How US Imperialism Uses and Benefits from Terror Groups and Despotic Kings
Kayla Mueller, a 26-year-old American aid worker, volunteering with Doctors Without Borders in Syria, helping Syrians displaced due to the fighting between Islamist terrorists and government forces, was abducted by ISIS terrorists in August of 2013. On Friday, ISIS claimed that she was killed the day before in a US-backed air strike, conducted by Jordan’s fighter jets, in retaliation for the burning to death of a Jordanian fighter jet pilot, a few days before.
Now what can you say about a bunch of medieval barbaric terrorist savages who kidnap young women volunteering to treat wounded and displaced children and pride themselves in how brutally they can kill their captives that hasn’t already been said? But, how different are these cold blooded and heartless murderers from the leaders of the U.S. military industrial complex, from the Pentagon to the CIA and NSA and from the White House to US Congress and those at the control of US drones, who go to war against defenseless people in underdeveloped countries who don’t have the means or weapons to defend themselves, or from the Zionist occupiers of Palestine who use their US supplied fighter jets, tanks, attack helicopters and warships to attack the defenseless and trapped people of Gaza who have no way to fight back or protect themselves against bombs falling on their apartment buildings, schools and hospitals?
As the media of the US corporate empire screams about the brutality of ISIS, hoping to garner more popular support for their endless wars, we’d be well advised to remember that the U.S. helped create the “ISIS problem”. When these barbarians were massacring Syrian people by the hundreds every day (which they still do), they were considered “rebels” by the U.S. government and the corporate media which repeats the Pentagon line. Not only were they not considered an enemy force, but they, as well as other religious terrorists who had descended on the country to overthrow the government, were getting funding and arms from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Turkey, Israel and the CIA, which was vetting the arms recipients at the Syrian-Turkish border. Their beheadings were not an issue at the time because they were trying to overthrow a government that doesn’t toe the Washington line like the corrupt and treasonous sheiks and kings of the Gulf, including the Late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who just in 2014, ordered the beheading of 781 people. Match that ISIS!
And, we all saw how US government officials from the President and his wife to members of his cabinet and high ranking members of Congress rushed to his funeral to pay their utmost respects to a longtime loyal servant of imperialism, not minding in the least how he treated his own people, especially women. You see, it doesn’t matter how brutal a dictator is; it doesn’t matter how he treats the women and gays or how under his rule journalists are whipped and jailed or how many hands and feet are cut under his brutal rule. What matters is what he does for imperialism. You really can tell a lot about a government from the friends it keeps.
The “ISIS problem” or more generally Islamic fundamentalism and Islamist militarism which everyone is suddenly so concerned about only seems like a new and isolated problem that sprang up out of nowhere to those who have a short memory and don’t remember events of recent history. Colonialism and imperialism has always used religion to divide people of conquered lands in order to better rule over them. But, in more recent times, Muslim fundamentalists have been used to beat back and defeat the specter of socialism, especially in the vital and oil rich region of the Middle East, where democratically elected and secular nationalist and especially socialist governments could nationalize their oil, say no to neoliberal policies and austerity measures, close U.S. military bases and make it harder for imperialism to control their economies, policies and politics. That’s why imperialism always prefers dictators like King Abdullah and King of Jordan and General Al Sissi of Egypt who all jail, beat and torture their political opponents including journalists, while enjoying close friendship with Washington.
imperialism has a long history of using Islamic Jihadis and extremists for its imperial ends. When it became clear to the West that the Iranian revolution of 1979 could not be stopped and the Shah (meaning king), who had been a faithful puppet of imperialism, had to go, they threw their support behind Ayatollah Khomeini and his Islamic Republic, out of fear that the revolutionary left which had been active and helped with the revolution might come to power. To be sure, the Islamic Republic was never the choice of imperialism, but, it was always preferred over the secular left.
That wasn’t the only time Islamists were preferred – and supported and aided – over the secular left. This attitude of the West and in particular the US, was even more evident in Afghanistan, where they armed and funded the Islamist Mujaheddin in 1980’s, to help overthrow a secular and socialist government that came to power in 1979 and dared to let girls attend school. Those Islamists that were getting money, shoulder missiles, automatic rifles, antitank grenades and ammunition from the CIA were the same Taliban who after defeating the socialist government, prevented girls from going to school, same Taliban whom later the US invaded and occupied the country to defeat. Bin Ladin who was once compared with “the Founding Fathers” of the US and he and his Islamist fighters were called “freedom fighters” because they were fighting the socialists and for the interests of transnational corporations, later turned into an enemy when he directed his ire and terror against his former bosses. He was the old “ISIS”.
What the US and its allies did and are still doing in Syria is almost exactly what they did in Afghanistan: make an alliance with brutal medieval and misogynist Islamists to overthrow a government that refuses to cooperate with the Pentagon and multinational corporations. That’s also what they did in Libya. As for Iraq, after supporting Saddam for years and giving him chemical weapons in 1980’s, which he used against Iran in the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988, they pushed Kuwait to flood the oil market and lower the price of oil and encouraged them to take Iraqi oil from inside Iraq near the border which prompted Saddam to invade Kuwait, giving the US the pretext to attack and weaken Iraq. It also gave the US an excuse to station troops in Saudi Arabia which turned Bin Ladin against the U.S. Iraq was later weakened further, both economically and militarily, as a result of 12 years of US imposed sanctions in the 1990’s, which not only impoverished most of its population, but according to the UN, also caused the death of 500,000 Iraqi children. Then, came the invasion and occupation of 2003, on completely false and made up charges, causing the death of another million Iraqis and turning the country into a ruin. And, if history is any indication of what’s in store for future, there are currently ongoing economic sanctions and trade embargo against Iran.
