I. Introduction

Libertarians generally see US foreign policy in the Middle East as a combination of imperial ambitions and massive misconceptions about the peoples and cultures of the region.

(Note: This page is currently being adapted from a series of editorials and papers. As such, much of the rhetoric is still in persuasive form, and many sources have not yet been cited.)


II. Summary of US Intervention in the Middle East Since 1979

(Note: This is a condensed history of US Intervention in the Middle East since 1979. More complete articles on each topic should be built and linked to from this section.)

A. Origins and the Carter Doctrine (1979-1980)

While it is difficult to set an exact date for the beginnings of the modern American wars in the Middle East (as one can trace US intervention back to WWII), a decent starting point is July 3, 1979. It was on this day that President Jimmy Carter signed off on secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime that was currently in power in Afghanistan. Note that this aid was started six months before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. This doctrine was a part of the wider doctrine of containment that had existed throughout much of the post-WWII twentieth century.

The people who received this aid often called themselves mujahedeen, jihadists, and freedom fighters, and had among their leadership men like Osama bin Laden , Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Jalaluddin Haqqani, names that can be found in the news today. It was the official policy of both the Carter and Reagan administrations to give this group of fighters just enough aid to perpetuate the conflict and keep the Soviets bogged down in their own version of Vietnam, but not enough to have a real chance at victory.[1]

Carter also put forth what he called the “Carter Doctrine,” which stated that the United States needed to maintain a military presence in the Middle East in some form in order to protect American national security and oil interests. “An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force,” Carter said in a speech after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

This ideology resulted in the creation of the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF), designed to deploy thousands of American military personnel to the Middle East on the drop of a hat. The RDJTF under Reagan became Central Command, of which General David Petraeus is now commander, and its scope grew from one of military preparedness to an array of weapons, bases, ships and airfields throughout the Middle East.

B. Invasion of Lebanon (1982)

Four years later, President Reagan, whose anti-intervention rhetoric was the opposite of Carter’s, engaged in actions that would have made his predecessor proud. Reagan launched a brief, ill-fated invasion of Lebanon that entailed the first suicide bombings on American forces of the modern era. The pretext for invasion was support of Israel, who had already invaded the country. While the majority of US military forces were operating under a peacekeeping role, the CIA was much more actively involved.

C. The Afghan War (1979-1989)

During the Afghan War of the 1980s, the CIA, which under the direction of William Casey was allied with Saudis, Pakistanis and the most extremist of Islamic fundamentalists who made up the core opposition to the Soviet puppet regime, organized car-bombings and even camel-bombings as methods of warfare against the Soviet military.[2] The CIA provided money, weapons, support, training and thousands of Korans to be used as recruiting tools to these extremist fighters, using Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence organization as an intelligence proxy agency.[3] It was the official policy of both Presidents Carter and Reagan to give the Afghan rebels just enough aid to perpetuate the conflict, but not enough aid to force out the Soviets, with the hope of giving the USSR their version of the Vietnam War.[4] It was during this conflict that Osama bin Laden joined the United States payroll.[5]

D. Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988)

This conflict commenced with an invasion by Iraq, not Iran. The American political establishment provided battle planning assistance to Hussein even while knowing that Iraqi commanders were using chemical weapons on the field of battle.[6]

E. Aftermath of the Afghan War (1989-2001)

It was the ISI, with American backing, that created and organized the Taliban when the Soviets retreated and the radical Jihadists descended into civil war.[7] With the United States leaving after accomplishing its goal of embarrassing and attritting the USSR, the Pakistani-backed Taliban took near-complete control, and the United States had left a fundamentalist regime in its wake. The people that we fight today in Afghanistan are all too often exactly the same people who received American support during the Afghan War. Not only this, but the Afghan War resulted in a network of terrorist training camps that had been financed and maintained with American taxpayer money.[8]

Two jihadists who received massive amounts of CIA support in the 1980s, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Jalaluddin Haqqani, are now two of the most powerful warlords in Afghanistan and have allied with the Taliban against the United States, for reasons all too similar to those that led them to counter the Soviets 30 years ago. Al-Qaeda, led by bin Laden, emerged during the conflict against the Soviets, and was an ally of the United States through the end of the war.

The aftermath of the Afghan War is a prime example of blowback. On top of all this, it was US foreign aid that funded the Taliban well into the 21st century.[9]

F. Invasions of Iraq (1991-present)

Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1991 was seen as a heinous crime in comparison to his American-backed and much grander invasion of Iran, one which few Americans know much, if anything, about. Under President Clinton, the United States military spent nearly a decade bombing Iraqi military facilities, before President Bush’s invasion of “Iraqi liberation” in 2003.

III. Conflict in Afghanistan (2001-present)

A. 9/11 as a rationale for war

The conflict in Afghanistan is much less about protecting the United States from terrorism, and much more about expanding American empire and projecting European influence, than anyone in the Western establishment is willing to admit. The situation is shifting at an alarming rate from one of misguided presidents and generals making faulty strategic decisions to one of an establishment that has traditionally hungered for empire once again attempting to subjugate any and all opposition.

The biggest lie being propagated in regards to the conflict in Afghanistan is the idea that if we do not fight terrorists there, we will have to fight them here. The mass acceptance of this statement by much of the American public is based in the assumption that the attacks of 9/11 came directly from terrorists based in Afghanistan and supported by the Taliban.

