From 1953 when the CIA staged a coup in Iran to topple the democratically elected government of Mohammad Moddeq in 1953 until the Obama administration’s endeavors to replace the Assad regime in Syria, destabilization has been at the core of how the US policy toward the Middle East. US destabilization policy is not a post-9/11 phenomenon that can be defaulted to the ‘war on terror’ nor is it an aberration from US foreign policy and the mainstream media and various analysts claim.
In the post-Communist era (the New World Order), US foreign policy is impractical given the status of the economy and its prospects. Sailing in turbulent ocean without any sense of direction or realism of where it wishes to go and for what purpose and resting on the foundations of a manufactured ‘war on terror’ that has only been expanding without any end in sight, US foreign policy has nowhere to go except to anachronistic Cold War models. Containment of Russia, a policy with roots in 19th century Britain and France, combined with US-NATO attempts to deny Moscow any role in influencing the balance of power in the Middle East and even with its own neighboring states have proved unsuccessful and costly for the West. This is partly because Russia is nearly self-sufficient in natural resources. Moreover, China that may have an interested in a weaker Russia than when it was part of the USSR cannot permit the weakening of its neighbor to the degree that it would afford the US and NATO hegemony in Eurasia.
Like Libya, Egypt is now under a façade of a democratic regime, a very thin facade. The BBC was correct to label General el-Sisi’s regime something of a giant company running the country on the basis of a corrupt and decadent clientist system with ties to foreign corporations. As of August 2016, the IMF struck a deal with this corrupt regime to bring about austerity and neoliberal policies that would in fact transfer even more income from the lower classes to the wealthy. Everything from basic foodstuffs to utilities is much higher, adding to the political turmoil that the pro-Western regime has created. Even the pro-business magazine Fortune headline betrayed the ugly truth of what the IMF is doing in this poor country: In Egypt, IMF Deal Brings Austerity Few Can Afford. (fortune.com/2016/08/20/imf-egypt-austerity-consequences)
This is not to suggest the futility of popular uprisings or a Western conspiracy is operating in the Middle East, but rather a systematic US-NATO policy intended to keep the region politically, economically, and strategically subservient to the West, and its natural resources and markets secure. This precludes any attempt at national sovereignty Nasser-style of the 1960s, or Iranian style that resists integration under the ‘patron-client model’ with the hegemonic West. It further means denying Russia and China the region as a sphere of influence, and maintaining a containment policy toward Iran. In short, US destabilization policy makes perfect sense if one considers that its goal is to keep the region dependent on the West as it has been since the Sikes-Picot agreement in 1916.
1. As the British ‘Chilcot Inquiry Report’ (July 2016) made very clear, blatant lies on which the US and UK invaded the country, namely: a) Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and b) There was a link to al-Qaeda, when it was well known that the al-Qaeda organization was made up primarily of Saudis with which the Bush family as well as a number of well-connected Republicans had multi-billion dollar interests. The real reasons were the oil reserves, the US obsession to counterbalance Iran, and strengthen the defense industry in which Republicans and Democrats had personal financial interests. It is interesting to note, that the US defense and intelligent budgets skyrocketed as a result of this war combined with Afghanistan, while the US economy continued losing ground to China.
2. War and occupation destroyed Iraq, resulting in millions of people displayed as refugees spread through neighboring nation s and others fleeing for the West. During the occupation, US forces committed war crimes, but the International Court has not dared to charge any US official. Just as the US destroyed Vietnam where it committed war crimes, and just as Vietnam has taken many decades to rebuild and it is still in the process of doing so, similarly it will take many decades to rebuild Iraq that the US and UK left in ruins. Yet, there is no talk about helping with the reconstruction of Iraq as there was with Japan, Germany and Italy after WWII; only about dividing and exploiting Iraq’s oil reserves and using the country as a strategic satellite.
