- Oh, then Islam isn't just a religion?
The spectrum of opinion ranges between retaining the status quo to a complete overhaul of the current antagonistic policy.
- Regardless of their differences, however, most foreign policy experts in the US agree on one thing:
- Obama cannot afford to ignore political Islam as the most dynamic movement in Middle Eastern politics.
Political Islam has been at the heart of Middle Eastern politics since the late 1940s.
- For a variety of reasons, it has constituted a source of political inspiration, legitimisation and popular mobilisation ever since. Throughout the past five decades the US made full use of this political phenomenon and its approach towards it differed widely, ranging from alliance to co-option to confrontation.
Throughout the Cold War, the US regarded Islam as a bulwark against communist penetration into the Middle East. Washington supplied Afghanistan's fighters with arms and money to drive the Soviets out of the country, helped Iran in the early days of the war with Iraq and supported Islamic conservative regimes from Indonesia to Morocco.
After the Cold War, political Islam fell from grace, but retained a role in regional politics. Washington overlooked the activities of some Islamists and provided sanctuary to their leaders - the case of Shaikh Omar Abdul Rahman, leader of the Egyptian Al Jama'a Al Islamiyya is a case in point.
The logic behind this policy was to use Islamists as a leverage to extract concessions from Middle Eastern regimes and consolidate US hegemony in the region. In addition, and by way of applying pressure on Arab governments to secure an (Israeli) peace and also to prevent a repetition of the Iranian scenario, Washington recognised Islam as a major political force and did not hide its intentions to co-operate with Islamist regimes as long as they did not pose significant threat to its two intrinsic interests: oil and Israel.
- It was the September 11,2001 attacks, however, that changed the picture, turned major assumptions in US policy upside down and set the stage for confrontation.
The Bush administration came to power looking for an enemy to justify its aggressive foreign policy agenda and convince a wary public of major increases in military expenditures. In the early days of its tenure, China was the target, but 9/11 supplied the Bush administration with a more credible and much needed enemy to pursue its priorities. A new policy line was established and some US scholars volunteered to provide the logic for the long-awaited crusade. ...
- Since 9/11, the US has declared a war disguised under the term "war on terrorism". By doing so, it ran the risk of bringing the fallacy of the clash of civilisations thesis into reality.
Should Barack Obama change this policy? I think he should. But would he?"