The U.S. involvement in foreign territories such as the Middle East is evidence of America’s imperialistic foreign policy. The American media has helped to spur these policies by promoting the false idea that Arabs hate us because of our freedom.
While this reporting has led Americans to point figures at Arabs for 9/11, while ignoring our own culpability, the truth is that U.S. foreign policy is very much a part of the story. Here’s an overview of some recent Middle East history:
In 1951, Dr. Mohammad Mosaddegh was elected as Iran’s Prime Minister by popular demand. At the time, the country’s vast oil reserves were controlled by the British Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (later to become British Petroleum). Mosaddegh decided to nationalize the oil industry in order to reclaim Iranian sovereignty, a move which boosted his popularity at home, but made him unpopular with the British government.
In retaliation, Britain imposed sanctions (much like the sanctions the U.S. imposes in the modern era), blockaded the Gulf, and halted trade. The British asked the U.S. to assist with a regime change, and President Truman respectfully declined. However, when U.S. President Eisenhower took office in 1953, Britain persuaded him that regime change was the correct policy in the context of the Cold War (Mosaddegh relied on Iran’s Communist party for power). Subsequently, the CIA executed a coup, under code name Operation Ajax, and the democratically elected Prime Minister was replaced with Mohammad-Reza Shah Pahlavi (better known as the Shah).
While this move returned control over the oil industry to the West for 25 years, Shah instilled fear in the population and established a secret police with the help of the American and British CIA which imprisoned and tortured any political opposition. The Shah served the financial elite, which lead to an increasing gap between the rich and the poor.
One of the Shah’s leading critics, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, was arrested and imprisoned for openly speaking against the Shah and U.S. He was released in 1964 and then banished from the country, but continued his anti-U.S. and Shah campaign through cassette tapes that trickled back into Iran. For the next 10 years, civil unrest spread. On November 4, 1979, a group of Iranian students seized U.S. embassy personnel, accusing the U.S. of attempting to manipulate their revolution once again. They had four requests for the United States: 1) Return the Shah to Iran for trial; 2) Return Shah’s blood money to the people of Iran; 3) Promise of U.S. interference in Iran; 4) An apology from the U.S.
Subsequently, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein decided to take advantage of the Iranian Revolution turmoil, by invading Iran for its oil rich reserves and waterway access. The war resulted in 500,000 deaths, which led to further resentment of the United States.
The U.S. supported Saddam Hussein with money, technology, and intelligence, including satellite photography. America also pressured Gulf states to give Iraq funds to help buy weapons and ammunition from the Western countries. The U.S. Department of Commerce issued licenses to export materials for Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program, even after learning Iraq used chemical weapons towards Iran and its own citizens to end an uprising.
At the same time, the U.S. also supported Iran with money and weapons. This allowed the conflict to continue, without either power able to dominate or ally with its neighbor to challenge United States hegemony.
Years later, the U.S. continued to support groups who we thought could help us win the Cold War, including Osama Bin Laden and the mujahedeen in Afghanistan. But, later, Bin Laden formed Al-Qaeda because the U.S. did not stop meddling in the Middle East.
Now, America continues to babysit Israel. We went to with Iraq for a second time to find “Weapons of Mass Destruction,” but never found any, so we later transformed this into an effort to bring democracy to Iraq.
The U.S. involvement in the Middle East has not made us more secure. We’re wasting money overseas that could be used to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure at home.