WikiLeaks is in the process of transforming foreign affairs and international relations in a dramatic fashion. It is revealing over 250,000 cables from US embassies worldwide to the State department and other classified documents. The consequences of this ‘mega-scoop’ will be very far reaching indeed.
For the United States the issues are both strategic as well as ethical. On a strategic level the leaks, which expose frank assessment of foreign leaders by senior American officials and American thinking on many critical issues; will complicate Obama administration’s ability to deal with its allies and may increase global cynicism about US intentions.
Many of the allies will be angry and distrustful. They will also be afraid of being candid in the future. All players in the future will be trying to second-guess each other, unwilling to articulate what their real intentions and goals are. After all nobody wishes to read a summary of their confidential dialogue with Americans in the New York Times. The revelations may also reverse many of the hard earned diplomatic gains made by the State department over the years in acquiring support for US policies from many nations.
The revelations so far about the Muslim world are eye opening. Muslims, even some American Muslims have raised criticism of American foreign policy to the level of religious ritual. Often Muslim radicalism and alienation is explained as a direct consequence of US foreign policy alone. The point being, US foreign policy is anti-Islam and subversive of Muslim nations. Therefore Muslim anger and radicalism against the US while often expressed in unjustifiable ways is still understandable.
But now that the shenanigans of Muslim nations, most importantly their collusion with America’s so called anti-Islam foreign policy, is exposed, what will Muslims do? Will they also hate Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt, Qatar and other nations just as much as they hate America? Or will they recognize that nation states, have interests and they pursue them in whatever ways they can; and understand that US foreign policy neither advances nor targets any religion.
The preliminary review of the cables by New York Times and the Guardian reveals the duplicity of many Arab nations on foreign policy, especially in the case of Iran. For example in the past few years, Arab nations have publicly countered Israeli propaganda that Iran is a bigger threat to the world, than the resolution of the Palestinian issue, with claims that the failure to bring a just solution to the Palestinians was the number one issue for Arabs and Muslims. But apparently, privately these same nations have been parroting Bibi Netanyahu’s mantra to the U.S., repeatedly asking the US to bomb Iran and even invade it with ground troops.
The Saudis refer to Iran, a fellow Muslim and “Islamic nation” as “evil” and have requested the US to “cut of the head of the snake”. The same cables also reveal that even now the main financiers of Al Qaeda are Saudi donors. American Presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have identified Al Qaeda as the biggest threat to the US and yet they collude with the nation whose citizens are its biggest financiers. Why don’t the Saudis cut off the head of the real snake, Al Qaeda, by arresting and imprisoning its financiers? Most Americans know that fifteen of the nineteen terrorists that attacked the US on September 11, 2001, were Saudis. None were Iranians. A significant number of foreign fighters who joined al Qaeda in Iraq were Saudis. This is a classic case of “the pot calling the kettle black!”
Do not interpret my criticism of Saudi Arabia as support for Iran. Its current leaders are a bunch of thugs who stole governance from their own people by force and made a mockery out of the idea of an Islamic democracy.
It seems that on key issues Arab foreign policy is the same as Israel. Except Israel is open, and Arab states are not. In future if we wish to understood Arab foreign policy, then all we have to do is take Israeli foreign policy and add hypocrisy (nifaaq) to it. Voila.
Another level of hypocrisy that Muslim nations seem to be practicing is in their dealings with their own populations. While the US is worried that WikiLeaks latest revelations will undermine its relations with its allies, Muslim governments are worried that these same leaks will expose the extent to which they routinely lie to their own people.
Nation after Muslim nation has been supporting and collaborating with the US and lying to its public about the extent of its support for US foreign policy. For example, the Yemeni President acknowledged that he would continue to lie to his people and claim American military operations in Yemen as Yemeni operations. Similarly, the Pakistani government does not want its people to know the extent to which it cooperates with the US on nuclear issues.
It is amazing how Muslim governments engage in policies that they know their populations will not approve.
Anyway now thanks to WikiLeaks, at least Muslims who hate America for its foreign policy must realize that their own countries are collaborators. Perhaps their hatred will now be more evenly spread rather than just focusing on the US. If they don’t, then they will be like their own governments – hypocritical.
Dr. Muqtedar Khan is Associate Professor of Islam and Global Affairs at the University of Delaware and a Fellow of the Institute for Social Policy and Understating. His website is www.ijtihad.org