Below the following quoted extracts is an excellent article which provides insights into the nature of global alliances with a focus on the United States policy which are leading our world to possibly another World War, I felt inspiration around this today. It feels like a long journey researching but ultimately it lead me to contemplate global war and the deaths of innocent civilians who are the ones who pay the price for military misadventure in what I view as a sub-zero sum game (no-one wins, diminishes real wealth) in the name of peace when peace was never the true intent.
I contemplate the Opportunity Cost of military/ imperialist/ capitalist strategies and where the money could have gone had it not been funnelled into fighting wars for domination but rather than learning of peace (balance) to ensure homeostasis, equilibrium and harmony. I use ecological words as this is the real foundation of peace and abundance. Yet in our primitive states of mind our world has believed that control and dominance is security, when it was always the opposite.
I deeply contemplate the extraordinary loss of innocent life, the suffering of their families and the real insecurity that has been created by warfare touted as protection. The people’s of the world in actual fact are the ones that always suffer at the hands of those who believe they are either born to rule or somehow appointed by God (god given right) to rule over others, when they are not. What if our purpose here on earth is to find true happiness and share our wealth as there is no enemy only infinite possibility. That was the true essence of family.
Here is a important quote highlighting disproportionate wealth. It is a scenario repeating itself today as we don’t learn from history (his story). What I find interesting is that those who believe this thinking would be the first to evoke the need for a International Court of Justice if their family’s human rights were violated. Such is the hypocracy and nature of objectivization and detached strategic thinking that ignores humanity and the true purpose to maintain peace and security. And points to why the Middle East is a disaster for the people’s of that region and the world.
George Kennan, head of the US State Department planning staff until 1950, and his comments on US relations with Far East stated:
we have about 50% of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3% of its population….In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity….To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives….We should cease to talk about vague and…unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.
George Kennan, U.S. State Department Policy Planning, Study #23, February 24, 1948
A quote that speaks to the real purpose of resource use. This is what I envisage will happen in the future…
Virtually the entire colonial world was breaking free and their resources would be turned to the care of their own people and no longer could be siphoned to the old imperial centers of capital for a fraction of its value.
Another interesting quote about how to control:
Many monarchs were not even local. They were the ones that could be allied to the imperial rulers and counted on to control local populations. As Britain had learned for decades, and so sharply remembered by people of India, large populations could be controlled by relatively tiny administrations by divide and conquer tactics keeping or creating antagonism between local groups, keeping borders small …
And another revealing the power brokers disrupting countries:
Once small weak countries are established, it is very difficult to persuade their rulers to give up power and form those many dependent states into one economically viable nation. Conversely, it is easy for outside power brokers to support an exploitative faction to maintain or regain power. None of this can ever be openly admitted to or the neo-mercantilist world would fall apart. The fiction of sovereign governments, equal rights, fair trade, etc., must continue. To be candid is to invite immediate widespread rebellion and loss of control.
And a military quote by S. Brian Willson, a U.S. Vietnam War veteran, now a peace activist highlighting the real destabilising issue of poverty (not terrorism) and how military’s are used for business and financiers objectives:
The most highly decorated Marine Corps General in U.S. history, Smedley D. Butler understood all too well the real nature of the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. foreign policy in general when he concluded after his retirement in 1931 that during his 33 years as a Marine officer operating on three continents, he served as a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers…a gangster for capitalism [Smedley D. Butler, America’s Armed Forces, Part 2, Common Sense, Vol. 4, No. 11 (Nov. 1935)]. But it seems that that understanding is easily forgotten. General A.M. Gray, former commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, in 1990 identified threats to the United States as originating from the underdeveloped world’s growing dissatisfaction over the gap between rich and poor nations, creating a fertile breeding ground for insurgencies which have the potential to jeopardize regional stability and our access to vital economic and military resources (Marine Corps Gazette, May 1990). Gray understands the structural social and economic problems, but it apparently does not occur to him that the solution might be to directly address the injustices rather than perpetuate them with the use of military force.
S. Brian Willson, Who are the REAL terrorists?, Institute for Policy Research and Development, 1999
The quote below is the Hebrew meaning of peace, imagine if everyone lived it, we would realise peace. Perhaps the Jews and Muslims who say ‘shalom’ and mean it as peace can show us The Way home.
The Hebrew word for peace is shalom which is derived from one of the names of God. Hebrew root word for “complete” or “whole” implying that according to Judaism and the teachings of the Torah, only when there is a true state of “wholeness” meaning that everything is “complete” does true “peace” reign.
