ISIS: Yes, Mr. Blair, You Did Build This

by Kevin Carson

ISIS: Yes, Mr. Blair, You Did Build This

Last month, in a tone which might best be called unlikely insistence, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair reassured the public that “we” — the UK and United States — “have to liberate ourselves from the notion that we caused” the destabilization of Iraq by the ISIS insurgency. Well, actually you did.

Let’s go back to the Versailles peace conference at the end of WWI, when Britain — with the agreement of the other Western powers — carved the mandate of Iraq out of three former Ottoman provinces. These provinces — Sunni Kurdish, Sunni Arab and Shia marsh Arab — were about as unwieldy as any other artificial country the imperial powers of Europe cobbled together around the world and displayed high potential for instability from the beginning.

In the 1930s the United States supported unification of the Arabian peninsula under the House of Saud, whose official religion was an ultra-fundamentalist Sunni sect known as Wahhabism (coincidentally shared by the al Qaeda terrorists who attacked the US on 9/11).

In 1953, the United States gave powerful impetus to Islamic political fundamentalism by overthrowing Iranian prime minister Mohammad Mossadeq, a secular democratic socialist, restoring the Shah to power. This created a state of affairs in which fundamentalist clerics constituted the primary opposition to the Shah’s autocracy, leading eventually to the overthrow of the monarchy and establishment of a theocratic regime.

Meanwhile, the Eisenhower administration quietly backed still another fundamentalist movement, the Islamic Brotherhood in Egypt, as an alternative to Nasser’s secular socialist model of nationalism.

In the 1960s the United States helped engineer the Baathist military coup in Iraq, thus bringing to power the same regime it eventually went to war with twice.

In the late 1970s the US created the conditions which eventually gave rise to al Qaeda, deliberately destabilizing a stable, secular Soviet client regime in Afghanistan by providing aid to fundamentalist insurgents and provoking a Soviet invasion and decade of bloody civil war. Al Qaeda emerged from among the Islamic fundamentalists fighting a guerrilla war against Soviet occupation in the ’80s, an insurgency the United States armed and trained heavily. The Carter administration destabilized Afghanistan; Reagan poured gasoline on the fire, because giving the Russians their own Vietnam was just too delicious an opportunity to pass up.

In 1990 the United States — perhaps eager for a “splendid little war” to demonstrate the continuing need for a large “defense” establishment in the post-Cold War Era — basically instigated Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait. US Ambassador April Glaspie reassured Saddam that the US took little interest in minor affairs like one Arab country invading another. Meanwhile, with US encouragement, Kuwait engaged in practices like slanted oil drilling on the Iraqi border that inevitably goaded Iraq to invade.

But despite the devastation of Iraq by massive US air attacks and an ensuing decade of sanctions, Saddam’s dictatorship remained a secular regime where most people paid little attention to sectarian differences. Marriages between Sunnis and Shia were about as unremarkable as marriages between Baptists and Methodists in this country. The one force in the Middle East that most objected to this secularism and sectarian peace was al Qaeda — America’s baby. And by overthrowing Saddam and creating a power vacuum, the United States did the one thing guaranteed to give al Qaeda an opening in Iraq. After defeating and dissolving the Baathist regime, the Coalition Provisional Authority established a puppet government organized along sectarian lines, with religious sects rather than ideologically oriented parties as the main axis of political division. That kind of divide-and-rule strategy made it a lot easier to auction off the country to Halliburton, see.

And ISIS itself? Well, as resistance to Assad in Syria turned into an all-out civil war, the United States and American proxies like the Saudis (you know, that country whose Wahhabi oil aristocracy included Osama Bin Laden) armed anti-Assad rebels — some of which went on to become ISIS, a Sunni fundamentalist group so extreme even al Qaeda disavowed them.

So yeah, Tony. You, Bush and Obama — and all the other swine who’ve used the world as their chessboard for the past century — did cause this. All this bloodshed is yours. You own it.

