Quake In Greeley, Colorado New Ammo In Anti-Fracking War

Greeley quake adds ammunition to Colorado fracking war
On Saturday night, a 3.4 magnitude earthquake rumbled out from its epicenter 4.8 miles north east of Greeley, the city at the heart of the northern Front Range gas patch in Colorado, shaking homes and baffling residents and raising more questions about the safety of the intense drilling activity that has covered Weld County with tens of thousands of wells.

“Felt like someone was on the roof pounding it with a very big sledge hammer and the windows also shaked,” wrote one of the more than hundred area residents who filed brief accounts at Earthquake Report. “Went outside to see if someone was on the roof. Found myself in the company of my neighbors who also experienced their houses shaking.”

The temblor hit the city at 9:35 p.m. Emergency teams in Greeley reported numerous calls coming in initially but have reported no real damage in the hours since. The Greeley Tribune reported the quake knocked a trailer home off its blocks. Residents in Front Range cities Fort Collins and Longmont reported feeling the rumble.

The natural gas extraction practice known as hydraulic fracturing has made the Niobrara rock formation stretched out under Weld County a bonanza for drillers over the last decade. Drillers poke wells vertically and horizontally into the earth and then blast millions of gallons of a water-sand-chemical mixture down into them to break up rock and bring oil and gas to the surface. Fracking fluid comes back too, laden with toxins and low-level radiation. Drillers partly dispose of that fluid by shooting it into injection wells drilled miles below the surface.

Quake trackers have long noted that injection wells generate temblors. There are more than 150,000 injection wells that hold hundreds of billions of fracking wastewater in the United States. The location of the wells in states like Texas and Oklahoma and Ohio correspond to earthquake activity.

The Tribune reported on Sunday that the epicenter of the Greeley quake is located a mile and a half from “two oil and gas wastewater injection wells that have not been inspected by the state since August 2012.” The Tribune reported that the wells are operated by Denver-based High Sierra Water Services.

The quake comes as a political battle over drilling heats to a boil in Colorado.

Residents of five Front Range towns in the last few elections have voted for bans and moratoriums on fracking. Residents in conservative Greeley have pushed back, too, attending city and county commission hearings, demanding better zoning protections against drillers who have set up well pads in backyards and next to schools and city parks.

The state now sets the rules on drilling but, as boom-time industry trucks stream through neighborhoods and leaks and spills and tank explosions make headlines, the legislature in Denver has repeatedly failed to act to tighten regulations and bolster inspections. In response, citizens this election year have introduced a dozen ballot initiatives seeking greater local control.

Governor John Hickenlooper is holding negotiations in Denver to try and come to a legislative solution. The drilling industry is reportedly split on whether to back any new law or to take its chances at the ballot box. Industry representatives have already set aside millions of dollars to fight the initiatives in the coming months with media campaigns.

Obama Giving Bus Pass Deeper Into the Homeland for All Who Make It Across the Border?

[SEE: Who Will Save America from Obama’s “Responsibility To Protect (R2P)” liberal Ideals?]

Brewer rips feds for sending illegal immigrants to AZ from Texas


By Jason Barry – bio | email


Illegal immigrants continue to arrive in Arizona from Texas, and Gov. Jan Brewer is not happy about it.

Brewer just sent the Obama Administration an angry letter, blasting ripping the feds for moving hundreds of illegal immigrants from state to state over the past few weeks.

CBS5 was at the Phoenix Greyhound bus station Tuesday, when another wave of children and their families arrived, with not much but the clothes on their back.

Brittany Knight of Mesa was one of the many volunteers who rushed down to help.

“There needs to be a better way,” said Knight. “I think it’s sick. Why are you transferring people from one state to the next, to the next with nothing? It’s wrong.”

Criticism has been growing over the federal government’s immigration policy that has brought more than 400 illegal immigrants to Arizona from Texas the past two weeks.

Federal officials said that they were so overwhelmed with illegal immigrants crossing the border in Texas, they couldn’t process them all, so the decision was made to send them to Arizona.

The illegal immigrants were processed, then released at Phoenix and Tucson bus stops, where they could then reach out to loved ones and be reunited with family across the United States, officials said.

