Goodbye to the European led colonial crusades against the Arabs did not dismantle the infrastructures of the old imperial dynasties, royal bloods and royal palaces for the emergence of the 21st century with new hopes and optimism to enhance knowledge-based thinking revolution and to change and reshape the human affairs, perceptions and workable priorities for peace, conflict resolution and cross-cultural communications. New institutions of Islamic norms and interests were to emerge in educational development, peace and conflict analysis and rebuilding of a free and independent future for the Muslim Ummah supposedly phasing out the obsolete authoritarian systems of governance.
The phenomenon of change was expected to override the barriers of perpetuated ignorance, royal greed and confrontationalism of the few old warmongers enabling the present and future generations of educated and intelligent masses to have people to people communications and relations; and to help to articulate a new world of human freedo, social justice, peace and progress across the globe. Is it truly an emerging trend and development in the pre-dominantly authoritarian world of the Arab political landscape and old politics of the few dead palaces? Can the man-made flimsy thrones and dynasties survive ignoring the people to people relations in the 21st century of globalization?
In an information-age global humanity, political goal setting, the first question demands an elaborate answer:
What would you like to do with your life? Suppose, you had an enlightened vision, unlimited resources, unsurpassed talents and abilities, money etc, what would you do with all that, would you like to become a committed visionary leader? Would you learn from the global developments as leadership is the art of listening and learning? Would you create a new visionary world of your own? Would make other contributions for the betterment of the mankind? Would you dominate other societies and make a name and fame game puzzle so on and so forth?
But to answer these critical and soul searching questions for effective leadership, you would NEED people with proactive visionary thinking, commitment to the public interests and to cope with the challenging demands of moral and intellectual leadership. The Arab rulers originating from the time of the European colonialism are the wrong people, with wrong thinking and doing the wrong things. The Arab world needs navigational change but where would the change come from? Who would THINK about a systematic political change when there is no established political system to involve people of knowledge, vision and intellectual leadership qualities to make new national policies and vital decisions for the best of interests of the masses? Dynasties and palaces of the few do not establish cultures and civilizations; they adapt the public values to stay active as agents of influence.
Military coups or bloody revolutions are not the answers for political change and sustainable human affairs as they have one act play and one time impact like the jugglers cannot create viable civilized human societies nor do the stage puppets performing public entertainment shows. The Arab world of the new age of knowledge and informative relationships are devoid of knowledge and leadership vision to be relevant to the challenges that common folks face in global society. The rulers are simply a burden on the changing fortunes of time and civilized Arabian public conscience and more so on their own physical body as surviving dummies and dormant artifacts carved up and imposed by the former colonial powers to rule the Islamic people of the Middle East and to ensure that Islam will not make a come back as system of governance to reclaim its past glory and contributions to the development and progress of the global humanity.
The Arab League and the Legacy of Colonialism
The Arab League owes its origin to the European colonialism and since ages, it has done nothing worthy of interests to the people of the Arabian heartlands. It is a body without a body and soul of its own, mostly based on paper chases ending nowhere in any sense of the Middle East or global diplomacy or peacemaking affairs. The European planned and administered the Arab League as a policy instrument to engage the Arabian tribal leaders to fight and oust the Ottoman Turks from Arabia and conquer the oil rich Arabian Peninsula for its long-terms strategic and natural resources. There appears to be no defined and credible role or policy making initiatives for this dead-ended body representing the Arab rulers most of whom belong to the past and cannot claim a suitable identity for the future. It is widely believed that European colonial masters channeled their racial and materialistic superiority through the office of the League and helped to create a class of the Arab rulers who would Arab by name and appearance but will THINK and ACT like the Europeans as agent of influence to rule the Arab masses. To instigate and impose the European pride of Nationalism, the Arab rulers followed the colonial masters in making the new geography, establishments of the tribal sheikdoms (states) and law and order negating the essence and message of Islamic unity and equality amongst all the human beings. Islam enriched the Arabs with civilization; the colonialism deprived them of the blessings of Islam as system of governance and its values, human dignity and social justice. The legacy of the European imperialism continues by the Arab League to play that role to protect the foreign interests and priorities and regularly pronounces paper resolution to show its presence on the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Arab oil producing nations buy the largest chunk of the US and British weapons in the Middle East not knowing how and where to use them except killing their own agitating and informed masses. The 21st century enlightened Arab masses know it well that dead bodies have dead entities without life and movement.
