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American National Security in the Age of Insecurity
"As the dust of 9/11 settles down and the bloodstains of Iraq dry up, American people will realize that it is not terrorism that is the greatest threat to their national security. But it is their very democracy - increasingly manipulated by a powerful coterie - that is the greatest threat to their national security."
Part 1: American National Security and Presidential Doctrines
The notion of total national security has never been a reality, neither during the heydays of Egyptian, Assyrian, Byzantine, Persian, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic Empires nor now for any nation, big or small. All nation-states, therefore, crave for national security through a combination of economic, political and military power plus an effective diplomacy. Simple bullying has never been a guarantor of national security.
In his seventh annual State of the Union Address to Congress on December 2, 1823, President James Monroe stipulated America's national security principles, which came to be known as the Monroe Doctrine. It said that European powers were no longer to colonize or interfere with the affairs of the newly independent nations of the Americas. The United States planned to stay neutral in wars between European powers and their colonies. However, if later on, these types of wars were to occur in the Americas, the United States would view such action as hostile. The Doctrine was a proclamation of America's moral opposition to colonialism.
Unfortunately, the same Doctrine was reinterpreted later, which came to be known as the Roosevelt Corollary, to establish America's exclusive hegemony over other smaller nations in the western hemisphere. The Corollary allowed America to colonize (as it happened to Puerto Rico and Cuba) or intervene in small Caribbean and Central American states like Cuba (1906-1910), Nicaragua (1909-1911, 1912-1925 and 1926-1933), Haiti (1915-1934), and the Dominican Republic (1916-1924), in the name of stabilizing the economy of those nations. In 1928, the Clark Memorandum concluded that the United States had a self-evident right of self-defense and need not invoke the Monroe Doctrine as a defense of its interventions in Latin America.
The Cold War (from mid 1940s to mid 1990s) was a period marked by costly defense spending, arms race – conventional and nuclear, and proxy wars in which the USA competed with the Soviet Union to expand her zone of influence in the world. America sought "containment" strategy to stop the domino effect of nations politically moving towards Soviet Union and socialism/communism as against United States and capitalism and used military force to "rollback" communism in countries where it had taken root. To this end, America forged numerous alliances, particularly in Western Europe and the Middle East.
In 1954, the U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles cited the Monroe Doctrine to justify America's intervention in Guatemala that overthrew Jacobo Arbenz Guzman, the democratically-elected President of Guatemala, through a CIA-sponsored coup d'etat. A year earlier, the CIA had also toppled Dr. Mossaddeqh's nationalist government in Iran, perceived to be pro-Soviet. Such a rollback policy, however, pushed Eastern Europe (e.g., Poland and Hungary) further toward the Soviets.
During Kennedy Administration the policy of containment reached its most expansive and consensually accepted stage to oppose Soviet influence, or what was dubbed as "the Communist menace" in Cuba. During Nixon Administration, America relied on friendly regimes to police their regions.
As the Vietnam War ended, the Clark Amendment of 1976 was adopted prohibiting aid to anti-Marxist fighters in Angola. Congress, therefore, refused to support war against indigenous Communist dictatorships, no matter how heavily supported by the Soviet Union or its proxies. However, even after the Clark Amendment became law, clandestine aid to Angola would continue under the CIA Director, George H. W. Bush. Israel stepped in as a proxy arms supplier for the USA.
In the final year of Carter Administration, Dr. Brzezinski, Carter's national security advisor, adopted the "containment" strategy, to be continued overtly and aggressively later by President Reagan, to aid the Mujahideen in their fight against Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. That stopped not only the Soviets from reaching the warm waters of the Persian Gulf, but also helped to bring about the collapse of the regime.
President Reagan's program of CIA support for the Nicaraguan contras, that did not fight foreign occupation, broke post-Vietnam precedent of "containment" strategy and instead, adopted the "rollback" strategy. Like the Nixon Doctrine, the Reagan Doctrine turned to proxies. Unlike the Nixon Doctrine, however, it supported not the status quo but revolution. Subsequently, during the 1980s Reagan would justify America's intervention in El Salvador, Guatemala and Grenada. He would also support the rebels in Angola, Cambodia and Eritrea. To pledge his adherence to international law, Reagan declared: "Support for freedom fighters is self-defense and totally consistent with the OAS and U.N. charters."
As can be seen in the post WW II Cold War era, American national security strategy increasingly became intertwined with a strategy for global hegemony. As argued by the libertarian think tank Cato Institute, quite a few of America's engagements in the third world countries had little to do with legitimate American security needs. Instead of draining Soviet military and financial resources America was ending up dissipating her own.
9/11 and the Road to Afghanistan
In this age of modern technology and globalization, total national security is simply unattainable. It is only a myth. Modern technology is diminishing the effect of geographic distance and is punctuating traditional protective umbrella for any nation – strong or weak. It is capable of importing and exporting violence long distance through a variety of means. So, national security will continue to be an increasingly difficult task for any government in our very fast paced world.
Prior to 9/11, American national security concern was heavily focused on the possibility that unfriendly states might launch or threaten to launch a missile attack with nuclear warheads on the USA. Missile defense system was thus a rational choice and workable strategy that gained some popularity, especially among the Reaganite Republicans. (This idea has not quite died down as is apparent from Senator McCain's recent remarks in the wake of Iran's firing of long and medium range missiles on July 9, 2008.)
9/11 was like a cluster bomb that shattered all such perceptions about national security. It showed that to puncture national security of the most powerful nation on earth, the foe does not need much – no nuclear bomb, no missile, not even enough money. It just has to be extra-smart, thinking outside the box, to improvise and be resolute to its cause. Truly, those 19 terrorists that attacked America had only box-cutters and a willingness to forfeit their own lives. They weren't cowards. So how can America secure itself against an enemy that is physically weak but endowed with an unfathomed passion?
In the wake of 9/11, the rising inclination in America to seek enhanced national security is quite understandable. But Americans must ask: what is the guarantee that those surveillance cameras, metal detectors and long checkups in airports, terminals and stations can stop the next 9/11 from happening? The hard truth is: none, zero! In its effort to stop global terrorism, how many people can the government spy on, how many bank accounts can it freeze, how many conversations can it eavesdrop on, how many emails can it intercept, how many letters can it open, how many phones can it tap? Doesn't too much data actually hinder intelligence and decision making? As Arundhati Roy has argued, rather prophetically, back in October 21, 2001, "The sheer scale of the surveillance will become a logistical, ethical and civil rights nightmare. It will drive everybody clean crazy. And freedom - that precious, precious thing - will be the first casualty. It's already hurt and hemorrhaging dangerously."