A last quote on terrorism and real security by Associate Professor Stephen Zunes:
To win the war against terrorism, we need to reevaluate our definition of security. The more the U.S. militarizes the Middle East, the less secure we have become. All the sophisticated weaponry, all the brave fighting men and women, and all the talented military leadership we may possess will not stop terrorism as long as our policies cause millions of people hate us.
President George W. Bush is wrong when he claims we are targeted because we are a beacon for freedom. We are targeted because the support of freedom is not part of our policy in the Middle East, which has instead been based upon alliances with repressive governments and support for military occupation. We would be much safer if the U.S. supported a policy based more on human rights, international law, and sustainable development — and less on arms transfers, air strikes, and punitive sanctions.Stephen Zunes, Bombing Will Not Make U.S. More Secure, Foreign Policy in Focus, October 8, 2001.
The article below is about the control of resources and US supporting dictators and the rise of terrorism from a range of perspectives. How long is Pinocchio’s nose, such is a lie when told often enough, it keeps growing. What I have learned is that often those who are deceptive (within nation states not nations per se) promote they are doing the opposite. They support human rights, they support charities, care for children, the disabled, invest in sustainability, rebuild, or call out corruption but what I am realising is this is how people hide behind carefully crafted lies, promote themselves as ‘doing good’ whilst undermining others through labels that sticks and repeated enough to become history. The public are not informed so they believe them. Keeping the public ignorant is a strategy. It is how bullying and propaganda works in a world that has lost its way unable to see the whole. Democracy and freedom are words that have been used to justify violence and harm, yet violence is the very opposite of democracy and freedom. Yet no-one says anything blindly believing what they are told as they are trained to obey rather than critically think and ask ‘is it true?’.
My research is to answer the question – what is true? I have a right to know what has happened to my world and how this impacts my life as both are intricately linked. I care about the future of children. Do you? If so, you must educate yourself. Find sources that are credible. This one appears well written and credible to me, I am aware of Noam Chomsky who has studied US policy for 50 years or so. Refer his background. He is American from a Jewish background and a peacemaker living wholeness. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noam_Chomsky
Control of Resources; Supporting Dictators, Rise of Terrorism
Author and Page information
- This page: http://www.globalissues.org/article/260/control-of-resources-supporting-dictators-rise-of-terrorism.
- To print all information (e.g. expanded side notes, shows alternative links), use the print version:
On this page:
- The historic struggle for control of resources
- The Middle East at the center for struggle over control of resources
- A divided people; The West’s support for dictators and monarchies over democracies
- Political leaders are in between a rock and a hard place; the struggle for people’s support
The historic struggle for control of resources
As we saw in the previous section, for centuries, due to the power politics and struggle over the control of resources in the Middle East, various powers have supported numerous controversial regimes. The United States, Britain, France, and others supported dictatorships and monarchies, even overthrowing democracies.
To the populations back home the reason often given for this was for
containing the Soviet Union and so on. For the people of the region that had their popular leaders overthrown and replaced with corrupt rulers, this was surely not freedom. Communism was an often used reason around the world, not just the Middle East, even if it was not the case. As Noam Chomsky details, it was often a convenient excuse, but the underlying threat was often that nations might be able to use their own resources and be an example for others to follow.
Furthermore, what was going on around the world at the time of the end of the Second World War and the geopolitical changes that resulted are critical to understanding the policies and events in the Middle East. To summarize (notes for sources are below):
- With Europe weakened, the majority of the world, which was then under imperial and colonial rule, saw their chance to break free.
- Nationalist, revolutionary, and independence movements (some violent, some peaceful) all started to take hold and Europe had little ability to maintain control.
- The sole remaining power that was really intact after the Second World War was the United States.
- Allied with Europe, the U.S. helped them rebuild with a massive injection of capital. The U.S. was also an imperial power for the past few decades, as pointed out by numerous writers such as Mark Twain, Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, J.W. Smith, Walden Bello and many others. The U.S. was now the de facto leader of the West.
- The Soviet Union, on the other hand, having faced the brunt of Hitler’s forces, (some 80 percent of his armies), like Europe, had lost a considerable amount and had been decimated; there was between 7 to 27 million dead, much industry and infrastructure had been destroyed, much agriculture and livestock had been destroyed, and so on. Like most of the world breaking free, it did not have much economic assistance to rebuild, but was still able to recover quickly to partake in a terrible Cold War (see J.W. Smith quoted below, for more on this).
