Monday, November 22, 2010

A nation in decline

The truth is that the world looked upon the US, particularly Obama with a lot of hope and admiration. Two years of Obama have brought about a reality check. Do the neocons represent the views of most Americans? No. Were the neocons, the American Right and AIPAC able to wreak havoc on Ameircan politics including Foreign policy? Yes.
Is there an awareness that these minority groups have access to untold money and power and will continue to have outsize influence on all American policies including ones that lead them into wars? No.
Several areas of major weakness are appearing for the US.
1. An irresponsible media, far too intent on making money to worry about their duty to inform the public rather than to entertain them. This is more true of TV than print.
2. Two political parties far too intent on winning elections than doing the right thing. There is an absence of any long term thinking and short term sound bites rule the day.
3. The role of money in politics has meant every thing is purchaseable, the checks and balances of Democracy have been trampled by every one particularly the Corporate Sector and more particularly Wall Street.
4. A leadership gap is emerging showing that after Obama, the new leaders will be even weaker than him and some of them will make Bush look like an angel. The Democrats and Obama are betting heavily that History will repeat itself, the Republicans will shoot themselves in the foot and Obama will shift far enough to the right and bounce back for another term. Weak as he is Obama still represents some sanity before the lunatic fringe takes over.

All this sounds very pessimistic, but it is not uncommon for a nation in decline. Time will tell whether the actions that they take will slow their decline or accelerate it but key to this will be the leadership that they chose. For the next two years the die is cast

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Capitalism and Democracy

"Four years on, however, WikiLeaks' release of contemporary troop logs raises serious questions about who, exactly, was doing the lying.
One of the few absolute revelations from the Wikileaks documents is the extent to which Rumsfeld, then-U.S. commander Gen. George Casey, and others had access to ample information from unimpeachable sources -- their own troops on the ground in Iraq -- regarding how badly events had turned in Iraq by 2006, but nonetheless denied a surge in killing to reporters and the U.S. public. "

To this day, the only justification for removing Saddam that is given is that he was an evil man and removing him was worth destroying Iraq for. The fact is that the result of removing Saddam has been, apart from destroying Iraq's infrastructure and making its people refugees, handing Iraq over to Iran sympathetic Shias. I am not saying that this is good or bad, just that this was the last thing on the minds of Rumsfeld, Cheyne, Wolfowitz and the Saudis. In fact if they could think of the worst possible outcome of the Iraq war, this would have been it.
Wikileaks proves something we already know that these people were cheats and liars and together with the the collusion of an inept media misled the American Public for years and years. In fact so geat was the deception that Bush won a second term as President. We also know something else that no one talks about, that the American public or its leaders or the media have learnt nothing from this fiasco. Everyone is locked into a makebelieve world of American superiority and invulnerabilty. As we prepare for mid term elections, no one is focussed on the lying, cheating thugs that we have been electing as our representatives, In fact all indications are that the new breed will be much worse than the previous one. This is not so much a failure of Democracy as the failure of the lethal combination of a Capitalist dominated Democracy.
For better or worse, the Chinese have chosen Capitalism over Democracy while the Indians are following the US model. The Europeans have long shied away from selling their souls to Capitalism. At no time has the world needed more ideas than now as to what is the better form of governance and what is the better form of economic management.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The 9/11 overkill

I attended Yom Kippur at a Jewish temple and pretty much told them what Nicholas Christoff is saying, in the NY Times, "Many Americans believe that Osama bin Laden is representative of Muslims, and many Afghans believe that the Rev. Terry Jones (who talked about burning Korans) is representative of Christians."
The one thing that I meant to say and ran out of time was that I find this whole business of "how come I don't hear Muslims condemning 9/11", to be pretty offensive. There are many,many Muslims and Muslim organisations who have condemned 9/11, but there seems to be this insatiable thirst to hear each and every Muslim not only condemn but also to apologise for 9/11.
This is what is offensive, Muslim as a whole have been judged to be guilty and the onus has been placed on them to prove themselves innocent, individual by individual until all 1.5 billion have taken an oath and even then they will be accused of being secret sympathisers. I do condemn the 9/11 attack and still do if the opportunity is there but nine years later the world has moved on and a lot worse has happenned in the world than 9/11. So many things that need to be condemned and protested and fought against but Americans are not used to terrorism at home. Their tragedy is felt more deeply than any other tragedy even if the other tragedy was a million times worse, even if the Americans were responsible for causing the other tragedy.
It is like the rich man who can afford to mourn the loss of his child in the grandest possible way, year after year and totally inconsolably, when the poor man who has lost ten children, has to just grin and bear it and move on with his life and deal with the issues of those that some how survived.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Is the present economic crisis being underestimated?

The question is not that the facts are unknown or are being underestimated by the Government; the question is whether the Government knows what the solution is and whether they have the courage to administer the bitter pill or pills that are needed to redress the problem.

Part of the solutions can be,

• Cut entitlements ( Social Security etc)
• Raise Taxes
• Withdraw troops from foreign adventures and cut the Defense budget
• Cut the size of the Government
• Raise Productivity and live with high unemployment for some time.
• Encourage increased savings instead of encouraging spending.
• Stop printing money, that is not backed by productivity
• Stop the waste within the Economy specially relating to energy.
• Increase the Exports of the country and reduce reliance on imports

Out of these, the Government is doing the following,

• Phasing out troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, and avoiding attacking Iran.
• Considering increasing taxes on the rich by allowing Bush tax cuts to expire on the segment.
• Savings is going up.
• Encouraging China to revalue the Yuan.

One of the areas where costs will go up is the Health Care reform which is still a captive of the Insurance Industry and Premiums will go up.
The biggest failures of America are, not owning up to its mistakes. This is typical of declining powers and in fact this is why they decline, because it is not until you own up to your mistakes that you can correct them.

The two biggest mistakes to recognize are,

1. US Foreign policy relating to oil hegemony has been deeply flawed. The Middle East policy relating to Israel/Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Egypt and now Afghanistan/Pakistan has cost trillions and has backfired miserably.

2. The excesses of Capitalism are at the core of the most recent Economic collapse and not only are the guilty going unpunished but they are being given a second chance to try again.

Colonizers and Empires work on the reverse Robin Hood Principle and that is to rob the poor and the weak in order to make the rich, richer. The US has been both an Empire and a colonizer and the absence of revenues or privileges from withdrawing from this role, will add to the Economic burden of trying to make an honest living.
The political gridlock between those who believe that if dishonesty succeeded in the past there is no reason to change course now and those who can see that world dynamics have changed for good will prevent any meaningful solution to come forward. America has no stomach for a national government, even if there is an emergency.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Why is Islam receiving so much importance?

Why are people (non Muslims) giving so much importance to Islam? Why are they going out of their way to malign and demonise it? My answer is that this aspect has very little to do with Islam. The Muslims by themselves are backwords, powerless, divided, easily colonised or occupied and pose no significant threat to any one particularly the West. Yet we find, discussions about Islam dominate the media and Islam has overtaken the Soviet Union as the biggest threat to world peace and wellbeing. Pakistan has become the most dangerous country in the world. Surely, this concern with Islam or making it "the enemy" cannot be because a man sitting in a cave in one of the poorest countries in the world, issued some fatwas against the West or committed a daring act of terrorism in New York City.

