Muqtedar Khan is Associate Professor in
the Department of Political
Science and International Relations at the University
of Delaware. He is also the Director of the Islamic
Studies Program at the University of Delaware.
He is a Fellow of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. He
was a senior nonresident Fellow at the Brookings Institution [2003-2007] and
a Fellow at the Alwaleed Center at Georgetown University [2006-2007].
He earned his Ph.D. in International Relations, Political
Philosophy, and Islamic Political Thought, from
in May 2000.
served as the President, Vice
President and General Secretary of the Association
of Muslim Social Scientists.
the author of American Muslims:
Bridging Faith and Freedom (Amana, 2002), Jihad
: Identity and Strategy in International Relations (Praeger, 2004), Islamic
Democratic Discourse (Lexington Books, 2006) and
Debating Moderate Islam: The Geopolitics of Islam and the West [2007.
frequently comments on BBC, CNN, FOX and VOA TV, NPR and other radio
and TV networks. His political commentaries appear regularly in newspapers
in over 20 countries. He has also lectured in North America, East
Asia, Middle East and
Dr. Khan is
from Hyderabad in India. He is married to Reshma and has a son Rumi, and a
writes a regular Weblog called
Globalog. His articles on Islam and American Muslims can be read at
and his commentaries on global politics can be read at
A Muslim Sermon in a Christian Church
Imam and a Rabbi: A Dialogue on Faith and Politics
America's Gift to the Islamic World
Obama: Will he be the first global U.S. President?
Global Order and Peace Making without
M. A. Muqtedar Khan | 12.24.2008
This article was Published in
live in an era of global governance. Through a complex network of
international organizations like the United Nations, the World Bank, the
International Court of Justice and the World Trade Organization, we have
succeeded in creating a pattern of governance without government at the
global level. Much of this global order was created under the leadership,
the financial assistance and the persuasive powers of the United States.
It all began with the vision of President Woodrow Wilson to create a
League of Nations.
For six decades, since the end of World War II, the U.S. has been the
primary mover behind the emerging global order and its main underwriter.
But for a while now, experts of international relations have been wringing
their hands wondering what would happen to this Wilsonian World once US'
global prominence and leadership declined. If the US turned its back to
the global order and refused to sustain it, or lost the capacity to do so,
would it collapse?
A possible answer has come from tiny Qatar.
Qatar is a tiny oil rich emirate in the Gulf and quite comparable to the
State of Delaware. Qatar has a population of about 950,000 and Delaware is
about 850,000. Qatar's GDP [the size of its total national income] is $67
billion and Delaware, which in 2007 had the highest per capita income in
the US [of $59,000], is about $63 billion.
Last month, the Delaware of the Middle East, stepped up to the plate and
pulled of a coup in diplomacy and peacemaking. It resolved a conflict
between feuding Lebanese factions that was threatening to break out into
another civil war with the dangerous possibility of embroiling Iran,
Israel and the U.S.
Lebanon had been politically unstable since Israel's devastating invasion
in 2006. Its US backed government had become dysfunctional with the
withdrawal of the opposition, the position of the President remained
vacant and attempts by the pro-US government to limit Hezbollah's
influence had backfired resulting in the Iranian backed group's takeover
of Beirut and its defeat of pro-US militias. As violence escalated and the
death toll reached 65, a civil war seemed inevitable.
Usually in such circumstances, the U.S. would intervene by sending a
prominent Ambassador or the Secretary of State to conduct shuttle
diplomacy, and resolve the conflict. But not this time. President Bush,
who just last week described himself as a "man of peace", abstained from
taking any peace initiatives.
Even if the US had sought to address the crisis, it would have failed. As
has been the case in recent years, the US found itself aligned with one
side – the government and Sunni Muslim leaders, and not on talking terms
with the other side. The "we talk only with those who agree with us"
policy has disabled US diplomacy. The world's most powerful player is
finding itself on the margins of peacemaking.
Tiny Qatar moved into the leadership void, hosted all the conflicting
parties at a conference in its capital Doha (May 16-20) and five days of
intensive negotiations later, they all came out with a peace deal. Lebanon
now has a President, a new electoral law, a functioning government, and
above all, Hezbollah has withdrawn its fighters and peace prevails.
Qatar has shown that with the decline of the US, regional players who
enjoy the respect trust and confidence of all parties can play the role of
peacemakers in the absence of the super power. Perhaps it is trust not
power that is the currency of peacemaking. The deal in Doha has diminished
US influence in Lebanon and by empowering Hezbollah the deal has also hurt
US interests. Above all, Doha has sent the message that US diplomacy is
not always indispensable.
Across the region we now see players stepping up to fill the diplomatic
leadership gap. Turkey has taken the initiative to open indirect talks
between Syria and Israel. For several months the two countries have been
talking to each other through Turkey despite Washington's
passive-aggressive response. Even the warring Palestinian factions, Hamas
and Fatah, have launched their own effort towards a rapprochement.
Pakistan has begun a complex effort to make peace with Taliban and its
allies. All of these initiatives are without US' blessings.
Clearly all the above are small initiatives with limited scope but full of
promise. No single nation, or a coalition of nations has so far emerged
that can play the role of the US to sustain our global order.
But tiny Qatar, with one giant step, is showing the way. Perhaps other
regional players like India, Japan, South Africa, Brazil, Turkey, Saudi
Arabia and the European Union can combine to give the US a much needed
staycation from global intrigue.
The world has benefited from the US sponsored global order; it is time for
others to share its burden even as they enjoy its fruits.
Dr. Muqtedar Khan is Director of Islamic Studies at the University of
Delaware and Fellow of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding