Middle East

Empire and the Middle East

What defeats men with guns?  



The relentless search for cheap labor, raw materials (like oil), cheap labor, and regional control, that every empire, in order to dominate other empires, must conduct.

Imperialism is always imbued with nationalism, racism, sexism, and cultural hubris. 

For More than Three Centuries most of the Middle East and parts of Europe and Russia was ruled by the Ottoman Empire (Turkey)

 Fast Forward (very fast) to World War 1

The real T.E. Lawrence below, and the great film 

The documentary below has fascinating real footage about Lawrence and Arabia

American Journalist Lowell Thomas made Lawrence famous in the west

Lawrence penned one of the most beautifully written books in the English language

Lawrence was a friend of B.H. Liddell Hart, who edited Sun Tzu’s “Art of War,” and offered Hart advice on how modern warfare should be conducted. Liddell Hart was ignored in his homeland, Britain, but one of his students was Heinz Guderian. …


The Sykes (British)-Picot (French) Agreement of 1916


There are many ways into a study of AF/Pak

and the Middle East

One is through popular literatute

A fifth or sixth grader should be able to understand Malala’s book, which stresses the importance of education. Keep in mind that empires always complain about how “others” treat women (the British in India, etc.) while they themselves abuse the homeland women and kill women in the colonies.

Another way in is via historical fiction

The Flashman books are carefully researched and footnoted–and funny

An Interlude for the Afghan Region

In the Afghan Region, for 150 and more years, the British and Russians fought it out for strategic territory (Empire!). 

Above, “The Lone British Soldier,” the last person who lived during a retreat from Kabul in 1842. The Brits lost about 4,500 troops and 12,000 civilians: families, camp followers, workers, etc. During the “Great Game,” Afghans fiercely resisted the British empire. 


At the end of WWI, the US became a prime player on the world stage (Europe, Russia, etc. scenes of horrible destruction).

At the end of WWII, in 1945, the US was without question the dominant world power (Europe, the USSR, China, all devastated by war—since the Civil War (ends in 1865) there hasn’t been a major war in the US. 

In his 1999  book, Blowback, Chalmers Johnson warned about imperial overreach in Iran and Iraq.

In 1953, the US overthrew the elected government of Iran, which had been run by president Mosaddeq.  Kermit Roosevelt, the former president’s cousin, ran the operation for the newly established CIA (remember Kim Philby!). The US installed a brutal dictator in Iran, the Shah, who ran the country as a tyrant. 

The US frequently overthrows governments (interferes in elections)

Instances of the United States overthrowing, or attempting to overthrow, a foreign government since the Second World War. (* indicates successful ouster of a government)

  • China 1949 to early 1960s
  • Albania 1949-53
  • East Germany 1950s
  • Iran 1953 *
  • Guatemala 1954 *
  • Costa Rica mid-1950s
  • Syria 1956-7
  • Egypt 1957
  • Indonesia 1957-8
  • British Guiana 1953-64 *
  • Iraq 1963 *
  • North Vietnam 1945-73
  • Cambodia 1955-70 *
  • Laos 1958 *, 1959 *, 1960 *
  • Ecuador 1960-63 *
  • Congo 1960 *
  • France 1965
  • Brazil 1962-64 *
  • Dominican Republic 1963 *
  • Cuba 1959 to present
  • Bolivia 1964 *
  • Indonesia 1965 *
  • Ghana 1966 *
  • Chile 1964-73 *
  • Greece 1967 *
  • Costa Rica 1970-71
  • Bolivia 1971 *
  • Australia 1973-75 *
  • Angola 1975, 1980s
  • Zaire 1975
  • Portugal 1974-76 *
  • Jamaica 1976-80 *
  • Seychelles 1979-81
  • Chad 1981-82 *
  • Grenada 1983 *
  • South Yemen 1982-84
  • Suriname 1982-84
  • Fiji 1987 *
  • Libya 1980s
  • Nicaragua 1981-90 *
  • Panama 1989 *
  • Bulgaria 1990 *
  • Albania 1991 *
  • Iraq 1991
  • Afghanistan 1980s *
  • Somalia 1993
  • Yugoslavia 1999-2000 *
  • Ecuador 2000 *
  • Afghanistan 2001 *
  • Venezuela 2002 *
  • Iraq 2003 *
  • Haiti 2004 *
  • Somalia 2007 to present
  • Libya 2011*
  • Syria 2012

Q: Why will there never be a coup d’état in Washington?

A: Because there’s no American embassy there.

My Count: 55 

Global Research Editor’s note: To this list published in February 2013, we must add Ukraine, where Viktor Yanukovych was successfully ousted in February 2014.

Ever Institution in the US was in shambles

The presidency (Nixon-Johnson)

Trust (Pentagon Papers, Cointelpro, MkUltra)


The Military

The economy

and more

It’s the Vietnam Syndrome and US elites were determined to kill it.

In the late 1970s, Zbignew Brzezinski, a hard line anti-USSR Cold Warrior working with President Carter dreamed up a “Vietnam for the USSR”—Afghanistan. The project was called “The Bear Trap.” (The Russian “bear” is a familiar symbol).

Afghanistan at the time was a virtual Soviet colony but its government was secular, women and men went to advanced universities together.

Afghanistan was not paradise (Islamists hated the Soviets) but it wasn’t a society in collapse.

However, the Soviets had an unreliable puppet leader in Afghanistan and they feared the rise of Islamic fundamentalism on their southern border. 


