The War On Terror has killed at least 62,000 people, created 4.5 million refugees and cost the United States more than the sum needed to pay off the debts of every poor nation on earth, according to a September 10, 2006 report in the British newspaper The Independent. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Muslim world, particularly Afghanistan and Iraq. But death and destruction are only part of the impact of 9/11 on the Muslim world:
Loss of Lives and Infrastructure
About 200,000 people have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. The two countries' infrastructure has also been utterly destroyed. Lebanon can also be added to this tally.
Weakening of the Democratic Process
Due to the war on terror, the democratic process has weakened in Muslim countries. America supports non-democratic regimes as long as they support its foreign policy objectives. This has undermined the apposition's abilities to challenge their governments with due democratic process. This ranges from the recent killing in Pakistan of tribal leader Nawab Akbar Bugti to the arrest, torture and murder of scores of opposition activists in Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan and other countries across the Muslim world.
License to Torture
Instead of upholding anti-torture treaties, America is using many Muslim and non-Muslim countries for the so-called rendering process. Several Muslim countries like Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Egypt have simply become bolder in torturing prisoners. America has created an international environment in which governments are behaving like lawless mafia. Extra judicial killings have increased. The torture cases in Uzbekistan where people were boiled to death and the killing of seven Pakistani economic migrant workers in fake encounters in Macedonia to please the American embassy are just a few examples. The war on terror is a major help to dictatorial regimes, who now have a license to kill and torture dissidents.
End of the Freedom Movements
Freedom and self-determination movements have lost support as their occupiers have branded them terrorists, taking advantage of the rhetoric of the War on Terror. The liberation struggles of Kashmiris, Chechens and Palestinians have been dismissed and free reign has been given to India, Russia and Israel respectively to crush these legitimate causes. This does not discount civilian deaths at hands of some unruly elements.
Loss of Civilizational Contacts
There has been a virtual halt of immigration from Muslim world. While neoconservatives and their hateful supporters may applaud this move, what is forgotten is that closing ourselves off makes us neither safer, nor smarter. It is only by opening our doors that we can build relationships with the necessary allies to fight terror.
It has become extremely difficult for Muslim students to obtain visas to the United States, leading to not only a loss of revenue and brainpower for America, but the opportunity to establish cultural ties at a time when the US is becoming more and more isolated on the world stage.
Worsening Freedom of Religion
There are different sects and schools of thoughts in Islam. But certain groups which look more conservative are harassed and deemed extremist. Men with long beards are forced to trim them in Saudi Arabia or shave them off in other countries. While this author does not associate piety with looks, it should be a free decision of a believer to grow a beard or not, not a regime forcing a morality. This is exactly what was wrong with the Taliban.
The Saudi Arabian government, as custodian of the holy places of Islam, has always been expected to act on behalf of the faith. Their embassies around the world were a source of information about Islam and a support to poor and small Muslim communities around the world. Now, the Saudi government has shut down the religion section of its embassies around the world, which used to provide free copies of the Quran to anyone who asked.
Partial Loss of Sovereignty
At least 15 Muslim countries have suffered a loss of sovereignty through the establishment of American military bases on their lands. These have become objects of hatred, playing right into the hands of Osama bin Laden, who has been campaigning on this issue since the first American bases were set up in Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War in 1991. In terms of a loss of cultural sovereignty, the curriculum in the schools of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan has been modified and rewritten, with foreign pressure, more than once, without regard to local history and cultural sensitivities.
Extremism is on the increase throughout the Muslim world, as the loss of sovereignty and respect for the aspirations and goals of Muslims is subjected to the whims of authoritarian governments. These regimes are often supported by America, whose promise to bring freedom and democracy to the Middle East rings hollow in the face of the war on Iraq and the war on terror in general.
Interestingly, instead of the terrorists, it is America which is getting the blame.
Photo Attribution: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Blackwater_Security_Company_MD-530F_helicopter_in_Baghdad,_2004.JPG