Robert Reich Just Asked All Of Us To Share This Message With Every Trump Voter
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Robert Reich, a former Labor Secretary during the first Bill Clinton Administration,has posted a list of thingsthat those of us who loathe Donald Trump can discuss with friends and family who supported him during the election – and maybe even still support him. Trump ran his presidential campaign on an outpouring of populist rage, all fueled by outlandish claims and absurd policy proposals. Reich lists eleven promises that Trump made that he has already broken, just one month into his presidency.
Some Trump supporters have become diehard, unquestioning fans, but many others are willing – or at least able – to see his flaws. Not all Trump supporters are bad people. Many bought into his promises to revive their communities, increase
Many bought into his promises to revive their communities, increase the quality of life for the working class, and restore fairness to a country that is experiencing unprecedented economic disparity.
I can only imagine that one of the worst parts of renouncing your political candidate is being forced to recognize that you put your faith in the wrong person. Reich frames his points against Trump in terms of supporters buying into Trump’s scam promises.
Maybe his supporters should have known better, but ultimately Trump is to blame. He is the one who lied to the American people and exploited voters across the country.
You might want to send this to anyone in your family, or anyone you know, who voted for Trump. (Thanks to Rosa Figueroa who posted this in response to one of my posts yesterday.)
1. He called Hillary Clinton a crook. You bought it. Then he paid $25 million to settle a fraud lawsuit.
2. He said he’d release his tax returns, eventually. You bought it. He hasn’t and says he never will.
3. He said he’d divest himself from his financial empire, to avoid any conflicts of interest. You bought it. He is still heavily involved in his businesses, manipulates the stock market on a daily basis, and has more conflicts of interest than can even be counted.
4. He said Clinton was in the pockets of Goldman Sachs and would do whatever they said. You bought it. He then proceeded to put half a dozen Goldman Sachs executives in positions of power in his administration.
5. He said he’d surround himself with all the best and smartest people. You bought it. He nominated theocratic loon Mike Pence for Vice President. A white supremacist named Steve Bannon is his most trusted confidant. Dr. Ben Carson, the world’s greatest idiot savant brain surgeon, is in charge of HUD. Russian quisling Rex Tillerson is Secretary of State.
6. He said he’d be his own man, beholden to no one. You bought it. He then appointed Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, whose only “qualifications” were the massive amounts of cash she donated to his campaign.
7. He said he would “drain the swamp” of Washington insiders. You bought it. He then admitted that was just a corny slogan he said to fire up the rubes during the rallies, and that he didn’t mean it.
8. He said he knew more about strategy and terrorism than the Generals did. You bought it. He promptly gave the green light to a disastrous raid in Yemen- even though all his Generals said it would be a terrible idea. This raid resulted in the deaths of a Navy SEAL, an 8-year old American girl, and numerous civilians. The actual target of the raid escaped, and no useful intel was gained.
9. He said Hillary Clinton couldn’t be counted on in times of crisis. You bought it. He didn’t even bother overseeing that raid in Yemen, and instead spent the time hate-tweeting the New York Times, and sleeping.
10. He called CNN, the Washington Post and the New York Times “fake news” and said they were his enemy. You bought it. He now gets all his information from Breitbart, Gateway Pundit, and InfoWars.
11. He called Barack Obama “the vacationer-in-Chief” and accused him of playing more rounds of golf than Tiger Woods. He promised to never be the kind of president who took cushy vacations on the taxpayer’s dime, not when there was so much important work to be done. You bought it. He took his first vacation after 11 days in office. On the taxpayer’s dime. And went golfing.
(War veteran, defence analyst, columnist, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan,DG Measac Research Centre.)
The two leading US think tanks namely ‘Hudson Institute’ and the ‘Heritage Foundation’ have advised the DonaldTrump administration to adopt tough measures against Pakistan.
In their view Pakistan is not doing enough in controlling terrorism and is making its soil available for export of terrorism into Afghanistan, thereby threatening the US vital security interests in the region. They have suggested a critical review of intelligence on Pakistan’s involvement in supporting terror since in their view the previous administrations have been taking a lenient view. In their estimation, Pakistan is not an American ally and has been playing a double game by cooperating occasionally and partially.
In their recommendations they have stated that Pakistan must be firmly asked to fully share the US counterterrorism objectives, end its support to the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network (HN) and given stern warning that failure to do so would deprive it of the status on non-NATO ally within six months and result in declaring Pakistan as a State sponsor of Terrorism. In their assessment, China and Gulf Arab States share the US concern about Pakistan’s tolerance of terrorist organizations/individuals. They hasten to add that Pakistan being an important country should also be induced by offering a mutually beneficial trade and investment package, while continuing humanitarian and social assistance programs.
It is a well-known fact that there are 1984 think tanks in USA with 350 in Washington. Both Heritage and Hudson are among the 50 most influential think tanks. Other important ones are American Enterprise Institute, Centre for Security Policy, Foreign Policy Research Inst, Institute of Foreign Policy Analysis, Brookings Inst etc. These institutes are required to provide research solutions to a variety of world problems and then lobbying for policy changes. Perceptions are built and the US policy makers influenced to formulate foreign policies or make changes in policies, and frame responses to external challenges.
These intellectual institutes are however mostly controlled by the Far-Right Zionist lobby which is pro-Israel and guided by American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPIAC). Of the 30 top executives of the major think tanks, 19 are Jews (63%), whereas Jews are mere 2% of the total population. 94% of American Jews live in 13 key Electoral College State, who play a predominant role in the election of US president. Zionist lobby is closely aligned with Indian lobby in USA. The two lobbies besides having influence over think tanks and media, also have strong influence over the US Congress and play a big role in the election of each member. It is therefore quite logical to assume that like hundreds of anti-Pakistan reports dished out by the US think tanks, US Congress, New York Times, Washington Post and Voice of America, this report was also manufactured by these lobbies that are hostile to Pakistan. Purpose is to influence the new administration to pursue old policies to keep Pakistan in the dock.
Rather than focusing on foreign policy and security issues, these think tanks work on tutored themes and burn midnight oil in justifying the crimes of USA, Israel and India against humanity, painting the targeted Muslim countries particularly the radical groups in black and blaming the victims of aggression as terrorists or sponsors of terrorism. Pakistan has been the biggest victim of Indo-US-Israeli propaganda since 2005. Since none of the sinister objective against Pakistan could be accomplished through covert means, the propaganda continues unabated and this report is in continuation of the malicious campaign.
