America’s War for the Greater Middle East – A Military History

1457463017_05402988a8_b_Syria

Andrew Bacevich has written a series of books on the topic of U.S. imperialism and U.S. military power.   His latest work, America’s War for the Greater Middle East [the GME War] is the latest in this series and as with the previous works is clearly written and logically presented.  It covers more narrowly than the previous works the military aspects of U.S. military endeavours in the Middle East (greater – as in including East Africa and Afghanistan et al).  Generally he succeeds well and this work is a good ‘primer’ for anyone interested in a quick historical overview of U.S. military actions in the region. 

However it is not one of his better works, and perhaps that is because of the narrowness of focus and the resulting tie ins that could have been made and that without do not provide a perspective of this war amongst all the other wars instigated by the U.S.  I had to keep reminding myself that this is a “military” history, focused on the Middle East, which kept reminding myself about the missing links.

In general, his overall thesis is well presented. His relating of the sequence of events is strong and the critical analysis is good, until he arrives at the most recent events.

Early beginnings

He starts off saying the GME War “was a war to preserve the American way of life, rooted in a specific understanding of freedom and requiring an abundance of cheap energy” noting also that “oil as a prerequisite for freedom,” a rather telling prerequisite.   Describing his own youthful times he recognizes “The American way of life may have been shallow and materialistic, its foundation a bland conformity.”  Yes it had “pleasures and satisfactions” which “tended to be transitory” but disguised as to “how precarious such expectations might be.”

An interesting start to a military history.  In the prologue he dates the start of the GME War with Operation Eagle Claw from April 24-25, 1980.  In the opening chapter he pushes it back to the 1973 oil embargo as a consequence of the Yom Kippur War in Israel.  One of the political philosophies of the time recognized that

“Middle East oil properly belonged to those who had discovered, developed, and actually needed it.  By all rights, therefore it was “ours”, a perspective that resonated with many ordinary Americans.  All that was required to affirm those rights was the vigorous use of U.S. military power.”

Having started that way philosophically creates in my mind the longer view back as far as World War I and its outcomes concerning the fallen Ottoman empire.  This saw the Sykes-Picot agreement dividing the spoils of empire and the Balfour letter envisioning the creation of a Jewish state.  The former entangled religions, tribes, and ethnic groups;  the latter, in part and in particular to this history, Israel was viewed as an ‘outpost’ of western/European control of the region – for transportations via the Suez canal, but more importantly for the newly discovered oil resources.

However, from where it does start the work progresses quickly and probably for many, very thought provokingly through the Nixon/Carter years and on through the various military enterprises of the GME War.

The Carter years involved the apparent involvement with the Iranian revolution; fortunately Bacevich recognizes that the real involvement began with the 1953 CIA/MI6 overthrow of the democratic Mossadegh Iranian government.  The book continues through the years, including the shift from Carter’s “Unreasoned anticommunism had made Americans stupid and distorted U.S. policy; ” through the “end of history” according to Fukuyama “the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as final form of human democracy;” and closing out with the current ‘long war’ or ‘global war on terror’, now just mostly generalized globally as anti-terrorism.

Never endings

I read the book on Kindle using pink highlights for subject ‘titles’ and blue for the actual commentary pertaining to that person or idea.  Eventually I ended up using yellow to indicate passages where Bacevich’s analysis or perspective appeared to be much less clear.  Given how well the majority of his writing is well founded and documented it could be that the proximity in time to some of the more recent events has not allowed the filter of time to fulfill informational bias and/or create a fuller context for viewing these incidents.  These moments occurred only in the last two chapters, mainly the latter part of the Obama years, concerning:  Gaddafi in Libya, Assad in Syria, discussion of Obama’s policies, the renewed anti-Putin, anti-Russian scenarios, a supposed ambivalence towards al-Qaeda cured by 9-11 (yet part of the moderates in Syria?).

Most currently Bacevich describes ISIS in part as having “neither allies nor patrons” a rather disconcerting statement in consideration of recent documentation of support from Turkey (a NATO ally) and Saudi Arabia (an oil/US$ ally) and other non-democratic Middle East supporters.

