Global Jihad and America: The Hundred-Year War Beyond Iraq and Afghanistan


Taj Hashmi

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  • Praise for Global Jihad and America

    In the plethora of studies of Muslim militancy around the world, Professor Taj Hashmi's masterly work stands out. While seeking to deal with “the growing menace of Islamist insurgency,” it takes the problematic beyond the binary division of Islamophobia, on one hand, and phobia of the West, on the other. It contextualizes both and questions their given images that are often taken for granted in current discourse. Hashmi takes us back deep into history in order to understand the present objectively and precisely. It is a major departure from all current theories in its depth and originality.

    Harbans Mukhia Former Rector and Professor of History Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi

    Taj Hashmi's profoundly erudite new book helps to clear the water so callously muddied by Huntington's theory of “the clash of civilizations.” His arguments that the inability of the U.S. and its Western allies to understand the complexities and the dynamics of conflict, and consequently its flawed response to so-called “global jihad” has actually made the world much more vulnerable and prone to violence. In a tightly knit well-argued treatise Hashmi concludes that all societies—Islamic and non-Islamic, developed and developing, north or south—faced intensified risks of violence. His conclusion is chilling but cannot be ignored: state-sponsored terrorism and proxy wars—not terrorism by non-state actors—pose the biggest threat to the Third World; non-state terrorists pose the biggest security challenge to America. This is a must read for anyone interested in understanding the security threats in the 21st century.

    Gowher Rizvi Professor Emeritus University of Virginia

    A must read, this learned and provocative study argues persuasively that intra-Muslim conflict rather than Muslim–West confrontation will characterize the future. Hashmi's contrast of the tolerant Quran's embrace of all believers with the Mullahs’ pernicious interpretation of Shariah to demonize non-Muslims is profoundly illuminating but also deeply disturbing.

    Charles B. Salmon, Jr Ambassador (ret.) Foreign Policy Advisor Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS) Honolulu, Hawaii

    This is a most timely contribution by one of the ablest scholars and analysts of Islamic–Western interactions and relationships. He reminds us that before the cataclysmal 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Islamic and Western civilizations were allied against Soviet Communism. Equally, they were at no point in time discrete homogenous cultural–political entities free from serious challenges and fissures within themselves. Taj Hashmi pleads for serious introspection within and dialogue between the two civilizations in search of principles that can promote peace and harmony worldwide.

    Ishtiaq Ahmed Professor Emeritus Stockholm University

    Taj Hashmi's book penetrates the commonly espoused stereotypes and Cassandra-like warnings surrounding America's War on Terror. On important issues he offers insightful perspectives and nuances rarely evident in popular commentary. He discredits the assumption that the driving factor of future violence will be sectarian difference, positing rather that state failures to foster good governance, justice, and human dignity will be its real accelerants. In this elaboration he importantly provides the key to developing effective policy responses.

    Colonel David Shanahan (ret.) US Army Honolulu, Hawaii


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    To the victims of all unjust wars and terrorism. They inspired me the most to speak the truth, uphold justice, and love peace.

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    Preface and Acknowledgments

    No protracted war can fail to endanger the freedom of a democratic country…. If it leads not to despotism by sudden violence, it prepares men for it more gently by their habits. All those who seek to destroy the liberties of a democratic nation ought to know that war is the surest and the shortest means to accomplish it.

    Alexis de Tocqueville (Democracy in America, 1835)

    Since Islam and modern South Asian history and politics—subaltern peasants, working classes, and women—have been the core areas of my research and teaching, I contemplated writing a book on Islamic resurgence and militancy in Pakistan and Bangladesh long before September 2001. However, 9/11 has changed the world; it also has enhanced my interest in the syndrome called Militant Islam. This study reflects the combination of my theoretical and practical knowledge of Islam, Islamism, Islamist militancy, and American Homeland Security issues in relations to the perceived/trumped up Islamist threat to America. My first exposure to the Hawaii-based Asia–Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS), in Honolulu, a training academy for military and civil officials in the Asia–Pacific region, 2002, added a new dimension to my approach and understanding of terrorism. I am forever grateful to the APCSS for inviting me to a conference on Religion and Security in South Asia.

    Later, my four-year-long stint at the APCSS as a professor of Security Studies (2007–2011) substantially enhanced my understanding of Islamist resurgence and terrorism in global perspective. I benefited most from my interaction with military, police, and diplomat trainees/fellows from 40-odd countries at the APCSS. They enriched my understanding of Islamism, terrorism, and homeland security from their firsthand experience in counterterrorism (CT) and counter-insurgency (COIN) operations, from Australia to Afghanistan and Iraq; Pakistan to Papua New Guinea; and Fiji, Indonesia, Marshal Islands to Vanuatu. I also learned the intricacies and dynamics of the American Homeland Security by interacting with my colleagues, civilians, and military professors at the APCSS.

    However, after I had started working on the unique characteristics of political Islam in Pakistan and Bangladesh in 2009, our younger daughter, Sabrina, asked me while we were on a family holiday in scenic Kawai: “Abbu, why don't you write something focusing on the reasons we have to take off our shoes before boarding a plane?” She wanted me to write something, which not only scholars of international relations and world history would like to read but also business graduates (like herself) would find interesting. Hence, the shift in the approach and content of the book, which now focuses on the loaded concept of global jihad and its ramifications on America's foreign and domestic policies, and vice versa. I have written this book not only for scholars, security practitioners, and policymakers in the West, but also for students, laymen, and the average peace-loving people in the West and the East. I believe Americans, Europeans, Asians, and Muslims will benefit most from this work. It has many new ideas and information for some people, and conversely, some new ideas and information for most people across the board.

    Before I explain what this book is all about and why I have written this, I forewarn my readers that this is not another addition to the corpus of the ever-growing literature on global jihad versus War on Terror. I find both the concepts grossly hackneyed, politically motivated, and, hence, prejudicial. The cataclysmic 9/11 unearthed some of the base human instincts, such as cruelty, hate, and hypocrisy, and above all, our proclivity to lie and profligate. I think hundreds of post-9/11 books, essays, and writing in the print and electronic media are mischievously counterproductive, divisive, and harmful to global peace and order. Unfortunately, many of such writers and analysts—crypto-Islamophobes and pseudo-scholars—have already established themselves as Islam and terrorism experts in the West. Ominously, Western policymakers frequently take their advice and act accordingly to counter terrorism through preemptive attacks, and unauthorized invasions of countries. They give the impression that as if terrorism, particularly Islamic terrorism, is the biggest threat to Western civilization!

    Unfortunately, the Muslim world is also full of prejudiced, politically motivated, and fanatically anti-American/anti-Western clerics, writers, and analysts. They not only promote and believe in absurd conspiracy theories—such as Jews were behind 9/11 attacks or 9/11 was an insider's job—but they also portray the West as evil, programmed to destroy Islam, and regain their lost colonies in the Muslim world. Many Islamists are out and out fascist in their outlook. They believe and promote the concept of global jihad or total war against all non-Muslims, either to forcibly convert them into Muslims or perform qital or mass slaughter of non-Muslims and deviant Muslims. Interestingly, there has been a convergence of opinion between Islam-bashers in the West and Islamists in the East. Both of them believe that Islamists are engaged in a global jihad and the Muslim-West conflict is as inevitable and necessary as the sunrise each morning.

    This study raises the question if the ongoing Islam-West conflict has been the main conflict in the wake of the Cold War, and if the world is going through a conflict of cultures, between the Western and Islamic civilizations. If the Muslim world is an amorphous homogeneous entity, ever united, capable, and willing to challenge American and Western interests is another important question. If Islamist parties, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Ennehda, and Jamaat-i-Islami, can democratize or they are fascistic in accordance with the theory of Islamofascism is an important area of my investigation. Now many scholars, including me, are asking if it is wise to promote Islamist parties only because they want to come to power through elections.

    I have critiqued the following premises: (a) if postcolonial Islamist terror and anarchy are legacies of European colonial rule; (b) if the world has already entered the post-terrorist phase of history, whilst terrorism is irrelevant; (c) if terrorism was/is never an existential threat to America or any Western nation; (d) if Islam is a religion of peace and not responsible for Islamist anarchy and terror; (e) if the globalization process has created an uneven playing field for Western and Muslim nations, and thus, somehow responsible for the surge in Islamist militancy; (f) if the American Military-Industrial Complex and the Israel lobby are responsible for the Muslim-West cleavage; (g) if America is an empire and its imperialistic behavior are the biggest threat to world peace; (h) if Islamists are playing the second fiddle to Russia, China, and other contenders in the age-old conflicts of hegemony between America and others.

    Before I acknowledge the debt of my friends and colleagues, I must thank my wonderful daughters. Our elder daughter, Shakila, and younger daughter, Sabrina, played an important role in the formulation of some of the core ideas and arguments of this work. I am thankful to them for their constant encouragement and curiosity in the progress and publicity of this work. I thank their equally wonderful mother, my wife, Neelufar. She not only inspired me to work harder but also spared me from almost all household chores during the last three and a half years. Our son-in-law Ralf Rank has always been supportive of my work. I cannot thank them more for making this work possible.

    Last but not least, I cannot thank my parents more for inspiring me most. My late father exposed me to liberal Sufi Islam, which promotes tolerance and peaceful coexistence of Muslims and non-Muslims. I learned from him what willpower, moral courage, and integrity are all about, especially from the anecdotes of my grandfather's life. My mother is my first history teacher. She is the one who exposed me to the worlds of music, Sufism, Ramayana, “Ali Baba and Forty Thieves,” British imperialism, Mahatma Gandhi, and Subhash Chandra Bose.

