How the Prosperity Bubble Destroyed Arab’s Moral and Intellectual Culture
Mahboob A. Khawaja, PhD
The Arab people live in a fantasy bubble being floated by the transitory oil revenues, controlled and managed by the Western nations. Oil revenues are not the outcome of Arab’s hardwork but a planned scheme of things carried out for several generations to distract from the real problems. The aim is to destroy the Arab culture and civilization with delusional prosperity instead of poverty. Poor people always maintain live conscience, think and strive to survive but prosperity gives them false amenities without working for it to ultimately become useless and die on their own without external intervention. Arabs have lost the moral and intellectual capacity to THINK intelligently of the self, about their culture, their global presence and about their future. With massive killings, daily bloodbaths across the Arab world, the leaders are happy that people are occupied in their own follies and that America and Britain are sheltering their role-play with increased militarization of the Arab world. All major public institutions in the Arab world are dominated by the Western thinking and agents of influence. The tragedy of Arab authoritarianism and economic militarization of the oil producing Arab nations is more complex and full of individualistic horrors, societal complacency and political blunders. Almost at every opportunity offered by time and history, the absolute rulers took wrong turns and slipped into the vices and ruins of self- generated corruption. The US and some of the West European nations have played central role in institutionalizing the authoritarian corruption. The new educated and thinking generations of Arabs must make a navigational change and set priorities to detach the economy and politics from the oil fed thinking and consequential militarization and interdependency on the Western nations unto social and economic-political reconstruction of the Arab societies for a sustainable future. Time and history shall not wait for their tangible actions but they should be conscientiously powerful and skilled enough in time management to share new and moving vision and to plan strategies and actions for ANEW Arab world dedicated to informed and responsible people’s governance and living in harmony with the rest of the global community.
In 1920, Robert Briffault, Professor at Cambridge University (The Making of Humanity). made the following historical observation: “It was under the influence of Arabian and Moorish revival of culture and not in the fifteenth century, that the real Renaissance took place. Spain not Italy, was the cradle of the rebirth of Europe…It is highly probable that but for the Arabs modern European civilization would never have arisen at all; it is absolutely certain that but for them, it would not have assumed that character which has enabled it to transcend all previous phases of evolution. For although there is not a single aspect of European growth in which the decisive influence of Islamic culture is not traceable, nowhere is it so clear and momentous as in the genesis of that power which constitutes the paramount distinctive force of the modern world and the supreme source of its victory.”
For almost eight hundred years, the Arabs produced an advanced civilization morally, intellectually and scientifically unparalleled in modern history. When the European lived in the dark ages and fought within themselves for nationalistic identities and symbols, the Arabs were the most progressive people articulating a model civilization to pursue balanced human development (material and spiritual) to give meanings to freedom, peace and equality and clear purpose to global sense of humanity called Ummah. The message of Islam was meant for the whole of the mankind to be One Humanity living on one planet in peace and progress. But when the Europeans crusades colonized the Islamic world, they destroyed Islamic institutions and divided the Arabs and Muslims and made them fight for their existence as was their own history of the European cultures. Despite of the oil generated paper wealth and transitory economic prosperity, Arab people lack Islamic unity and force of being one Ummah to restore their own historical linkage to change and human progress. The Western media views them as source of entertainment and one track business deals to sell the obsolete weapons and consumer products but not valuable partners in global community. We live in an information age of images carved up by the few for business and human exploitation. The Western media networks portray their own manufactured images of the contemporary Arab and Muslim world – more so of the oil exporting Arab nations – twisting tail of the camel, women covered in burkhas or splendid shopping malls full of walking black veils versus bikinis.
The past decade has occupied the minds and strategic priorities of the Western leaders in their support of the War o Terrorism. Terrorism originates from the Western colonial powers but none would dare to concede it for the fear of unknown intellectual, moral and political consequences in contemporary history. When the European businessmen explored new world markets for diminishing resources and their armed forces invaded and occupied the vast Islamic world, there were no television, internet, video cameras and stone throwing public and voices of reason to call them foreign mercenaries, aggressors and terrorists. The colonization scheme of things was not outcome of the Western democratic values to spread freedom, liberty and justice but ferocity of violence and killings of millions and millions of human beings for the Empires to be built on colored bloodbaths. The European crusaders crossed the channels and unknown time zones to subjugate the much divided Muslim people as part of their superior nationalism perception and values that Muslims were inferior to the European race and could be used as subjects without human identity and as raw material to build the new Empires. Many centuries past, if there was a global organization like UNO, it would not have dared to call the European intruders as terrorists because it would have been their own organization as Muslims lived in slavery and denial of basic human rights and identity. In an information age, knowledge–driven global culture of reason, ignorance is no longer a requisite to learn from the living history.