- Due to its rapid development and power, the Soviet Union additionally threatened to be an example for the other newly free nations that rapid independent development was possible. But this also meant a massive diversion of the traditional resources that had been flowing out of the global South, to those
imperial centers of capital.
- To the West, then, the Soviet Union, from the start (decades earlier) was seen as
evilwhile to the third world, it was perhaps seen as an example that independent development was possible. It may not have necessarily been seen as a direct model to follow (as its economic policies were flawed, even without the diversion of the Cold War, as well as the horrors and massacres resulting from the paranoia of Stalin, etc), but it was the idea that a nation could develop somewhat successfully, quickly, and without much assistance, that was a real threat to the West’s historic source of resources. Indeed, the Non-aligned Movement was as such yet another alternative, for example.
countrysidewas reclaiming its resources.
The centuries-old view of the South, from the perspective of the West, was now changing. As Chomsky describes, almost with cruel humor, the South was viewed as a service provider, and if possible that was what had to be maintained, in order to preserve the wealth and balance of power:
As J.W. Smith points out, with the weakening of the former Imperial European powers from World War II,
Virtually the entire colonial world was breaking free and their resources would be turned to the care of their own people and no longer could be siphoned to the old imperial centers of capital for a fraction of its value.
The result of this is further described just by the chapter title itself from J.W. Smith: The World Breaking Free Frightened The Security Councils of Every Western Nation, Economic Democracy; The Political Struggle of the Twenty-First Century (1st Books, 2002, Second Edition), Chapter 7. (The previous link is a link to the reposting of that chapter. The entire book can be read on line as well.)
This control of resources being the main concern was recognized by the U.S. policy planners and was a major aspect of foreign policy strategy after World War II. Consider for example, George Kennan, head of the US State Department planning staff until 1950, and his comments on US relations with Far East:
The Cold War, then, as well as being a struggle against Communism, also provided an appropriate pretext for actions by the West around the world (led by the United States) that could be attributed to the claims of Soviet involvement, even if there wasn’t any. Chomsky is worth quoting again:
Many nations that were subsequently destabilized by the Americans, British and others were claimed to be due to this Soviet threat, but in many cases (not all), there was no Soviet involvement. In many cases, these were just nations that had gained their freedom trying to develop. In fact, many did not want to follow the Soviet example of centralized planning. (And, as J.W. Smith details in the above-mentioned book and further on in that above-cited chapter, the Soviets themselves realized that their economic system needed changes a few decades later.)
As Smith, Chomsky and others detail, some turned to the U.S. for guidance, given the very good Constitution and other principles. The U.S. helped in some cases, not in others. For some, then, where help was not available, they either turned to the Soviets (the other superpower which had resources to help), or to themselves.
Independent development threatened the loss of power, influence and cheap raw materials for the powerful nations. The Vietnam experience suggested that an empire of the type that Britain once had was not likely to be politically feasible. So instead, a new strategy was needed. As Stephen Zunes describes,
the Nixon Doctrine (also known as the Guam Doctrine or “surrogate strategy”) came into being, wherein Vietnamization [reliance on South Vietnamese conscripts and a dramatically increased air war that minimized American casualties] evolved into a global policy of arming and training third world allies to become regional gendarmes for American interests. Many rulers in the third world have been supported into power as a result.(* See below for some sources detailing this perspective and history)
The Middle East at the center for struggle over control of resources
The Middle East, then, has been quite important, geopolitically, due to the resources, and oil in particular.
- Because this has formed a backbone to the wealth of many nations today, maintaining control of those resources has been paramount. Hence, presence in the Middle East is for
stabilityof oil flows:
- Any chance that those resources would be used in different ways is naturally a threat to those who currently benefit.
- Furthermore, was there a chance that the Soviet Union could get influence in the Middle East, resources would have been further been taken away from the influence and control of the West, as Smith highlights:
- As a standard policy of state, nations have to keep an eye on such things.
- In the geopolitically and ideologically charged chess games, such
threats, if possible, must be
The stronger, more powerful nations are obviously better equipped with more political, economic and military means. Therefore, they can be more effective in getting and ensuring their way. This makes sense from a power politics perspective. One of the main responsibilities (if not the main one) for heads of states is to ensure their nations
interests are met. Diplomacy and so forth are directed by such interests.
