Muqtedar Khan is Assistant Professor in
the Department of Political
Science and International Relations at the University
He is a Non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings
He earned his Ph.D. in International Relations, Political
Philosophy, and Islamic Political Thought, from
in May 2000.
is also associated with the Institute
for Social Policy and Understanding.
He has been 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) and Islamic
Democratic Discourse (Lexington Books, 2006).
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
is from Hyderabad in India. He is married to Reshma and has a son Rumi,
and a daughter Ruhi.
writes a regular Weblog called Globalog.
His articles on Islam and American Muslims can be read at Ijtihad
and his commentaries on global politics can be read at Glocaleye.
Theories of Ijtihad
Victory: Positive For All
in Hijab in Belgium
the Emerging Management Giant
Foreign Policy and American Muslims
HUGHES AND AMERICAN MUSLIMS:
An Alliance Against Extremism
Desecration: Far Worse than Abu Ghraib
in the West
The Threat of Internal Extremism
Iraq: There is a Third Way
This article was published in
The American Muslim [10.03.2006],
Al Ahram [Egypt:
5-12, October, 2006], and
Pakistan Link [5-12, 2006]
Iraq is a man made disaster. According to the
UN, 6000 Iraqi civilians were killed in July and August of 2006. In
September so far over 66 American soldiers have been killed. In 2006
nearly 20,000 Iraqi civilians and security forces have perished. The
status quo in Iraq is unacceptable; Iraq is slowly and steadily becoming a
horrendous humanitarian tragedy.
In addition to the loss of human life in Iraq, a leaked National
Intelligence Estimate prepared in April 2006 by 16 American intelligence
agencies asserts that US invasion of Iraq has become the single most
important reason for the growth and expansion of Al Qaeda and Jihadism
worldwide, increasing terror and making the world less secure.
Amidst mounting criticism of his Iraq policy, President Bush denies that
his adventure in Iraq is a failure. He claims that we are winning in Iraq
and also warns that unless we stay the course we will lose the war on
terror. Iraq in his opinion is the key to winning the war on terror.
But the American people are foxed no more. They are beginning to come out
of the spin zone.
The unending and unrelenting stream of bad news from Iraq is finally
sapping the American will to fight a war of choice. The recent victory of
Ned Lamont over Joe Lieberman in the Senate primaries in Connecticut has
served as a signal that public opinion in America has changed with regards
to Iraq and the coming elections in November may very well become a
referendum on whether America should ‘stay the course’ in Iraq .
Recent polls by NY Times, CBS and CNN indicate that nearly two-thirds of
Americans [62%] believe that things were going badly in Iraq . Now, 51%
believe that there is no relationship between Iraq and the war on terror.
This is a significant shift since June 2006 when only 41% believed that
Iraq had no connection with the war on terror. Nearly 82% Americans
indicate that Iraq will play a very important role in their voting
decision in November and 59% of those polled oppose US war in Iraq .
There are now two reasons why there will be increased public opposition to
continued U.S. presence in Iraq . The first reason is the specter of
American failure to achieve its goals in Iraq ; a world without terrorism
and a Middle East without dictatorship. There is a limit to how long
Americans can continue to support failure and watch thousands die on a
daily basis. The second reason is the growing realization that there was
no linkage between the war in Iraq and the war on terror. While Americans
do want to win the war on terror - there is no other option on that score;
they may not wish to continue to lose in a war, which was optional to
So far there are two plans for Iraq on the table: the President’s plan to
stay the course, and the demand by some Democrats such as Pennsylvania
Congressman John Murtha, to schedule an early withdrawal. In my opinion
neither plan truly safeguard’s America ‘s security interests.
While invading Iraq was wrong on many levels, withdrawing from Iraq will
not solve the problem; on the contrary it will only only compound the
dilemma. A precipitous American departure will lead to a full-blown civil
war with more bloodshed in Iraq , which will destabilize the Middle East
and undermine oil supplies. It will also embolden the radical forces in
the region, who will interpret U.S. retreat as a U.S. defeat. It will
inspire them to do more and will attract more recruits, garner more
support and perhaps launch more ambitious projects in the region and
In the long run a failed state in Iraq may very well enable the emergence
of territorial pockets under radical control that could become bases for
Al Qaeda and its mimics that could threaten U.S. interests across the
region and also subvert European security more aggressively. These groups
also bring death, destruction, and destabilization to Muslim societies
wherever they operate from. Clearly it is in nobody’s interests to see
radicalism thrive in the Muslim World.
The US cannot stay the failed course in Iraq , it’s a travesty, and it
cannot withdraw immediately. Both will lead to catastrophe, only on a
different time table. We desperately need a third way.
The key problem in Iraq is really the inability of the U.S. to put more
boots on the ground to patrol every street and every nook and corner in
Baghdad. Security in Baghdad is the first step to peace and stability in
Iraq. Also the visibility of U.S. occupation incites more anger and
violence and also to some extent justifies the insurgency. The U.S. can
perhaps diffuse problem by Muslimizing the occupation of Iraq, by
demanding key Arab and Muslim allies to provide the necessary additional
This year alone we will be paying Egypt $1.8 Billion in military and
economic aid, Jordan $468 million in economic and security aid, Pakistan
$370 million in military assistance, Indonesia $75 million in military and
economic aid. Why can’t these countries provide 50,000 troops collectively
to patrol Baghdad and save Muslim lives? How can the Muslim World simply
stand by and watch a Muslim nation implode without stepping forward to
Perhaps U.S. bravado and ascendant unilateralism has kept them away until
now. But everyone can now see how desperate things are. The U.S.
desperately needs help and its Muslim friends must be made to come
forward. It is time for the U.S. to call in some favors; a quick workshop
in humility for the White House staff may help kick start the process.
The failure of the Bush administration to acknowledge that it has
committed gross errors in its vision as well as in its strategy and
execution of the Iraq invasion, is forcing the American public to choose
between a losing strategy and defeat. It is time for the President to be
more honest, to acknowledge his mistakes and seek fresh ideas to resolve