Just nine days after 9/11, on September 20, 2001, President Bush issued an ultimatum to the Taliban government of Afghanistan that had sheltered al-Qaeda demanding handover of Osama bin Laden (OBL) to the USA. The next day, September 21, 2001, at a news conference in Islamabad, the Taliban ambassador said that he was sorry that people had died in the suicide attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, but appealed to the United States not to endanger innocent people in a military retaliation. He said, "Our position on this is that if America has proof, we are ready for the trial of Osama bin Laden in light of the evidence." On October 4, 2001, the Taliban offered to turn OBL over to Pakistan for trial in an international tribunal that operated according to Islamic Sharia law. Under pressure from the USA, President Musharraf rejected the offer saying that he could not guarantee his safety.
On October 7, 2001, before the onset of Anglo-American military operations, the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan offered to "detain bin Laden and try him under Islamic law" if the United States made a formal request and presented the Taliban with evidence. This counter offer was immediately rejected by the U.S. as insufficient. [America had maintained that the "evidence", which would not stand up in a court of law, against the terrorists was shared amongst friends in the "coalition".]
Within hours of the Taliban offer, President Bush declared war against Afghanistan. The UN wasn't even asked to mandate the air strikes. Thus, in an instant, centuries of jurisprudence were carelessly trashed. With massive bombing campaigns from the air for two months and cooperation on the ground from the Northern Alliance (made up of non-Pushtoon speaking minorities from the Tajik, Hazara and Uzbek communities), the NATO forces were able to overthrow the Taliban government (made up of majority Pushtoons). Afghanistan, a country that had already been reduced to rubble since the Soviet invasion days (thanks to 45 billion dollars worth of arms and ammunition that were poured by Soviet Union and the USA), was now pounded into finer dust.
While the NATO-backed Hamid Karzai government rules Afghanistan now, the Taliban has become a resurgent force lately, which in all likelihood could topple the government there unless NATO's military presence is beefed up significantly. That resurgence can best be explained through NATO's daily bombing campaigns and the indiscriminate slaughter of local populations. Pakistan, with a 1500-mile long border with Afghanistan and some 30 million Pushtoons living inside its porous border along the contentious Durand Line, is also in a serious national crisis. She is vulnerable to disintegration along major ethnic lines.
If America is serious towards sustaining a friendly government in that region, as part of her long term strategic objective, she and her European and Australian allies must stop wanton killings of civilians and pour in tens of billion of dollars towards massive reconstruction projects in the war-torn area. That is too little a price for decades of abuse, manipulation and devastation of the region! That would surely be a worthy investment to garner trust from the affected communities.
Part 2: Bush Doctrine of Lies and Deceptions: The War in Iraq
The Bush Doctrine echoes many of the ideas of the neoconservative think tank - Project for the New American Century (PNAC), which was founded in 1997. PNAC, in its founding "Statement of Principles", stated the "need to promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad." The following year, it called for deposing Saddam Hussein. Among the signers of PNAC's original Statement of Principles were a number of people who later gained high positions in the Bush administration, including Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle.
Therefore, it was not surprise that, as with Afghanistan, Bush did not want to give diplomacy a chance before invading Iraq. On March 2003, just 13 days before the invasion, Dr. Hans Blix, the Chief UN weapons inspector, reported, "No evidence of proscribed activities has so far been found" in Iraq. He said that further inspections would continue. But the U.S. government, unhappy about the Blix report, announced that "diplomacy has failed" and that it would proceed with a coalition of allied countries, named the "coalition of the willing", to rid Iraq of its alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). The U.S. government abruptly advised U.N. weapons inspectors to immediately pull out of Baghdad.
Under the declared pretext of disarming Iraq of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, and as part of overall strategy towards minimizing threat to the USA from unfriendly nations, President Bush invaded Iraq on March 20, 2003 and subsequently toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein. The invasion was condemned by the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan declaring that it "was not in conformity with the UN charter" and was "illegal".
After some two years of frenzied search, when no WMDs were found, Bush conveniently described the Iraq War as a “central front in the war on terror.” In that process of invasion and subsequent occupation, in the last five years more than a million (and counting) Iraqi civilians have been killed (most of these in the first three months of the war) by the Coalition forces. Iraq's economy and infrastructure, once the envy of the entire Middle East, have been vastly destroyed by massive aerial bombing campaigns, and missile, tank and mortar attacks.
In recent months, with a surge in deployment of American armed forces, violence seems to have become manageable. However such a reduction in violence may be too superficial and short-lived. Unemployment runs too high and grievances against America's orgy of slaughter, rape and destruction are too deep to be either ignored or forgotten in an area where people have long memory. These are sure recipes for disaster and, unless redressed properly would continue to challenge the goal of bringing about stability, safety and security in Iraq, plus phased withdrawal of American forces. These may haunt American vital interests both inside and outside Iraq.
It is important to remember that there were many concerned human beings that objected to America's invasion of Afghanistan and (more so for) Iraq. According to Dominique Reynie, a political scientist from the University of Paris, between 3 January and 12 April 2003, 36 million people across the globe took part in almost 3,000 protests against war in Iraq, the demonstrations on February 15, 2003 being the largest and most prolific. Even NATO members like Canada, France and Germany opposed the invasion suggesting disarmament through diplomacy. Russia also cautioned against invasion. However, all such voices of reason and restraint were snubbed by the war party and their paid agents in the corporate media.
What is also so horrible and evil about the entire Iraqi episode is that President Bush committed an impeachable offense by ordering the CIA to manufacture a false pretense for the war in the form of a backdated, handwritten document linking al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. This charge is made in a recently published book "The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism" by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Ron Suskind. The author says that Bush was informed unequivocally in January 2003, three months before the invasion, that Iraq had no WMDs.
Can the end justify the means – no matter how criminal these may be? But that is what President Bush and his trusted lieutenants were set to do towards the regime change in Iraq. In an earlier book – The Price of Loyalty - Suskind wrote that the planning envisioned peacekeeping troops, war crimes tribunals, and even dividing up Iraq's oil wealth. Six months before 9/11, a Pentagon document, dated March 5, 2001, entitled "Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts" surfaced, which included a map of potential areas for exploration of oil in Iraq. Suskind said, "It talks about contractors around the world from, you know, 30-40 countries. And which ones have what intentions.”
Bush wanted so much to convince American people of the need to invade Iraq that the White House set up a secret team in the Pentagon to implant evidence. The Office of Special Plans (OSP) routinely rewrote the CIA's intelligence estimates on Iraq's weapons programs, removing phrases like "probably," "likely" and "may" as a way of portraying the country as an imminent threat. They also used unreliable sources to create reports that ultimately proved to be false. In this regard, one may recall that Bush said, "The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." in his State of the Union Address. The documents supporting that statement were forged.
Bush, Cheney, Rice and Powell also claimed that some aluminum tubes Iraq had attempted to buy were intended for use in a uranium centrifuge to produce nuclear weapons. These were the only physical evidence that Bush had against Iraq. But as CNN and New York Times have shown this evidence had been rejected by the Department of Energy and other intelligence agencies long before Bush used them in his speeches. According to Ron Suskind, Bush's action is "one of the greatest lies in modern American political history" and is a crime of greater impact than Nixon's Watergate.
