The Modernization of Islam

Dr. Susmit Kumar
Today Islamic civilization is going through a similar crisis that Europe went through between World War I (WWI) and World War II (WWII). In future Islam will cease to be the guiding force behind countries in the Middle East, North Africa and East Asia. Like the two World Wars, Islamic militancy and economic crisis will drastically change the global political and economic scene.

"The Modernization of Islam is an immersing, challenging, and probing study. Kumar’s text-book-like approach, clear prose, and coherent historical analysis make for a particularly rewarding read." – Military Review (pdf)

Introduction

(2008) – The 2001 attack on the World Trade Center and subsequent U.S. attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq have led political scientists to believe in Samuel Huntington’s theory of clash of civilizations1. Huntington's theory is about alignment and wars among various civilizations (Western, Islamic, Sinic/Chinese, Japanese, Orthodox/Russian, Hindu, African and Latin). However, what we are in fact witnessing is not a clash of civilizations, but rather the modernization of Islamic civilization. In my earlier article (1995) I wrote,

“Although fundamentalist Islamic states and powerful Islamic clerics will be the losers of a (Cold or Third World) War, Islam as a religion will emerge victorious and shed its seventh century image, becoming a new 21st century religion more tolerant to women and non-Muslims.”2

In order to give birth to a beautiful child, a woman has to go through the pains of labor. Similarly right now we are at a crucial point in the evolution of human society. Europe went through the same crisis in the first half of the last century. WWI and WWII were required to change the socio-economic and political environment in the world, and in Europe in particular. Had there been no WWI and WWII, there would still be kingdoms in most European countries. Also, most Asian and African countries would not have received independence from their colonial rulers. Islam is the only major world religion being enforced by a number of countries. Today Islamic civilization is going through what Europe went through between WWI and WWII.

We watched in disbelief the beheading or mutilation of hostages and soldiers in Iraq and elsewhere. However, Prophet Muhammad carried out similar activities, as is documented in the Quran, as these practices were prevalent in seventh century Arabia. We should not blame Prophet Muhammad for this, but we should indeed blame those who are following these seventh century Arabian practices in the 21st century. Islam is a question of belief by its followers. If we remove the divinity from Prophet Muhammad’s revelations, then the entire Islamic religion collapses and becomes nothing but the social practices of seventh century Arabia. The discovery of tens of thousands of pages of seventh and eighth century qurans in The Great Mosque of Sana’a in Yemen in 1972, raises a big question mark over the divinity behind the Quran. Those pages, if publicized, have the potential to destabilize the entire Islamic civilization.

After the collapse of the Soviet Empire in 1991, the US is now the lone super-power. But Islamic militancy and economic crisis in the 21st century will re-define the balance of power, and the US will have to share global hegemony with the EU, Russia, China, Japan and India. At the end of this crisis, Islam will cease to be the guiding force behind various countries. Despite approaching socio-economic chaos in the world, there is a bright future for human civilization.

Reasons behind the Rise of Hitler and World War II

It is difficult to blame any one country for starting WWI.[3] In those days, it was somewhat mandatory for a country to participate in war if its ally or allies were at war with another country, irrespective of who was victim or aggressor. Apart from this, as it used to take some months for a country to mobilize its troops, the adversary also had enough time to mobilize. Once the process started, it was difficult to prevent war because mobilization was an irreversible process; stopping it would make a country militarily vulnerable. Kissinger baptized this process, “The Military Doomsday Machine”.[4] Assassination of the Austrian heir to the throne, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, and his wife by a Bosnian Serb in 1914 started a chain reaction, which resulted in WWI.