One of my final highlights was, “The root of the problem was obvious:  “perhaps there is no strategy to contain the destabilization of the Middle East.”  I noted – and this is quite important in a larger context – perhaps that is the strategy – chaos.  Chaos serves Israel very well as they can then operate internally ‘under the radar’ while the world is entertained by U.S. double dealings and Russian military successes within the GME War.

For a book that begins with a biblical quote (Numbers 32: 13: “The Lord’s anger burned against Israel….”) there is very little said about Israel throughout.  Considering how important AIPAC is to the U.S. election/legislative procedures, and how militarized Israel is, this is a significant omission.

Another significant omission, and this is surprising considering how the first chapter started with a description of the importance of oil to the American way of life, is how since those same Nixon/Carter years the US$ has been the global fiat currency backed mainly by its use as the reserve currency for all global oil transactions – now a fading proposition, another reason to create chaos.   It is implied at the outset, but is never discussed as the GME War continues its depredations in the region and its blowback consequences within the United States (yes, I remind myself, this is a military history but ….).

Finally, but not over

Bacevich’s closing positions are clearly stated and supported by what he has presented beforehand.  He almost disqualifies himself with a ‘yellow‘ note stating the creations of “a permanent footing large-scale, heavily armed forces designed for global power projection” serves as “the principal functions of these forces was not to wage war but to avert it.”

This is not a minor misstatement as the history and writings of all those concerned within the neocon cabal and the PNAC group considered ‘full spectrum dominance’ to be their end goal, with the inclusion of first strike capabilities for the use of nuclear weapons.   Okay in a very sick sense they were trying to avert war by saying we will bludgeon and kill anyone who stands in our way of the “American way” of freedom.  I just don’t buy into its pacifist intentions.

However, the overall conclusion is perfectly valid,

Time and again, from the 1980s to the present, U.S. military power, unleashed rather than held in abeyance, has met outright failure, produced results other than those intended,  [note: see chaos, above] or proved to be largely irrelevant.  The Greater Middle East remains defiantly resistant to shaping.

When discussing why the U.S. cannot “get out” Bacevich identifies “several assumptions that promote in Washington a deeply pernicious collective naiveté.”  They could be summarized as ignorance (wilful or otherwise), hubris, arrogance, and stereotyped thought processes (i.e. a lack of the ability to critically analyse anything).

The concluding section continues along the parameters of the GME War’s permanence, which including the above, also includes the militarized meme of supporting the troops, the benefits that accrue to certain individuals, and most importantly to Bacevich is that “Americans themselves appear oblivious to what is occurring” without stating the obvious about the control of the media and the message by corporate-political America.

He concludes, finally and ultimately, that until Americans awaken to the reality that they need to reshape themselves first, “Then and only then will the war end.”

Or perhaps they will, one day, never wake up – period.