Hence, as mentioned above, those
frightened security councils were frightened at the prospect of losing more control. To them, their
freedom was at stake. Yet, not mentioned to the populations back home was that this
freedom was based on centuries of war and conquest and in the Middle East this was all about control of resources and geopolitical power. Hence, the freedom of some was based on
non-freedom of others. (See also this web site’s section on behind consumption which provides more statistics and details of economic policies that lead to this skewed use of resources around the globe.)
The United States and Western Europe were therefore prepared to protect one of the sources of their wealth and power. They was prepared to go to many lengths to do so. For example,
- Massive amounts of capital injection direct, and indirect, via Japan and international institutions, helped in developing and extending freedoms to various other East Asian nations. This would serve to
containthreats such as Soviet expansion. Wars were fought, or dictators supported, if needed. (See Smith, Chomsky, Gowan, Bello, etc. mentioned below in the sources for more details.)
- Throughout Latin America and Africa, various democracies were overthrown and dictators supported, or malleable
pseudodemocracies were supported. (See the Noam Chomsky Archive, also mentioned below, for far more details, including detailed research on destabilization of various Latin American democracies that did not have Soviet influence that was claimed. See also this site’s section on conflicts in Africa, and on the arms trade.)
- In the Middle East, control of natural resources has been centuries-old politics. It had not changed, although the players may have, slightly.
Indian author and Booker Prize winner, Arundhati Roy, describes in the British newspaper, The Guardian, the result of American sponsored actions:
millions killed in Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia, the 17,500 killed when Israel — backed by the US — invaded Lebanon in 1982, the 200,000 Iraqis killed in Operation Desert Storm, the thousands of Palestinians who have died fighting Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. And the millions who died, in Yugoslavia, Somalia, Haiti, Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Panama, at the hands of all the terrorists, dictators and genocidists whom the American government supported, trained, bankrolled and supplied with arms. And this is far from being a comprehensive list. (Arundhati Roy, The algebra of infinite justice, The Guardian, September 29, 2001)
With almost all the above, as researched heavily by Chomsky, Smith and others, these were nations where there was a possibly successful independent development; independent from Western influence and, in many cases, independent from Soviet influence. However, the Soviet/communist excuse was used as a pretext for these interventions. Various well-known criminals and human rights abusers were trained by the United States, for example. The School of the Americas is a well known example of this, as also mentioned on this web site (see the previous link). The United States therefore participated directly, or indirectly, in many wars and conflicts. In the Middle East, it was no different. William Blum, investigative journalist, and former employee at the U.S. State Department, where he resigned in 1967 over the Vietnam war is worth quoting here:
A divided people; The West’s support for dictators and monarchies over democracies
Already, before World War II, as mentioned in the previous section, various monarchs had been put in place in various countries whose borders had been defined mainly by British and French colonial administrations. Many monarchs were not even local. They were the ones that could be allied to the imperial rulers and counted on to control local populations. As Britain had learned for decades, and so sharply remembered by people of India, large populations could be controlled by relatively tiny administrations by
divide and conquer tactics keeping or creating antagonism between local groups, keeping borders small and so on, so as to make uniting as difficult as possible. (Of course, it proved not to be impossible.) It is worth quoting Smith again, to highlight the geopolitical significance of this:
(Side Note»Note also Smith’s reference to a
neo-mercantilist world as opposed to what is often referred to as free trade. Globalization, then, for many around the world is seen as a sophisticated continuation of plunder, but through economic means. That is, it is seen by many as a continuation of subtle monopoly capitalism compared to free market capitalism, as it is often claimed to be. For more on that angle, see this site’s section on poverty, trade and globalization.)
In this web site’s section’s Africa introduction, it is pointed out how in 1885, the Berlin Conference saw the European nations create borders in Africa that met the interests of the Europeans, and allowed them to try to share the spoils of Africa between them. European culture at that time had already labeled the African people and their cultures as non-civilized and not having rights, and hence justified such things as slavery, carving up borders as they saw fit, etc. As mentioned earlier, Middle Eastern people (Arabs and Jews) were also likewise described in negative light for centuries to justify action and exploitation there.
European geopolitics in the earlier half of the 20th century in the wider Middle East region contributed to a lot of instability overall and to a similar carve up that Africa had experienced just a few decades earlier, and is still coming to grips with. The British Empire, especially, played a major role in the region. During World War I, in 1916, it convinced Arab leaders to revolt against the Ottoman Empire (which was allied with Germany). In return, the British government would support the establishment of an independent Arab state in the region, including Palestine. Yet, in contradiction to this, in 1917, Lord Arthur Balfour, the British Foreign Minister, issued a declaration (the Balfour Declaration). This announced the British Empire’s support for the establishment of
a Jewish national home in Palestine.
