Sigmund Freud wondered despairingly what a woman really wants. Muslims all over the world and even those Muslims living in the United States today are reformulating the question with a more pressing point, what does President Trump really want?
The USA likes to believe that she is the symbol of ethnic diversity and communal solidarity. However, time and time again history has shown this is not to be the case. The poor treatment of Japanese-Americans during World War 2 and the increasing isolation of the American Muslim community are part of the same spectrum of distrust.
Yet despite this American society’s strength has long been its belief that being American means something in itself, whatever the citizen’s race or creed. This something could be called the American Dream; it is about freedom, the rule of law, democracy and the feeling of communal harmony. Fortunately for America, despite the increasing prejudice they have been facing, America’s Muslims still believe in those ideals.
Henceforth, what the Trump administration must understand is that the majority of Muslims loathe terror and terrorism, so associating Islam with terrorism is not justifiable. The Trump administration is making a mistake if it believes that religious ideology is the cause of hostilities. Self-interest, irrespective of what religion you have, has always caused most violence; and it is as vigorous today as it was ever. Is Mr. Trump listening?
The time has come for the Trump administration to rethink its strategies and build bridges with Muslims around the world. This will derail the violent intentions of the radical extremists who distort Islam’s message.
Meanwhile, the two biggest foreign policy issues for Mr. Trump and probably also for his immediate successors are the control of nuclear weapons and the challenge posed by radical Islam. The only way to stop the emergence of a world of umpteen nuclear powers is to build international institutions which offer security guarantees to those who respect them and the certainty of retribution to those who disregard them.
As for Islam, as practiced by millions of Muslims all over the world, it poses no threat to the West, or the West to it. That point needs to be asserted to xenophobic Westerners as much as to devout Muslims.
But another assertion is needed, too: that Muslims should have the same human and democratic rights as anyone else. This is where Western values coincide with those ordinary Muslims and depart from those of Islamic militants. Only by stating those values, and by enforcing them, wherever possible, can the US prevent the zealots from winning recruits to their cause? That is the best hope for ensuring that more bombs do not go off in the world.
Trump administration’s policies have not deterred the Muslims, say observers. But it has certainly angered much Muslims opinion and dismayed some friendly governments, they add, not without reason.
In the world today, among the people on the streets and in many intellectual circles, there are widespread anti-war feelings. Nor does much hope lie in the proposition that the dangers of the terrorism will be controlled by the “war on terror” only. It is in stark contrast to the passive acceptance of the American-led global war on terror after Sep 11. But times do change, don’t they?
Furthermore, two conclusions worth feeding into the foreign policy computers seem to emerge from this. It would be a mistake for America to let itself become drawn into a long, distracting confrontation with Islam. Yes, at the moment some of these Muslims are fiercely anti-American but just as important, America should bear in mind that its future relations with Muslims depend in large part on Muslims’ relations with America. If Muslims are afraid of America, they would be more reluctant to engage them and vice versa.
The moral for the Unites States? Try not to let the next few years unavoidable squabble with angry Islamist lead to a total rupture. But this does not mean that they should let loose the radical Islamists. It would, of course, be foolish to support the radical Islamist and their terror plots. Both America and the Muslim world must shake hands and be firm on their dealings with the radical Islamist’s. Don’t let those extremists put their feet up and relax.
Bhuwan Thapaliya is an analyst, economist and the author of four collections of poetry.