At the time of the WWI armistice, the German army was on enemy soil in all directions, while none of the allied powers had their armies on German soil. U.S. President Wilson’s famous “Fourteen Points” peace proposal was one of the main factors for Germans to sign the armistice. Although Germany was not solely responsible for starting WWI, it had to suffer the most under the Treaty of Versailles. German leaders claimed that Wilson’s Fourteen Points tricked them into armistice. Had they comprehended fully, they would have had second thoughts about armistice and prolonged the war until obtaining better terms. Despite British and U.S. objections, France insisted on the reparation clauses and occupation of the coal-rich Saar region in the treaty, thus keeping Germany a weak country. In 1921, Germany paid the first instalment of 1 billion marks (about $250 million) as reparations by printing paper marks and selling them in the open market, causing high inflation of German currency. By mid-1923 the German mark was losing value by the minute, and workers were paid twice a day. Finally in 1924 an Allied Reparations Commission headed by a U.S. banker rescheduled payments for the next five years and urged the Allies to grant sizeable loans to Germany. During these years Germany paid about $1 billion in reparations and received about $2 billions in grants, mostly from the U.S. Hence it was the U.S. who paid for reparations and for German economic recovery.

By 1927 German industrial production bypassed its 1913 pre-war high. It is worth noting that before the start of WWI, Germany was an industrial giant second only to the U.S. Due to stabilization and upswing of the German economy, the popularity of both the left and right wing parties declined sharply. In the 1928 elections, the Communist and Nazi parties received only 10.6 percent and 2.6 percent of the votes, respectively. But the stock market crash on Wall Street on Oct. 29, 1929 and the following worldwide economic depression changed Germany’s economics and politics drastically. After the crash American investors, who were the backbone of the German economic recovery, started withdrawing their money from Germany. This caused a collapse of the economy and finally resulted in the rise of Hitler. The Nazis and Communists received 18 and 13 percent of the vote, respectively, in Sept. 1930, 37 and 15 percent in July 1932, and 33 and 17 percent in Nov. 1932. After becoming dictator, Hitler played his foreign policy skilfully. Kissinger wrote,

“Internationally, he ruthlessly exploited the democracies’ guilty conscience about the Treaty of Versailles… All his great foreign policy triumphs occurred in the first five years of his rule, 1933-38, and were based on his victims’ assumption that his aim was to reconcile the Versailles system with its purported principles.”[5]

The main motive behind WWI and WWII was the desire of European countries to “rule the World”. Bismarck’s unification of Germany created an imbalance amongst European powers. After becoming an economic and military superpower, unified Germany tried to get its “fair share” in the world, a prospect which other European powers could not tolerate and which led to WWI and WWII. Had Wilson been successful in implementing his “Fourteen Points” Charter, and had France not insisted on reparations in the Treaty of Versailles, we most probably would not have seen a Hitler. Hitler was largely the product of cruel and foolish diplomacy. For this very reason, the U.S. and Britain shot down Stalin’s demand of $20 billion reparations from Germany at the 1945 Potsdam Conference, which was held at the end of WWII to make decisions regarding the future of war-torn Europe. Instead of reparations, the U.S. helped these countries under the Marshall Plan.

Drastic Changes in the African and Asian Political Landscape

Although Hitler committed crimes against humanity, he should be given credit rather than Gandhi for India receiving independence immediately after WWII. Hitler destroyed the economies of Britain and France to such an extent that they were no longer able to financially maintain their military forces so as to contain the freedom movements in their colonies. It is worth noting that Britain received about one-fourth of the total aid given under the Marshall Plan. Regardless of Gandhi or any other person, Britain would have left India in 1947 for financial reasons. After WWII, Britain left not only India but nearly all its colonies including Jordan in 1946, Palestine in 1947, Sri Lanka in 1948, Burma in 1948, and Egypt in 1952. France also had to grant independence to Laos in 1949 and Cambodia in 1953, and had to leave Vietnam in 1954. Had there been no Hitler and no WWII, then most probably it may have taken another 40 or 50 years for India to get independence from Britain.

“Modernization of Islam” vs. Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations”

In the world, forty-eight countries have majority populations. Out of these forty-eight countries, only five (Bangladesh, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Suriname and Turkey) have a functioning democracy; five others (Albania, Gambia, Indonesia, Lebanon and Niger) have emerging democracies; and the remaining thirty-eight countries (Afghanistan, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei, Burkina Faso, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Guinea, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, UAE, Uzbekistan, Yemen) are ruled by monarchs, authoritarian rulers, theocrats (Iran) or nobody has control over the territory (Somalia and Afghanistan). In the Middle East, no country except Turkey, has a functioning or emerging democracy.