3. US tax payers paid for a war in order to advance the profits of Republican party-linked corporations in which the Bush family, Dick Cheney, Jim Baker, Donald Rumsfeld and others in the Republican administration were connected to corporations such as the Carlyle Group and Halliburton that defrauded the US government of millions of dollars in contract work in Iraq. This is the same Halliburton against which Nigeria filed corruption charges against Cheney as CEO, and the same company that was partly responsible for the Deep Horizon oil disaster in autumn 2010. This does not mean that Democrats, including the Clinton Foundation, have been above the money that influenced Republicans in their pursuit of a militarist foreign policy.
4. Before the US-UK invasion of Iraq was not among the top 20 most corrupt countries in the world, but it advanced to the number #2 spot during the occupation! The US reduced the country into a concentration camp where corruption was the way of doing business. Focused only on oil and counterbalancing Iran, the US was unable to do anything with Iraq other than leave a devastated country that its people must rebuild.
5. The issue of federalism and/or breaking up Iraq was one that concerned American politicians, think tanks, journalists, and academics after the US invaded. The question is why? While the Kurdish population has historically wanted autonomy, the US has never been interested in this minority group, otherwise it would demand that Turkey also submit to some type of federalist system. The goal is to keep Iraq weak and dependent on the US so that it can exploit its oil and counterbalance Iran, while also determining the regional balance of power.
Iraq and Afghanistan represent the twilight of Pax Americana, the last vestiges of an imperial democracy operating on a foreign policy based on a predominantly Protestant missionary pretext about the White Anglo-Saxon Christians 'saving' the weaker dark-skinned non-Christian brethren whose land just happens to have natural resources that the West needs, and it just happens to be located in a place of strategic interest. The larger issue here is the credibility gap in US foreign policy, considering that ISIS would not exist if it were not for the US and its allies trying to remove Assad from power. ISIS was made possible by the US and its allies, including Sunni-dominated Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
One result of US destabilization policy is the Jihadist offshoot of al-Qaeda known as ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria). Part of the blame for the people failing to unite behind their governments must go to the corrupt and divisive regimes in Damascus and Baghdad for pursuing clientism and crony capitalism that neglect to serve the broader public interest. In this sense, Western critics are correct to argue that governments in question ultimately have the responsibility for their policies that only feed sectarianism and social strife. At the same time, however, it is reprehensible that Washington, London and apologists of Western imperialism without any sense of historical context and self-criticism insist that the ongoing civil war and rebel activity is a problem solely created by the Arab political leadership and disparate factions. Without the money, guns and ammunition, political support, and covert operations to facilitate such rebel operations intended to secure the goal of regime change how far would ISIS succeed in carrying out its operations?
No one should be surprised at the arrogance of Western politicians and well-paid consultants and analysts echoing official policy when it comes to the Middle East and victim blaming which is official policy in Israel regarding the Palestinian Question and adopted by both Republican and Democrat politicians and the US media. This is archaic imperialist mindset applied by the West to the non-Western World dating back to the era of European colonialism. The Nixon administration, which created the tragedies of Laos and Cambodia in the 1960s and early 1970s, turned around and condemned the very monstrosity it had created, blaming the very people it had been supporting against Vietnam. Even more hypocritical, the US covertly cooperated with the Khmer Rouge remnants during the Reagan administration at a time that the US was castigating terrorist activity by Iran, a country with which it also secretly collaborated in order to undermine Nicaragua’s duly-elected regime.
In November 1986, the world discovered that the US had made an arms sales deal to Iran to finance the Nicaraguan Contra rebels and in exchange for release of US hostages held by Lebanese-based Hezbollah. Despite the numerous legal violations, including the Boland Amendment (1982-1984) prohibiting arms sales to the contras, as well as failure of congressional oversight in this Watergate-style scandal involving a number of top Reagan administration officials, the bottom line is that the US accomplished nothing other than to destabilize both Central America and the Middle East through its double-dealing that violated US laws. Parenthetically, one could point out that defense companies, consultants and right-wing ideologues benefited but at what cost to the broader interests of the US? (L. E. Walsh, Firewall: Iran-Contra Conspiracy and Cover-Up, 1997)
It is much more revealing of US goals in the Middle East top actually follow real practices, including logistical support, military aid diplomatic and intelligence support rather than following political rhetoric that does not always correspond to actions. What exactly are US policy goals in the Middle East depends whom you ask in different branches of government, in Congress, think tanks and various analysts.