As is quite evident, President Bush and his entourage of advisers chose war over diplomacy, carnage over common sense, unilateralism over multilateral cooperation, revenge over reconciliation, and deception over truth. Unapologetic and stupidly stubborn, the Bush Administration and its neocon advisers still continue to preach the wisdom of regime change and staying the present course in its Global War on Terror (GWOT). Thus, to many of them war against Iran is the only option to settle the dispute concerning her nuclear enrichment program.
The architects of war within and outside the White House and Pentagon forget that once violence is accepted as a legitimate political instrument, then the difference between right and wrong often gets blurred; morality and political tolerability of terrorism (insurgency or liberation movement) become rather touchy, bumpy, ticklish terrain. One country's terrorist is too often another's freedom fighter. The US government itself has funded, armed and sheltered plenty of rebels and insurgents around the world; e.g., while it supported the Contras in Nicaragua, it violently opposed the rebels in El Salvador. Violence only breeds more violence and is no recipe for guaranteeing national security. Today's witness to massacre can become tomorrow's avenger or terrorist. As is well-known people rarely win wars, and governments rarely lose them; people get killed. So, why this preference to kill people, especially when the President likes to portray the USA as a "peaceful" nation?
Speaking at the FBI headquarters a few days after attacking Afghanistan, President Bush said: "This is our calling. This is the calling of the United States of America. The most free nation in the world. A nation built on fundamental values that reject hate, reject violence, rejects murderers and rejects evil. We will not tire." Once again through his murderous campaigns in both Afghanistan and Iraq, targeting civilian population, Bush proved that his actions belie those lofty ideals on which America was founded. While he is not alone to dump those lofty ideas, only the worst, many of his predecessors similarly have dragged America – the "most free nation in the world" - into denying the same freedom to others – all in the name of national security. Even before the current crisis, stemming from 9/11, America in the post-WW II period has bombed China (1945-46, 1950-53), Korea (1950-53), Guatemala (1954, 1967-69), Indonesia (1958), Cuba (1959-60), the Belgian Congo (1964), Peru (1965), Laos (1964-73), Vietnam (1961-73), Cambodia (1969-70), Grenada (1983), Libya (1986), El Salvador (1980s), Nicaragua (1980s), Panama (1989), Iraq (1991-99), Bosnia (1995), Sudan (1998), and Yugoslavia (1999). Hardly a decade passed uninterrupted without America's declaration of war against some country! This shows that far from being a 'peaceful' nation that is "not tired of rejecting violence" America has opted for violence frequently to settle international disputes. As Arundhati Roy so aptly pointed out "Infinite Justice" for some may mean "Infinite Injustice" for others, and "Enduring Freedom" for some means "Enduring Subjugation" for others.
In retrospect who would disagree today that if the early findings of Dr. El-Baradei's IAEA and Dr. Blix's UN weapon inspection team on Iraq were believed by the Bush Administration and the team given more time for inspection, we could have avoided the carnage in Iraq today?
As Americans search for viable strategy for national security, they must also ask about the cost of the war so as to be able to do a cost-benefit analysis on competing options. Credible estimates of Iraq's war to the US economy are believed to range anywhere from 1.2 to 3 trillion dollars. (It is worth mentioning here that America's GDP is less than 13 trillion dollars.) That's a huge burden for America!
In the aftermath of 9/11 Americans must come to the grips that America's criminal actions outside – the "freedom" to dominate, humiliate and subjugate others - can seriously impair their own freedom at home.
National Security Choice:
If America is earnest about national security in this fast-paced technology-driven age of globalization, she must approach this new task with introspection and a modicum of honesty and humility. She must acknowledge her past mistakes in judgment and approach the task rationally and objectively without any bias and influence from any particular lobby. She must analyze how things might have been if America had not opted for violence in its recent engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan. Would those options jeopardize or compromise American national security adversely?
The real issue in relation to America's national security ought to be how much insecurity can she live with while promoting her interests in an increasingly interactive and interdependent world? Given her status as the only true superpower of the 21st century, how much of America's security is dependent on multilateral cooperation and how much of it can be or should be sought unilaterally? These simple questions offer rather highly complex and very difficult national security choices, with sweeping domestic implications. Ultimately, given the fast changing and dynamic nature of both modern technology and the international setting, any answer will have to be contingent and temporary.
In his book, The Choice, Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski argues that power and force alone are not sufficient to preserve American national security. It needs cooperation and not coercion at the global level. As I have argued elsewhere legitimate political grievances require political solutions that are just and equitable, and not bombs and missiles. When such issues are ignored, they simmer and produce natural backdrops for breeding new recruits that are willing to die much like Udham Singh of yesteryears and Mohamed Atta of our time. Can American afford another attack from the likes of Atta?
Part 3: Finding Common Grounds for Global Security with Dar al-Islam
Thanks to 9/11 and the merchants of war, the myth of "clash of civilization" between the technologically superior West and the technology-starved House of Islam (Ar. Dar al-Islam) has been getting much notoriety. So pervasive is this propaganda that we often forget that these two powers, while sometimes colliding in the last 14 centauries, did also have comparable periods of peace, compatibility and cooperation.
The lowest point in this encounter between these two world powers in the last two centuries has to be the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the last vestige of an Islamic Caliphate. This I say, because while the office of the Caliphate by the late 19th and early 20th century had become rather feeble and ineffectual, it nonetheless exerted a sense of belonging and rallying ground for hundreds of millions of Muslims living in the Dar-al-Islam from Indonesia to Senegal. Naturally, this united front of Dar-al-Islam against an already fractured Europe, divided along nation states, was perceived to be too dangerous and defiant by the expansionist powers of the West -- the precursors to today's Globalists. Thus came the Freemasons and their paid agents, aided by European powers, to destroy the Caliphate. They pondered while religion has been in decline in the West and in most of the East, and spirituality has been traded for materialism as living standards have increased, and popular culture has become almost completely secular to the level of becoming almost agnostic, why has the situation been different within the Islamic Middle East?
So, as part of a long-term strategy, the British were to promote racism and nationalism, alcohol, gambling, fornication and tempt Muslim women to uncover themselves – all in the name of emancipation of Muslims. But most important was the strategy to "insert heresies into Muslims' creedal tenets and then criticize Islam for being a religion of terror." It was like cutting religion with the scissor of religion!
The rest is history. The Ottoman Empire was broken and sliced into pieces, and heretical beliefs, including extreme brands of Islam, were promoted and patronized by the European colonial powers – the latter process to be continued later by certain Muslim governments in the post-colonial era. Conspiracies against Islam are nothing new to Muslims and, thus, have often been fought by their uncompromising 'ulama. Truly, clerical Islam was a necessary response to the imperial Europe that degraded Islamic religion, plundered Islamic resources, and cast the Islamic way of being and living as inferior to theirs. While weakened considerably from the post-colonial (minus-Caliphate) experience in Muslim nation states, they still refused to remain silent. Speaking thus of the imperial (Globalist) plan in the post-colonial era, one such Muslim scholar once said, their aim "is to keep us backward, to keep us in our present miserable state so they can exploit our riches, our underground wealth, our lands and our human resources. They want us to remain afflicted and wretched, and our poor to be trapped in their misery … they and their agents wish to go on living in huge palaces and enjoying lives of abominable luxury."
It's, therefore, not difficult to understand the frustration of the Globalists in the post-colonial, secular era. They pondered: how come when the Judeo-Christian ethos has eroded the Islamic ethos continued to experience an apparent resurgence? They sought to remove this obstacle from their path by disparaging Islam and besmirching its noble messenger. They resorted to malicious propaganda so that today, we imagine that Islam simply consists of a handful of legal topics and has nothing to offer for peaceful coexistence in a modern world. They have also tried to destroy the reputation of the genuine fuqaha and the 'ulama that stood uncompromising at the head of Islamic society.
And yet against all odds, the Islamic revolution took place overthrowing America's trusted friend – the Shah of Iran. This change was like an earth shattering event that showed Muslim refusal to settle for a system that was dictated by the West and. culminated in the further worsening of uneasy relations with the USA that had taken over the mantle of leadership in the West from her allies – the former European colonial powers. In recent years, since President Bush's declaration of Iran to belong to the so-called 'Axis of Evil', the American-Iran relationship is one of the worst it has ever been.
There is no escaping from the hard, bitter truth that most of the crises that have plagued our world in the last hundred years grew out of western world's two world wars. For its selfish sense of security and unfathomed greed, the West seeded poisonous plants of permanent insecurity in all the territories it once controlled, devastating our world with war and carnage that would become a recurring theme. And the same goes for the Dar al-Islam where artificial frontiers were created: the people that were together were separated and the people that were separated were forced to live together. The most glaring examples of this injustice can be seen in Africa and how the Kurdish people were divided.
In this age, a major task facing the USA towards global security will be the pacification of a volatile region that stretches from the Middle East to the Central Asia. This region, part of Dar al-Islam, contains two-thirds of world's proven oil reserves and vast quantities of natural gas – energy supplies that are absolutely essential for very survival of the western civilization. A stable and uninterrupted flow of oil and gas from the region is thus very critical to the USA and her allies.
However, as we have noticed, American relation with the world of Islam has been a very precarious one for several years. Over the last three decades, outside America's intervention in the Balkan territories of former Yugoslavia to stop the massacre of Bosnian and Kosovar Albanian Muslims, there is hardly a single major event that could be cited towards a gelling of the relationship.
In more recent years since 2001, this relationship between the Dar al-Islam and America is mediated by horrible images of 9/11, Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. A March 2008 Zogby International poll of 4,000 people in Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and Jordan found that Arab opinion of the U.S. was at its lowest since 2002, with unfavorable ratings ranging from 80 percent in Egypt and Jordan to 71 percent in the UAE and Morocco. Coming as it does from the most reliable polling group, these are worrisome signs for America to pay attention to. Her public diplomacy is simply not working.
Reciprocal prejudice is at an all time high, and Islam is now equated as a terrorist faith in the West. Interestingly, as outlined in an article by Peter Goodgame - "The Globalists and the Islamists" - the Globalists have had a hand in shaping and financing all the "terrorist" organizations of the 20th century, including the mastermind of 9/11. Following the dictates of Hegelian dialectic to force us into the acceptance of their final alternative - a New World Order - the Globalists, according to David Livingstone, have created two antagonizing forces - the "Liberal-Democratic" West and Terrorism or "political Islam". It is essentially the philosophy of "us" against "them". That is, these two cannot occupy the same space together; one has to leave for the continuation of the other. Thus, the GWOT becomes a necessary tactic at the disposal of the Globalists to fulfill their strategic objective of eradicating untamed Islam – the Islam that resisted foreign occupation and hegemony. Obviously, in their "new" world order, the pristine Islam that was preached by the Prophet Muhammad (S) has no place even among the Muslims. Their prescribed role is one of subservience and unquestioned loyalty to the Globalists, as so dutifully now parroted by cultural coolies like Hirsi Ali and Irshad Manji. Not surprisingly, to the Globalists of our time, the Caliphate - once the unifying, emotive force amongst Muslims - is proscribed as an evil political system, an utterly dirty word in their dictionary!
What Can Be Done?
From the standpoint of America's national security (and those of other western countries) vis-à-vis the Islamic world, the key question is: how the world of Islam will define itself politically and economically? Will the Dar al-Islam allow easy access to western goods in trade and commerce while it mostly exports raw materials, e.g., oil and gas, to sustain the modern, prosperous life-style in the West? The answer to these questions will vary depending on the bumpy nature of unrest and stability in the Muslim world; after all, Dar al-Islam is disunited and there is no one-shoe-fits-all answer. It is politically unstable and militarily weak, and in all likelihood, will remain as such for quite some time.
In general, the Muslim world is not against modernity or technology (although there is no escaping that there are some risks or unintended consequences of that juxtaposition). Nor is the Muslim world hostile to democracy. (As a matter of fact, fearing a repeat of the Hamas victory in Palestine, the USA and her allies have been against such democratization in the region.) It is not against capitalism either (with some checks and balances, of course). Hence, it would be impudent and foolish of anyone to assume that the Muslim world is so culturally distinct that it is incapable of making the necessary transition to become a more progressive society.
On the economic front, global strategists like Dr. Brzezinski argue rather strongly in favor of a massive undertaking in the Muslim world (shouldered by the USA and her European allies) that is much more daunting than what the Marshall Plan had been for Europe in the post-WW II era. They opine that economic prosperity -- translated into job opportunities and capacity to buy goods within one's means -- would have a calming, soothing effect on millions of people that live in the region. The rationale in favor of this undertaking should come from the mere realization that while the cost of this undertaking may run into billions of dollars, it is still a "peanut" investment compared to the trillion dollar cost of the war that is now borne by the US economy.
The current GWOT is simply not succeeding, and will fail miserably in the long run. By demonizing the enemy and exploiting fears, it may have rallied American people to support government initiatives on domestic and international fronts. However, as a long-term strategy, it lacks vision, can be highly divisive at local and international levels, can breed intolerance and xenophobia and unleash paranoid emotions. At international level, it also risks America being dumped as a self-appointed plaintiff, police, jury, judge and hangman. A pragmatic thinking outside the current paradigm is necessary for greater good of America and her people.