Map of Iran

Iran, like much of the Middle East, is a civilization thousands of years old. It’s peoples, once “Persians,” are not considered Arabs and they don’t speak Arabic as a first language, but Farsi. 

In 1979, millions of people, most of them Shiites, rose up against the US-installed Shah, who had left the country for medical treatment. The uprising was initiated from Paris by a blind Sheik, Ayatolla Kohmenhi. 

During the Revolution, students seized the US embassy and held hostages for 444 days, a great embarrassment to the US. Carter had sent a rescue mission, but their helicopters crashed in the desert.

 The hostages were released the day Reagan was inaugurated (a secret deal).

This shifted a major strategic ally, and oil region, outside US control. Leaders in the Carter and Reagan regime feared Iran might become a Soviet ally. 


In Iraq, the secular leader of the Baathist Party, Saddam Hussein, had come to power via a coup. Likely encouraged by the US, Iraq invaded Iran, a much larger country. Hussein, however had a highly mechanized military–tanks. 

The war lasted 8 years, killing perhaps 2 million people. Saddam, at the close of the war, halted Iranian advances with gas,which he later used on the Kurdish population in the north (seeking independence for decades) and his own rebellious citizens. 

Back to Afghanistan, 1979

Map of Afghanistan


As above, the US (both Carter and Reagan) envisioned and in part created the TALIBAN (means student). 

The US used Pakistani intelligence (ISI) to train and equip the Taliban in madrasas (schools).

The graduates became mujahideen (holy warriors) waging jihad (dual meaning, inner struggle to become better, and holy war). 

Pakistan, ever at war with India, likes to use mujahideen  as a buffer force ready to fight Hindu India. Both countries, run by religious fundamentalists, have atomic weapons. 

The Pakistani ISI, used as a funneling agency to feed arms and money from the CIA  to the mujahideen, preferred the most fundamentalist of the fighters. 

The US, from the Carter administration to Catholic fanatics in Opus Dei in the Reagan administration, repeatedly told the Taliban, “God is on your side.”

A grotesque historical irony is that Catholic fundamentalists used Islamist fundamentalists to fight and kill communists, who were not communists. 

Nobody has ever done well by invading Afghanistan. The war lasted ten years. The jihadists, funded and supplied by the US, fought a guerrilla war while the Soviets used tactics from WW2. The Soviets won battles, but the next day, “it was if there was no battle.” 

Eventually, the Soviets (whose soldiers were deserting) took to the air, trying to defeat the guerrillas with helicopters dropping troops, and using gas, bombing and destroying villages–killing thousands—harking back to the US in Vietnam. The Soviets were killing everything that moved. 

The US supplied the mujihadeen with surface to air Stinger missiles. That made it clear to the world that the US was behind the Afghan war. 

The civilian population in the Soviet Union, seeing the bodies of their children coming home, turned against the war. 

In 1985, a new leader, Gorbachev, took power in the USSR. He compared the Afghan war to Vietnam and worried about a ” Vietnam syndrome,” meaning a widespread distrust of government and the collapse of vital social institutions.  He sought UN peace initiatives, but the US was determined to press the war forward and increased the funding to the Pakistan ISI and hence the guerrillas. 

The Soviets fled their Vietnam, their economy in shambles, in 1989.

Two years later, in 1991, the second most powerful empire in the history of the world, the focus of nearly 75 years of Cold War, completely collapsed. 

This is a fairly accurate three-part series on the Soviets in Afghanistan:

The US had promised Afghans that once the war with the Soviets ended, the US would help them rebuild the country’s infrastructure: schools, water supplies, roads, sanitation, hospitals, etc.

The video below has some glaring inaccuracies, and irony, like Ms Clinton complaining about arming jihadists. 

Instead, the US, seeing its rival, the USSR, vanishing, betrayed the promises to the people and just left Afghanistan.

Civil war broke out, most of it warring drug lords using US and Soviet advanced weaponry. They battled for poppy fields (opium). Afghanistan descended into chaos. 

The Taliban had not vanished, but retreated into Pakistan.

They returned to Afghanistan in 1994 and, promising an end to the horrors of the civil war, guaranteeing that Afghanistan would be stable under Sharia law (law of the Koran), the Taliban waged war on the drug lords and took over most of the country in 1996. 

Al Qaeda (the Base)

Osama bin Laden and fighters from Saudi Arabia arrived in Afghanistan early in the war against the Soviet “infidels.”

bin Laden was the son of a wealthy Saudi family engaged, for the most part, in the construction business. 

He and his Saudi comrades quickly became known as the best fighters and strategists–they were educated. The CIA had them on the payroll. And bin Laden funneled his own money into Afghanistan and Pakistan,

It’s most likely that bin Laden formed AQ in 1988, during the later stages of the war against the USSR. Initially, it appears AQ’s key goal was Sharia law, world-wide, but its strategies and tactics at the start are mostly unknown–guesswork, as AQ was extraordinarily secretive and selective about membership.

Gulf War One 

In the spring of 1990, Saddam Hussein, dictator in Iraq, was angered that neighboring Kuwait was undercutting the price of oil set by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries—OPEC. Kuwait had also opened gas stations in Europe under the acronym Q8. 

Saddam contacted an American official, April Glaspie, to interrogate her as to whether the US would object to military action against Kuwait. She replied “The US has no interest in that.” He took her answer, reasonably, as a green light, and attacked the smaller nation–winning control very quickly.

On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait with tens of thosands of soldiers.

The Kuwaiti royal family fled to Saudi Arabia and immediately requested military assistance from the US. 

