FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Madness

by DANIEL KOVALIK

The other day, I was rereading a little chestnut by Seymour Hersh from March 5, 2007, entitled, “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?”   This article turns out to be quite prescient and helpful in understanding, in particular, the current conflict in Syria.   In this piece, Hersh explains how, as far back as those six and a half years ago, the U.S. was already shifting its policy away from its post 9/11 “war on terror” which purported to attack Sunni extremists, best typified by Al Qaeda, and instead towards attacking Shiite organizations and governments in the Middle East with the help of the very Sunni extremists we claimed to be at war with.    

As Hersh writes, “[t]he U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria.   A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”   Hersh explains that the Bush Administration decided to take this redirection because, quelle surprise, its toppling of Saddam Hussein in Iraq had the unintended, and yet predictable, effect of bringing to power a Shiite government in Iraq which was friendly to Iran, thereby empowering Iran beyond the liking of the U.S.   The U.S. decided that Iran was now the bigger threat to the U.S. than the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks, and so sided with the latter to weaken Iran and its allies, such as Syria.

Obama, of course, appears to be following suit, aligning with jihadists in Libya to topple Muammar Gaddafi – one of the most aggressive enemies of Al Qaeda – and with Sunni extremists in Syria, some directly aligned with Al Qaeda, in order to topple, or at least weaken, the Syrian government in Damascus.

While this alignment must be rather perplexing to most Americans, at least to the extent that they are aware of it, there appears to be little sanity in the entire arch of U.S. involvement in the Middle and Near East.   Thus, to the extent we are adversaries with Iran today (though I certainly don’t view Iran in that way), it is directly a consequence of the U.S. coup against Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953 and its subsequent support of the Shah and the dreaded SAVAK security forces which used systematic torture against the Iranian population.  The U.S. supported the Shaw until his overthrow in 1979.   It is no wonder, then, that the Iranian government harbors some resentment towards us.

After 1979, the U.S., wanting to weaken and crush the Islamic Revolution in Iran which arose in opposition to the U.S.-backed Shah, supported Saddam Hussein’s brutal war against Iran, including his chemical gassing of Iranians on a mass scale.   And, at one point, the U.S. was arming Iran at the very same time in return for payment which it used to (illegally) fund the Contra terrorists fighting the new revolutionary government in Nicaragua – Nicaragua itself having just overthrown a U.S.-backed dictator in 1979.

Also in 1979, the U.S. began to arm the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan.  Contrary to popular opinion, the U.S. did not arm these forces in order to counter the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, but rather, to bring about such an invasion.  Thus, as then U.S. National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, later admitted, the arming of the Mujahadeen had the intended  “effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war.”

Of course, one of the leaders who emerged from the chaos of the U.S.-sponsored war in Afghanistan was a rich Saudi named Osama bin Laden who bankrolled allies of the U.S.-backed Mujahadeen and who himself would later turn on the U.S. in infamous ways including by ordering, or at least inspiring, the 9/11 attacks upon the World Trade Center.

After the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. quickly attacked the Taliban government in Afghanistan – a government which directly grew out of the Mujahadeen forces which the U.S. sponsored to draw the Soviet Union into a brutal war in Afghanistan, and which was allied with Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden himself.  Iran, a mortal enemy of the Taliban and the Sunni radicals, offered to assist the U.S. in this effort, but the U.S. demurred.

Meanwhile, after the Iran-Iraq war ended, and U.S. ally Saddam Hussein had done his worst against the Iranians, the U.S. quickly decided that he was not a reliable enough ally, and therefore invaded Iraq in 1991, imposed brutal economic sanctions upon the Iraqi people, and intermittently bombed Iraq through the 1990’s.

Then, in 2003, the U.S., claiming to be acting in response to the 9/11 attacks, finally deposed Saddam Hussein in the second invasion in 2003 — though it is clear that Hussein had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, and the U.S. was quite aware of this fact.

This then brings us to the present when the U.S., in its period of “redirection,” as Seymour Hersh termed it, is supporting forces aligned with those very Muslim extremists who the U.S. claims carried out the 9/11 attacks so as to weaken Iran which was strengthened by the U.S. invasion of Iraq, an invasion which itself was justified by the 9/11 attacks though Iraq had absolutely nothing to do with them.   Are you following this?