I may like to ask the wise guys of the two think tanks some probing questions:
Whether their counsels helped USA in winning the war on terror, or at least in improving their image. If not, have they ever prepared a paper highlighting why the US has failed to achieve its stated and hidden objectives after fighting the longest war in its history and spending over $ 1 trillion, where the US went wrong and how could it make amends to restore its lost prestige. (I have).
Instead of the next door neighbor Pakistan feeling insecure, how come the US located 7000 miles away and across the seven seas feel threatened by the chaos in Afghanistan which it had intentionally created?
I want to know as to what are the accomplishments of the US-NATO forces and in what way they have fared better than Pakistan to ask it repeatedly to do more? In my reckoning, the US need to do a lot more.
Can the US deny that CIA in league with RAW, NDS, MI-6, Mossad and BND been exporting terrorism into Pakistan since 2003 with the help of its proxies created in FATA, Swat, Baluchistan and Karachi? Can it deny that RAW and NDS are still supporting them?
Why the ISAF withdrew bulk of 1, 30, 000 troops from Afghanistan in December 2014 without eliminating its principal objective of eliminating terrorism?
Was it because of resurging Taliban power which it couldn’t defeat, or the sagging morale of ISAF soldiers due to mounting war casualties, suicides, in-house attacks, huge number of post stress disorder cases and uninspiring military leadership?
Isn’t it true that the morale of occupying forces drawing handsome salaries drooped because they had no cause and that they were fighting a wrong war for selfish motives of the elites?
When the US accepted in principle that the Taliban could neither be defeated on the battlefield nor cowed down and decided to quit Afghanistan by December 2014, what was the need for keeping behind a token force along with airpower? Did it really expect that what the combined military force of 48 countries couldn’t achieve, would be accomplished by ANSF rived in so many discipline problems?
Isn’t it a fact that rather than accepting defeat in good grace and quitting honorably, the US military brazenly blamed Pakistan for all its failures? Can the prestige and honor of the sole super power be restored by making Pakistan a scapegoat?
Pakistan security forces and ISI on the other hand successfully broke the back of terror network and demolished all the sanctuaries, communication and command infrastructure from FATA and settled areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, enfeebled foreign backed separatist movement in Baluchistan and demolished the militant structure of MQM in Karachi. All this was done single-handed against all odds and astounded the world. USA is among the ones acknowledging Pakistan’s spectacular successes.
If Pakistan had fought the war with ill-motives and without a genuine cause, could it have achieved the miracle?
It is now an open secret that the US had occupied Afghanistan under a preconceived design and with sinister objectives against Pakistan and other regional countries. It has been calculatingly inflaming terrorism in the region and particularly in Pakistan and at no stage made any sincere effort to quash terrorism.
Had the US been sincere and serious in eliminating terrorism as professed by George W. Bush and his successor Barak Obama, it would have made Pakistan its strategic partner and banked upon it based upon its astounding performance in the war against the Soviets in the 1980s.
The US relied upon India which has nothing in common with Afghans and is a far distant neighbor. Driven by acute animosity against Pakistan, India kept pressing US military to focus on Pakistan rather than on consolidating its gains in Afghanistan. Gen Mc Chrystal, Gen Petraeus and former Secretary Defense Chuck Hegel publically declared India as a problem child.
Wasn’t it a big mistake on part of the US to sideline the Afghan Pashtuns that are in big majority, and instead rely upon minority Tajiks, Uzbeks and others in Northern Alliance and unpopular and inefficient regimes of Karzai and of Ghani?
One may ask as to why the US has been striving hard since 2011 to have dialogue with the Taliban who are supposed to be the foes and are still vying to make them agree to talk? And why Pakistan is being asked to stay away from them? Concept of good and bad Taliban is the brainchild of USA and not of Pakistan. In its view, all those agreeing to talk are good and those refusing to talk are bad.
Since 2008, the Taliban are constantly gaining ground in Afghanistan and are striking targets in all parts of the country including Kabul and northern and western parts. Their resurgence became menacing after 2014 and coming spring offensive will prove highly perilous for the unity government in Kabul and for the 3, 50,000 ANSF supported by 12000 Resolute Support Group that have failed to stem the tide. So how come Pakistan is responsible for their dismal performance particularly after it cleared the last stronghold of North Waziristan in 2014 where HN was based?
The US has been suspecting and distrusting Pakistan from the outset since it was never made an ally. Marked as a target, friendship was a ruse to deceive Pakistan, make it complacent, weaken it from within through covert operations and then extract its nuclear teeth at an opportune time. This feat if achieved would have justified its most expensive Afghan venture. So who has been playing a double game??
Rather than learning lessons from past mistakes and blunders and taking corrective measures by working out a face saving formula, the two think tanks have suggested the same old remedy which will prove counterproductive.
Pakistan has been kept on the leash all these years. So, what tough measures are now being suggested? The threat of declaring Pakistan a terrorist state, or to make the financial assistance condition based, or drone war are coercive tools in use for over a decade.
What is so new suggested by the sages and that too at a time when Pakistan has weathered all the pains, its armed forces are fully battle inoculated and have proved their mettle, its nuclear and missile programs are vibrant and in safe hands, it has overcome its energy and economic crisis, it is no more isolated, it is a coalition partner of ascending power and has other options as well? On the other hand, USA is a declining power ruled by controversial, unpredictable and unpopular president, annoying everyone including the Americans other than the most detestable Israel and India. How has the Trump administration responded to Iran’s tough response? It is on a weaker wicket to threaten nuclear Pakistan.
The writer is a retired Brig, war veteran, defence analyst, columnist, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, DG Measac Research Centre. firstname.lastname@example.org
Foreign Office says Pakistan has a longstanding relationship with America and is looking forward to work with the new US administration.
This was stated by Foreign Office Spokesman Nafees Zakaria at his weekly news briefing in Islamabad on Thursday.
The Spokesman said Pakistan and US have strategic dialogue mechanism covering diverse areas including economic, security,defence, education, scientific research and cooperation in other areas. He hoped that relations between the two countries will be strengthened further in the coming years.
To a question regarding US President Donald Trump’s statement about terrorism, the Spokesman said terrorism has no religion, caste, creed or colour. It is a global phenomenon and global cooperation is required to deal with this menace.