Dyselia Majano left Hondurus with her two children to find a better life.

She said the past week has been extremely difficult.

“It was horrible being in Texas. We were mistreated and insulted,” said Majano, through an interpreter. “But people are real supportive here.”

On Monday, Brewer sent a letter to the Obama Administration, critiquing the recent drop offs of illegal immigrants in Arizona.

Brewer said it’s not only bad policy, but it put these families at risk by leaving them at bus stops with no money and very little food and water.

“We wish the conditions were better,” said volunteer Linda Herrera. “At the same time, we’re grateful there is such a humanitarian effort, and need to assist these families. Now they can go to court and make decisions under the law, which they have the right to do.”

Since many of the illegal immigrants are not from Mexico, they cannot be immediately deported, according to U.S. Immigration policy.

They have been released and told to report to an Immigration and Customs office within 15 days, in the city they are going to, authorities said.

Immigration Officials said that they’ve been transferring illegal immigrants to Arizona from Texas for at least 8 months, but only recently did the number of illegal immigrants jump up.

To see Brewer’s letter to the Obama Administration go to: http://www.azgovernor.gov/dms/upload/PR_060214_GovernorBrewerLetterPresidentObama.pdf

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation).

McConnell Fires-Off the ‘Coal Country Protection Act,’ Harry Reid Shoots It Down

[Harry Reid vetoed McConnell’s proposal one-minuet ago (SEE: Reid blocks McConnell’s bill on EPA rule).  Mitch is going to have to find a better path than the one he would prefer.  If he is to have any effect at all, he will have to risk actually appealing to the people, in order to gain their warm bodies to his side.  Actions by Obama, such as this attack on jobs and his release of 5 top Taliban murderers (for one potential deserter), will guarantee that the next election will be the most extreme in years.]

McConnell Introduces the ‘Coal Country Protection Act’

Insurance News Net

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Contact: Don Stewart, Michael Brumas 202-224-2979, Robert Steurer, Stephanie Penn 202-224-8288

McConnell Introduces the ‘Coal Country Protection Act’

‘I’m going to keep vigorously fighting against the Obama Administration’s continued War on Coal Jobs – and this extreme, anti-Middle Class national energy tax in particular.’


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate Floor today regarding the Administration’s latest attack on the Middle Class (a summary of the bill is attached):

“Four years ago, Washington Democrats sold this country a bill of goods.

“Like a Ginsu knife pitchman, they promised that Obamacare would create jobs, and improve the economy, and lower premiums, and reduce health spending – all for the low, low price of not causing Americans to lose their insurance, or their doctors, or the hospitals they liked.

“Today, Americans know the truth: it was a sham. The Lie of the Year. Convenient deceits told to advance the Far Left’s agenda.

“The people we represent just want the pain of Obamacare to go away. But the Democrats who run Washington, they’ve got other ideas – and just yesterday, they rolled out the red carpet for a sequel.

“That’s just what we saw when the Obama Administration announced the latest front in its War on Kentucky Coal Jobs.

“The newest attack is the most extreme yet.

“The President wants Americans to believe that his national energy tax can somehow heal the planet and regulate the oceans. And he wants you to believe that it can be done without harming Middle Class families – that, in fact, his massive regulatory scheme will create jobs, and bring billions in economic benefits, and shrink – you heard that right, shrink – Americans’ energy bills.

“Well, if you believe that, I’ve got some Obamacare to sell you.

“This is the same President, remember, who boasted as a candidate that his energy tax policies would make electricity prices ‘skyrocket.’

“And the truth is, the President’s energy tax won’t even have an appreciable effect on global carbon emissions anyway. President Obama’s last Environmental Protection Agency head told us as much: ‘U.S. action alone will not impact world CO2 levels.’ That’s a quote from her.

“Because you need emissions-heavy countries like India and China on board first.

“That’s just a scientific fact. Though I suspect our friends on the Left will conveniently ignore it.

“Because the point of this whole exercise is sadly obvious: it’s not really about science or global warming at all, it’s about making privileged elitists – elitists who may not feel the pinch of a higher utility bill or the pain of a lost job – feel like they ‘did something.’

