NOV 4, 2009 – The US foreign policy under President Barack Obama has taken a more conciliatory approach as compared to the swashbuckling style of his predecessor George Bush Jr.US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has zigged-zagged around the world trying to patch up the wounded relations as a result of the previous administration’s policies with potential partners for the strategic importance of the US.
The strain that was heightened by Bush’s War on Terror in Afghanistan and Iraq has left a deep scar among many Muslims in the Middle East and the rest of the world.
Following the war, Muslims generally view the Americans or Westerners with great distrust and suspicion.
This prejudice has been easily taken advantage of by radicals and extremists through the Al-Qaeda and Taleban in the Middle East as well as the Jemaah Islamiyah and Abu Sayyaf in Southeast Asia.
Subsequent to the War on Terror, sermons in mosques, madrasahs and religious schools around the world has taken aim at the US and the West calling them Great Satan, Imperialists and the like.
Imams in mosques and madrasahs have been calling Muslims worldwide to defend their brothers in Iraq and Afghanistan, hence the pockets of foreign forces that slipped into Iraq and Afghanistan to defend the Muslim countries against US’ aggression.
At the same time, the Sept 11 tragedy has also made Muslims in the Western world an easy target for hate seekers and nationalists’ mob.
The ignorance of these bigots is ridiculously idiotic to the extent that some of them attacked Sikhs who are identified by their turbans which, to their western eyes, are similar to what the Arabs wear.
9/11, followed by the war against Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Saddam Hussein has increased the gap between the Muslim world and the US-Western civilisation.
The siege mentality has overwhelmingly taken over the minds of many Muslims to the point that anything related to US or the West is being viewed with great suspicion.
This has also been exacerbated by Bush’s labelling of Jihadists and Wahabbism on the radicals.
Extremists’ movements worldwide have been fuelled with added conviction and fervour in their attacks against the US, Israel and the West.
These rogue groups have caused mayhem at places with high concentration of Westerners as well as economically important cities all around the world.
The US, on the other hand, has had to grapple with partners that are embroiled in their own domestic problems.
Iraq has been in turmoil from the moment Saddam Hussein was kicked out from the city of Baghdad with Sunnis and Shiites embroiled in a civil war jostling to fill in the vacuum left by the larger-than-life figure of Saddam.
Afghanistan’s President Hamed Karzai has been fighting the perception of being a stooge for the US and also rife with allegations of corruption and tainted democracy.
Similar problems in the sultanates of Middle Eastern countries, Palestine, Egypt, Pakistan and Southeast Asian Muslim countries have further complicate the situation faced by Obama.
Much of the problems have arisen due to the fact that the US has been grooming allies that will be “friendly” to them.
These allies in the Muslim world are notoriously known to flout democratic principles, embezzled in corruption scandals and also autocratic in their governance.
Obama has inherited a foreign policy that rewards yes-man and the goodies has created obnoxious and arrogant creatures devoid of the supposedly noble values that Americans are synonymous with – democracy, transparency and good governance.
It is time that the Obama put the respect of the world community back into US’ leadership by ensuring justice and fair play in their dealing with the Muslim world on the issue of Palestine, corruption, democracy and nuclear disarmament.
- published in The Malaysian Insider : Nov 4, 2009