by Zafar Bangash (Reflections, Crescent International Vol. 37, No. 8, Shawwal, 1429)
Within a period of less than 30 years, Muslims have consigned one superpower—the Soviet Union—to the dustbin of history and are about to deliver the other—the US—to the same fate, together with its regional surrogate, Israel. The achievements against the US are particularly remarkable because the mujahideen have had little or no external help. Defeat of the Red Army in Afghanistan in 1989 should have led to a “peace dividend” for Muslims, but it did not. Instead, their sacrifices freed the captive peoples of Eastern Europe and led to the emergence of the US as the “sole superpower”. Far from being grateful, US elites immediately set out to crush the emerging power of Islam. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were the direct result of this mindset. Thanks to the valiant resistance of Muslims and the monumental stupidity of American rulers, the US itself is on the verge of a massive military defeat, coupled with economic meltdown.
The West in general and the US in particular have historically plundered the resources of other peoples to build their own societies. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, executed under the rubric of the “war on terror”, have also been aimed at plundering the resources of these regions. Afghanistan is a conduit for access to the resources of Central Asia, while control of Iraq’s oil has been the main aim of for US aggression there. Neither appears achievable now.
The rise and fall of civilizations is a constant in history. Every great power ultimately declines, often as a result of the destructive germs it carries within it. Even if we are charitable and callAmerica a civilization — some would call it barbaric, given its horrible record — its demise has come more quickly than that of any earlier civilization. Contrary to the claims of American propagandists that the twenty-first century is theirs, the US’s glory has lasted less than a decade.
Arrogance rooted in the myth of American invincibility and the horrendous crimes perpetrated against civilians have provoked worldwide hatred of the US. The rapid eviction of the Taliban from Kabul in November 2001 and the equally swift defeat of the Iraqi army in April 2003 led to American hubris. Given US technological superiority, this was not unreasonable, but wars often make a mockery of the best-conceived plans. In both theatres, heavily armed American soldiers have been bested by lightly armed but determined resistance fighters by means of asymmetrical warfare.
There are other developments as well that have hastened the US’s decline. Islamic Iran’s steadfastness and its refusal to be bullied by American threats have emboldened other countries, especially in South America, to challenge the US’s hegemony. The Hizbullah in Lebanon and Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Palestine have similarly achieved results that have boosted the confidence of oppressed peoples everywhere. Hizbullah’s victory over the zionist war-machine, not once but twice—first by driving it out of much of southern Lebanon in May 2000, and then defeating it in the July-August 2006 war—has radically transformed the regional landscape. Israel is gripped by a crisis of identity; many heads have rolled since the last demoralized Israeli soldier staggered back across the Lebanese border in August 2006. Last July’s prisoner exchange between Israel and Hizbullah drove another nail into the zionist coffin.
With the two most oppressive powers in the world chastened, it is time for the Islamic movement to take the initiative. It would be a great tragedy if once again others—Russia, China, the European Union or India—reap the benefits while Muslims squander another opportunity created by their sacrifices. So what must be done? First, Muslims should not become complacent: they must strive to deliver a resounding military defeat to the US of the same order as that was inflicted on the erstwhile Soviet Union. But military defeat is not enough; the US must be bled economically as well. Both are achievable goals. Second, Islamic Iran must take the lead in mobilizing the resources of the Ummah and must act as a coordinator to bring different strands of the global Islamic movement together. There is enough realization in the Ummah that leaders of Islamic Iran and Hizbullah represent the kind of model they find attractive and inspiring. It is this fusion of the central and disparate powers that must be realized.
The West attacks weaker adversaries like a pack of wolves. In both Afghanistan and Iraq, scores of countries are waging America’s war; in Iraq, the war was launched on a pack of lies, but there has been no talk of putting American leaders on trial for war crimes. That day will come, but for now Muslims have to get their own act together and unite their efforts under a single leadership—that of the leading edge of the Islamic movement, Islamic Iran—to work toward the common goals of the Ummah.
Nature abhors a vacuum; if the Muslims do not fill this one, others will. Time is of the essence; Muslims must seize the moment and bring an end to US/Western hegemony in their lands as well as elsewhere. Only they are capable of doing it properly, given their values and the will to make sacrifices.