07-06-2016

By Jim Miles

RELATED POSTS
Who will secure Lithuania?
The term "security" is a very multifaceted one. But today's geopolitical situation forces us to think about its military aspect above all. Our attention is completely absorbed by news about wars, conflicts, military exercises and increasing defence capabilities. An average European reader has no chances to skip this kind of news while looking through news feeds of popular media. Even planned further militarization of the European region and Russia pose the real threat today. A whole generation of European children is growing in the firm belief that the war is approaching. We destroy ourselves by our fears. We notice everything concerning military issues and neglect economic and social sides of our life. We live in a changed world and we are to blame for it. Let's take Lithuania as an example. This small country with reach history and with immensely kind and open people last few weeks falls into the center of world ...
READ MORE
How America Double-Crossed Russia and Shamed West
The conditionality of the Soviet Union’s agreement to allow East Germany to be taken by West Germany and for the Cold War to end, was that NATO would not expand «one inch to the east». This was the agreement that was approved by the Russian President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, a great man and a subsequent hero to democrats around the world. He agreed then to end the Soviet Union and abandon communism and thus to end the entire Cold War; he agreed to this because he had been promised that NATO would expand not «one inch to the east,» or «one inch eastward,» depending upon how the promise was translated and understood — but it has the same meaning, no matter how it was translated. He trusted American President George Herbert Walker Bush, whose friend and Secretary of State James Baker made this promise to Gorbachev. With this ...
READ MORE
False Flag Terror. A Historical Overview
First published on September 12, 2015 Presidents, Prime Ministers, Congressmen, Generals, Soldiers and Police ADMIT to False Flag Terror In the following instances, officials in the government which carried out the attack (or seriously proposed an attack) admit to it, either orally, in writing, or through photographs or videos: (1) Japanese troops set off a small explosion on a train track in 1931, and falsely blamed it on China in order to justify an invasion of Manchuria. This is known as the “Mukden Incident” or the “Manchurian Incident”. The Tokyo International Military Tribunal found: “Several of the participators in the plan, including Hashimoto [a high-ranking Japanese army officer], have on various occasionsadmitted their part in the plot and have stated that the object of the ‘Incident’ was to afford an excuse for the occupation of Manchuria by the Kwantung Army ….” And see this. (2) A major with the Nazi SS admitted at the Nuremberg trials that – under orders from the chief of the ...
READ MORE
A Hybrid War To Break The Balkans?
In the spirit of the New Cold War and following on its success in snuffing out South Stream, the US has prioritized its efforts in obstructing Russia’s Balkan Stream pipeline, and for the most part, they’ve regretfully succeeded for the time being. The first challenge came from the May 2015 Color Revolution attempt in Macedonia, which thankfully was repulsed by the country’s patriotic citizenry. Next up on the destabilization agenda was the political turmoil that threatened to take hold of Greece in the run-up and aftermath of the austerity referendum, the idea being that if Tsipras were deposed, then Balkan Stream would be replaced with the US-friendly Eastring project. Once more, the Balkans proved resilient and the American plot was defeated, but it was the third and most directly antagonist maneuver that snipped the project in the bud and placed it on indefinite standby. ‘Lucky’ Number Three: The climactic action happened on ...
READ MORE
“Going After” the Islamic State. Guess Who is Behind the Caliphate Project?
Author’s note and Update The following article was first published in September 2014 at the outset of the air campaign “against the ISIS”. In recent developments Russia has officially joined the campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS). What are the implications? Amply documented but rarely mentioned in news reports, the ISIS is a creation of US intelligence, recruited, trained and financed by the US and its allies including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Israel and Jordan.   What this means is that the ISIS terrorists are the foot soldiers of the Western alliance. While America claims to be targeting the ISIS, in reality it is protecting the ISIS. The air campaign is intent upon destroying Syria and Iraq rather than “going after the terrorists”.  But now Russia is involved in the campaign against the ISIS in coordination with the Syrian and Iraqi governments.  What does that mean? The official story is that Russia supports America’s resolve to fight the terrorists. It’s all for a good cause. In reality, ...
READ MORE
“Putinism” In American History: Lincoln, Roosevelt, And The Fight Against ISIS
