The White Man`s Burden

Category: Americas, World Affairs Topics: George W. Bush, United States Of America Views: 2848

By Hesham A. Hassaballa

When President George W. Bush released the National Security Strategy of the United States on September 19, 2001, he declared: "To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively." Doug Cassel, head of Northwestern University Law School's Center for International Human Rights, cautioned against such action in the September 22 edition of the Chicago Tribune. He wrote: "If [the international law rule against pre-emptive strikes] is repealed by Bush, powers like India, China, and Russia may be tempted to force a few regime changes as well. We can hardly ask them to play by more peaceful rules than we do."

Indeed, Mr. Cassel makes an excellent point. Nevertheless, if we attack Iraq tomorrow, apart from empty words of condemnation from allies and adversaries, no one in the world could do anything about it. This is because the United States, as President Bush wrote, "possesses unprecedented---and unequaled---strength and influence in the world." In addition, America intends on doing everything she can to ensure her dominance continues forever.

And there is nothing wrong with this position, on the surface. God has blessed our country with supreme military prowess, seemingly unending wealth, and overwhelming influence. It is only natural that the United States uses that strength to advance what it perceives as her interests throughout the world.

Herein lies the challenge for America. If America wants to ensure that only she is the most powerful country in the world, then she must bear the responsibility of that power. Many in America resent this. Many have complained that America is not the "world's policeman"; we are not into "nation-building," as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has repeatedly claimed until recently. Yet, we must be. Our military strength coupled with our overwhelming influence necessarily means that we will end up being the "world's policeman." It is our duty to help build nations into strong democracies and beacons for freedom. Like it or not, it comes with the territory of being the most powerful nation on earth. And it is only fair.

Throughout human history, God has showered much praise on the rich who give out of their wealth to the poor. The Bible states: "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these [is] charity" (1 Cor 13:13). The Qur'an states: "Verily, the pious will be in the midst of Gardens and Springs...[those who] in their wealth there is the right of the beggar and the poor who do not ask others" (51:15-19). While it is not practical that America has to solve all of the world's problems, America must play a major role in helping resolve the world's ills. That is why America's decision to withdraw support for the International Criminal Court is so disappointing. No, America is not the world's soup kitchen. It must, however, be the most important force for the establishment of global justice.

And the case of Iraq is America's first test. President Bush has yet to make an effective case for pre-emptive military action against Saddam Hussein. Although everyone would rest easier (including the writer) with Hussein ousted from power, risking the lives of Americans and Iraqis alike to head off, in Doug Cassel's words, "an unspecified threat in some indefinite future" would be a disastrous abuse of American power. We cannot let the possession of absolute power corrupt us absolutely.

Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem in 1899, "The White Man's Burden." He wrote it in response to his perception that America will become a hegemonic global superpower. Leaving aside the racist and self-pitying undertone of the title, Kipling's intent was to make America realize that being a global superpower exacts a price: "Take up the White Man's Burden/The savage wars of peace/Fill full the mouth of Famine/And bid the sickness cease/And when your goal is nearest (The end for others sought)/Watch sloth and heathen folly/Bring all your hope to naught." President Bush hinted at his understanding of this responsibility in his National Security Strategy: "The great strength of this nation must be used to promote a balance of power that favors freedom." I hope and pray his actions are true to his words.

Hesham A. Hassaballa is a Chicago physician and columnist for the Independent Writers Syndicate.

  Category: Americas, World Affairs
  Topics: George W. Bush, United States Of America
Views: 2848

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Older Comments:
This article opens the doors to the philanthropic part of every human being.

An interesting article.

Mr. Trevor Williamson
Typical questions from flag-wavers as follows:
What cultures what countries, what the h... is that? and what is a passport anyway?

A recent poll on a national radio station with over 27,000 replies had 87% against a war. It would not be a war, it would just be a bloodbath of innocent Iraqi's which I cannot condemn. They are no risk to the United kingdom and certainly not to the USA, whiich i believe has overrected to the twin towers disaster and has little understanding of the world outside their shores. How many Americans have passports and bother to go to see other cultures let alone countries? I have great friends in America, but will never support their bullying of a country that very few of them will ever bother to understand

Excelent point of view.

Bush's self appointed global police force is like putting dracula in charge of the blood bank !!!

He is going to suck the worlds or should I say the muslim's natural resources dry !!!

What he doesn't realise is Allah (SWT) Plans and bush plans, but Allah (SWT) is the master of all planners !!!!

He (Bush) will get what is coming to him !!!

To me, the author seems to be talking in a hypothetical world, where the US has true leadership and which it acquired through legal and morally acceptable means. In such a case, i agree, it would be it's responsiblity to play such a role in the world.
However, reality is 180 degrees of ... any 'leadership' the US has toady is built on exploitation, manipulation and greed and it requires military superiority to be maintained over others. It is obvious that this is the best recipe for its own downfall since the only way the US can maintain this power is to either extend it indefinitely, at the cost of other necessities, and this has limits as well or by making sure any other country coming too close in military advancement is pushed back by "pre-emptive strikes" or by boycotting it and killing its growth. The imagination and creativity of the foreign policy makers in the US for this have proved to be limitless.

