Robert McNamara eloquently warned in the documentary The fog of war against the US tendency to take part in civil wars by supporting one of the conflicting parties. He said that one is deemed to loose if this is the strategy. McNamara further stated that this was America’s biggest mistake in Vietnam, and the reason why the US lost the war. This time the United States is “fighting” ISIS and other militants in the Middle East, which in recent months equally have also proven that it is backed by some of the best PR experts in the West, and quite obviously funded by some of the richest. Recently, WikiLeaks showed how Hillary Clinton was fully aware of the fact that Saudi Arabia and Qatar was funding ISIS on state level.
ISIS’ PR campaign has been suspiciously and remarkably well orchestrated. From being almost completely unknown, they have risen to so-called “world power” status in just a couple months, even overriding al-Qaeda. Almost every news channel in the West has suddenly acquired hundreds of pictures and massive footage on what some have decided is the world’s worst terror group. (Article first published in Norway’s largest newspaper, Aftenposten, September 29, 2014) (Photo: Daily Mail, Sirte in Libya 2011)
There are a number of paradoxes in the remarkably well organized support for ISIS. According to Foreign Affairs, ISIS only has a few thousand Sunni jihadists, – in 2011 they were as few as 800 in Iraq. After ISIS’ swift, but amazingly successful global PR campaign, the United States is not only attacking within Iraq, but inside Syria along with leading Sunni nations – the same states that for a long time have been tremendously eager to overthrow the democratically elected government in Syria and replace it by something that better fits the Saudi – Qatari agenda. Ever since the beginning of the conflict, the Syrians themselves have said that this is not a civil war, but a war brought on them from the outside world. They have claimed that Sunni-jihadi fighters arrived in Syria after the Libyan war where al-Qaeda groups won the battle against Moammar Gaddafi, – with US and NATO help.
To the great surprise of many of us Europeans, the US has now even decided to give substantial support to Sunni jihadis in Syria, though everyone knows that these have the same goal as ISIS, namely to remove Shia supported Bashar al-Assad in what is the bloodiest regional, geopolitical and sectarian war of our time. The Washington Institute and other sources confirm other worrying reports, that ISIS has received hundreds of millions of dollars from people in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Kuwait, countries that are all America’s allies in the region. Senior researcher at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Andrew Tabler, points out that the money has mostly gone through Kuwait and into Syria to the rebels who were organized as part of ISIS.
It is deeply disturbing to watch how theUnited States, with such intolerable ease, violates international law and disrespects the concept of national sovereignty by bombing Syria without the consent of its authorities. Obama arrogantly even pointed out that the US had no intention to even ask for permission. Another puzzling fact is that a number of the US supported Sunni extremists in Syria, have signed a non-aggression pact with ISIS. This does not seem to worry the US either, pointing in the direction that “crushing ISIS” is merely an excuse to get to Assad, whom both America and its autocratic allies want to see gone.
The lack of support from Congress and the fact that one goes to war with only a bunch of half-rogue Arab states who clearly have their own, not exactly peaceful agenda in the region, also poses no obstacle for US president Obama, who incidentally is the least popular president in American history. There seems to be a complete lack of respect for the fact that even the otherwise flawed Assad was democratically elected this past July with over 88.7% of the Syrian votes. This is reflective of people support in a way that Obama can never even dream of. NATOs own numbers show that over 70 % of the Syrian people supported Assad even before the election, especially after having seen how the newly arrived Sunni-jihadis not at all or in any way represented something better, rather the very opposite.
In the aftermath of the so-called “Arab spring”, many concluded that a weak Assad is far better than an ISIS inspired Islamist Sharia state in Syria. Even Israel, who for years has had conflicts with Assad and Hezbollah at the Golan Heights, agrees to this, according to The Times of London. That Assad is substantially supported by the Christians and other minorities, that he is in secular Western dress with a wife who does not wear the ideologically tinted, modern hijab, also seems to mean nothing to the US. The charges against Assad regarding the use of chemical weapons were also never verified. The only areas from which chemical arsenal was not collectable, was by the way in the rebel controlled regions.
The US we used to know is fading away and up rises an authoritarian regime in its stead with no respect for international law or the nations’ right to national sovereignty. If only one would listen to people like Henry Kissinger, who in his last book World Order points out that the mistake done by the US has been to follow an idealistic approach to foreign policy specifically by trying to implement democracy by military means with no regard for the realities on the ground. The result has been the disastrously negative results of America’s past foreign interventions and attempts for regime change in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Egypt and now Syria.
Noam Chomsky, who is rated the world’s most cited and top intellectual, even goes as far as to say that the US is “the world’s leading terrorist state”, causing tremendous horrors all over the world. The new elitist America, – which recently was relabeled an oligarchy rather than a democracy by Princeton University, does not even respect its own people and its own constitution. A recent survey by Public Policy Polling showed that 74% of America’s population are opposed to a new war in the Middle East. Yet, this seems to mean little to Obama and his team. In the new ideologically rather than realistically motivated US, it is obviously no longer the will of the people that counts.