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2 responses to “ISIS: Yes, Mr. Blair, You Did Build This

  1. A series of errors by Kevin.

    The First World War in the Middle East was not the fault of the West – no one forced the Young Turk regime to be pro German (they choose to be).

    No borders drawn after the war were going to be perfect – but handing the area ISIS is now in to Turkey (the other alternative discussed at the time) would have no better than handing it to Baghdad – indeed giving the Turks yet more Kurds to kill would hardy have been sensible (there were a few people who argued for a Kurdish State – but what about the Arabs in the area?).

    By the way – the key coup in Iraq was in 1958, that was brought the collectivists to power (destroying the pro Western Constitutional Monarchy) – 1968 was just one bunch of Social Justice types fighting another bunch of Social Justice types (the Americans did indeed hope the new bunch of socialists would be pro American – surprise, surprise they turned out to be PRO SOVIET). The vast majority of arms of the Socialist regime in Iraq after 1968 (including under Saddam) came from the East Block.

    Kevin also repeats his mythology that the Americans put the House of Saud in power in Arabia in the 1930s – actually American influence in the late 1920s and early 1930s (when the House of Saud won the war in Arabia against the House that formed the monarchies of Iraq and Transjordan was minimal.

    Britain did send out Mr Philby (the father of “Kim” Philby) – but his instructions were to OPPOSE the House of Saud. He decided to support them – largely because (like his son) he was an utter bastard (or as he put it “the first socialist at the F.O.”).

    The Prime Minister of Iran in 1953 was very “democratic” if you lived in a seat that he held was likely to vote for him – if you lived in a seat that was likely to vote for his opponents you did not get to vote (a “little detail” his defenders leave out).

    The restored Emperor then proceeded to follow the same economic policies as the deposed Prime Minister – attacking large scale private landowners, undermining urban merchants and manufacturers, wild government spending, and actual nationalisation (eventually including the oil industry), which made (with hide sight) the 1953 operation a bit of a waste of time (although I doubt that is why Kevin opposes it) – but at least the Emperor did not allow the Soviets down to the Persian Gulf (a consideration Kevin deliberately ignores),

    The failure of the Eisenhower Administration was in not supporting the overthrow of Nasser in 1956 – on the contrary, the Americans (led by Herbert Hoover Jr at the State Department) failed to support even the British and French effort to regain control of the Canal Zone (after Nasser broke the agreement he signed in 1954 and occupied it). John Foster Dulles saying to Eden (years later) “but why did you not go on?” was a bit much, considering that the Americans were about as useful a tub of cold vomit at the time.

    Still at least Kevin admits that Nasser was a socialist – he does not pretend that Nasser was a puppet of the “big business capitalist corporations” (or the Tooth Fairy).

    The idea that the Americans mostly backed the hard core Islamists in Afghanistan is false.

    The people Americans mostly backed were such as “The Lion” who was murdered (by a Taliban suicide bomber) about a day before 9/11.

    As for pulling out of Iraq (so that ISIS could take over) – much though I despise Mr Blair (and OPPOSE the judgement to go into Iraq in the first place) he is not to blame for that judgment – and neither is Mr Bush (dim chap though he is).

    They both understood that a force of troops would have to left in Iraq (if Constitutional government was to have any chance of being built in the long term – as with Germany and Japan after World War II, and Korea after the Korean war).

    The great fault of Mr Blair and Mr Bush is that even if one supported their policy (which I did not) they never bothered to explain it – indeed they both implied (although they never directly said) that after the war all the troops could ALL come home, obviously impossible if one wanted to prevent Islamic nutters (Sunni or Shia) taking over.

    Pulling out all troops was the judgment of Mr Obama – and ISIS (or someone like them) was bound to fill the hole caused by the pull out.

  2. Erm…I think I’m beginning to go off Kevin Carson.

    The reasons for the various disasters he (correctly and chronologically) catalogues are rather simpler than he thinks.