On the political front, there is no denying that of all the grievances in Dar al-Islam, the most important one is Arab resentment of American support for Israel. That has to change from a blind support to a cautious one, when warranted. A one-sided history, scripted by Christian-Zionists and rehearsed, promoted and recast by pro-Israeli zealots in the media, has forced millions of gullible Americans into believing that Palestinians don't belong to the Holy Land. It does not teach them that it was the Palestinians who were the original inhabitants of the land, and that the European influx of Jews to the territory was rather a more recent incident dating less than a hundred years ago. It is immoral and criminal to steal someone's land and give it to someone else. And that is what the British Mandate did to the Palestinian people, who have become undesirables inside the Occupied Territories and, as refugees outside, are at the mercy of the world community. Finding a peaceful and equitable solution to their sixty-year old plight is the most urgent need of our time. This is at the heart of the Middle East crisis and Muslim resentment towards the USA.
The right of return of Palestinian refugees is considered one of the thorniest issues towards finding a workable formula for peace in the Israel-Palestine conflict. However, if America cares deeply about regional peace, she must stand for truth and justice on this vital issue the same way Erich Fromm (1900–1980), one of the great Jewish philosophers, had stood nearly fifty years ago. Speaking on the right of return of the Palestinian people to their homes, he said, "It is often said that the Arabs fled, that they left the country voluntarily, and that they therefore bear the responsibility for losing their property and their land. It is true that in history there are some instances -- in Rome and in France during the Revolutions when enemies of the state were proscribed and their property confiscated. But in general international law, the principle holds true that no citizen loses his property or his rights of citizenship; and the citizenship right is de facto a right to which the Arabs in Israel have much more legitimacy than the [European] Jews. Just because the Arabs fled? Since when is that punishable by confiscation of property and by being barred from returning to the land on which a people's forefathers have lived for generations? Thus, the claim of the Jews to the land of Israel cannot be a realistic political claim. If all nations would suddenly claim territories in which their forefathers had lived two thousand years ago, this world would be a madhouse. ... I believe that, politically speaking, there is only one solution for Israel, namely, the unilateral acknowledgement of the obligation of the State towards the Arabs — not to use it as a bargaining point, but to acknowledge the complete moral obligation of the Israeli State to its former inhabitants of Palestine."[Jewish Newsletter, New York, 19 May, 1959; quoted in Prophets in Babylon (1980) by Marion Woolfson, p. 13.]
[It is sad to see that such voices of reason and fairness are now routinely choked off from mainstream media debates concerning the Palestinian problem.]
On the military front, America is perceived, and not so inappropriately, as fighting Israel's dirty war in the region – from her invasion in Iraq in 2003 to any future war against Iran (under the pretext of denying latter's inalienable right to the nuclear energy). American one-sided favoritism is interpreted as nothing short of being immoral, sadistic, criminal and cruel. Such favoritism only exhibits American deep-seated hypocrisy on a matter of vital importance to the security of our globe and is not sustainable.
I agree with Dr. Brzezinski that the internationally sponsored adoption of a viable formula for the Palestinian people would not resolve the wider region's manifold conflicts, but it would surely bring in triple benefits: reduce terrorism against America, reduce tension in the region and permit a more concerted effort to address the region's security problems without seeming to embark on an anti-Islamic crusade. The resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict would also allow for progressive democratization of the adjoining Arab states without appearing, as it does today in Muslim eyes, to exploit the democratization issue as yet another pretext for Pax Americana. A peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear crisis would also go a long way towards bridge building between the West and the Muslim world.
Part 4: Global War On Terror: Where it is heading?
While the USA has given us capitalism, modern technology, presidential form of democracy, she has also given us the most lethal practice of arms conceivable.
In a joint statement on November 21, 2001, Presidents Bush and Putin declared, "The United States and Russia have overcome the legacy of the Cold War. Neither country regards the other as an enemy or threat." And yet the buildup of nuclear arsenal continues unabated! According to a report published in the USA Today, in 2007 America possessed some 7000 nuclear weapons compared to Russia's 7800. And yet all those nuclear bombs and missiles were of no use to protect the USA on the fateful day of 9/11/01. Truly, America's definition of its role in the world was altered not by the challenge of a mighty rival like Russia or China but by the suicidal act of a few unknown terrorists inspired and supported by a remote but zealous underground group lacking any of the attributes of a modern state power. National security has, therefore, become a very important issue in America.
When President Bush launched the GWOT after the 9/11 attack, few Americans needed much explanation of its purpose. They wanted the threat eradicated and perpetrators responsible for causing America’s greatest tragedy in the post-Cold War era captured or killed. Emboldened by military success in Afghanistan, Bush exploited Americans' fear of potential terrorism on their soil by citing that Iraq was posing a direct threat to the USA. His administration contended that Saddam Hussein had acquired weapons of mass destruction – chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, and thus, justified pre-emptive invasion of Iraq in 2003. He and his advisers also claimed that Saddam Hussein had ties with al-Qaeda. After the occupation of Iraq, years of frantic and thorough search proved all such assertions wrong. The President and the members of his cabinet, as it is very obvious now, had deliberately lied and misled the nation and world community to forcefully remove the regime in Iraq, much to the blueprint of the neoconservative hawks that had preached the wisdom of regime change and American hegemony in that part of the world.
Seven year after 9/11, after a disorienting detour into Iraq, the clarity on GWOT is gone. Most Americans are asking: what is the exit strategy? How and when will they know that the goals are met? Not only has the Bush Administration failed to eradicate terrorism, the Iraq War has failed to reward America thus far and instead is responsible for the largest budget deficit in American history -- a hefty figure of approximately half a trillion dollars. The war has had a broad destabilizing consequence across much of the Middle East. Much to the embarrassment of the planners and promoters of the war, Iran has come out a clear winner from the political change in Iraq. Because of lawlessness in Iraq, millions of Iraqis have fled the country and taken temporary shelter in neighboring countries. Syria alone has more than a million of Iraqi refugees. Sectarian violence, something that was unknown during decades of the Ba'athist rule, is now a common feature in American-occupied and controlled Iraq, with blames squarely put against the Americans for initiating some of the early cases of violence there. Worse still, the elected leaders of Iraq have failed to find a working formula for reconciliation that would strengthen the federal state. Kurdish autonomous region in Iraq, already a de facto entity, appears to move closer towards a separate statehood, thus destabilizing the entire region further. The call by Kurdish politicians to include the multi-ethnic Iraqi city of Kirkuk to become part of the Kurdistan region has already stoked tensions with the city’s Arab and Turkmen communities, and can lead to civil war in the city. Israel is also known to have silently spread her influence in Kurdish territory, which is bound to create more problems in the neighboring states of Turkey and Iran.
What It Would Take to Win in the Muslim World?