READ MORE:China-US will face head-on collision: Global Times
Nafees Zakaria while answering a question said Kashmir is a core issue between Pakistan and India which is a matter of concern to the world community.
He said we have always welcomed anyone who wants to play a role in mediation to resolve the dispute over Kashmir and other issues between Pakistan and India.
Answering a question, he emphasised that politically negotiated settlement is amore viable solution for Afghanistan. He said no result has come out of fifteen years military action in Afghanistan. He said blame game is not in the interest of anyone. He said all parties should engage each other in talks.
READ MORE:the US says Israeli settlements may not help peace
He said Pakistan has played its role for peace and stability in Afghanistan and will continue to do so. He said pursuing peace should be through Afghan-led and Afghan-owned initiatives.
To a question, the Spokesman said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has instructed that Afghan refugees would not be repatriated forcefully, and their return will be voluntary ina dignified manner.
He said the Government has evolved a plan for their smooth repatriation. He said a date for the voluntary return of Afghan refugees has been extended to 31st December of this year.
READ MORE:Indian Army violent military operation in Samba, IHK
Replying a question, Nafees Zakaria said Indian RAW agent Kulbushan Yadav has given considerable information during the investigation regarding India’s involvement in subversive activities in Pakistan. He said we in touch with the Indian government in this regard.
The Spokesman said currently, the situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir is getting worse. The killing, arbitrary arrests and fake encounters of Kashmiris continue and their fundamental rights are being denied constantly.
He said International Community must act to hold India accountable for their crimes against humanity.
Listening to Donald Trump’s inaugural speech on January 20th led me to muse about what it might mean to live in a pre-fascist state. After reflecting on key passages and conversations with friends, I came to the view that all the elements were in place, although set before us with the imprecision of a demagogue.
Yet I do not doubt that there are many ideologues waiting in the wings, perhaps now comfortably situated in the West Wing, ready to cover the conceptual rough spots, and supply an ideological overlay, and add the semblance of coherence.
Considering the daily outrages emanating from the White House since the inaugural jolt, the coming years will be rough riding for all of us, with many cruelties being readied for those most vulnerable.
Of course, the Woman’s March on January 21st was temporarily redemptive, and if such energy can be sustained potentially transformative. It is odd to contemplate, but there just may be tacit and effective cooperation between the national security deep state and a progressive populism converging around their divergent reasons for being deeply opposed to the shock and awe of the Trump presidency. Trump may invent ‘alternative facts’ to restore his narcissistic self-esteem, but when it comes to the program he has sadly so far been true to his word! This alone should encourage a unified, energetic, and determined opposition. If the Tea Party could do it, why can’t we?
The Pre-Fascist Moment
First, it is necessary to set forth the case for viewing Trump’s Inaugural Address as a pre-fascist plea:
1) Locating power and legitimacy in the people, but only those whose support was instrumental in the election of the new president; the popular majority that were opposed are presumed irrelevant, or worse;
2) Denigrating the political class of both political parties as corrupt and responsible for the decline of the country and the hardships inflicted on his followers;
3) Presuming mass and unconditional trust in the great leader who promises a rupture with the past, and who alone will be able overcome the old established order, and produce needed changes at home and overseas;
4) Making the vision of change credible by the appointment of mainly white men, most with alt-right credentials, billionaires either blissfully ignorant about their assigned roles or a past record of opposition to the bureaucratic mission they are pledged to carry out (whether environment, energy, education, economy);
5) An endorsement of exclusionary nationalism that elevates ‘America First’ to the status of First Principle, erects a wall against its Latino neighbour, adopts a cruel and punitive stance toward Muslims and undocumented immigrants, hostility to womens’ rights, trans dignity, as well as posing threats to non-white minorities, inner city residents, and independent voices in the media and elsewhere;
6) Lauds the military and police as the backbone of national character, loosens protection from civilian or military abuse, which helps explain the selection of a series of generals to serve in sensitive civilian roles, as well as the revitalization of Guantanamo and the weakening of anti-torture policies.
7) The disturbing absence of a sufficiently mobilized anti-fascist opposition movement, leadership, and program. The Democratic Party has not seized the moment vigorously and creatively; progressive populist leadership has yet to emerge inspiring trust and hope; so far there are sparks but no fire.
Fortunately, there are some more encouraging tendencies that could mount anti-fascist challenges fromwithin and below:
1) Trump lost the popular vote, casting a cloud over his claimed mandate to be the vehicle of ‘the people.’ Furthermore, his approval rating keeps falling, and is now below 40% according to reliable polls.
2) The signs of intense dissatisfaction are giving rise to protest activities that are massive and seem deeply rooted in beliefs and commitments of ordinary citizens, especially women and young people;
3) American society is not in crisis, and right-wing extremist appeals are forced to rely on a greatly exaggerated and misleading portrayal of distress in the American economy, the evils of economic globalization and unfair trade relations that are widely understood to be largely ‘fake’;
4) There are fissures within the Republican Party and governmental/think tank establishments, especially on international economic and security policy, that could produce escalating tensions within and challenges to the Trump leadership;
5) There is growing dissatisfaction within the bipartisan intelligence and national security bureaucracies as whether Trump and Trumpism can be tamed before it wrecks the post-1945 international order that rests on America’s global military presence, a global network of alliances, and a disposition toward a second cold war focused on hostility to Russia; if untamed, impeachment scenarios will soon surface, based not on the real concerns, but constructed around economic conflicts of interests, emoluments, and unlawful transactions.
Certainly in my lifetime, with the possible exception of the Great Depression, America has not been tested as it is now. Maybe not since the American Civil War has so much been at stake, and put at risk.
Traditional reliance on political parties and elections will not be helpful until the political climate is radically altered by forces from below and without or above and within. It is strange, but the two main forces of resistance to the pre-fascist reality menacing the country’s and the world’s future are progressivepopulismas evident in the widespread grassroots protest movement taking shape in the immediateaftermath of Trump’s ascension to the presidency, and the deep state as exhibited by the anti-Trump defection of intelligence and national security specialists from both Republican and Democratic ranks during and after the recent presidential campaign.
Finally, the depiction of the present political reality as ‘pre-fascist’ rather than ‘fascist’ is crucial to this effort to depict accurately the historical moment associated with Donald Trump’s formal induction as the 45th president of the United States.