Before World War I, most of the Middle East was ruled by The Ottoman Empire, which was based in Turkey and existed from 1299 to 1923. At the height of its power in the 16th and 17th centuries, its territory included Anatolia, the Middle East, parts of North Africa, and much of south-eastern Europe to the Caucasus. After its defeat at the hands of the Allied Powers in World War I, Britain and France divided the empire into several small countries according to their administrative purpose under the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres and installed their puppet rulers as kings in almost all of these countries. Some of these kingdoms were short-lived as military rulers took over in countries like Iraq, Syria and Libya. These divisions also caused the present Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the 1991 Gulf War I.

Islam is the only major world religion enforced by several governments. Prophet Mohammed created a mass movement in the Middle East in the seventh century that culminated in a unified Arab state. There is, however, a need to reform some of the Sharia laws, taking into consideration socio-economic and technological advances made since that time. The Sharia is undemocratic and anti-secular, with no rights for minorities. According to Sharia laws in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Pakistan and several other Islamic countries, a non-Muslim victim is entitled to only a fraction of compensation for injury (ranging from one-half in Pakistan to one-tenth in Saudi Arabia) granted by law to a Muslim in a similar case. A person found preaching a religion other than Islam can be put to death in Saudi Arabia, and imprisoned in Morocco.

Although the title of my earlier article “Christian Vs. Islamic Civilization Another Cold War” seems to be similar to Samuel Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations, it was different from his theory of a coming crisis or social evolution. According to Huntington’s theory, various civilizations (Western, African, Latin, Japanese, Orthodox/Russian, Islamic, Hindu/Indian and Sinic/Chinese)[6] will align to fight among themselves, and in the early 21st century (say in 2010) China may start asserting its military might in East Asia which would cause countries like Japan to switch sides (i.e. from U.S. to China), which could lead to a global war between U.S. and China.[7] I pinpointed the cause of the next Cold War, i.e. it would start because of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan, by saying, “The U.S. has sowed the seeds of the next Cold War by employing the low-cost war strategy in Afghanistan. Although a rise in Islamic fundamentalist movements world-wide was inevitable, U.S. involvement in Afghanistan only hastened the process.”[8] Presently we do not have democracy in any Islamic country except Turkey. In Turkey, its secular military had to intervene several times to stop Islamic parties from coming to power. In writing then about the modernization of Islam as a religion. I stated:

“After the fall of oil-rich countries like Saudi Arabia to radical Islamic militants, Islamic clerics will try to establish an Islamic empire like the old Ottoman Empire founded during the 14th and 15th centuries. … If so, the UN will try to establish an economic embargo against Middle Eastern and North African radical Islamic states and isolate them, which will create tremendous hardship for the people there…After several years of this, when ordinary people fail to get relief from radical Islamic regimes, they will force a change in leadership and we will see the emergence of a number of Mustafa Kemals. These Kemals will bring drastic social and religious changes, and the West will help them financially.” … In the same way that two world wars changed the socio-economic and political environment of Europe, this war will change the Middle East and North Africa, which resemble late 19th and early 20th century Europe.”[9]

I further wrote,

“Apart from rising oil prices, we could see large scale terrorist suicide bombings in Europe and countries like India.” “Human bombs” (i.e. suicide bombers) are playing havoc in Iraq and elsewhere. U.S. Global Positioning System satellite-guided 21,000 lb. MOAB (Mother of All Bombs, the deadliest conventional bomb ever created), stealth bombers and F-16s would be of no use against these “human bombs.”

Despite taking the drastic step of dynamiting the homes of suicide bombers and even deporting their families, Israel has not been able to find the solution regarding Islamic militants. The problem with Islamic militants lies in their belief that if they die fighting non-Muslims, they will go to heaven. Unless their outlook changes, i.e. Islam is modernized, it will be difficult for the US to manage Iraq and Islamic terrorism. All Western countries, including the U.S. and India, have sizeable Muslim populations, and hence all these countries will face Islamic terrorism on a large scale for the next several years. Although unlike earlier terrorism, which was mostly state-sponsored and hence controlled by the U.S. via the U.N. by sanctions, most of these future terrorist incidents will be funded and organized by small groups or executed by individuals, and hence it will be very difficult to prevent them.