Anyone looking at this series of events would have to conclude that the U.S. intervention in the Middle East, apart from destroying the lives of hundreds of thousands if not millions in that region, has been utterly counterproductive of the U.S.’s national security interests, at least if one views the safety of U.S. civilians as synonymous with national security.   Of course, it is clear that our leaders do not view U.S. national security interests in those terms.   Rather, the only interest which could possibly be viewed as the intended benefactor of such an otherwise insane foreign policy is the military-industrial complex which profits from this policy — whether or not that policy succeeds in ways in which most rational humans would measure as success.

This state of affairs can be seen as nothing short of horrifying.

Daniel Kovalik teaches International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and tweets @danielmkovalik.

 

Daniel Kovalik teaches International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

May 04, 2016
Kshama Sawant
It’s Not About Bernie: Why We Can’t Let Our Revolution Die in Philadelphia
Conn Hallinan
Baiting the Bear: Russia and NATO
Joshua Frank
Hanford’s Leaky Nuke Tanks and Sick Workers, A Never-Ending Saga
Paul Craig Roberts
TIPP: Advancing American Imperialism
Ted Rall
Hillary to Bernie Supporters: Don’t Vote for Me!
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton and Wall Street’s Neoliberal War on Latin America
Leslie Scott
The Story of Jill Stein: Putting People, Peace and the Planet Before Profits
Ann Garrison
Building the Greens Into a Mass Party: Interview with Bruce Dixon
Tom Clifford
Crying Rape: Trump’s Slurs Against China
Lawrence Davidson
Getting Rid of Bad Examples: Andrew Jackson & Woodrow Wilson
Ellen Brown
Bank of North Dakota Soars Despite Oil Bust: A Blueprint for California?
Nelson Valdes
Is Fidel Castro Outside or Part of Mainstream Thinking? A Selection of Quotes
Jesse Jackson
Don’t Send Flint Down the Drain: Fix It!
Nathan Riley
Help Bernie Keep His Halo
Rivera Sun
Remembering Nonviolent History: Freedom Rides
Clancy Sigal
Rachel and the Isolationists: How Maddow Blew It
Laura Finley
Changing the Conversation About “The Woman Card”
CJ Hopkins
Coming this Summer … Revenge of the Bride of Sophie’s Choice
May 03, 2016
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Resumé: What the Record Shows
Michèle Brand – Arun Gupta
What is the “Nuit Debout”?
Chuck Churchill
The Failures of Capitalism, Donald Trump and Right Wing Terror
Dave Marsh
Bernie and the Greens
John Wight
Zionism Should be on Trial, Not Ken Livingstone
Rev. John Dear
A Dweller in Peace: the Life and Times of Daniel Berrigan
Patrick Cockburn
Saudi Arabia’s Great Leap Forward: What Would Mao Think?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Electoral Votes Matter: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump
Chris Gilbert
Venezuela Today: This Must Be Progress
Pepe Escobar
The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm
Ruth Fowler
Intersecting with the Identity Police (Or Why I Stopped Writing Op-Eds)
Victor Lasa
The Battle Rages on in Spain: the Country Prepares for Repeat Elections in June
Jack Rasmus
Is the US Economy Heading for Recession?
Dean Baker
Time for an Accountable Federal Reserve
Ted Rall
Working for US Gov Means Never Saying Sorry
Dave Welsh
Hunger Strikers at Mission Police Station: “Stop the execution of our people”
John Eskow
The Death of Prince and the Death of Lonnie Mack
May 02, 2016
Michael Hudson – Gordon Long
Wall Street Has Taken Over the Economy and is Draining It
Paul Street
The Bernie Fade Begins
Ron Jacobs
On the Frontlines of Peace: the Life of Daniel Berrigan
Louis Yako
Dubai Transit
Bill Quigley
Teacher, Union Leader, Labor Lawyer: Profile of Chris Williams Social Justice Advocate
Patrick Cockburn
Into the Green Zone: Iraq’s Disintegrating Political System
Lawrence Ware
Trump is the Presidential Candidate the Republicans Deserve
Ron Forthofer
Just Say No to Corporate Rule
Ralph Nader
The Long-Distance Rebound of Bernie Sanders
Ken Butigan
Remembering Daniel Berrigan, with Gratitude
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail