Not Hegemonic Conflicts, But Understanding Humanity Would Ensure World Peace
It is very much apparent that the policies pursued by the West are set on a collision course with Muslims. Some of the intellectuals are its instigators and is promoted by Western media and politicians, more particularly in the United States. Especially after the September 11 tragedy, the castigation of Islam and Muslims is gone on a rampage.
This despite the fact that all of the prominent Muslims the world over, categorically condemned the attacks as the most heinous crimes against humanity and opined that all those responsible, individuals and the government, must be punished. And that any punishment must be carried out, not arbitrarily, but after establishing the crime against the individual(s) or government and in accordance with the dictates of personal and international law.
In the January 2002 article entitled "World of Islam, United by Faith" Don Belt, Senior Editor of National Geographic highlights that "A fifth of humankind follows Islam, the fastest growing and perhaps most misunderstood religion on earth." The misunderstanding is due to long tradition of its misrepresentation and distortion by the European nations. This tradition started early on when the Eastern Roman Empire was alarmed by Islam's meteoric rise, the Crusaders added on and then the colonial Orientalists exacerbated it. But that was a European, not American creation.
However, with the demise of the USSR, some American intellectuals casted Islam and Muslims (unbeknown to them) as their new enemies without any objective analysis or caring to find the truth. The U.S. claimed itself as the sole superpower of the world and declared a New World Order where others will have to follow its lead. In addition, it adopted a policy of not letting others - including other Western powers - to challenge its unparalleled global hegemony. But let aside the U.S. or the West, the Muslims are nowhere near technologically, militarily, even economically in a position, or have the intention to challenge any world power.
Rather, until the breakup of Soviet Empire, the Muslims looked upon the U.S. favorably as a friend, in general. Communism, because of its ferocious anti-religiosity, never could get hold of the hearts and minds of Muslim people, even within the Soviet sphere of influence. When the U.S. belatedly came to the help of Mujahideen against the Soviets in Afghanistan, Muslims hailed and welcomed it. Thus it is ironic that Muslims became its targets after the annihilation of Soviets.
This situation has been exploited by Israel, which has joined in as a partner in furthering the U.S. hegemony. An overbearing Jewish lobby, which owns and runs the U.S. media, now controls its foreign policies. It is this managed media that generalize the criminality of a few as the actions of "Muslim terrorists," "Islamic extremists," or "Islamic fundamentalists," epithets reserved only for Muslims and no other religious group, thus casting aspersions on the faith and accusing the entire population of 1.3 billion Muslims.
Nor does the Jewish-controlled U.S. media broadcast pictures of Palestinians being killed, injured, beaten, and maimed by the Israeli occupation army using American weapons - including and US-supplied guns, helicopters and F-16s - funded by the unwitting American taxpayer. Israel uses these instruments of death and oppression to level Palestinian family homes and orchards, to conduct assassinations of Palestinian resisters and prominent political figures, and to enforce collective punishment against a captive population. It is the Palestinians who are always accused of perpetrating "violence" and "terrorism," while the Israeli occupiers are portrayed as working for peace or merely responding to the Palestinian "violence."
The 1.3 billion Muslims inhabit more than 55 countries most of which not only are strategically important but also are resource-rich, which also is the reason for their troubles, because the Western powers also depend on these resources and for their geopolitics. Furthermore, as stated by Belt, after their independence from the colonial powers, "Muslim nations adopted Western ideologies - communism, socialism, secular nationalism, and capitalism. Yet most Muslims remained poor and powerless."
The upsurge in worldwide Islamic resurgence started in the 1970s. Belt attests that today "it reflects mainstream Islamic thought." It is led by an overwhelming number of Islamic intellectuals. Their efforts are primarily directed at reforming their societies and to set their own house in order. There are differences in approach, but the mainstream Islamic leaders and their movements are not against the legitimate interests of the West; and they are committed to bring about a change for the better through peaceful democratic means. However, there is a growing frustration with the current regimes that are backed by active support of the West. These regimes have not only failed their people, are corrupt and repressive but also run counter to the Islamic ideals of their people. They are the cause for any impending instability in the world order. Thus Islamic intellectuals and leaders are the only credible alternative for the Muslim people and it is about time that the Western nations give up all pre-conceived assumptions and listen to them, rather than to their propped-up clients to reconcile their differences.
When George W. Bush ran his 2002 campaign for presidential election, he argued against American arrogance. He said, " If we're an arrogant nation, they will resent us." He also wisely argued for humility and a policy that promotes peace. But his foreign policy advisors immediately entrapped him after his election. Thus continuing sanctions on Iraq as a result of which, according to the U.N. Human Rights Commission, thousands of Iraqi children die every month and its civilians suffer endlessly, is hardly a policy of humility. This cruel policy continues with illegal bombing and with new plans for its further intensification, is not a way towards peace. Also the once Soviet-bombed and now American- bombed over- and-over-again Afghanistan without any letup to look for some miscreants, with little care for its people who are dying of hunger and starvation, while only the hegemonic considerations matter (reports tell that these were in place even before September 11; that sad event only accelerated the process), is but a clear exhibition of arrogance. It is this untethered arrogance that other Muslim countries may be targeted in their turn, at will on the pretext of pursuit of terrorists - without any consideration to their territorial integrity or following the international law.
President Bush must rein in these policy advisors for the good of humanity and stop the hegemonic arrogance. It is no time to exult in superiority in know-how and sophisticated war machinery with the notion that "if they do not agree with us, we can always bomb them." With power must come responsibility. While the smart bombs and associated gadgetry may be developed by the most technologically advanced, but it is no secret that much more potent weapons of mass destruction are not their property alone, and could be easily made or acquired by anyone who desperately needs them. Maybe that is how universal Providence plays its role as an equalizer. This may also be its clarion call to adopt a wiser course - that is, eliminate all across the board, without exception, all such weapons that would lead to annihilation of humankind from the face of earth. Therefore, any illusions of promoting one section of humanity against the other or one civilization with the destruction of another are not the result of sagacious but insane minds and must be vociferously condemned.
The only viable alternative is dialog and free exchange of ideas between different people in order to understand them., This must p,roceed along, with a healthy respect for different civilizations, indeed for all of humankind. Perhaps a great achievement of these times is opening of the entire world to all thought processes with free interchange of ideas across vast divides of space and time. It would be tragic to destroy this historic opportunity through eliciting wars between civilizations whether by continuing hegemonic neo-colonialism through ruthless client regimes or orchestrating wars from within as suggested by some wisecracks that war be waged "not with Islam but within Islam." Because Islam is too potent a force for such machinations; and swelling ranks of millions of its sincere adherents are destined to play an effective role in any future world order.
The need of times is to build bridges of understanding and sincere cooperation between the Muslim and Western worlds, and develop a one-humanity/one world ideal of the relationship for humankind. Karen Armstrong, a well-known religious writer says, "So we in the First World must develop a 'one world' mentality in the coming years. Americans have often assumed that the great oceans surrounding the United States protected them. ... But the September Apocalypse and the events that followed have shown that this isolation has come to an end, and revealed America's terrifying vulnerability ... We cannot leave the fight against terrorism solely to our politicians or to our armies. In Europe and America, ordinary citizens must find out more about the rest of the world. We must make ourselves understand, at a deep level, that it is not only Muslims who resent America and the West; that many people in non-Muslim countries, while not condoning the atrocities, may be dry-eyed about the collapse of those giant towers ... And we must also acquire a full knowledge of our own governments' foreign policies, using our democratic rights to oppose them, should we deem this to be necessary." For all intents and purposes, this is that crucial time for those who care lest through sheer madness it gets on an irretrievably catastrophic course for humanity.