The Authoritarian Arab Rulers Bitten by Greed and Ignorance
Islam enriched the Arabs with knowledge, divine guidance and global leadership but the oil exporting prosperity shelved them back to the age of ignorance and greed. For over 60 years, the Arab rulers have been beaten on all the major fronts of political and strategic endeavors involving their primary national interests. Foremost, the sudden economic boom derived from the petro-dollars had adverse social, moral and political impacts across wide range of the Arabian lives and traditions. The illusion of economic prosperity undermined the Arab thoughts, culture and Islamic belief and values. In the process of sudden transformation, they lost the essence of Islamic THINKING and moral and political identities. Once the Arab civilization was the most powerful force contributing to the European Renaissance and Industrial Revolution. John Draper (History of the Intellectual Development of Europe, 1876), describes how the Arab civilization advanced the European and American human progress. The Arab achievements were the direct results of Islam as system of life for 800 years in Al-Andulus. Now, the Arab rulers desperately search for new identities, titles and images to keep afloat for the challenges of the 21st century survival kit. Ending the colonialism, many had conveniently adapted to make history as the point of reference for the Arab contributions to the human civilization. History is living but its primary coverage is past acts, not the present and the future. H.S. Aziz (“Islam and Muslims”), describes the Arabian complexity:
“Most Muslim countries are governed by power groups which consist of people who do not know or understand Islam and have abandoned it. They are people who have established themselves in advantageous positions often by repressing and exploiting their own peoples with the help of the dominating foreign powers. They are usually educated in the West or in the Western style and their business, cultural and political interests are intimately connected with the West. They cannot possibly be said to represent the people”
The contemporary Arab rulers, the outcome of the neo-colonial THINKING and culture, encounter serious crises in defining their own cultural-based identities and relevance to the people they claim to govern. Across Africa, Asia and beyond, the European planned and administered coerced European thoughts, laws and traditions to eradicate the centuries old established Islamic cultural values, principles of legal justice, education, social and moral system of governance, dedicated to the recognition of God as the supreme authority and law-giving power in the Muslim societies. The British, French, Italian and Dutch imperialists imposed their own distinct cultures, languages, laws and educational system to dismantle the Islamic institutions of education, finances, moral and political governance. The imperialistic transformation was achieved by military crusades, coerced occupation through historical intrigues, treacheries and forced laws and divides and rule strategies. The planned scheme of European terrorism that destroyed the Islamic culture and civilization in the Arabian peninsula, southern Europe, Asia and Africa but nobody is willing to speak in the emerging political corridors of the US led political hegemony in global affairs. Consequently, millions opposing the European conquests were massacred and their habitats destroyed and overtaken by force and flourishing human societies destroyed by the colonial powers now claim to be civilized nations at the beginning of the 21st century. What rational criterion is being used to claim this concept of civilization?
Perhaps, the former colonial masters would have difficulty in explaining to the mankind that a little while ago they lived in the dark ages of barbarism, they held Roman colosseum entertaining people with wild beasts killing the human beings and tried to subjugate the morally and culturally rich Islamic world under their deception by force, not by the persuasion of democratic principles and exercise of the free and rational choice. The ruling Arabian elite, now enriched with oil exporting earnings, do not view these historical record as its irony will render judgment which might go against their own interests and political survivability. The phenomenon of CHANGE is the most important factor that the Arab ruling elite seem to ignore and hate to discuss in any public forums. The Arab people are not part of the authoritarian rules in their oil riched lands operated by the Western establishments. The rulers live in palaces and people live in distant dust covered clans and tribal locations. There are varied cultures and time zones involved in-between the Arabian ruling elite and the people they claim to govern. The laws and public institutions date back to the European imperial time and order. The Arab rulers occupying the political powerhouses for over half a century would have difficulty to face the mirror. All the mirrors appear dusty covered with the illusion of the oil-based economic prosperity whose strings are within the control of the Sheiks-the Arab rulers for the time being. Paul Craig Roberts (“Muslims are their own Worst Enemies” March 02, 2010, ICH), offers the following candid observation:
“Muslims are numerous but powerless. Divisions among Muslims, especially between Sunni and Shiites, have consigned the Muslim Middle East to almost a century of Western control….Muslim disunity has made it possible for Israel to dispossess the Palestinians, for the U.S. to invade Iraq, and for the U.S. to rule much of the region through puppets. ….Egypt receives $1.5 billion a year from Washington, which enables President Mubarak to buy off opposition. The opposition had rather have the money than support the Palestinians. Therefore, Egypt cooperates with Israel and the U.S. in the blockade of Gaza….. Another factor is the willingness of some Muslims to betray their own kind for U.S. dollars. ….The U.S. and its NATO puppets have been killing Afghan women, children, and village elders since October 7, 2001, when the U.S. military invasion “Operation Enduring Freedom,” a proper Orwellian title for a self-serving war of aggression, was launched. The U.S. installed puppet president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, is bought and paid for with U.S. dollars.”