As a further complication, there was a deal between Imperial Britain and France to carve up the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire and divide control of the region. The spoils of war were to be shared. As in 1885 in the Berlin Conference where Africa was carved up amongst the various European empires, parts of the Middle East were to also be carved up, which would require artificial borders, support of monarchies, dictators and other leaders that could be regarded as
puppets or at least could be influenced by these external powers.
But also as with Africa, the imposition of artificial borders, unpopular rulers etc would not be accepted without struggle and following World War II, the region became even more important for its energy sources.
In the Middle East, the Arab people had a common faith that bound them together. This meant that even more extreme measures for subjugation and control would be needed. One such result was the extremely heavy militarization of the region. Millions of dollars worth of weapons were poured in to support the puppet regimes. As described in the arms trade section of this web site, it is still the most heavily militarized region in the world, with the majority of military
aid going to that region, from the powerful nations.
With harsh rulers and authoritarian regimes like the Monarchy of Saudi Arabia, or the Shah of Iran, counter-militancy and falling back on the most extremist interpretations of Islam resulted. Extreme militarization was resulting in extreme militancy and fanaticism.
As also detailed in the previous section, an Iranian revolution took hold in 1979 with the Ayatollah Khomeini and an extremist Islamic state being formed. In a documentary on PBS in 2000, (I do not recall exactly when, unfortunately), those women interviewed had initially supported the revolution because of the oppression of the Shah. They had believed that the revolution would lead them to a better future. However, in just a few years, they were to find that one form of extremism had been replaced by another, and women in general had not gained as they thought they would. (In recent months or years, it seems that the Iranian government is trying to become more moderate. Future developments, geopolitics and time will tell how that turns out.) Throughout the region, various human rights groups have documented the harsh conditions and lack of progress in development for many in those societies.
However, from this Islamic revolution (and other such struggles), combined with the feeling of hopelessness of other avenues, the perverted realization that Islamic extremism, anti-West sentiments etc may hold the answer, started to ferment.
In addition, as detailed further below, as part of the Cold War, the U.S. via Pakistan helped develop and train Islamic extremist mujahdeen fighters in an attempt to destabilize the Soviet Union. The religious call for mujahadeen fighters also attracted extremists from the Middle East (such as Osama Bin Laden and others).
The National Security Archives project at the George Washington University published declassified U.S. documents revealing the extent of U.S. propaganda efforts in the Middle East during the early years of the Cold War. While not as effective as would have been preferred, it gives an idea of the extent to which the U.S. was willing to go to gain support for geopolitical and ideological purposes.
Many in the region see the oppression from their leaders coming from the support by the West, America in particular. In some of the regimes friendly to the United States, some of the worst human rights abuses are described.
Turkey is one such example:
- While one of the more democratic regimes, it has had a long conflict with neighbours, and segements of its own people, such as Kurd separatists.
- As mentioned on this site, and pointed out by Amnesty International and others, there have been over 30,000 deaths in the last 14 years in the struggle and conflict against the Kurds.
the overwhelming number of these 30,000 deaths, not to mention widespread mutilation and rape, are the responsibility of the Turkish military, as the British newspaper, The Guardian, points out.
- Turkey, as mentioned in this web site’s arms trade section, is one of the largest recipients of US military aid.
Saudi Arabia is another example, as all these reports by Amnesty International testify to.
In other cases, regimes that have previously been friendly to the United States have been supported for geopolitical reasons, regardless of how they treat and rule over their people. Only when they have gone too far (i.e. affected
national interests) are they demonized or in some ways regarded as hostile (often appropriately so).
Iraq is an example of this:
- As described by various links in this web site’s section on Iraq, when Sadam Hussain committed his murderous acts of gassing Kurds and others in his own land, and in the war against Iran, using chemical and biological weapons etc, it was during the time of U.S. support of Sadam to wage war against Iran and the new revolution.
- The weapons and technology for biological and chemical weapons had come from the West.
In the geopolitical context, support for Iraq was due to the threat of loss of dominance and access to resources in the Middle East. As the Washington Post highlights:
- The invasion of Kuwait and the resulting Gulf War allowed the U.S. to highlight these crimes but without mentioning how he had been able to get these means.
- Furthermore, the Gulf War saw the death of an estimated 200,000 Iraqi’s, 100,000 of which were civilian.
