If you thought that the American neoconservatives (aka “chicken hawks”) of the George W. Bush administration–persons who brought us the Iraqi invasion based on a mission to destroy the imaginary arsenal of weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussain was hiding–you would be wrong. They are very much alive and are coming back through cyberspace and the airways trashing President Barack Obama’s handling of Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. When they are reminded of the atrocious mess originally created in Afghanistan and Iraq by Bush and these very same neocons, they deny this linkage and then quickly proceed with their warmongering rhetoric. A factor to keep in mind about these neocons is that none has actually fought in a war. However, their palpable penchant for war–as long as someone else’s son or daughter is going to die in it–has rightly earned them the pejorative depiction “chicken hawks.” Their proclivities are very much alive; they are itching for another war.
The Boston bombings only underscore a reality that has been quite apparent to the Obama administration: the scourge of extremism is constantly seeping into the Internet through the so-called Saudi-trained or Wahhabi-influenced “imams” who have nothing better to do but to propagate anger and hatred toward everything Western, including democracy, Islamic moderation, the Shias, the Ahmadiyas, and even Harry Potter movies! The international dissemination centers for Islamic extremism are located in Riyadh as well as in other major cities of Saudi Arabia. So, a global solution for stemming the tide of extremism must initiate from Saudi Arabia, and the Obama administration has to prompt an acute campaign toward that end.
Watching General Pervez Musharraf’s humiliating treatment in Pakistan is a painful experience. The vibrant Pakistani press is full of all sorts of stories. Al Jazeera had an interesting discussion with a number of prominent Pakistanis on the subject. I have been a long-time watcher of General Musharraf from Washington. I find him interesting but more paradoxical than that Islamist General Zia ul-Haq. My personal preference is that, if Pakistan were to really mature into a democracy, it needs to let the old General leave the country, with a promise not to return anytime soon. This is a crucial time for Pakistan to move on with its business of conducting its next general election.
The U.S. invasion of Iraq was the outcome of the then rising militarism of the administration of George W. Bush. Some would argue that it might also have been a natural reaction to the fact that American territory was attacked on September 11, 2001. But the invasion of Iraq itself had a spurious pretext: to deprive Saddam Hussein of his non-existent arsenal of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The exploitation of the U.S. intelligence community to support the claims by the Bush White House has permanently damaged the credibility of the American intelligence community worldwide. Other “rationales” for waging a war is always an option. The next major war, or at least military action, involving the United States seems to be Iran, the last “rejectionist state” of the Cold War years. What might be different about the next war is that the states of the Persian Gulf are likely to be playing a major supportive role, if not militarily, then certainly by providing political and financial support for that war. Continue reading “The Evolving Pretext to the Next War”
Long before Usama Bin Laden’s death in Pakistan, al-Qaida had become irrelevant as an organization that could bring about political change in the Arab or Muslim world. The Arab awakening, on the contrary, was very much in the driving seat of bringing about political change toward the end of the first decade of the 21st Century. Al-Qaida and its followers could cause enormous amounts of violence in West Asia, North Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Arabian Peninsula, but it could never topple any regime. One reason might be because, unlike the Arab awakening, it never was a social movement. As an organization that was galvanized on the basis of a highly exclusivist ideology (Islamic puritanism and an excessive use of violence), al-Qaida always had limited appeal in terms of creating massive numbers of “foot soldiers.” Continue reading “Al-Qaida versus the Arab Awakening: The Muslim World’s Past and Future”
Forbes Magazine’s list of the “most powerful people” in the world is interesting because of its tongue-in-cheek gossipy style. It is also appealing in the sense that it reflects the changing global reality. Every time that list is released, it captures the attention of gossip columnists and talk show hosts alike. It is decidedly influenced by the current buzz in the world press. But it is not important in the sense that one is left to figure out the basis of determining who is powerful to do exactly what. This is an important question in the context of the “interesting times” that in which we live.
China’s President, Hu Jintao, is ranked as number one on the list, while President Barack Obama is listed as number two, and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia as number three. Continue reading “The Measure of Power of the “World’s Most Powerful People””
Professor Khaled Hroub’s review of Olivier Roy’s three books–The Failure of Political Islam; Globalized Islam: The Search for a New Ummah; and The Politics of Chaos in the Middle East–published in your Journal, New Global Studies (Vol. 3, Issue 1, 2009, Article 6), is interesting but leaves the reader wanting more analysis.
The continuing public spat between Hezbollah and Arab states is a mixture of old and new styles of power play. The “old” part implicitly involves Iran–the chief supporter of Hezbollah–while the new aspect of this power play is between the antiquated monarchies and the nexus between Iran and Hezbollah. Iran is the “rising power” of the Middle East, while the Sunni Arab states belong to the category of “declining” powers. Hezbollah’s status will be determined most significantly after the impending elections in Lebanon. As an example of how the U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East is more of an expression of continuity than change (despite President Barack H. Obama’s rhetoric of “change’) Vice President Biden was dispatched to Lebanon to influence the outcome of the Lebanese elections, an action that is likely to backfire and, in the process, only enhance the political clout of Hezbollah.
dispatch reads: “Tony Blair makes his first trip to the Gaza Strip.” In the growing global economic meltdown, the world has forgotten the suffering of the Palestinians who became victims of Israel’s “war” against Hamas. How can there be a war between the most well equipped military of the Middle East and a state which does not even have an armed force of any credibility. But this is the era of asymmetric war, and Hamas did launch rockets or missiles on Israel. Those terror weapons did not cause much damage, but they provided a “justification” for Israel to let loose its military wrath on the civilian Palestinians.
The financial crisis of 2008 may turn out to be the harbinger of the permanent loss of status for the United States as the financial superpower. That might be the best news for both China and Russia, even though the Chinese have tremendous stakes in the continued health of the U.S. economy in terms of the volume of trade and Chinese investments. The loss of economic superpowerdom also presages America’s demise as the global leader, a role that it has enjoyed since the end of the Second World War. What is not certain is which country or group of countries would replace the lone superpower in this realm.