By Fazal Rahman, Ph.D. February 12, 2015
Pictures of the destruction of a home in Idlib, Syria, by US led Coalition’s airstrike, supposedly targeting the IS (Daish), and Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, who was beheaded by the IS later.
After failing to defeat the forces of Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL, also known by its Arabic name Daish) in Iraq and Syria by massive aerial bombardments of the US and its Arab and Western allies, the American President, Barack Obama, has announced sending the American troops there for that purpose, again demonstrating his extraordinary trapezing abilities. Such escalation will inevitably lead to predicable results and reactions. The US and its above-mentioned allies are already heavily involved in funding, arming, and training of the so-called moderate anti-government groups in Syria, out of which the Islamic State emerged, to begin with. Fighters from other groups and other nations, including the US and Europe, have been increasingly joining the IS in its various campaigns. Overwhelming majority of Muslim immigrants in the US and Europe experience demonic types and levels of economic, political, legal, religious, and cultural discrimination, exclusion, and oppression. That is one of the major reasons why they, especially the young, identify with the victims of aggression, invasions, domination, injustice, and exploitation in the Muslim countries, by the same powers and power structures-directly as well as through their local collaborators and clients-that oppress them in their centers. When an Islamic force like the IS emerges that achieves significant successes against all odds, many victimized Muslims-especially the Sunnis-gravitate towards it. Such growth and development of IS forces is very likely to multiply after the involvement of US ground forces. Whatever the US imperialism does in that region creates more and more sinister destructions and losses of life and means of living. None of this would have happened if the US had left Iraq alone and not invaded it.
After diabolical destruction of Iraq by the American and European invaders, the new Shia-dominated government there marginalized the Sunnis, who were dominant before the invasion. The new inferior and oppressive political and economic status imposed upon them, under the drastically changed balance of forces, forced them to search for alternatives and solutions to the huge problems of disempowerment, poverty, unemployment, and violence of the state and its allies in the Shia militias. Sunnis found those hopes in the IS, after it demonstrated some of its successes and joined it in large numbers, including many well trained former soldiers and officers of the Iraqi military forces, under the late President, Saddam Hussain. They knew how to use and operate much of the modern weapons and equipment and also trained others in their usage. That seems to be one of the most important reasons for the astounding successes and resistance of IS against the combined military forces of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Turkey (involved in training), Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich Arab states, Jordan, US and some its NATO allies, Australia etc. It is hardly possible to overemphasize the fundamental role of American imperialism in creating this most sinister and devastating disaster in the Middle East, first by invading Iraq and then funding, arming, and training of the anti-government forces in Syria. As mentioned above, it is now planning to escalate the devastation and destruction in that area by sending its ground forces there. Of course, there are already thousands of American military and CIA operatives in that area, involved in various operations. The new escalation will multiply those. Many Middle Eastern countries, like Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Turkey, have powerful and large military forces. The IS problem can be handled effectively by any of them. Moreover, according to a Wikipedia article of June, 2014, the active Iraqi military personnel numbered 283,000, to be increased to 350,000, while the reserves numbered 528,500-total close to a million. These forces were trained, and continue to be trained, by the US and NATO militaries and tens of billions of dollars have been spent on their training and armaments. The IS is estimated to have around 31,000 fighters. The Kurdish Peshmarga army in Iraq is also large-91,000-well armed, and trained and supported by the US and NATO militaries. And yet, the Iraqi and Kurdish militaries are unable to defeat the IS and have been retreating and conceding more and more territory to it, in spite of the US-led coalition’s aerial bombings of IS controlled areas and targets, acting as their airforce, just like they had done in Libya, where they acted as the airforce of anti-Gaddafi Islamist rebels. The IS is now expanding to Libya and even Pakistan. Libya has now been reduced to anarchy and ungovernability, with continuous violent conflicts between various Islamist and other groups, some of which are lead by the leaders groomed in the US, UK, and other western countries. The Libyan disaster is also the creation of US and NATO imperialism. Without their support and acting as the airforce of the rebels, the rebels had no chance against the well-armed and well-trained armed forces of the Libyan government. The latter were destroyed and defeated by the massive aerial bombings and guidance and armament supplies to the rebels by the American and NATO imperialists. If the US and NATO had left Libya alone, it would not have transformed into the current most pathetic and disastrous condition from the one that was the envy of not only the Third World, but also of the West.
The IS has been fighting successfully on several fronts, including that of Syria, where it is emerging as the dominant anti-government force, controlling significant territory. Involving the American and NATO ground forces into that complex and paradoxical situation will only complicate and compound it further, especially in view of the fact that they were responsible for creating that problem, as well as numerous other problems in that area, to begin with. Their escalation of interference and military actions will aggravate the current problems and create new ones.
