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The American Mistake

By Shankar Sharan


Home > 2008 Issues > November 02, 2008



Had the US done anything similar towards the Islamic ideology and establishments, apart from making the Islamic regimes, parties defensive and weaker, they would have also emboldened the dissidents of the Islamic dictatorships in all Islamic countries/organisations. There are a considerable number of dissidents in Muslim societies. But they are under the direct threat of menacing ulemas all over the world.


Some decades ago the Soviet Communism had a great faith in Marxism-Leninism and was dead sure to convert the entire world to communism. It was in such a moment of history when a Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, directly threatened the western capitalist world with “we’ll bury you”. In response, the West led by the USA did not shy from launching an all-out ideological war on communism.


Then US ideologues, policy-makers or commentators did never say ‘Marxism-Leninism is good but Soviet leaders are misguided’. Instead the western government circles, media, university academics all waged an open ideational war on the tenets of Marxism-Leninism as well as on the grim realities of all the communist societies.


Now, the US and her western allies are as seriously, perhaps more threatened with similar declarations by the Islamists world over. The Islamists have a similar faith to convert the entire world to Islam by ending all other faiths and ideas called ‘kufr’. But this time, very strangely, the western world have chosen a peculiar stance: Islam is good, only Islamic terrorists are bad.


Please do not confuse! Islam per se is as fully a political ideology as it is a semitic religion. Any Islamic cleric or academic would wholeheartedly testify to it. Recently, an ex-jihadist British Muslim Ed Hussain underlined the necessity “to confront the violent ideology” that influenced him before he turned away from it. What is this ideology? It is not anything else but a part of Islam. Selective, yes, but not distorted or any imposition.


So, instead of sending armies to Islamic rogue states, had the US launched an ideological attack on the Islamist ideology and political faith emanating from it—the entire Islamic world would have been defensive perforce. (It would not have harmed the ‘business relations’ as the Islamic countries are as dependent for various essential goods on the West as the West is on oil) The Islamic establishments, in that case, would have been compelled to answer in words, point to point, to justify their creed, their socio-political system, their laws, their social realities, the widespread abuses perpetrated on non-Muslims and women, etc. In the process the common Muslims, at least a large sensible section of it, would have willy-nilly seen the unreasonableness of the Islamist creed which calls other cultures ‘rotten’ and ‘decadent’.


Not doing so is the greatest blunder the US and the western world have committed for at least last ten years, particularly since 9/11. They would have won the war against Islamist world-view by establishing journals, radio stations, TV channels exclusively devoted to expose moribund Islamic tenets and barbaric practices in Muslim countries and Islamic communities in Europe too. Something on the line of ‘Free Europe’, ‘Liberty’ and journals like ‘Problems of Communism’ etc exposing the communist USSR and Eastern Europe to human scrutiny.


Had the US done anything similar towards the Islamic ideology and establishments, apart from making the Islamic regimes, parties defensive and weaker, they would have also emboldened the dissidents of the Islamic dictatorships in all Islamic countries/organisations. There are a considerable number of dissidents in Muslim societies. But they are under the direct threat of menacing ulema—all over the world. Unfortunately, the Islamic dissidents are not getting any support from the free world as the Soviet dissidents of communism got. This is one of the foolish blunders being committed by the western policy-makers. By keeping silent, or ‘respecting the sentiments’ of Islamists they have been doing the double-fault. One, not supporting their potential allies and two, strengthening their foes themselves!


Just imagine what would have happened if the USA had reiterated again and again that Marx, Lenin, Mao and their books and prescriptions were great, only Russian or Chinese communists or their propagandists are bad. That would have only bolstered the might of the Marxist-Leninist creed that sustained the Soviet leaders for decades. Exactly that is happening in the Islamic case. This is the great western blunder.


The western stance of placating Islamic sensitivities always boomerangs. It is the same story to all those in Asia and elsewhere who follow the stance. None of them seem even to fully understand the folly. They do utter something of fighting the ‘evil ideology’ once in a while, but fail to pin-point it.


The plain truth is: what was the correct tactic against the communist faith is even more appropriate for the Islamic one. Except a blind faith to conquer the world for Islam, the Islamic forces—books, organisations, states et al—have nothing much to wage a war against the ‘infidel world’ led by the US. Once the faith is weakened, a thing already half-accomplished – witness all kind of threats to kill Muslim writers, intellectuals voicing doubts about any precept of Islam: these are sure signs of fear, fear of not being able to defend the ideological positions if people critical to it are not bullied – the crumbling of terrorist organizations would be a mere formality. They have nothing else to sustain themselves except the idea of jihad and reward of paradise for the faithful mujahids. Please go through the testimonies of present or ex-terrorists and jihadis, they all were worked up by a faith in this creed.


The creed, therefore, must be challenged fearlessly and unsparingly. Then the jihadis would not know what to do! Done thoroughly it will achieve the victory of the liberal thoughts over Islamic dogmas without any bloodshed. It will also ipso facto relieve millions of Muslims living in bondage of ulema, the custodians of the ‘party of Islam’. Of course, it may also harm at the same time the Christian dogmas to an extent. But does the western intellectuals and leaders much care about it any more? Except this collateral damage the West has nothing to loose if it decides to wage an all out ideological war against the Islamic social-political-juridical tenets.


Everybody is well in his or her right to do so. Islamic proclamations do not leave others, the ‘kafirs’ and ‘kufr’, alone. Then why the others should not reciprocate as vehemently, especially in defense of themselves! For instance, why a Hindu should not say that most of the things preached in authoritative Islamic books are plain ‘Adharma’? And, therefore, the Hindus are fully entitled to wage a war on asuri forces represented by all kind of Islamists, at least in India. Similarly the Western liberals, Christians or not, can well call the Islamist goals and ways as undemocratic, dictatorial and inhuman and treat it with disdain it deserve.


It is high time the West as well as other non-Islamic societies in the world realise the crucial point and shuns inhibitions. It has been counter-productive all along.


(The author is a Lecturer in Political Science at the NCERT, New Delhi and can be contacted at IV/ 28, NCERT Quarters, Nasirpur Road, Dwarka, N. Delhi 110 045.)

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