The west and the rest

Daily: The Nation
Date: 11.03.04

In a famous book ‘The Stupid WhiteMen’, Michael Moore, the writer, curses at the white
men on their wrong doings and misunderstanding the non-white people. The non-white
creature was also discriminated by the Mother Nature, which bestowed all the important
natural resources in abundance (except oil) on the lands belonging, somehow, to the white
men. Later on, on the same lands, when Capitalism was born, the resultant combination of
men, material, and a system became a novel one. Hence, from this eventual triangle
emerged a concept, ‘The West’, in its transatlantic geo-political dimensions.

‘The Rest’ remained synonym with the Second and Third World concepts, during the Cold
War. However, the end of the Cold War equated it with the new concept of ‘developing
countries’ of the world. In either case, the cause of division between ‘The West’ and ‘The
Rest’ remained the economic factor backed by technological advancement. In ‘The Rest’
category fall the Muslim countries too.  

Strict adherence of the West to the hypothesis ‘The Clash of Civilizations’ propagated by
Samuel P. Huntington as well as declaring Osama and his Al-Qaeda as an instrument of the
awaited clash, has made the whole world apprehensive of the outcome, especially the way
the recent war on Iraq was waged and now is being justified. Looking at the history of past
one decade, 1991 to 2001, it seems that the 9/11 event was less because of a clash
between two ideologies and more because of a by-product of some other phenomenon. To
elaborate it further, it is quite evident that in the aftermath of the end of the Cold War, two
school of thoughts emerged as victorious claimants.

One school of thought, The West, tabled its claim of win owing to technology (Stinger-
missiles in this case, for instance). As per the claim, development of technology was due to
the Capitalist economy, which flourished under umbrella of Democratic system coupled with
Freedom. Resultantly, the Command economy and the Communist system declared a
failure to practise even. Capitalism once evolved soon sidelined the Christian strength after
having been declared that Church had no role to play in a State’s affairs. In decade of 1991
to 2001, democracy and capitalist economic institutions like International Monetary Fund
(IMF) and World Trade Organization (WTO), and multinational companies were promoted.
Freedom was declared a prominent front and Human Rights a spearhead motto.

Second school of thought, the multi-national Muslim militants, forwarded its claim of victory
owing to the Faith they practice. As per the claim, the Faith in God, to sacrifice for a Muslim
country, Afghanistan, which was invaded by a Super-power unjustly, was stronger than
Stinger missiles. The resistance was declared a just cause after realising the onslaught of
Communism on Islam. The missiles were provided to them in later years of the Afghan war.
Before that the resistance and the resilience was because of Faith. Moreover, had there
provided no such missiles for help, even then no one was going to surrender. Secondly, the
resistance had been started without any future glimpse of the missiles in mind. Hence, the
technology played a lower role to the Faith.

Interestingly, both the schools of thought were hands in glove against a common enemy—
the former Soviet Union—because of separate respective reasons, as mentioned above.
After demise of the common opponent, history witnessed a new turn of events. The West
led by the US acted aggressively against Iraq in the Gulf war of 1991, in response to its
occupation of Kuwait. The aggressive mode continued unchecked and unbalanced
resulting in death of thousands of Iraqi soldiers on the ground during their retreat. It was
seconded by subsequent deaths of innocent Iraqi children because of hunger and lack of
medicines—a gift of the imposed sanctions. The freedom-ridden and human rights-laden
West remained a silent spectator. It remained focused on highlighting the importance of
Kurd’s problem in the North of Iraq and the issue of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).
To afflict an atrocity on one in order to suppress one’s another atrocity was quite a new
phenomenon in the world. The USA and its allies remained busy to impress the world of
their awe and glory emanating from technology, besides disseminating the meaning of the
New World Order.

As events testify, the West especially the USA had been predicting some kind of retaliation
especially from its former ally of the Cold War, besides Iraqis. Consequently, the USA
started creating a missile defence shield surrounding its geo-political boundaries. It also
tried to strengthen NATO for future utility in and around Europe. However, the tragic event
of 9/11 smashed all the programmes to the ‘ground Zero’ level. The USA realized that it
could not evaluate full lethal potential of its former friend and present foe. Here, the
forgotten second school of thought came in the limelight again with a name of Al-Qaeda—a
group-cum-organisation seemed least impressed by the awesome and glorified stature of
the sole superpower, its technology and its ‘Order’.