The Iraqi occupation quickly turned brutal, slaughtering civilians.

President George H.W. Bush determined that only the American military could drive Iraq out of Kuwait: “This will not stand.”

He opted to include the U.N., other Arab States like the United Arab Emerits, and, especially Saudi Arabia, in endorsing and participating in an invasion that would involve 650,ooo troops. 

In addition, Bush requested the right to stage American troops in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis agreed.

For Osama bin Laden, this was the “biggest shock” of his life. He had returned from jihad in Afghanistan and had been put under house arrest in his homeland due to his extremist views. However, he continued to promote jihad with cassette tapes. 

To Islamists, Saudi Arabia is Holy Land, especially the cities of Mecca and Medina. Osama  bin Laden was appalled that infidels were to be staged in holy places. It was this that set bin Laden to war with the US. 

The UN had set January 15, 1991, as a deadline for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait. The deadline passed.

On January 16, the US and its allies launched Desert Storm which began with a massive bombing campaign from the air. Iraq, with the 4th largest military in the world, was attacked by a coalition vastly outnumbering them, with advanced weaponry. 

The Frontline Video below is the best I have found on the Gulf War: “Desert Storm.”

The video below describes tools of the Gulf War 1

February 24, 1991: the coalition ground invasion to drive Iraq from Kuwait succeeded in 100 hours. .The highway of death from Kuwait that never made it to Iraq

Iraqi troops set the Kuwait oil fields on fire and pumped hundreds of thousand of gallons of oil into the Persian Gulf. 

Desert Storm was over. Bush chose, wisely, not to invade Baghdad. But he encouraged a Shiite (the majority of a population that was ruled by Sunis) rebellion as well as a rebellion of the Kurds. Promised support for them never came and they were brutally smashed.

The war left the Arab states deeply divided. US troops remained in Saudi Arabia for years—and there are likely special operations forces still there. 

After the Gulf War I, with Clinton elected in 1992, the US maintained a bombing campaign and harsh sanctions that destroyed what was left of Iraq’s infrastructure and killed 500,000 children. 

This further infuriated bin Laden who left Saudi Arabia and began a series of attacks on the US. He saw an endless war against civilians and Islam waged by western governments. 

AQ Attacks

**1992: Yemen hotel bombings

**1993 World Trade Center Truck bombing

**1998 US embassy in Tanzania and in Kenya

**2000 USS Cole attacked -15 sailors die, 1 man in Gitmo, $314 million judgement vs Sudan for backing AQ. 

***September 9 2001, Afghan supporter of US and leader of the Northern Alliance fighting the Taliban, Massoud, was  killed on order of bin Laden. 

**September 11 2001, World Trade Center, Pentagon, and ?

**and many more:


Clinton, distracted and lying about his sleezy affair with his employee, Monica Lewinsky, had little time to attend to AQ. He did send a cruise missile into a pharmaceutical plant that had nothing to do with AQ. 

In a rare moment of accuracy, the CIA in August 2000, issued a brief that said, “Osama bin Laden intends to strike the United States.” The incoming Bush administration, led by Condoleeza Rice, ignored it. 

By 1996 Taliban leaders effectively controlled most of Afghanistan and were recognized as a government, even in the US, negotiating with the Clinton administration about establishing pipelines through the country.

Urged by the US, the Taliban effectively eradicated the poppy trade. 


On And After September 11, 2001

Who done it?  “America is under attack.”

What were and are AQ’s goals?

**to force any US presence out of Saudi Arabia,

**To destroy Israel,

**To use terrorism to trick the Americans into a hopeless war in the Middle East, against Islam in appearance,

**To bankrupt the US and the West,

**in order to establish Sharia law, the Caliphate, eventually world-wide. 

While much of the world sympathized for the US about the terrorist attacks that killed around 3,000 people, much of that sympathy evaporated quickly. 

(Chalmers Johnson warned that imperialism abroad would destroy civil liberties in the US)

In much of the Muslim world, bin Laden became a hero. Children wore t-shirts stenciled with his image.

More than 100 years of harsh imperial rule in the Middle East were coming home to roost. 

George W. Bush, AQ Attacks and the War On Terror

“George Bush cannot think.” Chalmers Johnson, “Nemesis.”

George W. Bush demanded the Taliban turn over bin Laden and AQ who had sought sanctuary ( a key tenet in Afghan Islam)  in Afghanistan. Taliban offered to send bin Laden to a neutral country for a trial. Bush rejected the offer. 

Rather than declare the terrorist act a Crime, send the CIA and special ops to Afghanistan and Pakistan to arrest the AQ leadership, return them to the US and try, and probably execute them (Osama bin Laden could never be called to a trial–why?); Bush declared “a war on terror” and began an invasion of Afghanistan in October, 2001. 

Summary: The Americans backed warlords (drug lords) and notorious violators of human rights (a key honest leader, Massoud, had been killed by AQ in 2000–see list above) in waging a fast war on the Taliban. Most of them slipped into Pakistan. 

There are conflicting accounts of bin Laden’s moves. Some say he disappeared into the Tora Bora Mountains. There, the US missed a chance to capture or kill him, awaiting Afghan allies to do the job–most unlikely.

Others say OBL moved into Pakistan where he received support from the intelligence service, ISI, which always found him useful, and the military apparatus. In any case, he vanished along with his top aides.

As in Vietnam, the Americans, unable to distinguish friend from foe, began killing anyone who appeared to be an enemy–or allowing their warlord allies to pile humans in shipping containers and starve them to death.

