The Implosions of International Relationships in the Mideast

An interview with Dr. Zaman Stanizai

Last Updated: February 10, 2016 11:38 am

Syrians and civil defense workers evacuate victims from the rubble of a destroyed building following air strikes on the Eastern Ghouta town of Douma, a rebel stronghold east of the capital Damascus, on Jan. 10, 2016. (Sameer al-Doumy/AFP/Getty Images)

Syrians and civil defense workers evacuate victims from the rubble of a destroyed building following air strikes on the Eastern Ghouta town of Douma, a rebel stronghold east of the capital Damascus, on Jan. 10, 2016. (Sameer al-Doumy/AFP/Getty Images)

Dr. Zaman Stanizai is a professor of Mythological Studies at the Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, Calif. He also teaches Political Science at California State University, Dominguez Hills. As a Fulbright scholar, he has worked in Indo-Iranian languages and as a political scientist he writes on the politicization of ethno-linguistic and religious identities in regional conflicts. He blogs on Huntington Post, the Middle East Institute, and, as well as in



“A reporter asks an international panel the following: What is your opinion about the food shortage in the rest of the world? Here are the responses:

African – What is food?

Arab – What is opinion?

European – What is shortage?

American – What is the rest of the world?”

Dr. Zaman Stanizai

SBB: As a Muslim, share with us a misunderstanding the Muslim belief system that would bring us together.

ZS: Prophet Muhammad’s prophesy, call it a vision if you may, and was way ahead of its time. It was meant to elevate humanity from the perpetual conflicts of religious tribalism to a higher ground and into the realm of all humanity worshiping the One and only God. This unifying God wasn’t meant to be the god of the Muslims or of Christians or of Hindus, rather a universal god. That’s why its name Allah is an integrated construct of an inseparable article al-, ‘the’ and the ineffable noun –la, “The Nothingness,” thus TheNorthingness. Named thus, so its para-Cosmic reality would not be identifiable with any one culture, time, or place.

SBB: How then Dr., would that translate to the Western world as being a distinction, a better understanding?

ZS: Please call me Zaman. Unfortunately, this most significant distinction of Islam as a way of life is lost both on the Muslims of today as well as on their political/ideological-cum-religious proponents.

As the Muslim world is entering its dark ages in these critical times, the West seems to be pushing them in, instead of giving them a hand and leading them in the positive. The West is interested in its own economic gains as it supports dictators in the Muslim world and then call it democratization, and with the help of those same dictators marginalizes and radicalizes the masses whose misguided resistance is then called terrorism notwithstanding the fact that in essence we in the West have created them in the first place. And then they target them for extermination instead of dialoguing with them.

The slogan “we don’t talk to terrorists” is a cop out. We dialogue with the Irish, Serbian, Basque, and FARC terrorists to whom we feel akin, but those in the Muslim lands we want to bomb to the Stone Age. This hypocrisy stands in the way of peace, in the way of political reforms and even political protest and revolution such as the Arab Spring that is being brutally suppressed. 

SBB: How does the Western world begin that “dialoguing” again?

ZS: If the Arab Spring taught us anything, it smashed the myth of Arabs’ political passivity that the West often blamed as a culprit, it unmasked the perceived invincibility of arrogant ruling elites who were doing the bidding of the West and had no concern for their own people. 

The current crisis in Syria is the result of a resurrected/resuscitated cold war rivalry that trumps the people’s desire for a government of, for, and by the people, as any society in the world wants.

This is not a war of civilizations, rather a cultural divide that separates the warring parties. The paradox is this: Foreign powers that have the (military) power to do something, don’t exactly know what to do, and those Syrians whose life and livelihood is at stake and know what to do, don’t have the means. In the stalemate and indifference, on the average over 200 Syrians die every day.

We should not impose solutions that prioritize our interests, but the interests of the people of the Middle East. When people are empowered instead of dictators, most, if not all, of the resentment towards the West will vanish. Then we can send our Peace Corps to sew the seeds of friendship instead of the armed forces that leave these societies a mess and then walk away.

SBB: And war profiteers?

ZS: Our war war profiteers are making everything possible to have these wars go on. They sell to our own armed forces and they are responsible for most of the proliferation of weapons around the world.

SBB: Thank you, Dr. Zaman Stanizai, for your thoughts and words. They are authentic and well stated. My hopes are that we can all proceed with the understanding that in violence there are no heroes or villains, every one is a victim.


Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre, June 1908 to April 15, 1980, a French philosopher, novelist, playwright, political activist, an important part of the philosophy of existentialism and one of the leading figures in post WWII French philosophy, served in the French army, was captured, served a German constriction camp and went on to become a creative and important antiwar activist.

When the rich wage war, it is the poor who die.

— Jean Paul-Sartre

He was awarded the 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature, but refused it, and all other official prizes honoring him, saying, “A writer should not allow himself to be turned into an institution.”

At least 30 nations have produced cluster munitions since the creation of the United Nations, according to the Cluster Munition Coalition. Many still have stocks of these munitions, and most are involved in recent wars or international conflicts; however most of them did not use the munitions they produced.

This is not a national problem, it is a international crime of commerce. There are no just or unjust wars, there are only deadly wars. There is no right or wrong side to war, only the other side. There are no principles of thought or pursuit of knowledge, if there were, war would have only one truth, instead of so many false truths, so many versions and destructive, and false moral interpretations.

Philosophy: The rational investigation or the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct.


The Representative language is 1 to 9 plus 0, the language of numbers, war accounting being totally lacking in accountability. The international arms industry oversees the cash flow of a fortune that is the largest that has ever existed on this planet. The combined arms sales of the top 100 largest arms producing companies amounted to an estimated $395 billion in 2012, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

For instance, if the cost of one cluster bomb is fixed at $2,280.00, how do you set the value of the countless lives and limbs that were shredded by these devices of homicidal hardware?

War is a byproduct of the arms manufacturing industry and that industry has never applied for a non-profit status. 

Of the past 3,400 years, humans have been entirely at peace for 268 of them, or just 8 percent of recorded history. … At least 108 million people were killed in wars in the twentieth century. Estimates for the total number killed in wars throughout all of human history range from 150 million to 1 billion.

— Chris Hedges, from 'What Every Person Should Know About War'

And we ether beat our swords into plowshares or they will become the shovels that dig the graves of our species.

Or will this assessment of the future of the arms industry, by the man who led the way for the atomic bomb, be all the future any of us have before us? 

I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but I do know what World War IV will be fought with rocks.

— Albert Einstein, Congressional Record 1968

Shelley B. Blank has worked with major national and international newspapers as a journalist as well as a corporate executive. He has produced programs for Public Radio and lectured on modern multimedia communications and technology.