If the US population doesn't get rid of the mafia who is currently holding the power, it will never reach any true leadership and it will only be hated more in the world.

We should ask God forgiveness.What we face now is not just like a strike on an Arabian country. It's more like a deterioration of the basic principles that God wanted us to bide by. May God bless you Dr. Hesham. May peace be upon all believers in Allah and in Muhammad (SAW)!

America has reached the height of human arrogance.

With such an administration in Washington, the good Americans as well as the idiotic-flag-wavers should know that their "leaders" action would finally toll the passing bell for their nation an sooner that you can realize it.

I am afraid that with so much angers all over the world and with a lot of uncontrollable hot heads, the current Bush administration cannot protect its citizen oversea and local governments can only do so much to ensure their guests safety. Bush and his masters are very selfish and could care much about you, America the beautiful.

I agree with all the people that say that your power, America, will not last forever, nothing last but the Almighty Allah.

Remember the toll of the passing bell.

come on America is the cause of the worlds problems, what a blanketed statement. The administrations are greedy but no more than any other country, just bigger more powerful and more famous. What kinds of things does Europe participate in evilly manipulating the economies of third world countries? Just because the Arab media and European media focuses on the US doesn't mean anything. They are drawing away the atention from themselves. So the US helps Israel, but Israel is a side show in human rights violations in comparisan to the rest of the world. Look what the lackey African south American, Asian and poorer Arab nations do to their own people and look who their rich sponsor is. In most cases it is not America though in many it is. France has her babyies, those they control and bribe for their benefits, England has hers, Australia has some , Saudi Arabia has them. Corporate colonialism bribing governments is prevalent world wide. Why do third world countries have no successful labor movement? The US only or European/gulf importers who want to buy at low prices in order to keep profits high. Any nation/company who uses the situation in places such as Ivory coast is as guilty as the colonial sponsor. Colonialism isn't dead it's is just hidden under the guise of individual dictator pets of the rich nations. The US and Israel are what they show you to keep your attention from the world that's really out there.

Saying that America must be the one to solve problems for other people is laughable, it is America that is the cause of world's problems. America doesn't mean poor ignornent Americans who don't know what their country does overseas, but the America that is ruled by power thirsty devils who only search for more blood. Stop using fancy words brother any intelligent person knows democracy and human rights is being abused by the one who claims they are fighting for it. They say we must bring democracy for Iraq, but whose democracy a puppet that cares nothing for his people and only fullfills what his master in Washington wishes. Give us some credit. What ever goes up will come down one day, power doesn't last forever, but true freedom can only be brought by ISLAM and those who LOVE IT!

I was very impressed with the article. It was very educated. However, the title was a little off. Who is the "white man"? Although this title was used previously in a movie, I don't feel it is useful in the scope of Islam. We must be very careful when using these phrases in Islam. For example, it may not be a good idea to uses the term "blacks" collectively do to the misinterpretation by Muslims who have more melanin in their skin, or even worse the reinforcement of racism within certain groups against "blacks".
Islamicly, we are all the same people. Therefor, it may be a bad idea to use any terms which separate Muslims in any fashion.


regarding 9592's comments

I am also a white muslim.
I don't go to mosque for the reasons you specified.
I just got worn out by it.
I just pray 5 times per day.
We european whites carry a lot of guilt already in this country, specifically for the evil of slavery and other oppression.

Nevermind that I have ancestors that died to end slavery.
I'm not saying they were doing more than obey the draft laws.
But they thought those laws were worth obeying.

The US is a nation of laws - and it should obey international laws, even when we don't agree with them. If we don't, we should try and change them, like we do internally.

Moslems need to participate in this process,regarding national and international law making and enforcement, whether they reside in this country or not.

And stop whining.

Easy to say in this forum.

Now try changing the discourse in a mosque!

Watch out!


Re: Brother Truemuslim's comment # 9592- I understand what you mean. It's unfortunate if you feel that the "immigrant" muslims dominate the mosque and hold you responsible for all the ills of the world. For they should know that in God's eye all muslims are equal. Though personally I admire converts like you more because you must have done some hard thinking and made a conscious choice to embrace Islam while most of the immigrants like me are born into the faith. And to tell you the truth, I think that most of us don't follow the true spirit of Islam.

They should also know that the American people like yourself don't make US foreign policy. They just pay taxes and some of them sometimes vote. And the policy is made in the interest of big businesses like the oil and the arms industry. So it's very hard for citizens like you to change it's policy or the CIA's of intervening in other countries internal affairs no matter how immoral or devastating the action is. Unless, of course, a lot of body bags are flown in , like from Vietnam.

