Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, October 2015
Arab Leaders' Authoritarianism is Menace to Peace and Conflict Management
By Mahboob A Khawaja
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, October 6, 2015
Terror is the engine of war. And terror is what all sides in this conflict produce in overabundance …….We torture hostages in our black sites and choke them to death by stuffing rags down their throats. They torture hostages in squalid hovels and behead them. We organize Shiite death squads to kill Sunnis. They organize Sunni death squads to kill Shiites. We produce high-budget films such as “American Sniper” to glorify our war crimes. They produce inspirational videos to glorify their twisted version of jihad. The barbarism we condemn is the barbarism we commit. The line that separates us from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is technological, not moral. We are those we fight. …..“From violence, only violence is born,” Primo Levi wrote, “following a pendular action that, as time goes by, rather than dying down, becomes more frenzied.” (Chris Hedges, “The Terror We Give Is the Terror We Get” Truthdig: 2/08/2015)
Perpetuated Wars Built Empires But Destroyed the Arab Landscape
There is no concrete global plan to stop the wars in Syria and Iraq and to avert the on-going catastrophic human tragedies drowning, killing and millions of refugees fleeing over many oceans. Men who are universally hated and feared are reappearing in Gallup numbers as active warriors competing with invincible armies to control the Arab Middle East. Diplomacy was lost in the pages of history but now re-emerging as a wicked strategy implied to escape the realities on the ground, be it Iraq, Syria, ISIL, Yemen, Palestine or elsewhere. All outspoken leaders are a failure to stop the global wars on terrorism - terrorism of wars – “wars are a good business” for the capitalist economies. Diplomacy at the UN is just a spoken word to indicate incapacity in finding any workable solution to critical political and humanitarian problems. Displacement and unprotection of civilians in war zones, influx of refugees to Europe and unthinkable short-long terms ripple consequences of the raging conflicts. One upon a time, Arabs had the unity of Faith, they were progressive and powerful, now they are divided and defeated everywhere. None of the leaders possess any rational perspective how to deal with the current sectarian warfare with ripple effects across the globe. Diplomacy is merely the phenomenon being used on Syria and Iraq by the US and Russia the leading global warriors to make invisible stance at the 70th session of the UN General Assembly. None have ever preferred it to avert the insanity of warmongering across the globe. The focal issue is not just Syria and Iraq but the role and competing strategic engagements of many global actors. Millions are displaced and uprooted by the unwanted conflicts raging throughout the Arab world. They all heavily invested in authoritarianism- the doctrine and its manifestation introduced and institutionalized across the Arab-Muslim world by West European Imperialism. The European “jihadis” (crusaders) saw it befitting to tyrannize and subdue the morally and intellectually superior socio-economic and spiritual system of the Arab civilization. Democratically visible contrasts and contradictions were so obvious that they had freedom of insanity to use cruel force to invade, occupy and crush human will and resistance against the invaders. Hardly anybody dares to recall in the 21st century informed age how the European armies occupied, killed and displaced millions to build empires and imposed foreign law and order on a culturally advanced Muslim people and Islamic civilization. The European invasions were not propelled by any moral or legal principle, ethics of democracy, humanitarian consideration and love of humanity. They were planned scheme of things to subjugate the entire Arab-Muslim people and to use them as raw material to maintain hegemonic imperialism. The hope for change does not exist in contemporary dictatorships governing most of the Arab world. Dictators never regard reason and dialogue as legitimate force for change and peaceful co-existence. Today’s slogan of peace and diplomacy are simply delusional expressions without meaning and purpose.
Any rational analysis would deserve a rational concern as to why the oil producing prosperous Arab countries do not have public institutions to share ideas and ideals to deal with crisis management, peace and conflict management? Why do the Arab leaders rely on foreign expertise to tackle their own typical Arabian societal problems? Where would the organizations, intelligent leadership and opportunities come up to discuss, listen and learn to resolve the sensitive political and religious issues challenging their very existence? There is an Arab League (Cairo), GCC, there is an OIC – Organization of Islamic Conferences based in Saudi Arabia - what are they for if not for the purpose of peace and societal harmony? Where is the nebulous ideal of Arab unity and collaboration for peacemaking in Palestine and restoration of normalcy in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya and Yemen? How would things happen out of the nowhere?
