Given the increasing drumbeat for military intervention against Syria and Iran, I thought I would share my February 27, 2012 reflection on John Esposito’s, “The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality?”
In reading John Esposito’s critical examination of what some call, “The Islamic Threat,” several important points came to mind.
He pointed out how the Cold War conflict was portrayed as a conflict between good and evil, with the Soviet Union labeled an “evil empire.”
Particularly interesting, was how he pointed out that it was good for the bottom line of the U.S. Military Industrial Complex.
After the end of the end of the Cold War, the Military Industrial Complex needed a new enemy on the scale of the Soviet Union. A hyped-up threat of “Islamic extremism” fit the bill.
This is all the more relevant since the event of 9/11, which provided the justification for a 10-year and counting war in Afghanistan, and the war on Iraq. Former NATO Supreme Commander Wesley Clark came out in 2007 revealing how, shortly after 9/11, one of his Pentagon contacts said the George W. Bush administration planned to take out seven countries in five years. (Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran) (http://www.salon.com/2011/11/26/wes_clark_and_the_neocon_dream/)
The U.S. has gone into Iraq and Libya, has broken up Sudan, is talking about arming the opposition in Syria, and the current administration is stoking the fear of Iran imminently obtaining a nuclear weapon, despite a former head of Israel’s spy agency, the Mossad, saying they wouldn’t obtain such a capability before 2018 (http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,796320,00.html), assuming they are actually trying to pursue one — which is completely unproven.
Another important factor Esposito pointed to is the gross distortion of Islam and Muslims in the Western mass media. He specifically pointed to one article that featured a picture of a Muslim wearing a turban, whose eyes had stars from the American flag in it.
I agree with his assertion that the intention of such a depiction is to give Americans a distorted picture of Islam and Muslims. Most Muslims don’t wear turbans, but that didn’t stop the editors of the article from depicting a Muslim wearing one. I agree with his assertion that it was intentionally done to portray Muslims in conflict with modernity.
Since 9/11, the new boogeyman the U.S. mass media had was Osama bin Laden. Another turban-wearing Muslim who lived in a cave in Afghanistan, while comparatively downplaying the fact that the bin Laden family is the one of the richest and most influential families in Saudi Arabia, and how they had business deals with the Bush family, as documented in the book, House of Bush, House of Saud.
Also, similar to the pattern Esposito outlined with U.S. mass media portrayals in the 1990s, since 9/11, they are failing to provide balance and context as to why there is conflict between “Islam and the West.”
The attack of 9/11 was portrayed as an attack by Arab “Muslim extremists” while conveniently ignoring some of the grievances that were cited as contributing to the conditions that led to the justifications that extremists used for the attack, including U.S. military occupation of the country with two of Islam’s most holy sites, and America’s ultimately unqualified support for Israel in its occupation of the Palestinians.
It’s sad how what Esposito wrote in his 1995 edition of his book rings even more true today in 2012, but it should serve as a wakeup call of the unfolding plan before it’s too late to stop “people (on our side and on theirs) who want to turn this into a holy war between two civilizations — as if that could produce anything but death or lasting misery, for millions.” — William Pfaff (Esposito, 188)
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