America and The Muslim World

America’s relationship with the Islamic world has not been one of peace and comity. In fact, the frayed relationship between the two has several deep rooted causes stemmed by the Muslim world’s negative attitude towards American policies and the stereotypes and prejudices that the two hold about each other. It is a problem that has plagued the two since generations and has become even more pronounced in the recent era.

Bush administration did nothing but only widened this fissure by their “war on terrorism” on Iraq and Afghanistan. Was Saddam Hussein really a threat to his country or did the U.S. have some other intention behind his capture? The question still reigns supreme in the mind of all Iraqis. The terrorist attack on U.S. on September 11th, 2001 was the first glaring example of the distance between the two. The deplorable condition of Afghanistan, further enhanced by recurrent bombing by the U.S. in a bid to capture Osama bin Laden, only perpetuated more antagonism towards it.

America has always given unconditional support to Israel despite the growing unrest in the country. The Israel-Palestine conflict and America’s backing of Israel has further grieved the Muslims all over the world. The coffers of Israel have received generous contribution from the U.S. which again is perceived as America’s bias towards it. America’s foreign policy towards Israel has actually been its undoing. Iran’s nuclear weapon program against Israel is totally counter to America’s policy of no two nation states holding nuclear weapons. What would be America’s stand in case of an Iran- Israel conflict would determine its image in the Islamic world!

Besides the key points mentioned above for the strained relationship between the Americans and the Muslims, a number of other factors like ignorance of each others’ culture, the perception held by Americans as all Muslims being radical and the Muslims frustration with the apparent “westernization” of their culture has also fuelled the gap between the West and the East.

But, the Obama regime see themselves as harbingers of change and a new beginning and want to foster better understanding between the West and the East. The challenge facing them is daunting, nevertheless, the President has taken his first steps towards this change. The President’s speech in Cairo on June 4th, 2009 strengthened the need of a strong alliance with the East.

The problem can be resolved only through mutual efforts. Joint ventures beneficial to both should be undertaken and both should recognize the need for their collaboration for development and prosperity.
Educational institutions etc. need to be established which provide an opportunity to understand each others’ culture and do away with all the fallacies that they hold about each other. The alliance can nurture only with “mutual respect” as pointed out by the President and it is up to both of them now to resolve this animosity, or else, furthermore clashes would prove to be horrendous and their intensity would be seen worldwide.

Tanya Saran

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