All Wars are an Affront to the Human Nature
Robert C. Koehler (“Our Souls Turned into Weapons.” Huffingtonpost: 10/16/2014) syndicated writer and author of Courage Grows Strong at the Wound, shares how Jacob George three tour Afghanistan war veteran described the agonizing war experience in suicide note: And wars don’t end. They go on and on and on, inside the psyches of the ones who fought and killed. War’s toxins hover in the air and the water. Landmines and unexploded bombs, planted in the earth, wait patiently to explode…..This is war. War never ends. George came home with the war raging inside him and rode his bicycle across the country to promote peace. ….In 2012, he marched in Chicago in protest of NATO and returned his medals. Marching with fellow vets, he led this cadence call: “Mama, Mama, can’t you see/What Uncle Sam has done to me?” In “Soldier’s Heart,” George talked about the dehumanization process that begins in basic training. Young people’s souls are “turned into weapons.” This is an image I can’t move beyond. It’s an insight into the nature of war that cannot be allowed to remain trapped inside every used up vet …...“Through my personal healing from PTSD, I’ve discovered it’s not possible to dehumanize others without dehumanizing the self,” he wrote in “Soldier’s Heart.”
The Arab people are highly cultured, sensitive to moral values and civilized folks enriched with immense tolerance for diversity as the European and now American have capitalized their life, markets and governance. Historically, Arabs were leaders in progressive culture and development of human civilization, whereas, the West was in infancy learning from the Arab knowledge, explorations and scientific achievements. Muslims, Christians and Jews have lived in peace and harmony for centuries. The 9/11 attacks in the US were carried out by individuals and not inspired or supported by the religion of Islam or Muslims anywhere. Some hourly paid intellectuals turned guardian of the approved truth, allege that Islam breeds terrorism. Living without roots and reason, Islam enriched the Arabs to become global leaders of a progressive civilization lasting 800 hundred years in Al-Andalusia (Spain). But the oil enhanced prosperity transformed them into ‘camel jockeys’ and object of hallow laughter across the Western culture. Money cannot buy wisdom, honor and human integrity.
Human consciousness enjoins a synchronized balanced of material and spiritual life but killing others is an affront to continuity of the self within the interwoven compound of human life. Life is not an invention of human mind or machines but God is the creator of all living things: Life, Time, Universe and Earth and its sustainable supporting system – immensity of factors constituting the scope of self-realization of human life. Could the reality of life and death be realized by human thinking, instruments and approaches? Is human life and dignity so cheap and meaningless that it should be bombed and habitats destroyed for the sake of diplomacy and authoritarianism? Most politicians are self-centered; they have no knowledge and understanding of the human nature as they have not fought on any real war fronts or created anything durable except amplifying the self and re-election ambitions. Obama and Putin have never fought on a real war front. Greed and wickedness knows no ending.