Many articles in the US press have speculated at length in an attempt to define a new ideology called “Putinism.” The pieces serve as an attempt to fit Putin into an outdated Cold War narrative, as if some new ideology in the Russian Federation is playing the role that Marxism-Leninism once played in the Soviet Union, though the current Russian constitution forbids this. The notable leaders of history are rarely ideologues. History judges people mainly by what they achieve, not what they write or say. As Chinese President Xi Jinping recently put it: “The worth of any plan is in its implementation.” Putin has continued to play a specific role in the history of his country and the world. It is in his role as a leader of Russia that we can really define “Putinism.” However, when examining his achievements, Putin’s role and methods are not so different from those utilized by ...
READ MORE
Is Boko Haram a CIA Covert Op to Divide and Conquer Africa?
The objectives of the US military presence in Africa are well documented: counter Chinese influence and control strategic locations and natural resources including oil reserves. This was confirmed more than 8 years ago by the US State Department: In 2007, US State Department advisor Dr. J. Peter Pham commented on AFRICOM’s strategic objectives of “protecting access to hydrocarbons and other strategic resources which Africa has in abundance, a task which includes ensuring against the vulnerability of those natural riches and ensuring that no other interested third parties, such as China, India, Japan, or Russia, obtain monopolies or preferential treatment.” (Nile Bowie, CIA Covert Ops in Nigeria: Fertile Ground for US Sponsored Balkanization Global Research, 11 April 2012) At the beginning of February,  AFRICOM’s “head General David Rodriguez called for a large-scale US-led ‘counterinsurgency’ campaign against groups in West Africa during remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC: In ...
READ MORE
“Islamic State Déjà Vu”: US Sponsored Islamic Fighters in the Balkans, Washington Was Behind the 2001 Terrorist Attacks in Macedonia
Author’s note The following article focussing on the jihadist terrorist insurgency in Macedonia was first published by antiwar.com in July 2001, barely two months before the September 11, 2001 attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon. Known and documented, since the Soviet-Afghan war, recruiting Mujahedin (“holy warriors”) to fight covert wars on Washington’s behest had become an integral part of US foreign policy. A report of the US Congress had revealed how the US administration – under advice from the National Security Council headed by Anthony Lake – had “helped turn Bosnia into a militant Islamic base” leading to the recruitment through the so-called “Militant Islamic Network,” of thousands of Mujahedin from the Muslim world. The “Bosnian pattern” was then replicated in Kosovo, Southern Serbia and Macedonia. Among the foreign mercenaries fighting with the KLA-NLA in 2001 were Mujahedin from the Middle East and the Central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union ...
READ MORE
‘Soft Coup’ In Belgrade? Tony Blair Becomes Advisor To Serbian Government As Wall Street Plunders State Assets
Tony Blair and his bloodstained paws With most of the Balkans firmly under the grip of the Atlantic Empire, the empire now seem to be placing their dirty paws on the only place in the region that is left for them to further pillage, plunder and colonize: Serbia. War criminal Tony Blair is back in town, and so are some of the criminals that were directly involved in bombing Serbia in the 1990s. Once Blair arrives in town, fellow warmongering psychopaths can't be far behind. In 2014 former CIA Director David Petraeus, now chairman of KKR Global Institute, subsidiary of Wall Street vulture capitalist firm KKR & Co., visited Serbia and met with Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, who welcomed him and his plans with open arms. The theme of their conversation was about 'attracting foreign investors' - neoliberal economic-speak for plundering Serbian companies, workers and resources. Petraeus emphasized that KKR Global Institute ...
READ MORE
Serbia Gives Access To Military Facilities, Special Status To NATO Soldiers
BELGRADE – NATO soldiers should in future have free transit through Serbia, use its military infrastructure and be “protected” with a special status while staying in the country, writes “Vecernje Novosti”. This is only one of the obligations Serbia committed to with individual action plan (IPAP), whose entry into force was officially marked by the Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic and Defense Minister Bratislav Gasic. IPAP, among other things, involves signing of the so-called SOFA agreement (which Serbia already has with the US) with NATO member states, which regulates border crossing and immunity level for the members of Alliance while they are passing through Serbia or are residing in the country, as well as access to military facilities. Serbia also committed to open the regional training center “Jug” near Bujanovac for all the members of the Partnership for Peace and NATO, to gradually harmonize its regulation in the field of defense with the EU ...
READ MORE
The Occupied Golan Heights: How Israel Thrives from Syria’s Natural Resources