James Baldwin wrote in 1985: "The American Jew … makes the error of believing that his Holocaust ends in the New World, where mine begins. My Diaspora continues, the end is not in sight, and I certainly cannot depend on the morality of this panic-stricken consumer society to bring me out of Egypt." (The Price of the Ticket)
In the wake of 9/11, America needs to examine, carefully and calmly her complex relationship with the world of Islam. That is the pre-requisite to any effective long-term American engagement in pacifying the twin dangers of terrorism and proliferation of weapons. The USA cannot allow militant supporters of Israel within the State Department to underwrite American foreign policy for the Middle East. After all, what happens in the Middle East affects the rest of the Muslim world.
There is no escaping from the hard, bitter truth that most of the crises that have plagued the world in the last hundred years grew out of western world's two world wars. For its selfish sense of security, the West seeded poisonous plants of permanent insecurity in all the territories it once controlled, devastating our world with war and carnage that would become a recurring theme. People that were together were separated and people that were separated were forced to live together.
Of all these political problems created by the West, the Palestinian problem is the single most important one that has rallied people from all walks of life, of all faiths, of all backgrounds demanding an equitable solution that would enable the Palestinian people to live as a free nation - much like any other nation of our planet - away from the ghetto, apartheid-like condition that they have been subjected to live for the past six decades. This problem is also at the heart of Muslim grievances against the West, especially the USA. Unfortunately, the Israeli attitude on resolving this major crisis has been one of delay tactics as if with the death of the first generation victims of dispossession and Israeli brutality, the problem would simply lose its momentum and there won't be any living claimant for return to their home land. Through her draconian measures in the Occupied Territories, Israel has had made life of ordinary Palestinians miserable – often pushing them towards a non-peaceful response, which inevitably plays in well with the Israeli government providing her the necessary excuse to renege every treaty that she had ever signed towards a comprehensive roadmap to the Palestinian nationhood.
Bush's roadmap for the Palestinian statehood has been a dismal failure also and will not produce anything positive within the remainder time of his tenure. In coming days, the current Kadima-led government in Israel is very likely to be replaced by Likud's Benjamin Netanyahu, which is sure to worsen the Palestinian crisis further.
Without a viable and equitable solution to the Palestinian problem, a calming of the volatile situation in the Middle East is simply unrealistic. And as we have noticed, this issue is extra-territorial with global impacts, and its solution can be a major factor in winning the GWOT. Therefore, it is prudent that the major western powers, especially the USA, rein on the Israeli government to ensure that the Palestinian people are not denied their legitimate right to live with dignity as any other free nation on earth.
Part 5: The Technology Divide
Most Muslims think, and quite justifiably, that the western world, especially the USA and Christian Europe, likes to keep them technologically backward, more like consumers than producers of technology. Their claim is bolstered by the fact that the western world has been decisively uncooperative, and often hostile, to technology transfer in the Muslim world. This is grossly unfair to a region that is so rich with natural resources. This attitude of the West has been a recurrent theme since the colonial days when the then Bengal – known for her fine muslin and jute – would be sidelined from having any cotton and jute mill in its soil. All such factories had to be in the Great Britain, in places like Dundee. Even when in later years of British rule such industries were allowed to take root, those factories were mostly built along the Hooghly River in Kolkata of West Bengal and not East Bengal (now Bangladesh) that produced such raw materials.
Sadly, in the post-colonial era, that western mindset to deprive Muslim world of technology transfer has not receded. Thus, the Middle Eastern countries can produce bulk of the raw materials required for our highly technology-driven modern lifestyle, but they cannot have those industries that produce such amenities. They can supply oil and natural gas, but they are ignored by the major chemical and specialty chemicals companies from manufacturing petroleum derivatives – the building blocks for so much of our consumer and construction products today. Naturally, in spite of vast resources of oil and iron ore, there is not a single western car maker having a car manufacturing factory in places like Saudi Arabia. A Fortune 500 company that is dependent on energy supplies for manufacturing its goods would rather invest in China and India while nearby Indonesia and Malaysia (let alone Iran), with ample of energy resources, and cheap and skilled labor, are overlooked. Outside some investment banking companies now moving to places like Dubai, not much movement of technology has occurred in the Muslim world.
It is no accident that in spite of more than a trillion dollar market capitalization in the Gulf region — the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Yemen – hardly a single Fortune 100 company (of western origin) has a manufacturing facility there. It is no accident that Pakistan and Dr. A. Q. Khan had to run the extra miles to develop its nuclear program. So, the current crusade that is led by the western governments to deny Iran of nuclear technology only reinforces the Muslim belief that the West is fundamentally opposed to seeing progress in the Muslim world. Muslims can buy a jeep, tank, plane and even a missile, but they cannot be allowed to manufacture any of these!
It is there that the USA and her allies need to reevaluate their position vis-à-vis Iran. The failure to adjust there would only foster hostility. The USA shouldn't oppose Iran from her legitimate rights to exploring nuclear technology for energy needs while she herself plans to build more nuclear plants to meet her soaring energy needs. America has also been indifferent to Israel's possession of 150 nuclear bombs, let alone arming Israel tooth and nail. This behavior is grossly hypocritical and irresponsible to the core. (The just approach would be to dismantle Israel's nuclear arsenal and enforce a nuclear arms-free zone for the entire Middle East and, if possible, our entire planet.)
As America heads for the Presidential election, she must weigh in her options between militarism and changing the way America has been conducting her international affairs. Is military action against Iran desirable? For those undecided on this crucial issue, they may like to heed to the objective and unbiased advice from the IAEA chief.
In an interview with the Financial Times on 19 February, 2007, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei of the IAEA said something which is still very relevant today. He said military action against Iran was not a solution and that it would be catastrophic and counterproductive. He explained, "And I said a hundred times you cannot bomb knowledge. So there is not really much to bomb. And if you [do] then [you] turn the Iranian drive or you put it in high gear for developing a nuclear weapon. We know that if you jolt a country's pride, all the factions, right, left and centre will get together and try to accelerate a program to develop a nuclear weapon to defend themselves. That's classic strategic thinking in any country, whether it's a democracy, a theocracy, whatever... There is a fundamental choice people need to make, which is either you understand that there is a limit to military power, that these issues mask a sense of insecurity or even competition for dominance or influence but force is not the appropriate means to address these issues. Or [you] go for the military option and then either you'll have a repeat of North Korea or you have a repeat of Iraq and these are not our greatest achievements as civilized human beings."
As to the choices ahead for peaceful resolution of the crisis, Dr. ElBaradei cautioned against isolating Iran through further sanctions. He said, "If you create an environment in which Iran feels isolated, in which Iran is subject to further sanctions, then some of these worst-case scenarios could take place, because then you would put the hard liners in the driver's seat, you would make the country feel more and more insecure and then some of these scenarios could happen. If there is another narrative, based on engagement, based on dialogue, based on reconciling differences, based on stabilizing Iraq, stabilizing Lebanon, opening up a trade agreement with the Iranians based on providing [them] with nuclear technology, western technology, as the six party offer [tabled last year by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana on behalf of the UK, France, Germany, the US, China and Russia] promises, then this progression could be quite different, because first of all Iran would not necessarily fear that they would be attacked."