The failures of Arab leadership have turned the masses into delusional thinking to become distracted from reality and are lost. There are strong emotional crutches embedded into these perceptual values, and the authoritarian Arab leaders will fight to defend the lies and deception that they believe-in. The rulers live in palaces not with people and there are conflicting time zones separate the interests and priorities of both sides. The Arab rulers occupying the political powerhouses for over half a century would have difficulty to face the mirror. Now, worst is happening by sectarian rivalries and killings in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Paul Craig Roberts (“Muslims are their own Worst Enemy”: Global Research), offers the following candid observation:
“Muslims are numerous but powerless. Divisions among Muslims, especially between Sunni and Shiites, have consigned the Muslim Middle East to almost a century of Western control….Muslim disunity has made it possible for Israel to dispossess the Palestinians, for the U.S. to invade Iraq, and for the U.S. to rule much of the region…”
Competing Diplomacy and Cold War Intransigence are Not the Rationale for Reconciliation and Peacemaking in Syria and Iraq
Increasingly aware of the public opinions, Obama and Putin are competing for global leadership imagery. The news media calls it diplomacy. But behind the shadows of history and strategic geography of the Arab world, Obama and Putin realized that Iraq and Syria are in sinking holes. The freedom fighters are knocking at the doorsteps of Baghdad and Damascus. Russia is alarmed to send its troops and expand military presence in Syria while Americans and some Europeans are engaged in bombing the masses and infrastructures. ISIL is expanding rather than diminishing. Obama and Putin both have an excuse to be talking again after the failures in Ukraine and Crimea. It is not peacemaking but how best America and Russia could workout to distribute the booty after collapse of both regimes of Al-Abaidi and Al-Assad. Strangely enough, none of the Arab leaders have any rational imagination and sense of the future. They are heavily duped into the fear of the unknown. But Russia and America are refreshing their stance and futuristic glimpse. Suspicious and paranoid, they have come to the UN General Assembly to find some ground for reconciliation of strategic contradictions. Russia has encompassed Iraq, Syria, Israel and ISIL into its orbit of influence for the future-making. America, France and Britain continue to bomb the Arab heartlands under false pretext of ISIL to ensure complete destruction of the Arab populace. ISIL was a blessing in disguise for their national interests and they will protect and support its embittering role and animosities to carve a different futuristic map of Arab Middle East. Ironically, America and West Europeans are part of the problem, how could they be part of the solution. The solution must come out of new thinking and new vision for change, dialogue between the sectarian divides and competent leadership to achieve societal reconciliation and peace. What if they were organized as morally and intellectually competent people and knew the complex nature of shifting global politics, innovative diplomacy and had proactive thought to think intelligently and act and communicate with moral strength offering political vision of the future to the enemies within the Arab societies? The question haunts human consciousness, how to change political adversity into moral reasoning?
One finds a fatal deficiency in the mindset of the Arab-Muslim leadership – a moral and intellectual behavioral sinking with a missing sense of curiosity and internal mindedness. In situations of crisis and unusual emergencies, competent leaders do not opt for a convenient escape from reality. What is the cure to raging indifference and cruelty to the interests of the people of the Arab-Muslim world, America, Europe and for that matter to the whole of the global community? Looking at the Nature of Things, the universe encompasses many challenging opposites - time, space, sun, moon, gravitational rotation of the earth, fire, water, air, sand, floods, earthquakes, tsunami, disasters, explosions, wars, destructions, bombing and all that can be imagined to destroy the mankind and endanger the continued movement of the splendid, inspiring and harmonious Universe. How it is that Man - a creation of God cannot co-exist with fellow Man? Is Man by nature a blood thirsty creature?
The Arab masses and more so its young and new educated generations long for political change, people-oriented systematic governance and a promising future based on peaceful co-existence with others. In view of the unstoppable cycle of sectarian killings and daily bloodbaths in so many Arab states and dismantling of the socio-economic infrastructures by continuing bombing - is the Arab world coming to its own complacent ending? The Arab rulers and the masses live and breathe in conflicting time zones being unable to see the rationality of people-oriented governance - the essence of Islamic system of governance. No one expects miracles to stop the foreign perpetuated sectarian wars and to restore peace and social stability. If the Arab leadership lacks the capacity to imagine a new future of their own, out of their own originality of thoughts and priorities, none of the super powers have strategic abilities and capacity to change the overwhelming culture of sectarian killings, insane bombing and displacement of refugees and continuing madness of bogus wars.
(Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja specializes in global security, peace and conflict resolution with keen interests in Islamic-Western comparative cultures and civilizations, and author of several publications including the latest: Global Peace and Conflict Management: Man and Humanity in Search of New Thinking. Lambert Academic Publishing Germany-May, 2012).
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