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American National Security in the Age of Insecurity: 4/5
by Dr. Habib Siddiqui
2008-09-01 09:07:37
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Global War On Terror – Where It's 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 Global War On Terror (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.

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.[i] She is vulnerable to disintegration along major ethnic lines.

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.

As we have noted elsewhere, of all the 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.

If America is serious towards sustaining friendly governments in West Asia (from Pakistan to the Occupied Territories of Palestine), 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 areas. 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.


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.[ii] 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.

* * * *

[i] www.cfr.org/publication/14905

[ii] A Zogby poll conducted in January of 2006 found that 52% of Americans approved impeachment of President Bush for wiretapping (www.democrats.com/bush-impeachment-poll-2)




PART FIVE (Coming soon)


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