AMERICANS should not get too carried away with the murder of Al Qaeda supremo Osama bin Laden. They can be assured there are others waiting in line and willing to assume leadership of that seemingly crippled organisation. Instead of wildly celebrating his demise, they should indulge in some serious soul-searching and ask the following pertinent questions: i) What motivates organisations like Al Qaeda? ii) Why such rage and anger directed at America and its allies? and iii) How to deter further acts of terrorism?
If the murder of Osama is any cause for celebration, that is pretty naïve and myopic an outlook. What about former US president George W. Bush or his criminal accomplice, ex-UK prime minister Tony Blair? Both men (and those who supported them) are collectively despised for the devastation of Afghanistan, the illegal attack (by false accusation) and occupation of Iraq which left the country in political and social chaos, and the persistent demonisation of Iran.
And not to forget their unconditional support of Israel’s continued subjugation and oppression of the Palestinians. Did I mention their eagerness to carry out "regime-change" policies in the Middle East and elsewhere which saw the rise of many pro-Western puppets to the position of leadership who have little qualm about trampling human rights and murdering their citizens? This is the fruit of the American New World (Dis) Order.
As tragic as the 9/11 and subsequent acts of terrorism may appear, what is more worrisome is America’s
no-holds-barred neo-imperialistic policies in the oil-rich Middle East which disregard the legitimate aspirations of its citizens while propping up unpopular regimes and governments. As Prof Noam Chomsky pointed out succinctly about a decade ago:
"Nothing can justify crimes such as those of Sept 11, but we can think of the United States as an "innocent victim" only if we adopt the convenient path of ignoring the record of its actions and those of its allies which are, after all, hardly a secret".
(9-11, An Open Media Book, Ch.2)
A detailed catalogue of America’s questionable foreign policies and covert actions which have roused much anger and resentment can be gleaned from Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower (3rd edition) by William Blum. I wonder if American political leaders ever bother to read such work.
Perhaps a little analysis of American psychology is called for to understand their attitude vis-à-vis the rest of the world. In his memoir, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad points out that for the vast majority of Americans
"… the world consists of the US and only the US, which is why they call their national baseball competition, confined entirely to their own country, the World Series. For people who could think up a borderless, globalised world, their gross mental block is amazing. Yet it is these people who are now in a position to rule the world. The prospect is truly frightening". And frightening indeed it is.
I am not agreeing with terrorist attacks carried out in the name or Islam or trying to justify them. I am merely trying to make sense of what is happening and why. How should we go about finding a lasting solution to this menace to avoid further senseless death and destruction?
The ball is clearly in America’s court. Whether future Osamas would arise and spread their dark wings across the Western world will be determined by the West’s foreign policy vis-à-vis the Middle East and the Muslim world at large. Till then, peace will remain only a distant dream.