The new emerging multi-polar world

Developing Just Leadership

Zafar Bangash

Safar 08, 1436 2014-12-01

Opinion

by Zafar Bangash (Opinion, Crescent International Vol. 43, No. 10, Safar, 1436)

The US-led ‘unipolar’ world is dead. A multi-polar world is emerging but what role will Muslims play in it?

The unipolar world led by the US was untenable, not least because the “sole superpower” turned into a rogue state. This was expected since the Western notion of power is thoroughly corrupt and materialistic. Even before becoming the “sole superpower,” the US’ benign face was only meant to project the Soviet Union in a negative light. The pot was calling the kettle black. Without having anything positive to offer to the world, the US and the West in general, tried to highlight Soviet oppression — the gulags, lack of freedoms etc. — while portraying itself as a bastion of tolerance and freedoms.

The true nature of the “benign” superpower stands exposed. It is characterized not by tolerance and freedoms but by such horrors as endless wars, torture chambers as well as intrusive surveillance at home.

The true nature of the “benign” superpower stands exposed. It is characterized not by tolerance and freedoms but by such horrors as endless wars, torture chambers — Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and numerous black holes where countless people have disappeared — as well as intrusive surveillance at home. Not only Muslims, the enemy-du jour, but even ordinary Americans have become victims of this all pervasive surveillance state. Every word spoken or written is monitored. Big Brother is everywhere. The ever-expanding watchlists to intrusive searches at airports have become the norm.

American militarism, however, has not gone unchallenged. Not only the target societies but also others took note and decided to confront US aggression. It was unrealistic to expect that US unilateralism or exceptionalism would last forever. Francis Fukuyama’s triumphalist declaration of the “end of history” has come unstuck. The world is not buying into US capitalism or its notion of liberal democracy that most see as hypocrisy.

While the US spent trillions of dollars trying to subdue countries like Afghanistan and Iraq and is now targeting Syria, others, primarily China and Russia, went about building their societies. The US has bankrupted itself in endless wars even if the military-industrial-banking complex has become fat on money siphoned into (and out of) wars. The “sole” superpower has become an exhausted leviathan. Its infrastructure is collapsing, homelessness has increased and bitterness has gripped war veterans who clearly understand they were used by an establishment that is not interested in taking care of their mental or physical problems — PTSD or broken limbs. The veterans feel betrayed and realize they were viewed no differently than inanimate war materiel.

The global system crafted by the victors of the Second World War is collapsing. Its signs are everywhere. Both China and Russia individually as well as in cooperation with other powers are beginning to challenge US unilateralism. There are unmistakable signs of the emergence of a multipolar world. This is a good sign but only insofar as it puts some check on US excesses. We see the evidence in Syria where Russia has refused to allow the US and its allies to do what they like having learnt from the bitter experience of Libya.

Nor can the West offer anything to others, especially Muslims, by way of “values” such as women’s rights. This was a canard used against the Muslims but recent revelations in Western societies about the mistreatment of women has exposed this fraud. While Western parliamentarians often claimed superiority over others, revelations about the sexual harassment of female members of parliament in Canada has sent shockwaves throughout the country. There is no mechanism to address the complaints of targeted women, even MPs. The situation is no better in other Western societies. Rape statistics project a horrifying picture of what is going on. Feminism has been a cruel hoax that only drew women out of the house and into the workplace to be used as cheap labour. The underlying motive was and remains exploitation and greed.

The emerging multipolar world should not be a replica of the Cold War. Muslims can and must play an important role by utilizing not only their material resources but also their moral and spiritual capital to make the world a better place for all.

The question that Muslims must ask is, what role can they play in the new emerging multipolar world. While it is important to work with others, it must also be borne in mind that it is Muslim resistance to imperialism and Zionism that has exposed the limits of militarism. The West is trying to distort the message of Islam by using and enabling takfiri organizations such as ISIS; sincere Muslims must reject these and project the correct values of Islam. Muslims can offer moral and spiritual values to societies lost in emptiness. While Western families are collapsing or disappearing altogether, Muslims still have a strong family base. Families are the bedrock of society. Stable families create stable societies; broken families result in broken societies. At least 73% of the US prison population comes from broken families.

The emerging multipolar world should not be a replica of the Cold War. Muslims can and must play an important role by utilizing not only their material resources but also their moral and spiritual capital to make the world a better place for all.

Zafar Bangash is Director of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought

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