This placed many honest and civilized Afghans in impossible positions: join the US and be killed by stay-behind Taliban?Join the Taliban and be killed by the Americans? Join the warlords and kill other Afghans for the drug trade and the warlords’ enrichment?

Demonstrations against the Afghan invasion in the US were small compared to those against the Vietnam war, as in 1967 or ’68. However, hundreds of thousands demonstrated world-wide, especially in India. 

The US quickly opened Guantanamo Bay in Cuba as a camp where prisoners from around the world could be held without trial, outside the Geneva Accords or the Constitution, tortured, and imprisoned with no end-of-term. 

In 2004, Michael Ratner, a human rights attorney spoke at a San Francisco demonstration against the conditions in “Gitmo.”

There are 300 people there right now, in dog cages, surrounded by chain-linked fences, in temperatures of over 100 degrees, infested by vermin in a desert in Cuba. We went to an international court, and the Organization of American States says this is illegal. The US says: ‘We don’t care.’ (wiki)

Concurrent with the opening of the Gitmo base, the US under Bush, Attorney General Ashcroft, John Yoo, John Ashcroft, and many others–including Congress–passed the Patriot Act and, later, the National Defense Authorization Act which Chalmers Johnson said obliterated the Bill of Rights.

This led to the massive surveillance of all electronic apparatus world-wide by the National Security Agency, the CIA, and most likely other American agencies–who did tap German Chancellor Angela Merkle’s phone.

The US began a program of “renditions,” that is, kidnapping people in foreign lands, taking them to other countries like Egypt, Syria, and many others to be tortured. Waterboarding, hanging people, freezing and overheating captives, became legal under a document, “The Torture Memo,” written by John Yoo. 

Two psychologists were hired by the CIA to elaborate on methods to force confessions. They used a manual developed after the Korean War which described how US prisoners were tortured, and made confessions–as a guide for the US efforts. They are now being sued by many victims. The American Psychological Association initially approved.   https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/27/us/politics/terrorism-suspects-torture-lawsuit.html?_r=0

And, the US moved to deepen the impact of the Military-Industrial complex that George Washington and Dwight Eisenhower warned about. 

Bush declared Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as parts of an “Axis of Evil.’

Israel took full advantage of the US response and began to use ever more violence to push into Palestinian territory and arrest thousands of Palestinians on the way.

In late 2002, the Bush administration began to prepare the US citizenry, and the world, for a war on Iraq. They made these claims:

1. Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction. Exactly what that was, was never clear. Could it be atomic weapons? Surely not. The sanctions and relentless bombings made that impossible. Gas? Well the US had supplied that but US weapons inspectors swept all of that years before. 

In the words of Scott Ritter, “I bear personal witness through seven years as a chief weapons inspector in Iraq for the United Nations to both the scope of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs and the effectiveness of UN weapons inspectors in ultimately eliminating them.” 

Rumsfeld replied that “the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”  http://www.antiwar.com/orig/johnson1.html

Image result for no weapons of mass destruction

Simply put, it was obvious then, as it is now, that there were no such weapons and, moreover Bush, et al, were lying.

CIA agent (and Penn State grad) Valerie Plame was outed by the Bush administration because her husband offered proof in the Washington Post that the Bush administration was lying about Iraqi preparations for atomic weapons. Plame had been a deep cover agent. Hence, the outing endagered anyone who had worked with her–and ruined her career. 

2. Secondly, the Bush administration claimed that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, were directly connected with each other. Anyone with the most limited knowledge about the history of Iraq knew that was not true. Indeed, they hated each other. 

Chalmers Johnson: “In August 2002, Rumsfeld told Tom Brokaw on NBC News that “there are al-Qaeda in Iraq.” On September 26, 2002, he claimed that the U.S. government had “bulletproof” confirmation of links between Iraq and al-Qaeda members, including “solid evidence” that members of the terrorist network maintained a presence in Iraq. He went on to suggest that Iraq had offered safe haven to bin Laden and the Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar.

“In his October 11 speech, President Bush added that “some al-Qaeda leaders who fled Afghanistan went to Iraq.” Since the “solid evidence” has never been released, one must assume that Rumsfeld and Bush are referring to about 150 members of a group called Ansar al Islam (“Supporters of Islam”) who took refuge in the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq. The problem is that America’s would-be Kurdish allies, not Saddam, control this area. There is no evidence of links between Saddam and Osama bin Laden, a point often made by the CIA, and such cooperation would be implausible given Osama’s religious commitments and Saddam’s ruthlessly secular regime, whose only object of worship is Saddam himself.”   http://www.antiwar.com/orig/johnson1.html

Bush claimed, “Saddam tried to kill my dad.” There is no evidence of that.

The US claimed the Bush Administration would “bring democracy to Iraq,” and, fulfilling Osama bin Laden’s claim of a war on Islam, said “free enterprise does not end at Islam,” (C. Rice)

It is US doctrine that the “Constitution does not follow the flag.” That means rights guaranteed under the Constitution do not follow the US military in its invasions.  (Downes vs Bidwell, 1901).

It is a fool’s game to believe the American military, kicking down doors and shooting “everything that moves” promotes democracy.

It was oil and regional control.

At that time, Iraq held the second largest oil fields in the world. Both Bush presidents were deeply involved in the oil business and, even if the CIA didn’t know that, they did. In addition, Dick Cheney, the VP, was the former president of Haliburton (a war industry if ever there was one) and had done direct business with Saddam Hussein over his oil. 

