itself and the mankind. Today, there are people in the Muslim world who can be classified in such category.
Muslims are believers in life after death. They have faith in this life’s transitoriness and perpetualness of the one coming after it. Muslims believe in perseverance, determination and fraternity as valuable assets of a society that must be promoted at any costs. But they also deem enduring oppression and not parting ways with the oppressor as crimes greater even than the oppression itself . In doing away with the oppression, they opt for death better than life in this transient world. Amidst such philosophical conception and with this mindset, today many Muslims are ready to lay down their lives for such a noble cause.
- Dimension Five – Role at the international fora: The Security Council’s refusal to readily endorse the unjust American stance of war on Iraq should be termed an effort towards reassertion of its powers. An absolute majority of the member countries played their part in this reassertion of the mandate of UNO. Included in these countries are the Muslim countries as well. Unanimity of the like nature in other world affairs can only break the intensity and ferocity of the unilateral America. Muslim world is yet to take further steps in consolidating this initiative. The General Assembly should be revitalized since it is another forum from where such initiatives can boost other steps. The 56-country Muslim world should recognize its power and raise its voice unanimously from all such forums where one-country-one-vote rule applies.
There is no doubt that OIC barely met Muslim world’s expectation and because of this, criticism on its role seems justified to an extent. However, the intensity of rebuke lessens if one compares it with other world peace bodies. Even UNO has miserably failed to resolve major international issues pending on its agenda since quite a while now. OIC has a role to play for which strategies need to be framed to consolidate it.
- Dimension Six – Convergence of interest: One positive impact of the emerging world politics is that for the first time Muslim leadership is coming at par with Muslim masses; their viewpoint seems to converge with the people. The lessons that Muslim leadership drew from Iraqi puppet regime are that: 1) Despite working on American agenda there is no surety that the American establishment will award the puppet regime , and 2) If a government works against the people’s wishes it is doomed to meet disaster ultimately. Muslim leadership will have strength if it comes closer to the masses, brings openness in the society and establish institutions for debate and dialogue.
Besides leadership, differences among people seem to lose their intensity in the new international political scenario. It is notable phenomenon that the conservative right and the liberal left have now ensued a harmonious, more frequent exchange of thought especially on the topic of American policies. This is expected to provide opportunity for unity among the largely bifurcated Muslim societies.
- Dimension Seven – Tapping the potential: September 11 has impacted not only upon the lives of Muslims in America, their hard earned labor has also been insecure and under constant government scrutiny. Because of this, there is possibility of large-scale transfer of money from America to other countries. This is an opportunity that must be cashed on by the Muslims; otherwise this will be considered another great miscarriage.
Unity among ranks and foils and consolidated efforts for development are the call of hour. Muslims should embark upon the projects of defense production, key industries development and must also look for instituting an alternate capital market. They should forge relationships with China and Russia. Efforts should be made to operationalize Dinar and Euro instead of Dollar. The times to come shall pose serious problems for survival of Muslims on globe what to talk of development in technical and industrial spheres. For this, Muslim leaders should put their heads together for a mutual defense shield of a sort. It is assumed that with the advent of unilateralism and its designs, Muslim fears and apprehensions shall likewise enhance, thus leading Muslims to work for unity and development. Muslim world is not scarce of human or natural resources, what they lack in is the management of these resources. If these resources are applied dexterously, the dream of Muslim bloc formation must not be a far cry any more. In fact, the present world condition has many similarities with post-WWII Europe, i.e. convergence of interest. This is doubtlessly a big opportunity. But no opportunity either waits to be fulfilled neither is it fulfilled by mere fantasies; one has to apply it with a doctor’s pincer like precision and at the most appropriate time.
Another significant field to be explored by the Muslims is that of the media . It has been playing a great role in shaping opinions and framing policies. Future is also expected not to lessen its significance rather much more is expected out of it. Muslims must focus this field and explore a niche in it that should not merely be informative in nature but should be one for initiating a positive dialogue.
From the above discussion one finds an emphasis on variety of Muslim thinking. They are overlapping and in some cases may seem to be a bit contradictory. This is not surprising in an emerging situation where the power equation is so disbalanced. How things would settle finally would in the main depend on the moves of other key players in the global politics as well as developments within Muslim countries. However, it should be noted that none of these streams of thought suggest deterring others; rather they are mainly for setting a just world order and the Muslims’ own house in order. There may be some elements in the Muslim societies who may have contrary views but they are in minority and do not enjoy any support at the popular level even in the Muslim societies.
Indeed when there is convergence of interests, healthy competition, positive cooperation and a search for a just order, pluralistic in essence and based on justice become the goals all by themselves.
The Bush Doctrine: Redefining Deterrence, Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad, situational paper 7, July 2002, pp. 2 & 3. The Bush administration has not only put an end to Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) but has also made a unilateral withdrawal from ABM treaty. It also stopped process of negotiations on an additional protocol, which was to be added to the Biological Weapons Convention to make it more comprehensive. Similar is the case of Kyoto, the treaty related to environment. Seeking immunity from the International Criminal Court for its civilians and soldiers and threatening to withdraw from peacekeeping missions around the world is another example. Surprisingly, the UN granted one-year immunity to the US personnel from persecution by the ICC in July 2002.
www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/09; President Bush addressing the joint session of Congress and the American people said “Every nation, in every region now has a decision to make. Either you are with us or you are with terrorists…”
In fact, the very American posturing and conduct that came to fore in wake of 9-11 necessitates that we know more about the incident and answer explicitly: What in fact was 9-11? Most of the popular critiques who view Muslims as a disturbing factor – a high risk for world security – have focused on the possibility that it was the September 11 that has changed the scenario all together. That this could happen should be a surprise because Muslim hand in the incidents has not been a substantially established fact till now. Although a growing array of information, circumstantial and otherwise, is presented as pointing to Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network, no open trials have been held, or any guilt clearly established. However, without the apprehension of the accused and without a fair trial, which currently seems impossible, the charges will remain murky and the conspiracy theories will stand. Despite this, America not only implicated Osama but also made this allegation a ground to attack Afghanistan for regime change. At the same time, it coerced other nations to cooperate in its attack or be ready for reprisals.
Klare, Michael T. “For Oil and Empire? Rethinking War with Iraq.” Current History, Vol. 102, No. 662, March 2003, pp. 130; In their public pronouncements President Bush and his associates advanced three reasons for going to war with Iraq: 1) to Eliminate Saddam’s WMD 2) to diminish the threat of international terrorism, and 3) to promote democracy in Iraq (Liberating Iraqi people).
Israel made massive territorial gains capturing the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula up to the Suez Canal in the name of preemptive attack on Egypt on June 5, 1967 that drew Syria and Jordan into war. The Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt as part of the 1979 peace deal. The rest is still occupied by Israel. It may be pointed out that UNSC resolution 242 asking “Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the conflict” was passed on November 22, 1967.
op cit, Michael T. Klare…, pp. 133-4; US Vice President Dick Cheney noted in his August 26, 2002 speech before an audience of the veterans of foreign wars, “Armed with an arsenal of these weapons of terror and seated atop 10 per cent of the world oil reserves, Saddam Hussein could then be expected to seek domination of the entire Middle East, take control of a great portion of the world’s energy supplies, directly threaten America’s friends throughout the region and subject the United States or any other nation to nuclear blackmail”. Earlier even in 1990 Cheney in his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee said: “Who ever controls the flow of Persian Gulf oil has a ‘stranglehold’ not only on the American Economy but also on the economies of ‘the other nations of the world as well…’”
ibid, Michael T. Klare …, pp. 134; A single theme stands out in administration statement on United States national security policy: “the United States must prevent any potential rival from ever reaching the point where it could compete with United States on equal standing.”
US has recently recognized and entered into a truce with Mujahideen-e Khalq in Iraq, an otherwise declared terrorist outfit by US. This seems to have been done to employ the organization in propaganda warfare in Iran in near future.
It is interesting to note that American troops are posted in over 40 countries in the world and in almost the same number of countries, American consulates are performing duties with less than ordinary staff due to security reasons.
