Thursday, 22 September 2011

Israel running out of time for a two-state solution

This article originally appeared in The National newspaper:

Time is running out for Israel to salvage a two-state solution

Sep 22, 2011 

In the fall of 2002, Prof Sari Nusseibeh, now the president of Al Quds University in Jerusalem, argued that Palestinians needed to adjust to practical realities on the ground, and should avoid living in the dream of a greater Palestine. It was a comment that went to the heart of the right of return for Palestinians to modern-day Israel, which continues to be a contentious point.

At that discussion at Princeton University, which I had helped to convene, Dr Nusseibeh was risking controversy particularly because at the time he was serving as the Palestine Liberation Organisation's Commissioner for Jerusalem Affairs. Nine years later, we see that it is the Israeli leadership that refuses to let go of the concept of "Eretz Israel", or Greater Israel.

It is a common refrain of critics that the Palestinians "never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity". Today, however, it is Israel that is presented with an opportunity it cannot afford to pass up - and yet it is doing everything it can to avoid a just and peaceful resolution of the conflict.

For the past 23 years, the PLO has operated under the formula of seeking a two-state solution to the Palestinian issue. Since the initial PLO declaration of 1988 we have had the Madrid Conference, the Oslo Accords, the Taba negotiations, the Arab Peace Initiative, the Road Map and the non-directed Obama process, all in the service of creating two states.

This vision of course is of two countries living side by side with one another. Nevertheless, the Palestinians would have only 22 per cent of the original mandate of British Palestine, essentially consisting of the West Bank and Gaza Strip along with a presence in East Jerusalem.

It has not been an easy proposition for Palestinians and their leadership to accept a prospect predicated on inequality, one that in effect would necessitate the negation of the return of many refugees to their original homes. Yet that is what has been accepted by the mainstream Palestinian leadership, and supported by countless polls in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

What has been the Israeli response? For many years the assertion was that the so-called Six Day War of 1967, during which Israel seized the Golan Heights, the Sinai Peninsula and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, would lead to eventual peace. While the Sinai was in fact part of a land-for-peace deal with Egypt, Israel continues not only to occupy but also to populate and further entrench its presence in the Golan Heights and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. In fact there are now nearly 500,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the vast majority of this population growth has come since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993.

Rather than move closer to a solution, the current Israeli government, led by the Likud Party's Benjamin Netanyahu and influenced by right-wing populist Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister, has shown utter contempt for any modicum of reconciliation. This reality was most vividly demonstrated last spring, when Israel announced a plan for the construction of 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem during the visit of the US vice president Joseph Biden.

Tomorrow, when the Palestinians led by President Mahmoud Abbas present to the United Nations their proposal for full recognition of Palestine within the 1967 borders, they will in effect be giving one last breath to the two-state solution and to recognition of Israel. In years past Israel may have eschewed any recognition of a Palestinian state, but today that policy has become untenable.

The world around Israel has fundamentally changed. Economically Israel is no longer the superior force in the region. Politically, its influence is waning worldwide, and long-standing regional allies such as Egypt and Turkey are now far from its side.

Demographically, Israel faces the stark choice between peace and apartheid. If Israel in these crucial stages turns its back on recognition of Palestine, it might well be turning its back on the prospect of a two-state solution. A significant portion of the Palestinian population in the Occupied Territories, and certainly in the diaspora, would be more than willing to pursue a one-state solution - practical or not - as in South Africa.

Yet all signs point to Israel continuing to read from the same old playbook, using the same language and making the same accusations against the Palestinians as in years past. It seems that Israel once again appears to be ready to miss an opportunity. This time, however, it may also be missing its last chance at the two-state solution and the last chance for its own statehood.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Canada plays the wrong hand on Palestine

This article originally appeared in the Toronto Star, which you can find by clicking here:

Canada Plays the Wrong Hand on Palestine
Toronto Star 

“Canada views this action as very regrettable and we will be opposing it at the United Nations.”
This was Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s response to the Palestinian campaign for international recognition, ahead of his trip to the United Nations General Assembly. It was blunt. It was clear. It was wrong.
For years Canada has played an even-handed role in the Middle East but today it finds itself clearly allied with one side of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Yet Harper’s position ahead of the meetings this week not only appears biased but it also undermines the prospects for peace and the interests of both Palestinians and Israelis.
In 1957, former prime minister Lester Pearson was the first and last Canadian recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, awarded for his efforts in resolving the Suez Crisis a year earlier, serving as an honest peacemaker between Egypt, Israel, the United Kingdom and France. That perception of even-handedness toward the region has slowly faded over time, in particular since Harper came to power in 2006. In a speech last year, he went so far as to say that Canada will maintain its pro-Israeli stand “whatever the cost.”
The government has doubled-down on its support, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Israeli Foreign Minister Avidgor Lieberman, a controversial figure at best. This week on his most recent visit, Lieberman labelled Canada “our best, most reliable friend in the world.” There is a lot to question about blind attachment in this impregnable alliance Harper has forged. Is it in Canada’s interest? Does it undermine our reputation globally? Are we unduly ignoring human rights abuses committed by Israel? However, what is most poignant is that Canada’s current position vis-à-vis the Palestinian push for UN recognition may in fact be against fundamental Israeli interests as well.
When Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas puts forth an application for full recognition from the UN on Friday, it will be the culmination of a long struggle for self-determination for a people still without a state. We could debate the history of the conflict ad nauseam and evaluate fruitlessly who is more culpable, but the truth remains that the Palestinians legally and morally have the right to statehood.
The current drive for UN recognition derives from the moderate wing of the political spectrum and is designed to facilitate a diplomatic and peaceful resolution of the conflict. The vast majority of countries, including members of the European Union, are likely to vote for the recognition of Palestine as a state; even a recent BBC poll (2011) showed that 46 per cent of Canadians supported voting in favour while only 25 per cent were against. The Canadian position not only will be going against the grain internationally but will also fly against the face of public opinion domestically.
More important, what alternative is Canada supporting? A continuation of the status quo? The empowerment of the more extremist and perhaps violent elements in the Palestinian leadership that only further threaten Israeli security? If formal recognition of a Palestinian state is considered regrettable, then what message does that send Palestinians regarding the entire peace process?
Unfortunately, the Harper government has adopted a belief that being pro-Palestinian equates to being anti-Israeli and vice versa. In fact, this manufactured duality belies a more nuanced reality. By recognizing Palestine, the Harper government would not by any means have to give up its pro-Israeli stance. Canada would still condemn Hamas and other terror organizations. Canada would still support Israel against all existential threats. Canada would still stand against anti-Semitism in all its forms.
Conversely, the message Canada would send is that it supports a peaceful resolution to the conflict based on two states living side-by-side. A two-state solution, however, by its very nature requires recognition of Palestine. By going against this very basic principle at the United Nations, the Harper government is sending a very clear message to both Israelis and Palestinians — it is not just anti-Palestinian; it is anti-peace.

Israel's Legitimacy Flows Through Palestine

The original version of this post appears on Huffington Post at (


Israel's Legitimacy Flows Through Palestine

Huffington Post (September 20, 2011)