To speak as if the United States is a fascist state is to falsify the nature of fascism, and to discredit critical discourse by making it seem hysterical. There is no doubt that the pieces are in place that might facilitate a horrifying transition from pre-fascism to fascism, and it could happen with lightning speed. It is also sadly true that the election of Donald Trump makes fascism a sword of Damocles hanging by a frayed thread over the American body politic.
Yet we should not overlook the quite different realities that pertain to pre-fascism.
It remains possible in the United States to organize, protest, and oppose without serious fears of reprisals or detentions. The media can expose, ridicule, and criticize without closures or punitive actions, facing only angered and insulting Trump tweets, although such a backlash should not be minimized as it could have a dangerous intimidating impact on how the news is reported.
We are in a situation where the essential political challenge is to muster the energy and creativity to construct a firewall around constitutional democracy as it now exists in the United States, and hope that a saner, more humane political mood leads quickly and decisively to repudiate those policies and attitudes that flow from this pre-fascist set of circumstances.
Richard Falk is an American professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University. He just completed a six-year term as United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights. Falk is an associate at theTransnational Foundation for Future Research, where this essay originally appeared.
They don’t hate ‘our freedoms.’ They hate that we’ve betrayed our ideals in their own countries — for oil.
In part, because my father was murdered by an Arab, I’ve made an effort to understand the impact of U.S. policy in the Mideast and particularly the factors that sometimes motivate bloodthirsty responses from the Islamic world against our country. As we focus on the rise of the Islamic State and search for the source of the savagery that took so many innocent lives in Paris and San Bernardino, we might want to look beyond the convenient explanations of religion and ideology. Instead, we should examine the more complex rationales of history and oil — and how they often point the finger of blame back at our own shores.
America’s unsavory record of violent interventions in Syria — little-known to the American people yet well-known to Syrians — sowed fertile ground for the violent Islamic jihadism that now complicates any effective response by our government to address the challenge of ISIL. So long as the American public and policymakers are unaware of this past, further interventions are likely only to compound the crisis. Secretary of State John Kerry this week announced a “provisional” ceasefire in Syria. But since U.S. leverage and prestige within Syria is minimal — and the ceasefire doesn’t include key combatants such as Islamic State and al Nusra — it’s bound to be a shaky truce at best. Similarly President Obama’s stepped-up military intervention in Libya — U.S. airstrikes targeted an Islamic State training camp last week — is likely to strengthen rather than weaken the radicals. As the New York Times reported in a December 8, 2015, front-page story, Islamic State political leaders and strategic planners are working to provoke an American military intervention. They know from experience this will flood their ranks with volunteer fighters, drown the voices of moderation and unify the Islamic world against America.
To understand this dynamic, we need to look at history from the Syrians’ perspective and particularly the seeds of the current conflict. Long before our 2003 occupation of Iraq triggered the Sunni uprising that has now morphed into the Islamic State, the CIA had nurtured violent jihadism as a Cold War weapon and freighted U.S./Syrian relationships with toxic baggage.
This did not happen without controversy at home. In July 1957, following a failed coup in Syria by the CIA, my uncle, Sen. John F. Kennedy, infuriated the Eisenhower White House, the leaders of both political parties and our European allies with a milestone speech endorsing the right of self-governance in the Arab world and an end to America’s imperialist meddling in Arab countries. Throughout my lifetime, and particularly during my frequent travels to the Mideast, countless Arabs have fondly recalled that speech to me as the clearest statement of the idealism they expected from the U.S. Kennedy’s speech was a call for recommitting America to the high values our country had championed in the Atlantic Charter; the formal pledge that all the former European colonies would have the right to self-determination following World War II. Franklin D. Roosevelt had strong-armed Winston Churchill and the other allied leaders to sign the Atlantic Charter in 1941 as a precondition for U.S. support in the European war against fascism.
U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy gives a speech in September 1964
But thanks in large part to Allen Dulles and the CIA, whose foreign policy intrigues were often directly at odds with the stated policies of our nation, the idealistic path outlined in the Atlantic Charter was the road not taken. In 1957, my grandfather, Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy, sat on a secret committee charged with investigating the CIA’s clandestine mischief in the Mideast. The so-called “Bruce-Lovett Report,” to which he was a signatory, described CIA coup plots in Jordan, Syria, Iran, Iraq and Egypt, all common knowledge on the Arab street, but virtually unknown to the American people who believed, at face value, their government’s denials. The report blamed the CIA for the rampant anti-Americanism that was then mysteriously taking root “in the many countries in the world today.” The Bruce-Lovett Report pointed out that such interventions were antithetical to American values and had compromised America’s international leadership and moral authority without the knowledge of the American people. The report also said that the CIA never considered how we would treat such interventions if some foreign government were to engineer them in our country.
This is the bloody history that modern interventionists like George W. Bush, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio miss when they recite their narcissistic trope that Mideast nationalists “hate us for our freedoms.” For the most part, they don’t; instead, they hate us for the way we betrayed those freedoms — our own ideals — within their borders.
* * *
For Americans to really understand what’s going on, it’s important to review some details about this sordid but little-remembered history. During the 1950s, President Eisenhower and the Dulles brothers — CIA Director Allen Dulles and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles — rebuffed Soviet treaty proposals to leave the Middle East a neutral zone in the Cold War and let Arabs rule Arabia. Instead, they mounted a clandestine war against Arab nationalism — which Allen Dulles equated with communism — particularly when Arab self-rule threatened oil concessions. They pumped secret American military aid to tyrants in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon favoring puppets with conservative Jihadist ideologies that they regarded as a reliable antidote to Soviet Marxism. At a White House meeting between the CIA’s director of plans, Frank Wisner, and John Foster Dulles, in September 1957, Eisenhower advised the agency, “We should do everything possible to stress the ‘holy war’ aspect,” according to a memo recorded by his staff secretary, Gen. Andrew J. Goodpaster.
The CIA began its active meddling in Syria in 1949 — barely a year after the agency’s creation. Syrian patriots had declared war on the Nazis, expelled their Vichy French colonial rulers and crafted a fragile secularist democracy based on the American model. But in March 1949, Syria’s democratically elected president, Shukri-al-Quwatli, hesitated to approve the Trans-Arabian Pipeline, an American project intended to connect the oil fields of Saudi Arabia to the ports of Lebanon via Syria. In his book, Legacy of Ashes, CIA historian Tim Weiner recounts that in retaliation for Al-Quwatli’s lack of enthusiasm for the U.S. pipeline, the CIA engineered a coup replacing al-Quwatli with the CIA’s hand-picked dictator, a convicted swindler named Husni al-Za’im. Al-Za’im barely had time to dissolve parliament and approve the American pipeline before his countrymen deposed him, four and a half months into his regime.