The world of post-9/11 is entirely different from pre-9/11 event. The dreadful event affected
the policy matters in the US especially, and the Europe generally—at economic, political
and social levels. Allocations of massive funds for mitigation of poverty in the world and for
the victims of AIDS in Africa are the selected glimpses. Moreover, discouragement of gay
marriages at constitutional level is also mentionable. Besides, talk and study of religion—
Christianity—has been started again. The aforementioned citations indicate vividly that the
Christian religion again found some place in State’s affairs and policy matters. Owing to the
aforementioned points, both Christianity and Islam became significant, as both enjoin and
abhor the same in these respects—being Divine in origin. Moreover, concerted efforts in
the Muslim countries have also been initiated to moderate the Muslim’s views towards any
antipathy, if exists, against the West in general and the USA in particular.

Despite all these reconciliatory efforts, one point has remained unreasonably untouched,
that is, to address the issue of ‘vacate Arab lands’ slogan raised by the second school of
thought. Looking at the slogan from the world’s historical perspective, it is a quite unfair
demand. For the hunt of oil, Arabs were not in a position to exploit it. The people who
explored it invested heavily in terms of time, energy and money, hailed from the West.
However, looking from another angle to understand the rationale behind the slogan, four
facets shine. First, the critics are not speaking exactly of presence and functioning of the
multinational oil-explorers but about existence of the foreign military bases. Second, the
critics dislike the cultural invasion of the Arab culture that happens eventually. Thirdly, the
critics are critical of the role of foreign military bases, as witnessed in the Gulf War of 1991
or even during recent invasion of Iraq. Fourthly, the critics question the ‘oil-help’, especially
to the USA, at the cost of massacre of Palestinians.

The first point is quite benign while the second point indicates clash of cultures. This clash
has been portrayed as ‘conflict of ideologies’ now-a-days by various political leaders and
intelligentsia of the world, as a leading cause. However, it seems that the point three and
four are more important. In other words, increasing significance of these four points can be
found while descending in their order.

If the aforementioned second point is focused, that is, ‘clash of cultures’, there is an
important aspect hidden therein. That is to say, the issues of Freedom and Human Rights
also attract attention and affirmation in any Muslim country. However, Freedom—in
unbridled and unlimited format—when joins up with Human Rights, the resultant mixture
drags a human being down to a level of an animal that lives by its instincts only. Hence, the
assimilation submerges and the resultant ‘clash’ surfaces. All the Divine religions of the
world revolved around one point as to how a human being can become a reasonable being
to spend his entire life with a reason. The reason that could ameliorate him to the highest
possible level—spiritually and physically—from rest of the species surviving on the surface
of the earth! That is why these religions circumscribed human Freedom.

To convince one self and to persuade others, rhetoric of ‘clash of cultures’ or ‘clash of
ideologies’ as a main cause of 9/11 events can gain ground. However, at the same time, it
would be unjust to overlook one important factor, that is, neither a cultural center nor a
Church but an economic center, along with decision-making bodies of the USA, was
attacked. It is increasingly becoming evident that the former disproportionate allies of the
Cold War are now on a course of a head-on collision with each other. One claimant (multi-
national Muslim militants) of the victory of the Cold War challenged hegemony and diktat of
the other claimant (the USA) irrespective of its stature. The former again brought its Faith
into a test; however, the latter has called out all of its technology. The reason of conflict
between two friends-turned-foes, directly or indirectly, transpires the Middle-East crisis
(Israel-Palestine conflict).

The world has again been summoned to witness the loss of one and gain of another or a
‘collateral damage’—at least. As per history, whenever Faith and technology stood face-to-
face, both human and economic losses spiraled upwards. Further, the concept ‘collateral
damage’ may balance the human loss of one against economic loss of another. However, if
both kinds of loss land in the lap of one school of thoughts, that one will be a loser.    

Irrespective of whosoever will win, the world has desperately been waiting for a global
justice system whereby the poor and the needy could ‘share’ the wealth of the rich, without
being exploited further; aid to the AIDS victims of Africa could be sent under ‘constraint of
conscience’ rather than under ‘compulsion of events’; the gulf of difference between ‘The
West’ and the Muslim section of ‘The Rest’ could be bridged by finding out a lasting solution
of the issue of format of Freedom; and the distinction between ‘the promised land’ and ‘the
occupied land’ could be comprehended.

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