Musings on Our Complex World in Perpetual Conflict
By Dr. Basheer A Khan
Garden Grove , CA
The rapidity with which the world is changing is astonishing even for the discerning eyes. As the poet has rightly put it:
Aankh jo kuch dekh-thi hai lab pe Aa Sak-tha Nahin
Mah-vey Hai-rath hoon ke Dun-yan Kya se Kya Ho jaye-gi.
When political philosophy of those at the helm of our affairs is “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste” then they create crisis after crisis to create an opportunity for themselves and plunge the world into perpetual conflicts. When we excel in the art of trivializing the real problems before us and magnify the trivial to suit our political and strategic needs then we complicate matters for ourselves and for others.
When debate is aimed at confusing the issue rather than solving it, we lose our way in the maze that we create for ourselves. When media instead of reporting events uses them to build an opinion conducive to the interest of its sponsor then truth is tarnished at the altar of self-interest. When the intelligence agencies overstep their role of finding facts in other countries that harm national interests and start to meddle in the affairs of other countries to create conditions to advance their own agenda then the complexity of the world is compounded manifold.
When a group assumes all wisdom and knowledge to itself and excludes others from discussion and formulation of policy matters, it plunges the world into insurmountable problems to safeguard its interests. Opinions of “experts” in the mushrooming think tanks financed by the vested interest confuse the seeker of truth even further. When those who created these problems try to scapegoat others for their follies using the 24-hour news channels they add another dimension to the complexity of the problems.
Man is endowed with intelligence to learn from the mistakes of the past and overcome the handicap of imperfection that limits him and his society. When men use the knowledge of their previous experience to better their style of fooling the gullible fellow-beings rather than contribute to their growth, then they degrade themselves into beasts mauling their prey.
As a result of the aforementioned attitudes journey of mankind on the road to social, economic, political and moral evolution has remained problematic in every era. While some people became prophets by sharing their experience sincerely with their fellow-beings, others were shameless in destroying the world for their greed, their pleasures and their ideals.
During the course of this journey mankind has passed through the stages of nomadic clans to tribal societies; from the empires ruled by despotic kings to the nation states ruled by democratic and other types of thugs. In the ideological debates that took place in moving from one form of government to the other, the point that was ignored altogether was that it is not the system which is responsible for the progress or decline of societies but the people behind it. While we focused on perfecting the system through a plethora of superfluous rules and regulations benefiting the powerful, we ignored the condition of the weak. More importantly, we made no efforts to keep the conscience of man alive to understand and rectify the mess into which mankind was being pushed. The result is that our life is beset with problems despite all the material progress we have made.
In the past centuries when empires were transforming into nation states and nation states were evolving ideologically into autocratic, theocratic, socialistic, and capitalistic forms, the common man was used as fodder to fuel the change from one system to the other on the promise of a solution to his problems. While the common man was being deceived by the promises of the leaders, these leaders and their cohorts were enriching themselves and increasing their hold on power. This loot was occurring in every nation under the aegis of an international order represented by the United Nations, World Bank and International Monetary Funds supported by some powerful bloc of countries. Having allowed the world to slip into the present sordid state, the international order is now castigating the systems and the leaders of those countries whom they gave the script of action that ruined their nations and enraged the people. As things are going bad for the puppets, their associates in the loot are abandoning them in the hope of substituting them with the blessings of the international order.
The kings, the khalifas and the dictators who consolidated their grip over power in the past decades under the tacit patronage of the institutions of civilized world are in a conflict with their people to protect their power. As these rulers are fighting the battle of their life and death, the international order is trying to arrange the deck of cards for the next game to its advantage which is putting these discredited monarchs and dictators under more pressure.
Some true Muslims and some sincere religious leaders have always existed in every era, but the sincere unified religious leadership of Muslims vanished when the Kharjites sowed the seeds of discord in the Ummah in the early period of its history. Political leadership that was fortified at the expense of some important religious values in that period was lost with the Turkish Khilafa when the world was reorganized after the world wars. The Muslim nation states that were arbitrarily created during this reorganization had neither the religious nor the political leadership to assert their sovereignty. Lack of united political leadership made this new bloc of Muslim nations dependent on their erstwhile colonial masters for the conduct of their affairs to a great extent. The colonial masters managed their affairs through the bureaucracy they had trained and left.