Following several counter-coups in the newly destabilized country, the Syrian people again tried democracy in 1955, re-electing al-Quwatli and his National Party. Al-Quwatli was still a Cold War neutralist, but, stung by American involvement in his ouster, he now leaned toward the Soviet camp. That posture caused CIA Director Dulles to declare that “Syria is ripe for a coup” and send his two coup wizards, Kim Roosevelt and Rocky Stone, to Damascus.
Two years earlier, Roosevelt and Stone had orchestrated a coup in Iran against the democratically elected President Mohammed Mosaddegh, after Mosaddegh tried to renegotiate the terms of Iran’s lopsided contracts with the British oil giant Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now BP). Mosaddegh was the first elected leader in Iran’s 4,000-year history and a popular champion for democracy across the developing world. Mosaddegh expelled all British diplomats after uncovering a coup attempt by U.K. intelligence officers working in cahoots with BP. Mosaddegh, however, made the fatal mistake of resisting his advisers’ pleas to also expel the CIA, which, they correctly suspected, was complicit in the British plot. Mosaddegh idealized the U.S. as a role model for Iran’s new democracy and incapable of such perfidies. Despite Dulles’ needling, President Harry Truman had forbidden the CIA from actively joining the British caper to topple Mosaddegh. When Eisenhower took office in January 1953, he immediately unleashed Dulles. After ousting Mosaddegh in “Operation Ajax,” Stone and Roosevelt installed Shah Reza Pahlavi, who favored U.S. oil companies but whose two decades of CIA sponsored savagery toward his own people from the Peacock throne would finally ignite the 1979 Islamic revolution that has bedeviled our foreign policy for 35 years.
Mohammed Mosaddegh, the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran from 1951-1953, pictured left in 1951, the same year he was named TIME Person of the Year, right. His tenure was cut short by a United States-led coup in 1953, which installed Shah Reza Pahlavi
Flush from his Operation Ajax “success” in Iran, Stone arrived in Damascus in April 1957 with $3 million to arm and incite Islamic militants and to bribe Syrian military officers and politicians to overthrow al-Quwatli’s democratically elected secularist regime, according to Safe for Democracy: The Secret Wars of the CIA, by John Prados. Working with the Muslim Brotherhood and millions of dollars, Rocky Stone schemed to assassinate Syria’s chief of intelligence, the chief of its General Staff and the chief of the Communist Party, and to engineer “national conspiracies and various strong-arm” provocations in Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan that could be blamed on the Syrian Ba’athists. Tim Weiner describes in Legacy of Ashes how the CIA’s plan was to destabilize the Syrian government and create a pretext for an invasion of Iraq and Jordan, whose governments were already under CIA control. Kim Roosevelt forecast that the CIA’s newly installed puppet government would “rely first upon repressive measures and arbitrary exercise of power,” according to declassified CIA documents reported in The Guardian newspaper.
But all that CIA money failed to corrupt the Syrian military officers. The soldiers reported the CIA’s bribery attempts to the Ba’athist regime. In response, the Syrian army invaded the American Embassy, taking Stone prisoner. After harsh interrogation, Stone made a televised confession of his roles in the Iranian coup and the CIA’s aborted attempt to overthrow Syria’s legitimate government. The Syrians ejected Stone and two U.S. Embassy staffers—the first time any American State Department diplomat was barred from an Arab country. The Eisenhower White House hollowly dismissed Stone’s confession as “fabrications” and “slanders,” a denial swallowed whole by the American press, led by the New York Times and believed by the American people, who shared Mosaddegh’s idealistic view of their government. Syria purged all politicians sympathetic to the U.S. and executed for treason all military officers associated with the coup. In retaliation, the U.S. moved the Sixth Fleet to the Mediterranean, threatened war and goaded Turkey to invade Syria. The Turks assembled 50,000 troops on Syria’s borders and backed down only in the face of unified opposition from the Arab League whose leaders were furious at the U.S. intervention. Even after its expulsion, the CIA continued its secret efforts to topple Syria’s democratically elected Ba’athist government. The CIA plotted with Britain’s MI6 to form a “Free Syria Committee” and armed the Muslim Brotherhood to assassinate three Syrian government officials, who had helped expose “the American plot,” according to Matthew Jones in “The ‘Preferred Plan’: The Anglo-American Working Group Report on Covert Action in Syria, 1957.” The CIA’s mischief pushed Syria even further away from the U.S. and into prolonged alliances with Russia and Egypt.
Following the second Syrian coup attempt, anti-American riots rocked the Mideast from Lebanon to Algeria. Among the reverberations was July 14, 1958, coup, led by the new wave of anti-American Army officers who overthrew Iraq’s pro-American monarch, Nuri al-Said. The coup leaders published secret government documents, exposing Nuri al-Said as a highly paid CIA puppet. In response to American treachery, the new Iraqi government invited Soviet diplomats and economic advisers to Iraq and turned its back on the West.
Having alienated Iraq and Syria, Kim Roosevelt fled the Mideast to work as an executive for the oil industry that he had served so well during his public service career at the CIA. Roosevelt’s replacement as CIA station chief, James Critchfield, attempted a failed assassination plot against the new Iraqi president using a toxic handkerchief, according to Weiner. Five years later, the CIA finally succeeded in deposing the Iraqi president and installing the Ba’ath Party in power in Iraq. A charismatic young murderer named Saddam Hussein was one of the distinguished leaders of the CIA’s Ba’athist team. The Ba’ath Party’s Secretary, Ali Saleh Sa’adi, who took office alongside Saddam Hussein, would later say, “We came to power on a CIA train,” according to A Brutal Friendship: The West and the Arab Elite, by Said Aburish, a journalist, and author. Aburish recounted that the CIA supplied Saddam and his cronies a murder list of people who “had to be eliminated immediately in order to ensure success.” Tim Weiner writes that Critchfield later acknowledged that the CIA had, in essence, “created Saddam Hussein.” During the Reagan years, the CIA supplied Hussein with billions of dollars in training, Special Forces support, weapons and battlefield intelligence, knowing that he was using poisonous mustard and nerve gas and biological weapons — including anthrax obtained from the U.S. government — in his war against Iran. Reagan and his CIA director, Bill Casey, regarded Saddam as a potential friend to the U.S. oil industry and a sturdy barrier against the spread of Iran’s Islamic Revolution. Their emissary, Donald Rumsfeld, presented Saddam with golden cowboy spurs and a menu of chemical/biological and conventional weapons on a 1983 trip to Baghdad. At the same time, the CIA was illegally supplying Saddam’s enemy, Iran, with thousands of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to fight Iraq, a crime made famous during the Iran-Contra scandal. Jihadists from both sides later turned many of those CIA-supplied weapons against the American people.