Dr. ElBaradei cautioned against threatening regime change. As to what might have motivated Iran to enrich uranium, Dr. ElBaradie said, "Iran sees enrichment... sooner or later as a strategic goal because they feel that this will bring them power, prestige and influence. They feel that this will bring them into the company of some of the large and influential [states], the 12, 13 countries with enrichment processing, even if they don't have a weapon, and to change that perception you need to then to look into the whole regional and global security position, because unfortunately a lot of that is true. A nuclear capability is a nuclear deterrent in many ways... When you see here in the UK the program for modernizing Trident, which basically gets the UK far into the 21st century with a nuclear deterrent, it is difficult then for us to turn around and tell everybody else that nuclear deterrents are really no good for you, it does not increase your security, because all the weapon states, without exception, are either modernizing, or thinking about developing new weapons not only for deterrence purpose, but actually usable [ones]. Statements have been made during the last couple of years about possible actual use, such as mini-nukes, bunker buster. So the environment is - do as I say not do as I do - and that is not sustainable."
Dr. ElBaradie is absolutely right in his analysis of the problem surrounding Iran's pursuit of nuclear technology. His suggestions for easing the tension, unfortunately, met deaf ears from Washington. From the very beginning the Bush Administration - mortgaged to the Israel Lobby, guided by the Jewish and Christian-Zionist neocons, and aided by the Israel Firsters within the Congress - embarked on a course that was all too confrontational with the ultimate goal of regime change in Iran.
Truly, had it not been for the overwhelming support that the Iranian government enjoys within Iran on the nuclear issue, Bush would have attacked Iran long time ago. The neoconservative groups like the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) have been advocating ‘regime change’ not only for the Arab counties like Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and with the Palestinian Authority but also for Iran for a number of years. JINSA’s board of advisors has included many Bush administration leaders: Dick Cheney, John Bolton, Richard Perle, James Woolsey and Douglas Feith. JINSA put a report out on April 12, 2006, called, "Iran, Iran, Iran and Iran" in which Iran was described as the "whole list of national security priorities."
With looming sanctions and tough talks for war from the USA and Israel, Iran has been pushed further into isolation and forced, as it seems, to running more centrifuges today than a year before.
The Iran nuclear crisis is yet another example of Washington's inability to learn from past mistakes and change the course for the better.
Part 6: Changing the Mindset to War
Fighting terrorism will not be easy in this age of ours when the superpowers and their allies have all the necessary ammos to justify their terrorization of unarmed civilians while the have-nots have very little to lose through their mindless suicidal acts of vengeance or retribution.
As far as America is concerned, what is needed is thinking outside America's paradigm to combat this menace. It is good to see that under a new leadership the Pentagon is realizing this fact. The 2008 National Defense Strategy, approved by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and released by the Pentagon on July 31 says that while the military’s top priority is to defeat al-Qaeda and other extremists, but winning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan alone will not achieve that. Nor will the use of force alone accomplish the mission. The most important thing the military can do, the report says, is to prepare friends and allied nations to defend and govern themselves. Coming as it does from the Pentagon the report shows that the department is admitting the follies of strong arm tactics alone. Truly, without a combination of political measures that address the underlying root causes and economic incentives, it would be impossible to combat terrorism of the have-nots.
In this age of insecurity, America needs a total reevaluation of her position vis-à-vis the 'other' people of our world. And in that evaluation, she must weigh properly her actions in the Dar al-Islam. She must recognize that with the burial of the Caliphate, the Muslim world is fragmented and there is no leadership that speaks for all 1.5 billion Muslims that are spread all over the globe. The current leadership in most Muslim countries is utterly corrupt and spineless to have a meaningful dialogue with its counterparts in the West, especially the USA. It is that vacuum in leadership that has unfortunately brought to the fore individuals like OBL to speak about collective humiliation of Muslims in the post-Caliphate era. While most Muslims share those grievances stoked by OBL and his deputies, only an insignificant segment of the population share either their vision of politics or their ways and means. If American leadership fails to make this distinction between groups like al-Qaeda and nominal religious Muslims, it will only play into the hands of the very nemesis that it purports to defeat.
America must also take into consideration rising anti-American political and religious hostility produced by American unilateralism. As much as she must restrain her trigger-happy fingers from firing on civilians, and getting into uncalled fights with others, she cannot allow herself to be seen as awarding oppressive governments. She cannot allow Israel and other such rogue partners to use American weapons to kill unarmed civilians. She must set a higher standard of morality and fairness for herself in everything she does, including the military trials of rapist and murderous soldiers and the detainees of the Guantanamo Bay prison. She simply can't afford Pharaohnic arrogance and Hamanic despotism.
So, will American leadership change its mindset that prefers war over negotiation?
In a debate on January 31, 2008, Senator Obama said: “I want to end the mindset that got us into war in the first place.” As Kevin Zeese (Director of Democracy Rising) has noted "if this statement is to be taken seriously it would mean a paradigm shift in U.S. foreign policy away from militarism towards diplomacy, foreign aid and cooperation with other nations. It will also mean shrinking the already too large defense budget creating the ability to invest in the new energy economy, U.S. infrastructure and the basic necessities of the American people. The vast majority of Americans – a growing super majority – opposes continuing keeping U.S. troops in Iraq, bombing Iran and wants a less military-based foreign policy. Now is the time for greater emphasis on negotiation, diplomacy, multilateralism and foreign aid. The people demand it. War is not the answer to any of these conflicts. The U.S. is not made more secure by creating new enemies and draining our treasury."
Zeese is right. By ending the "mindset" that led to the Iraq War, it will allow for a re-prioritization of resources at home and abroad, moving the U.S. away from a military economy toward a civilian one. Now is the time to begin to end the mindset of war. Is Obama ready for that challenge?
In Berlin rally of July 24, 2008, in front of a crowd of some two hundred thousand people, Obama preached the wisdom of true partnership and true progress through trust and cooperation. He called on people to "tear down new walls" between races, countries and religions. He said, "The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down. … Now is the time to build new bridges across the globe as strong as the one that bound us across the Atlantic. Now is the time to join together, through constant cooperation, strong institutions, shared sacrifice, and a global commitment to progress, to meet the challenges of the 21st century."
As America tries to come out of the shadow of Bush-Cheney era of deception, surely Obama's speech is very refreshing, much like John F. Kennedy's, offering some nuggets of hope in an otherwise hopeless world of ours. Only time would tell if such high-sounding, and yet not unrealistic, words can be put into practice by removing the curse of perennial war through shared expectations, cooperation and negotiation.
