Dr. Osama Abu Irshaid was one of the keynote speakers during the April 9 Malcolm X Lecture Series. He took time to answer some of CCN’s questions while at MCTC.
Q: What are the reasons the United States does not want to be involved in Syria?
A: According to the administration, Obama doesn’t want to be a war-president. He came to bring peace and bring an end to a decade of wars, that was his message if he was elected. He wants to be truthful to his word. The Arab revolutions were not initiated by the American will. America enjoys a great influence in that part of the world. Syria provided the United States with breathing room where they can rearrange the cards of their foreign policy. A third reason, I think is because of Israel. Under the Assad regime, Syria enjoyed four decades of calm. The Golan Heights was Syrian territory and after Israel took it the regime never tried retake it by force. Why would you change a regime that is so peaceful towards Israel? President Obama showed that he does not have the resolve that is needed to be a world leader, and to project the American influence worldwide. We’ve seen this in Ukraine, we’ve seen it in Syria, we’ve seen it in the Middle East peace process where the Obama administration is unable to pressure Israel to move forward in the peace process.
Q: If a student were to walk in on a lecture for ten minutes on the way to class, what would you want that person to take in on that time frame?
A: Students need to be aware that we cannot isolate ourselves from the world. Yes we live in America, that doesn’t mean that there are no other people living outside of America. They are the overwhelming majority, we [Americans] do not represent the majority of the world. We cannot just turn the blind eye to that part of the world and say we have nothing to do with you. We are not only Americans, we are part of humanity. If we impact their lives negatively, they will impact our lives negatively. If America doesn’t stand on the side of justice it will bring injustice to America itself. If you don’t bother, you are risking you will lose everything here. I’m not going to talk about us as religious people, but I will talk about our conscious as humans. We can’t accept all of the injustices – some in our name – and expect that things will continue to blossom in America, that is not how our world works.
Q: The scales of the quality of life for the United States and western Europe continues to go up while the majority of the world continues to go down.
A: You cannot maintain these dynamics forever. It has to change, it will change. We’ve seen this with the previous superpowers like the U.K., France, Spain. Look at the U.K, because of their misguided policies their empire has shrunk into a small island. No matter the strength you have, it will be stretched thin. This could happen to the United States if we continue to go beyond our means and try to dominate the world as if we have the means. We cannot do that, at the end of the day we will pay a price for it.