Even as America contemplates yet another violent Mideast intervention, most Americans are unaware of the many ways that “blowback” from previous CIA blunders has helped craft the current crisis. The reverberations from decades of CIA shenanigans continue to echo across the Mideast today in national capitals and from mosques to madras schools over the wrecked landscape of democracy and moderate Islam that the CIA helped obliterate.
A parade of Iranian and Syrian dictators, including Bashar al-Assad and his father, have invoked the history of the CIA’s bloody coups as a pretext for their authoritarian rule, repressive tactics and their need for a strong Russian alliance. These stories are therefore well known to the people of Syria and Iran who naturally interpret talk of U.S. intervention in the context of that history.
While the compliant American press parrots the narrative that our military support for the Syrian insurgency is purely humanitarian, many Arabs see the present crisis as just another proxy war over pipelines and geopolitics. Before rushing deeper into the conflagration, it would be wise for us to consider the abundant facts supporting that perspective.
In their view, our war against Bashar Assad did not begin with the peaceful civil protests of the Arab Spring in 2011. Instead, it began in 2000, when Qatar proposed to construct a $10 billion, the 1,500-kilometer pipeline through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, and Turkey. Qatar shares with Iran the South Pars/North Dome gas field, the world’s richest natural gas repository. The international trade embargo until recently prohibited Iran from selling gas abroad. Meanwhile, Qatar’s gas can reach European markets only if it is liquefied and shipped by sea, a route that restricts volume and dramatically raises costs. The proposed pipeline would have linked Qatar directly to European energy markets via distribution terminals in Turkey, which would pocket rich transit fees. The Qatar/Turkey pipeline would give the Sunni kingdoms of the Persian Gulf decisive domination of world natural gas markets and strengthen Qatar, America’s closest ally in the Arab world. Qatar hosts two massive American military bases and the U.S. Central Command’s Mideast headquarters.
Syrians look down at a poster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad | Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images
The EU, which gets 30 percent of its gas from Russia, was equally hungry for the pipeline, which would have given its members cheap energy and relief from Vladimir Putin’s stifling economic and political leverage. Turkey, Russia’s second largest gas customer, was particularly anxious to end its reliance on its ancient rival and to position itself as the lucrative transect hub for Asian fuels to EU markets. The Qatari pipeline would have benefited Saudi Arabia’s conservative Sunni monarchy by giving it a foothold in Shia-dominated Syria. The Saudis’ geopolitical goal is to contain the economic and political power of the kingdom’s principal rival, Iran, a Shiite state, and close ally of Bashar Assad. The Saudi monarchy viewed the U.S.-sponsored Shiite takeover in Iraq (and, more recently, the termination of the Iran trade embargo) as a demotion to its regional power status and was already engaged in a proxy war against Tehran in Yemen, highlighted by the Saudi genocide against the Iranian-backed Houthi tribe.
Of course, the Russians, who sell 70 percent of their gas exports to Europe, viewed the Qatar/Turkey pipeline as an existential threat. In Putin’s view, the Qatar pipeline is a NATO plot to change the status quo, deprive Russia of its only foothold in the Middle East, strangle the Russian economy and end Russian leverage in the European energy market. In 2009, Assad announced that he would refuse to sign the agreement to allow the pipeline to run through Syria “to protect the interests of our Russian ally.”
Assad further enraged the Gulf’s Sunni monarchs by endorsing a Russian-approved “Islamic pipeline” running from Iran’s side of the gas field through Syria and to the ports of Lebanon. The Islamic pipeline would make Shiite Iran, not Sunni Qatar, the principal supplier to the European energy market and dramatically increase Tehran’s influence in the Middle East and the world. Israel also was understandably determined to derail the Islamic pipeline, which would enrich Iran and Syria and presumably strengthen their proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas.
Secret cables and reports by the U.S., Saudi and Israeli intelligence agencies indicate that the moment Assad rejected the Qatari pipeline, military and intelligence planners quickly arrived at the consensus that fomenting a Sunni uprising in Syria to overthrow the uncooperative Bashar Assad was a feasible path to achieving the shared objective of completing the Qatar/Turkey gas link. In 2009, according to WikiLeaks, soon after Bashar Assad rejected the Qatar pipeline, the CIA began funding opposition groups in Syria. It is important to note that this was well before the Arab Spring-engendered uprising against Assad.
Bashar Assad’s family is Alawite, a Muslim sect widely perceived as aligned with the Shiite camp. “Bashar Assad was never supposed to be president,” journalist Seymour Hersh told me in an interview. “His father brought him back from medical school in London when his elder brother, the heir apparent, was killed in a car crash.” Before the war started, according to Hersh, Assad was moving to liberalize the country. “They had internet and newspapers and ATM machines and Assad wanted to move toward the west. After 9/11, he gave thousands of invaluable files to the CIA on jihadist radicals, who he considered a mutual enemy.” Assad’s regime was deliberately secular and Syria was impressively diverse. The Syrian government and military, for example, were 80 percent Sunni. Assad maintained peace among his diverse peoples by a strong, disciplined army loyal to the Assad family, an allegiance secured by a nationally esteemed and highly paid officer corps, a coldly efficient intelligence apparatus and a penchant for brutality that, prior to the war, was rather moderate compared to those of other Mideast leaders, including our current allies. According to Hersh, “He certainly wasn’t beheading people every Wednesday like the Saudis do in Mecca.”
Another veteran journalist, Bob Parry, echoes that assessment. “No one in the region has clean hands, but in the realms of torture, mass killings, [suppressing] civil liberties and supporting terrorism, Assad is much better than the Saudis.” No one believed that the regime was vulnerable to the anarchy that had riven Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Tunisia. By the spring of 2011, there were small, peaceful demonstrations in Damascus against repression by Assad’s regime. These were mainly the effluvia of the Arab Spring that spread virally across the Arab League States the previous summer. However, WikiLeaks cables indicate that the CIA was already on the ground in Syria.