"It's impossible to impose peace from the outside. It won't happen," bellowed confidently long-time Israeli spokesman Mark Regev in his robust Australian accent. Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon expressed incredulously, "They say they are against violence but then they use political violence." Even the Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu pointedly called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to "stop wasting time". Israeli officials have been pseudo-confidently telling whoever will listen that the Palestinian pursuit for recognition at the United Nations is an affront to the peace process. Didn't the Palestinians know that their legitimacy -- and the creation of their state -- flows through Israel? At some point in the last couple of years the mainstream Palestinian political leadership finally emerged out of Plato's cave and answered that rhetorical question: It's Israel's legitimacy that flows in fact through Palestine.
The claim that the Palestinian effort at the UN seeks to discredit the State of Israel is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. In fact it is Israel's future legitimacy that derives from the creation of a Palestinian state. The longer its political leaders procrastinate, the more tenuous its legitimacy as a democratic and viable state becomes.
What is remarkable about the recent campaign by the PLO leadership in pursuing recognition of Palestine at the United Nations, is that it is at its heart about arriving at a peaceful resolution to the conflict and recognizing Israel's right to exist. Explicit in the recognition of Palestine on the basis of previous UN resolutions (242 and 338) is that Israel has a right to exist on 78% of historic Palestine. Moreover, rather than pursue a resolution by way of violence, Abbas and his team have invested in the diplomatic and legal process. Instead of being praised or rewarded the Israelis and many U.S. politicians have invoked the spirit of Chicken Little and declared that the sky is falling. The moment presented in front of the world is one where 'moderates' (according to the West) can genuinely be empowered. Instead the opposite is occurring, as the U.S. Congress threatens to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority if Abbas continues with his push for recognition.
While the U.S. will likely veto and thwart the Palestinian bid for recognition at the Security Council, this will not do much to end the effort. In fact, this is just the beginning of a last stand by Palestinians for a two-state solution before the latter idea is deemed itself to not have any viability. If the U.S. and Israel oppose even the symbolic recognition of Palestine at the United Nations, what prospects for a real two-state solution are there? There is a dreamy aspect to an Eretz Israel that encompasses Judea and Samaria in some hyper-Jewish state but it is precisely that -- a dream. The longer Israel punts a realistic and explicit commitment to a two-state solution the more it undercuts its own legitimacy. Israel today is surrounded by a changing Middle East, where it is losing its political, economic, and military edge; traditional allies such as Turkey and Egypt are quickly transforming into adversaries. Demographically it cannot continue to lord over the West Bank, Gaza (yes Gaza), and East Jerusalem (yes East Jerusalem) for time immemorial without facing a scenario of apartheid. The latter point is not made by a pro-Palestinian peacenik but rather byIsraeli defense minister Ehud Barak.
What is the alternative presented to the Palestinians by Israeli Foreign Minister Avidgor Lieberman or U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) for that matter? Thus far there is no light offered at the end of the tunnel. Moreover, by rejecting the current Palestinian attempt to enshrine a two-state solution at the United Nations, Israel risks opening the pandora's box of what's next. Who is to say that the Palestinian leadership in the face of a lack of progress won't switch to backing a bi-national democratic state à la South Africa? In the eyes of the world -- which is generally supportive including in U.S. popular opinion of the Palestinian attempt at recognition -- how legitimate would the State of Israel be without a Palestine?
It seems that both Israel and the U.S. have already made up their minds regarding the vote this week. However, this issue will not disappear and will continue to linger. The Palestinian leadership is trying to firmly establish the legitimacy of the two state solution and the existence of Israel. The question remains will Israel undermine its own legitimacy in response?

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Palestine belongs in the community of nations

On September 23, 2011, the Palestinians will likely submit their bid to the United Nations Security Council for an application for membership to the international body and acceptance into the community of nations. If accepted they would be the 194th member state -- over 62 years after Israel gained the same recognition. Yet, most likely their bid will be rejected and vetoed by the United States. In fact, some critics of the Palestinian maneuver have labelled the entire demand for statehood as anti-Israel or even worse. There is much to write about this but who is to deny that Palestine belongs in the community of nations? Does it really seem out of place?

