The Beleaguered Identity
By Sheikh Javaid Ayub
11 June, 2016
What is Justice is the prominent theme of the debate of Plato’s Republic. The most realistic answer is provided by Thrasymachus that Justice is the interest of the stronger. This definition seems to be the most appropriate definition when analyzed in the context of the present day world order. Thrasymachus has an immense influence and contribution in determining the present global system. The fulfillment of these interests requires, on part of the stronger, some paradigms to shape the public opinion so as to justify the means to acquire the ends. A grand strategy is thus formulated to make ruler’s ideas the ruling ideas. In the contemporary version of this grand strategy the principle that is used as a frame of reference is “America is a historical vanguard” and the US hegemony is the realisation of history’s purpose, and what it achieves is for the common good, the merest truism and just. Justice is what keeps the hegemony intact.
The US imperial policy in the guise of altruism has resulted in making America a rouge superpower. Shielded by both military and economic power, America’s quest for being at the apex of the world system has put the world peace at high alert. The Preventive War doctrine of the United States, announced in September 2002 under the shield of National Security Strategy of the United States of America, implies that the United States will rule the world by force, and if there is any challenge to its domination-whether it is perceived in the distance, invented, imagined, or whatever- then the United States will have the right to destroy that challenge before it becomes a threat.
Another theory that was now being articulated was “Humanitarian Intervention”. This Trojan horse gave a kind of license to the West to intervene in the borders of any sovereign state. The Muslim world became a soft target. A consensus was build around the principle of the ‘responsibility to protect’ (R2P). This principle insists that states have primary responsibility for protecting their own citizens. However, if they are unwilling or unable to do so, the responsibility to protect is shifted to the wider international community. The R2P was adopted by the UN General Assembly in a formal declaration at 2005 UN World Summit. Reverend Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, president of the UN general Assembly, called R2P “redecorated colonialism” and said that a more accurate name would be the right to intervene. But one fails to understand that why is R2P not invoked when Palestinians are bombarded ruthlessly by Israel in Operation Caste Lead (2008-09), after which a UN report found a prima facie evidence of war crimes.
The fall of the Second World (USSR) was projected as the ‘End of History.’ The US system was presented as the model to be followed worldwide for all times to come. It became the final stop of the human imagination beyond which there was no need to trespass. The finality of this system was proved by the fact that this system has triumphed over all other systems man has been trying since ages. Absurdity and fantasy is to dream of any other system that parallels the US system. So resistance is nothing but futility. But when resistance came from the Muslim world, a dire need for inventing new labels was felt. Terrorism thus became a new Paradigm for the 21st century world order. Terrorism has done to the US what barbarianism for the British and Race for Hitler. Everyone who resists direct aggression are labeled a terrorists – sometimes South Vietnamese become terrorists other time it is Afghans and Iraqis who are labeled so. Hate is the lone slogan to dominate the world. The mantra that was loudly articulated in the media was “every Muslim is not a terrorist but every terrorist is a Muslim”. Islam and terrorism were made synonymous so was a Muslim and a terrorist. The West wanted an enemy because the end of the Cold war left the West particularly enemy less and thus - more or less issue less. Fascism and Nazism were defeated in the Second World War so was Communism in 1990’s. Now the finger was pointed towards Islam and Islam became a ferocious enemy that needs to be demonized, tamed and cut to size.
The world wars had intensely kept the European powers engaged within themselves. Therefore, there was no question of demonizing Islam; neither had Islam gained the focus of domestic nor foreign policies of these nations. According to Ali A Mazrui In the first half of the 20th century relationships between American values and Islamic values were close. On such issues as sexual mores, gender roles, the death penalty and alcohol consumption, American values and Islamic values converged. But in the second half of the twentieth century the US started distancing itself from the Islamic values – thus started a divergence of values between the West and the Islam. Till OPEC price rise in early 1974 Islam was scarcely figured in the West media and Western policies. The oil crisis made a huge impact on the psyche of a common Westerner. They were bombarded with by different consequences the policy makers and the media believed crisis would generate. They were forced to think that they would no longer drive their cars the way they used to; oil would become much more expensive; their comforts and habits would undergo a radical and most unwelcome change. All felt panic and the real issue got hoodwinked. Islam was becoming enemy now. The energy threat was changing the Western mind.
The Iranian revolution further increased the anxieties and worries of the West-particularly the US. Ayatollah Khomeini was projected as an obdurate, powerful and deeply angry at the United States. The occupation with Iran continued in to 1990’s. With the end of the Cold War Iran, along with it Islam has come to represent America’s major foreign policy devil. Instead of making it and ideological battle in which the Islamic Justice, Equality, Liberty, vision of society, value system etc could have been made to debate on, was made irrelevant and what counted for the West was what the so called Islamists were doing. For example, how many were executed in Iran and Saudi Arabia.
In demonizing Islam the West uses its, what is generally labeled as, scientific research and intellectuals who possess a deep prejudice against Islam and whose purpose is to project Islam as a major threat. Once this objective is attained an implicit course of action against it is proposed. In this sense intellectual aggression in the guise of scientific research is vehemently applied before direct violence. In such a context both science and direct violence are forms of aggression against Islam.
These propagandistic intellectuals with the help of immense media coverage present Islam and the Islamic world in such a fashion as to make that world vulnerable to military aggression. This mechanism provides ample reasons for hegemon to intervene, penetrate and take hold on the Muslim countries. This is what made Afghans Mujahideens while fighting against the USSR and most wanted terrorists later on. To meet this objective an army of intellectuals was deployed to educate the Western public about the possibility and feasibility of interventions in the Muslim world. This could never be achieved without the selective and biased media coverage and inventing new theories to change public opinion. Different sets of illusions are created and crafted in such a fashion that they act as frame of reference for a global attitude towards Islam and acknowledged ground for policymaking.
The Western identity, its culture and civilization, its democratic ethos is projected as a beleaguered one, besieged by an alien force – Islam. Islam is thus projected in such a way one gets the notion that it is invariably found in a confrontational relationship with whatever is Western. Islam becomes the most dangerous civilization for the West – thus an inevitable clash of civilizations. Islam has bloody borders, a barbarian spirit, genetically angry at modernity, a static religion with a myopic vision of humanity and development. This is how fear replaces knowledge about Islam. Islam, thus, is compared with everything the West dislikes regardless of accuracy and authenticity.
The slogans of Islamic resurgence and Islamic revivalism echoed with high intensity seem dubious. This is how the minds are made receptive. They are frightened, terrorized by suing such slogans so that they easily fell to the line that is being projected. Islamic revivalism is used to only to suggest the threat of a return to Middle Ages but the destruction of what is regularly referred to as the democratic order in the Western world. However, the Muslims always believed that Islam has always been resurgent, alive, rich in thought, feeling and human production.
Consolidation of power need creating and countering perceived threats to the society. Threats are created and solved in such a fashion that people relinquish their sovereign powers and surrender before propagandist state apparatus that virtually present herself as the guardian and protector of individual. People are made do think in the terms state wants them to think, there is no thinking beyond that, and no truth beyond the truth that is articulated by the state. Truth is what the hegemon calls truth!
We are caged, our voices chocked and individuality crushed under the might of the power – be it the state power or the power of the corporate media. Let us dare to be different.
Sheikh Javaid Ayub is the author of Understanding Indian Politics, published in 2009 by Partridge India. He teaches political Science and can be mailed at email@example.com