There are multiple flaws with this common conception of the current war. The first is the proposition that the 9/11 attacks came out of Afghanistan, a fallacy used to justify the invasion of Afghanistan as a just war of defense. The fact is that the attacks of 9/11 were planned in apartments in Germany and Spain, not caves and camps in Afghanistan, and were conducted mainly by Saudis based in the United States who were retaliating against the United States both for its military presence and support of the current regime in Saudi Arabia and its ideological and physical backing of Israel’s repression of Palestinians.

In fact, the Taliban, which received U.S. foreign aid until May of 2001, was completely surprised by the events of 9/11. The Taliban is a militantly religious, anti-communist movement that is essentially a large grouping of tribesmen called Pashtun. These tribes had absolutely nothing to do with the attacks of 9/11. However, these are exactly the people with whom the United States is currently engaged in a bitter conflict that top generals have recently warned will end in defeat if more troops are not sent into the theater.

So where does the U.S. government draw the link between Afghanistan and the 9/11 attacks? At the time of the attacks, Osama bin Laden was in fact in Afghanistan, but not to plan attacks against the United States. He was being honored as a national hero for his efforts in the 1980s against the Soviets, efforts that he carried out while receiving an American paycheck, and was also aiding the Taliban in a civil war against the communist-controlled North Alliance.

In fact, as late as 2001 the CIA was planning to use al-Qaida to foster rebellion against the Chinese while using the Taliban in a similar sense against Russia. Meanwhile, the “terrorist training camps” that supposedly were identified as the source of the 9/11 attacks were actually being run by Pakistan, which was using the camps to prepare Mujahidin fighters – yet another group that the United States has used to fight proxy wars — to fight against India in the tumultuous region of Kashmir.

Add to all of this the fact that in 2001 Al-Qaida’s membership was only 300, most of which are now dead, and it becomes obvious the American public should be suspicious of President Obama’s insistence that 68,000 more troops be sent into the Afghani theater. The claim that these troops are needed to keep al-Qaida from reorganizing, like those about WMDs in Iraq and now Iran, is nothing more than an attempt to legitimize war in the eyes of the public. There are dozens of countries all over the world where terrorist groups could plan attacks on the United States. If the attacks of 9/11 should have taught us anything, it is that terrorist groups are not geographically-based, and thus wars based on occupation and subjugation have no place as methods of national defense against such an enemy.

B. Who are we fighting?

The people who today fight against the United States in Afghanistan are the sons and daughters of tribesmen who were on the American imperial payroll under Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. These people have not been born and bred to be our enemies. These are tribesmen who want to end the occupation of their land by foreigners and who have a vendetta against communists and drug lords within their own borders. They fight us for the same reasons they fought the Soviets in the 1980s. By failing to think before acting, the United States military machine has stumbled into a war with tribes that make up over half of Afghanistan’s population — and the situation is getting worse.

C. Expanding scope of the war

Empire begets more empire. History has demonstrated this concept multiple times, and so it should be no surprise that while President Obama calls for more troops to join in the American conquest, the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan has begun calling for American air and missile attacks on Pakistani cities, and officials in Washington are trying to relegate Pakistan to the position of a grateful dependent with the offer of a $7.5 billion aid package.

Little is typically said in the West of the fact that this “aid package” involves American control over the Pakistani military bureaucracy and nuclear arsenal. The American plan to build a 1,000-person embassy in Islamabad, deploy more U.S. mercenaries in Pakistan, and construct a new consulate in Peshawar provide even more evidence that with Barack Obama as president, absolutely nothing has changed.
  1. ^ "The CIA's Intervention in Afghanistan: An Interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter's National Security Adviser."Center for Research on Globalization. Web. 12 Apr. 2010. <http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/BRZ110A.html>.
  2. ^ "Context of '1986-1992: CIA and British Recruit and Train Militants Worldwide to Help Fight Afghan War'" History Commons. Web. <http://www.historycommons.org/context.jsp?item=a86operationcyclone>.
  3. ^ "Al Qaeda and the "War on Terrorism"" GlobalResearch.ca - Centre for Research on Globalization. Web. 12 Apr. 2010. <http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7718>.
  4. ^ "The CIA's Intervention in Afghanistan: An Interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter's National Security Adviser." Center for Research on Globalization. Web. 12 Apr. 2010. <http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/BRZ110A.html>.
  5. ^ Israel, Jared. "Osama Bin Laden: Made in USA." The Emperor's New Clothes. Web. 12 Apr. 2010. <http://www.tenc.net/articles/jared/madein.htm>.
  6. ^ King, John. "History of Iran: Arming Iraq: A Chronology of U.S. Involvement." Iran Chamber Society. Web. 12 Apr. 2010. <http://www.iranchamber.com/history/articles/arming_iraq.php>.
  7. ^ "Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence [ISI] - Pakistan Intelligence Agencies." Federation of American Scientists. Web. 12 Apr. 2010. <http://fas.org/irp/world/pakistan/isi/>
  8. ^ "The Muslim Terrorist Apparatus Was Created by US Intelligence as a Geopolitical Weapon." The Emperor's New Clothes. Web. 12 Apr. 2010. <http://emperors-clothes.com/interviews/brz.htm>.
  9. ^ MacKenzie, Jean. "Who Is Funding the Afghan Taliban? You Don’t Want to Know | Analysis & Opinion | Reuters." Reuters.com. Web. 12 Apr. 2010. <http://blogs.reuters.com/global/2009/08/13/who-is-funding-the-afghan-taliban-you-dont-want-to-know/>.