The present situation is such that under growing domestic pressure, the U.S. government will have to withdraw its troops from Iraq which will finally lead the Islamic fundamentalists to take over the reigns in Iraq. It will have a domino effect in other Islamic countries.

If there were free and fair elections in any Islamic country, then most probably the parties backed by Islamic militants, would win the elections. Large-scale unemployment and acute poverty, coupled with corruption in high places, produce militants and make them popular with the masses. In Algeria the army had to nullify the free and fair 1991 democratic elections because Islamic militants trounced other parties. In the October 2002 elections in Pakistan, despite large-scale rigging by military dictator Musharraf, Islamic parties won the majority of votes and formed the government in one state. Despite large scale mis-use of police in scaring voters away from the polls and rigging of votes in the recent Egyptian elections, the Islamic fundamentalist banned party Muslim Brotherhood, whose members fought as independents in only 150 seats, won 88 seats as compared to only 15 seats in the outgoing parliament. Secular parties obtained only 10 seats in Egyptian elections.[10] Hence in the initial stages of democracy, Islamic fundamentalist parties will win elections in these countries. But later on, when ordinary people fail to get economic relief from fundamentalist rulers, they will vote for reformers. In the end these reformers will bring drastic social and religious changes similar to what Mustafa Kemal brought in Turkey in the early 19th century, which will make Islam politically irrelevant in these countries. It is an irony that Turkey, the seat of the last Islamic Caliphate, became a secular country after World War I, but other Middle East countries carved out by the then colonial powers, Britain and France, are still kingdoms or under dictatorial regimes.

US, Islamic Terrorism, Israel, Iraq and Pakistan

Muslims all over the world and especially in the Middle East are against the U.S. for the following reasons: (1) for its double standards towards Israel and Saddam-ruled Iraq, (2) Israel’s use of US-made arms and armaments against Palestinians, (3) for exporting Western culture into Islamic countries, and (4) for having American troops in Saudi Arabia which has Mecca and Medina, the two most important places of Islam.

During WWII, more than six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust. It was one of the main reasons why Western countries helped Jews in creating the homeland of Israel that Jews had lost thousand of years ago. First Romans, in the first century A.D., and later on Muslims, during the rise of Islam towards the end of the first millennium, drove them from the region by force, and hence the creation of Israel became a healing process for them. But there is a limit to everything. In fact in 1995 when commenting on the plight of the suffering Palestinians, Ehud Barak, the highest ranking military officer and future prime minister of Israel, said that had he been born a Palestinian instead of an Israeli, he probably, at an appropriate age, would have joined a “terrorist” organization.[11]

Israel trouble arises mainly due to unwillingness to give back any land it seized in the 1967 war. After the 1967 war, the US State department was fully behind total Israeli withdrawal. But the then National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger successfully thwarted their work. In fact in his 1979 book, White House Years, Kissinger even suggested that Gaza should have been given to Jordan as a bargain for Israeli annexation of substantial West Bank territories.[12] At the U.N. Security Council, it is only the U.S. who saves Israel by using its veto; otherwise almost all resolutions (which were on its occupation of Palestinian lands and its illegal settlements on these lands) against Israel were passed by 14-1 votes.[13] Since 1982, the U.S. has vetoed 32 U.S. Security Council resolutions that were critical of Israel, a number greater than the combined total of vetoes cast by all the other Security Council members.[14] In the U.N. General Assembly, the number of resolutions against Israel are many more than the U.N. Security Council resolutions, and all of them were passed with almost all members voting in favor of the resolutions and only 5 or 6 countries voting against. On the other hand, the US used the U.N. to continue imposition of economic sanctions on Saddam-ruled Iraq, resulting in the premature death of tens of thousands of children and extreme hardship for millions. This U.S. double standard towards Israel and Iraq has alienated Muslims all over the world.