Military Balance 2000-2001, The International Institute of Strategic Studies, London, UK; Among the Arms suppliers, the US stands first in the world with around 50% (49.1% in 1999) share in the world market.
Scenes of WTC twin towers crash were repeatedly telecast lest anyone miss seeing them with his own eyes. Media made it binding upon the whole world to share the intensity of American awe these scenes produced. Other examples of media warfare are the spread of anthrax panic as aftermath of 9-11, sporadic reports of more devastating nuclear/terrorist attacks on America and lastly the world attention was fixed on Iraq’s possession of WMDs and media spin doctors crafted stories of these weapons’ possible use against America.
One should be clear that Islam and terrorism are worlds apart. As to the concept of Jihad it is an all-inclusive struggle for a just cause encompassing all spheres of human life; social, political, cultural etc. This includes struggle against ones own evil self and striving at all levels towards promoting good, virtue and justice. It is by all means of communication. Armed conflict can also be a part of it but it can never be a war of aggression. The concept in no way allows use of violent means against innocent people.
That the people of Iraq don’t like the highhandedness of America was made obvious when Iraqis refused to welcome Americans on their land. Gen. (r) Garner was met with protests and rallies chanting ‘out with USA.’ The largest Shiit congregation in Karbala – representative of the whole Iraq – showed its resentfulness with American presence in Iraq. It was only after depiction of such sentiments that even Iraqi opposition leader living in exile Mr. Ahmad Shalabi on his return to Iraq had to contend with the idea that Iraq may be left to be governed by its own people rather than the Americans. A distinguished American-backed Shiit leader was imported in Iraq to appease Iraqi people but he met a dreaded end.
“The Month in Review,” Current History, Vol. 102, No. 664, May 2003, pp. 235; On March 16 after a one day summit in the Portuguese Azores Islands British, Spanish and Portuguese Prime Ministers and US President issued a joint statement demanding that the UNSC approve within 24 hours a proposed US, Britain, Spain led resolution authorizing War. However, facing certain defeat the resolution was withdrawn the next day.
Shaikh Ahmad Yasin’s interview, first published in Arabic and reproduced in monthly Tarjuman al-Qur’an, Lahore, April 2003: Shaikh Ahmad Yasin responding to a question about suicidal attacks said: “The enemy is killing us. Did it ever ask us what weapons should it use or not use against us. Military aircrafts, tanks, missiles and what else it is not using. Then why we are being asked to follow certain methods. If the enemy is hitting our soft targets we have every right to hit its soft targets…”
op cit, Michael T. Klare…pp. 132; “Many of the top leaders of the current [US] administration, particularly Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney embraced Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship in the 1980s when Iraq was the “enemy of our enemy” (that is Iran) … Under its “tilt” toward Iraq, the Reagan administration decided to assist Iraq in its war against Iran … President Reagan removed Iraq from the list of countries that supported terrorism, thus permitting billions of dollars … The bearer of this good news was none other than Donald Rumsfeld who traveled to Baghdad and met with Hussein in December 1983 as a special representative of President Reagan … Even though state department official were informed on Nov. 1, 1983 that the Iraqis were using chemical weapons against Iranians “almost” daily” … Cheney as Secretary of Defense in 1989 continued the practice of supplying Iraq with secret intelligence data…”
Though suspicions exist regarding the institution of Al Jazeera Satellite Channel (JSC) as a genuinely Arab channel and some quarters regard it as US graft in Arab lands, it has lately set a professional example. JSC is the Only Arabic Satellite Channel broadcasting News updates every 60 minutes with four main news a day offering high standards of independent journalism and unmatched coverage of correspondents throughout the world. JSC is practicing an overwhelming extent of freedom of speech making itself the first independent Arabic news and information channel in the World. Soon after its launch JSC have joined the club of the leaders of Arab satellite channels and started making fastest inroads in the Arab households achieving sizeable word of mouth influence. Today, Al Jazeera Satellite Channel is reaching millions of Arabs, especially Arab males as Al Jazeera Satellite Channel programs grid is skewed 67% towards male and 33% towards female making itself a niche TV.