List of Member States of the United Nations
1  Argentina ( 24-Oct-45 )
2  Belarus ( 24-Oct-45 )
3  Brazil ( 24-Oct-45 )
4  Chile ( 24-Oct-45 )
5  China ( 24-Oct-45 )
6  Cuba ( 24-Oct-45 )
7  Denmark ( 24-Oct-45 )
8  Dominican Republic ( 24-Oct-45 )
9  Egypt ( 24-Oct-45 )
10  El Salvador ( 24-Oct-45 )
11  France ( 24-Oct-45 )
12  Haiti ( 24-Oct-45 )
13  Iran (Islamic Republic of)  ( 24-Oct-45 )
14  Lebanon ( 24-Oct-45 )
15  Luxembourg ( 24-Oct-45 )
16  New Zealand ( 24-Oct-45 )
17  Nicaragua ( 24-Oct-45 )
18  Paraguay ( 24-Oct-45 )
19  Philippines  ( 24-Oct-45 )
20  Poland ( 24-Oct-45 )
21  Russian Federation ( 24-Oct-45 )
22  Saudi Arabia ( 24-Oct-45 )
23  Syrian Arab Republic ( 24-Oct-45 )
24  Turkey ( 24-Oct-45 )
25  Ukraine ( 24-Oct-45 )
26  United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland ( 24-Oct-45 )
27  United States of America ( 24-Oct-45 )
28  Greece ( 25-Oct-45 )
29  India ( 30-Oct-45 )
30  Peru ( 31-Oct-45 )
31  Australia ( 1-Nov-45 )
32  Costa Rica ( 2-Nov-45 )
33  Liberia ( 2-Nov-45 )
34  Colombia ( 5-Nov-45 )
35  Mexico ( 7-Nov-45 )
36  South Africa ( 7-Nov-45 )
37  Canada ( 9-Nov-45 )
38  Ethiopia ( 13-Nov-45 )
39  Panama ( 13-Nov-45 )
40  Bolivia (Plurinational State of)  ( 14-Nov-45 )
41  Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)  ( 15-Nov-45 )
42  Guatemala ( 21-Nov-45 )
43  Norway ( 27-Nov-45 )
44  Netherlands ( 10-Dec-45 )
45  Honduras ( 17-Dec-45 )
46  Uruguay ( 18-Dec-45 )
47  Ecuador ( 21-Dec-45 )
48  Iraq ( 21-Dec-45 )
49  Belgium ( 27-Dec-45 )
50  Afghanistan ( 19-Nov-46 )
51  Iceland ( 19-Nov-46 )
52  Sweden ( 19-Nov-46 )
53  Thailand  ( 16-Dec-46 )
54  Pakistan ( 30-Sep-47 )
55  Yemen ( 30-Sep-47 )
56  Myanmar  ( 19-Apr-48 )
57  Israel ( 11-May-49 )
58  Indonesia ( 28-Sep-50 )
59  Albania ( 14-Dec-55 )
60  Austria ( 14-Dec-55 )
61  Bulgaria ( 14-Dec-55 )
62  Cambodia  ( 14-Dec-55 )
63  Finland ( 14-Dec-55 )
64  Hungary ( 14-Dec-55 )
65  Ireland ( 14-Dec-55 )
66  Italy ( 14-Dec-55 )
67  Jordan ( 14-Dec-55 )
68  Lao People's Democratic Republic  ( 14-Dec-55 )
69  Libyan Arab Jamahiriya  ( 14-Dec-55 )
70  Nepal ( 14-Dec-55 )
71  Portugal ( 14-Dec-55 )
72  Romania ( 14-Dec-55 )
73  Spain ( 14-Dec-55 )
74  Sri Lanka  ( 14-Dec-55 )
75  Morocco ( 12-Nov-56 )
76  Sudan ( 12-Nov-56 )
77  Tunisia ( 12-Nov-56 )
78  Japan ( 18-Dec-56 )
79  Ghana ( 8-Mar-57 )
80  Malaysia ( 17-Sep-57 )
81  Guinea ( 12-Dec-58 )
82  Benin ( 20-Sep-60 )
83  Burkina Faso  ( 20-Sep-60 )
84  Cameroon  ( 20-Sep-60 )
85  Central African Republic  ( 20-Sep-60 )
86  Chad ( 20-Sep-60 )
87  Congo  ( 20-Sep-60 )
88  Democratic Republic of the Congo [note 8] ( 20-Sep-60 )
89  Côte d'Ivoire ( 20-Sep-60 )
90  Cyprus ( 20-Sep-60 )
91  Gabon ( 20-Sep-60 )
92  Madagascar  ( 20-Sep-60 )
93  Niger ( 20-Sep-60 )
94  Somalia ( 20-Sep-60 )
95  Togo ( 20-Sep-60 )
96  Mali ( 28-Sep-60 )
97  Senegal ( 28-Sep-60 )
98  Nigeria ( 7-Oct-60 )
99  Sierra Leone ( 27-Sep-61 )
