President George Bush left office on Tuesday, January 20, 2009, with a dismal 34 per cent job-rating. His two terms in office have been tumultuous: the September 11, 2001 (9-11) attacks; the global war on terrorism; wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He leaves behind all his wars inconclusive, indeed, messy; and he could not catch Osama bin Laden, the 9-11 mastermind.
His waging of these wars also prompted a worldwide jump in Islamic extremism and violence. The US economy is left in the doldrums, affecting; the global economy in a similar way. The charges of illegal detention of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and harsh interrogation tactics and torture of prisoners in violation of international law, plus abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, further taint his presidency.
Most observers will undoubtedly view Bush's presidency as a dark chapter, a disaster, in US history. Still, he leaves office defending his tenure. As he told the nation in farewell speech: "I have always acted with the best interests of our country in mind". He defended his presidency by touting: "America has gone more than seven years without another terrorist attack on our soil".
In a country like the US - highly conscious of its defence and security, particularly since World War II - attacks like 9-11 by non-state actors like al-Qaida would not occur easily under any President. So the claim that no further attacks like the 9-11 occurred during Bush's presidency does not add up.
Bush said he would leave office with a "great sense of accomplishment"; Vice-President Dick Cheney agreed. He has repeatedly suggested that history will judge his legacy, which he repeated in his closing press conference, saying: "I don't think you can possibly get the full breadth of an administration till time has passed."
I subscribe to Huntington's Civilization Clash thesis. Huntington talks about the likely emergence of a multilateral clash between some eight civilisations. As a researcher of Islamic theology and history, I see the clash between Islam and the rest would stand out and overwhelm all others.
Huntington recounted ongoing conflicts between Islam with its neighbours all over the world; he most accurately retorted to the deniers of Islam-West conflict that "The relations between Islam and Christianity, both orthodox and Western, have often have been stormy. Each has been the other's Other".
"The twentieth century conflict between Liberal Democracy and Marxist-Leninism is only a fleeting and superficial historical phenomenon compared to the continuing and deeply conflictual relations between Islam and Christianity", he added.
Islam's conflict with greater humanity is much wider in scope. Historically, Islam's relationship has been much more conflictual with the pre-Islamic peoples of all creeds, colour and race - Pagans, Jews and Christians, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Hindus, and Animists - of Arabia, West Asia, Persia, Africa, Central and South-East Asia, and India. Many of these civilisations have completely succumbed to Islam: they have vanished. It is estimated that 300 million people perished by the sword of Islam, wielded since its birth in Arabia in the 7th century.
The civilisational clash is thus not new as far as Islam is concerned. Islam was born in Arabia as Islamic God Allah's master-plan, His politico-military tool, for creating a global Islamic state by making Muslims His "agent and inheritor of the earth" [Koran 6:165] and promising to make Islam victorious over all peoples and places [Koran 8:39]. Since then, Muslims have divided humanity into two houses, nations, civilisations: Dar al-Islam (House of Islam) and Dar al-Harb (House of War).
Islam's mission has been to turn the non-Muslim Dar al-Harb into Dar al-Islam through Jihadi wars to realise Allah's ultimate goal of creating a global Islamic state. Islam's history reflects exactly that.
Muslims have achieved stunning success in this mission, but it remains unfinished. The ongoing conflicts of Islam - in Kashmir, Southern Thailand, Mindanao, the Balkans, Chechnya, and parts of Africa - are a part of Islam's continued civilisational clash with the rest of humanity. The Arab Islamic world's war against Israel, Muslim immigrants' conflict with the socio-political order of Western societies, the 9-11 attacks and the worldwide violence by numberless Islamist groups are a part of this age-old civilisational clash, too.