It is true that Israel needs security. But the land occupied in the 1967 War is not necessary for Israeli security. In 1993 the late Yitzhak Rabin told Bill Clinton[15], the then U.S. President, that he signed the Oslo pact because he realized that the territory Israel had occupied since the 1967 war was no longer necessary to its security and in fact was a source of insecurity. The Intifada, which had broken out before the Oslo pact, had shown that an occupied territory full of angry people did not make Israel more secure, but rather made it more vulnerable to attacks from within. Then, in the Gulf War, when Iraq fired Scud missiles into Israel, he realized that the land did not provide a security buffer against attacks with modern weapons from the outside. Also if Israel were to hold on to the West Bank permanently, it would have to decide whether to let the Arabs there vote in Israeli elections, as those living within the pre-1967 borders did. If the Palestinians got the right to vote, given their higher birthrate, within a few decades Israel would no longer be a Jewish state. If they were denied the right to vote, Israel would no longer be a democracy but an apartheid state.

U.S. interests lie in solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the earliest and may be to give a better deal to Palestinians so that Islamic terrorist groups like al-Qaeda cannot use the Palestinian issue for their propaganda and for recruiting Muslims in their terror networks. Due to pressure from various lobbies, the U.S. administration can not force the Israeli leaders to stop building settlements in occupied Palestinian territories, which have been declared illegal several dozen times by the United Nations since the 1967 War. These settlements are against the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, of which Israel is also signatory. Article 49 of this Convention clearly states,” The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” However, the moment any U.S. administration tries to exert pressure on the Israeli government, the strong Israeli caucus in the US Congress exerts pressure on the U.S. government not to do anything.

The U.S. Middle East policy is hijacked by the Israeli lobby headed by the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). According to a recent research paper published by two U.S. professors, John J. Mearsheimer (Univ. of Chicago) and Stephen M. Walt (Harvard Univ.),[16] the pro-Israeli lobbies have taken over the U.S. media (major TV channels and major newspapers) and also control the US Congress, where Israel is virtually immune from criticism. They wrote, “This is in itself a remarkable situation although Congress almost never shies away from contentious issues. Whether the issue is abortion, affirmative action, health care, or welfare, there is certain to be a lively debate on Capitol Hill. Where Israel is concerned, however potential critics fall silent and there is hardly any debate at all.” According to Mearsheimer and Walt, for these very reasons U.S. policy is always pro-Israel even if sometimes goes against U.S. interests.

As he was leaving office in May 2004, former Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC) noted, “You can’t have an Israeli policy other than what AIPAC gives you around here.” The Washington Post once estimated that Democratic presidential candidates “depend on Jewish supporters for as much as 60 percent of the money.”[17] Money is critical to U.S. elections. If a Congressman or Senator goes against AIPAC’s agenda, then his opponent in the primary as well as general elections will receive several hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from myriad pro-Israel political action committees. After the 1984 Senator Charles Percy defeat in Illinois (Percy had lobbied for giving AWACS planes to Saudi Arabia), then AIPAC’s Executive Director Tom Dine boasted: “All the Jews, from coast to coast, gathered to oust Percy. And the American politicians — those who hold public positions now, and those who aspire — got the message.[18]

Once Franklin D. Roosevelt remarked about pro-American Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza, “He may be a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch.” Following this policy, the U.S. overthrew democratically elected governments in several countries during the Cold War and installed puppet dictators in order to fight the “evil” Soviet Empire. It also “used” Communist China in this fight. Similarly, instead of getting rid of Saddam, it should have “used” the “secular” countries like Saddam-ruled Iraq and Syria to fight the “greater evil” alled al-Qaeda. It is well known that bin-Laden and Saddam used to hate each other. The Baath party, the ruling party in Syria and in Iraq during the Saddam era, is a secular party. Until the recent Lebanon crisis, Syria was even cooperating with the US in controlling Islamic terrorism.

