The attacks of 9/11 on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, with the loss of thousands of innocent lives and many injured, marked a turning point and the beginning of a new era in which the World order will be shaped anew. Many strategists produced many theories. Some experts predicted that this terrorist attack would lead to an escalation of conflict and greater violence. A majority of voices pointed out that America’s future policies must be measured and just.
In the aftermath of the attacks, the US began a large-scale offensive against terrorism. Most countries and international organizations supported the US’ war on terrorism. This war, aimed at terrorism and all organs that support it, mostly relied on military actions. At present, it is a clear fact that despite some partial successes, this war has not met its objectives or achieved a conclusive victory.
One of the primary reasons for this failure is that the strategy of the war on terrorism was mostly based on military operations without the support of educational or cultural measures. It is wrong to try and resolve the issue of terrorism, a socio-psychological and ideological problem, just by means of military strategies like the removal of regimes supporting terrorism. Such a strategy creates the tragedies in which some innocent people may lose their lives, as well as the radicalism that in turn becomes yet another factor feeding terrorism. Eradicating terrorism is only possible by an ideological war that will effectively diffuse the terror groups’ propaganda and where military operations are only used when appropriate.
For this reason, it is necessary to lead the war on terrorism within the rules of international law and by the use of peaceful but effective measures. It must not be forgotten that every activity in disregard of law and human rights, especially when it is causing the loss of civilian lives, will cast a shadow over this war even if it began as a just cause.
It is important for the US leadership to have these facts in mind when determining the strategy against terrorism. It is the psychology and ideology of terrorism that must be destroyed. The so-called “Islamic terrorism,” thought to be behind 9/11, feeds on radical groups that interpret the Qur’an wrongfully in order to find a cause for satisfying their cravings for violence. The true morality of Islam must replace their warped interpretation of religion and people must be taught the true morality of Islam based on the Qur’an instead of the misrepresentations leading to terrorism.
Since the problem arises out of the misinterpretation of the Islamic morality or its misrepresentation, the solution to the problem must also come from within the Islamic World. It is a task for Moslems to assist the correct understanding of Islamic principles and to prevent those who misunderstand Islam and act thereon. US policy in this regard should support a solution from within the Islamic World. Forming the Islamic Union is the solution.
If America’s approach takes on this shape, it will be in the best interest of the US, the Islamic World and for the World in general. Those who think otherwise should reconsider as they might well be dragging the World into a bloodbath. The US leadership must also be careful not to be distracted by the misrepresentation of facts by some evil-minded powerhouses. These powerbrokers have made the grave mistake of identifying Islam as a hostile religion and culture and they are the strategists and ideologues who wish to see a bloody war between the West and Islam. They are desperately trying to present American policies in the war on terrorism as a war on Islam and aim to make it so. The common sense approach of President Bush and the rest of the American leadership in rejecting the idea of a war between the West and Islam has had positive effects since 9/11 but these statements need to be seen by the global community, affecting the real policies in practice.
How can the US help achieve Global Peace?
In the aftermath of 9/11, the American leadership decided on a new national security and foreign policy strategy. One week after the terrorist attacks, President Bush revealed the framework of this strategy in his speech to the nation. It was otherwise known as the “Bush Doctrine” and it got the debate going. The strategy was in effect saying that America would act in future before the enemy in order to defend herself. Preemptive attacks justifiable on some counts, maybe, but it meant a new era had begun. The strategy was hammered out under the prevailing psychology in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, drawing heavily on President George Bush’s sense of honor. Some hawkish circles in the US promptly tried to take it into a new dimension by suggesting that the US’ strategy targets almost all of the Middle East and that the nation must be therefore prepared to stomach a 20 year war in the region. Less moderate circles on the other hand, pointed out the flaws of this approach and that it carries the risk of escalating terrorism. It will be of benefit to clarify the meaning of the term “preemptive attack” before we proceed to examine the risks involved.
At present, the US is the World’s only super power and as such it is only natural that she should have a political interest in the different regions of the World; and a strategy. There are examples of positive results achieved by the US military intervention. For instance, in the nineties, American diplomatic and military intervention targeting Serbia, who attacked first Bosnia Herzegovina then Kosovo, played an important role in stopping Serbian aggression. The important question here is whether or not the US policies in the regions of the US intervention are conciliatory and in compliance with human rights, fairly protecting the rights of each group.
In international relations, precautionary defensive measures by individual countries are usually received with a degree of tolerance. Sure, every country will want to defend its continuity and future and develop strategies for this purpose. However, this defensive approach should not allow unjustifiable intervention in other countries or nations’ affairs. The most successful and the safest strategy a country could adopt for her own people as well as all the other citizens of the World, is the one that aims to preserve peace and happiness. Peaceful strategies lead people to prosperity and security and every attempt to disrupt the peace and prevailing order is a very dangerous and unbecoming undertaking.
