Obama and the Islamic World

I am a little confused today. An article by MJ Akbar, a well-known journalist, makes me want to write about Obama and his famous speech in Cairo University.  The West, says Akbar, is Geography and Islam is a faith, a brotherhood. Muslims in different countries are bound by a common faith (he should have said each sect of Muslims are bound together, but I will leave it at that for now) but have differing  views on politics, democracy, culture and all that.

Obama has a point – nearly all Muslims from anywhere in the world and from any walk of life – are suspicious of the West. There is tension and distrust. Quite a few, perhaps a minority, are proud of what Osama Bin Laden”achieved” on September 11, 2001.  Bin Laden himself had said, in a video that was recorded later, that many Christians are joining Islam after the event. It was thought, for  a time, that Islam had “shown its power”. A Million muslims have given their life for that stupid show of power.

The West, unfortunately, had its own version of Osama Bin Laden in George Bush Jr.  After 9/11 Bush paused for a month asking Mullah Omar to hand over Osama or face war. He knew, of course, that what he asked for was not going to happen. So he bombed Afghanistan. Not to secure Afghans from the perils of Islamic extremism, but to seek revenge. George couldn’t find Osama, but his cronies invented the phrase “collateral damage”.  You carpet-bomb  a whole area to kill one suspected Al-Qaeda leader, and the three hundred men and women  who die is collateral damage.  Now Afghan girls – at lease those who live in Kabul – can go to school albeit with some fear in their tender hearts. A  fraction of the refugees might have gone back home and tried  to restart a life, but despite all the money (and bombs) that were poured in, Afghan hates America.

Sadam Hussein was a dictator, granted. He had ordered the bombing of Kurds, albeit a few years earlier,  much the same way as Bush had ordered the bombing of Iraq,. Sadam  had once let his ambition grow so much that he attacked a friendly and helpful (but just as corrupt) Kuwait and tried to make it into a province of  Iraq, agreed. But he got punished for it too. America through threats and promises got him to destroy every weapon of  destruction – mass or massive – that he held.  When he was denuded of all his arms and armaments, Bush attacked him in the most cowardly fashion that the history of war has known.  Destroying Sadam Hussein was a matter of keeping promise as far as George Bush was concerned. He had promised that much to his father.  Did you notice the glee in the voice of  Tony Blair, George Bush and Condoleezza Rice when Sadam Hussein’s two sons were shot dead in cold blood? That was Western Civiliztion baring its teeth.

Didn’t Bush and Blair know what could happen to Iraq and the world at large before setting out on a virtual suicide mission? If they had read the novel “The Fist of God”  by Frederick Forsyth, published in 1994  they probably had known what the book forecast in a fictional– and quite possibly real –  letter vividly  describing all that would happen  at Sadam’s killing. The book contained so much of real confidential information that could have leaked only from Government sources.  If you are stupid or blind you don’t see the writing on the wall. A promise made to his father was more important to George Bush Jr. than world peace.

Obama has made some bold statements that may not be to the liking of many Israelis, and might not yet quite please the Palestinians. Palestine should be recognized as an independent state, he said. Good. Occupation of the West Bank should stop, he said.  Even better. The Middle East will watch how he accomplishes those aims. The Muslims are not impressed by the rhetoric about how much the Jews have suffered at the hands of – not the Muslims , but of the Christians of the West  in  the past.  Why take revenge on the Palestinians for a geographic accident that is not of their making? America has the power, the same power that they used against Palestinians till now, to make Israel fall in line. How Obama will manage that, the Muslims will watch with interest and some cynicism.

Obama, in his innocence and altruistic beliefs  is attempting to clear the mess  – economic, military  and political  – created by his predecessor. He is reaching out to Muslims so that both sides can hope to live without fear. Taliban, in rejecting his speech, has already shown that this is not going to happen.

You can’t deny  Obama is something of a phenomenon – the kind that the world has not seen at centre stage before. . He is black and white by birth,  Christian by his proclaimed faith, yet Muslim in his middle name that he proudly carries, Asian in part-upbringing, secular in outlook   and is said to be carrying an image of a monkey-god for good luck. As a State and then Federal Senator, he has displayed his capacity to  speak out and get results. His writings and speeches make an impact. Obama could make a difference.

In wars the righteous don’t always win. The winners will become the righteous because history is written by cowards. Yet the problem with Bush is that he didn’t win and the US will never win the war that he started to please an old man. Obama realizes it, so he is trying for a truce.  He might, just might, get a righteous rating in history.

Ban Ki Moon, the Secretary General,  wants the UN to look into the atrocities committed on the Tamils in Sreelanka. A right step. They have courts to try genocides and mass killings in Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, you name it, for crimes against humanity. What about the crimes against humanity by George Bush, Dick Cheney  and the Gang? Can a country escape trial just by saying that it will not subject its citizens to international trials?

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