Immediately after taking office, the Bush administration began organizing its pre-planned attack on Iraq. It did not attack Iraq to make the U.S. safe from terrorist attacks. There were three factors behind the U.S. attack on Iraq – (1) the oil mafia led by Dick Cheney (Iraq has second largest proven oil reserves in the world); (2) the pro-Israeli lobby led by neocons like Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Douglas Feith; and (3) an act of revenge by President Bush, Jr., as Saddam Hussein tried to assassinate his father Bush, Sr., in Kuwait in 1993. According to Paul O’Neill, Bush’s then Secretary of Treasury, documents were prepared in January 2001 by the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s Intelligence arm, mapping Iraq’s oil fields and exploration areas and listing companies that might be interested in leveraging the precious asset.[19] These documents listed how the oil field areas of Iraq would be divided for future exploration. Saddam Hussein was not a threat to the US in terms of terrorism, although his army was a threat to Israel. Also he was giving $25,000 to the families of each Palestinian suicide bomber. Had U.S. given some carrots to Saddam, he would have helped U.S. in curbing Islamic terrorism in the Middle East. But now the situation is that Iraq is going to be a haven for Islamic terrorism, just like Afghanistan.

Although the Bush administration projected Saddam Hussein as a great threat to US security and mobilized US public opinion to invade Iraq, actually Pakistan and North Korea are the two main threats, especially with Pakistan being an Islamic country and having both missile and nuclear bomb technologies. Pakistan should have been the first to be disarmed because all the top al-Qaeda leaders are roaming freely there. Before he boarded the plane to the US, the notorious shoe bomber was receiving orders via e-mails from Pakistan. The financier of the 9/11 attack was finally traced by the FBI to Karachi, Pakistan. Just before the July 7, 2005 bombing, the London bombers were in constant contact with Pakistan. Pakistan’s missiles and nuclear bombs can easily fall into the hands of Islamic terrorists as its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI – Pakistan’s equivalent of the FBI) has several factions, and they are working hand-in-glove with al-Qaeda leaders. It was the ISI that started the Taliban movement and subsequently installed the Taliban government in Afghanistan. Pakistan is the only Islamic country where Islamic terrorists can get “dirty nuclear bombs” and/or “suitcase nuclear bombs”. Pakistan cannot stop these terrorists on its own as its very existence depends upon “anti-India” slogans. Pakistan fought three wars with India over Kashmir. Especially after losing its eastern part (ex-East Pakistan which is now called Bangladesh) in 1971 with India, Pakistan is trying to take revenge by waging since 1989 a low-cost war with India in Kashmir, and by holding terrorist training campus for militants. This low-cost war has cost more than 35,000 lives.

Islam, Qur’an and Science

In 1972, during the restoration of the Great Mosque of Sana’a, in Yemen, laborers found tens of thousands of pages of seventh and eighth century Qur’ans between the structure’s inner and outer roofs. These are perhaps the oldest Qur’ans in existence. According to Gerd-R. Puin, a specialist in Arabic calligraphy and Quranic paleography at Saar University, Saarbrrucken, Germany, the Qur’an was an evolving text rather than simply the Word of God as revealed in its entirety to Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century.[20] Puin is actively involved in the project to get these Qur’ans on microfilms for interpretation. More than 15,000 sheets of the Yemini Qur’ans have been painstakingly flattened, cleaned, sorted, and assembled; they now sit (“preserved for another thousand years,” Puin said) in Yemen’s House of Manuscripts awaiting detailed examination.[21] But Yemini authorities have been reluctant to allow their open examination, as it might prove a bombshell for the entire Islamic civilization. According to Islamic studies Professor R. Stephen Humphreys, at the University of California, Santa Barbara, “To historicize the Qur’an would in effect delegitimize the whole historical experience of the Muslim community. If the Qur’an is a historical document, then the whole Islamic struggle of fourteen centuries is effectively meaningless.”[22]

Also religions like Islam came up only in the last two thousand years, whereas our universe is billions of years old. Till 200-300 yrs ago, our scientific knowledge was limited and people used to consider time and space in terms of hundred years and the nearby village/city/country, respectively. Hence there was some relevancy of these religions. But due to exponential growth in scientific knowledge in the last 200 years, these so-called religions are now out-of-date. Now we know that there were human beings on our Earth even 100,000 yrs ago. Hubble Space Telescope, which was sent into space by NASA in 1990 and is located about 375 miles above the surface of the Earth, is capturing light which has traveled trillions of miles of distance billions of years ago. There might be millions and billions of planets like our Earth in this universe, where human being-like creatures might exist. Some scientists say that there may be several “universes” also.