- And since the sanctions, the United Nations point out that 1,000,000 people have died and UNICEF points out that some half a million children have died, some 5000 per month, to which Madeline Albright has commented on public television that this price was
- The U.S. and U.K. are largely the ones keeping the sanctions in place, despite objections from other nations and resignations of U.N. programme coordinators over this.
- These sanctions have turned out to be a weapon of mass destruction!
- Arab people throughout the Middle East are naturally infuriated to see their own people suffering (all while Sadam Hussein remains unaffected).
- See the Iraq section on this site for more details and sources. (See also Gowan, sourced below.)
Afghanistan is another:
- As is well known and accepted now, the CIA aided and funded terrorist regimes, such as the mujahadin and Osama Bin Laden, with the aid of Pakistan, to get the Soviets involved in Afghanistan and to ultimately help defeat them.
- The vile and extremist Taliban were in power in Afghanistan, accused of terrible human rights violations (especially against women), oppressive extremist religious practices, and so on. (See for example, all the Amnesty International Afghanistan reports for more details.)
- It is a large conduit for illegal drugs as well.
Some aspects have not escaped the mainstream media either. America’s NBC, for example, captures the result of all this quite well:
Roy describes a sickening twist of power politics in light of the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11:
Israel has always been a sensitive issue. For regional support, as mentioned earlier, the West has often sought support, in the forms of likeable dictators/monarchs etc. It has even supported and fueled wars against each other. Israel has been another country that has received enormous amounts of military aid.
- The peace process, the Arabs have felt, has been grossly one sided, with the influential U.S. constantly backing the side of Israel as pointed out by Chomsky in the previous link.
- Ordinary Arab citizens have additionally been extremely frustrated at their own leaders for not helping Palestinians.
- Those states or organizations that have provided support, including for example, Lebanon, the Hizbollah, Syria, etc. have been branded unofficially or officially, terrorist or
roguestates. (Sometimes, justifiably, and such crimes should not be belittled, either.)
An often-heard argument in the West is that Arabs have got themselves in this plight because of their constant bickering and disunity. This is partly true, but this almost blanket statement negates this larger history and complications of political maneuverings and support for various regimes (by the West as well). (See this web site’s section on the Palestine/Israel conflict for more links and sources on that issue.) Furthermore, a part of the disunity comes from the frustration and disagreement on how to handle what they see as unilateral U.S. interests in the region. Supporting Israel
no matter what has further infuriated Arab citizens:
The following list from Stephen Shalom lists some specific incidents of U.S. policy in the Middle East since the Second World War ended. (The original article also points out that this list misses out other long term policies such as those mentioned above. Nonetheless, it begins to give an idea why there is anti-West sentiment and anti-US in particular, in the Middle East.)
- 1948: Israel established. U.S. declines to press Israel to allow expelled Palestinians to return.
- 1949: CIA backs military coup deposing elected government of Syria.
- 1953: CIA helps overthrow the democratically-elected Mossadeq government in Iran (which had nationalized the British oil company) leading to a quarter-century of repressive and dictatorial rule by the Shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlevi.
- 1956: U.S. cuts off promised funding for Aswan Dam in Egypt after Egypt receives Eastern bloc arms.
- 1956: Israel, Britain, and France invade Egypt. U.S. does not support invasion, but the involvement of its NATO allies severely diminishes Washington’s reputation in the region.
- 1958: U.S. troops land in Lebanon to preserve
- early 1960s: U.S. unsuccessfully attempts assassination of Iraqi leader, Abdul Karim Qassim.
- 1963: U.S. reported to give Iraqi Ba’ath party (soon to be headed by Saddam Hussein) names of communists to murder, which they do with vigor.
- 1967-: U.S. blocks any effort in the Security Council to enforce SC Resolution 242, calling for Israeli withdrawal from territories occupied in the 1967 war.
- 1970: Civil war between Jordan and PLO. Israel and U.S. prepare to intervene on side of Jordan if Syria backs PLO.
- 1972: U.S. blocks Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat’s efforts to reach a peace agreement with Israel.
- 1973: Airlifted U.S. military aid enables Israel to turn the tide in war with Syria and Egypt.
- 1973-75: U.S. supports Kurdish rebels in Iraq. When Iran reaches an agreement with Iraq in 1975 and seals the border, Iraq slaughters Kurds and U.S. denies them refuge. Kissinger secretly explains that
covert action should not be confused with missionary work.
- 1975: U.S. vetoes Security Council resolution condemning Israeli attacks on Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.
