Dangerous meansIn conflicts, powers should avoid means with devastating long term effects like religious extremism
World politics since World War II has one highly common manifestation. The world powers since last century have turned conflicts into wars and transformed wars into proxy violence in bids to attain their legitimate or illegitimate interests. If the cold war strategies, the post-Cold War interests games, the post-9/11 situation and the recent Islamic State (ISIS) phenomena are reviewed deeply, it becomes crystal clear that the various powers have almost re-phrased the same old strategic modi operandi in the respective regions of the world.
Whenever individuals, political groups, regions, and world power blocs are involved in harsh competitions, they use legitimate and illegitimate means including conflicts to win certain geo-strategic regions and fight their interests. It is observed hitherto that the warring, conflicting, or competing powers neither care about minimum fundamental political morality nor do they formulate strategies to minimise destructive after effects.
Religion in Cold War
If we take example of the Cold War, the capitalist bloc had chosen religion as a means to counter and defeat the rise and influence of communism. Cold War is over now but the Islamic extremism yet did not come to a full stop. It seems that at the level of strategic planning, the powers do not think deeper about the means and tools of conflicts in a manner that their modi operandi stop causing further damage once whatsoever goals are achieved. This has caused great damage to harmony and human security in the world.
There is a common inclination in the international politics to make scapegoats of others for one’s own blunders. It is an open secret that in the Cold War North America, Western and Scandinavian Europe, Australia, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and some other countries from Asia and Africa were part of the ‘capitalist bloc’ led by the USA against the ‘communist bloc’ led by the USSR, which is now replaced mainly by Russia. Almost all countries in the capitalist bloc used, supported, and facilitated all means to defeat the USSR. One of those means was creating Islamist fighters (Mujahideen) against communism. When China came into conflict with the USSR over some territorial issues, it also started supporting the capitalist bloc and the Mujahideen through Pakistan during the late 1970s and 1980s.
Surprisingly, the same fraternity now criticises the USA alone for creating Mujahideen, while the rest of the partners are being forgiven. If the use of religion in a very retrogressive way for the politics of interests has proved devastative, all of those who supported this means are responsible for that. Hence, they are also commonly responsible for solving the problems that arose as a consequence. Criticising only one country would be injust.
Long term damage
States necessarily bring along war, and conflicts and competitions of interests are by products of state institutions. But this does not mean that to achieve their interests the world community may become irresponsible enough to use means that are highly destructive for humanity. The use of Islamic extremism for specific interests has already devastated humanity as well as numerous societies around the globe and now poses a huge challenge to overall international security. No doubt the world is paying for its own deeds in the form of security challenges and their economic consequences. Had the world not decided on choosing to extremise Islam in 1970s, it would not have been reaping Islamist destruction today.
The outcomes of the Cold War use of Islamic extremism have proved that as long as the world community does not respect fundamental humanistic principles in choosing their means, tools and techniques in their competition of interests, in the long run they lose more than what they immediately gain. Planning in a bid to pursue interests needs to seek a comprehensive strategy that makes sure humanity is not going to suffer in the long term. Therefore the means and tools of interest achievement need to have no or few side effects and no long term destructive aspects. This is a prerequisite for world powers to also adopt better strategic exit plans once their interests are achieved. The world community needs to adopt as a fundamental principal to pursue their interest in any geographical region in a manner that the legitimate interests and rights of that regions’ indigenous population may not be damaged. This can be seen as a contemporary interpretation of the Vedic term ‘coexistence’.
Shah is a Sindh refugee journalist, analyst and activist