America in the Muslim world: War, intervention, and nation building
PAKISTAN, March 18, 2012—Americans view their country’s activities in the Muslim world as a necessary part of the “war on terror.” Nation building and spreading democracy are activities whose popularity spans the American ideological divide.
But these activities raise questions about such fundamental concepts as the nation-state and sovereignty, and they raise fears in the Muslim world that America’s motives are selfish, its policies not in the best interests of the people in the countries where America interferes. There is growing interest in these countries in the politics of religion, ethnicity and varieties of pluralism.
After 9/11, America first attacked Afghanistan to capture Osama Bin laden and other Al-Qaeda leaders. Then, America attacked Iraq in order to free its people from the regime of Saddam Hussein. During the last year, the leaderships of Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen have changed. The West certainly played a decisive role in these revolutions by backing the revolutionaries in these countries. Syria is the latest addition to the list of countries facing pressure to change its leaders. America is strongly backing the revolt in Syria.
Most of the Muslim countries of the Middle East and Africa are ruled either by monarchs or by military dictators. The new unipolar world, after the fall of USSR, is being lead by America, and America is supporting democracies all around the world. The West fears the rise of political, radical Islam. Iran is an example of a fundamentalist regime that is an irritant in the eyes of the West.
America has imposed sanctions on Iran in the hope that it will quit its nuclear program, which is a danger for the security of the region. Whether these new sanctions stop Iran from pursuing its goals of making a nuclear bomb or not, only time will tell.
Might Pakistan be the next country that will be subjected to the American hegemony? Many have asked this question since the American invasion of Afghanistan.
Every war has a broader economic agenda, and so does the war in Afghanistan. But Pakistan is different from Afghanistan in many ways. By population, Pakistan is the sixth-largest country in the world. Pakistan has nuclear weapons and it a running democratic government. And above all, Pakistan does not have natural resources as the countries of Middle East and Africa have. Instead of being a source of natural resources, Pakistan is a huge consumer of natural resources in order to feed its huge population.
A motion was passed recently in the American congress calling for the right of self-determination for the people of Balochistan, which is a province of Pakistan. This act sent shockwaves throughout Pakistan and is against Pakistan’s interests, but it is not equivalent to a military attack. Pakistan has protested the resolution and asked America not to work against the interests of Pakistan.
A resolution proposed by America at the UN to help the rebels of Syria has been vetoed by Russia and China. Here the question rises about the sovereignty of Syria. Is America trying to undermine Syrian sovereignty? America should let Syria deal with its internal problems on its own. Any Western attempt to help the Syrian opposition militarily or economically would not be taken as a good move by the Muslim world.
The Koran-burning incident in Afghanistan, involving American military personnel, is taken very seriously by the people of Afghanistan, and by the Pakistani people as well. The politics of religion is a dirty game. American troops should not use religion in order to advance the agenda of conquering the people of Afghanistan.
The issue of ethnicity has become very clear in America’s internal politics. Republican nominees Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are trying to get the nomination from their party to run for the presidency of the USA. The Democratic Party is relying on Barack Obama. Because of the African ethnicity of Barack Obama, it will be very difficult for him to get reelected and win a second presidential term.
In the end, it is clear that just changing the leadership of Muslim countries is not enough. Every Muslim country has different culture and traditions and to export democracy to every Muslim country is not the right choice. Rather, a pluralistic approach should be encouraged.