American civilization vs. American politics

Abdullah bin Bijad al-Otaibi
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America is the most powerful empire in human history, and by virtue of its strength it influences the entire world, nations and governments, peoples and states. Its strength does not manifest in military might alone, but rather in a strong civilizational model that dominates all fields, leading humanity in science, knowledge, inventions and innovations.
The American model is impressive, on both the scientific and human levels. During the Cold War, we saw a strong leftist communist ideological attack on this model. Leftist ideology is highly influential in terms of its strong theoretical and intellectual structure, although it manifests in diverse paradigms around the world, both in terms of power and opposition.

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By virtue of its strict ideological structure, leftist models of government were almost exclusively totalitarian dictatorships, and this is why the largest stronghold fell in the Soviet Union and was later refined and softened in China. The American liberal left is the most controversial of these models; it became influential in American decision-making circles, especially during the time of former President Barack Obama and current President Joe Biden. It has influenced the leadership and base of the Democratic Party, not to mention its strong presence across the arts, drama, in universities and prestigious academies as well as the media.

Given the leftist roots of this American trend, it is natural that it has no love for Arab regimes, and monarchies in particular, while at the same time seeing nothing wrong with dealing with dictatorial theocratic regimes such as the Iranian regime, with whom the US concluded the nuclear deal. Today, the US is desperate to reinstate the deal, while Iran does not show any interest in moving forward with the negotiations.

McCarthyism, a term that expresses a kind of demagoguery and arbitrary accusations, was named after American Senator Joseph McCarthy, who launched a broad campaign against the communists and the left in America in the early fifties, before it became clear that most of those who were accused of being communist sympathizers were in fact not. It's important to remember that McCarthy did not dispute their existence but deplored the fact that they had infiltrated presidential administrations, the military, and official institutions or that they were agents of the Soviet Union.

Bernie Sanders, the well-known American senator, is an extension of that American leftist movement. He visited Moscow in the past and had a clear socialist passion, and his subsequent attempts to detach himself from his past and reinvent himself failed. In 2020, the New York Times published documents showing his ties with the Soviet Union. Sanders is no ordinary citizen, nor is he a marginal senator, rather, he came second in the Democratic Party elections for the US presidency twice: behind Hillary Clinton in 2016 and behind Biden in 2020, which clearly shows that the socialist trend is on the rise in America.

Political Islam movements have long been influenced by leftist discourse, both intellectually and organizationally, and the relations between the two parties are long-standing and complex, supported by extensive evidence and manifesting in a variety of models which we do not have the space to expand upon here. The main thing for us to remember today is that the American liberal left had a clear and comprehensive vision for the MENA region, which it sought to apply through the so-called Arab Spring of 2011. This vision supported the overthrow of Arab regimes and empowering political Islam groups, led by the Muslim Brotherhood, to gain power and rule the Arab countries.

This current does not hide its positions towards Saudi Arabia before it came to power, which were not friendly in any way. Despite this, the new Saudi Arabia proved to the whole world that it is an ally of America, but that it does not follow its lead in any way. Today's Saudi Arabia shows that it possesses enough power to tame the intransigence of some Western political currents and symbols. We need only look at the recent decisions of the US State Department and the Pentagon to see the results of the astute political dealings led by Saudi Arabia in the region.

Some Arabs and followers of Iran in the region believe their own lies, and after the recent crisis in Lebanon and the escalating Gulf boycott, which is gradually turning into a popular movement, the Lebanese Foreign Minister stated that they are talking with the Americans to mediate with Saudi Arabia, a trend that shows the shallowness of political thought based on ignorance and lies. The Lebanese political discourse continues to express political naivety and a primitive attempt that deceived only those who are drowning in the illusions of the Lebanese internal conflicts and their complexities. The leaders of Lebanon need to know where they stand in terms of the future of Lebanon, the state and the people.

The management of political conflicts is a science and an art, it takes skill, and requires one not be entrenched in a rigid position, but rather to remain flexible. This management can only come to fruition through a clear vision, intelligent planning, along with wisdom and patience. Many political conflicts begin and end without the need for military force, through rationality and political realism.

The Iraqi and Lebanese models are revealing in this context. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states support the stability of Iraq and the successful mounting movement by the Iraqi people in rejecting foreign interference as well as rejecting the blind loyalty of some political currents and armed militias to the Iranian regime, that do not serve Iraq’s interests, sovereignty, independence and security. It is a different matter in Lebanon, where all methods of support have failed, not only because of the terrorist organization Hezbollah, but also because of political currents that are allied with Hezbollah from other religions and sects, along with the failure of all political leaders to build a way out that protects the state and the people, dashing any hopes for change. The widespread corruption of the entire political class has thwarted foreign aid as well as youth movements and destroyed their hopes of building a future that would save their country from the clutches of this corrupt political structure.

Complete disengagement from failed states has proven to be successful and effective and reduces risks and the cost of confrontation. This model has succeeded in recent years and will succeed in Lebanon. It is in the interest of Lebanon, both the state and the people, even though it comes late in the game due to concern for the Lebanese people.

Finally, America as a civilization is a dazzling model of human achievement that no rational person should underestimate, while political America is something different altogether.

This article was originally published in, and translated from, pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat.

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Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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