British author and producer Adam Curtis (The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear: BBC documentary challenging the American version of the “War on Terrorism”), spells out the myth with clarity: “international terrorism is a fantasy that has been exaggerated and distorted by politicians. It is a dark illusion that has spread unquestioned through governments around the world, the security services and the international media.”
Ron Suskand – a White House insider (The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America’s Pursuit of its Enemies Since 9/11, 2007) shares intriguing and fact-digging perspectives how George W. Bush acted like an egomaniac and sadistic president and his immediate colleagues looking for excuses to re-enact the crusade against the Muslim World. Many Arab and Muslim rulers were willing partners and complacent in this project to safeguard their powerhouses and to ensure continuity of the neo-colonial governance. America lives in continued insecurity maintained by the corporate world and instigated by the former Bush administration. Paul Craig Roberts (“9/11 After A Decade: Have We Learned Anything?” Global Research: 8/24/2011) shares the prevalent perspective:
“Today Americans are unsafe, not because of terrorists and domestic extremists, but because they have lost their civil liberties and have no protection from unaccountable government power. One would think that how this came about would be worthy of public debate and congressional hearings.”
In a peak oil stage, the prosperity oil bubble is fast diminishing and the illusion of borrowed happiness and good time is already in ruins. Human development was neglected and economic man and women could not generate the Darwinian scenario of change and development. All of the Arab Middle East more so the oil exporting nations consist of the client states managed by puppets rulers, hand picked by the ex-European colonial masters and transferred onward to the US political hegemony. The trade-off was kept under check by the subsequent US administrations to launch economic development programs and make the Arab societies believe that they are progressive and will have new prosperous “imaginative communities” carved out of the dry and non-productive and ruined deserts by time and history. The real game was to ensure continued supplies of cheap oil to the Western military-industrialized complexes and in return militarization of the Arab Middle East under the aegis of fraudulent illusion of economic development and prosperity. The strategy was that one war will destroy the economic infrastructures and another follow-up planned scheme will rebuild them to be destroyed again hpw by another emerging conflict. For over a decade, the unending and bogus War on Terrorism continues throughout the Arab world onward to Pakistan. Daily bloodbaths and torture of the people paint a picture of the Arabs as if living in the draconian age without any recourse to civilization, reason and Islamic system of governance. Was the discovery of oil a conspiracy (“Fitna”) to dehumanize the Arabs and Muslim people and to destroy their sense of originality, culture and values? But in Egypt and some parts of the Middle East, people are getting organized and rising to the political atrocities which have been imposed on them by the sadistic rulers. It is obvious that the Arab world of today will not be the same for tomorrow. In Egypt, out of a terrible sense of helplessness, people have emerged with political imagination, courage and strength to challenge the authoritarian rulers on solid grounds and reasoning and attract global support and appreciation for their cause of peace and freedom from oppression.
There are more daunting challenges and opportunities ahead for concerned Arab-Muslim scholars and thinkers to grasp the momentum and try to sort out feasible remedies and workable solutions. The role and tasks of the people dealing with change and management of development is painfully challenging and progressive over certain period of time. The societal problems are complex and there is no single pill to diagnose the cancerous sickness. Professor Fouad Ajami (Arab Predicament) said it right: “the problems of the Arab world are the result of self-inflicted wounds.” If the one track rulers were open to listening and learning (vital traits of effective modern leadership), the current catastrophic wars against the Arab people – firing on demonstrators in streets, funeral processions and worshippers in Masjids, killings of innocent citizens and destruction of the social environment and political horrors could have been avoided. From Syria onward to many Arab lands, people are the victims of cruelty and planned brutality against the mankind.
