Since end of the defeat of the Nazis in 1945, the Western allies have projected an image of themselves as being representatives of democracy and human rights. In name of these ideals they have waged wars, imposed economic sanctions and carried out assassinations and systematic tortures. All these actions have been justified on the ground that peace that will arise after this bout of violence will be prosperous and justice. People, in Third World had no illusions about the realities of Western power, their complicity with corrupt and tyrannical regimes. After 1989, it seems that there was a sea-change, part of the contest with the Soviet Union was over its values and therefore it was important to demonstrate that United States was not just stronger but better. In period from end of the Cold War to the beginning of the War on Terror, the idea of a world in which history had come to end in its affirmation of neoliberal capitalism and liberal democracy as only means of organizing prosperous and just societies, become established. In this period, many of the corruptions of the American empire were if not forgotten, certainly, dismissed; American legitimacy to rule the world was hailed not only by Western elites but also Westernizing groups in rest of the World. Crucial to this image of United States as society worth of emulation was not only appeal of its modernity but its claim to be a moral force for good. The moral superiority of the United States was relatively easier to maintain when the fundamental contrast was the USSR. The United States could point to Stalin’s purges, the cruelty of the KGB terror and general violence that accompanied the establishment and the maintenance of the Soviet Union.
The view of a benign America persisted among Westerners who saw in the United States, the continuation of Western leadership of the world, as well those who saw it as bulwark against Soviet domination. Critical voices from regions which had direct experience of American imperialism found themselves placed in Leftist anti-imperialist ghetto, whose opinion was simply considered to be too extreme, their condemnation of the United States too harsh, and their expectation of a better behaviour from a superpower too utopian. Ten years on from the attacks on New York and Washington and declaration by President Bush of a crusade in the form of a war-on-terror, it has become clear war-on-terror that current United States polity is waging a dirty war on a global scale. In this global dirty the United States kidnapped, tortured, assassinated and bombed its way around Muslimistan. To explain and justify the American attempt to impose a global state of exception – its supporters have proclaimed that United States was an exceptional state.
As Obama launches his re-election bid after failing to shut down Guantanamo, failing to end torture in US custody of carrying assai nations of US citizens, of intensifying drone attacks on people of Afghanistan and Pakistan, it becomes more difficult to sustain the belief that some had that Bush administration was a just a rogue government not that the United States was a rogue state. The weakening of US legitimacy is most palpable sign of the attacks of 9/11. Combined with world economic crisis triggered by attempt to fight a global dirty war while keeping the rich happy, has opened the door for other countries to began to claim a moral high ground, not through empty slogans but through better practice. If we Muslims believe that the virtues of compassion and justice are central to Islam, and we may practice these in private, we need ask ourselves, that surely, these virtues must inform our societies. Governments that claim to be inspired by Islam should be in forefront of not building mosques but ruling through compassion and justice. A small step would be concerted campaigns in our prisons, police stations to abandon torture (both formal and informal) as being something outside Islam. Once upon time the prosecuted of Europe and elsewhere would seek sanctuary in Muslimistan. Attempts to build societies inspired by Islam without recognition that government without compassion is tyranny, is doomed to failure.
There is little doubt that U.S is military superpower, but it is not a moral superpower. Its loss of legitimacy and the weakness of its economy open the space for a debate which questions of justice and compassion can perhaps take place. In these conversations it is important that Muslim voices are heard. As intellectuals and activists struggle to forge a vision of a world in which neo-liberal economics and neo-conservative politics does not dominate, it becomes imperative the in these deliberations of what Boaventura de Sousa Santos calls the epistemologies of the South – Islam is present. This means that Muslims need to hold their governments to account not demand more prohibitions but more compassion.