Within the leadership of the US, the advocates of preemptive attacks are in reality proposing a very risky strategy. Some defenders of the strategy are in an approach that exceeds the legitimate rights of defense of every country by far. According to this flawed mentality trying to prepare the ground for all kinds of attacks, “they might become a threat in future” is the perfect excuse. This means turning to military means to resolve disputes, but it is obvious that military measures by themselves cannot succeed. World history is littered with examples for this.
According to this flawed logic, international relations do not depend on law but power. These people would like to see America to show off her power and demonstrate to her opponents that she is still going strong in the clearest sort of way. The hawks of the American administration acquired the mistaken belief that only through war America can maintain her superior military might and that she must always be the first to strike.
Evidently, this dangerous approach does not represent the entire the US administration.
The hawks gain the upper hand from time to time in American politics but there a many people among the bureaucrats as well as the advisors, who advocate a measured and peaceful policy.
All countries of the World, especially the USA must profess to peace, and protect and support it at all cost. Circles that push the views “he who is strong is also right” or “the use of force will solve the problems in direct proportion to its use” are in reality driving their country into a dead-end situation.
One aspect of this dead-end situation is the risk of escalating terrorism, another the burden of war on the US. Many strategists at present point out that America has began to lose her economical as well as political power. Military might may well have its advantages for the US but the ongoing threat of war, the continuous state of alarm and readiness for war trumpeted by the hawks will deal a serious blow to the American economy. Furthermore, a US that is always at war in the different corners of the World will not continue to be perceived as the guardian of human rights, democracy and freedom. As a consequence of hawkish policies, an America feared by all the nations of the World will replace an America respected by the global community. Even if some military objectives are achieved, they will come to suffer economically and their image will suffer worldwide, so it would only be a success of sorts for the American people. In reality, it is evident that the US administration would not wish to end up in such a situation and it must therefore be cautious and measured when taking the hard-liner’s flawed views into account and follow rational policies.
Furthermore, these circles should also consider the example they are setting for other nations with the practices they advocate and they must also calculate the potential costs of other countries moving to protect their interests without regard for international laws and treaties. It is fairly obvious what kind of chaos and conflict the World would be dragged into were states, with nuclear capacities like Russia, China, India or Israel, to adopt the strategy of preemptive attacks. Even just the probability of such a scenario represents a great threat.
Clearly, it is the right of the US to protect its national interests and to defend herself against potential threats. The international community respects this, especially since 9/11. This right however, can be used for the benefit of the US as well as the other nations of the World, if the measures she takes comply with international law. The single most important mechanism that will prevent this strategy from descending into a personal war is the international law and a broad consensus of the international community reached within the framework of it. Otherwise, it will be inevitable that the proponents of this strategy will lead their country into a crisis as well as represent a threat for World peace.
It is necessary for the US to reconsider her strategy in the light of all the above concerns. The way to World peace and stability cannot be the US aggression and violence but common sense, fairness and caution.
The primary strategy for the US in its war against terrorism must be to support cultural activities. It is necessary for every ideology that considers violence to be a solution, interpersonal relationships a source of gain and aggression legitimate, to be destroyed as an ideology in order to combat the conditions that give rise to terrorism. The widespread acceptance of religious morality demanding tolerance, conscience, love and compassion instead of anti-religious ideologies, which incite evil, will provide the solution to terrorism as well as many other social ills.
Cultural programs in this respect can be put into practice by the cooperation of the US leadership with NGO’s. There has been an increase in the number of NGO’s currently working on such issues, an encouraging sign no doubt, but in order to achieve a lasting solution to the problem, state backing and a widening of the scope of these efforts is necessary.
Besides, the American leadership must not forget that the central tenets of Christianity oppose war and hostility. God forbids people to incite chaos or to endanger peace and security. If America respects religious beliefs, she must become a role model for all people by aiming to bring peace and security, not fear and apprehension. The members of the Bush administration who often perceive the need to mention their Christian faiths, must not forget that Jesus commands them in the Bible to be ambassadors for peace: “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Mathew, 5:9).
Stability and Order will be achieved by the Islamic Union
The Middle East rests on precarious balances. History proves that foreign powers cannot easily preserve these delicate balances in justice and fairness or establish an order that will win the support of all people in the region. Only a power that shares the same culture and values as the native population can achieve this and it will be the central authority of the Islamic Union which will unite all Islamic nations and represent the views of the Islamic World. The authority of the Islamic union will not only deliver solutions to the problems in the Middle East but also resolve all outstanding issues between the West and the Islamic World.
Therefore, all Western powers, the US in particular, must support the formation of the Islamic Union which will unite all Moslem nations under the banner of peace, tolerance and development and aim to establish a coalition with it. In this way America will have found a reliably political entity she can do business with in a huge geographical area stretching from Morocco and Mauritania in the West to Indonesia in the East.