“And there’s another reason why the echoes of Obamacare here are so unmistakable: the President’s national energy tax represents a direct attack on the American Middle Class.

“Experts say it would devastate entire swaths of our economy and could lead to a loss of nearly a half million jobs, according to one AFL-CIO labor union estimate. In fact, the head of that union, the United Mine Workers of America, said this energy tax would lead to ‘long-term and irreversible job losses.’

“The national energy tax would also ship Middle Class jobs overseas, shatter our manufacturing base, and drive up energy costs for families. It’s a dagger aimed right at the heart of the American Middle Class, at a time when our constituents are already struggling under the weight of so many of this Administration’s other failed policies.

“Let’s not forget: opportunity has already decreased for too many families under this President’s watch. Millions of our friends and neighbors are still out of work. And the economy is at a standstill.

“And this is President Obama’s plan” To squeeze the Middle Class even harder and ship American jobs overseas?

“And to do it by going around Congress?

“It’s clear that the President is trying to impose this national energy tax via executive order because he knows the representatives of the people would never vote for it. He knows that Congress already rejected a similar national energy tax when he tried it last term too.

“Maybe he’s avoiding legislative accountability because he knows his energy tax is cruel too – because he knows it would have an especially devastating impact on the most vulnerable members of our society: the poor, the unemployed, and seniors on a fixed income.

“It’s a curious thing: the same elites who like to lecture us from their privileged perches about helping others.these are often the same people who seem to care least about who their extreme policies hurt.

“To them, the American people are just the hoi polloi, the ‘commoners’ who these elites think need their enlightened guidance.

“That’s especially true when it comes to coal mining families in my state. Good people who this administration hasn’t even bothered to hear from.

“Kentucky miners know that coal keeps the lights on. All they want to do is provide for their families and put food on the table.

“They’ve committed no crime. They’ve done nothing wrong. But the Obama Administration has declared a ‘war’ on them just the same. A White House advisor was quoted as saying that a War on Coal is ‘exactly what’s needed.’

“These are callous positions, to be sure. But they’re easy things to say when you live hundreds of miles away – when you don’t have to live with the real-world consequences of your Ivory Tower ideological fantasies; when you don’t have to see the raw human cost of your schemes.

“That certainly was the approach the Administration took when it scheduled listening sessions to discuss its anti-coal regulations. It only wanted to hear applause from fellow left-leaning elites – so it didn’t schedule a single listening session in Coal Country.

“Not even one.

“Here’s what one miner said at a coal listening session I hosted in Eastern Kentucky – after the Administration refused to come: ‘Our biggest worries now are just trying to keep a roof over our heads [and] food on the table.’

“He’s not alone.

“And he needs to know this: We on this side of the aisle hear him. We’re not going to let this Administration’s anti-Middle Class policies go unchallenged.

“That’s why today I’m introducing legislation, the Coal Country Protection Act, that would push back against the President’s extreme anti-coal scheme. It would require that simple but important benchmarks be met before his rules could take effect:

. The Secretary of Labor would have to certify that it would not generate loss of employment.

. The Director of the Congressional Budget Office would have to certify that it would not result in any loss in American gross domestic product.

. The Administrator of the Energy Information Administration would have to certify that it would not increase electricity rates.

nd the Chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the President of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation would have to certify that electricity delivery would remain reliable.

“It’s just common sense. And that’s why I call upon the Democrat Majority Leader to schedule a vote on this legislation immediately – and to help us pass it too.

“Because Kentucky mining families are counting on him. So are countless Middle Class families in my state and across the country who stand to get hurt by this Administration’s cold ideological attacks.

“And if the Majority Leader and Senate Democrats stand in the way of passing this bill, Kentuckians and the American people will remember who stood with them and who worked against them. And I imagine they’d want to send a majority to Washington that would actually work for the Middle Class for a change, instead of hurting seniors and shipping jobs overseas.

“At the end of the day, it comes down to this.

“The President’s national energy tax is Obamacare 2.0.

“It’s a massive, big-government boondoggle that’s being marketed as something it isn’t.