    I feel indebted and most gratefully acknowledge all my friends and colleagues for helping me in different ways to write this book, especially Luthfur and Humaira Choudhury, Wali Mondal, Enam Chowdhury, Gowher Rizvi, Mustafa Chowdhury, Hasanath Hussain, Sadrul Amin, Hasan Rahim, Hasan Mahmud, Shams Chowdhury, Theodore Wright, Chin Bannerjee, Rahnuma Ahmed, Farida Majid, Sajjad Hussain, Shah Jahan, Sajjad Karim, Abul Kalam Azad, Barkat-e-Khuda, Col. Aziz Ahmad (ret.), Belal Baaquie, Ahrar Ahmad, Ahmed Kamal, Jawed Helali, Manzur Mannan, Mufakhar Bhai, Rashiduzzaman, Harbans Mukhia, Mumtaz Ahmad, Mumtaz Iqbal, Roger D. Long, David Ludden, Peter Bertocci, Joanna Kirkpatrick, Muniruzzaman Miah, Maj. Gen. Muniruzzaman (ret.), LtG Tahir Qazi (ret.), Brig. Zaheer, Babar, Rashid Malik, Ishtiaq Ahmed, Pervaiz Salahuddin, and Brig. Taha Al Jburi; late Enayetullah Khan, late Hari Sharma, late Joe O'Connell, Syed Kamaluddin (Editor, weekly Holiday) and Nurul Kabir (Editor, daily New Age).

    I am thankful to all my colleagues and friends at the APCSS. I am especially thankful to Robert Wirsing, Ambassador Charlie Salmon, Ambassador Lauren Moriarty, LtG Ed Smith (ret.), Brig. Gen. Jim Hirai (ret.), Col Dave Shanahan (ret.), LTC Butch Finley (ret.), and LTC Michael Mollohan (US Army); Captain Carleton Cramer (ret.), Captain James Campbell (ret.), and CDR Mario DeOliveira (US Navy); Ehsan Ahrari, Rouben Azizian, David Fouse, Steven Kim, Mimie Byrd, Rollie Lal, Virginia Warson, Elizabeth Davies, Tom Peterman, Bill Wieninger, Justin and Kerry Nankivell, Scott Hauger, Shyam Tekwani, Alex Vuving, and Alfred Oehlers.

    Last but not least, I am thankful to Rekha Natarajan, Sugata Ghosh, Rudra Narayan, and Shreya Chakraborti of SAGE Publications for publishing my work. I am also thankful to the anonymous readers of my manuscript for recommending its publication.

    No one else but I am solely responsible for the drawbacks, limitations, and inadequacies in this work.

  • About the Author

    Taj Hashmi was born in 1948 in Assam, India. He has an M.A. and a B.A. (Hons) in Islamic History and Culture from Dhaka University and a PhD in Modern South Asian History from the University of Western Australia.

    Hashmi is currently Professor of Security Studies at the Austin Peay State University at Clarksville, Tennessee. Prior to this, he taught Islamic and Modern South Asian History and Cultural Anthropology at various universities in Bangladesh, Australia, Singapore, and Canada, including the Curtin University (1987–1988), Dhaka University (1972–1981), National University of Singapore (1989–1998), and the University of British Columbia (2003–2004). Hashmi has also worked for four years as a professor of Security Studies at the US Department of Defense, College of Security Studies at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu, Hawaii.

    Hashmi is fluent in several South Asian and Islamic languages. He is a regular commentator on current affairs and global conflicts in the print and electronic media. He is a fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (since 1997). He was a visiting fellow at the Centre of International Studies, Oxford University, and a fellow at the National Centre for South Asian Studies, Monash University, Australia. Hashmi is on the editorial board of two international journals, the Contemporary South Asia and the Journal of South Asian Studies. He is a regular reviewer of manuscripts for several publishers, including SAGE and Routledge.

    Hashmi has authored scores of academic and popular essays and articles on various aspects of history, society, religion, politics, culture, and security issues in South Asia, Middle East, the Asia-Pacific, and North America. His major publications are:

    • Women and Islam in Bangladesh: Beyond Subjection and Tyranny (2000).
    • Pakistan as a Peasant Utopia: The Communalization of Class Politics in East Bengal, 1920–1947 (1992).
    • Colonial Bengal (in Bengali) (1985).
    • Islam, Muslims and the Modern State (coedited) (1994 and 1996).

    His Women and Islam in Bangladesh was a bestseller in Asian Studies and was awarded the Justice Ibrahim Gold Medal (Bangladesh) in 2001.

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