For the viability of this “Islamic Union,” Westerners must put aside their prejudices and come to know and understand the Islamic World a little closer. Moslems on the other hand have to unite and begin to produce common policies for the development of the Islamic World. Cultural and educational programs on both sides could eradicate the existing mutual misunderstanding.
Radicalism is a problem originating in ignorance. These educational projects will enable the West to have a correct understanding of Islam as well as clear away some false beliefs and myths from the Islamic World. Consequently, mutual tolerance and sympathy will prevail. Tolerance will do away with hate, anger and animosity as the enemies of peace and security and help to build a culture of living together in peace. By this, contrary to claims of the inevitability of a war of civilizations, peace between civilizations and cultural interaction will prevail and achieve social progress. Just as Greece progressed by its interaction with the Babylon, the Phoenicians interacted with Egypt, Arabia with Greece, Persia with central Asia, Byzantium with Arabia and Western Europe with Arabia and they all achieved progress in the process. Likewise, relationships between civilizations based on mutual tolerance will yield cultural diversity and progress in the present time.
At present, the need for tolerance is equally felt in the West as well as in the Islamic World. From time to time, some Moslems can come under the influence of prejudiced movements that prescribe the ill-treatment of people belonging to other races or religions in spite of the fact that Moslem nations throughout history and especially at our Prophet’s time, were centers of justice and tolerance. The history of the past 14 centuries is full of examples of Christians and Jews, who found refuge with Moslem compassion and protection from the oppression and persecution they suffered in other countries.
Bearing this reality in mind at a time when peace is so needed, Moslems must develop models, based on peace and tolerance as prescribed in the Qur’an and realized by the life of the Prophet Mohammed (may God bless him and grant him peace), that will constitute an example for the rest of the World to go by. This model will make the assertions of foreign powers who claim to bring stability and democracy to the Islamic World unnecessary as it will order and develop the Islamic World’s own core values. The Islamic Union to be created will lead the way.
Economic and political cooperation between Moslem nations will deliver stability and help create a mutually beneficial relationship between Westerners and Moslems. With the formation of the Islamic Union, Moslem nations will first solve their internal problems and then adopt balanced and sustainable policies in their relations with the outside world.
The existence of the Islamic Union will resolve the disputes between Moslem nations as well as diffuse the tensions existing between Moslem and Non-Moslem countries peacefully and fairly.
Solutions for the Middle East by the Islamic Union
The foundation of the Islamic Union will also resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Middle East. The Islamic Union presenting a united front as a strategy will demonstrate the futility of Israel’s decades long strategy of “divide and rule” or the tactic of using one Islamic country to play off another. This will convince Israel to make true peace with its Arab neighbors by withdrawing to its pre 1967 borders, which is the most befitting solution for Arabs as well as Israeli Jews.
In order for peace to become a realistic prospect in the Middle East, radical movements in the Arab community must be cured and Israel must abandon its policies of aggression, occupation and imperialism. The Islamic Union can achieve both objectives. It must not be forgotten that under Islamic rule in the Middle East, Jews and Moslems existed peacefully side by side. For instance, during Ottoman rule, a great number of Jews lived in Jerusalem and other towns in Palestine without experiencing any prejudice or animosity. The problem arises out of Israel’s desire to rule the entire region and this ambition continues to cause death and bloodshed in the Middle East.
No doubt, according to Islam, the descendents of Jacob (Ya’qub) (peace be upon him) have the right to live on the lands of their ancestors, the prophets of the Israelites and to worship in their holy places and temples on these lands. However, it is an unacceptable error to seek political sovereignty over the entire region, to use force on people who have populated the area for thousands of years, to force them off their land and to destabilize the Middle East in order to continue this occupation.
The solution the Islamic Union will propose to Israel:
1) Israel will withdraw from all occupied territories including East Jerusalem and make peace with all Arab nations.
2) In the lands that will be governed by Palestine (East Jerusalem, Hebron and other cities in West Bank), Jewish places of worship will be protected and Jews (and Christians) will have the right of free circulation.
3) The Islamic Union will prevent every kind of terrorist movement or attack on Israeli citizens.
4) The Islamic Union will fight anti-Semitism in the Middle East as well as the rest of the world and defend the Jewish communities’ safety and peace.
If such a comprehensive peace plan is put into practice, peace and stability will be achieved in the Middle East for the first time in a century. All the financial resources spent on weapons and wars for decades, will be spent on people’s happiness, prosperity, health and education.
The West’s Responsibilities
Every country develops and follows a foreign policy with its own interests at heart, aiming to benefit its people and the future of the nation. However, this is under the understanding that no country transgresses against or harms the interests of another.
The same is true for the US and the Western World’s relationship with Moslem countries. From time to time, some Western countries develop policies in relation to the Islamic World, which have nothing but their own interests at heart, even at the cost of the most basic needs of Moslem nations. This in turn creates anti-Western sentiments in certain circles of Moslem countries and a mutual distrust and anxiety between civilizations. In reality, it is possible to do away completely with both parties’ fears and worries.
This however requires Western governments and the US in particular to be weary of certain powerful circles’ desire for a war of civilizations and their influences. These circles can be defined as follows:
1 – The errors of hard-liners seeing the World from the perspective of Social Darwinism
This is the mentality that considers civilizations other than the Western World as primitive. This was the dominant view in the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century in the Western World. Supposedly it was scientifically justified by the evolution theory but in reality, it is a remnant of colonialism. As we know, Darwin claimed in this unscientific theory that man and apes evolved from the same ancestor. He further claimed that there were great differences between the races where some were highly evolved and others were still “half-apes.”
This theory was widely recognized at the time of its formulation but has been since disproved by the strong scientific data obtained over the past few decades. Western imperialists used Darwin’s so-called scientific claims in order to justify their exploitation or even enslavement of other nations. They were claiming that the white race was superior to other races in the “struggle for survival” and tried with such claims to legitimize the colonization of these nations. Whilst colonization was continuing at high pace, colonialists were claiming to bring civilization to these nations. The scale of this mistaken belief became apparent after a while. Advancements in science exposed Darwin’s theory as lacking scientific substance and it became apparent that it was nothing but a fraudulent tale. It also became clear that imperialists took exploitation and misery rather than civilization to the lands they colonized. Still, the effects and remnants of the imperialist mentality and the Darwinist logic continue to exist, albeit on a much smaller scale.
At the present time, certain circles in the West, under the influence of such flawed reasoning, set out from the premise of their and their civilization’s superiority when determining the nature of the West’s relationship with the rest of the World. This of course, is a great error that will cause more tensions and drive the existing problems further away from their solutions. Both, the Western as well as the Islamic civilizations are anchored in history and both have influenced one another deeply. At the present, the differences existing between civilizations should not be used as fodder for satisfying superiority complexes or, for that matter, as a source of conflict. To the contrary, the two civilizations should be seen as complementary and helpful to one another.
Furthermore, the proposals by the representatives of the military-industrial interest groups should be received cautiously as they see international tensions as a potential arms market and a source of economic gain even at the cost of human lives.
2 – The error of circles advocating Militant Christianity
Christianity is a religion of peace and love. In the Bible they are commanded to even love the enemy and to do good for people. Many Christians around the World follow this advice at the present time and live peacefully. Most churches and religious leaders in the States come within those parameters. However, there are other Christian leaders too who have preserved their crusader instincts as reflected in their aggressive and unjustified comments against Islam. On the one hand, they wrong the Moslems with their comments and on the other, they misrepresent the Old Testament by suggesting that there will be a war in the near future between Moslems and the Western World and worse, that this war is necessary. These Christians’ faults reflect a strategic vision in line with some radical elements in Israel and their error must be explained to them by their fellow Christians. Today, there are some Christians who fancy the same mistake as the crusaders of a thousand years ago.
3 – Errors of Radical Zionists
Among those who desire a “crusade” against Islam, radical Israeli politician and the like-minded Israeli lobby in the US are the keenest. Instead of withdrawing from the occupied territories and making peace with the Moslem Arabs in the Middle East in order to preserve its existence, they believe that Israel must continue its hard-line policies uncompromisingly. As the “Iron Wall” strategy proposed in the 1920ies by the fascist – Zionist leader Jabotinsky required, they would like to see Israel as a modern day Spartacus with the US servicing this war machine. The American leadership must be very cautious in its dealings with this radical Zionist view. However, there are liberal as well as orthodox Jews who demand that Israel be a defender of peace as true Judaism requires and advocate peace between Jews and Arabs. They must stand up to this radical Zionist movement and prevent those who wish to drag the World into conflict.
These are the movements the West must diffuse in order to prevent a “clash of civilizations.” One of the most fundamental issues in the Islamic World, as we have been saying all along, is the necessity of a union. The lack of a central authority representing all the Moslem countries, makes it harder for the Western World to establish a dialogue on sure footings with the Moslems. Sometimes, exceptional actions are blamed on the Moslems in general and at other times, issues concerning the whole of the Islamic World, are treated as if an isolated incidence, hence the wrong strategies and incidents that cause tension in the Islamic World as well as chaos in the West. In such situations the lack of an institution that protects the rights of Moslems, expresses their joint decisions and demands and provides guidance for the West, causes great difficulties. Thus, the necessity of an Islamic Union becomes apparent once more.