If Islam has no role in deserving this importance then why have people become so crazy about it? I believe the answer lies in the oil that is almost the exclusive property of Muslims. Given below is a table of Oil reserves ( top 10 countries)from Wikepedia.

( Numbers show Millions of barrels per day)
Saudi Arabia 267
Canada 179
Iran 138
Iraq 115
Kuwait 104
Venezuela 99
UAE 98
Russia 60
Libya 41
Nigeria 36

This shows that amongst the top ten countries, Muslim countries have 70% of the world’s oil reserves. The non Muslim countries with oil are Canada, Russia and Venezuela. This might also partly answer your earlier question about the first Iraq war. If Saddam had occupied Kuwait , the oil reserves under his control would have been almost as big as Saudi Arabia.
Unwittingly, Muslim countries have gained an importance way beyond their position as movers and shakers of the world. There was a time not so long ago that Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE were all under the control of the West. However recently Iran and Iraq have both spun out of the control of the West,causing great alarm. Not only have they spun out of control but under Saddam and the Ayatollahs they were under the control of governments considered hostile to the West.

I am not telling you anything that you do not know, nor do I wish to belabour that point but we tend to forget in these discussions that Religion alone is not driving the current "crisis".

There is a very clear strategy that the US has to protest its “interests" in the world, but this strategy under Bush was so idiotic that it has backfired and now alarm is giving in to panic. In fact the rise of the BRIC countries and the simultaneous military and economic decline of the US is unpalatable to the American right wing and they have a need to create one or more scape goats. This is where the interests of the Christian right wing and the Zionists are coinciding. The Zionists are also panicking because there is a greater urgency under Obama to resolve the Israel/ Palestine issue. This issue cannot be resolved by Obama but the Zionists are not used to so much pressure being put on them.

Again, I apologise if I am emphasising the obvious, but the US media is particularly bad in not telling the whole story. I am very tempted to also expound upon where this is all going but that is the subject of this blog, A New World.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Islam is not responsible for 9/11

There is a time to show magnanimity and there is a time to stand your ground. In my view this is the time to stand your ground. There are false accusations being hurled at all Muslims and if Muslims as a minority are inclined to be pushed around and appease the screaming mobs then they will never be respected.
America respects those who stand up and refuse to be intimidated. Nine Eleven had nothing to do with Islam and that has to be made clear. Americas problems are with Alqaida and not Islam although vested interests keep dragging Islam into this issue. For this very reason the entire Muslim world thinks that America is fighting a war against Islam. The act of every Muslim is blamed on all of Islam. Islam is being maligned by a calculated strategy of certain lobbies and the more Muslims cow down to these lobbies, the more they will be humiliated. The Koch brothers are bankrolling the entire Tea Party drive in this matter. This matter is more complicated than appears on the surface. The Muslims never had a better case than the Cordoba project. Their project is approved, they are not building just a mosque and it is being done by a man who is widely respected and considered to be balanced. If we cannot support something this solid, then what will we support?

Still Imam Feisal has a difficult decision on his hands. I disagree with those who think that all the publicity has done more harm than good. A discussion on Islam is badly needed in this country. There is too much misinformation around both about Islam and about who is responsible for 9/11. A lot of healthy debate has come about presenting various thoughts on both subjects.
I do agree that this matter has the potential for getting out of hand. My concern is not that some Islamic fundamentlalist will create a situation ( although that can happen) but that other lobbies can also "create" situations which will show up Islam in a bad light.
There are parallel political agendas going on, such as embarrasing Obama and gaining votes by appealing to the insecurtity of Americans. Once we are past November, one can breath easy but until then, the situation is full of risks.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Church and State

I am not advocating Theocracy. In fact the worst form of a Religious State today is not Iran but Saudi Arabia followed by Israel, both of which are not run by the clergy. I am simply stating that I am not a fan of Secularism based on where I see it headed. In my mind secularism is not the holy grail of good governance. Perhaps the US is a bad example of an ideal secularist state in which case I have less reason to be concerned. I also understand that here I am in a minority amongst my group, who have for good reason grown tired of Religious people.

For the moment Secularism seems to be the better of two evils but there is a third alternate. Take Turkey, it is a Muslim country which believes that freedom of Religion should be allowed or Ireland which is a Catholic Country that believes in freedom of Religion. Clearly freedom of religion is not a secularist monopoly and that is my point.

There is a lot that we can learn from secularism and it stands as a bulwark, so far, against religious extremism but in many cases it is morphing into a religion in itself and France is a good example of treating Secularism as its official religion.

My last and most important point is that mankind's biggest challenge is, has always been and will always be to tread a moral path in the conduct of his life. The morality of secularism based on double standards, might is right, racial inequality and other shortcomings of self interest is not a good goal to pursue. We will and must fall back on the morality of God, which is the morality of self accountability based on faith. Unfortunately neither system has proven to be sustainable in the long run. The tussle between man made morality and God's morality is built into the system to be an eternal struggle.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Does it matter which party wins the elction in the US?

The fact is that in Obama, America has a leader, better than any alternate but a man who is obsessed with wining ( the elections) more than doing what America needs. The foreign policy and economic tsunami of the Bush era needed a man capable of reversing almost all his policies and asking for at least 8 years to revive America from its near fatal illness. Instead he has taken an almost apologetic route to reluctantly doing away with Bushes mistakes. First he decided to continue with the Afghan war after being paralyzed for six months, and now he is in a daze about raising taxes from the rich, while the States are going bankrupt. Even his great medical reforms were compromised so badly that they will go down in history as a non event.
Obama is criticized for being white from inside, a black man, intimidated by all the whites around him but I now wonder if he is not yellow inside. His hopeful admirers who for 8 years watched in horror as Bush delivered punishing body blows to the might and prestige of America , are now having to watch another four years of insipid leadrship before the Republicans return to finish the job which George started.
Perhaps only one thing can be said in defense of Obama, There is only a cosmetic difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. Over these superficialities they are willing to slaughter one another. Does it really matter who is in charge?

Literalism and Islam

One has to separate Islam from the way Muslims practice it. Within Islam are many many things which were intended to be evolutionary and thus not frozen in time or to be taken literally. These have to do with worldly matters ( Huquq Ul Muamelat). The spirit of Islam ( Huquq ul Ibadat) is non negotiable and all worldly matters must be guided by this spirit.
There is and there needs to be greater flexiblity within Fiqh if it is ever to be taken seriously by other than literalists.
In matters of relations with non Muslims, Muslim majorities have a duty to protect their minorities and allow them the freedom to practice their own faith. Muslim Minorities have to be faithful to the law of the land in which they reside. India and Pakistan are very poor examples of the way they deal with their minorities. While the Ottomans were very fair to their minorities, these same minorities turned against them when the Ottoman empire crumpled. The Europeans are quite concerned about their Muslim minorities becoming the majority in time. Saudi Arabia and Israel are downright abusive towards their minorities.
The Muslims do not practice their religion well when it comes to dealing with non Muslims and are in need of reform but they are part of a bigger and more global issue. The US is a good example of how it deals with its minorities inside its borders but a terrible example of how it deals with Muslims world wide.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The quality of your life

The quality of your life would be judged not by the status that you were able to achieve or the praises that you gathered during your life but by how long was the affect of your deeds after your were no more.