- 1978-79: Iranians begin demonstrations against the Shah. U.S. tells Shah it supports him
without reservationand urges him to act forcefully. Until the last minute, U.S. tries to organize military coup to save the Shah, but to no avail.
- 1979-88: U.S. begins covert aid to Mujahideen in Afghanistan six months before Soviet invasion in Dec. 1979. Over the next decade U.S. provides training and more than $3 billion in arms and aid.
- 1980-88: Iran-Iraq war. When Iraq invades Iran, the U.S. opposes any Security Council action to condemn the invasion. U.S. soon removes Iraq from its list of nations supporting terrorism and allows U.S. arms to be transferred to Iraq. At the same time, U.S. lets Israel provide arms to Iran and in 1985 U.S. provides arms directly (though secretly) to Iran. U.S. provides intelligence information to Iraq. Iraq uses chemical weapons in 1984; U.S. restores diplomatic relations with Iraq. 1987 U.S. sends its navy into the Persian Gulf, taking Iraq’s side; an overly-aggressive U.S. ship shoots down an Iranian civilian airliner, killing 290.
- 1981, 1986: U.S. holds military maneuvers off the coast of Libya in waters claimed by Libya with the clear purpose of provoking Qaddafi. In 1981, a Libyan plane fires a missile and two Libyan planes shot down. In 1986, Libya fires missiles that land far from any target and U.S. attacks Libyan patrol boats, killing 72, and shore installations. When a bomb goes off in a Berlin nightclub, killing two Americans, the U.S. charges that Qaddafi was behind it (possibly true) and conducts major bombing raids in Libya, killing dozens of civilians, including Qaddafi’s adopted daughter.
- 1982: U.S. gives
green lightto Israeli invasion of Lebanon, killing some 17 thousand civilians. U.S. chooses not to invoke its laws prohibiting Israeli use of U.S. weapons except in self-defense. U.S. vetoes several Security Council resolutions condemning the invasion.
- 1983: U.S. troops sent to Lebanon as part of a multinational peacekeeping force; intervene on one side of a civil war, including bombardment by USS New Jersey. Withdraw after suicide bombing of marine barracks.
- 1984: U.S.-backed rebels in Afghanistan fire on civilian airliner.
- 1987-92: U.S. arms used by Israel to repress first Palestinian Intifada. U.S. vetoes five Security Council resolution condemning Israeli repression.
- 1988: Saddam Hussein kills many thousands of his own Kurdish population and uses chemical weapons against them. The U.S. increases its economic ties to Iraq.
- 1988: U.S. vetoes 3 Security Council resolutions condemning continuing Israeli occupation of and repression in Lebanon.
- 1990-91: U.S. rejects any diplomatic settlement of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait (for example, rebuffing any attempt to link the two regional occupations, of Kuwait and of Palestine). U.S. leads international coalition in war against Iraq. Civilian infrastructure targeted. To promote
stabilityU.S. refuses to aid post-war uprisings by Shi’ites in the south and Kurds in the north, denying the rebels access to captured Iraqi weapons and refusing to prohibit Iraqi helicopter flights.
- 1991-: Devastating economic sanctions are imposed on Iraq. U.S. and Britain block all attempts to lift them. Hundreds of thousands die. Though Security Council had stated that sanctions were to be lifted once Saddam Hussein’s programs to develop weapons of mass destruction were ended, Washington makes it known that the sanctions would remain as long as Saddam remains in power. Sanctions in fact strengthen Saddam’s position. Asked about the horrendous human consequences of the sanctions, Madeleine Albright (U.S. ambassador to the UN and later Secretary of State) declares that
the price is worth it.
- 1993-: U.S. launches missile attack on Iraq, claiming self-defense against an alleged assassination attempt on former president Bush two months earlier.
- 1998: U.S. and U.K. bomb Iraq over the issue of weapons inspections, even though Security Council is just then meeting to discuss the matter.
- 1998: U.S. destroys factory producing half of Sudan’s pharmaceutical supply, claiming retaliation for attacks on U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya and that factory was involved in chemical warfare. U.S. later acknowledges lack of evidence for the chemical warfare charge.
- 2000-: Israel uses U.S. arms in attempt to crush Palestinian uprising, killing hundreds of civilians.
(See also works from the above-mentioned William Blum for a similar list as well. As an example, see his book, Rogue State, (Common Courage Press, 2000).)
This is not a complete set of examples, but not atypical of the region either. As also mentioned in the previous section, numerous areas in the region were carved into different territories with monarchs put there. Not all were necessarily oppressive in physical ways. Some restricted cultural, political, and/or economic freedoms. The net result was they did not (and do not) necessarily represent (or perhaps even respect) the actual people of the region entirely.
Furthermore, with the large commissions that accompany arms sales, and the heavy militarization, many accuse their leaders of being easily corruptible. There has also been frustration that the Arab leaders are divided, interested in their own power games within their region and hence unable to unite or present one voice on many issues, including Palestine/Israel.
In that respect, after decades of this, some have felt limited options of where to turn; religion has failed them, their leaders have failed them, those that tried are either seen as bought out, or isolated or in some way not delivering. Fanatics and militants see easy recruitment for their causes, as a result. Hatred is easy to teach. Extremist views are easier to preach (especially with the success of Afghanistan and the Taliban regime in fighting off the Soviets, another feared power).
With the Cold War over and the West victorious, globalization in its current form was able to spread further. Conflicts also broke out between nations that were within the sphere of Soviet influence, especially in Central Asia, where many were Islamic. Extremist regimes and organizations were involved in participating in those conflicts for separation.
In addition, with globalization, came the increasing spread of western culture to the global South. In the Middle East as well, western products and more importantly, culture, was coming in more so. While around the world, not just the Middle East there has been increasing concern at what is described as
Hardly touched upon on this page has been the economic policies that have accompanied these geopolitical policies. Harsh Structural Adjustment imposition on the Third World for example, as described on this site (see previous link), has deepened poverty for most in the world. Walden Bello, professor of sociology and public administration at the University of the Philippines, and co-director of Thailand-based research organization, Focus on the Global South, describes the harsh geopolitical ramifications well:
The political economy of globalization therefore has been accompanied by all nations vying to best represent their interests. Of course, the more powerful and stronger nations are better able to represent their interests, which can also have the effect of undermining others. The United States being the most successful and powerful nation on the international political scene therefore weilds incredible power and influence, as Professor Wade of the prestigious London School of Economics, for example, vividly highlights:
Because we live in such times, it is hard to see or accept that today’s global political system, from the perspective of many in the third world, is a continuation of the system of previous decades and centuries, but of course evolved with its own nuances and complexities. Oftentimes, then, military solutions and other aggressive courses of actions are supported without understanding or considering the deeper and long term causes of various situations. S. Brian Willson, a U.S. Vietnam War veteran, now a peace activist highlights an aspect of this quite well:
Such factors in the Middle East on top of the heavy militarism and political oppression have also contributed to extremism.
Political leaders are in between a rock and a hard place; the struggle for people’s support
Political leaders throughout various regions, be it the Middle East, or Western countries, are in a tough situation, on many fronts. The following is perhaps an oversimplified number of fronts but gives a hint of the challenges:
- The people front
- Democracy or no democracy, people can and will only take so much. At some point, they will rise up and ask for their demands to be met. This can be via democratic processes, or through various movements, violent or peaceful.
- The extremist front
- There are always extremists on all sides, everywhere. They are able to exert some influence, to varying degrees and try to garnish popular support if possible. This can be very destabilizing depending on many circumstances and conditions.
- The corporate/geopolitical front
- There are various interests pulling at leaders to either do or not do something, in relation to some event. This might be to go to war, to enforce economic sanctions, some other form of diplomacy, or deal with such things coming at one’s country from others. These interests are often not always the interests of the majority of people.
fronts also influencing the mainstream media of that nation/region, then other actors or some of these above actors can have more say, directly or indirectly. One such example is the arms industry, as mentioned in this web site’s section on that issue. (See this web site’s section on the mainstream media for more examples.) Such influences can affect popular opinions and create support or lack of support on various issues. Gaining popular support or convincing the population has been of major importance. For dictators etc, such propaganda also serves to try to minimize the risk of an uprising. For democracies, where the media’s democratic institutions are weak or subject to influences, propaganda can create support.
Hence, in the West, our perceptions of the Middle East are subject to these influences in the mainstream media and elsewhere, just as we point out how the perceptions of the West in the Middle East are subject to influences of extremism.
As a result of these decisions, lives of ordinary citizens, be it the West, Middle East, or elsewhere can be affected.
Stephen Zunes, associate professor of Politics and chair of the Peace & Justice Studies Program at the University of San Francisco, as well as a senior policy analyst and Middle East editor for the Foreign Policy in Focus Project is worth quoting here, in light of the September 11, 2001 atrocity and resulting actions: