The cost of this war effort, which has been going on constantly for eight years so far, has crippled the US economy. It has also led her onto a collision course with Islamic Revolutionary Iran because those movements that US forces choose to target, like Al Qaeda and the Taliban, are Iran’s clients.
I believe that in order to extricate herself from this vicious circle of spending more and more money on a war the US cannot win, she must first of all gain a better understanding of Islamic Fundamentalism and its goals.
The ideological mentor of Islamic Fundamentalism is Sayyid Qutb. He was sent by the Egyptian Ministry of Education to Wilson’s Teacher’s College in Washington D.C. where he studied for a Masters Degree in Education from 1948 to 1950. What is interesting to note in his writings, is that although the State of Israel was established at that time in the dar al-Islam and recognized by the Truman Administration, it was not this issue which aroused within Qutb such deep anti-American sentiment, but the social behaviours common amongst Americans. He perceived it to be corrupt and profane, removed from any true feeling of spirituality, respect, and from the sacredness of religion. Upon his return to Egypt, he formed the Muslim Brotherhood that advocates a return to Islamic Fundamentalist ways. In essence, the idea is that believers in Islam should distance themselves from Western influences and establish an Islamic State predicated upon the implementation of Islamic Law in accordance with the teachings of the Koran. The cultural struggle between modern, moderate progressive Islam and its conservative traditionalist counterpart continues to permeate Islamic politics. A few days ago, on February 8, 2010, Mahmoud Ezzat, the current deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, was arrested.
Unfortunately, the anti-American sentiment expressed in Qutb’s writings has been reinforced by the failure of US diplomatic efforts at resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In July 2000, President Clinton made a supreme effort to strike a deal over Jerusalem between Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Barak and the Palestinian Chairman Yasser Arafat, but to no avail.
The above reflections lead me to the conclusion that unless the US Administration changes dramatically its over-interventionist belligerent Middle East policy , it will not be able to cut down drastically the federal budget deficit – currently running at over one hundred trillion dollars – a necessary first step towards restoring economic well being.
I suggest the following:
1: Desist from the resort to war as an instrument of Middle East policy. It is important to recognize that the establishment of American bases in Pakistan in 2002 in preparation for the Afghan campaign, had the same effect as the establishment of US bases in Saudi Arabia back in 1990 in preparation for the Iraq campaign – both times it increased support amongst the Muslim population for an Islamic Revolution. Osama Ben Laden himself is originally from Saudi Arabia and today finds safe haven in Pakistan.
2. Immediate withdrawal of all US and western allied forces from Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Pakistan.
3. Do not intervene in the Muslim intra-cultural struggle. Let the moderates and the traditionalists sort it out on their own. Along the same vein, allow the Israelis and the Palestinians the right to sort out their conflict in a self-reliant manner. Do not take sides. After all, the battle over the sacred city of Jerusalem has been going on for three thousand years with different voices competing for God’s ear and the USA do not seem to have any special access to it.
4. Recognise the Islamic Fundamentalist Revolution and its regional sphere of influence, but contain it by drawing a clear missile defense line along the borders of Israel and moderate Muslim states such as Egypt and Jordan. Threaten counter force – the application of massive retaliation, should Islamic Fundamentalism try to expand.
5. Deter Iran from her nuclear program by economic sanctions, but back them up by real military power that can be put into effect – for example, the US could threaten Teheran with a missile bombardment.
I believe that the above five suggestions , if carried out faithfully, could stabilize the region and so have a synergetic effect upon world economic recovery.
1. Mohsin Hamid. THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST. Penguin Books. 2007.
2. George Kennan. THE SOURCES OF SOVIET CONFLICT. Foreign Affairs. Vol.25. No.4 . 1947.
3. Mao Tse-Tung. QUOTATIONS FROM CHAIRMAN MAO TSE-TUNG. Foreign Language Press. 1966.
4. Ahmad S. Moussalli. RADICAL ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALISM: The Ideological and Political Discourse of Sayyid Qutb. American University of Beirut. 1992.
5. Edward W. Said. ORIENTALISM. Western Conceptions of the Orient. Penguin Books .1995.