The most important thing that virtually every American should know about Syria, and the wider region in general, is that they have absolutely no clue what is going on there. No clue at all- and the ones who know it best, journalists like Dexter Filkins- will be the first to admit this. Politics is a game of ambition, loyalty, agenda, wealth, improvisation, wit and cunning and very few Americans know about the politics of their own country let alone anyone else’s. So, with virtually no understanding of the region, the people, the cultures- and most of all the politics- it should come as no surprise that every time the America military has gotten involved in the region, it has made matters catastrophically worse- and improbably, worse for everyone, on all sides. But no one in American government, with the very fortunate exception of the President, has been able to digest or accept this inarguable and clearly and easily measurable factoid.
This avoidance of this reality should not really be too surprising, as it goes directly against the image that America has of itself- as the cowboy with the white hat, the lone international “good guy,” the one who vanquished the evil forces of Nazism and Imperial Japan and made the world safe- the triumph of Christianity and American democracy. And God’s favor was even further demonstrated by the advent of televisions, refrigerators and Detroit made cars and trucks and subsequent global dominance of American popular culture. For Foster and Allan Dulles, the brothers who seamlessly integrated their Evangelical Christianity with the Gospel of America into their design for America’s post-war foreign policy, anyone who didn’t fall into line with their Americanization project, and didn’t mind contributing their natural resources to the cause, was a “communist” and had to be dealt with. How to do this became the question that defines both President Dwight Eisenhower personally, and the future of American foreign policy from that day forward.
What the world needed, President Eisenhower and virtually all of the American elite of the day believed, was “American leadership”- especially those involved in the American economy which preyed on the resources of the Second and mostly Third World, especially energy producers in the Middle East. The problem was that the recent debacle in Korea had demonstrated how challenging, expensive, and shockingly ineffective, it was to use the military to enforce it. Much better, more effective and less expensive on all counts, would be to simply secretly influence “friendly” regimes, even the most despotic if they were with the American program, while simultaneously sabotaging “unfriendly” ones. To do this, Eisenhower, who was eager to bypass the Pentagon, Congress and feared the growing “military industrial complex,” made the fateful, and calamitous, decision to bypass all of those institutions- and the Constitution with them. He authorized Allan Dulles’ the Director of the CIA to turn the agency from an information gathering operation into an armed shadow military to be directed out of the White House that would covertly stage coups against the recalcitrant elected leaders they didn’t like like Arbenz in Guatemala or Mossadeq in Iran in favor of dictators, which became America’s favorite and most useful and effective partnerships (Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Indonesia, the Philippines, Chile…the list goes on and on). America’s culture war with the Third World soon dropped into cruise control. The great problem, however, is that it turned out much of the world didn’t want Coke or a Chevy, didn’t like being ruled by Western leaning despots and wanted to maintain their traditions, cultures and religions. People generally don’t like others coming in and telling them how to live- yes, even the poor ones, a reality that shocked the Washington establishment.
But the writing was on the wall for anyone who had ever studied History or Foreign Policy. It was only a matter of time before the Third World would spit out the yoke of Western colonialism and imperialism- just as America itself had a few hundred years previous. When he visited Algeria in 1957, then Senator John F. Kennedy asserted that the future was with independence for the Algerians, not with the French and other Western colonial powers whose days were numbered (The same was equally and obviously true in Vietnam, which is why it is probably unlikely that JFK would have pursued that conflict the way the reckless and stupid way those who succeeded him did. ), but by the 1960’s America had built an empire, predominantly corporate, whose interests were globally enforced by the CIA and was in no hurry to see it dismantled even as the depth of CIA crimes began to be uncovered in the 1970’s to American international embarrassment.
And then came Iraq, which will prove to be the United States’ most damaging mistake- and one that would have Ike sitting up and screaming from his coffin- even though it was a direct result of his own terrible decisions. Saddam Hussein was the inevitable case of a pet despot who got too big for his britches and made a move the CIA couldn’t respond to. He was bound to happen. George Bush Sr. revved up the American military and made a complete, half-done, hash of the situation which his dimwitted son then blew up into a full blown disaster area it is today. “Dubya” Bush wanted to prove to the world he could hammer in a nail and ended up slamming the hammer down on the American thumb. What started with the installation and servicing of the most corrupt dictators- Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, the Assad Clan in Syria, the Ba’athists in Iraq, the “Shah” in Iran, etc, ended with a military sweep through Iraq that obliterated every conceivable aspect of governance and social order, leaving complete chaos and anarchy in it’s wake- the most fertile environment imaginable for the worst strains of radicalism to grow. And grow they did. Shock and awe indeed.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download
Fortunately for America, the one person who does understand this dismal history is President Obama, who has very wisely resisted every call to re-involve America and its military- and the militarized CIA- into the Hell Holes his predecessors created in the first place. He appears to be the only sane person in the Washington power structure who understands that sending American assets into the region is akin to sending a gardener with a hedge trimmer in to perform an open heart surgery.
Take another look at this image above. This is a seven year-old boy. Seven. This is how his generation in Iraq, in Palestine, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, is going to grow up- those who will grow up and not end up exploded and rained down on a street or in canvas bags in ditches. After generations of being ruled by dictators who suckled at the teat of Western largess who are now being challenged one by one, the paths to power for the next iteration of leadership left, rightly, to their own devices in the Middle East will be convoluted and necessarily ugly. And we in the West have no way of knowing how it will turn out- and that should not be surprising. But it is their journey, however gruesome it may turn out to be. Thanks to the jaw-dropping ineptitude of the Bush/Cheney Administration, America has now, finally, lost all control and influence in the region and there is simply no part for it to play, no scale to put the American thumb on anymore. The truly astonishing track record of the Bush Crew and their handling of Iraq should tell every American all they need to know- it’s no place for America.