Saturday, August 22, 2009

OBAMA’S RAMADAN MESSAGE TO THE MUSLIMS

By Saeed Qureshi

In his August 21, Ramadan message to the Muslims, President Obama’s tone was highly conciliatory and appeasing. He eulogized and highlighted the broader features of Islam as a great religion as well as the specific blissful hallmarks of Ramadan: the month long fasting period for the Muslims of all shades and denominations. He extolled the virtues of Islam. He spoke of an abiding and more durable understanding and relationship with the Islamic world. His words and expressions sprang from his heart and carried an aura of honesty and modesty as reflected from his tone, tenor and body language. There was no tinge of hypocrisy or deceit or the customary touch of a traditional ritual that the non Muslim heads of state demonstrate on such otherwise solemn occasions.

The Muslims around the world must have been elated and inspired by this address, better be called, a sermon from the president of a nation that not in the distant past was talking of re-launching the crusades: the religious wars between the Muslims and Christians to possess Jerusalem, the sacred city for both Muslims and Christians. Since his advent in the American presidency, president Obama has been embarking on a path of overreaching to the Islamic bloc with a view to mending the fences of hostility and clearing the thorns of bitterness that were strewn by some of his predecessors, most conspicuously George W Bush. Gradually it is dawning on the American nation as well as broad spectrum of Muslims that the United States and West on one side and the Muslims on the other can coexist as friends than foes.

After all it was the Muslims’ fighting might and copious sacrifices that drove the Russians army out of Afghanistan and brought in the lap of the free West and especially the United States an historic victory that buried the communism, annihilated the former Soviet Union militarily and drained it financially. It was a stunning and unparalleled victory by America after the stalemated and inclusive wars in the Far Eastern countries of Vietnam and Korea. The consequent withdrawal of American forces from Korean peninsula and Vietnam were more in the nature of defeat than the desirable outcomes.

And yet after the clean sweep in Afghanistan against the arch rival Soviet Union, America turned its guns on the Muslim liberators and thus the unremitting mayhem ensued that we witness now almost for two decades. In the aftermath of Afghanistan war, the policy of the United States, in tandem with its western counterparts, have been to chase the Muslims branding them as terrorists and enemies of the modern civilization. The defeat of Taliban was also made possible not by the American and allied forces alone. It was the result of the Afghanis fighting the Afghanis i.e., the Islamic radical militants versus the Northern Alliance branded as liberal and pro-Soviet. This victory was brought about by not Western forces alone; it was the Muslim blood on both the sides again that paved way for occupation of Afghanistan by NATO military conglomeration. The military hardware hardly matters if no one is ready to die.

The invasion of Iraq was a brazen second concomitant occupation by USA under President Bush to undermine and brush aside the epic sacrifice that the Muslims had rendered in Afghanistan. Here too under various pretexts, America and her allies went head-on against Iraq with full military fury and occupied that land. But it was again not a conclusive victory. It was a nightmare for both the occupation forces and the Iraqis that hangs on to this day. The cost of this Muslim bashing is countless casualties and 2 trillion dollars of American tax payers. The invasion of Iraq was in the style of crusading blitz than necessitated by human or security considerations.

So president Obama is putting balm on the wounds of Muslim nations. He is performing a Herculean task of clearing the Augean stables of hate and misunderstanding between the two formidable contenders that can serve the humanity better as friends for peace and progress. One such promising and redeeming result is unfolding itself in Pakistan where the Pakistan armed forces have vanquished the radical Taliban militants in the inaccessible northern valleys famous for their awesome serene natural beauty. American can capitalize on Pakistan’s fighting prowess in more than one ways as a friendly ally and not as a bully or oppressive dictating power.

The logic behind this assertion is that no matter how long America keeps the Muslims engaged in military conflicts, they cannot be washed off the surface of the earth. So if both were friends in the past they could be so in the future as well. The complete rout of hitherto stubborn Taliban in Swat and other valleys has been duly lauded by the Obama administration. The task force led by Richard Holbrooke, the United States Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, that was in Pakistan last week has seriously explored the ways and venues in which America can help Pakistan. That is a propitious beginning and it would help restore a semblance of goodwill that America lost in the preceding years. This should in fact herald a breakthrough between the two nations that so far treated each other in a frame of hate and love relationship.

While Obama administration is steadfast on recalling the American forces from Iraq, it is beefing up its military presence in Afghanistan. But if Iraq’s withdrawal is any indicator, at the end of the day the NATO allied military network will have to leave Afghanistan also. America should realize the fundamental fact that the era for “white man’s burden” and neo-colonialism is over. Even if America scores a military victory, it would be utterly difficult for her to maintain the continued presence in Afghanistan. The cost both materially and human life would be unremittingly enormous. Iraq’s situation is again instructive.

It is time to withdraw from Afghanistan also. America can adopt a policy of remote control that would be more productive and constructive and safer than plunging the forces in the target lands. Giving humanitarian and financial aid to the needy nations, would endear America more to the world at large than brandishing its weaponry and flexing its military muscle. Let American be a world leader by peaceful and humanitarian means than by fear mongering and witch hunting. The choice of carrot and dove over stick and hawk would be, decidedly, rewarding.

1 comment:

  1. I've read Mr. Obama's Ramadan message and it was quite nice and thoughtful. anyway, best ramadan wishes to all! Ramadan Kareem!

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