100  Mauritania ( 27-Oct-61 )
101  Mongolia ( 27-Oct-61 )
102  United Republic of Tanzania ( 14-Dec-61 )
103  Burundi ( 18-Sep-62 )
104  Jamaica ( 18-Sep-62 )
105  Rwanda ( 18-Sep-62 )
106  Trinidad and Tobago ( 18-Sep-62 )
107  Algeria ( 8-Oct-62 )
108  Uganda ( 25-Oct-62 )
109  Kuwait ( 14-May-63 )
110  Kenya ( 16-Dec-63 )
111  Malawi ( 1-Dec-64 )
112  Malta ( 1-Dec-64 )
113  Zambia ( 1-Dec-64 )
114  Gambia  ( 21-Sep-65 )
115  Maldives  ( 21-Sep-65 )
116  Singapore ( 21-Sep-65 )
117  Guyana ( 20-Sep-66 )
118  Botswana ( 17-Oct-66 )
119  Lesotho ( 17-Oct-66 )
120  Barbados ( 9-Dec-66 )
121  Mauritius ( 24-Apr-68 )
122  Swaziland ( 24-Sep-68 )
123  Equatorial Guinea ( 12-Nov-68 )
124  Fiji ( 13-Oct-70 )
125  Bahrain ( 21-Sep-71 )
126  Bhutan ( 21-Sep-71 )
127  Qatar ( 21-Sep-71 )
128  Oman ( 7-Oct-71 )
129  United Arab Emirates ( 9-Dec-71 )
130  Bahamas ( 18-Sep-73 )
131  Germany ( 18-Sep-73 )
132  Bangladesh ( 17-Sep-74 )
133  Grenada ( 17-Sep-74 )
134  Guinea-Bissau ( 17-Sep-74 )
135  Cape Verde ( 16-Sep-75 )
136  Mozambique ( 16-Sep-75 )
137  Sao Tome and Principe  ( 16-Sep-75 )
138  Papua New Guinea ( 10-Oct-75 )
139  Comoros ( 12-Nov-75 )
140  Suriname ( 4-Dec-75 )
141  Seychelles ( 21-Sep-76 )
142  Angola ( 1-Dec-76 )
143  Samoa ( 15-Dec-76 )
144  Djibouti ( 20-Sep-77 )
145  Viet Nam ( 20-Sep-77 )
146  Solomon Islands ( 19-Sep-78 )
147  Dominica ( 18-Dec-78 )
148  Saint Lucia ( 18-Sep-79 )
149  Zimbabwe ( 25-Aug-80 )
150  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines ( 16-Sep-80 )
151  Vanuatu ( 15-Sep-81 )
152  Belize ( 25-Sep-81 )
153  Antigua and Barbuda ( 11-Nov-81 )
154  Saint Kitts and Nevis  ( 23-Sep-83 )
155  Brunei Darussalam ( 21-Sep-84 )
156  Namibia ( 23-Apr-90 )
157  Liechtenstein ( 18-Sep-90 )
158  Estonia ( 17-Sep-91 )
159  Democratic People's Republic of Korea ( 17-Sep-91 )
160  Republic of Korea ( 17-Sep-91 )
161  Latvia ( 17-Sep-91 )
162  Lithuania ( 17-Sep-91 )
163  Marshall Islands ( 17-Sep-91 )
164  Micronesia (Federated States of) ( 17-Sep-91 )
165  Armenia ( 2-Mar-92 )
166  Azerbaijan ( 2-Mar-92 )
167  Kazakhstan  ( 2-Mar-92 )
168  Kyrgyzstan ( 2-Mar-92 )
169  Republic of Moldova ( 2-Mar-92 )
170  San Marino ( 2-Mar-92 )
171  Tajikistan ( 2-Mar-92 )
172  Turkmenistan ( 2-Mar-92 )
173  Uzbekistan ( 2-Mar-92 )
174  Bosnia and Herzegovina ( 22-May-92 )
175  Croatia ( 22-May-92 )
176  Slovenia ( 22-May-92 )
177  Georgia ( 31-Jul-92 )
178  Czech Republic ( 19-Jan-93 )
179  Slovakia ( 19-Jan-93 )
180  The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia ( 8-Apr-93 )
181  Eritrea ( 28-May-93 )
182  Monaco ( 28-May-93 )
183  Andorra ( 28-Jul-93 )
184  Palau ( 15-Dec-94 )
185  Kiribati ( 14-Sep-99 )
186  Nauru ( 14-Sep-99 )
187  Tonga ( 14-Sep-99 )
188  Tuvalu ( 5-Sep-00 )
189  Serbia ( 1-Nov-00 )
190  Switzerland ( 10-Sep-02 )
191  Timor-Leste ( 27-Sep-02 )
192  Montenegro ( 28-Jun-06 )
193  South Sudan ( 14-Jul-11 )
194  Palestine ( 23-Sep-11 )