But the Sunni kingdoms with vast petrodollars at stake wanted a much deeper involvement from America. On September 4, 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry told a congressional hearing that the Sunni kingdoms had offered to foot the bill for a U.S. invasion of Syria to oust Bashar Assad. “In fact, some of them have said that if the United States is prepared to go do the whole thing, the way we’ve done it previously in other places [Iraq], they’ll carry the cost.” Kerry reiterated the offer to Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.): “With respect to Arab countries offering to bear the costs of [an American invasion] to topple Assad, the answer is a profound yes, they have. The offer is on the table.”
Despite pressure from Republicans, Barack Obama balked at hiring out young Americans to die as mercenaries for a pipeline conglomerate. Obama wisely ignored Republican clamoring to put ground troops in Syria or to funnel more funding to “moderate insurgents.” But by late 2011, Republican pressure and our Sunni allies had pushed the American government into the fray.
U.S. President Barack Obama | Mark Wilson/Getty Images
In 2011, the U.S. joined France, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the UK to form the Friends of Syria Coalition, which formally demanded the removal of Assad. The CIA provided $6 million to Barada, a British TV channel, to produce pieces entreating Assad’s ouster. Saudi intelligence documents, published by WikiLeaks, show that by 2012, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia were arming, training and funding radical jihadist Sunni fighters from Syria, Iraq and elsewhere to overthrow the Assad’s Shiite-allied regime. Qatar, which had the most to gain, invested $3 billion in building the insurgency and invited the Pentagon to train insurgents at U.S. bases in Qatar. According to an April 2014 article by Seymour Hersh, the CIA weapons ratlines were financed by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.
The idea of fomenting a Sunni-Shiite civil war to weaken the Syrian and Iranian regimes in order to maintain control of the region’s petrochemical supplies was not a novel notion in the Pentagon’s lexicon. A damning 2008 Pentagon-funded Rand report proposed a precise blueprint for what was about to happen. That report observes that control of the Persian Gulf oil and gas deposits will remain, for the U.S., “a strategic priority” that “will interact strongly with that of prosecuting the long war.” Rand recommended using “covert action, information operations, unconventional warfare” to enforce a “divide and rule” strategy. “The United States and its local allies could use the nationalist jihadists to launch a proxy campaign” and “U.S. leaders could also choose to capitalize on the sustained Shia-Sunni conflict trajectory by taking the side of the conservative Sunni regimes against Shiite empowerment movements in the Muslim world … possibly supporting authoritative Sunni governments against a continuingly hostile Iran.”
As predicted, Assad’s overreaction to the foreign-made crisis — dropping barrel bombs onto Sunni strongholds and killing civilians — polarized Syria’s Shiite/Sunni divide and allowed U.S. policymakers to sell Americans the idea that the pipeline struggle was a humanitarian war. When Sunni soldiers of the Syrian Army began defecting in 2013, the western coalition armed the Free Syrian Army to further destabilize Syria. The press portrait of the Free Syrian Army as cohesive battalions of Syrian moderates was delusional. The dissolved units regrouped in hundreds of independent militias most of which were commanded by or allied with, jihadi militants who were the most committed and effective fighters. By then, the Sunni armies of Al Qaeda in Iraq were crossing the border from Iraq into Syria and joining forces with the squadrons of deserters from the Free Syrian Army, many of them trained and armed by the U.S.
Despite the prevailing media portrait of a moderate Arab uprising against the tyrant Assad, U.S. intelligence planners knew from the outset that their pipeline proxies were radical jihadists who would probably carve themselves a brand new Islamic caliphate from the Sunni regions of Syria and Iraq. Two years before ISIL throat cutters stepped on the world stage, a seven-page August 12, 2012, study by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, obtained by the right-wing group Judicial Watch, warned that thanks to the ongoing support by U.S./Sunni Coalition for radical Sunni Jihadists, “the Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood and AQI (now ISIS), are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.”
Using U.S. and Gulf state funding, these groups had turned the peaceful protests against Bashar Assad toward “a clear sectarian (Shiite vs. Sunni) direction.” The paper notes that the conflict had become a sectarian civil war supported by Sunni “religious and political powers.” The report paints the Syrian conflict as a global war for control of the region’s resources with “the west, Gulf countries and Turkey supporting [Assad’s] opposition, while Russia, China, and Iran support the regime.” The Pentagon authors of the seven-page report appear to endorse the predicted advent of the ISIS caliphate: “If the situation unravels, there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor) and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want in order to isolate the Syrian regime.” The Pentagon report warns that this new principality could move across the Iraqi border to Mosul and Ramadi and “declare an Islamic state through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria.”
Of course, this is precisely what has happened. Not coincidentally, the regions of Syria occupied by the Islamic State exactly encompass the proposed route of the Qatari pipeline.
But then, in 2014, our Sunni proxies horrified the American people by severing heads and driving a million refugees toward Europe. “Strategies based on the idea that the enemy of my enemy is my friend can be kind of blinding,” says Tim Clemente, who chaired the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force from 2004 to 2008 and served as liaison in Iraq between the FBI, the Iraqi National Police, and the U.S. military. “We made the same mistake when we trained the mujahideen in Afghanistan. The moment the Russians left, our supposed friends started smashing antiquities, enslaving women, severing body parts and shooting at us,” Clemente told me in an interview.
When the Islamic State’s “Jihadi John” began murdering prisoners on TV, the White House pivoted, talking less about deposing Assad and more about regional stability. The Obama administration began putting daylight between itself and the insurgency we had funded. The White House pointed accusing fingers at our allies. On October 3, 2014, Vice President Joe Biden told students at the John F. Kennedy Jr. forum at the Institute of Politics at Harvard that “our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria.” He explained that Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE were “so determined to take down Assad” that they had launched a “proxy Sunni-Shia war” funneling “hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad. Except for the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra, and al-Qaeda” — the two groups that merged in 2014 to form the Islamic State. Biden seemed angered that our trusted “friends” could not be trusted to follow the American agenda. Across the Mideast, Arab leaders routinely accuse the U.S. of having created the Islamic State. To most Americans, such accusations seem insane. However, to many Arabs, the evidence of U.S. involvement is so abundant that they conclude that our role in fostering the Islamic State must have been deliberate.