The origins of the situation in Iraq and Syria are very similar to those in Afghanistan. If the US had left Afghanistan alone in the late 1970s, after the socialist-oriented revolution there, there would be no Afghan or Pakistani Taliban, no Al-Qaeda and other Islamic groups, , engaged in the armed struggle, no state terrorism and terrorism, and no suicide bombings. These problems multiplied after the 2001 US and NATO invasion of Afghanistan. If they had left Afghanistan alone, it would have made great politico-economic, social, and cultural progress, instead of being devastated and embroiled in the war against the imperialist invaders and their local clients and collaborators. After spending more than $1 trillion on that invasion and war and causing huge losses of life and destruction of the means and ways of living, they have now withdrawn most of their forces, in effect, admitting a humiliating defeat, leaving the country utterly devastated, after more than 34 years of constant proxy and direct wars. The proxy war was started under the administration of Jimmy Carter and greatly escalated under that of Ronald Reagan. Zbigniew Brzezinski, the National Security Advisor under Jimmy Carter, later claimed boastfully that the objective of the plan, hatched under his leadership, was to trap the Soviets into a Vietnam-like quagmire. Just like in Iraq, Syria, and Libya, the various problems, great devastations and destructions of lives and means and ways of living, and internal conflicts in Afghanistan grew and developed on the roots planted there by American and NATO imperialism.
After repeated debacles in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya-trillions of dollars of expenditures and huge exterminations of lives-why do the successive American administrations continue to repeat that history? That is one of the most important questions that needs to be asked. Various geopolitical and politico-economic jargonistic reasons and answers have been given to that question, some of which are quite valid. However, the simplest and most important reason is often omitted, which consists of the fact that such wars and invasions result in fabulous profits for the Military-Industrial-Complex (MIC), no matter what their outcome. Whether the US wins or loses a war, the MIC always wins its profits. Much of the academia and media are also tied in with the MIC and actually it has now become the Military-Industrial-Media-Academia-Complex (MIMAC). This is a method to redistribute and divert huge amounts of public funds-from tax-payers money-to the MIC, and increasingly, to private contractors. Just in the Iraqi and Afghanistani invasions and wars, more than $4 trillion were transferred to the MIC and private contractors. What do the American people gain from it? Nothing, except shame, humiliation, and great crimes and sins committed against humanity, in their name and on their expense. They lose enormous resources and tens of thousands of lives are destroyed, through death and physical and mental injuries. In the victimized countries, incomparably more lives and resources are destroyed in these wars and invasions. In Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Pakistan, around three million have been killed, millions made refugees and internally displaced persons, countless millions reduced to poverty, unemployment, and without healthcare and education, colossal damages inflicted on the infrastructures and means of living, devastating sectarian and other conflicts created, some of which develop into various forms of terrorism etc.
No mentally healthy humans can do what has been done-and continues to be done-by the government, politico-economic, and military leaders of the US and other imperialist countries, as well as those enslaved to them. This is indeed the worst and unmatchable type of psychopathology, as it involves systematic mass murders and devastation of the lives of countless millions of human beings, most of them innocent civilian non-combatants, including men, women, and children of all ages. And yet, the establishment psychology and psychiatry have nothing to say about this unmatchable psychopathology. The massive extreme technocratic brutality and barbarity is self-evident in these wars and invasions. As is now well-known, systematic and massive tortures have also been routinely practiced for decades around the world, in the service of capitalism and imperialism. According to some estimates, a million torturers from Latin America and other countries were trained by the torture experts of the Office of Public Safety of the Agency for International Development (AID) alone, ten thousands receiving advanced training in the US (http://williamblum.org/chapters/killing-hope/uruguay ). The CIA and military torture experts had their own programs and operations. Among other wars and invasions, extreme tortures were also practiced during the Vietnam War, especially in the Phoenix Program. Post 9/11 tortures were continuation of that history, even though these are being presented by the recent US Senate Committee Report and news media as if these were anomalies.
The Devil could hardly do any better.