As the adage goes – you do the crime, you must serve the time (in prison) – something must be done with accountability. When a criminal absconds from justice that day is a sad day for its victims. And when the most powerful man on earth abuses his authority and misleads his nation into war thus devastating the world, it is catastrophic for all. And that is what President George W. Bush has done in the last eight years of his office. He ruined American economy and destabilized the entire globe. He killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people overseas and brought about the death of thousands of his own countrymen, when it was not necessary. By deliberately overwriting international laws in matters of treatment of prisoners of war (the so-called enemy "unlawful" combatants) and ignoring human rights, he has essentially made all Americans traveling outside vulnerable to similar abuses that were meted out to prisoners in the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay prisons.
No President in American history has probably done more harm to America's image than President Bush. It will take years, if not decades, to wipe that nasty bloody stain he leaves behind when he vacates the White House in January 2009. America ought to hold Bush and his inner circle of advisers accountable for committing the worst mass murder of this century.
By lying to the Congress, Bush violated U.S. Laws related to Fraud and False Statements, Title 18, Chapter 47, Section 1001 and Conspiracy to Defraud the United States, Title 18, Chapter 19, Section 371.
If Americans fail (which is a foregone conclusion) to send Bush to the World Court in The Hague for war crimes, the Congress owes it to its own electorates to at least impeach or try him internally per its own laws. [While on July 25, 2008 the House Judiciary Committee has opened up hearings on Congressman Dennis Kucinich's impeachment resolution, it is highly unlikely that President Bush will be impeached by the Congress because of opposition from Speaker Pelosi.] As has been argued by former Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi, Bush needs more than impeachment. He said, "For anyone interested in true justice, impeachment alone would be a joke for what Bush did." In all fairness, Bush should be tried for crimes against humanity.
It goes without saying that Bush's trial would be a solace to millions who lost their loved ones and were directly affected adversely by his criminal actions. It would also help to restore confidence in American leadership and heal the wounds caused by his administration. It would also enable people from outside to look upon the USA favorably with respect and admiration, and help not only to close the Atlantic divide but also along the global fault lines. People would know that no crime, big or small, goes unpunished in this nation we call the USA – the land of the brave (brave enough to put its own highest authority behind the bar for committing crimes against humanity). That trial would also be a sufficient deterrent for any would-be Hulagu Khan from embarking on an imperial trail and committing mass murder.
Is the Congress ready for that task? Or will political expediency sideline this major issue of our time?
What Next? Politics as Usual?
Jean-Jacques Rousseau said, "The strongest is never strong enough to be the master unless he translates strength into right and obedience into duty." However, American democracy and leadership are failing in that measure.
Journalist Jonathan Rauch observed in his book "Demosclerosis: The Silent Killer of American Government" that the American government probably has evolved into a sprawling, largely self-organizing structure that is 10% to 20% under the control of the politicians and voters, and 80% to 90% under the control of the countless thousands of client groups. Coming as it does from a veteran observer of American politics, such a prognosis is not a healthy one. Today, an American political candidate must raise millions of dollars to stand a chance in getting elected for a gubernatorial, senatorial or congressional post, let alone the presidential race. The candidates raise money in small increments from tens of thousands of individual contributors and Political Action Committees (PACs), whose agendas are less well publicized and less scrutinized. And it has produced a new group of power brokers: the fundraisers.
Fareed Zakariya has also noted in his book "The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad" that an American candidate must now spend the all-important year before the primaries winning the support of thousands of affluent contributors. As a result, raising money has become the fundamental activity of a political campaign, and performing well at fundraiser the first, indispensable skill for a modern American politician. Hence the sad spectacle of modern American politics, in which politicians ceaselessly appease lobbies, poll voters, genuflect before special interests, and raise money. Of course this does not produce good government – quite the contrary – and so the search for good government continues in America.
One can well imagine the hideous, devastating influence on politics when a PAC combines with the military industrial complex to push their shared agenda. This is exactly what has happened with the Israeli Lobby, which includes the Neocons, when it allied itself with the Christian Zionists and the war industry to exercise their “unmatched power” over U.S. government policies to push the country to war against Iraq. Such an unholy alliance is very harmful to the national interest of America and must be stopped for the greater good of America and humanity at large.
It is known that legitimacy is the elixir of political power. Most politicians are now lacking that legitimacy. American public dissatisfaction with the effects of politics continues to grow. As duly noted by Zakariya, if these problems grow people will be more inclined to define democracy by what it has become: a system, open and accessible in theory, but ruled in reality by organized or rich or fanatical minorities, protecting themselves for the present and sacrificing the future. This is a very different vision from that of the enthusiasts of direct democracy.
The battle for the soul of American democracy must, therefore, continue. This, according to Professor Cornel West of Princeton University, in large part, is a battle for the soul of American Christianity; because the dominant forms of Christian fundamentalism are a threat to the tolerance and openness necessary for sustaining any democracy. As Americans try to choose their path, they must weigh between their new found fondness (or misadventure) with Constantine Christianity that pushes them toward an imperialistic identity and a Prophetic one that adds a moral fervor by caring for the poor, public service, tolerance and compassion. Which option will they choose?
In this regard, we should not be oblivious of the unpleasant truth that the vast majority of white American Christians supported the evil of slavery – and they did so often in the name of Jesus. And then there were also abolitionists who were Christians. There lies the classic case of American Christian schizophrenic experience!
How ironic it is also to see American Jewish lobby today to fuse with right-wing evangelical Christians whose anti-Semitism, past and present, is notorious and despicable, and whose support for the Jewish state is based on the idea that its existence paves the path for the second coming of Christ, who will slaughter them for their unbelief! As much as the majority Christians in the USA ought to sort their way out of the mess that they got into, the Jewish Americans cannot afford not knowing the danger of playing with the fire. They must distance themselves from the conniving foot soldiers of the Armageddon. The must also avoid being a party to American policy makings that are unjust, shortsighted and harmful in the long run.
As America introspects it is worth remembering that the embrace of communism and fascism in the 1930s did not seem as crazy at the time as it does now. If Americans fail to pick the right choice, signs are too clear to suggest that they may settle for fascism.
As the dust of 9/11 settles down and the bloodstains of Iraq dry up, American people will realize that it is not terrorism that is the greatest threat to their national security. But it is their very democracy - increasingly manipulated by a powerful coterie - that is the greatest threat to their national security.
In closing, it is worth noting an observation from an American military historian Victor Davis Hanson: "The real hazard for the future, as it always has been in the past, is not Western moral decline or the threat of the Other now polished with the veneer of sophisticated arms, but the age-old specter a horrendous war inside the West itself, the old Europe and America with its full menu of Western economic, military, and political dynamism." He continued, "Gettysburg in a single day took more Americans than did all the Indian Wars of the nineteenth century."
More Americans have now died from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq than all those combined in 9/11. Is there something to learn from this experience?
by courtesy & © 2008 Habib Siddiqui
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