Time for the United States to stop poisoning the Middle East

To assert that the United States has been poisoning the Middle East for decades might sound like too strong language to the ears of many Americans. Yet what kind of effect can we expect from the long-standing practice of supporting rulers who habitually torture their own people, other than a poisonous effect?

Much as we can celebrate the Egyptian revolution as an expression of the universal human desire for freedom, it is also the beginning of a process through which Egypt must detoxify itself.

The Obama administration still clings to the phrase orderly transition as though the process of change on which Egypt is just embarking might be as seamless as the changeless change which saw George W Bush’s departure from and Barack Obama’s arrival into the White House.

Real change is more disruptive. It can’t be stage-managed by Hosni Mubarak or his deputies.

Graham Fuller writes:

It had to come. Where, when, and how exactly one of many smoldering sparks in this agonized region might actually burst forth into the present conflagration was unknowable, but tension and anger was palpably rising over a long period.

Where all these uprisings across the region will go is still unknowable, but one thing is clear – the imperative to break the long and ugly pattern of harsh, incompetent, and corrupt rule that sucks optimism, hope, and creativity out of these societies and made them breeding grounds for radicalism.

What the people of the region demand is to be able to take control of their own lives and destinies. But that in turn depends on an end to the constant external intervention of the United States in the region.

In the near term, the prescription is stark – Washington must back off and leave these societies alone, ending the long political infantilization of Middle Eastern populations. We must end our incessant and obsessive efforts to intervene and micromanage the political life of foreign states based on a myopic vision of “American interests.”

Today the Middle East is the last redoubt in the world of regimes bought, maintained, and guided by Washington. Is it any wonder that this region is now the cauldron of numerous rebellions and anti-American expression?

And just why are we maintaining this damaging, hated quasi-imperial role in the Middle East? Is it for the oil? Yet what tin-pot dictator has ever refused us oil? Furthermore, we don’t even rely that much on Middle East oil – Saudi Arabia ranks only number three among our top five providers: Canada, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Nigeria.

Or is it perhaps all about Israel? Yet why should that state constitute the seeming touchstone of everything that we do in the region? After all, Israel is overwhelmingly the most powerful military state in the Middle East, acts at will in the Middle East under the protection of American veto, manipulates our own domestic politics in its favor, and is now run by the most inflexible and ultra-right-wing government in Israeli history, while soaking up more American foreign aid per capita than any other state. The US still backs Israel against the Palestinians in an Israeli occupation now into its fifth decade.

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4 thoughts on “Time for the United States to stop poisoning the Middle East

  1. Ian McFadyen

    The US is in some ways a big version of the brash American tourist who talks loud and flashes a wad of cash at the dumb locals but ends up being ripped off by the wily bazaar merchant. The US has bribed foreign powers for decades with financial aid, military aid, intelligence information and corporate infrastructure yet rarely extracted any concessions from these countries in relation to human rights, law reform, jurisprudence, religious tolerance etc. The British Empire exported law, education, medicine, trade unionism and democracy to its colonies in exchange for cotton, wool, wheat, iron and wood. The US has mainly exported money; and got virtually nothing back in return.

  2. scott

    Vince, the US has been booted out of much of your neighborhood, Honduras and Columbia not withstanding. Do keep us informed of doings there, as that region seems to get far less coverage.

  3. Fillmorehagan

    What makes aid to Israel especially galling is that this outlaw state has an advanced economy with a high standard of living for its Jewish citizens. Better in some respects than Americans with free medical care and free higher education for those who qualify. To add insult to injury America’s Jewish billionaires are rich enough to provide this aid themselves if they are as devoted to the Israel as they claim to be.

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