In Search of Political Change for a New World
The ideas and ideals of systematic change for public participation and progress live in books and denials. The new Arabian educational institutions are framed by secularism not by the teachings of the Islamic system of human change and development and are manned by the ex-colonial masters drawing handsome salaries and benefits unthinkable in Europe or America. The borrowed concepts of freedom, liberty and justice are taught in classrooms settings but the streets and living quarters are devoid of those thoughts and political priorities. The foreign concepts of freedom, human dignity and social justice are preached to evolve a new society out of the Arabian deserts that will be comfortable with the Western values and life styles committed to living for once and getting the best out of the worldly life- the materialistic doctrine negating the very essence of Islamic belief and practices. Would it be an intellectual evolution or a political revolution in the making to bring about the much desired change across the oil exporting Arabian landscape? The irony of human tragedies is manifolds. Some of the largest military goods and weapons are purchased by the Arab rulers but there are no Arab armies to make good out of it. In the post colonial period, the Arab leaders have not won any wars with favorable outcomes. There are no Arab Generals to fight for Islam and to free the occupied Palestine or to defend the Arab national interests. It makes no sense why would the ruling elite make major investments in buying the American or British obsolete military hardware? The Arab rulers have vast financial resources but approximately 75% of their national incomes are invested in the American or European financial institutions, not being used for the good of the people who deserve it. Rather the resources are manipulated by the few and used for high-rise building, even the Western industrialized societies cannot compete, artificial snow to enjoy desert skiing, horse races, highways for imported American vehicles and of course, unmatchable airports, not found in most of the Western nations. Are these the true human values and standards for human development and sustainable future-building?
The critical issues call for critical analysis and change and new ideas to phase-out the old and obsolete thinking and obsessed values flourishing across the Arabian Peninsula. But the ruling elite have not built new institutions to plan change and to view the imperatives of new trends for policy on peace and conflict resolution and human progress in a global community of nations. It is overwhelmingly one sided Western materialism not the human development that explains the material progress. The proponents of the material civilization see the human life just in one track system – just the body without spirituality, and all the time glued to greed and needs of the physical body, and a deliberate instinct not to understand the rationality of a just balanced approach of both the body and soul to human development, happiness and success.
How could the Arab leadership failure be turned into change and reformation of the neo-colonialism and to revive the cultural presence and visionary leadership role in the global political arena? The 21st century is more enlightened and an age of information and knowledge-driven global culture of creativity, effective leadership and human progress. It is not reasonable for the ignorant to inherit kingship or a leadership role to be successful. The emerging and complex political imperatives call for the new generation of proactive educated and intelligent people to be in the leading role of planning of change and reformation of the old and obsolete inherited infrastructures of political governance unto new sustainable system of institutional development and nation-building and to be people-oriented and represent the Islamic interests in a rational manner. The hard facts of life speak for themselves. There is not a single Arab-Muslim country to present a credible intelligent leader to the international community. The Arab elite are operative from a position of moral and intellectual weakness and deprivation, not of strength. To change the naÃ¯ve political governance, Muslims in general and the Arabs in particular, must develop public institutions of the citizenry participation as Islam emphasizes the concept of “Shura”- consultation an important principle for societal decision making, of law, justice and accountability. Muslims as one Ummah could well have a common currency, economic productivity, an international organization – “Ummah Council” responsible to develop policies and deal with issues of security, peace and conflict resolution, and to represent the unity of the Muslim Ummah as an agent of influence to strengthen the Islamic perspectives and workable policy stance in a constantly changing and challenging global political culture.