Our science is discovering the scientific laws of the universe and not inventing them. There might be millions/billions of scientific laws out there about which our present day science may not have knowledge. Right now science has detected and is studying the scientific laws of only about 4 percent of the mass of our universe using electro-magnetic waves, which is the only source of “detection/seeing” available. Scientists cannot “see/detect” the remaining 96 percent of the mass which they call “Dark matter,” as these are beyond electro-magnetic waves. Dark matter is made up of Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs) which carry no charge. Scientists say that WIMPS are about 100 times heavier than protons, but they rarely interact with ordinary matter. In fact, as many as a hundred billion WIMPS pass through a human body per second. For more than a decade, scientists are working hard to find out about these elusive WIMPS at deep underground centers like the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search in Soudan, Minnesota and at UK Boulby Mine lab. There may be several other particles like WIMPS in our billions of years old universe, about which “our present day science” does not have knowledge as our science is just couple of hundreds of years old.

Therefore from the scientific point of view, we do not know much about our universe. From the religion/spirituality point of view if there is a god, he would love each and everyone same, and he would give everyone (people who were here 100,000 yrs. ago or at millions/billions of other planets) equal opportunity to go to Heaven or Hell. We need a spiritual theory that is not bound by time and space. One life span of a human being is cipher as compared to the age of the Universe, and hence it is a million dollar question whether a human being (or even an animal) has just one life or multiple lives. From this point of view, it seems futile to fight for a few square miles of land in the Middle East, considering it for some people as a holy land, which has become a major reason for the present global Islamic terrorism.

Economic Recession and Its Effect on Global Politics

The US economy was in a deep crisis at the end of the Carter administration. The Reagan administration went on giving tax relief to the rich and increasing the debt. It was the Japanese who funded the US debt and economic boom of the 1980s. Had Japan not been buying US Treasury and corporate bonds, the US economy during the Reagan administration would have been in a worse situation than during the Carter administration. But still the economy went into a recession. It came out of recession only because of the advent of internet technology. But again, because of the “Wall Street Effect,” the economy went into recession. Now indications are that once the dollar collapses because of exponentially increasing US trade deficits, the entire global economy will be in a depression, as it will force the closure of factories and service centers in countries like China and India. US CEOs and presidents of firms are sending jobs overseas because they have to meet the expectations of Wall Street every quarter.

In spite of the Federal Reserve’s record interest rate cuts, the U.S. economy is going nowhere. For the last 15-20 years, the IMF/US directed countries to balance their budgets and devalue their currencies whenever those countries came to the IMF for funds during a crisis. On the other hand, the U.S. government went for budget deficits and a strong dollar in similar situations. This has resulted in over-valuation of the dollar. For example, the market value of the U.S. dollar in terms of Indian rupees is about 45 but its purchasing power is one-fourth this value. This resulted in the shifting of most U.S. manufacturing units and related jobs to other countries in the late 1980s and mid-1990s. With the advent of internet technology, U.S. service sector jobs have also begun shifting to English-speaking countries like India and Philippines. Like the “dot-com bubble” of the late 1990s, the "dollar bubble" is going to take a heavy toll on both the U.S. economy as well as the global economy, since most other countries are producing primarily for U.S. consumption.

The US trade deficit has increased from $117 billion in 1997 to $725.8 billion in 2005. There is no sign of any decrease in foreign goods consumption in the U.S. According to economist Allan H. Meltzer at Carnegie Mellon University, "We get cheap goods in exchange for pieces of paper, which we can print at a great rate." However, the mountain of U.S. bonds that foreigners are accumulating means the U.S. is going deeper into debt to fund its import binge. According to William R. Cline, a scholar at the Institute for International Economics, "Sooner or later, the rest of the world will decide that the U.S. is no longer a safe bet for lending more money."[23] In a recent article in the New York Times, William Greider, the author of bestseller, One World, Ready or Not, compared the U.S. economy with that of the ex-U.S.S.R. before its collapse.[24]

The collapse of the US economy will have profound effects on both the global economy and international politics. Like the collapse of the USSR military after the end of the Cold War, the US will not be able to dictate its military hegemony in the world. This will cause Islamic radicals to take over the reins in the West-friendly countries like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Kuwait and other Middle East countries.