This remote control over the government of resourceful lands benefited both the implanted rulers and their erstwhile colonial masters for a while. Now the tipping point of this relationship has come to show strain on this unnatural and selfish relationship. While men in the streets of non-Muslim countries are shown this struggle as a fight against terrorists and dictators of the Muslim world, people in the streets of Muslim countries are made to believe that it is a crusade and an attempt to usurp the wealth of the Muslim world. The docile attitude of rulers of the Muslim countries in disarray averted the clash of civilizations which this venture was purported to flare up. But still, other dangers lurk as the intention of the actors is revealed in the unfolding situations and the responses to it.
Militaries of the world with their discipline should have been a hope of stability in light of these events that are destabilizing the world. Because of their involvement with the Military Industrial campus and their interest in their own agro-industrial empires they are feared to bring a more repressive and exploitative order. Army to army links that are being forged all over the world is being seen as the beginning of an oppressive world order in some quarters to replace the present chaos. This, apart the role of private contractors in helping the army in its enhanced role all over the world, will not only bankrupt national treasuries but also destroy the reputation of countries as is evident from our experience with them in Iraq and Afghanistan .
When people see the fate of our efforts to establish democracy and reform in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc, they feel that they are better off with Bashars, kings and khalifas. When they see the financial crisis, cyclical recession, millions of people without health insurance, homelessness and dwindling social services in advanced and old and established democracies of the world, their confidence in the promises of better future in a free, liberal, democratic order is shaken. This might give the dictators of the world and their substitutes supplanted in the recent shakeup of the Middle East another lease of existence. But this rule without real reform will be disastrous for the entire world.
Considering them to be vital for our national interest we engaged in a decade of costly wars to prop up monarchies, dictators and Israel in the Middle East. With no good result in sight after all these years of involvement in these wasteful wars we must reconcile to the idea of a sovereign democratic Muslim world managing its own affairs without ceding any ground to extremists. The way Turkey and Saudi Arabia are being presented as the future leaders of such a Muslim world is pragmatic but to exclude Iran will be another costly mistake.
With consciousness of man at its peak, days of finding opportunities in calamities are over. The days of pushing economic growth through military industrial complex is proved wrong after the expensive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan even though some economists had warned about it even before these wars were started. A policy based on unfounded fears diverts our resources from improving the social and economic conditions of our people to wars and destruction which is in no ones’ interest. On the other hand a policy based on goodwill, hope and trust will bridge the differences and pave the way for peace and progress.
In a world fighting the longest recession of its history, a debate is raging about the role of government and capitalistic enterprise in the future of our world. This debate is like all the other ideological debates that were held earlier during the revolution against Roman church, French kings and Russian czars to promote a specific ideology for the future. It is not strange that those who plunged the world into these wars and this recession to benefit the shylocks all over the world are siding with the capital and castigating the governments and demanding a limit to its role through the Tea Party. Most of the old guards on Capitol who brought our world to the present state of affairs have left after serving their utility. A new crop of leaders is ready to replace them in a new game.
No matter how this debate ends, whether in favor of an inefficient government which continues with its policy of concession to the greedy capitalist to get financial support to win future elections, or in an insufficient government of the greedy capitalists, the plight of the common man is not going to change a bit. The ideological basis of a government is unimportant. Communism has failed, capitalism is failing. But the governments remain indispensable and a government of morally sound and mentally intelligent people which can balance the needs of the society and the legitimate interest of capital is the answer. By defaming and degrading religion we have lost the most important tool of developing morally sound individuals. By promoting unending opportunities for ethical and unethical entertainment in the name of freedoms we have kept our younger generation away from efforts to develop the intellectual acumen which is required to solve the real problems they face. This has given all opportunities to unscrupulous greedy people to exploit the gullible in free societies and has opened the floodgates for crises so that those who know how terrible these crises are never waste them but exploit them for their benefit to the best of their ability.