The announcement by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that he will not run for reelection is the exclamation point on the utter collapse of the Obama adminstration’s Middle East policy. Launched to great expectations — the appointment of George Mitchell, Obama’s Cairo declaration that the plight of the Palestinians is intolerable — it is now in complete disarray. It is, without doubt, the first major defeat for Obama’s hope-and-change foreign policy.
The author captures the essence in his own introduction: the US was so focused on anti-communism and anti-Soviet campaigns that it deliberately chose to sponsor extreme rightist Islamic fundamentalists, fascists in their own way as the extreme right in America is today (see American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America).
The author is very specific in addressing how the US feared “nationalism, humanism, secularism, socialism” in its obsession with countering the Soviets, and so it chose to aid Islamic fundamentalists who opposed those more rational and publicly-oriented altneratives. In essence, the premise of the invasion of Iraq, that we are doing it to spread democracy, is yet another big lie–we have been denying democracy to the Arabs every since Roosevelt met with the Saudi king and formed a pact with the devil himself.
I totally agree with the author as he documents and sums up his own view that “A war on terrorism is precisely the wrong way to deal with the challenge posed by political Islam.”
The author offers four prescriptions for US action, and at the end here I list some relevant books that provide a broader context:
1) Remove the grievances–US troops in Saudi Arabia and Iraq, support for Israel’s genocide against the Palestinians, support for Israel’s plans to attack Iran
2) Abandon imperial pretentions in the Middle East
3) Refrain from seeking to impose preferences–political, economic, cultural, or religious, on the region
4) Stop making bellicose threats against Islamic nations from Iran to Sudan (and I would add, to Algeria, Morocco, Nigeria, and others)
1) Bin Laden is largely right and on firm grounds in taking on both the debauched Saudi regime and the amoral unilaterally invasive US
2) Dick Cheney has committed so many high crimes and misdemeanors, with similar high crimes at the operational level (warrantless wiretapping on Americans, rendition and torture of all others) that America has lost all moral legitimacy both at home and abroad
3) We have the wrong global strategy, indeed we have no global strategy–we are trying to put out a forest fire with a hammer.
Some of the reviewers jump to conclusions, for example, the CIA was NOT really trying to ramp up the war in Afghanistan, until Congressman Charlie Wilson made it his personal vendetta. There is a much larger context within which American incompletence at world affairs can be judged, and it includes the shortcomings of the US educational system, the corruption of the US electoral system, and the grotesque dysfunctionality of the “winner take all” US system of governance. I hope some of the books below–or at least my reviews of them–will provide addtional context for this excellent work. See Web of Deceit for detailed comments I choose not to repeat here–the two books are a good combination with some overlap.
The American Empire Project has produced some really first-rate books on their chosen theme, and for this they are to be praised.