Saving Grace

By now, the world is accustomed to being Eurocentric. But one could ask whether the world has truly been better off in a Eurocentric context. Some analysts and historians would beg to differ. From colonialism to the Cold War and finally the period of American expansionism overseas, it is almost impossible to deny that some people of European origin (including Russians) have committed grave sins against the rest of humanity, many of which have been recorded in history. Few of these sins – or crimes – include the genocide of Native Americans, the African Slave Trade, the Opium Wars against the Chinese people, the Holocaust, trampling over small countries during the Cold War, and most recently human rights abuses in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

            Thus, one question which arises is whether certain people of European origin can be forgiven for their complicity, passivity, and perpetration of sins over the course of several centuries against the rest of humanity. Also, can fear and paranoia be a legitimate justification for these sins? Some of the most prominent Western philosophers such as Kenneth Waltz and John Mearsheimer have argued that these things happen because of the “anarchic nature” of the international system. Moreover, can the imposition of drug trafficking, gun slinging, and mafia rule by Western powers over the rest of the world since the age of colonialism be justified?

            However, “the chickens are coming home to roost.” Phil Mudd – a former CIA and FBI counterterrorism agent – made some startling comments on CNN a few days ago. Mudd argues that government institutions in the United States simply do not have the capability or the wherewithal to quell an assault on all 50 state capitals by armed white extremists, which might occur both in the days leading up to the inauguration of Joe Biden and perhaps beyond. But the imposition of the drug trade, gun slinging, and the imposition of mafia rule over other countries is somehow within America’s capabilities. Essentially, Americans are now at a point in time where a tradeoff must be made between continuing futile efforts at sustaining what is unsustainable overseas or focusing on securing and stabilizing the homeland. If January 6th were not a wakeup call to Americans as well as government institutions in the United States, what would constitute a wakeup call?

But there are also a couple of countervailing questions which arise. For one, can a nation be held accountable for the sins of its ancestors and leaders? Also, can a nation be held accountable if they have not received the full chain of revelations? It is virtually impossible for intergovernmental organizations to hold some of these perpetrators accountable. For one, the United States, Russia, Sudan, and Israel are the only four countries which have bowed out of the “Rome Statute,” which is an international treaty that binds countries to the “International Criminal Court.” (ICC) The list of countries that are not members of the “Rome Statute” include the United States, China, Russia, Israel, Sudan, India, Iraq, Qatar, Libya, and Yemen.

Political parties have also paralyzed the country with their quarreling. They have come to Washington to fight and quarrel with one another, not to cooperate and help the American people. Moreover, all the stuff that the United States was criticizing Afghanistan for (i.e., government corruption, election disputes, ethnic and racial tensions, targeting of political leaders, the potential for an armed insurgency, etc.) are now haunting the United States. Irrationality and ignorance are now on full display in what was thought to be the bastion of enlightenment rationalism and scientific rigor. Whether one’s postmodern slant aims at cynicism, populism, neo-romanticism, or natural religion, the long-standing notion that Anglo-America was based upon enlightened rationalism and scientific rigor can be done away with when considering the demise of the British empire and the lapse of the American unipolar moment. Much of the allure associated with Anglo-America was based on sheer lies, some of which were the lies associated with global expansion overseas in the 21st century.

            From a realist standpoint, war never advances ideals or values. War – from a realist standpoint – is always driven by power or fear. Idealism never espouses war unless it is for defensive purposes. Also, the justification for “preemptive action” has to be defined precisely, given that “preemptive action” does not necessarily equate to self-defense, as we saw with the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The point of the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan was to revive the Afghan drug trade, whereas the Iraq invasion in 2003 was either to settle a personal vendetta or it was part of a crusade against Muslim countries. Preemption is justified when there is a “gathering or imminent threat,” according to Richard Haass. But how does one define “gathering” or “imminent”?

            Also, there are four conditions that justify the overthrow of another government, none of which were met in Afghanistan and Iraq:

  1. Self-defense
  2. Distinction between combatants and non-combatants
  3. Proportionality in the use of force
  4. Loss of credibility and legitimacy of a government has to be determined from within a country, not from the outside

Moreover, if the realist lens is viewed as not being credible – which is the case for so-called “idealists” in the United States – then what we are left with is essentially a postmodern mechanism which views politics and war through the prism of race and sexuality. One reason why race and sexuality are perhaps the most important factors in our politics today is mere statistics. Simple behavioral changes can alter these statistics, but it would necessitate a change in approach towards mental health. Research from the Urban Institute has shown that both death rates and the range of causes for death among white women between the ages of 15 and 54 are much higher than women from other racial groups. Statistics have also shown that suicide claims more lives than war, murder, and natural disasters combined. We are perhaps dealing with an existential crisis that has global implications.

            But if there is any resolute purpose to a person’s life, it is to perfect one’s behavior, cognition, and speech. It is fair to believe in the idea that people are born as “clean slates” (tabula rasa). People and environments shape a person’s behavior, cognition, and speech. But a holistic education and unbridled curiosity – not specialization – helps rectify these things, which are otherwise hard to rectify. As the Zen Buddhists have said, books without action equates to bovinity, while action without books renders one a soldier of Satan. But to master books, one must have recourse to “The Mother of All Books.” In turn, “The Mother of All Books” is a guide for observers and witnesses over the various communities and nations which have existed throughout history. These observers and witnesses ultimately must render a testimony either against or in favor of their communities and nations.

In Arabic, the “Ummah” is the collection of observers and witnesses throughout history who have had recourse to the “Mother of All Books.” These observers and witnesses thus have a criterion by which they can provide a testimony either against or in favor of their communities and nations. This is their life’s work per divine appointment. The testimony these observers and witnesses provide either against or in favor of their communities and nations is always balanced, fair, nuanced, and just, not biased nor whimsical. But once the testimony is rendered, a favorable verdict both in terms of history and soteriology is perhaps left to saving grace. After a testimony is rendered by observers and witnesses, there are then inexorable forces which veer humanity towards the final political and social aim of humanity, namely, accountability and justice, for it is only through accountability and justice that there can be global order and peace.

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