Professor Bruce Ackerman from Yale University pointed out in The Gulf News 13. September that the act of war against ISIS also violates the Constitution that requires a new mandate from Congress, since the authorization to get the 9/11-terrorists applied only to action against countries that had participated in the planning of that particular event. Thus US law are being broken by its own president: this must be setting quite a terrible example for American criminals in general, who it should be noted go to prison if they do the same. All this again makes little difference to Obama, the man who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize by Norway, probably for being the first black American to reach office, and will go down as the President who has started the most wars in US history.
The late Samuel Huntington seems to be more right than wrong in his dark prognosis for the future as he, in The Clash of Civilizations, predicted that major conflicts would go along cultural lines, simply because civilizations do not understand each other sufficiently.
Unless, of course, all is worse: The US, as a military state has in reality abandoned its democratic ideals, like Eisenhower in his 1961 speech feared it would. And it understands what it is doing to foreign nations, but simply doesn’t care as long as American lives are not lost, since it supports the weapons and other industries profit oriented need for wars and sees this as a vital lifeline for its own economic supremacy. In that case, humanitarian catastrophes in other regions would not matter. They are only Arab lives, or Nicaraguan, Angolan, Cuban etc.
One thing is certain: without America’s active participation in the destruction of country after country in the Middle East, the conflicts would not nearly be at the same level. Europe was also remarkably wrong in its analysis of the so called “Arab Spring”, which was hailed in an idealistic way that finally Arabs “want to become like us”. Those who know Europe are well aware of its steady belief in its own culturally advanced supremacy, firmly trusting that other cultures’ innate dream is to become multicultural, non-religious, hedonistically liberal Western democracies with seemingly endless tolerance for minorities.
An example of this surprisingly naïve attitude is an article written by then Foreign Minister of Norway, Jonas Gahr Store in the New York Times only one month after the Tahrir Square demonstrations first erupted in 2011. He optimistically claimed, steaming with precisely that liberal, Eurocentric supremacist view, that the Arab Spring “is not based on Islamist movements, but is far more pragmatic than the West seems to believe” and “will not openup new opportunities for Al-Qaeda.” Since then Norway bombed Libya to shreds, Africa’s richest state, helping precisely Benghazi al Qaeda affiliated rebels into power.
Libya was, before the NATO invasion in 2011, a middle-income welfare state according to the UN, with evenly distributed wealth among its citizens, with a GDP higher than Italy, Australia and New Zealand. Quite frankly, ignorant European leaders like Store should take their own advice before they lecture others based on wishful, naively arrogant thinking and “become more skilled at distinguishing between stereotypes and the actual empirical reality on the ground.” (Citation from his article in NY Times)
I was one of the very few who objected at the time, as I claimed in Norway’s largest newspaper, Aftenposten, that NATO’s war in Libya and contributions to the genocide and following civil war is one of the worst examples of Western assault. I wrote that NATO has gone from being a transatlantic defense alliance to a US’ led international force of aggression against weaker states where Western interests are threatened. Today Noam Chomsky points out that the purpose of NATO went from defending Western Europe from Russian hordes that might attack to taking control of the global energy systems rather than maintaining intergovernmental military balance. NATO is now used in a Western effort of aggression to control the world. It seems too that some others are quite excellently skilled in pampering the US’ ego and smooth talking America into aiding them in their own quests for power.
Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki recently accused Saudi Arabia and Qatar of heavily supporting rebel groups in the civil war in Syria. This is a war with so far over six million refugees, hundreds of thousands killed and the worst humanitarian catastrophe since the Second World War. It does not look particularly good that, according to The Independent, Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, expressed to MI6 in 2001 that “In the near future Shiite Muslims will suffer significantly in the Middle East. We are one billion Sunni Muslims who are tired of having Shia in the region.” US’ Republican leader, Senator John McCain is among those who readily hail Saudi Arabia and its princes. According to CNN, he thanked “God for Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Prince Bandar who accompanied us financially in the uprising in Syria.” He took, according to The Atlantic credited with encouraging Riyadh to assist the rebels in Syria financially, proving the US’ had the active role many have suspected in the prelude to what has become a gut wrenching civil war with millions of refugees.
When McCain visited Syria to show America’s support for Sunni insurgents in 2013, he was depicted smiling with rebel leaders. Embarrassing enough, it can appear that ISIS ‘leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is one of those, leading to considerable speculation. According to The Telegraph, the images also show US’ support for the old Baath party of Saddam Hussein. Its current leader General Al-Douri has long been on America’s list of wanted terrorists. Ironically, US’ support might help the Baath party return to power in Baghdad. A report from Der Spiegel claims, moreover, that the United States has directly trained ISIS members in Jordan.
Here is another irony: When ISIS is in Syria, it is an American ally, but once it crosses the border into Iraq, it becomes the enemy. It is not a secret that Sunni jihadi groups in Syria have long been doing the same activities currently being undertaken in Iraq – beheadings of Westerners, crucifixions, killings of civilians, though of course not with the same media attention, since “it is only Arabs being killed”, not American citizens. There is every reason not to follow the US’ aggressive military policy in the Middle East. If the wind changes even slightly, we may be facing serious regional wars that may lead to further instability in the world.
First published in Norway’s largest newspaper, Aftenposten 29th of September, 2014