A History of Folly
by Adam Young
[Posted November 9,
"How do I
respond when I see that in some Islamic countries there is vitriolic hatred
for America? I'll tell you how I respond: I'm amazed. I just can't believe
it, because I know how good we are." --President George W. Bush
Before we celebrate the
bombings of Afghanistan with hope of their expansion to other countries,
let's pause and take a look back on the past fifty years of U.S. folly in the
Defeat in the war against Israel discredits the ruling French-allied civilian
regime. American agents and interests take the opportunity to provide support
to Colonel Husni az-Zaim in a coup against the civilian regime. American
agents call az-Zaim "our boy" and "Husni," but when they
arrive to inform the new dictator whom to appoint as his ambassadors and
cabinet, az-Zaim orders them to "stand at attention" and to address
him as "His Excellency." Syria turns against the U.S. and descends
into a series of coups and counter-coups and police-state government by
American influence and assistance backs the conspiracy of Gammal Abdel
Nasser's Free Officers to oust the Egyptian royal family, the British
post-colonial client regime in Egypt. The U.S. expects Nasser to support
Washington's anti-Soviet alliance in the Middle East, dubbed the Baghdad
Pact, but he turns against the U.S. U.S. agents support Colonel Mohammad
Naguib's attempt to overthrow Nasser, as well as later assassination
In 1956, U.S. Secretary
of State John Foster Dulles rescinds pledges of foreign aid for the Aswan Dam
project. In response, Nasser uses this as a pretext to nationalize the Suez
Canal, and uses its toll revenue to fund the dam. Britain, France, and Israel
in response launch a joint invasion of Egypt with plans to occupy the Suez
Canal. Arab support for the U.S. reaches its highest point when President
Eisenhower, out of a distaste for European colonialism and European
intervention in the Middle East, pressures the invading forces to
abandon their invasion of Egypt.
After the government announces plans to grant the Soviet Union a territorial
oil franchise in Northern Iran, modeled on the British one in the south for
the British-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, a local leader named Mohammed
Mosaddeq leads the successful popular movement to oppose the grant to the
Soviets and pushes further to nationalize all foreign oil facilities.
Mosaddeq's popularity and influence increase to the degree that the shah
appoints him prime minister.
Faced with economic and
political turmoil, the shah attempts to remove Mosaddeq but is met with mobs
and mass public demonstrations, causing the shah to flee the country. The CIA
then backs Mosaddeq's opponents, who then overthrow his administration and
sentence him to house arrest for the rest of his life. The shah is restored
and becomes America's best friend and now controls the nationalized British
oil facilities as well. Eventually, opposition to the shah's autocracy and
U.S. political domination, as well as the Savak--the U.S.-trained Iranian
secret police--grows into a nationalist revolution to oust the shah and the
West, and in 1979, Iran too turns against the U.S.
In opposition to the British-client Iraqi regime, and in opposition also to
Nasser's growing influence in Iraq, the bloodthirsty Colonel Kassem
spearheads the American-supported military coup to overthrow the Iraqi royal
family. The king and crown prince and most of the royal family are executed,
and the prime minister is murdered by a mob. Years later, after Kassem has
alienated all his allies except the Soviet Union and is overthrown
and executed in 1963, United States support swings to a small group
called the Ba'th Socialist Party. After many twists and turns, coups and
elections, coups and revolutions, Saddam Hussein emerges as president of
Iraq in 1976 after leading the coup that, with American insistence, installed
that regime in 1968.
After the Iraqi monarchy is overthrown, the president of Lebanon requests
U.S. military intervention to save his tottering regime from insurrections of
United Arab Republican sympathizers. U.S. Marines arrive the next day in
Beirut. Lebanon enters into a thirty-five-year period of instability and
In 1959, oil is discovered, which transforms the country. To elbow out the
British, American support flows to a young reformist colonel in the Libyan
army, Muammar al-Khadafy, who, once in power, turns against his U.S.
sponsors, under the pretext of Western exploitation of Arab oil. He
confiscates and nationalizes oil facilities and assets, including those of
the local Jewish and Italian communities.
With the Islamic revolution in Iran, the U.S. tilts toward Iraq and Saddam
Hussein as its proxy against the Iranians. Iraq and Hussein become America's
front line in its attempt to crush the Islamic revolution in Iran. Armed and
financed by Uncle Sam, Saddam invades Iran in 1980. The war would last for eight
years and kill nearly a million people. Iraq is given advice and intelligence
from the CIA and the Pentagon, and U.S. and British administrations provide
Iraq with chemical and biological weapons-making knowledge and materiel to
use against the Iranians. We all know how this turned out, but this time was
different. The U.S. turned on Saddam.
