Archive for July, 2006

War of Civilizations The collapse of the Soviet …

War of Civilizations

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 elevated USA to be the position of sole superpower in the world. This status was expressed in the American policy of a New World Order prophesied by first President Bush and manifested itself in the US reaction to the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait in 1991 when UN was totally ignored to force Iraq to withdraw. After the ascension of Bill Clinton to the US Presidency , the new administration got more involved in the internal affairs and concentrated less on the international agenda. The major shift in the US foreign policy reflected increasing unilateral decision making away from international institutions like United Nations in the security & political arena and non-acceptance of international courts and Koyoto Protocol in jurisprudence and environmental arenas. The final piece of this new world order was put into play after 911 when US decided to rely on its own military strength to invade Iraq to impose its definition of democracy on the Middle East. Many political pundits have referred to this new environment as war of civilization presented by Samuel Huntington in his book by the same title.

The ideas presented in the book about the struggle between civilizations as a war has been denounced by many scholars especially from the Muslim world. But the situation prevailing in the world justifies his hypothesis. In order to attain peace it is important for all players to realize that there is a bloody war underway between various civilizations to impose its values on the other. Unless we accept this reality we will not be able to negotiate a lasting peace. The major players in this war is Muslim world on one side and West comprising of Western Europe and America on the other . China is benefiting from this war by increasing its influence in the world by forming alliances with countries in Africa, South America and South East Asia.

The war between the West and Muslim world is the war of values. In presenting the case against war on terrorist US leaders have repeatedly emphasized that the Islamic terrorist are attacking the values of the west. They have also doubted that the Muslim world is willing to accept democracy as a form of government. They have also raised questions about the theological content of Islam as a peaceful religion. Western Media has emphasized in their press reports that terrorists are driven by Islamic ideology igniting a debate about the validity of Islamic theology.

For large part of 20th century a large part of the Muslim world was colonized by Western countries. In the 21st century most of these countries are independent states but are still indirectly governed by their colonial masters through proxy rulers. Instead of sharing science and technology West has been a net seller of finished product to the Muslim world in return for gaining access to natural resources most notably oil and gas. This has created a social disorder in the muslim world where an elite class with access to political power in the country and trading contacts outside the country ruling the masses. This elite class has aligned their interests with the West which has resulted in their lack of interest to promote literacy, economics and social justice in their own countries. To fill the vacuum religious parties have tried to speak for the masses through their control of the mosques and religious institutes.

This phenomena has created an internal conflict where a small minority is aligned with the west whereas the large majority is alienated by the west and manipulated by the religious parties. In his book Mr. Huntington has predicted that in the war with the West Muslim world will align itself with China to win this war. I feel that this is a faulty judgement. Despite many differences Muslim and Western values have many commonalities emanating from believing in one God, acceptance of Jesus as a Prophet of God and morality in social behavior. Their major difference lie in the exercise of political power. On the other hand Chinese civilization is totally alien to the Muslim world and their atheist character is an uncompromising characteristics for the Muslims.

In order to create a lasting peace between these two warring civilization the key lies in accepting that democracy is not a universal order and that other philosophies of government can also achieve the same objectives of equality, tolerance and freedom of speech. West should recognize that Islam is a major civilization with its own unique culture and set of values. Western media should also stop labeling terrorist with their own political agenda as Islamic terrorist thereby irritating a large majority of mostly youth who then become sympathetic to these terrorists.
It is also important that international institutions like UN should give due representation to the Muslim world by inducing a permanent member from the Muslim world. Without this representation a major civilization is left out of having voice in international conflicts where the interests of Muslims are at stake. Both Pakistan and Turkey are in position to assume this role with help from the West.

To reform Muslim societies to reflect the needs of modern times OIC should constitute an intellectual forum to discuss the issues in the Muslim societies and create forms of governments that are more in line with the values of Islamic culture. OIC should also broaden its charter to include formation of common culture, economy and trading block among its members. The administrative side of the OIC should be amended to enable to meet new realities of a fast changing world. OIC should also form linkage with other institutions like EU, UN, NATO and OECD to initiate dialogue on better relations between its members and other civilizations.

The world is in a state of flux since two cataclysmic events. First break of USSR in 1989 demolishing the long established balance of power around the world. Second, 911 when US faced a terrorist attack on its soil from a band of 19 young men of Islamic faith. This became a reason for the US to initiate a broader war on terrorist by attacking two Muslim countries that it considered a risk to its security I.e. Afghanistan and Iraq. US has also taken policy initiative for internal security like patriotic act and special registration of mostly Muslim immigrants which has also created an impression of discrimination based on religion ignoring the long upheld US bill of rights. This has widened the gulf between the Muslims and America helping fundamentalist organizations to gain sympathy from the masses. This charged environment can only be normalized by initiating a dialogue at all levels and respecting the views of each other. Until we embark on this course of peace of reconciliation the war will rage on claiming more lives with each passing day.


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