American Meddling in Middle East Ends in Disaster….Again
by Playthell Benjamin
While US pundits and policy wonks despair over the success of Islamic Jihadists in Iraq with the dramatic capture of Mosul, the nation’s second largest city, it comes as no surprise to this observer. On the eve of the US invasion of that country, with the clearly stated objective of overthrowing Saddam Hussein, I wrote an extended commentary pointing out that this would prove a grave mistake because the policy was based on a lie cooked up by politicized intelligence operatives. (See: “The Prophetic Commentary on Iraq” on this blog)
I pointed out that the central premise in the Bush Administration’s argument for invading Iraq, that Saddam Hussein was an ally of the Jihadists that attacked the US on 9/11 was a transparent lie. I argued instead that Saddam Hussein was actually an enemy of the Jihadist in Al Qaeda and committed to the defeat of Osama bin Laden – who viewed all secular leaders of predominantly Muslim countries like Saddam as apostates worthy of death!
Hence by removing Saddam the US weakened the war against the Jihadists, because it was the secular military strong men like Saddam that had prevented the Islamic zealots from taking over these countries – often through popular elections such as in Algeria. Subsequent events in Egypt and Libya have proven my argument true and now it is coming to pass in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was all predictable to anyone with an understanding of the modern political history of the Islamic world and committed to an objective assessment of the facts, rather than tailoring them to justify a preconceived policy.
The deterioration of the US backed regime in Iraq – whose installation cost Americans five thousand lives over ten years of military and related action for a price of around two trillion dollars – must be viewed as yet another spectacular failure of US policy in the Islamic world. In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that the advance of fundamentalist militant Islam has been aided and abetted by American intervention in the region more than any single source.
For instance the overthrow of President Muhammad Mossedeck in Iran during 1953, under President Eisenhower, led directly to the Islamic revolution in Iran, which was so popular the US was powerless to stop it. This, of course, was an unintended consequence of a US covert action, just as the present disaster in Iraq is an unintended consequence of the misbegotten American invasion. Alas, some conspiracy theorists on the right will no doubt view the present victory of the Jihadist forces in Iraq as a sinister covert plot by the “secret Muslim ally” of the Jihadists in the White House, an undercover Kenyan who deceived the American people into voting for him twice, and now has betrayed our trust by removing American troops from Iraq in order to create the conditions for a Islamist takeover.
No matter that such sinister charges make no sense; it didn’t stop the conspiracy theorist on the left from concluding that George Bush actually ordered the terrorist attack on 9/11, or that the CIA was the moving force behind the popular uprisings of the “Arab Spring.” However the Republican critics of President Obama’s policy toward the Arab Spring, or the Syrian Uprising, or the Iranian nuclear program, are just as devoid of reality as the zealots on the left.
The truth is that Barack Obama has been Solomonic in the wisdom he has employed in dealing with these bewilderingly complex foreign events. (See the essays in the section “On War and Peace in the Middle East” and other relevant essays listed under “On Foreign Policy on this blog) The beginning of this wisdom is the president’s recognition that America cannot control these events with military force. In this the American people have been fortunate indeed.
When we consider the consequences of the major thrust of US policy in the Islamic world over the last 60 years, it is easy to recognize that it has been a dismal failure and we needed a change of vision and policy. This is why early on in his administration Barack travelled to Egypt to offer an olive branch of peace to the Islamic world, even as he declared total war on those who chose the Jihadist path. (See: “Of all the Places in the Islamic world, Why Egypt?” on this blog)
If we look at the three most explosive problems the US faces in the Middle East as I write – the Islamic regime in Iran; the rising power of Islamic Jihadist in Afghanistan and Iraq; the protracted Israeli/Palestinian conflict that constantly threatens to plunge into violence, we can see the consequences of American meddling in an attempt to install or defend client regimes that will defend American hegemony in the region. Added to this dismal record of monumental failures is the uncritical American support for the corrupt and fascistic royal family of Saudi Arabia, which is what got us in trouble with Al Qaeda in the first place.
Arizona Republican Senator John McCain, who was roundly defeated by Barack Obama in his bid for the presidency, offered this bit of advice. “”The President should get rid of his entire national security team including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.” Bringing back the generals who failed to defeat the Insurgents in Iraq for half a decade would “turn this whole situation around,” in the opinion of this Vietnam era warrior and member of the Senate Arms Services Committee. Luckily, McCain stopped short of calling for the resumption of American bombing in Iraq the way some are doing. At least as of this writing….but as Fats Waller would say: “One never knows, do one?”
Yet, listening to McCain’s reactions to the major trouble spots on the American foreign policy radar – i.e. Iran, Ukraine, Syria, et al – one shudders to think of where this nation would be if John McCain had been in office for the last six years. He wanted to intervene everywhere during the Arab Spring uprisings, and criticized President Obama for “leading from behind” in Libya. Which has proved to be a brilliant innovative strategy that accomplished American objectives without involving us in yet another war in the Arab world.
Big MAC would have long ago bombed Iran and he would have maintained the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan until “victory” was won! He even suggested that we use American policy in Korea as a model for Iraq and Afghanistan – although American military forces are still stationed in Korea after sixty years, and we have yet to sign an armistice officially ending the Korean War!
McCain would arm the Syrian Rebels, which would be a repeat of the mistake the US made in arming and training the Afghanistan Mujahideen – which metamorphosed into the Taliban and Al Qaeda! At the time we were told that these people were “heroes” because they were fighting the Russians, now they have become our worst nightmare.
The spectacular success of the Islamist forces in Iraq – whose objective is to build an Islamic Caliphate that includes Syria – is evidence that things have gone as badly in Iraq, a country that had no problem with ethnic strife nor Islamic insurgents before the Neo-Con Bushmen led by “Dirty Dick” Cheney convinced Clueless George to overthrow Saddam Hussein, a leader who had committed no hostile act against the US. (See: “How the Iraq War was Hatched in a Think Tank” on this blog)
And now McCain wants to arm and train pro-western forces in the Ukraine, despite the fact that they are riddled with neo-Nazis – with the ultimate objective of incorporating that former Soviet Republic into NATO. This is a prescription for nuclear war! Hence, to put it succinctly, If John McCain was our president instead of Barack Obama we would be in wars all over the globe, and hovering on the brink of nuclear annihilation. Bluesman Percy Mayfield’s lyrics would have become a tragic prophecy:
“The whole world is in trouble and the danger zone is everywhere….if man don’t put an end to his horrible sins, hate will set the world aflame… what a shame!”
Benjamin is a veteran political journalist out of Harlem NY. His essays can be read on his blog site Commentaries on the Times.