Washington’s instinct to meddle in the Mideast

Andrew Bacevich writes:

The upheaval engulfing the Arab world presents the United States with two choices. Washington can either embrace change, stand on the sidelines, and accept whatever results. Or it can intervene, insert itself in the process, and try to shape the outcome. Advocating the latter would be to assume reserves of power, not to mention wisdom, at Washington’s disposal. At the moment, however, the U.S. possesses neither.
But history, too, argues for restraint. Consider what several decades of outside meddling in the Islamic world has accomplished. Out of the ruins of the Ottoman Empire after World War I came a new map of the vast region, designed not to promote the well-being of its inhabitants, but to satisfy European (chiefly British) interests. The Allies drew boundaries, created nation-states, and installed monarchs to ensure Western access to oil and control of the Suez Canal.
British success proved fleeting, however. The many tasks proved expensive, and in the wake of World War II, cash-strapped Britain devolved its responsibilities onto the U.S., which had grown hungry for global leadership. Although American aims differed little from Great Britain’s, the Cold War enabled Washington to camouflage its purposes. It portrayed Iran’s Mohammad Mossadegh as a communist dupe to justify his overthrow, depicted Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser as a puppet of the Kremlin rather than as an Arab nationalist, and endorsed Israel’s image of itself as a lonely bastion of democracy in a sea of Soviet-armed authoritarians.

By the end of the 20th century, Washington’s ambitions had ballooned rapidly. Yet the unintended consequences of America’s informal empire, which began as a trickle, rushed on as an unwelcome flood. Chief among them: the emergence in Iran of an Islamic Republic deeply hostile to the United States; Israeli insecurities finding expression in a penchant for an excessive reliance on force, recklessly and aggressively employed; the rise of widespread anti-Americanism throughout much of the Islamic world; and the incubation of radical Islamist organizations committed to expelling the U.S., purging the region of its corrupt local rulers, and unifying the umma.

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10 thoughts on “Washington’s instinct to meddle in the Mideast

  1. Vince J.

    This is an illustration of US hypocrisy. This is from DemocracyNow. It is that dog, Susan Rice, speaking of human rights…

    “This is the first time that either the Human Rights Council or its predecessor, the Human Rights Commission, have suspended any member state for gross violations of human rights. And we think this is an important step forward in enhancing the credibility of the Human Rights Council, whose credibility on these issues has often quite legitimately been called into question.”

    Also, from DemocracyNow. This is the Venezuelan envoy to the UN, he is spot on:

    Jorge Valero: “Venezuela calls for the rejection of war-mongering mobilization of the U.S. Air Force and Navy in the Mediterranean Sea. Those who promote the use of military force against Libya do not seek to defend human rights but rather, as always, to establish a protectorate and pillage the most important sources of oil and energy in the Middle Eastern region.”

    Also, worthed reading Pepe Escobar’s article at AsianTimes:
    “War porn is back in Libya”

  2. Vince J.

    Arrest R. Gates, George W.C. Bush, Dick Chenney, C. Rice, D. Feith, R. Perle, Pertraeus, B. Obama, H. and B. Clinton, Yoo, Bybee.

    Demand defense financial records as well as Wall St.

    Demand a substancial cut to the absurd “defense” budget which is eating away the US of A.
    New 9/11 investigation!
    HAGUE Now!

  3. Renfro

    I am so bored with the Libya situation being talked about and used as what the US did wrong in the past as an excuse for not doing something different now that I want to slug someone to shut them up…jesus christ on a stick– it there no cure for stupid?..is every so called intellectual in the universe totally dependent on the past for their every brain fart and opinion?
    The US is going to be dammed if they do and dammed if they don’t interfere or help the Libyan rebels…sooooooooo…we can take our kick in the ass for INTERFERING
    for the Libyan people …or we can take our kick in the ass for doing nothing and being once again HYPOCRITICS.

    Take your pick. For me, if we say we are for freedom and for the people we do something to help freedom fighters and take the fricking criticism later.

  4. Vince J.


    What about Afegan, Iraq, Pakistani, Yemeni, freedom fighters? They are fighting an illegal occupier.

  5. Renfro


    Yes ..But…the situation in Libya is not the same.

    The Iraq, Afghan adventures are/were pure US stupidity and hubris.
    And serve only to illustrate US hypocrisy if we don’t help the Libyans…provided they ask.

    We could do a long list of pro and cons on assisting the Libyan rebels….you can think of all of the complications on your own I am sure…what if they fail, what if they succeed, what impact would a victory or lose have on the rest of the region and our relations.

    In my view we have more to gain in responding or becoming involved on ” ‘principles’ of human rights if so asked to and it comes to that, than we do by doing nothing.

  6. A Meshiea

    Renfrew THANK YOU!!

    I too am so tired of hearing this Chavez like paranoia extend to our left-wing intellectuals.
    This IS different and if you listen carefully you can hear quite clearly what the Libyan’s want, and its always the same:
    No Fly Zone
    Do not send ground troops we can fight this ourselves
    We prefer Arab/Turkish assistance but frankly just stop the dictator from holding the skies and maybe even drop a bomb or two on his stronghold and let us do the rest.

    I have one Libyan parent and one parent from the States. Me and my family have been opposed to the usual BS US adventurism and irritated with the US response to this so far, but I can guarantee that the Arab world would deeply respect aid in the skies, it would win back a whole lot of brownie points. Stop crying about th last wars an the illegal ones in Yemen and Pakistan. Sometimes it is right to lend a hand especially when its so obvious who the bad guy is.

  7. Vince J.

    What about the Palestinians? Do they deserve help too?
    What about when the terrorist state of israel massacre 1500 men women and children in 2008/9. Why was that diferent? It is about the oil isn’t it?

  8. Vince J.

    Do Palestinians have human rights?
    The revolutionary people of Lybia was and still is very clear: They don’t want foringner intervention. It is their business, their revolution, their fight and their resources. It is their oil!
    The US is only interested in oil, not in freedom nor in democracy.

  9. Renfro


    Yes, Palestine has rights too and I have said that if it were up to me Israel would be given 60 days to vacate every inch of Palestine land they have confiscated since 1948 and if they didn’t I would do it for them with the US military. Israel is a rouge country and the zionist influenced corrupt politics of the US has made it an enabler of the Israeli war crimes…I can’t be plainer than that…and I have said it repeatedly for years.

    Every revolt in the ME against rulers oppression benefits Palestine in regard to their own ideas about resistance, the hot seat of hypocrisy these revolts put the US in and the disruption of the ME status quo the US created that has in many ways benefited Israel and allowed their agression with impunity.

    The US isn’t going to invade and occupy Libya for their oil for the number one reason that we can’t even afford to occupy the countries we are already occupying.
    And the fact is we don’t have to –whoever controls the oil countries will always be willing to sell the US and others oil, prices may change but it will always be available.

    A Meshiea above is right, intervention in Liby should rest with the Arabs and/or the Arab League, the US shouldn’t have to do it, but then US hedgemony long ago created the major ME rulers dependence on the US as their cop in the ME. If they could be forced or presuaded to get their shit together and assume some responsibility that would also be a step and change in the right direction for the ME and a step in the right direction and burden lifted from the US also.

    Look it comes down to one thing……the Libya revolt is about their human and political rights, ..if it appears they will lose the struggle without help and they ask for help we help according to their rules, Period.
    Or we turn our back like some US adms have in the past to such struggles.
    Which way do you want to go?

  10. Renfro

    Also Vince consider the fact that the sooner the rebels get whatever help they need and request the more likely we are to avoid what might esculate into a Gadhafi massacre..becoming a sitution in which the UN would have to intervene for Crimes against Humanity which would result in a real intervention with foreign boots on the ground….exactly what they don’t want.
    It’s best to act early for the right outcome and minimize the damage– then bow out and leave the Libyans to seek assistance from whoever they please toward building up a new government.

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