The book is here  https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1916/imp-hsc/

Johnson again: “In short, I believe the true explanation for the American government’s planned second war with Iraq is the same as for its wars in the Balkans in 1999 and in Afghanistan in 2001-2002 – the inexorable pressures of imperialism and militarism.

I agree with Jay Bookman, an editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, when he asks, “Why does the administration seem unconcerned about an exit strategy from Iraq once Saddam is toppled? Because we won’t be leaving. Having conquered Iraq, the United States will create permanent military bases in that country from which to dominate the Middle East, including neighboring Iran.”    http://www.antiwar.com/orig/johnson1.html

Of the two, Johnson was right. 

CIA Director Tenent said the war would be a “slam dunk.” Later…

Colin Powell lied at the UN

Iraqi exiles also assured the president that Iraq would welcome the overthrow of Saddam. They said Iraqis would “throw sweets and flowers,” while Cheney said the US would be seen as liberators.

The invasion of Iraq began in early March, 2003.

Image result for bush doctrine cartoon

The new Bush doctrine declared that the US had a right to do “pre-emptive war,” upending claims from the US that it had never done such a thing in its history. The US moved without the UN or the coalition that the elder Bush fashioned. 

The British joined in behind prime minister Tony Blair who became known as Bush’s poodle. 

With overwhelming, unchallenged, air power and technical weapons, the US quickly overcame Iraqi resistance.

Then the US did exactly what Sun Tzu says not to do.

The US fired all the people in the Baath party, teachers, engineers, medical personnel, and the entire, 500,000 man, Iraqi Army. 

In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy’s country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good. So, too, it is better to recapture an army entact than to destroy it, to capture a regiment, a detachment or a company entire than to destroy them.” SunTzu 

If a list were made of stupid things world powers have done–invading Russia (Napoleon and Hitler), invading Vietnam (France, US, China) invading Afghanistan (Brits, US, USSR) this invasion and dismissal of a massive army stands among them.

Early in the invasion, looters attacked the key Iraqi cultural institutions, like libraries and museums–and banks. The US did nothing–but soldiers did protect the oil ministry and the oil fields. 

Early on, the US installed Iraqi exiles who had been out of the country for decades in high offices. Learning they had no credibility, the US replaced them with other puppets. The exiles left with millions.

Having driven the former Sunni government into hiding, the US installed a corrupt Shiite regime. Those puppet began to attack their former oppressor Sunnis, setting up a series of rebellions.

The Divide in Islam

The Shia/Sunni split in Islam goes back 1400 years. The alledged Prophet Mohammed left no clear successor. 

The Sunni and Shia sects agree on many aspects of Islam, however there are also large disagreements between both sides.

Shias look towards the rewards of the afterlife and value the celebration of martyrdom.

Shias – also known as Twelvers – consider Ali and the leaders who came after him as Immams.

Many believe in a line of 12 Imams, the last of which was a boy believed to have vanished in the ninth century in Iraq after his father was murdered… and they expect his return as the Messiah.

However Sunnis emphasise God’s power in the material world, including the public and political realm.

Tensions between both branches of Islam have been rife for thousands of years, with both vying to be the dominant religion in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia – dubbed the Sunni kingdom – is ruled by a Sunni monarchy, with 90 per cent of its population adopting the same faith.

But 95 per cent of the Islamic Public of Iran belongs to the Shia branch.  http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/631524/Sunni-Shia-Muslim-Explained-Islam-Islamic-Caliph-Prophet-Mohammed-Iran-Saudi-Arabia-Cleric

Counterfeit Victory

On May 1, 2003, George W. Bush flew onto the Abraham Lincoln carrier in San Diego. He declared “Mission Accomplished!” May 1 was declared, “Victory Day!”

In fact, May 1, Mayday, is an international workers’ holiday which began in the USA, coming out of the Haymarket Strike. But Americans, who know no history, are unaware of that irony.   http://www.richgibson.com/mayday.htm

I was among perhaps 50 people protesting within sight of the carrier.

Bush did say there was more work to do, but on the whole, the US was preparing to leave Iraq to Iraqis. 14 years later, that seems wrong. 

The US’ Jihadist Schools

The US opened prisons around Iraq, jailing tens of thousands of men. The prisons, scenes of horrific CIA torture,  became jihadist training camps.

In a 2004 article in the New Yorker, Seymour Hersh (My Lai, Vietnam) published a series of photos of torture in one prison camp: Abu Ghraib.

Lynde England was one of a handful of low level troops prosected for the torture. None of the CIA agents, nor generals in charge of the prison, were prosecuted. 

Image result for abu ghraib torture

Prisoners died. This infuriated most of the world.

Americans dd virtually nothing.

Johnson said, “Americans know so little history, they cannot connect cause and effect.” 

There is no evidence that torture produced useful information. On the contrary, those tortured and those who witnessed it, even from afar, at least grew sympathetic to the jihadist cause. And many, many joined it. 

Abu Ghraib became a jihadist school and created the leadership of what is now the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). 

We Won. Well, We are winning, winning, winning. Or not

A Sunni insurgency, likely growing out of a sophisticated 500, 000 man army, its intelligence branches, sapper training, stashed weapons, etc., grew and grew while the US searched for Saddam Hussein. 

Saddam Hussein was finally found in December, 2003, given a fake trial in front of a US appointed court, and hanged. 

Billions in cash were funneled to the puppet Iraq government which continued to oppress the Sunni minority–as it does today, in 2017.

In 2006, it became clear that the corrupt government could not field reliable troops—and it was in danger of collapse.