The common Arab folks are cultured and civilized people with immense tolerance for diversity as the European and now American have capitalized their life, markets and governance. Historically, Arabs were leaders in progressive culture and development of human civilization, whereas, the West was in infancy learning from the Arab knowledge, explorations and scientific achievements. They remained the single most contributors of 1000 years of advanced civilization in Al-Andalusia (Spain). When the Arabs left Islam and stopped listening to voices of intellectual reasoning, they fell in disgrace. Money can not buy the honor and integrity lost because of the modern ignorance and arrogance of the neo-colonial Arab ruling elite. If the Arab leaders could change and reform themselves and return to their originality of Islamic Thinking and behavior, they are the best people to invite towards goodness and forbid evil. Arabs exponents of peace do speak but are unable to reach the majority of the media controlled humanity. The Arab religious scholars have not played any significant role in changing the societal aims and priorities except seeing the light only in mosques, whereas the people live in darkness. Their barricaded Islam is supplemented by matching regular salaries and making it non-active part of the distant history.
The question is how to encourage change and emerging new and challenging opportunities to undo the political and economic chaos and return to normalcy? It requires soul searching and foresight and strong commitment more than bringing a revolution to set the proper strategies and to initiate planned solid actions for the future. Do the Arabs have the proactive visionary leaders and competent people and institutions to deal with change and conflict management?
Some twenty-five years earlier while this author was teaching in the Arab world, took initiatives to share new ideas and foresights which were envisaged in “Towards Muslim Unity” – “Why Muslims are a Divided People?” and “Approaches to Comparative Strategic Policy Planning: Muslims World and the West” published original in English and Arabic translation in the Muslim World League Journal, Makkah, Saudi Arabia, AlMujtama, Kuwait and other papers/magazines in Egypt and elsewhere. The proactive thoughts essentially dealt with some of the political issues and tragedies encountering the Arab world today as I could see them coming while working in the Arab world. Strangely, nobody paid attention, not even the people who were supposed to be tracking the global developments affecting the interests of the Muslim Ummah. In a nutshell, a reformative system of governance based on legislative body – Ummah Council (Parliament), comprised of the elected/chosen scholars-thinkers and professionals from the Islamic world to devise economic and political priorities for change and reformation of the neo-colonial governance by keeping intact the existing infrastructures and figureheads, encouraging and enlisting participation of new and educated generation to assume the leadership role in policy making, decision making, development of public institutions, banking, common currency, enhanced trades between the Muslim world and the Western nations, interactive relationships with the Western institutions and reassuring the Arab rulers of recognition and respect without revolution, and a gradual phase-out and phase-in process of new governance for the future building – sustainable economic and political life of the Muslim Ummah as One People, One Nation existing in peace and harmony with the rest of the world and of course, without the authoritarian and despotic rulers. Is this not what is desperately needed in the contemporary Arab world to avoid further bloodsheds, innocent killings of people and devastation of the social and economic infrastructures built with oil revenues?
Imagine what would the history say about the Arab rulers complacent in America’s led bogus War on Terrorism – a crusade against Islam and about their leadership role model for the future generations to come? Take a moment and have a cool breathe and THINK if you can, of the on-going planned massacres and killings of innocent people, political horrors and physical injuries, intellectual and moral insult to Muslim conscience, and deaths and devastation these monsters have caused to the traditional and valued culture of the Arab people – how should the world view the Arab people, societies, Islam and their sense of moral values? Were there no conscientious and intelligent folks, scholars and thinkers to Think of the Navigational Change and challenge the absurdity of anti-Islamic authoritarianism? Was there nothing else other than handful of sadistic rulers, oil pumping and militarization as the culture and economy of the Arab people? These questions MUST be answered to the demands of history and future generations.
Devoid of knowledge and basic leadership traits, the rulers appear defiant and paranoid to encounter the voices of reason – organized and effective people’s revolutionary movements for freedom and new leadership. President Obama dashed away all the optimism for rethinking and rebuilding Anew America – different than the perpetuated insanity of the Bush era, more akin to peace and co-existence with the rest of the global community in particular, the Arab-Muslim world. It was a political myth that Obama used to get elected for the first time, not to govern and work out a new way of thinking for the future of the US policy behavior and relationships. Who is going to write the closing chapter of the history of the bogus “War on Terrorism?” Is the history going to wait for the cessation of the aggressive hostilities in Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan? Would the American-led war achieve its agenda priorities or meet the same destiny as it happened to the Romans, German Nazis and the USSR Empires? Ostensibly, history will judge the nations and leaders by their actions, not by their claims.
In his farewell address President D. Eisenhower (01/17/1961), made the following foresight, political and intellectual priorities known to the people of America:
“…. Together we must learn how to compose difference, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent, I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and lingering sadness of war – as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years…… We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied, that those who denied the opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full…….. That the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.”