With the country invaded by Israel and under threat of Syrian domination,
American Marine "Peacekeepers" are shipped to Beirut. Opposition to
their presence leads to the suicide bombing of the barracks. Some 309
Americans are killed, including the CIA's Mideast staff. In 1985, Lebanese
CIA agents detonate a truck bomb in Beirut in an attempt to assassinate
Sheikh Fadlallah, leader of the Hezbollah faction suspected of blowing up the
American barracks two years earlier. Eighty-three civilians are killed and
240 wounded; Sheikh Fadlallah walks out of the mosque fifteen minutes
In retaliation for the terrorist bombing of a Berlin nightclub that
killed a U.S. soldier, President Reagan bombs Libya, causing 130 deaths,
including civilians near the French embassy. Khadafy's own residence is
targeted, killing his adopted infant daughter, in an attempt to assassinate
him. Libya is deliberately chosen as the target because it lacks defenses
against air bombing. A few months later, the U.S. admits to
arms-trading with Iran, a state that the U.S. openly calls an instigator of
"international terrorism," and one that is an ally of Libya. Arab
cynicism about U.S. intentions and trustworthiness could only increase. The
bombing of Pan Am 103 is considered revenge for these attacks on Libya.
After the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, April Gillespie, informs Saddam that the
U.S. would have no opinion on Iraq's occupation of its "nineteenth
province," the U.S. seizes the opportunity to justify its post-cold war
internationalism by dubbing Saddam the "new Hitler." After mass
slaughter and defeat, crippling sanctions and daily bombardment follow to
persuade the Iraqi people that perhaps they would be better off without
Saddam. Other observers, however, believe that the sanctions exist to prop up
the price of oil.
The U.S. covertly aids the Taliban militia in its drive to end the
post-Soviet-Afghani civil war. The U.S. sides with fundamentalist forces in
Afghanistan--but not in Egypt, Algeria, or Saudi Arabia, where they are
tortured and suppressed--in a foreign theater of the U.S. drug war. The U.S.
government and the fundamentalist opposition to drugs would conjoin in an
alliance to drive out Central Asian opium production.
President Clinton instructs the CIA to support and aid the Iraqi opposition
forces in an operation to finally do away with Saddam Hussein. Iraqi exiles
and refugees are trained and armed in the northern no-fly zone to descend on
Baghdad. Sympathetic army generals within the regime are cultivated to
assassinate Hussein, and efforts to destabilize Iraq begin--such as random
car bombings as well as bombings of civilian public places.This plot
collapses, however, as Saddam's spies have infiltrated the Kurds. Many Kurds
back Saddam and turn on the U.S.-Kurdish faction. CIA agents in Kurdistan run
for their lives, abandoning allies and tons of equipment and documents, and
the network within Iraq is exposed and eliminated. This catastrophic failure
leads to the firing of CIA chief John Deutch. Commentator Eric Margolis dubs
this "Clinton's Bay of Camels," after JFK's Bay of Pigs
Sudan & Afghanistan:
President Clinton, in the midst of impeachment, rocket attacks camps in
Afghanistan and a pharmaceutical plant in the Sudan, ostensibly to punish
suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden for his involvement in the bombing of two
American embassies in Africa.
After 1945, the U.S.
schemed to eject the bankrupt British and French colonial empires in the
Middle East--to elbow out Soviet influence, but, more likely, to secure
political control over its oil. America's Oil Raj, as some commentators call
the interdependent network of political, monetary, and military
relationships--mirroring Britain's collection of territories and petty
kingdoms on the Indian subcontinent--consists of the old imposed artificial
colonial client states created by Britain and France. Outside of this
"Oil Raj" exists a trade-sanction regime that the U.S. maintains on
Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Algeria, the Sudan, Afghanistan, and, until
recently, India and Pakistan--all some of the poorest places in the world.
The Cycle Continues
The U.S. sends billions in financial and military aid to Egypt, Saudi Arabia,
and Jordan each year to prop up these regimes against
"fundamentalist" popular Islamic movements (which are the only way
dissent can be expressed in these regimes, since Islam is the only thing
these rulers can't outlaw). The U.S. also gives political support to corrupt
and oppressive dictatorships, such as exist in Algeria and Tunisia.
Everywhere, the U.S. favors and aids the status quo of political repression
and dictatorship. This hypocrisy is what fuels Arab and Muslim anger.
Foreign Affairs commentator Eric Margolis noted
recently the continuing cycle of American political involvement in the Middle
East. He points out that in nearly every decade since the mid-fifties, a
president of the United States has faced a challenge of a Muslim peril, an
Arab or Muslim bogeyman that is everywhere and nowhere--Nasser, Khomeni,
Khadafy, Saddam, and, now, bin Laden. And every time, the results have
been the same: U.S. demonizes this single man, only to watch him grow into a
popular hero of the Arab masses--the Arabic or Islamic David that dares to
stand up and confront the U.S. oil dominion over the Arab world and the
economic and political distortion that the US leaves in its wake.
Now, the cycle is
beginning again with Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Osama bin Laden.
And it has been reported that in the Middle East over the past few
years, Osama has become the most common name for newborn boys.
Adam Young is studying
computer science in Ontario, Canada. His articles have appeared
in Ideas on Liberty, Mises.org, LewRockwell.com,
and The Free Market. Send him MAIL.
Also, see his Mises.org Articles Archive.