Monday, 12 September 2011

The Global 150 - Who's more powerful - Governments or Corporations?

As the world is beset by economic troubles the question is raised over the role of corporations. Yet how significant is their influence? It is very difficult to determine how much influence is wielded by companies versus countries. In fact it is better to think of the influence of governments versus companies. At the end of the day a country has many constituent elements - individuals, companies, civil society, the media. Yet, what is the weight of the primary public sector entity? What does a government have at its disposal?

In that vein, I constructed a table below to contrast the national revenues of the world's leading governments with that of the world's leading corporations into a new global 150 - the G150. The top ten are all countries. The top five corporations are: Walmart, ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Toyata Motors. Israel at #126 lands between Microsoft and Home Depot, while Apple at #133 is just above Ukraine.

What are the other results:

$27.7 trillion -- Total revenues of the G150.
$11.2 trillion -- Total revenues of the top 10 countries
$11.8 trillion -- Total revenues of all companies in G150
$153 billion -- Average revenue for government outside the top 10
$108 billion -- Average revenue for company on the list

73% -- Percentage of the list that are companies
27% -- Percentage of the list that are countries
38% -- Percentage of the companies on the list that are US-based
12% -- Percentage of the companies on the list that are Germany-based

What is interesting about this is that just like governments the companies have commitments that they must pay  that will of course take hold of the revenues. Additionally, while some governments may have surpluses others may not; companies may or may not be profitable. A government such as India has over $1 trillion in GDP but very low national revenue (in India's case just $154 billion). There are many implications to that.

This is a subjective analysis that is meant to be indicative rather than authoritative. This analysis uses publicly available information gathered from Wikipedia, the CIA Factbook and the World Bank, mostly from 2009/2010 but with some national revenue figures coming from 2007 (specific information on the dates is available on request). Adjustment for subsequent years of inflation is not made. 

Sunday, 11 September 2011

The Day the Earth stood still was ten years ago

I was in Princeton, New Jersey just coming back for my sophomore year at college. We hadn't yet begun classes and I was planning to go to Walmart later that day to buy some much needed supplies. Just another day in the life of a student. As I slept, I was awaken on that fateful Tuesday by loud knocking on my dorm room door, followed by a classmate entering with frantic panic (yes I left my door unlocked) and jolting me out of my slumber, exhorting, "somebody's bombed the World Trade Center." I quickly ran into the adjacent room and watched with perplexed pause what was unfolding on the television screens. It was around 9:30 a.m. and we still did not know what was truly happening. The two WTC buildings were on fire and soon the Pentagon was just hit. Then all of a sudden news broke that a plane had gone down in Pennsylvania. It was a fast-moving story with many shifting headlines. Were there more attacks to come? Was this a full-scale war? One of the earliest thoughts that went through my head was 'I hope this isn't the work of Muslims.' At the time I was the (acting) Vice President of the Muslim Students Association at Princeton and I feared the consequences. Immediately, it was clear this was a transformative event and things would not be the same after. It was the day the Earth stood still.

Yet, as momentous as those events were, the subsequent apocalyptic jihad versus crusade vision never fully materialized. The decade that followed was indeed tumultuous and characterized by deadly violence, suspension of human rights, and a climate of fear. However, it is clear on the tenth anniversary of that moving moment (or moments), that the 9/11 era has come to a close and is fading in relevance to describe the world around us. The rise of China. The Arab awakening. The new globalized world. That is what we are now faced with.