“It’s an idea that won’t even solve the larger problem it purports to address.

“And it will hurt the Middle Class.

“So the President can pretend his national energy tax is about helping the environment, but we know better.

“It’s not going to do a thing to meaningfully control global carbon emissions.

“This is really about growing government. It’s really about making left-wing elitists feel better about themselves. And it’s really about helping political supporters in places like California and New York while inflicting serious pain on people in places like Kentucky.

“Well, I’m going to continue to fight. Kentuckians deserve no less.

“I’m going to keep vigorously fighting against the Obama Administration’s continued War on Coal Jobs – and this extreme, anti-Middle Class national energy tax in particular.”

Copyright: (c) 2010 Federal Information & News Dispatch, Inc.

Power elites are waging war on the foundations of democracy

(RNS) The two most critical requirements for democracy are freedom of the press and an educated citizenry.

The one informs the people and brings government and power into the open. The other enables people to comprehend information and to discuss opinions without resorting to panic and violence.

Power elites have declared war on both requirements.

These include “big money” oligarchs, such as the people who gather around the Koch brothers, politicians who cater to the wealthy in exchange for campaign contributions and government officials who have come to identify with the corporate and financial interests they regulate.

Through acquisitions of newspapers and television outlets and intimidation of reporters, these power elites seek to turn the press into propaganda vehicles and to distort information.

Through deliberate underfunding of public schools, scapegoating of teachers and imposing “standards” unrelated to actual quality, the powerful subvert public education; paralyze the teaching of science, literature and history; and denigrate as elitist anyone who worries about a population that increasingly cannot read, reason, know its own history and manage basic tasks.

This war on the foundations of democracy sheds new light on other agenda items pursued by the powerful.

I had thought unrelenting opposition to the Affordable Care Act was about undermining a black president and serving heavy donors. Now I think it’s about making sure expendable and unimportant people don’t live too long.

I had thought legislators were simply afraid of the National Rifle Association. Now it seems they want people to start shooting each other, driving them indoors, stifling protest and public disagreements.

I had thought mindless denial of climate change was pandering to polluters like the Koch brothers. It does do that, but denial serves two larger purposes, as well. It calls science into question and thereby exalts superstition and ignorance, and it guarantees shortening of life.

Unleashing money into politics is partly about winning the next election, but even more it is about ushering in anti-democratic conditions such as campaigns dominated by one-sided messages employing the “Big Lie” tactic, as well as demonization of opponents, sanctification of allies and refusal to compromise.

Meanwhile, wealth consolidates into fewer and fewer hands, and an avaricious and scornful oligarchy ignores normal constraints like shame and civic-mindedness.

I had thought cozying up to fringe elements such as the Tea Party was a back door for inserting religion and blame into local and national politics. It has had that effect, but we also are seeing a great lie of deflection, which turns those hurt by oligarchy against each other, so that oligarchy has free rein. In the same way, Southern plantation owners turned poor whites against former slaves in order to prevent their making common cause against the wealthy.

Religion plays along, because churches are desperate for money and warm bodies and religious leaders like being courted. As a result, we have small and irrelevant debates over “religious freedom” that have nothing to do with religion or freedom, but simply stir alarm among the vulnerable, as well as entitlement bickering that turns churches into hothouses of privilege, rather than revolutionary voices.

People get pushed off center by phony “assaults on the Second Amendment.” As a result, our homes, malls, schools, restaurants and streets become battle zones populated by swaggering men and women brandishing automatic weapons.

Tom Ehrich

This pervasive agenda isn’t just about winning elections. It is about ushering in a new era of division and repression, in which American citizens fundamentally distrust and loathe each other and thus are easily manipulated.

If power elites prevail, fearful people will welcome an autocratic leadership that promises to ensure safety and comfort and to keep the loathed other in line.

(Tom Ehrich is a writer, church consultant and Episcopal priest based in New York. He is the author of “Just Wondering, Jesus” and founder of the Church Wellness Project. His website is http://www.morningwalkmedia.com.