We all know how the story goes. The Golan Heights is Syrian territory that has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six-Day War. It was then controversially annexed in 1981, despite the UN calling the efforts “null”, “void” and “without international legal effect”. Today it is still internationally and legally recognised as Syrian land, but Israel persists with its possession. Of course, such persistence can prove to be quite lucrative when the land is abundant in resources – especially land as fertile as the Syrian Golan – a generous source of gushing waters and game changing oil reserves. In fact, the Golan Heights contributes a quenching one-third of Israel’s entire water supply. Its catchments leading to the Jordan River and Lake Kinneret – Israel’s main water source – receive long bouts of heavy rainfall, particularly during the colder months and occasionally during stormy season in the summer. But the Golan Heights does ...
READ MORE
The French Republic Taken Hostage
The war which has now spread to Paris is incomprehensible for those French citizens who are ignorant of practically all the secret activities of their government in the Arab world, of its unnatural alliances with the Gulf dictators, and its active participation in international terrorism. These policies have never been discussed in Parliament, and the major media have rarely dared to take an interest in them. For the last five years, the French people have been hearing about distant wars, but without ever understanding what they meant. The Press informed them about the engagement of their army in Libya, but never about the presence of French soldiers on mission in the Levant. My articles on this subject are widely-read, but perceived as some sort of Oriental aberration. Despite my personal history, it remains quite acceptable to qualify me as an « extremist », or a « conspiracy theorist », and to point ...
READ MORE
Phantom Tanks and the Desperation of Kiev
How many times have we seen this before? The President of the United States is on TV telling us horror stories. Some innocent people in some corner of the world are being crushed, he tells us. They face some monstrously evil oppressor, he says. While the United States doesn’t like war, what choice is there? Sacrifices must be made, cruise missiles must be unleashed, to protect the poor and innocent. The world is the set of an action movie, and the US is the tragic hero, forced to rescue the innocent. This is the script we heard in former Yugoslavia. Bill Clinton claimed to be stoping “mass rapes” and “concentration camps.” After the smoke had cleared, and thousands had been killed, the truth came out. The United Nations admitted that no “genocide” had taken place. The talk of mass rapes and concentration camps had been hype. While the alleged crimes used to justify ...
READ MORE
Contestation between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism
Only when we refute the monolithic interpretation of Zionist theory and practice can we approach an understanding of the contested relationship between anti-zionism and antisemitism. Israel - BDS. Flickr/ Takver. Some rights reserved.The relationship between anti-Zionism and antisemitism is a vexed and controversial question. My starting point is to elucidate an understanding of the meaning of Zionism; a term and a political concept which is rarely defined and frequently misunderstood. This is hardly surprising given that today in the 21st century, Zionism/ist is construed as an insult by some and is often equated with apartheid and even worse, Nazism. My understanding of Zionism seeks neither to exonerate, praise nor condemn. Rather we must seek to comprehend the Zionist movement and concomitant ideology in its historical, material and constantly evolving context. A form of nationalism Put simply Zionism is a form of nationalism which developed under two sets of linked influences in the ...
READ MORE
West Rules Macedonia (FYROM) as a US-EU Protectorate, To Put A Check on Russian Influence in the Balkans
A year ago, at a closed-doors meeting between the USA and EU officials and the leaders of the four major parties of FYROM in Strasbourg, a route map for the resolution of the protracted political crisis was agreed on (or rather imposed). The roots of this political crisis are to be found outside FYROM: it is actually more a confrontation by proxy between “the West”, which supports the opposition, and Russia, which is trying to maintain its influence in the region. In conjunction with the public discontent at government policies and the escalating corruption, the negotiations have contributed to sharpening the crisis, which has become acute. The route map imposed on the closed-doors meeting between US representatives and the EU and local political leaders was supposed to lead to elections in April 2016. But the elections were postponed to 5th June 2016, in order to be “better prepared”. As it turned ...
READ MORE
Appeal from U.S. to World: Help Us Resist U.S. Crimes
Since the end of the Cold War, the United States of America has systematically violated the prohibition against the threat or use of force contained in the UN Charter and the Kellogg Briand Pact. It has carved out a regime of impunity for its crimes based on its UN Security Council veto, non-recognition of international courts and sophisticated "information warfare" that undermines the rule of law with political justifications for otherwise illegal threats and uses of force. Former Nuremberg prosecutor Benjamin B. Ferencz has compared current U.S. policy to the illegal German "preemptive first strike" policy for which senior German officials were convicted of aggression at Nuremberg and sentenced to death by hanging. In 2002, the late U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy described post-September 11th U.S. doctrine as "a call for 21st century American imperialism that no other nation can or should accept." And yet the U.S. government has succeeded in assembling alliances ...
READ MORE
NATO Announces War Policy Against Russia
On May 18th, Britain’s Guardian headlined “West and Russia on course for war, says ex-Nato deputy commander” and reported that the former deputy commander of NATO, the former British general Sir Alexander Richard Shirreff (who was Supreme Allied Commander in Europe from 2011-2014), expressed outrage that Britain isn’t urgently preparing for war against Russia, and also reported that “He describes Russia as now the west’s most dangerous adversary and says Putin’s course can only be stopped if the west wakes up to the real possibility of war and takes urgent action. … In a chilling scenario, he predicts that Russia, in order to escape what it believes to be encirclement by Nato, will seize territory in eastern Ukraine.” (That’s the Donbass region, where there has been a civil war.) This encirclement by NATO is, apparently, about to be expanded: Shirreff will now be satisfied by NATO, even if not by its member the UK, of which Shirreff happens to be a citizen. ...
READ MORE
‘Barbarism by an educated and cultured people’ — Dawayima massacre was worse than Deir Yassin
“There was no battle and no resistance (and no Egyptians). The first conquerors killed from eighty to a hundred Arabs [including] women and children. The children were killed by smashing of their skulls with sticks. Is it possible to shout about Deir Yassin and be silent about something much worse?” For the first time ever, a letter quoting one of the Israeli soldiers who were part of the Al-Dawayima massacre in October 1948 is published in full. On Friday, February 5th 2016, Haaretz published an article in Hebrew by Israeli historian Yair Auron, which covers one of the biggest massacres of 1948. The massacre is of Al Dawayima, west of Al-Khalil (which is often referred to as Hebron). In a 2004 interview with Haaretz, Israeli historian Benny Morris refers to this as a massacre of “hundreds”. After the massacre, a letter was sent to the editor of the leftist affiliated newspaper Al-Hamishmar, but ...
READ MORE
Why World War II ended with Mushroom Clouds
This article by Dr. Jacques Pauwels was published six years ago. In the current context, the US is threatening to wage a preemptive nuclear war against Russia, which possesses a vast arsenal of nuclear weapons. Hillary Clinton has confirmed that “nukes are on the table” and she intends to use them if she becomes president. We need to defend ourselves against Russia, Iran, North Korea and China. Her solution is to blow up the planet. World War II ended in Mushroom Clouds. If Hillary decides to wage a preemptive nuclear war on Russia, World War III would commence with mushroom clouds. How would World War III end. Would it have an ending? In the words of Fidel Castro, “the collateral damage” of a nuclear war in the present context would be humanity in its entirety. The threat is real: the US contemplates waging war war on Russia, which is tantamount to waging war on the World. Michel ...
READ MORE
HAARP: Secret Weapon Used For Weather Modification, Electromagnetic Warfare
This article was first published on August 1, 2010 “It isn’t just conspiracy theorists who are concerned about HAARP. The European Union called the project a global concern and passed a resolution calling for more information on its health and environmental risks. Despite those concerns, officials at HAARP insist the project is nothing more sinister than a radio science research facility.” – Quote from a TV documentary on HAARP by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) is a little-known, yet critically important U.S. military defense program which has generated quite a bit of controversy over the years in certain circles. Though denied by HAARP officials, some respected researchers allege that secret electromagnetic warfare capabilities of HAARP are designed to forward the US military’s stated goal of achieving full-spectrum dominance by the year 2020. Others go so far as to claim that HAARP can and has been used ...
READ MORE
Who will secure Lithuania?
How America Double-Crossed Russia and Shamed West
False Flag Terror. A Historical Overview
A Hybrid War To Break The Balkans?
“Going After” the Islamic State. Guess Who is Behind the Caliphate Project?
“Putinism” In American History: Lincoln, Roosevelt, And The Fight Against ISIS
Is Boko Haram a CIA Covert Op to Divide and Conquer Africa?
“Islamic State Déjà Vu”: US Sponsored Islamic Fighters in the Balkans, Washington Was Behind the 2001 Terrorist Attacks in Macedonia
‘Soft Coup’ In Belgrade? Tony Blair Becomes Advisor To Serbian Government As Wall Street Plunders State Assets
Serbia Gives Access To Military Facilities, Special Status To NATO Soldiers
The Occupied Golan Heights: How Israel Thrives from Syria’s Natural Resources
The French Republic Taken Hostage
Phantom Tanks and the Desperation of Kiev
Contestation between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism
West Rules Macedonia (FYROM) as a US-EU Protectorate, To Put A Check on Russian Influence in the Balkans
Appeal from U.S. to World: Help Us Resist U.S. Crimes
NATO Announces War Policy Against Russia
‘Barbarism by an educated and cultured people’ — Dawayima massacre was worse than Deir Yassin
Why World War II ended with Mushroom Clouds
HAARP: Secret Weapon Used For Weather Modification, Electromagnetic Warfare
Share

Comments are closed.