General David Petraeus, author of the US “Counterinsurgency Manual” who never could grasp Sun Tzu’s focus on the moral high ground in war (that is, it’s hard to win hearts and minds when the people know you are there to rob them–oil), proposed a “Surge.”

The 2007  Surge amounted to shooting and bribing Sunnis. For a brief while, it worked. 

But once the reward/punish, carrot/stick process stopped, the insurgency rose again—more powerfully. Radical educators compare the Surge process to high stakes testing: once the gummy bears stop flowing, learning halts as kids’ curiosity has been killed off, replaced by either rewards, or failure in advancement.

The Surge raised official US troop counts in Iraq to 168,o00.

They were probably matched by an equal number of mercenaries from Blackwater, SAIC, Titan corporations and contractors from Haliburton, Kellogg, Brown and Root.

Thousands of US troops were “Stop-lossed” in Iraq, meaning one year tours were extended indefinitely —resulting in soaring levels of PTSD, TBI, and deaths. 

The surge also sent more billions into the corrupt hands of US puppets in Iraq, and millions in cash simply vanished.

Who Got Paid? Who Paid?

“The US flew nearly $12bn in shrink-wrapped $100 bills into Iraq, then distributed the cash with no proper control over who was receiving it and how it was being spent.

The staggering scale of the biggest transfer of cash in the history of the Federal Reserve has been graphically laid bare by a US congressional committee.

In the year after the invasion of Iraq in 2003 nearly 281 million notes, weighing 363 tonnes, were sent from New York to Baghdad for disbursement to Iraqi ministries and US contractors. Using C-130 planes, the deliveries took place once or twice a month with the biggest of $2,401,600,000 on June 22 2004, six days before the handover.

Details of the shipments have emerged in a memorandum prepared for the meeting of the House committee on oversight and government reform which is examining Iraqi reconstruction. Its chairman, Henry Waxman, a fierce critic of the war, said the way the cash had been handled was mind-boggling. “The numbers are so large that it doesn’t seem possible that they’re true. Who in their right mind would send 363 tonnes of cash into a war zone?”     https://www.theguardian.com/world/2007/feb/08/usa.iraq1

In 2008 the US and World Financial Systems Collapsed

The US government socialized losses and privatized profits. $12.9 trillion was given to the banks, by the taxpayers. The bankers promised not to take big bonuses. Then they took big bonuses. They promised to offer loans. The didn’t offer loans. They promised to support regulations. They didn’t. They actively opposed regulations. And NONE OF THEM WENT TO JAIL. 

below, Chalmers Johnson discusses the defense appropriation in 2008:

The Status of Forces Crisis

Image result for obama status of forces

The US routinely demands from countries the empire invades a “status of forces” agreement. That means US troops (and usually mercenaries and other contractors) cannot be tried for crimes in the invaded nation, but may be tried in the US. Not surprisingly, that infuriates locals. Abu Ghraib war criminals were not tried by Iraqis. 

George W. Bush had “negotiated” a SOF agreement with Iraq in 2008. It was to expire, and probably be re-negotiated, in 2011.

Obama, who had run for the presidency on a promise of a responsible end to the war, sought to renegotiate the deal, planning to leave at least 10,000 US troops in the country. 

The corrupt Iraqi puppet, Maliki, was ready to agree. But the equally corrupt, bogus, parliament, objected. 

Karl Rove

Obama, appearing weak, didn’t demand a continuation of the SOF on people who were in office only because of US support. Instead, he moved to officially remove nearly all the troops. We don’t know how many troops and mercs were left behind. 

This led Jeb Bush, whose brother’s lies initiated the invasion, to attack Obama for turning the country over to insurgents–which has some truth in it, as we shall see. 

Back to AQ, the Taliban, and Something Entirely new

Bear in mind that the Taliban is not AQ. They have, from time to time, moved closer and then farther apart.

They are both representative of Islamic Fundamentalism (just as many of the Bush, Reagan, and Carter supporters were Christian Fundamentalist—and warriors, usually spilling someone elses blood, appearing more respectable). 

The best analogy I developed so far as to think of violent, deadly fundamentalists who kill people on behest of some god is to think of their ideas as a cancer, which grows within a healthy body, but becomes deadly. Cancer, however, is not contagious and the Taliban and AQ do not seem to be running out of recruits. 

Part of the ideology of the Taliban, AQ, and ISIS comes out of a distortion of Saudi religion called Wahhabism, what some see as a more strict form of Saudi Islam called Salafism, which itself is a strict form of Islam.

Wahhabism began its spread in the 1970’s when the Saudi monarchs began to fund mosques and schools and charities world-wide. 

Keep in mind that many, many people in the Middle East are not fundamentalists of any kind. 

And, the Saudi monarchs, who are vehement promoters of their religion in their country, are commonly known to upend the key tenets of the religion when out of the country–not unlike San Diego and TJ. 

The Taliban’s goal has always been to control Afghanistan (and parts of Pakistan) and to establish Sharia law, under a government.

Al Qaeda’s goals are noted above, but they do not include seizing territory, which AQ always believed would be a death trap. 

AQ is an international terrorist operation with bases in many, many countries now.

George W.. Bush jumped right into Osama bin Laden’s traps. 


Algeria al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)
Bangladesh Ansar al Islam (AAI)
India al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent
Iran Khorasan group
Iraq Al-Qaeda of Iraq
Kazakhstan Jund al-Khilafa
Lebanon Abdallah Azzam Brigades (AAB)
Libya Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG)
Nigeria Boko Haram
Saudi Arabia Al-Qaeda of Arabia
Somalia Al-Shabaab
South Asia Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent
Syria Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant ISIL
Syria Islamic State of Iraq and Shams ISIS
Syria Jabhat al-Nusra
Syria Jabhat Fateh al-Sham
Yemen Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula

an excellent resource at the link below–not quite up to date:


The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)

ISIS is not the Taliban, nor AQ, though AQ and ISIS have had, from time to time, common views about strategy and tactics and they formed alliances, even proclaimed merger, which was later broken. 

It is not possible to know if Obama had left more troops in Iraq; would that have prevented the rise of ISIS.

The fact remains that ISIS did arise, for the most part out of Iraqi prisons, run mainly by the US–torture centers and schools for jihad. Initially, ISIS was a branch of AQ.

No one disputes that Osama bin Laden, hiding in a safe compound in Pakistan, less than a mile from a major Pakistani base, was killed on August 15, 2011. 

However, respected investigative journalist Sy Hersh (My Lai, Abu Ghraib), disputes the official story of a heroic Seal Team 6 raid. Read his book to find out his version.

One fellow, a former prisoner in Abu Ghraib and common criminal, has declared himself the Caliph (leader of the Muslim world, pushing aside AQ leadership: al Baghdadi. (below)

Mugshot of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, 2004.jpg

The US has a $25 million reward out for his head. He’s repeatedly been reported wounded, or killed, but none of that has been verified. He is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands, and his organization is likely to produce more murders. 

Bush and Obama are responsible for, perhaps a million dead in the Middle East and, above all others, Hillary Clinton is responsible for at least 1.5 million people leaving that region, taking desperate journeys into Europe. Met by right-wingers there, their presence caused Britain to leave the European Union. Others may follow. 

The story of the splits between ISIS, AQ, local jihadist groups, is very complex and probably only of real interest to intelligence agencies which, so far, have not proved to be particularly intelligent. 

Put simply, AQ long claimed leadership of the jihadist movement, first under OBL, and later under his top aide, al-Zawahiri (spelled many different ways). 

They repeatedly advised ISIS not to seize territory and ISIS’ al-Baghdadi obeyed. He also caused terrorist attacks throughout Iraq and Syria in response to the murder of bin Laden. 

AQ advised ISIS to stay in Iraq. And, more–ISIS should disband. al-Baghdadi rejected that outright. 

In June, 2014, ISIS declared itself as the leadership of the jihadist movement and proclaimed a world-wide caliphate, with Baghdadi as Caliph. 

He said he would march on “Rome,” the west, and proclaim Islam as the world religion. He urged jihadists to join him in Iraq—and thousands did. 

In June, 2014, the Iraqi army, hardly motivated behind corrupt politicians, fled in front of a much smaller ISIS force, leaving behind tanks, rpgs, Humvees, APCs, armed trucks, perhaps $100 million worth of equipment–supplied by the US. 

With this route, ISIS seized Mosul, a major city that then had as many as 2 million people, and the airport. 500,000 Iraqis were displaced in that year alone. 

Frontline’s (PBS) “Secret History of ISIS” is helpful and instructive:  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/the-secret-history-of-isis/

The Secret History of ISIS

As of March, 2017, the US is back in Iraq, and now Syria. The Iraqi government, as weak as ever, and persisting in punishing the Sunni population, begged the US to return. It is unclear as to whether a Status of Forces agreement is in place, but in practice it certainly is.

Where ISIS has control in Iraq and Syria

An excellent resource: 27 Maps that explain the crisis in Iraq


“Since declaring its caliphate in June 2014, the self-proclaimed Islamic State has conducted or inspired more than 140 terrorist attacks in 29 countries other than Iraq and Syria, where its carnage has taken a much deadlier toll. Those attacks have killed at least 2,043 people and injured thousands more.” (CNN)

Terrorism seeks to replace a conscious social movement with bombs or other forms of violence. Typically the terrorists cause hell to rain on those they claim to represent–a la Iraq and Syria, or in the US, the Weathermen.

The Arab “Spring” or Tragedy

On December 17, 2011, a young Tunisian street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself on fire in hopelessness and to protest his treatment at the hands of the authorities who had denied him a permit to sell his goods. He was an ACCELERATOR. 

Wikileaks cables demonstrate that the US knew of the fully corrupt Tunisian government, but supported him anyway. 

Tunisians rose up across the country and by February, the long time leader of the country had fled–to Saudi Arabia . Initially, this “Jasmine Revolution,” offered democratic and secularists hope- soon dashed.   http://guides.library.cornell.edu/c.php?g=31688&p=200750

The US government, in this case led by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, and Samantha Power, with Obama tailing behind, declared an “Arab Spring,” and promoted a jihadist uprising in Libya. 

Moamar Gaddafi had been an American ally of sorts. He allowed the US to use Libya at a rendition/torture center, but declaring that “democracy will sweep the Middle East,” a la Bush and Cheney, Clinton caused US intelligence to back the rising against him.

He was sodomized, then, killed. Libya fell into chaos, the huge armories emptied, and weapons spread west and east as jihadists poured into the areas. 

Next: Egypt, a key American ally in the Middle East. President Mubarak had ruled for years, really a secular  military dictatorship, with Egypt’s military fully dependent on American aid.

Inside Egypt, for 100 years, the Muslim Brotherhood had patiently organized. It was frequently declared illegal. 

Clinton insisted on regime change in Egypt, and used CIA and other arms of US intelligence to ensure it. 

Masses of people rose up against Mubarak, who initially resisted, but not with the force one might predict. He was ousted in 2011. And jailed along with hundreds of others.

Massive youth unemployment throughout the Middle East played an important role in each of these upheavals. 

After a brief period of rule under a court system, a “free and fair” election put the Muslim Brotherhood, behind Morsi, in power. They declared Sharia Law. 

Shocked, Clinton and Obama reversed course, promoted a military coup, freed Mubarak, and put the military back in power behind Al Sisi—alienating nearly everyone in Egypt–but the military. 

Morsi is in jail, sentenced to about 40 years for a variety of crimes, then to death for leaking state secrets.

Mohammed Morsi gestures in the dock at a courtroom in Cairo, Egypt (3 March 2015)

With Clinton/Obama backing, the mess that is or was the Arab Spring leaped to Syria, home to a secular dictator, Bashir Assad, who played both the Russian and the US, but allowed the US to use Syria as a rendition/torture center. 

Clinton said she was arming moderate jihadists. Instead, she armed and trained thousands of AQ, ISIS, and other jihadist fighters. And she shipped them bad, nearly worthless, weapons (Sy Hersh, “Killing Osama bin Laden”)

At one point, the US behind General John Allan spent more than a million dollars to train 54 fighters who promised to only fight ISIS in Syria. 30 of them defected to ISIS immediately. The rest were crushed in their first meeting the jihadists.

Obama and Clinton repeated claimed that Assad was using chemical weapons on his own people. Most evidence points to the jihadists.

Whatever the case, Obama said he was “drawing a red line” around Syria and Assad if Assad did not give up his chemical weapons right away.  

In late 2013, Vladimir Putin of Russia intervened. He would have the Russian military escort the chemical weapons to an international body that would store, then destroy them. 

Obama’s red line went nowhere, again making him seem weak.

Today, Syria remains in profound crisis. Jihadists continue to attack the Assad regime, now backed by Russian air power.  Refugees flee the country. In many cases, the refugees are the most educated people, leaving the uneducated and poor to be recruited for jihad, or forced into it. 

The battle for Mosul, an ISIS stronghold in Iraq, began in October 2016. It was supposed to last about “two months.” It is still going on in March, 2017.

The battle for Mosul in maps


Map showing front lines in the battle for Mosul

Who is involved? 

**The secular Assad regime

**Russians mainly from the air (Syria offers them a Mediterranean port in the future,  and they make the US appear feckless)


**Kurdish Peshmerga (who fight and are hated by the Turks as they are a separatist movement, often moved by Marxism)

**Iranian Shiite militias who do the fighting for….

**The largely unmotivated Iraqi Army (paid for by USA)

**The US special ops and its uncounted mercenaries

What will come of Syria when the fighting is over and the Old Men cut a deal? 

Nobody knows. 

About Those Drones

Since the Vietnam war, American politicians have been fearful about body counts of US troops. Indeed, George W. Bush banned reporters from areas where dead bodies of troops were returned to US bases to prevent photographs.

In many instances, drones have replaced ground troops. Nobody knows how many “militants” and civilians have been killed by drones. It amounts, most surely, to thousands. 

Obama, when in office, held “Drone Tuesdays,” when he determined who would be killed by drones that week. 

He did authorize the killing-by-drone of one American, without trial, outside the US, as well as the man’s teenage son—illegal, except not illegal. 

And Afghanistan/Pakistan?

Nearly 16 years after the US invasion, the Taliban control about 1/3 of Afghanistan, and they are gaining ground against a completely corrupt regime, deeply involved in the opium trade–which is flourishing. 

Obama said, as his term ended, that he would draw down US forces in Iraq to around 8,400. Nobody knows how many mercenaries are there. 

Since the invasion, many US troops have been used to protect the poppy fields, not eradicate them. 

Some estimates of Iraqi war deaths since 2003 are as high as one million.

4,491 US troops died. The wounded total is more than ten to one, wounded to dead.

As of October, 2016, 2,386 US troops died in Afghanistan, with ten times that number wounded. Around 1700  “Contractors” also died. 

There is no formal death toll for Middle Easterners. Surely the count is well over a million.

AQ is regrouping in AF/PAK. 

Who is winning? 

Really, the rich. Everywhere, children of the poor fight and kill other children of the poor on behalf of the rich in their homelands. 

From another angle, Iran seems to be expanding its influence.

Sunni Saudi Arabia is fighting a proxy war with Shia Iran in Yemen. Should these two powerful military nations go to war directly: WW3?

When the proxy wars become World War 3 is impossible to predict. 

Another way to look at what is going on:

**An international hot and economic war of the rich on the poor.

**Fascism emerges as a mass popular movement, taking a variety of forms, world-wide.

**Mysticism and superstition booms as people are unable to discover why things are as they are.

**Resistance movement respond to superficial manifestations of the roles of capital and imperialism while identity politics foster separatist movements that are doomed.

**Parallel to the bogus resistance movements, the US itself HAS NO STRATEGIC VISION but leaps from one firefight to the next. 

**Barbarism rises. 

The core issue of our time is the reality of the promise of perpetual war and booming color- coded inequality met by the potential of a mass, class conscious, integrated, internationalist, movement for equality and justice.

As bourgeoisie AfPak expert Ahmed Rashid write, the region is descending into CHAOS. …..

“Empire as a way of life means nuclear death.”

William Appleman Williams


Published by rgibson, on March 17th, 2017 at 6:13 am. Filled under: UncategorizedNo Comments