The Arab Rulers, Palestine, Israel and Peace – Waiting for Action
The Arab ruling class faces multiple issues: (1) lack of visionary leadership to provide a sustainable vision and hope for the future, and (2) to offer any concrete plan of action for peace and manageable CHANGE in the Arab world. The single most vital failure of the Arab rulers is self evident in failure to deal with the state of Israel and to resolve the Palestine problem in a way suitable to the human rights and dignity of the indigenous Palestinian people displaced by the creation of the state of Israel. For over 60 years, the Arab and Israelis have been talking about peace and fighting to achieve it. None of them seem to have the upper hand in dealing with a peaceful resolution of the problem. There is a conscious indifference and neglect on the part of the Arab rulers in dealing with Palestine problem. They failed to take any creative or innovative initiatives to deal with the Jewish people or to listen to their own voices of public reason in finding a workable outcome. The Arab elite take shelter in the petro-dollars dominated temporary economic uplift, whereas, Israelis have relied in aggressive policy stance to ignore the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people. The concerned global community must find a rational ground to come to terms with a just and workable solution by establishing an independent State of Palestine. Peace seems to have lost its true meaning and purpose in the Middle East politics. They are always talking about peace without having it on the table or in human reach for all practical purposes. The Arab rulers need to reflect at themselves if they have any institutionalized capacity with intellectual outreach to resolve the Palestine problem. Whether fair or foul, Arab rulers are always ready to enter in negotiations for peace, the Western entrapment and outcomes favor Israel, not the authoritarian Arab rulers as they do not know how to deal with Israel and the changing patterns of global politics. The Israelis have institutionalized presence across Western Europe and America and the lobbyists control the mass media communication, a new weapon being used in global political manipulation. The Arabs do not know the enemy, yet Israelis are knowledgeable about all aspects of the Arabian life and culture. The Arab ruling elite needs new educated, proactive and intelligent leaders and effective communicators to evolve creative challenges and acquire position of strength in global conflict management and peace building. You must come up with innovative challenges and be counted in global political affairs. The current Arab rulers live with immense weaknesses, they urgently need to redefine their role and work on leadership capacity-building to negotiate peace and to co-exist with the changing political landscape of international affairs. If the Arab rulers would understand the importance and NEED to develop new leaders from the new educated and intelligence generation of their own people, they would be relevant to explore new strategies for communication and conflict resolution. The time and opportunities call for new ideas and approaches to deal with the political problems. Israeli illegal settlements are increasing daily to occupy the Palestinian homes and land. Almost 42% of the occupied West Bank is said to have been taken up by the new immigrants coming from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe to Israel. Every day news comes out about Israeli bulldozing the Arab ancestral homes in East Jerusalem to make room for the new illegal settlements. Have you ever heard of the Arab bulldozing the illegal Israeli settlements? Why are the contemporary Arab rulers so indifferent, ignorant and politically incompetent to provide intellectual security to the besieged Arab masses?
The oil-based economy is not for ever and peak oil stage is already in place. Therefore, the illusion of prosperity is seen as short lived concept of the few living in palaces not viable with the people. History tells us that all the Arab glory and progress was intermittently linked with the message of Islam and following the Divine system as a way of life. That led the Arabs to achieve success in Southern Europe for more than 800 years of the Islamic civilization in Al-Andulus- Spain. The Arabs were the most advanced civilization in Europe while the European were enriched in witchcraft, slavery, dynastic warfare and gladiatorial games and torture- these were the competing identities of those who subsequently occupied the Islamic world by force, not by democratic persuasion. The Arab rulers are greedy and ignorant and not equipped with knowledge and wisdom to have public communication and establish people to people relationships. They are immune to change and relevance to the future. They belong to an age and time span that no longer exists except on papers and on the scheme of Western strategic planners in Washington and London. The real dilemma is that the new and intellectually entrepreneurial generations are stalled from progress as the hereditary rulers would not encourage their participation in political thinking, decision making and people-oriented governance. The challenge is how to bridge the gap in thinking and actions that the old and dormant neo-colonial Arab rulers could be phased-out or sidelined in just a ceremonial role and the new and more educated and competent young generations of the citizens could be phased-in to assume the much needed political leadership and to ensure that future will happen and it will be safe, secure and sustainable for peace and change in the Middle East.
Recently, I offered the following observation in “Global Peace and Conflict Resolution: How the Arab, Israeli and the Western Leaders Duped the Humanity?”, 06/2010
The prosperity fantasy bubble is fast approaching to an end with the peak oil forecasts as a visual reality in- waiting. Power, prosperity and poverty are all trials in human affairs and transitory phenomenon. Was the discovery of oil a conspiracy (“fitna”) for the Arabs to change the originality of their thinking, beliefs, values and passion for Islam as successful system of human life?
Discarding cynicism but moving cautiously to be optimistic, Islam is the only known divine system of human life to have articulated unity amongst the believers –” a unity discipline respecting diversity of various ethnicities but merging them into One Ummah dedicated to worship Allah-The Creator of the universe, and be positive contributors for the happiness and success of all the mankind. The Arabs of the 8th century had pursued this mission and successfully established and flourished the Islamic civilization in southern Europe for 800 years, an unparallel role model in human civilization and success. It is conceivable that if the same role model of Islamic culture and values is followed by the contemporary Arab rulers, it could restore the lost human dignity, unity of purpose and success for all the people in the Middle East.