The dirty little secret that the American propaganda system cannot mention is that the growth of ISIS and the current crises in Iraq and Syria are all deeply rooted in US policy.

Nicholas Davies

Thirteen years ago, a draft dodger from Texas stood on a pile of rubble in New York City and promised, “The people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.” Of course, the people who flew the planes into the World Trade Center could not hear anybody, as their remains were buried in the rubble beneath George Bush’s feet.

And our government’s extraordinary relationship with one of the world’s last and most brutal absolute monarchies ensured that any accomplices still in the US were quickly flown home to Saudi Arabia before the crime could be investigated. In 2003, Bush meekly complied with Al-Qaeda’s most concrete demand, that he withdraw US forces from military bases in Saudi Arabia.

A month after September 11, Donald Rumsfeld stood at a podium in front of a $2 billion B-2 bomber at Whiteman AFB in Missouri and addressed the aircrews of the 509th Bomber Wing, before they took off across the world to wreak misdirected vengeance on the people of Afghanistan. Rumsfeld told them, “We have two choices. Either we change the way we live, or we must change the way they live. We choose the latter. And you are the ones who will help achieve that goal.”

Since then, the United States has launched more than 94,000 air strikes, mostly on Afghanistan and Iraq, but also on Libya, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Rumsfeld’s plan has undoubtedly achieved his goal of changing the way people live in those countries, killing a million of them and reducing tens of millions more to lives of disability, disfigurement, dislocation, grief and poverty.

A sophisticated propaganda campaign has politically justified 13 years of systematic US war crimes, exploiting the only too human failing that George Orwell examined in his 1945 essay, “Notes on Nationalism.” As Orwell wrote, “The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.”

Orwell listed “torture, the use of hostages, forced labor, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians.” The US has committed all these atrocities in the past 13 years, and Americans have responded exactly as the “nationalists” Orwell described.

But some of the horrors of the US invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan found their way into the conscience of millions of newly war-wise Americans, and President Obama was elected on a “peace” platform and awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

To the deep disappointment of his former supporters, Obama has overseen the largest military budget since WWII; an eight-fold increase in drone strikes; special forces operations in at least 134 countries, twice as many as under Bush; and a massive increase in the special forces night raids or “manhunts” originally launched by Rumsfeld in Iraq in 2003, which increased from 20 in Afghanistan in May 2009 to 1,000 per month by April 2011, killing the wrong people most of the time according to senior officers.

Like Eisenhower after Korea and other Presidents after Vietnam, Obama turned to methods of regime change and power projection that would avoid the political liabilities of sending young Americans to invade other countries.

But the innovations of Obama’s doctrine of covert and proxy war have only spread America’s post-9/11 empire of chaos farther and wider, from Ukraine to Libya to the seas around China.

Covert wars are no secret to their victims, and the consequences can be just as dire. The US dropped more tonnage of bombs in its secret war on Cambodia than it dropped on Japan in WWII. As Cambodia imploded in an orgy of genocide, the CIA’s director of operations explained that Khmer Rouge recruiting “has been most effective among refugees subjected to B-52 strikes.”

As Western politicians and media breathlessly follow the escalation of US bombing in Iraq, they neglect to mention, or maybe haven’t even heard as Orwell suggested, that Obama has already launched more than 24,000 air strikes, mostly in Afghanistan, with the same results as in Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia and Iraq, killing thousands of people and making implacable enemies of millions more.

These air strikes are an integral component of Obama’s covert war doctrine, but they are only covert in the sense that they are unreported.

In Libya, the US and its NATO allies launched 7,700 air strikes in a war that killed at least 25,000 people and plunged the country into endless chaos. NATO’s illusory and short-lived success in Libya led to airlifts of weapons and fighters to Turkey, where British special forces provided training and the CIA infiltrated fighters into Syria to try and duplicate the overthrow and butchering of Gaddafi.

The sobering experience of watching a CIA operation in Afghanistan in the 1980s lead to the crime of the new century in New York on September 11 should have led US officials to reject new alliances with Islamist jihadis.