Certainly, the 9/11 attacks were a historic event and at the time were not just central but essential to almost every policy-making decision being made in the following years. At Princeton one of the most energetic groups during my time was the Princeton Committee Against Terrorism (although there was no Committee for Terrorism). That narrative of 'with us or against us' became pervasive as well. I recall the climate of hostility, that in many ways persists even more today, against things and persons Muslim. Once after writing an article in the Daily Princetonian on Columbus and the history of Native Americans (without any reference to the Middle East) I received the following letter (redacted) from a trustee of a nearby university:
"Judging from your name you are probably muslim from a godforsaken Islamic country. When you are a guest in our country, it is not courteous to defame our heros especially when you don't have true heros of your own. If you can't handle this analysis, I suggest you consider going back to your deprived country and stick your head in your koran for the rest of your life."
Recent reports have shown that Islamophobia is not just extant but on the rise -- and well-funded. The bifurcation of the world by neoconservatives and binladenists alike contributed to a rise in endemic violence and competing mini-crusades and jihads. Attacks in Madrid, London and Bali caused hundreds of casualties. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan caused thousands. Seemingly every country enacted anti-terror legislation (sometimes with more sinister anti-democratic motives). Mini Al-Qaedas popped up in countries ranging from the Philippines to Nigeria and everything in-between -- many of them persisting until today. In fact the toll of Islamic radicalist attacks within Muslim countries in the last decade dwarfs that of those on America itself. A decade after September 11 we see that these problems (multifaceted and not all of the same nature) have not been solved by any means. The Shabbab movement is influential in Somalia. Al Qaeda and the Taliban are robustly shaping events in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Nigeria just suffered a deadly attack. Threats against the American homeland still continue. Yet, the overall post-9/11 struggle is declining in relative significance and relevance in the changing world.

This year has seen historic events that have started to shape the post- post-9/11 era. Of course there was the assassination of Osama bin Ladin that parted a symbolic defeat to Al Qaeda. Yet, more influential was the flight of Ben Ali in Tunisia and the overthrow of Mubarak in Egypt. Al Qaeda's number 2 had advocated the overthrow of Arab regimes by violent means and here was a direct example of success by different tactics; Al Qaeda terrorists were shown to be not-needed and ineffective by comparison. The Arab awakening that has jolted 300 million people is only just beginning but we can already see many examples of why we are in a different time. Just look at Libya where the commander of the National Transitional Council in Tripoli supported by Britain and the U.S. had in fact been 'extraordinarily renditioned' by the CIA and tortured in a Libyan prison at their behest.

More fundamentally it is clear that in most Muslim and Arab societies it is hard to find a plurality that believes their central concern is the United States. Even more poignantly the U.S.-Muslim divide is hardly seen as the defining relationship in the world; even in the Muslim 'world' the defining issue seemingly is across Shiite-Sunni lines rather than Muslim-Christian. The global landscape overall is much more complex and diffuse today as well. The rise of China has assured that. It was in the past decade that BRIC has entered our everyday lexicon. How the world will address the economic malaise besetting the West transposed with rise of the East and South is the dominant question.

Surely there will be localized expressions internalized by a sense of tradition of the 9/11 landscape that still permeate and often dominate. We won't be seeing the end anytime soon of anti-Western slogans in Peshawar. Cartoons may still inflame a populist march in Jakarta. Europe will still have to come to terms with immigrant integration. Anti-Shari'a legislation will be a convenient agenda in the American South. Wars in Afghanistan and elsewhere will take time to wind down. Islamic radicals may still seek to attack symbols of Western influence. Yet the notion of 'us versus them' has not just dissipated from its omnipresence (whether it should have been so or not in the first place is another discussion) but it is now almost stale as if part of a bygone past.

Today we are in a different world - and especially a different Arab and Muslim world. Policymakers are concerned about the 100 million Arab youth (many unemployed) less for becoming radical anti-Western militants but more about their penchant for revolutionary overthrow of their own Arab and Muslim governments. In Iraq and Afghanistan the U.S. would be unable to sustain financially another decade of conflict even if it wanted to. In fact 'American' money itself is trumped by the cash flows of Qatar, Abu Dhabi, and Saudi Arabia. Where there is so-called 'radical' violence its targets are far more local (and perhaps the internationalization was only a blip).

The fact that the so-called 9/11 decade has come to a close and the nature of the world has shifted does not mean that we can wear rose-tinted glasses. Conversely the challenges have simply changed and may in fact be even greater and more complex. I'm sure the Fukuyamas and Huntingtons of the world are already prognosticating (inevitably incorrectly) what will happen. Whatever does happen it will happen in the post-post 9/11 world. Ahlan wa sahlan!