Most Americans are at least somewhat familiar with the autocracy and corruption that have plagued many governments in Muslim countries. Because of their oppressiveness and corruption, these government are declining, and they should. But their decline has encouraged Jihadist movements — movements that take advantage of a religious reawakening and prey on the fears and resentments of oppressed people.
This should not be a surprise. Many people in Muslim countries are or have suffered under totalitarian regimes or monarchy systems — regimes funded and supported by Western countries. Many, therefore, may believe that the Jihadist movement presents an incorruptible knight in shining armor that will restore pride and economic well-being.
It doesn’t. But impractical U.S. policy toward some of these peoples gives energy to the Jihadists.
Some of these countries have already collapsed. In Somalia, the country of my birth, the rule of warlords seems to have come to an end. The new Islamic Court Union — a hard-line, conservative faction — has filled the vacuum there.
Elsewhere, Hamas has won power in Palestine, and Hezbollah declared victory in Lebanon against the recent invasion of Israel. It is not a surprise to see the collapse of corrupt governments. Nor should the West be surprised by the religious reawakening and radical movements in Muslim countries.
In Somalia, for example, since the collapse of the state in 1991, the country has suffered one of the most brutal civil wars in the whole of the African continent. What disappoints me is the utter lack of response on the part of the international community to the piteous cries for help from the Somali people. Just what is the U.S. policy with regard to Somalia?
It is an open secret that U.S. policy toward Somalia is heavily influenced by what happened on Oct. 3, 1993, in Muqdisho, the Somali capital: Blackhawk Down, a mission by American soldiers to capture a Somali warlord, went terribly wrong. A fierce and desperate bloody fight resulted in the death of 18 U.S. marines and more than 500 hundred Somali casualties. This single tragic incident plays a pivotal role in shaping U.S. policy toward Somalia, policy that is now coupled with the war on terror in a post 9/11 world.
The vivid memories of Black Hawk down and the recent Jihadist movement in Somalia led the U.S. to fund warlords, only to see the warlords defeated by the same group the U.S. wanted to isolate: Islamic Jihadists.
It is apparent that U.S. policy suffers from confusion at least, or, worse, a less-than-sufficient competence to handle a world that’s changing fast and requires deep knowledge of foreign cultures. The elites of the Jihadists movements see this, and thus use it to their advantage.
I’m not suggesting knowledge for the sake of sensitivity. But knowledge for the sake of effectiveness. It’s not in the U.S. interest, or in the interest of Muslim people, for the Jihadists to gain strength.
So what might be the elements of a practical, effective policy?
-- To begin with, I believe that effective foreign policy should be consistent and honest with the moral and ethics of international law. The Western world, particularly the U.S., should admit that a grievous mistake was made in the fight against terror, that is, the invasion of Iraq. Then it should ask for help moderate Islamic countries to save lives in Iraq and elsewhere.Do I believe that this can happen? Yes I do. It is my hope that Americans, Muslims, Christian, Jews and the rest of all other religions can sit down together and say, “yes, we have been a cause of much of the conflict in this world, but with our traditions of freedom and democracy, we can once again, set a positive example for the world