Up until World War II most of the Third World and all the Muslim lands were colonized by the then superpowers of the west. These colonizing nations not only dominated the resources, labor and markets of the colonial territory, they also imposed socio-cultural, religious and linguistic structures on the conquered population claiming that these aggressive nations had superior morals and values than those of the colonized, but also demonized the indigenous cultures.After WWII, the colonies were granted political independence but not only they are still economically dominated but are also politically controlled through hand picked thugs and dictators who are ruling those unfortunate nations.
These days specially post 9/11 Islam is constantly being demonized and blamed for all the ills of the world. In an essay in the January 2008 edition of Foreign Policy, entitled: “A World Without Islam” Graham Fuller, former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA in charge of long-range strategic forecasting and currently a professor of history at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada), poses a question “is Islam the source of the problem or does it tend to lie with other less obvious and deeper factors?”
“What if Islam had never arisen in the Middle East? What if there had never been a Prophet Mohammed? Would there still be violent clashes between the West and that part of the world?” asks Fuller
And then Fuller ponders a litany of history’s major battles and events to drive home his message that while Islam might be a convenient scapegoat, but global strife, past and present, can’t be blamed on any one religion. Europeans would still have wanted the spoils of the Middle East and launched the Crusades albeit under a different banner.
After all, what were the Crusades if not a Western adventure driven primarily by political, social, and economic needs? The banner of Christianity was little more than a potent symbol, a rallying cry to bless the more secular urges of powerful Europeans. In fact, the particular religion of the natives never figured highly in the West’s imperial push across the globe. Europe may have spoken upliftingly about bringing “Christian values to the natives,” but the patent goal was to establish colonial outposts as sources of wealth for the metropole and bases for Western power projection.”
And so it’s unlikely that Christian inhabitants of the Middle East would have welcomed the stream of European fleets and their merchants backed by Western guns, he says adding that Imperialism would have prospered in the region’s complex ethnic mosaic – the raw materials for the old game of divide and rule. And Europeans still would have installed the same pliable local rulers to accommodate their needs. We doublespeak about promoting democracy in the Middle East as we back autocratic, despotic and undemocratic client regimes there.
On the U.S. occupation of Iraq, he says that it would not have been welcome by Iraqis even if they were Christian.
On blaming Islam for current violence and terrorism, Fuller echoes Robert Pape’s argument about the strategic, social and personal motivations work together to encourage suicide terrorism. Pape, in his book “Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism,” argues that nationalism and religious difference between the rebels and a dominant democratic state are the main conditions under which the “alien” occupation of a community’s homeland is likely to lead to a campaign of suicide terrorism. He finds that religion plays a smaller part than thought.
Fuller reminds that the West’s memories are short when it focuses on terrorism in the name of Islam.
He recalls: “Jewish guerrillas used terrorism against the British in Palestine. Sri Lankan Hindu Tamil ‘Tigers’ invented the art of the suicide vest and for more than a decade led the world in the use of suicide bombings – including the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.”
Greek terrorists carried out assassination operations against U.S. officials in Athens. Organized Sikh terrorism killed Indira Gandhi, spread havoc in India, established an overseas base in Canada , and brought down an Air India flight over the Atlantic. Macedonian terrorists were widely feared all across the Balkans on the eve of World War I. Dozens of major assassinations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were carried out by European and American “anarchists,” sowing collective fear.
The Irish Republican Army employed brutally effective terrorism against the British for decades, as did communist guerrillas and terrorists in Vietnam against Americans, communist Malayans against British soldiers in the 1950s, Mau-Mau terrorists against British officers in Kenya – the list goes on. It doesn’t take a Muslim to commit terrorism.
Fuller points out that even the recent history of terrorist activity doesn’t look much different.
“According to Europol, 498 terrorist attacks took place in the European Union in 2006,” Fuller writes. “Of these, 424 were perpetrated by separatist groups, 55 by left-wing extremists, and 18 by various other terrorists. Only one was carried out by Islamists.”
He also reminds us that virtually every one of the principle horrors of the 20th century came almost exclusively from strictly secular regimes: Leopold II of Belgium in the Congo, Hitler, Mussolini, Lenin and Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot. It was Europeans who visited their “world wars” twice upon the rest of the world-two devastating global conflicts with no remote parallels in Islamic history.
Some today might wish for a “world without Islam” in which these problems presumably had never come to be. But, in truth, the conflicts, rivalries, and crises of such a world might not look so vastly different than the ones we know today, Fuller concludes.
In short, Fuller has done a great job in spelling out the real root of the contemporary problems which lie in imperialism/colonialism, more than religion, although certainly religion is a part. His paradigm repudiates biased pundits and neoconservatives who condemn Islam as the root of all conflict.”
– Khalid Saeed is a resident of Woodland and currently national President of “American Muslim Voice.”