In fact, many of the Islamic State fighters and their commanders are ideological and organizational successors to the jihadists that the CIA has been nurturing for more than 30 years from Syria and Egypt to Afghanistan and Iraq.
Former U.S. President George W. Bush | Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images
Prior to the American invasion, there was no Al Qaeda in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. President George W. Bush destroyed Saddam’s secularist government, and his viceroy, Paul Bremer, in a monumental act of mismanagement, effectively created the Sunni Army, now named the Islamic State. Bremer elevated the Shiites to power and banned Saddam’s ruling Ba’ath Party, laying off some 700,000 mostly Sunni, government and party officials from ministers to schoolteachers. He then disbanded the 380,000-man army, which was 80 percent Sunni. Bremer’s actions stripped a million of Iraq’s Sunnis of rank, property, wealth and power; leaving a desperate underclass of angry, educated, capable, trained and heavily armed Sunnis with little left to lose. The Sunni insurgency named itself Al Qaeda in Iraq. Beginning in 2011, our allies funded the invasion by AQI fighters into Syria. In April 2013, having entered Syria, AQI changed its name to ISIL. According to Dexter Filkins of the New Yorker, “ISIS is run by a council of former Iraqi generals. … Many are members of Saddam Hussein’s secular Ba’ath Party who converted to radical Islam in American prisons.” The $500 million in U.S. military aid that Obama did send to Syria almost certainly ended up benefiting these militant jihadists. Tim Clemente, the former chairman of the FBI’s joint task force, told me that the difference between the Iraq and Syria conflicts is the millions of military-aged men who are fleeing the battlefield for Europe rather than staying to fight for their communities. The obvious explanation is that the nation’s moderates are fleeing a war that is not their war. They simply want to escape being crushed between the anvil of Assad’s Russian-backed tyranny and the vicious jihadist Sunni hammer that we had a hand in wielding in a global battle over competing pipelines. You can’t blame the Syrian people for not widely embracing a blueprint for their nation minted in either Washington or Moscow. The superpowers have left no options for an idealistic future that moderate Syrians might consider fighting for. And no one wants to die for a pipeline.
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What is the answer? If our objective is long-term peace in the Mideast, self-government by the Arab nations and national security at home, we must undertake any new intervention in the region with an eye on history and an intense desire to learn its lessons. Only when we Americans understand the historical and political context of this conflict will we apply appropriate scrutiny to the decisions of our leaders. Using the same imagery and language that supported our 2003 war against Saddam Hussein, our political leaders led Americans to believe that our Syrian intervention is an idealistic war against tyranny, terrorism, and religious fanaticism. We tend to dismiss as mere cynicism the views of those Arabs who see the current crisis as a rerun of the same old plots about pipelines and geopolitics. But, if we are to have an effective foreign policy, we must recognize the Syrian conflict is a war over control of resources indistinguishable from the myriad clandestine and undeclared oil wars we have been fighting in the Mideast for 65 years. And only when we see this conflict as a proxy war over a pipeline do events become comprehensible. It’s the only paradigm that explains why the GOP on Capitol Hill and the Obama administration are still fixated on regime change rather than regional stability, why the Obama administration can find no Syrian moderates to fight the war, why ISIL blew up a Russian passenger plane, why the Saudis just executed a powerful Shiite cleric only to have their embassy burned in Tehran, why Russia is bombing non-ISIL fighters and why Turkey went out of its way to shoot down a Russian jet. A million refugees now flooding into Europe are refugees of a pipeline war and CIA blundering.
Clemente compares ISIL to Colombia’s FARC — a drug cartel with a revolutionary ideology to inspire its footsoldiers. “You have to think of ISIS as an oil cartel,” Clemente said. “In the end, money is the governing rationale. The religious ideology is a tool that inspires its soldiers to give their lives for an oil cartel.”
Once we strip this conflict of its humanitarian patina and recognize the Syrian conflict as an oil war, our foreign policy strategy becomes clear. Like the Syrians fleeing for Europe, no American wants to send their child to die for a pipeline. Instead, our first priority should be the one no one ever mentions — we need to kick our Mideast oil jones, an increasingly feasible objective, as the U.S. becomes more energy independent. Next, we need to dramatically reduce our military profile in the Middle East and let the Arabs run Arabia. Other than humanitarian assistance and guaranteeing the security of Israel’s borders, the U.S. has no legitimate role in this conflict. While the facts prove that we played a role in creating the crisis, history shows that we have little power to resolve it.
As we contemplate history, it’s breathtaking to consider the astonishing consistency of which virtually every violent intervention in the Middle East since World War II by our country has resulted in miserable failure and horrendously costly blowback. A 1997 U.S. Department of Defense report found that “the data show a strong correlation between U.S. involvement abroad and an increase in terrorist attacks against the U.S.” Let’s face it; what we call the “war on terror” is really just another oil war. We’ve squandered $6 trillion on three wars abroad and on constructing a national security warfare state at home since oilman Dick Cheney declared the “Long War” in 2001. The only winners have been the military contractors and oil companies that have pocketed historic profits, the intelligence agencies that have grown exponentially in power and influence to the detriment of our freedoms and the jihadists who invariably used our interventions as their most effective recruiting tool. We have compromised our values, butchered our own youth, killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people, subverted our idealism and squandered our national treasures in fruitless and costly adventures abroad. In the process, we have helped our worst enemies and turned America, once the world’s beacon of freedom, into a national security surveillance state and an international moral pariah.
America’s founding fathers warned Americans against standing armies, foreign entanglements and, in John Quincy Adams’ words, “going abroad in search of monsters to destroy.” Those wise men understood that imperialism abroad is incompatible with democracy and civil rights at home. The Atlantic Charter echoed their seminal American idea that each nation should have the right to self-determination. Over the past seven decades, the Dulles brothers, the Cheney gang, the neocons and their ilk have hijacked that fundamental principle of American idealism and deployed our military and intelligence apparatus to serve the mercantile interests of large corporations and particularly, the petroleum companies and military contractors that have literally made a killing from these conflicts.
It’s time for Americans to turn America away from this new imperialism and back to the path of idealism and democracy. We should let the Arabs govern Arabia and turn our energies to the great endeavor of nation building at home. We need to begin this process, not by invading Syria, but by ending the ruinous addiction to oil that has warped U.S. foreign policy for half a century.
This article has been updated to identify Robert Kennedy as U.S. Attorney General.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is the president of Waterkeeper Alliance. His newest book is Thimerosal: Let The Science Speak.