1. Have the US and its partners achieved any of their publicly-stated goals, including democratizing and stabilizing the Middle East?
On 29 January 2002, President George W. Bush made the following statement in his "State of the Union Address": "Iran aggressively pursues these weapons [of mass destruction] and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people's hope for freedom. ... States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world."
ISIS and the Western Media
It is difficult to know the number of jihadists around the world, but estimates have it between 100,000 and 200,000 identifying with a group out of a total Muslim population number 1.6 billion. Even the US State Department statistics on “Foreign Terrorist Organizations” has the number of jihadists under 200,000, or roughly 25% fewer than the Homeland Security workforce. Meanwhile, 72% of Muslims in opinion polls disagree with violence as a political weapon, although this number can change depending on the perceived or real Western threats to Islamic societies. Alienating the vast majority of Muslims around the world with racist conduct and interventionist policies coupled with economic imperialism is hardly the way to win the war on terror on the part of the US and its European allies. Nevertheless, this is exactly what will continue to take place because it serves the Western elites and even some Muslims who are on the outside and want to be part of the power structure. (http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/26/opinion/bergen-schneider-how-many-jihadists/; https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140506/14033627137/how-many-terrorists-are-there-not-as-many-as-you-might-think.shtml)
The prospects for the future of the Middle East, at least for the next five to ten years, do not look very good even under the most optimistic scenario. Part of the reason for pessimism is that there is low likelihood of any kind of resolution to the Palestinian Question. Historically, Arab governments, especially Saudi Arabia, have opportunistically used the Palestinian Question to show perfunctory solidarity when in fact they did absolutely nothing to democratize their own societies or help with a constructive solution in the Palestinian case. Blaming Israel as the ‘devil of the Middle East’ served as a distraction from problems Arab governments were unwilling to confront. At the same time, it is highly unlikely the US will change its pro-Israel policy or its Cold War militarist orientation and destabilization methods to embrace a multilateral approach through the offices of the UN General Assembly. As China becomes economically stronger and Putin consolidates power under nationalist policies driven in part by the anti-Russian US-led campaign, the US will continue to seek ways to destabilize Muslim countries. Destabilization is here to stay, until there are uprisings in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States where the US has vested interests.
Destabilization is part of a larger policy to expand NATO and SEATO as a means of containing Russia and China as well as their regional allies has been set and it will absorb higher resources in defense and intelligence allocations. Brown University’s Watson Institute estimated the costs of US wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan at just under $4.4 trillion, an amount is roughly a quarter of the US public debt when Homeland Security is included. Over 7.6 million have been displaced and reduced to refugee status and more than 210,000 civilians killed. This does not include the numerous human rights violations and charges by governments and international human rights organizations about wars crimes. The US and NATO always defaulted crimes to individual soldiers carrying out the acts and never to governments who conduct policy. http://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/
The prospect of militarism hastening Pax Americana’s decline is not a perceptible reality for the vast majority of the political and socioeconomic elites any more than for the majority of the American people who accept the official policy version that the media constantly hammers into peoples’ heads. Although the majority of Americans polled want less military involvement, they favor greater defense spending because they view Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and Muslims as a national security threat. Of course, the media, consultants, academics, pundits and lobbyists, preachers and politicians mold public opinion in the process of manufacturing consent, as Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky argued in the late 1980s. Because opinion makers have vested career interests, they rarely bother with the cost-benefit analysis of militaristic policies impacting society in general. Instead, they focus narrowly on militarism advancing security and corporate profits identified with the ‘national interest’ as defined by Wall Street and the Pentagon.