Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

A Squandered decade | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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If it is surprising that 19 suicide attackers changed the course of history in one day – the infamous 11 September 2001 – what is more surprising is that this fistful of suicide attackers dragged the greatest superpower in the world into side-line wars with the Muslim world, which in some of their stages nearly turned into an open war against Islam.

It is natural that the United States commemorates in an atmosphere of “national ecstasy” the 10th anniversary of the attacks by Al-Qaeda Organization, because the strategic victory the United States has achiever over “international terrorism” allows the inference that its internal security today has become better than it has been during the past 10 years, even if its “outside” security still suffers from the threats imposed by some Al-Qaeda pockets in Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

Does the ecstasy of victory hide from the eyes of the US citizens the exorbitant price Washington has had to pay for achieving such victory, which at some period nearly destroyed the remnants of its political credit in both the Muslim and Arab worlds?

The human and economic cost of the decade of war on terror might be more of a US affair than it is an international one, even if the entire world financial system is no longer safe from the consequences of the economic cost of this war. However, the international affairs, specifically the US relations with both the Muslim and Arab worlds, have become the most prominent casualty of the decade of the war on terror.

Many people agree that the deep psychological shock caused by 11 September attacks within the US society has moved the George Bush Administration to fumble with initiatives that are difficult to defend from a democratic position, or even to justify politically. At the forefront of these initiatives was the invasion of Iraq, and what preceded and followed it of theatrical “production” of accusing Iraq of possessing mass-destruction weapons.

However, even if it is understandable that Washington in its urgent pursuit of protecting its national territories would adopt a decision to wage external wars on “international terrorism,” what has not been understandable is its insistence on coupling these wars with an ideological “message,” namely the promotion of democracy abroad.

The impossibility of imposing US democracy by force on “those who need it” abroad has exposed the US inability to achieve in Iraq – after eight years of military occupation – what a street peddler has achieved in Tunisia.

The most appalling irony in the US handling of the democracy “message” has been the accompaniment – or more correctly the coupling – of spreading this democracy abroad with restricting the US democracy at home. After 11 September the US citizens have become liable to investigations by a “national security apparatus,” whose powers overlap and also contradict the powers of 16 other security and intelligence institutions, with the Central Intelligence Agency at their forefront.

Under the climate of putting the security requirements ahead of public freedom, it is not surprising the encroachments upon the civil rights of the citizens have grown, starting from using “cruelty” in interrogating the suspects of terrorism, up to locking them up in a detention camp in Guantanamo, which still is a shameful proof of the preparedness of the post-11 September 2001 democracy to adapt to the most appalling practices of the autocratic regimes.

As for the worst case of fumbling in the post-11 September world, it has been in Washington’s way of “cautious” dealing with both the Muslim and Arab worlds, which suggests that all the Arabs and Muslims are morally responsible for the consequences of the actions of an extremist Salafi group.

Despite the fact that after storming Iraq Washington has tried to “appease the “moderate” Arabs, the realistic introduction to this appeasement – namely, resolving the Palestinian issue – has remained a hostage to the whims of Israel and of the Zionist lobby in Washington, and it still is.

More than 10 years have passed since the proposal by three US Presidents of the “two-state solution” in Palestine, but this solution still awaits the US decisive action (it was declared for the first time on 7 January 2001 by President Bill Clinton, after that it was adopted by President George Bush in a speech he delivered on 24 June 2002, and Bush reiterated it at the opening of Annapolis conference on 27 November 2007, and then President Obama reiterated his commitment to it in his famous Cairo speech on 4 June 2009, and also in another speech on 19 May 2011).

How can any Arab citizen be asked to trust Washington’s promises if three US Presidents were unable and still are unable to fulfil an official and public US promise? Therefore, should an Arab citizen dream that Washington in September 2011 will compensate for some of what it has shown since September 2001 of disregard of his rights, and that it will support the Palestinian address to the United Nation to “snatch” an international recognition of the state promised by the United States?