But the "victims" can't blame it entirely on USA or any other outsider. Because eventually they bear some of the blame for letting themselves to be victims. After all the Quran says that God doesn't change the fate of a people or nation unless they change themselves.

When hearts are wrapped and perverted, logic and sense does not work. Analysis, discussion, postulation will not work unless some thing pinpoint can crack the shell of their heart. So.. it's a good article; but for whom?

I tend to somewhat agree with you that the U.S. leadership does have a tendency to get us emmersed in Wars most Americans feel we shouldn't be in. The war with Iraq is an example. On the one hand I do believe Saddam is a horrible person and has no business running that country and treating his people so badly. But on the other hand I feel it's up to Iraqi's to get rid of him not ours. Dubya is no doubt focusing on Iraq to win re-elction, and get his hands on Iraqs oil. But I will say that War doesn't always help our economy grow. After Gulf War I we went into a recession that really drubbed our economy. One of our most profitable periods was with Clinton in office, where the military budget was cut drastically, and we were not involved in a war. I don't know how we went from going after Osama and Al Qaida (Which I strongly supported) to Saddam and Iraq (Which I don't). I feel we should pull out of the middle east completely, and let them deal with Saddam if they choose to. Let South Korea and Japan deal with North Korea. The majority of Americans are for pulling our troops back and protecting our homeland borders. Personnally as a veteran with hindsight being 20/20. I would refuse to go to a foreign land and die for a foreign people who didn't want me there in the first place. With Al Quaida still very strong and organized to strike again. It's insane to me you getting mired in Iraq. But the good news is at this rate Dubya doesn't stand a good chance of winning re-election. Our economy is bad , jobless rates are high. As long as these factors exist presidents don't get re-elected. I don't care how popular he is post war. Look at his father, he had a 70% approval after the Gulf War but lost re-election because he couldn't get our econmy started, and his policies favored the rich. It's like Deja-Vu watching his son in office.

I agree with the general theme with the author, but I disagree with the author when he say God blessed America with the power and wealth it has :

"God has blessed our country with supreme military prowess, seemingly unending wealth, and overwhelming influence. "

I don't know if the author is Muslim or not, he is quoting both the Quran and the Bible, but if he understood the Quran well, he would know that the power and wealth God bestows on people or nations is not blessing. Non-muslims belive it is a blessing thats why they stive to get more if it at any cost, but Muslims believe God is testing you with it and see what are you going to do it, appreciate it and use for the right cause or become arrogant and misuse it.

I agree completely sharing your situation it seems often the Arabworld wants to blame it problems outside themselves. It is not for them to place blame it is for them to look for a solution, a plausable solution that can likely be implemented

this article is ok except 1 thing:i am tired of being blamed when i walk into a masjid of being responsible for the problems of the world...& yes-i am a white male muslim,i know what reverse prejudice is, & i know what it is like to be feel unwanted in the masjid just because i speak up for american muslim problems instead of jumping on the usual bandwagon of problems.
when 'immigrant muslims' can stop trying to control the scene,let's talk then; this is a true problem, but one that is ignored & laughed at by the 'immigrant majority' in the masjids'; comments anyone?

You have to understand that the US military strength comes out of its using the military-industrial complex to pump its economy. The economic money multiplying effect is used to create jobs and pay for research. By pumping more than the next twenty nations combined into the military the US has put its economy into hyperdrive. But it has come at a cost. First, the US is now addicted and any drop like that seen between the fall of the Berlin wall and the invasion of Kuwait causes a deep depression. Second, the US always needs an enemy to justify the budget and you will notice discussions as to who it should be if you look into the think tank publications of that era. Third, always having an enemy means someone always wants to do you harm and being the biggest bully isn't a guaranteed form of safety. If enough small folks get together the lumbering giant can fall and really really small groups can suck some blood here and there. Fourth, its crass and lots of innocents get killed. In fact it doesn't really work unless lots of innocents get killed. People get resistant to paying for you to wag the dog. So in typical Texas(US) style they don't just wag the dog, they beat you silly with it and if you fight back they call you a terrorist and shoot you. First they pay themselves to beat you then they pay themselves to shoot you. Then they give the bill to bury you to your relatives. Fifth, the hyperdrive economy creates a high standard of living but is sucks resources like a sink hole at the bottom of a pond. And the pond is running dry. Oil at 47% of the 1970's peak, aquifers running dry, fisheries nearly extent, mines shutting down and forestry dwendling and after NAFTA a shift from exporting to importing food. If the US doesn't shift to an eco-industrial complex to solve both its ecological and economic problems......
Noreaga, Hussane, the taleban ... stand them up then knock them down. Ever wonder what will happen to Israel when (not if) western opinion of Islam shifts

I like this article. It doesn't talk is if the war has already begun. If you know what the US military is capable of you will know that it hasn't started and Allah willing it never will. Lets hope it doesn't and those who can voice against it do so. Unfortunately not everyone has this luxury.