Reading the Quran

Muslims have to come to grips with the thought that a total literal reading of the Quran is neither possible nor desirable.

The white backlash on Obama's Presidency

Beck said on the air that he “wouldn’t be surprised if in our lifetime dogs and fire hoses are released or opened on us. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few of us get a billy club to the head. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of us go to jail — just like Martin Luther King did — on trumped-up charges. Tough times are coming.” Glen Beck right wing TV compere.

Beck represents the paranoia of the whites. A take over of America by non whites who will then seek revenge of abuses inflicted on them by the whites. The scenario that he has painted is exactly what the whites have been doing to the blacks. Their worst nightmare is what if the tables were turned.

Many Americans have not been able to get over the election of a black man as President of America. They are futher horrified by the fact that this black man has Hussain as his middle name. The call is out there to take back " America", to stop the immigrants, to put Muslims in their place. What will they think of next a black President, a Mexican Vice President and a Muslim Secretary of State ( Fareed Zakaria) and all these people will be waited on by white cheauffers, secretaries and doormen. Remember the days when blacks did not even have the right to vote and further back when they were mercillessly whipped for even looking at you in the eye.

Now Blacks and Muslims are claiming America as their own, they are going out there and getting killed for the homeland and they are asking for equal opportunity. It was bad enough accepting Jews and Catholics as humans but the line has to be drawn somewhere. Even if there was a need to import a wolf killing woman from Alsaka ( Sara Palin) to lead the charge, it has to be done. This November is the time when the rabbles must show their colour ( white).

Invited to this party are all non blacks who through years have developed an inferiority complex and assume that the reason that they are trodden upon is because God made the whites superior and created non whites to be trodden upon. After all look at the state of the blacks and the Muslims today. This must be the reason that they are weak and helpless. Bring back Religion, says Beck. Let us mobilise God to redress what nature intended, apartheid.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Objectivity in History takes a long time.

In the Swat valley, now part of Pakistan, Churcill experienced, fleetingly, an instant of doubt. He realized that the local population was fighting back because of “the presence of British troops in lands the local people considered their own,” just as Britain would if she were invaded. But Churchill soon suppressed this thought, deciding instead that they were merely deranged jihadists whose violence was explained by a “strong aboriginal propensity to kill.”

Hitler might have been recorded as a great man, had he succeeded in conquering Europe and his historians were incharge. Over time History is able to see what people living in the moment are unable to see. Dearly held principles and universal values are trampled with ease when peoples emotions are roused.
In todays world the American propoganda machine has blinded most people including Americans , to a gross violation of their own principles and blatant double standards based on racism. The British Empire and the American Empire will leave their own contributions towards the good of humanity without meaning to but these contributions will not include a respect for other peoples freedom, human rights or a belief in Democracy for that matter.


Friday, August 13, 2010

If Pakistan is detroyed, who loses?

The Pakistan story has become very complicated recently. It is one of the largest masses of population in the world, that has been on the verge of collapsing for some time. The US has played a major role both in the instability that Pakistan is facing as well as holding it all together.
If hell breaks loose in Pakistan, as it will, India has the most to be concerned about. It has 200 million Muslims who are the "blacks" of India. It also has a large number of desperately poor and fair number of disenfranchised and militant dissidents. The fact that Pakistan is lurching from one crisis to another should be a cause of great concern for the whole world. The question is no longer, who is to blame. The Pakistan Army, the US, India, Saudi Arabia all share in the blame. The question is can Pakistan be stabilised or will it become another Iran. Slowly but surely Pakistan is inching towards a revolution which will be very bloody.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Islam and America

The nine eleven incident created an unprecedented interest in Islam both amongst Muslims and non Muslims. It appears to be a fruit that keeps giving. Now nine years after the incident, it has given rise to another debate on Islam, that about building a mosque, two blocks away from ground zero. It was also the trigger that created the Iraq and Afghan wars, which have had their own long term implications.

The unintended results of Osama's actions may come as a surprise to him, if he is alive. History will remember the date as some sort of a turning point, certainly for Islam.

One aspect of this discussion is how Muslims have gained a toehold in America and are beginning to thrive in an environment that is more Islamic than what they have been able to create in their own homelands.

The 1900 mosques that have mushroomed in the US are just the tip of an emerging iceberg, if one sees what is happening in the UK. Those Americans who watch this with a lot of concern are rightly alarmed given the distorted view of Islam in the media. One thing unique to America is the interest amongst blacks in Islam. What started as a separate religion ( black Muslims) is now merging itself into mainstream Islam. The Muslim congressmen are currently black but perhaps better versed in Islam than people from Muslim countries. In fact many of the more influential Muslims in America are converts and are likely to be other Muslims born and brought up in America.

The unrecognised story so far is how America and Islam are a perfect fit.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Is the US a good partner forPakistan and Afghanistan?

As the war in Afghanistan enters its ninth year, the need for an exit strategy weighs on the minds of U.S. policymakers. Such an outcome, it is assumed, would involve reconciliation with the Taliban. But Afghan women fear that in the quest for a quick peace, their progress may be sidelined. "Women's rights must not be the sacrifice by which peace is achieved," says parliamentarian Fawzia Koofi.
(Comment on this story.)

Read more:,8599,2007238,00.html#ixzz0vZoLtWra

In many ways the western press is doing a great service to the plight of women in Third world countries by publicising the shabby and inhuman way that they are treated. The Taliban are not alone in these practices which are to be found in the breadth of India and Pakistan and in many many African countries, but then no one is making out a case for attacking Pakistan to free the women there.

It is clearly not the motivation of the Western media to uplift conditions of women in these countries, they just need to find a justification for Western armed forces being in Afghanistan, but reading these stories one comes away with the impression that America has nothing else in mind than to protect Afghani women from their men. It would not be difficult to find quite disturbing pictures of American women who are victims of domestic violence here in the US, but no one is rushing to put them on the cover of Time magazine. Domestic violence in America is quite bad and on the increase. In fact victims of domestic violence are not simply maimed but are more likely to be killed. The statistics say that every 21 days a woman is killed as a result of domestic violence in the US. My point is not to justify the poor treatment of women by people in third world countries but the idea that men are any more civilized in the US after having gone to college than the Taliban in Afghanistan who have never even gone to school, is delusions of grandeur.

Leaving aside the similarities of behaviour, there is a valid point that the law of the land should prosecute such behaviour rather than sanction it. In this matter the people in Afghanistan need a lot of laws to create an orderly and just society with or without the Taliban. Clearly the people who can help in doing this is not the US who have proven to have a great propensity for destroying nations than rebuilding them. This is truly the point, the Afghans need help but the US is not the white knight that can do this. In fact any one but the US would be good.
I am no fan of Karzai but even he has arrived at the conclusion that he is in bed with the wrong partner. The question that is being raised in the US constantly is whether Karzai and Pakistan are the right partners, is also the question that is being raised in Afghanistan and Pakistan, does the US have the interest of their people in mind?


Friday, July 30, 2010

Who needs a Super Power?

"Certainly, no one in their right mind, Israeli or American, can believe that a continued resort to force will remedy whatever it is that fuels anti-Israeli or anti-American antagonism throughout much of the Islamic world. To expect persistence to produce something different or better is moonshine." Andrew Bacevich

The above statement is not true for almost a third of America and a fairly significant right wing elements in Israel. To the extent that they have sway over their Military machines, the killings will continue and even moderate elements like Obama will want to appease them. It cannot be taken for granted that Iran will not be attacked. The Americans have not seen the horrors of war visited on them as the Europeans have. History is witness to the fact that two very strange bedfellows have influence over America's Iran policy, Saudi Arabia and Israel and they both want the same thing.

Bacevich also does not discuss that Iraq and Afghanistan are not over. The cost of exiting either country will be more expensive to the US then they can estimate. The lessons from Vietnam were never learnt but the new lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan are not even being recognised. The lesson is not that overwhelming superiority in arms or excessive use of them against the enemy will not get you what you want. The lesson is that the world does not need a super power. If the US vacated that seat, there will be no takers. China has no interest in it, but the US is not about to vacate that seat because it has somehow become glued to it.

Technology has brought a new dimension now to the waging of wars, it has to be done in the glaring light of the unofficial media. Just as you cannot now torture your enemy without every one knowing about it , you cannot go into the wilds of Afghanistan and kill women and children without every one knowing about it. America must wait for a truthful leader, unlike Bill " I did not have sex with that woman", Clinton or George ' we do not torture " Bush. America may be looking for their own Chengiz Khan who will kill, burn, rape and pillage without feeling embarrassed about it. There is an equal chance of this happening as of America going into a corner and sulking.


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Attacking Iran

"What distinguishes neocons from normal people is their relentless dedication to what they perceive (incorrectly) as Israel's best interests, their contempt for Muslims, and their reckless desire to involve America in wars that have little, or nothing, to do with US interests. "

But they are still around and still pushing for a war, which they want even more than the last one. Everywhere you look there's Elliot Abrams, Richard Perle, John Bolton, John Podhoretz, Douglas Feith, Danielle Pletka, The Washington Post editorial page, Frank Gaffney, Charles Krauthammer, Max Boot, The Wall Street Journal, Daniel Pipes, New Republic, Liz Cheney and a host of others who, undaunted by the Iraq debacle, are gung-ho about taking out Iran. (Then there is AIPAC, which is the war party's headquarters.)

This very powerful and inflential group of right winger journalists are listened to by a wider audience than Fox news and right wing talk shows who mostly talk to their own audience.
They help to demonize others and spread projudice and hatred towards people whose ideology they are opposed to. They took over the White house when Bush was President and influened it into two wars which were foolish, irresponsible and based on lies and misinformation.
While America has not recovered from these disasters, they are advocating an even bigger disaster.
Their beliefs are as extreme as those of the Taliban with the big exception that they have the ability to influence the killing of more innocent people then the Taliban could in a million years.
A lot of people dont see the parallel because these people bask in the glory of being American. They carry the support of at least one third of all Americans and more significantly have cleverly formed an alliance with big business which likes wars.
People who belong to the fringe have become mainstream and America would be in for a rough ride but for the fact that it can no longer sustain military adventures.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Afghan policy unravels

A demoralised American Army is a clear victory for the Taliban. If Osama had intended the 9/11 attack to generate an irrational reaction from the US and then be stuck in a quagmire in Afghanistan then he must be thrilled. It is a depressing moment for Obama too, since he chose to make Afghanistan his war. From all accounts Obama is a reluctant player in all this. Wasting innocent Afghanis does not give him the same satisfaction that it gave the Bush/Cheyne duo. I would not want to be in Petreus's shoes right now. His mission to give a clear statement of purpose to the troops in Afghanistan, to his Nato allies and to an increasingly impatient public back home is a very difficult one. It is truly Obama's job, but he is stuck with some really bad compromises. He should never have let Bush off the hook as easily as he did. He does not relish the job of being a war President and the army can see that he will bring them nothing but disgrace. The political fall out for Obama will be negative even though he has now put a Bush appointee in charge of Afghanistan.

I believe that Obama was pushed into the surge in Afgahanistan against his better judgement. The increased drone attacks may have been his own initiative. Neither initiative seems to have worked out so far and the army is perceiving him as "disengaged" . The right decision would have been to denounce both wars as wrong wars, to cut our losses and develop an appropriate exit strategy. It is another matter that the real legacy of Bush is that the US can never leave either Iraq or Afghanistan and they will have a very uncomfortable stay in either place.

Who are moderate Muslims?

A well argued summary by Mr. Mohiyuddin. Whether one likes the term moderate Muslim ( I do not ), he still makes a fair representation of what most educated Muslims subscribe to, particularly those in favour of Ijtehad. The Quran advocates a middle path, which to me means finding the right balance between worldliness and spirituality. Those who interpret the middle path as finding the right balance between secularism and Islam, risk diluting Islamic thought. Islam already has the concept of worldliness built into it. Unlike Christianity and Judaism, the advent of Islam came about with a move to bring about reform in Civil society in all spheres of worldly life, whether it was the conduct of relations with non Muslims, the emancipation of women or the introduction of laws relating to divorce, inheritance or contracts.
The reforms brought about at that time were not intended to be the last word on any of those reforms and this is a mistake made by Muslim theologians. Just to give examples,two specific areas which I put in the category of continuing reform are 1. Slavery and 2. the Role of women. ( the four wife rule was part 1 ) The other mistake made by theologians is to reject science and to treat the Quran as a book of Science. This has cost the Muslims dearly.
So called moderate Muslims, do a service to Islam by remaining within the fold of Islam and wishing to contribute to its understanding rather than throwing out the baby with the bath water. They how ever frequently make the mistake of seeking inspiration from secular concepts which start with the precept that God cannot have a role in the affairs of men. Self interest is a primary urge of man which unless it is tempered by God's morality ( as opposed to man's morality) will degenerate into naked materialism and all its consequences.
Once the "moderate" Muslim accepts the Quranic concepts of Righteousness and being held accountable for our actions, he has to as does every other Muslim come to grips with very unambiguous definitions, of righteousness and standards on which man will be held accountable, given in the Quran.
Thankfully there is ample debate on matters such as apostasy, blasphemy and heresy and the " moderates" can rightly claim credit for raising awareness on these issues but there is insufficient discussion on issues like justice, equality, honesty, ethics, freedom. When I say discussion, I mean discussing what Islam's guidance to us on these issues. Syed Qutub is a man demonized by the West but his book Social Justice in Islam should be required reading for all Muslims. You may not agree with every thing he says but he was a man of great learning and insight.
While all Muslims need to read and re read the Quran to improve our understanding of what guidance it is providing to us, I am not averse to the study of other religions, other concepts, other philosophies. Thought and study will only help us to understand and appreciate the Quran better, but as Muslims we have to make up our minds whether the Quran is guidance from God or guidance from his prophet. This is a huge subject for discussion so I will not go on. My point is only to add a word of caution that there is a lot of work to be done within the Islamic world and we must continually seek to check that we are headed in the right direction.

Who Are Moderate Muslims?

By Ghulam Mohiyuddin

In the past many Muslims were reluctant to describe themselves as being 'moderate' for fear they might be wrongly suspected of being weak in their faith. With the rise of radicalism and extremism in Islam as manifested by Al Qaeda and the Talibans, as well as the growth of ultra-conservative movements such as the Tablighi Jamaat and the Jamiat-e-Islami, it becomes necessary for us to define the parameters of what we mean when we refer to 'moderate Muslims'. Other designations such as 'liberal Muslims' or 'progressive Muslims' are, for the purpose of this discussion, considered to have the same connotations as 'moderate Muslims’.

Moderate Muslims are not a monolithic group, and many moderate Muslims will not have all the characteristics described below. But there are certain characteristics that distinguish moderate Muslims. They tend to keep religion in a private space and do not make a public display of their faith. Religion for them has a place in their lives, but it is not their whole existence. They reason things out and think for themselves, rather than depend on advice from books or from fatwas.

They are guided by the spirit and ethos of the Quran. They base their thinking and behaviour on the fundamental tenets of Islam, namely the supremacy of the one and only God, His requirement that we live righteous lives and His holding us accountable for our actions. They revere Prophet Muhammad as well as Prophets Abraham, Moses and Jesus. The values that are most meaningful to them in pursuit of a virtuous life are also derived from the Quran, namely equality, justice, tolerance, compromise, compassion and rationality.

However they are not obsessed by rites, rituals and regimentation. Religion is important to them for spiritual sustenance and guidance but it does not dominate their lives. They participate fully and energetically in the rough and tumble, the competitiveness and the rat race of the temporal world. They strive to succeed in their educational and career goals, to provide well for their families' spiritual and material needs and to make their rightful contribution to the community they live in.

Moderate Muslims generally support major reforms in Sharia laws, reforms which conform to basic Quranic principles of fairness, justice, equality, compassion, common sense and human dignity, but which are also consonant with contemporaneous mores and realities. They would like to see polygamy and triple-talaq abolished, women enjoy equal status and equal rights in matters of marriage, divorce and inheritance, have full rights and opportunities to pursue their educational and career goals and be able to compete and work in professions, business, politics, arts, crafts etc just as their male counterparts. Moderate Muslims are not likely to be supporters of burqa or niqab. Regarding some strange fatwas issued recently by some seminarians, part of the problem, in the eyes of some moderates, lies with the fact that the system puts a vast range of issues under the purview of religion, which is defined not just as a "mazhab" or religion, but as a "deen" or way of life. The focus of religion should be on spiritual and moral matters. Issues of daily living and societal affairs such as dress, appearance, diet, personal laws, working conditions, banking, political systems etc should be governed by secular or laic norms even though they will be influenced by one's traditions.

In areas of public affairs, moderate Muslims support democracy and secularism. They highly value freedom of speech. They abhor blasphemy laws, apostasy laws and heresy laws. They strongly support human rights and minority rights. They are often strong critics of the abridgement of minority rights in Muslim majority countries, e.g. the rights of non-Muslims in Saudi Arabia or of Ahmadis in Pakistan or of Tamils in Malaysia. They have strong nationalistic allegiance to the country they live in, irrespective of whether the country is a Muslim-majority country or not.

The "Ummah" for them is an informal and nominal interconnectedness of world Muslims, characterized by empathy rather than by any tangible bonds or obligations. They do not subscribe to the idea of a future world caliphate. They do not consider 'jihad' or holy war to be a possibility in this day and age when Islam is not threatened and Muslims are not persecuted because of their religion. Any hatred of or threats to non-believers or 'kafirs' is unacceptable to moderate Muslims who believe in peaceful co-existence with people of other faiths. Moderate Muslims shun extremism in religion as well as in politics, they condemn all acts of terrorism, condemn killing of innocent civilians, and consider suicide bombers to be mortal sinners. They do not believe bizarre conspiracy theories with regard to either 9/11, 26/11 or any similar catastrophic event.

For moderate Muslims, 'Ijtihad' (innovation) is an important tool for change. It allows independent reasoning to reinterpret and expand on Islamic law. Ijtihad is essential to keep Islam in the vanguard of world religions.

Among recent and current leaders and writers, a moderate Muslim would be averse to the teachings of Maulana Maududi, Sayyid Qutb or Zakir Naik. He is more likely to favor the writings of Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, Maulana Waris Mazhari, Chandra Muzaffar, Sultan Shahin, Ziauddin Sardar and Javed Anand.

A moderate Muslim feels comfortable and at home in a pluralistic or multi-ethnic society, and can enjoy rewarding social and collegial relations with Hindus, Christians, Jews, atheists and others. He is able to respect the beliefs of others and does not feel the need to argue that his faith is superior to those of others. He is able to listen with interest to the views of others. He can expound on his own beliefs with clarity and without obscurantism.

The traditional Muslim teaching is that there is only one Islam and any division of Muslims into orthodox and moderates is invalid. But there are distinct differences between the attitudes and lifestyles of the orthodox and the moderates and we should take cognisance of that fact. People in both groups should be comfortable with their own beliefs and should be able to draw sustenance from the like-minded others in their own group. But above all they should not hurl insults at members of the other group. If we cannot respect each other, we should at least tolerate each other since we do have to co-exist.

Ghulam Mohiyuddin is a retired physician of Indian origin.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Report back from Pakistan

I have just returned from Pakistan where I am deeply involved in working through NGOs in two areas
1. The establishment of Institutions caring for those with mental health Issues. I am motivated to do this because two of my siblings suffer from mental health issues and because this is a neglected area not just in Pakistan but worldwide.
2. Working on Poverty alleviation and women’s uplift through an NGO which gives out loans to women through microfinance.
These subjects take me to Pakistan twice a year and give me the opportunity to interact with Pakistanis from various segments of society. My wife was also in Pakistan but on a different mission. She brought back handicraft made by poor women so that she could sell them here and make money for similar women, so that they can be helped to get educated and to acquire skills.

Impact of US policies from the perspective of ordinary Pakistanis

In a recent survey conducted by Gallup, it was revealed that the US is most unpopular in three countries. These countries being Egypt, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. After Israel , Egypt is the largest recipient of US aid and considered an ally. Pakistan also received substantial aid and is considered an ally. Saudi Arabia receives military aid and equipment and is also an ally. We are therefore most unpopular with those that we aim to help. Next in line of unpopularity is Turkey, another ally. If we look at the case of Pakistan, it would give us some clues to what we are doing wrong that even our friends are unhappy with us. Here are five important points.
1. Killing Democracy in Pakistan by supporting dictators and yes men. Unlike Pakistan’s neighbor India who decided a long time ago that being an ally of the US was not in their best interest but that building up a democracy was, Democracy has not been allowed to take root in Pakistan. I do not wish to leave an impression that the US alone bears responsibility for the absence of democracy in Pakistan but we can see a common thread in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, none of which is a democratic country and we know how the US killed democracy in Iran. To this day the US proclaims itself to be a champion of Democracy while actively destroying it in those countries that look to it for guidance.
2. The unnecessary killing of women and children and other innocent people by drone attacks and other aerial bombings. The so called high value targets who get killed are quickly replaced by others who are more hard line and what is left therefore are just innocent bodies, distraught widows and orphaned children. It will only take one person to emerge from this carnage as the new Osama Bin Laden.
3. Making Pakistan a dependant and pariah nation. Dependant on the IMF and US aid. Pakistan continues to remain on the edge of Bankruptcy. It has a mushrooming population, not enough energy for its needs ( I used to be without electricity everyday for at least four to five hours and sometimes eight. It was much worse in the villages) galloping inflation and no plans for the future except to live from hand to mouth. The common man sees the hand of The US in forcing valuable resources to be diverted to the military and away from education, health and infrastructure.
4. Making Pakistan fight an American war and creating conditions of a civil war, with Pakistanis killing Pakistanis. The rise of religious extremism in Pakistan is a tool freely used by Pakistani politicians as well as American planners. Religious extremists are well funded, well armed and well motivated to continue dividing a society which only wants peace and to be able to get o with their lives. Many people are beginning to wonder that it might be better to side with these extremists if the real enemy is America and not the extremist. After all the extremists are also demanding that US forces quit Pakistan.
5. The perception that the US is waging a war against Islam is strengthened by the number of Muslim countries that the US has recently attacked and the others that it wishes to attack. The common man does not fail to see to see the common thread in US Policy and believes that Pakistan will be attacked at some future date not because it bears any animosity to America but because it is Muslim.
For those people interested in knowing the reaction of Pakistanis to the Time Square would be bomber, the reactions run from one of total denial to those who see it as a CIA plot. Such is the mistrust of the US that the average Pakistani goes for all sorts of conspiracy theories rather than believe what is reported in the press.

How does one respond to allegations that Pakistan is training militants to harm US Interests.

Historically the Taliban are a joint creation of the US, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Putting guns into the hands of Muslim extremists was our idea. This was part of the plan to defeat the Soviet Union and bring down communism. It succeeded wildly but all the cost of this success has been laid at the footsteps of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Afghanistan has been lost to a civil war for 30 years and Pakistan has inherited 4 million Afghan Refugees , a gun culture and porous borders with Afghanistan. People are quick to blame these countries for terrorism and no one acknowledges the debt owed by the so called free world to the people of these countries. These countries are the true martyrs as they continue to bleed and their people continue to suffer. They will never be able to hold their heads high again amongst the comity of nations because they stand accused of corruption, mismanagement and breeding terrorism and not as warriors who shed their blood fighting communism.
The Lashkae Tayyaba and the Jaishi Mohammadi are people trained and bred by the Pakistan Army as freedom fighters to support the struggle of the Kashmiri people against the brutal suppression of their people by a 500,000 strong Indian Army. They were diverted at the request of The US to fight in Afghanistan. How do these people feel when they are asked to turn their guns against their own people the very people who they fought side by side against the Soviets. How would they feel when suddenly American guns are trained against them ? How would they feel when they went from good guys to bad guys in sixty seconds?
The US walked away after the defeat of the Soviet Union and instead of building up an impoverished and decimated nation, left it to the warlords former, friends and supporters to sort it out by letting the fittest survive. They allowed India and Pakistan to fight a proxy war using Afghanistan as a battle ground. So who abandons friends like this, only a people whose definition of self interest is I am alright jack, the rest can go to hell. So who has the right to call anyone else corrupt.
We like to believe in making things simple and seeing things in black and white in saying you are with us or against us but do we realize how much suffering we cause to our own friends and how much we are responsible for creating enemies where none existed before.
No one in Pakistan or Afghanistan for that matter had wished to harm America but I cannot say that this is true anymore. There are a lot of very angry people in Pakistan (and Afghanistan). There are more people in Afghanistan than Pakistan who have lost loved ones but we must remember that the Pushtun in Pakistan are the same people as the Pushtun in Afghanistan. If they feel that the only way to bring the message home to America is to kill the loved ones of America then they will be tempted to do so.
For eight years Americans have known that the man sitting in the White house has been following a policy based on lies, deceit and a violation of all the principles that we believe in. During his period, American credibility and prestige have been hurt perhaps irreparably. We have demolished countries and decimated their people all in the name of American security and we have created enemies where none existed before. In short we have made the world a less safer place for Americans. Having said this we now see a man who we struggled hard to elect, following the exact same policies oblivious to the harm they are doing to America, its friends and the rest of the world. Clearly it is the interests of the Military Industrial complex that seems to take precedence over everything else. Not content with destroying the US Economy, destroying Iraq, destroying Afghanistan and supporting an Apartheid regime in Israel we now want to open another front in Iran and try to destroy that country also.
I only wish to say that the policies that we have followed for the last 10 years are not in the interests of this country and unless we can do something to elect people who represent us and our interests and not those of big money we are doomed as a nation and as a People.

What can we learn about our approach to US policy in Pakistan?

1. Giving aid to countries which only makes them dependant is not in the interest of those countries, including Pakistan. The whole matter of Aid needs to be reviewed and revisited.
2. Using force to resolve problems only alienates people particularly our friends. The use of force has only helped to destroy countries and not build them. The US is getting a reputation as a destroyer of countries and not as a builder. We live in a past where we like to remind people look how we help to rebuild Germany and Japan. Look at how we saved Europe from the Nazis but we forget that this was a very long time ago. Ever since we became the world’s sole super power, we seem to have become nasty and dictatorial.
3. Owning up to our own mistakes seems to be a problem for us. It some how goes against the grain of seeing ourselves as the good guys who can do no wrong or if we do wrong then our intentions were good and therefore it is not a crime in the same category as the wrongs of the other side. Unfortunately there is no other side. Our enemies are non states. We are fighting in many cases shadows of our own imagination. We are drumming up excuses to keep our war machine happy. While we are doing all this we are neglecting our own country. The one trillion spent in Iraq and similar amounts spent in other parts of the world could have helped us resolve our domestic issues. There is rampant economic injustice, our Banks are bankrupt and need massive financial aid, Our health system is captive to the Insurance Industry and we end up spending 18% of GDP on a health system which leave a huge number of American uninsured. Our Social Security system is bankrupt and above all we are the largest creditor nation in the world with no hope of ever repaying our debts. Unemployment has remained at a little below 10% with no sign of improving, the stock market has finally recognized that the future is bleak. So instead of attending to our problems here why are we killing innocent people in Afghanistan and creating a situation where we will end up spending huge amounts of money on security.


We are living in a world which has suddenly shrunk not in terms of population but the impact that an individual can have on events. The forces that want an unequal world are right now in charge. They are rich and powerful beyond words. Those of us who wish to focus on Justice above everything else are the subjugated and the powerless. Let us make no mistake about it. The powerful can crush the powerless like we crush ants under our boots. All that the powerless have to do is to stand up as one for a better world. We have seen how first in Vietnam and now in Afghanistan the weaker party was able to withstand the full might of the most powerful nation in the world. Ultimately America has been weakened inextricably from its futile wars. I do not believe that we have learnt our lesson and so it is even more necessary that we renew our efforts to stop this craziness.

I am only saying today what Martin Luther has already said 43 years ago.

“Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on.”

Ladies and gentlemen we must not only move on, we must try to stop this madness.

Does Pakistan support the Taliban?

After Obama, declared Afghanistan to be the right war, he quickly announced that he will be leaving Afghanistan soon. Both Pakistan and Afghanistan view the US as being there temporarily. They feel that to bring eventual peace to the area, a deal will have to be done with the Taliban. Amazingly the US has less credibility with either Pakistan and Afghanistan than do the Taliban.

Aside from what one may feel about the beliefs of the Taliban, they are still from the area and are related by blood to both Afghanis and Pakistanis.

The most amazing turn around in recent times has been that of Karzai from being anti Pakistan to now being anti US and viewing Pakistan as being part of the solution. Karzai is ferociously biting the hand that feeds him. The resignations in his cabinet have been those of the Northern Alliance people, who are supported by the Indians. If any one's days are numbered it is more Karzai than Zardari.

The Taliban have some how hung in there long enough for the US to run out of steam and make all sorts of serious mistakes. The Drone attacks are a mistake that the US fails to recognise and have helped turn round people like Karzai. The typical answer of the US to any mistake is to say we did not apply it forcefully enough and therefore let us send in more troops, throw more bombs, kill more people. The Taliban are therefore quickly becoming David to the American Goliath.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Should the French deny citizenship on the basis of Religious practice?

First I agree that a country has a right to impose what laws it wishes for granting Citizen ship. In the case of France though they are violating their own concepts of tolerance. They are different from other European countries in this respect. It is not that the other countries are happy about the Burqua or Naqab, it is just that they wish to respect the beliefs of their Citizen or even those who wish to be their Citizen. France has a much bigger issue than just disciplining 1900 of it's citizen. This is the problem of showing intolerance to people for their beliefs about something as simple as a dress code. In every other way these 1900 people may well be the most law abiding citiizen.

The bigger issue here is that France has a misunderstanding about these practices being degrading to women. You or I may feel that women cavorting topless in public is more degrading to women. Again this is not a matter of individual values, a very large number of women wear a Hijab or other covering out of religious conviction. In Iran women wear the Chaddor but go about their duties as freely as any French woman. Clearly the French are looking at a very small minority and making up their minds about the beliefs of 1.2 billion people. I find this to be irrational and arrogant. It is as stupid as the Taliban blowing up Historic Statues because they think poorly of statues.
France more than any other Secular state has raised secularism to the level of a State Religion and that too an intolerant one. Let me make another point. Why would you or I not think of emigrating to France? Simple because our country was never colonised by France. People who wish to become French Citizen are people from countries which were previously colonized by France. These countries were not only colonised but robbed, raped and left impoverished. Their Citizen want to live in France because France has a better standard of living partly because they ( the French) set back these countries many generations of prosperity. Why is it that UK absorbs the West Indians, the Pakis, The Nigerians, and it must not be easy, and the French look down upon the Algerians?

This is not just about France but the whole of Europe is having issues absorbing their Muslim Minorities. In this respect the US and Canada have done a much better job. The Muslim Minorities that emigrate to Europe are not as well educated and are themselves resistant to merging into the host country culure.
In many respects they are like the Mexicans in America, who are becoming a headache for America for very different reasons. Like The Mexicans in America though, the Muslims are becoming a very sizeable minority in Europe. Some projections show that in 25 years they will become a majority.
Unlike America though, this thought is driving the Europeans crazy. The image of Muslims as terrorists is not helping matters either. There is an implied invasion from within which may cause the French if not the Eurpeans to close their borders and make citizenship qualifications more rigorous. Although you ignore this point but this is not a French problem, the French are just handling it differently. If any one has more reasons to be truly concerned it is the British who have Muslim British Citizen, wanting to blow up trains, bridges and buildings. In the UK it is not an issue of an "eye sore" but real issues of home made terrorism yet they have so far resisted pointing fingers at their minorities.

Maybe the French are right and the British and Americans wrong, I merely wish to point out that so far the French have come up with a solution which is different from the rest of secular thinking.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Is the leadeship of the US now seriously flawed

"There was no emergency. No one had attacked anyone. There wasn't any new WMD. We could have taken the time and got it right. The forces weren't ready to go in. They have said that themselves." Claire Short.

An inquiry in the UK into the lead up to the Iraq war, is showing what many of us have known from day one. The Iraq war was never about either WMDs or terrorism. This is leading people to believe that it was about regime change, even if that was not sustainable as a reason to put before the UN. The truth is that it was not even about regime change. Even Obama has distanced himself from the Iraq adventure by calling it the wrong war.
The fact that both the President of the US and the Prime Minister of the UK lied about the real reasons not only to their public but also to their colleagues and twisted the arms of their legal advisers to support these trumped up reasons lays bare how these institutions operate.
It calls into question the stated reasons for the attack on Afghanistan and it's continued occupation, it calls into question the entire concept of the "war on terror" and it smears the mainstream media of these counties with toeing the Government line rather than questioning it. Bush and Blair deserve to be convicted as war criminals and that may never happen but the Institution of the President of the US has suffered untold damage. The call to others to follow the political system of the US rings hollow and in fact encourages people looking for a model to look elsewhere.
In Europe, France and Germany stand out for having opposed the reasons and timing of the Iraq war and Britain stands exposed for being " a poodle". The type of inquiry being held in the UK cannot be held in the US. The US has a greater intolerance for the sexual escapades of their leaders and lawmakers then it does for their political ethics. This is a problem not just for the US but for the whole world as the US has the ability to impact the rest of the world for better or for worse. The question is being asked ( not in Davos) whether the Leadership of the US is doing more harm to the world then it is doing good. As long as there is no alternative the world may choose to live with a seriously flawed leader but clearly there is now a vacuum waiting to be filled.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Why blame religion for our failures

In order to examine what role religion plays in our lives, we should also look at what other factors influence or guide us in becoming what we do become. Any list would include, self interest, tribe, culture, parental or family influence, race, political ideology etc. In fact in much of the developed world, these factors far outweigh the factor of religious affiliation and Religion is looked upon as an obsolete notion. The developed world has in fact developed their own definitions of moral codes and morality which are exercised under man made laws in the cause of enlightened self interest.
Religion was supposed to transcend the self interest of man. It was supposed to transcend tribe,race,culture. Not replace them, but to be above these accidents of birth. Religion came when the self interest of man created unfairness and injustice and concentrated power in the hand of a few exploiters of humanity. Religion advocated a balance between worldliness and spirituality and the superiority of God's laws over those of men. It wasn't as if people were not religious before the great religions came but there was no evidence of guidance coming directly from God.

Unfortunately men used religion to create as much division as to create unity. The Crusades are only one such example. When the messages of Judaism, Christianity and Islam were still fresh, these religions helped to create vibrant tribes, nations, empires and legacies. In fact to this day a lot of our non religious morality is heavily influenced by what we learned from religion.

So we can see that religion can be a double edged sword. It inspired people to be good human beings because they believe it is the word of their Creator but it can also cause people to be bigoted, intolerant and close minded because for some reason they read into their scriptures that they are the rightly guided. The Quran is quite explicit in its texts to say that those people will not receive any guidance from it who do not think ( and are therefore embarking on a mindless activity). It is also quite clear in saying that those people will also receive no guidance from it who think but do not believe.

As long as people believe whether overtly or subconsciously that religion is but another tool to further their worldly goals, they will use it as such and not only give it a bad name but prove to those who are inclined to believe this that religion has done nothing to bring about a higher purpose of life to humanity. We live in a world today that is in need of a spiritual awakening because it has tilted far too much towards self interest and the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few exploiters. We are not in need so much of an ideology ( the ideology is already there, belief in God) as a leader. The abject failure of Obama points to the failure of the chances of such a leader coming from the secular world. The forces of self interest are too powerful to allow one of their own sons to destroy the temple on which they pray.