In the run-up to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, the US government and the media, including major newspapers, such as New York Times, that mirror Pentagon assertions, made a case for invading Iraq by falsely connecting the 9/11 terrorist attacks to Iraq and claiming that Saddam was developing weapons of mass destruction. Polls at the time showed that the majority of Americans bought those lies. Now, a dozen years later, many realize that that was a fabrication designed to justify a totally unjustifiable war. But, many still believe to this day that the first war against Iraq that occurred in 1991, was justified. So, I’d be remiss not to mention a few facts about that mostly forgotten war.
When oil formations run beneath two different nations’ borders, they typically share the revenues and costs using a formula that sets percentages of ownership. In late 1980’s, Kuwait’s Royal dynasty who in 1899 were given Kuwait by the British Empire by siphoning it out of Iraq and calling it a separate country (which previously it wasn’t), was producing oil from the border region of Rumaila without any agreement with Iraq. Under pressure from Washington, it also was producing far more oil than it was allowed under the quota system of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) which depressed world oil prices, cutting into the revenue of oil producing countries just as the Saudi kingdom has been doing lately to help weaken the Russian, Iranian and Venezuelan economies on U.S. behalf. Saddam Hussein told the Arab League in an emergency meeting in 1990 that Kuwait’s increased production was costing Iraq $14 billion a year in the last two years. Kuwait’s production in 1989 exceeded its OPEC quota by 700,000 barrels, according to a New York Times report published that year. The Kuwaiti Government’s hope, wrote the Times, was to force Mr. Hussein to accept a border truce that included drilling rights over the Rumaila border region. Henry M. Schuler, director of the energy security program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, agreed with Saddam and called the action of the Kuwait’s royal family “economic warfare.”
After Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1991 and drove the ruling family into exile in Saudi Arabia, Saddam’s repeated requests for resolving the issue over bargaining table to avoid an imminent US attack were ignored. The attack which came quickly and forcefully had two major objectives: to weaken Iraq, which was sympathetic to the cause of Palestinians and to station troops in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to ensure the uninhibited flow of oil as well as having control over its production. Indeed, Saddam’s invasion was expected and hoped for. There were reports at the time that, privately, US gave assurances to Saddam of nonintervention, while at the same time, pressuring Kuwaitis to remain intransigent over their extraction of oil from under Iraq and continuing to flood the market with their increased production. The two pronged strategy worked and the US got what it wanted.
The US has an enormous information gathering capability, as well as the ability to pressure non democratic governments into doing what it wants. As they anxiously followed the events leading up to the Iraqi invasion, they could have brought pressure on both sides to avoid an armed conflict. Instead, they did the opposite and set up a trap for Iraq, while giving assurances to Kuwait’s royal family of full protection and post war benefits, greasing the wheels of war which resulted in the massacre of the Iraqi forces in what they called “the highway of death”.
During the Iran-Iraq war, too, they tried to prevent either side from achieving a quick victory by giving vital satellite information and selling big weapons to any side that seemed to be losing ground in order to lengthen the war as much as possible. Their attitude was best expressed by Henry Kissinger who said: “I hope they kill each other off”. Same attitude has been on display about the war of the Islamist terrorists against Syria, where they have rejected all offers by Russia to end the conflict peacefully. They have taken the same non-peaceful approach also in Ukraine, rejecting and thwarting any effort to end the bloodshed peacefully and instead continuing to support and even push for government’s attack on the civilian population of the East who want local self governance within a federal system.
Social and political events and phenomena don’t happen out of nowhere and without a reason. To understand what’s really happening, we must look at the big picture and in its historical context and continuum. Barbaric Terror groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS are the byproducts of a world dominated by corporate greed and narrow economic interests, which lead up to imperialist wars and conflicts anywhere they can get their hands on. In a world dominated by imperialism, political expediency and complacency towards corrupt self-serving and treacherous puppet governments on the one hand and support for brutal terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda and ISIS, on the other, become routine and the norm. Terrorists are armed and funded and medieval dictators and kings applauded and supported as long as they serve their imperial interests, no matter how many people they massacre and how they treat their women, and then, when those terrorists turn against them, they embark on new wars in the name of “war on terror”. Could it have been any more convenient than that? They use terror groups once to destabilize and overthrow governments and then they use them again to justify their wars against them.
Such insatiable proclivity for wars, militarism and military interventions don’t happen for no reason, either, but are in fact, tied to and stem from the nature of an economic system that’s based on maximizing profits by all means necessary, which comes with political and economic coercion, assassinations, military coups, interventions and frequent wars causing countless deaths and destroyed lives. Such a system that’s predicated upon and benefits from wars and terror will by necessity also lead to spying on its own citizens, punishing whistle blowers and silencing critics should they menage to lead a movement for change.
We might be tempted to put all this into the category of intellectual musings and pastime and continue with our daly routine until the news of the next war or the next massacre or next regional conflagration, but, I’m afraid we don’t have that luxury, anymore. We’ve let this beast grow for far too long and it’s now threatening to drag us all into another world war.