By Yasser Latif Hamdani
October 24, 2011
It is time for seasoned hands in the US to play their role in guiding this naive and idealistic American administration that does not seem to understand the ground realities in the Muslim world.
Colonel Gaddafi was a dictator who overstayed his welcome and, like Dorian Gray’s portrait, became a monster unpalatable to his people. However, his brutal extrajudicial murder underlines the inherent hypocrisy that marks the so-called Arab Spring. That leaders of the US and the UK endorsed such brutality and even commended it is to me the real tragedy. These fine legal principles such as innocent till proven guilty in a court of law through due process and fair trial and the often quoted Geneva Conventions are all the west’s contributions to global civilisation. Now the message is that these principles are to be selectively deployed.
There is no example in history when terrible brutality that was on display in Sirte has led to a stable democracy. Even the French Revolution, that celebrated milestone of history, only led to Napoleon’s tyranny. The killing of Gaddafi is a chilling reminder of the killing of Dr Najibullah in Afghanistan. Libya is a fractured tribal society. One hopes it will not suffer on account of the want of a strongman as Yugoslavia did after Marshal Tito. The start is ominous enough — the sight of an old bloodied man begging for mercy being pushed around and then shot dead in cold blood. It does not make for healthy nation building.
The Arab Spring has gone awry elsewhere as well. The brutal killing of Coptic Christians is a blot on the self-styled Egyptian Revolution. We see signs that the Egyptian military has entered into some sort of a tacit alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood to the detriment of liberals. Despite all hopes of post-Islamism emerging in the form of the Egyptian version of Turkey’s AKP, the ground reality indicates that the Muslim Brotherhood will manoeuvre a theocratic constitution with limited freedoms and no equality for non-Muslims. They would do well to look at the mess we have made in Pakistan but people high on a dose of religiosity and fake piety are unlikely to learn from history.
In Syria a post-Assad scenario will most likely see a staunchly Islamist theocratic regime that will be a threat to the entire region, including Erdogan’s Turkey. If Assad falls in Syria, there will be open season on Shiites, Christians and liberals in that country. It seems that no one in the American establishment seems to realise the fissures and fractures and while former presidents like Bush were entirely ignorant, it is President Obama’s little knowledge that poses the greatest danger to the world. His Ramzan addresses, his choice of Cairo for his famed engagement with the Muslim world and his years in an Indonesian madrasa seem to indicate that he is unaware of an Islam beyond Sunni Islam to which he is exposed. That is why while he speaks of an Arab Spring in the wider Arab world, he does not shed a tear for the Shiites in Bahrain. Having imagined Iran as an uncompromising enemy, American policymakers have embarked on a disastrous policy of creating a Sunni Crescent against Shiite Islam. The Saudi Embassy drama unfolding seems to be just another rung of the ladder. In their ignorance of the deep wellsprings of history that inform Muslims and their sectarian identities, the Americans are calling forth a flood that will not lead to democracy of any recognisable kind or form that respects human rights and pluralism. Instead, we will see the rise of a theocratic order atop which will sit the practitioners of a straitjacket Kharijite version of Islam and the west in its zeal for the Arab Spring would have played an unwitting role in this.
It is time for seasoned hands in the US to play their role in guiding this naive and idealistic American administration that does not seem to understand the ground realities in the Muslim world. The images of Gaddafi’s extrajudicial murder are un-American to the core. During the American Revolution, John Adams, the great founding father of the US, came to the rescue of a man who had been covered in tar by a mob and was being hauled on a mule for having pro-British sympathies. Democracy does not mean mob rule. Democracy means justice and fair play for all and a fair shake for even the wickedest man alive. Let the US be guided by its founding idealism in pursuit of its foreign policy objectives is all one wants.
The writer is a lawyer based in Lahore. He is also a regular contributor to the Indian law website http://mylaw.net and blogs on http//globallegalforum.blogspot.com and http://pakteahouse.net. He can be reached at email@example.com
Source: The Daily Times, Lahore