Although religious extremism is being blamed for the ills of this world, the twenty first Century is truly being defined by the violence perpetrated by the worlds sole super power. As if the violence was not enough this same power then went on a lending frenzy not ever seen in the world's financial systems which almost led to the collapse of the worlds economy. Millions of people world wide are unemployed and struggling to make a living because of the excesses of the United States. We live in a world that is struggling not because of suicide bombers but because of the excesses of the rich and powerful.

I am trying to put things in perspective, lest we lose sight of who or what threatens the delicate balance of this world. It is not Afghanistan or Somalia that is causing the waste and depletion of the world's resources. It is OK to say that this is the price that must be paid for progress but whose progress are we talking about?


Friday, January 22, 2010

Comments on Tariq Ramadan's ideas on reform in Islam

The 'ibâdât or ritual duties may be timeless, but when it comes to the mu'âmalât, or social issues, there is room to manoeuvre. The basic rule here is: everything is allowed which the text does not expressly forbid! This opens the door for progress, for a reformist interpretation of the law that responds to modern times and circumstances.

He therefore calls for “equal councils uniting 'ulamâs and specialists in the various fields (human and natural sciences) in order to enable legal statements in keeping with the age in which we live”’


Ramadan's suggestions make sense. One thing that Muslims should also study and learn from are the mistakes of Secular societies. Today we have greater evidence that there are very serious flaws in these models. The increasing trend towards greed, exploitation and racism confirm that Islam can offer many solutions to these societies. In fact these societies would be more accepting of Islamic Principles and their benefits if the Muslims were to actively practice them, themselves.

The "no compulsion in religion" principle is not practiced in large parts of Islamic Societies and is a major hurdle for Muslims to understand their own religion. The problem of Islam is not with modernity as the west makes us believe but in Muslims not practicing their own religion in its entirety. Ramadan is right in wanting to give more attention to Muamalat in which there is a need for greater discussion amongst Muslims.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The failure of wars started by America has not made them any wiser

"The impetus for weaning Americans away from their infatuation with war, if it comes at all, will come from within the officer corps. It certainly won’t come from within the political establishment, the Republican Party gripped by militaristic fantasies and Democrats too fearful of being tagged as weak on national security to exercise independent judgment. Were there any lingering doubt on that score, Barack Obama, the self-described agent of change, removed it once and for all: by upping the ante in Afghanistan he has put his personal imprimatur on the Long War. " Basevich


Basevich has been kind in this article to American leaders. Not only have the wars launched by America been failures they have ended up having the opposite effect. The war in Iraq as an example removes from the scene, Iran's greatest enemy Saddam Hussain. The Shias were brought back to power and after exiting Iraq, the US will effectively hand over Iraq to a grateful Iran.

Similarly in Afghanistan, the US can hold themselves singularly responsible for making heroes out of the Taliban. The Taliban have singularly resisted not just the US but also NATO. An eventual withdrawal from Afghanistan will leave the country to a resurgent Taliban who will no longer be beholden to Pakistan. It will also leave them friendless in Pakistan, their most critical ally in the region. In spite of giving generous aid to Pakistan, the US is highly unpopular with the general populace there.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How we can keep terrorism alive

Terrorism has now become a tool in the hands of political strategists for both political parties in the US. The public has been driven into a funk about "attacks on the homeland" and how the only way to avoid them is to stop the "friends" of the would be attacker, ten thousand miles away. Both parties claim that the evidence of a lack of attack in the US is the main evidence of how effectively the administration is dealing with the Security of Americans.

Decisions about Pakistan and Afghanistan are being made in Washington with one eye on how it would help the chances of the party in power to stay in power. If these decisions don't make sense to people in Pakistan or Afghanistan it is because they think that America truly sees the Taliban or Al Qaida as a threat to their interests. If these decisions are eventually going to back fire then the people in power do not care because they will not be around to take the heat. Bush is sitting happily in Texas after wreaking a heavy toll on Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan but he got to strut around on the world scene for 8 years.

What if it cost the US trillions of dollars with nothing to show for it, that is Obama's problem.

The Europeans on the other hand are besides themselves with consternation and would have pulled out many many years ago but for American arm twisting. NATO wants no part of this neither are they needed but for the American desire to depict this as global rather than an American problem.

Obama could have and should have blamed Bush for destroying America's credibility and prestige and bringing about the collapse of the Economy partly through waging unwindable wars with bottom less appetites for troops and money. Why has he not done this and instead continued with Bush's disastrous Foreign policies? Simply because his political advisers are telling him that the American public has been frightened gutless into believing that they are not secure and want only those people to be leading them who make them feel secure. Traditionally this has been the Republican party despite Truman, Roosevelt and Kennedy. In this era the Democrats wrongly believe that as the Party of peace they need to appear war like to the public. Hence Obama's senseless decision to pour more troops into Afghanistan.

The more Obama's popularity plummets by the day the more hawkish he will become and we can expect drone attacks to escalate and perhaps Yemen added to the list of casualties. Fortunately the US has run out of money and cannot afford to attack Yemen leave alone Iran. This limits them to staging fake attempts to blow up airlines in the US. I am not saying the current administration is up to it but what about the opposition? I can be wrong but nothing makes sense when major decisions are being taken affecting the lives of millions of poor and innocent people around the world on the basis of how these decisions will play out on CNN and NBC.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Why are Isarel's bombs more justified than those of others?

Israel is just as capable of unleashing it's nuclear might as the US was in dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The idea that we have more to fear from Iran than from Israel is a product of the Western mindset that we are the good guys and the good guys are justified in eliminating the bad guys. This black and white world view which was the trade mark of Bush and earlier US Presidents is being continued by Obama.
The US did not bomb Hiroshima to stop the war as the propaganda goes but to say to the world, I am now the strongest, do as I say or else, see what I did to the innocent Japanese.The relentless propaganda to paint the Iranians as the bad guys
is a repeat of the past. Although Iran denies it, but if it were building a nuclear war capability, it would be fully understandable. Every one understands why Pakistan had to do it, to defend itself against a much stronger and avowed enemy. (India).
Even Yasmin Alibhai a pro west British subject is aghast at the double standard, yet talk to any American on the street and they will not be able to see the contradiction. Israel represents the single biggest reason for the US having very little credibility in the world as a leader with any standards.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Does Israel control the US or is just an agent of the US

I believe that Israel through AIPAC controls our political machinery. There is no other explanation for Obama not being able to do what he believes in. No politician can hope to get elected if he so much as believes in having an even handed policy towards the Israeli/Palestinian dispute. From time to time you will hear me say that our political system is broken and that is what I mean. It is too beholden to the various lobbies.

It is true that the Israelis have been smart enough in becoming the tools for our imperialist agenda but the policies towards Iran in particular and Islam in general are Israel originated and are harmful to the US. Israel's survival on the other hand depends on such policies.

This is a good subject for debate and discussion, but I believe that our destiny is no longer in our hands and has not been for some time. Whether you and I can do anything about it remains to be seen.