The IS, the origins of which are directly attributable to the American operations in the Middle East, is also practicing its own version of brutality, barbarity, and psychopathology, by beheading the captured foreigners and other enemies, enslaving the conquered non-Muslims, like Yazidis, and instituting various outdated harsh punishments. However, some of these practices happen on a larger scale in countries like Saudi Arabia, which is the major ally of US in the Middle East. These are generally overlooked and ignored by the US and the West, which only condemn the IS as being barbaric and brutal, for these. Of course, they do not say a word about their own incomparably greater and more massive technocratic brutalities and barbarities. When populations are bombed and shelled indiscriminately, innumerable human bodies of all genders and ages are torn apart; beheaded; arms, hands, legs, and feet severed from the bodies; bodies burnt and mutilated. This happens on an incomparably larger scale. Why is it not condemned as barbaric and brutal? Why are these words only reserved for the much smaller individual actions of enemies, like the IS, who perform these with primitive weapons, like swords and knives? The answer is clear. The incomparably greater and more massive technocratic barbarism and brutality are not characterized for what they are because these are technocratic and because these are committed by the Advanced Capitalist-Imperialist Technocratic Societies (ACITS) in the Third World countries. ACITS have always been classist and racists, both internationally and domestically, and will continue to be, as long as the diabolical marriage of advanced capitalism and advanced technocracy continues. When people are subjected to monstrosities and great injustices, like the “Operation Shock and Awe” in Iraq-or the demonic mass murders and devastations, committed in Fallujah-and see their indescribable atrocities and destructions against their relatives, friends, neighbors, citizens, homes, villages, and cities-and the whole country-a lot of them become hardened and want to see some of the same happen to their enemies who did it, as well as to their collaborators. This is undoubtedly the major reason for the brutalities of the IS and large numbers of Sunni victims and their sympathizers joining it.
It also needs to be mentioned that the Shia-dominated Iraqi military and militias are also committing barbaric and brutal atrocities against the Sunnis and the IS, wherever and whenever they succeed in occupying their territory or capturing them. There are many reports of the slaughters of Sunnis by the Iraqi military and Shia militias. This is a conflict in which all sides are practicing some of the worst forms of brutality and barbarism. All this is the product of initial massive, brutal, and barbaric invasion of Iraq; overthrow of its government; destruction of it infrastructures, constitution, and political economy; and instigation of regional and sectarian divisions and conflicts by the US and NATO militaries, intelligence services, and private contractors, which later also fueled the anti-government forces in Syria.
The problems of terrorism in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen etc. are the direct products of the massive US and NATO state terrorism in those countries. US and NATO also instigated some of those countries to initiate and implement their own state terrorisms, with their support and collaboration. This is the essence of the problems of terrorism-some of which are intertwined with the national liberation struggles-in those areas.
In spite of too much blood already having been shed, the only solution to the IS problem is to start talking to its representatives, as well as to the Syrian government. There are diverse groups in the IS and not all of them or the individuals in it are blood-thirsty revenge-seekers. But peaceful solutions to such problems are only possible if arrogance and technocratic and militaristic attitudes-especially those of the imperialist states and their imitators-, as well as war profiteering, are replaced by sincere and logical quest for justice and peace, as well as by genuine wisdom, which seems to be extinct in the ACITS and their Third World clients. Both the imperialists and the IS can learn from the wisdom and generosity of the 12th Century Muslim warrior and leader, Saladin (Salah-al-Din Yusuf Ibn Ayyub), who had offered his personal physician to his crusading rival King Richard 1 of England (Richard the Lionheart), when the latter was wounded in a battle. In 1192, when Richard was ill and his armies were suffering from shortage of food and water, he appealed to Salah-al-Din Yusuf Ibn Ayyub for providing them with water and fruit, who sent them what they had requested. All this was happening during the crusade that Richard was waging against Salah-al-Din Yusuf Ibn Ayyub and his Muslim countrymen and armies!
When “Christian” Crusaders captured Jerusalem in 1099, during the First Crusade, they, most brutally and demonically, slaughtered all the Muslims and Jews they could find there. According to some reports, they shed so much blood that in some places, it reached up to their knees. However, when Saladin and his Muslim army recaptured that city in 1187, they not only did not kill the Christians there, but showed unmatchable generosity and kindness to them, including the provision of safe passages for those, who had come foreign lands, for leaving, and allowing the natives to remain there safely and practice their religion.
However, such wisdom has always been very rare and in the ACITS, next to impossible. ACITS have been immunized against such wisdom by the powerful vaccines of capitalist and imperialist materialism. The logical solution would include a peace conference of the Middle Eastern countries, without the involvement of western imperialist countries. The policy of regime change in Syria has failed. The sooner this is recognized, the more expeditious it will become to create conditions for resolutions of the conflicts in the area and return of the refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes. However, it will take enormous resources and a lot of time to repair all the great damages inflicted on various communities and their means and ways of living. It is self-evident that continuation of the previous and current policies by the West and its Middle Eastern clients will continue to cause immense further bloodshed, sufferings, misery, and displacement of vast numbers of people.