…..From the time of the Crusades, the pattern has been consistent. The Soviet Union learned this difficult lesson following its invasion and occupation of Afghanistan in the late 1970s. The Russians learned it again when they occupied Chechnya in the 1990s. Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza after the 1967 Six Day War and its military interventions in Lebanon triggered similar reactions, as did the U.S. military presence in Lebanon in the early 1980s. Indeed, it’s fair to say that Israel’s very existence – a non-Islamic state in land claimed by the Muslims – is part of the same pattern, as is the U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.
There is much the United States could do to defuse the problem, and a good place to start would be by removing land-based U.S. forces from the Persian Gulf….. Continue Reading
…..Yet the lessons of 1857 are very clear. No one likes people of a different faith conquering them, or force-feeding them improving ideas at the point of a bayonet. The British in 1857 discovered what the US and Israel are learning now, that nothing so easily radicalises a people against them, or so undermines the moderate aspect of Islam, as aggressive western intrusion in the east. The histories of Islamic fundamentalism and western imperialism have, after all, long been closely and dangerously intertwined. In a curious but very concrete way, the fundamentalists of all three Abrahamic faiths have always needed each other to reinforce each other’s prejudices and hatreds. The venom of one provides the lifeblood of the others….. Continue Reading
…..Kinzer sketches out an engaging, very tightly written narrative of U.S. involvement in overthrowing the governments of Hawaii, Cuba, Nicaragua, Honduras, Iran, Guatemala, South Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan, and Iraq. In nearly every historical case, we can see parallels to the contemporary interventions in Afghanistan and especially Iraq….. Continue Reading
World War I shattered the existing world order. Empires collapsed or entered their death throes. Faith in religion was shattered. Aristocracies became meaningless. The world economy soon collapsed. Communism and fascism rose from the war’s ashes and for a while contended with the West for supremacy. Politics was militarized. It gave us the tank, the first bombings of civilian cities, chemical weapons, the machine gun, aerial warfare and mass murder on a genocidal scale – all of those things that continue to consume blood and treasure like a vast, dark hole….. Continue Reading
By the 19th century the Ottoman Empire was the “sick man of Europe”, increasingly under the financial control of the European powers. Domination soon turned to outright conquest. The French annexed Algeria in 1830 and Tunisia in 1878. The British occupied Egypt in 1882, though it remained under nominal Ottoman sovereignty. The British also established effective control of the Persian Gulf, and the French extended their influence into Lebanon and Syria. In 1912 the Italians seized Libya and the Dodecanese islands, just off the coast of the Ottoman heartland of Anatolia. The Ottomans turned to Germany to protect them from the western powers, but the result was increasing financial and military dependence on Germany….. Continue Reading