But the Obama doctrine embraced the use of Islamist militias to destabilize Libya, providing them with weapons, equipment, training and air support. Leadership on the ground came from Qatar’s mercenary “special forces,” many of whom are veterans of the Pakistani military and its ISI intelligence agency, which works with the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

These Qatari special forces are part of the Libyan template that was transposed onto Syria, where they embedded with the al-Nusra Front. With US support, Qatar spent $3 billion and flew 70 planeloads of weapons to Turkey to support its proxies in Syria, while its regional rival Saudi Arabia sent volunteers and convicts, and paid for weapons shipments from Croatia to Jordan. Wealthy Gulf Arabs paid up to $2,000 per day to hardened mercenaries from the Balkans and elsewhere. As first al-Nusra and then ISIS established themselves as the dominant rebel group, they absorbed the bulk of the fighters and weapons that the US and its allies poured into the country.

The chaos that Obama’s doctrine of covert and proxy war has wreaked in Libya, Syria and Iraq should be a reminder of one of the obvious but unlearned lessons of September 11, that creating and arming groups of religious fanatics as proxies to fight secular enemies has huge potential for blowback and unintended consequences as they gain power and escape external control.

Once these forces were unleashed in Syria, where they had limited local support but powerful external backers, the stage was set for a long and bloody conflict.  But the US and its allies, the U.K., France, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, were so committed that they schemed to undermine Kofi Annan’s 2012 peace plan and pledged ever more support, funding and weapons to the rebels as the conflict escalated into a full-blown civil war.

The current view of ISIS (or ISIL or IS) in Western media and political debate is distorted by a dangerous confluence of interests between Western propaganda and ISIS’ own public relations in playing up its strength and its atrocities.

On the other hand, when the US and its allies downplayed the role of ISIS in Syria and pretended to be funding and arming only “moderate” forces, this allowed ISIS to quietly gain strength and eliminate its rivals. So Western propaganda has effectively helped ISIS at every turn.

President Obama’s bombing campaign to support a repressive, sectarian government and Kurdish separatists will reduce more Iraqi cities to rubble, kill thousands more civilians and turn ISIS into the unstoppable monster that Zubaai predicts.

But, as he says, the President still has another choice. He can provide full diplomatic and political support for a legitimate political transition in Iraq that would honor the civil and political rights of all Iraqis.  This could begin to solve the long-running political crisis caused by the US invasion, which has led millions of Iraqis to see an alliance with ISIS as a lesser evil than submission to the brutal US- and Iranian-backed regime in the Green Zone.

Like the crisis in Iraq, every part of the current crisis in US foreign policy is amenable to serious diplomacy.

We are on the verge of a diplomatic solution to the phony crisis over Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons program.

There is global consensus on ending the Israeli occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, with only the United States clinging to its effective support for a territorial expansion that the world will never recognize.

The framework for a peace process in Syria was agreed on in Geneva on June 30, 2012, more than two years ago, but stalled as the US and its allies reintroduced their precondition that President Assad must resign first.

The coup regime in Ukraine and its Western backers may finally be ready to accept long-standing Russian proposals for a political and diplomatic resolution based on regional autonomy and international neutrality.

And ISIS’s allies in Iraq are offering to “get rid of” it in exchange only for the basic civil and political rights that the US promised them when it invaded their country.

But as Robert Parry noted recently, there’s an “old woman who swallowed a fly” quality to neoconservative US foreign policy.  The proposed solution to any US foreign-policy failure is always some kind of escalation, invariably leading to an even more dangerous crisis.

Instead of developing more rational policy goals in response to their overreaching and failures, neoconservative policymakers instead keep doubling down to take on more powerful adversaries and risk even greater disasters.

Thus a failed CIA coup in 1996 and the impending collapse of the UN sanctions regime led to the invasion and destruction of Iraq; the US defeat in Iraq led to targeting Syria and Iran; and Russia’s role in Syria led to a US-led coup in Ukraine and a US-Russian confrontation that has raised the specter of nuclear war: “There was an old lady who swallowed a horse. She died of course.”

The US propaganda system presents Americans with a looking-glass view of the world, in which our “shining city on a hill” is a bastion of peace, democracy and prosperity, while the rest of the world is a dreadful mess riven by endless crises and insoluble problems.

The dirty little secret that our propaganda system cannot mention is that the current crises are all deeply rooted in US policy. At this point in our history, most of those roots lead back to the fateful decision to respond to a mass murder in New York City with 94,000 air strikes, an opportunistic global military expansion and a doubling of the military budget.

For a longer version of this article, go here…

For a longer version of this article, go here…

Source: Alternet

16 Sep 2014

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