Conclusions

After the end of WWII, the U.S. gave more than $13 billion under the Marshall Plan to 15 Western countries so that they would not fall prey to communism. During the last Cold War, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. did not fight directly on each other’s soil due to the fear of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) but instead fought each other in countries like Afghanistan, Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Somalia, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos. To fight the U.S.S.R. during the Cold War, the U.S. found it convenient to deal with one person, a military dictator, rather than democratically elected political leaders of a political party in Third World countries, because democratically elected leaders had a tendency to opt for Soviet style socialism rather than Western style capitalism, which was taboo among the poor masses. This resulted in the rise of military dictators like Marcos in Philippines, Suharto in Indonesia, Pinochet in Chile, Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaire, and Yahya Khan and Zia in Pakistan. During the Cold War, some of these countries suffered heavily both in terms of economy and casualties. Not only on humanitarian grounds, the U.S. should have given economic aid similar to the Marshall Plan to the countries affected by the Cold War to prevent those countries from becoming a breeding ground for militants. At present the U.S. has to increase its defense spending by hundreds of billions of dollars due to Islamic terrorism.[25] On the other hand, had the U.S. spent just a fraction of this amount in Afghanistan after Soviet withdrawal, it would have minimized the severity of Islamic terrorism worldwide.

In short, the present crisis in Islamic civilization is not Samuel Huntington’s theory of Clash of Civilizations. Rather it is the modernization of Islam. Today Islamic civilization is going through a similar crisis that Europe went through in the first half of the last century. In future Islam will cease to be the guiding force behind countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and East Asia.

References

1 Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations: Remaking of World Order, Simon & Schuster, 1997.
2 Susmit Kumar, “Christian Vs. Islamic Civilization – Another Cold War?” Global Times, 25, December 15, 1995.
3 Susmit Kumar, “Who was responsible for the rise of “Maniac” Hitler?” Global Times, 11, September 1996.
4 Henry Kissinger, Diplomacy, Simon & Schuster, NY, 1995.
5 Henry Kissinger, ibid., p. 289.
6 Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations: Remaking of World Order, Simon & Schuster, 1997, p.245.
7 Samuel P. Huntington, ibid., p. 313.
8 Susmit Kumar, “Christian Vs. Islamic Civilization – Another Cold War?” Global Times, 24, December 15, 1995.
9 Ibid.
10 Daniel Williams, “Banned Islamic Movement Now the Main Opposition in Egypt,” The Washington Post, December 10, 2005. A13.

11 Charles D. Smith, Palestine and the Arab-Israeli-Conflict, Bedford/St. Martin’s, Boston, Fourth Ed., 2001, p490.
12 Kissinger, Henry, White House Years, Little, Brown & Company, Boston, First Edition, 1979, p. 362-363.
13 http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/UN/usvetoes.html
14 Mearsheimer, (Univ. of Chicago) and Walt, Stephen M. (Harvard Univ.),“The Israel lobby and U.S. Foreign policy,” 3, March 2006 and references therein.
15 Clinton, Bill, My Life, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2004, p. 545.
16 Mearsheimer, John J. (Univ. of Chicago) and Walt, Stephen M. (Harvard Univ.), “The Israel lobby and U.S. Foreign policy,” 18, March 2006 and reference therein.
17 Ibid.
18 Ibid.
19 Ron Suskind, The Price of Loyalty, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2004, p. 96.
20 Lester, Toby, “What is the Koran?,” The Atlantic Monthly, January 1999.
21 Ibid.
22 Ibid.
23 Paul Blustein, “U.S. Trade Deficit Hangs In a Delicate Imbalance,” The Washington Post, November 19, 2005, A01.
24 William Grieder, “America’s Truth Deficit,” The New York Times, July 18, 2005, p.19
25 Susmit Kumar, “Forgotten Victims of U.S. Crusades to Save the World from Communism”, Global Times, 25, October 1996.

Dr. Susmit Kumar is an Indian-born writer presently residing in Lansing, MI, USA. He may be contacted at susmitk@hotmail.com
Blog: www.susmitkumar.net

Copyright The author 2011

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