Muqtedar Khan's Column on Global Affairs

  GlocalEye is an analytical column on global affairs. 
It seeks to understand the  simultaneous political
impact of globalization and localization.

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Dr. Muqtedar Khan is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Adrian College in Michigan.  He earned his Ph.D. in International Relations, Political Philosophy, and Islamic Political Thought,  from Georgetown University in May 2000.

Dr. Khan's column has appeared in The Daily Telegram, San Francisco Chronicle, Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Muslim Democrat,,,,, MiddleEast Online,, Arabies Trends, Al-Mustaqbal, and many other periodicals world wide.

For a comprehensive resume click here: Resume

Recently Posted Articles


September 20, 2001

American Response A Threat to Freedom

September 12, 2001

US Under Attack:
Implications for Muslims Everywhere

August 14, 2001

Pakistan: Paradise Lost

August 8, 2001

Iraq: Between Pain and Power

July 30, 2001

Indonesia Transition: Challenges and Expectations

July 15, 2001

Bangladesh: A Poor Muslim Democracy

June 25, 2001

Global Policy without Global Vision




George Bush's Global Crusade

M. A. Muqtedar Khan, Ph.D.

President Bush’s pronouncement that he would wage a crusade against terrorism has sent waves of concern and even anger in the Muslim World. President Bush and his aides claimed that it was a slip of the tongue and what Bush really meant to say was a “broad cause” against terrorism. If this is true then it is even more frightening. Is the idea of a crusade so strongly embedded in George W. Bush’ subconscious that it would slip out so easily?

Whether Bush is thinking in terms of a crusade or not, his use of the term has done considerable damage to his efforts to build a global coalition in his crusade – I mean broad cause – against a multinational network of terrorists. Not only are many Muslims upset and angry at Bush’s use of the term, they are now determined not to join him in his war against Muslims.  Moreover, they are responding to this comment by begin to wonder if Osama Binladen has been right all along that the US is an enemy of Islam and will use any and every opportunity to destroy it. How different, they wonder, is Bush’s call for a global crusade from Binladen’s call for a global jihad?

Insensitive and jingoistic diplomacy is the first threat to the international consensus that Bush must construct meticulously to make his plan to root out terrorism work.

There are other challenges to this potential global alliance against terror. These challenges are of two types; those that would preclude the creation of an effective alliance, and those that will undermine its stability and longevity.

The formative challenges will essentially entail the aligning of the national interests of diverse nations with those of the United States. This is not an easy task since some of the key players whose cooperation is imperative, such as Pakistan, Iran and Syria have had adversarial relations with the US in the recent past. All these states currently have US sanctions imposed against them that have prevented them from pursuing their own legitimate national interests.

US sanctions against Iran punish it for eliminating the enemies of Iran overseas. Now the US seeks Iranian cooperation to do the same. US sanctions against Syria are for its support to Hezbollah that Syria saw as essential for driving Israel out of Lebanon and Golan heights. US sanctions against Pakistan were imposed due to its pursuit of nuclear and ballistic technology, which for Pakistan is essential to balance India, an emerging and adversarial regional power. The US has actively undermined the national interests of these states, in some cases for decades, and now hopes that overnight these states will align their interests with those of the US.

To me this seems a bit unlikely, unless the US makes it worth their while. This raises another question. How far will the US accommodate the needs of other states to ensure their consistent cooperation?

Will the US drop the sanctions against Pakistan? Will the Iran and Syria get off the list of states that sponsor terrorists? After all how can US allies against terror also be on US list of state sponsors of terrorism? How will Israel and more importantly the powerful Israeli lobby in the US respond to this realignment and restructuring of the geopolitical terrain in the Middle East?

Demanding the full support of Pakistan, which includes access to intelligence, surrogate diplomacy, and permission to use its air space and bases to launch an attack against Afghanistan if necessary, will require more than loan guarantees and lifting of sanctions. Pakistan risks widespread discontent, split in the military establishment, a refugee crisis and even an Islamist uprising by meeting US demands. First and fore most, the US will have to convince Pakistan that they will not abandon it or ignore their legitimate national interests.

Is the US ready to make such a promise to Pakistan? More importantly can it fulfill such a promise? Will the US look the other way if in future Pakistan acquires advanced military technology from China? Or even better will the US replace China as the guarantor of Pakistan’s technological balance of power with India? Pakistan will surely seek an increased US participation in their dispute with India over Kashmir. So far the US has maintained a safe distance from this potentially Palestine like scenario. This may change given the criticality of Pakistan’s cooperation in the initial US response and its future assaults on anti-US elements in the region.          

The second phase of the US war on terror entails the systematic identification and elimination of the so-called terror infrastructure. The project to begin with seems very dubious. The US is taking the word of its intelligence community and Israeli authorities about the existence of this invisible empire. We must be cautious. These same sources were clueless about the horrific attacks that took place on Sept. 11th. Now these same sources wax ad nauseum about the extent, depth and scope of the perpetrators’ assets.

Nevertheless, to be success in the second phase, the US will have to enjoy a great deal of confidence and cooperation from Arab regimes. If the second phase follows a massive attack on Afghanistan including deaths of many innocent civilians, then Arab support may not be forthcoming. There might very well be a danger to the stability of the regimes whose popularity will diminish in direct proportion to their cooperation with the US, especially if Bush continues to make Freudian slips.

One thing is for sure. If the US continues to support, arm and finance the terror that Israeli military frequently unleashes against Palestinians, the Arab regimes will not cooperate.  It was only a month ago that they chose to scuttle the prospects of the racism conference rather than defer to US demands to compromise on their stance on Israel. This leads us to the most fundamental question – is the US willing to reconsider its uncritical support for Israel to ensure the realization of its own national interests and nationals security?

Bush’s global war on terrorism requires a global alliance. It will entail the restructuring of many existing geopolitical equations. Can this administration muster the diplomatic finesse and the domestic political consensus it will take?


This article has already been published in (Sept. 22nd),  Iviews, Muslim Observer (Sept 26th),  Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon, Sept 23rd) and  The Mirror International (Sept. 25th).

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