Your Majesties, Highnesses, and Excellencies,
As you get ready to convene yet another summit, I feel compelled to write to you in the sincere belief that this summit is indeed a historic event, if not in and of itself. I believe the environment in which each of you exists- the Arab world- is on the verge of a breakthrough. Although the scenery may look the same as walk into the Beirut summit, I would forewarn of a different landscape by the time of your safe return. I sincerely hope you recognize the historic magnitude of your meeting.
That a new world order has been evolving is no secret. U.S. hegemony over the world- earnestly under way for a quarter century now- is nearly complete, and your kingdoms, sheikdoms, and republics have been subjugated, marginalized, or targeted by the world’s sole superpower. Most of you have gone along; some grudgingly, others happily. Those that have not are jockeying for better position, and will eventually capitulate once the right stakes are at hand. You all seem to have made the choice, or accepted the fact that the U.S. is God; nothing happens without Her will, no one prospers without Her blessings, & no appeal is made but unto Her. I submit to you, gentlemen, that this defeatist- albeit practical- attitude will be your Achilles Heel as you confirm the status-quo in your meeting.
There are issues you will undoubtedly evade in the summit, but for which you will be held answerable by your people. Try as you may, you are no longer able to prevaricate the grim reality that this total submission to the U.S. has wrought on ordinary people. Promised prosperity and opportunity brought on by the “opening” to America, the Arab people have come to realize the empty nature of these promises, and that the “American Dream” is their own nightmare. Not only have they given up on the elusive prosperity that they have been asked to sell themselves for, they are also fed up with the real dividends of the “American scenario”; scarcity, corruption, division, and humiliation. It is the latter that, I believe, elevates this summit to historic magnitude. Never in their history have the Arabs been so scorned and disregarded, even in their own affairs. The humiliation felt by Arabs today, distended by your silence and apparent lethargy, is explosive. It is wise for you to heed that as you contemplate a course of action.
There is not a lot of advice I can offer you, as you are endowed with the best and brightest, but would like to dispel a notion some of you may still hold and use as a cornerstone of whatever “American scenario” action plan you may be collectively contemplating. The picture of the U.S. as a neutral, disinterested third party led astray by the influential pro-Israel lobby is a fallacy. The U.S. is a superpower with its own haughty agenda and aspirations for the Arab world that Israel happens to serve. There is enough fundamental religious zeal and anti-Arab racism within the “American” establishment that influences U.S. foreign policy in the Arab world more than AIPAC itself. The idea that, with proper pleadings, the U.S. will come to grasp the Arab perspective and take a more neutral role is the Arabic version of the American dream. The U.S. holds its own ill feelings towards you, your people, and your culture that only in blind submission and utter defeat will you be allowed to participate. The American vision for the Middle East relegates Arabs to a secondary status in their own land, subordinate to and managed by America’s lieutenant in the region; Israel. Although the Arab people have accepted the “peace option,” they have clearly rejected the submission and capitulation addendum. This, essentially, trumps the “American scenario” options and places on you the burden, and the demand of your people, to look elsewhere.
Your Majesties, Highnesses, and Excellencies,
The Arab people have been good to you. For half a century, they have entrusted you with leading the nation into a new world, which would see the Arabs as equal participants contributing to its progress and development. Not only have you failed to live up to that sacred responsibility, there is no indication that your aimless leadership is finding its way through increasingly challenging times.
The strategy of going along with the “boss” has clearly failed you. The U.S. has already turned on the most loyal of you, and more is yet to come. No one expects you to take on the U.S., to be sure, but no one will support you in going along!
To lead this nation forward, simply rejecting the “American scenario” is not enough. Your challenge, today, lies in your ability to articulate an “Arab” vision and chart an independent course for the Arab nation. As “leaders,” you are expected to create and realize a plan that defines the Arab people’s view of the world and their part in it, not to simply react to what the rest of the world presents as options. Some will argue that the U.S. would not allow an independent course for the Arabs, but what else can they do..? American military might has been applied against the Arab world, directly or surrogately, for over a quarter century. Political and economic warfare are as evident as the bombs falling on Baghdad and Ramallah.
It is time, I believe, you deliver- even in your limited capacity- to the Arab people an honorable stance. You owe your people and the nation that you walk into this summit without the masks, live up to your momentous responsibility, and walk out with a unified voice that echoes the angry cries of the Arab street. I hope that you would also consider, upon your safe return from Beirut, the release of all “prisoners of conscious,” and engaging them instead in the collective struggle to restore the nation’s dignity and vitality.
May the Almighty lead you down the righteous path.
Ghassan AbulGhanam is an Arab-American businessman, residing in Central California. He is a social and political activist and frequent writer on Arab-American affairs.