Kyiv Launches Airstrikes and Heavy Rocket Fire As It Loses Luhansk

[SEE: Ukraine crisis: Rebels take bases in Luhansk region]

The Sky Explodes Over Luhansk, and Kiev Blames the Separatists

the daily beast

Heavy gunfire rocked a Ukrainian base Tuesday night, a day after Ukrainian military rockets killed eight unarmed civilians—an attack rebels say lost Kiev the war for this eastern city.

It was a dramatic and sad scene Tuesday in the center of Luhansk. A powerful wind blew up clouds of dust, coating the flowers that locals had placed over the puddles of dried blood in front of the regional administration building, in memory of the eight people killed here the day before. On the ground were fragments of rockets and at least 21 craters, evidence of what separatists say were unguided air-to-surface missiles. The sky looked as if it could explode over the city at any moment. But people were still arriving at the square to share their stories.

Fortunately, the rockets had not hit the playground in a park nearby. Emotional witnesses described how five women who were chatting outside the building when the jet fired were killed on the spot, along with three men. Eleven more people were injured outside and inside the administration building Monday. But every conversation on the square Tuesday eventually turned to the unfairness of the official Ukrainian reports, which blamed the civilian deaths on pro-Russian rebels misfiring an anti-aircraft missile.

“Our new president, Poroshenko, will have to explain to Obama why the authorities are lying to us and the entire world about this crime against the people in Luhansk,” bank manager Igor Brynkin told The Daily Beast. Brynkin happened to be in the park when the rockets hit just 150 feet away, and he rushed back to his bank and warned his clients and staff not to leave the building.

Nobody seemed too surprised that the Ukrainian military had cracked down on Luhansk, a separatist stronghold in eastern Ukraine. The governor of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, Valery Bolotov, had demanded that the entire population of the city, almost half a million people, “from big to little ones,” join the war to “wipe the Ukrainian military off the face of the Earth.” Bolotov also had called for Russia to deploy peacekeeping troops to eastern Ukraine. Here, as elsewhere in the east, armed separatists are occupying administrative buildings near parks and playgrounds.

Moscow has not ruled out the possibility of sending peacekeepers to the east. Describing Russia’s strategy, Kremlin adviser Sergei Markov said: “It is important for the anti-fascist movement to take over border guard bases, shoot down Ukrainian helicopters and airplanes, and provide humanitarian corridors for Russian volunteer forces to pour into Luhansk.” That strategy, Markov added, is partly why Russian President Vladimir Putin planned his trip to France to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day for June 5.

The events of the past two days seem to bear Markov out. On Tuesday at about 9:40 p.m., the sky over Luhansk exploded once more, first with red tracers and then with sustained gunfire that lasted for over an hour. The war Bolotov called for had descended on a Ukrainian Interior Ministry base. Bolotov’s forces had been laying siege to another base since Tuesday morning. One of the Luhansk region’s 12 border guard bases had stood its ground for more than 10 hours under heavy fire. In Mirny district, a loudspeakers at a base under attack were playing the Ukrainian national anthem.

“Luhansk has already won the war against Kiev,” Morozov said. “The locals will not forgive an air strike on civilians.”

Over the course of two days, about 20 Ukrainian soldiers had deserted, but more than 100 remained at their posts. The Daily Beast spoke to two soldiers inside the base by phone—they were “not ready to fight until the last drop of blood,” Sergeant Nikolai said, and many of his friends “wished they could go home, back to their families.” How long would this strange war between brother Slavs continue?

On the destroyed square, a group of bearded Russians from a Moscow-based movement, The Light of Rus, said they were cooperating with the Russian authorities: “We prefer to say that the Kremlin works with us, and not us with the Kremlin,” said Vladimir Morozov, who identified himself as their “ideological leader.” The Light of Rus has participated in annual nationalist parades known as the Russkiy March; the activists arriving in Luhansk had witnessed military conflicts before, including the war in Georgia in 2008.

They wore militia uniforms, black T-shirts with the word “Reserve” on them. The Moscow activists claimed that they had “broken through” and crossed the Ukrainian border illegally the night before to deliver two minibuses of humanitarian aid and establish “a humanitarian corridor” from Russia to Ukraine. It took the group three days to find a hole in the Ukrainian border to get through—and predictably, the hole happened to be in the Luhansk region. “Luhansk has already won the war against Kiev,” Morozov said. “The locals will not forgive an air strike on civilians.”

Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam


Devil’s Game:
How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam

devils game
Robert Dreyfuss
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“Throughout the world … its [the evil empire’s] agents, client states and satellites
are on the defensive — on the moral defensive, the intellectual defensive, and the
political and economic defensive. Freedom movements arise and assert themselves.
They’re doing so on almost every continent populated by man — in the hills of
Afghanistan, in Angola, in Kampuchea, in Central America … [They are] freedom
— US President Ronald Reagan on March 8, 1985.
There is an unwritten chapter in the history of the Cold War and the New World
Order that followed. It is the story of how the United States—sometimes overtly,
sometimes covertly—funded and encouraged right-wing Islamist activism. Devil’s
Game attempts to fill in that vital missing link.
Vital because this little-known policy, conducted over six decades, is
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partly to blame for the emergence of Islamist terrorism as a worldwide
phenomenon. Indeed, America’s would-be empire in the Middle East, North
Africa, and Central and South Asia was designed to rest in part on the bedrock of
political Islam. At least that is what its architects hoped. But it proved to be a
devil’s game. Only too late, after September 11, 2001, did Washington begin to
discover its strategic miscalculation.
The United States spent decades cultivating Islamists, manipulating and
double-crossing them, cynically using and misusing them as Cold War allies, only
to find that it spawned a force that turned against its sponsor, and with a
vengeance. Like monsters imbued with artificial life, radical imams, mullahs, and
ayatollahs stalk the landscape, thundering not only against the United States but
against freedom of thought, against secular science, against nationalism and the
left, against women’s rights. Some are terrorists, but far more are just medievalminded
religious fanatics who want to turn the calendar back to the seventh
During the Cold War, from 1945 to 1991, the enemy was not merely the
USSR. According to the Manichean rules of that era, the United States demonized
leaders who did not wholeheartedly sign on to the American agenda or who
might challenge Western and in particular U.S. hegemony. Ideas and ideologies
that could inspire such leaders were suspect: nationalism, humanism,
secularism, socialism. But subversive ideas such as these were also the ones
most feared by the nascent forces of Muslim fundamentalism. Throughout the
region the Islamic right fought pitched battles against the bearers of these
notions, not only in the realm of intellectual life but in the streets. During the
decades-long struggle against Arab nationalism—along with Persian, Turkish, and
Indian nationalism—the United States found it politic to make common cause
with the Islamic right.
More broadly, the United States spent many years trying to construct a
barrier against the Soviet Union along its southern flank. The fact that all of the
nations between Greece and China were Muslim gave rise to the notion that
Islam itself might reinforce that Maginot Line–style strategy. Gradually the idea
of a green belt along the “arc of Islam” took form. The idea was not just
defensive. Adventurous policy makers imagined that restive Muslims inside the
Soviet Union’s own Central Asian republics might be the undoing of the USSR
itself, and they took steps to encourage them.
The United States played not with Islam—that is, the religion, the
traditional, organized system of belief of hundreds of millions—but with Islamism.
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Unlike the faith, with fourteen centuries of history behind it, Islamism is of more
recent vintage. It is a political creed with its origins in the late nineteenth
century, a militant, all-encompassing philosophy whose tenets would appear
foreign or heretical to most Muslims of earlier ages and that still appear so to
many educated Muslims today. Whether it is called pan-Islam, or Islamic
fundamentalism, or political Islam, it is an altogether different creature from the
spiritual interpretation of Muslim life as contained in the Five Pillars of Islam. It
is, in fact, a perversion of that religious faith. That is the mutant ideology that
the United States encouraged, supported, organized, or funded. It is the same
one variously represented by the Muslim Brotherhood, by Ayatollah Khomeini’s
Iran, by Saudi Arabia’s ultra-orthodox Wahhabism, by Hamas and Hezbollah, by
the Afghan jihadis, and by Osama bin Laden.
The United States found political Islam to be a convenient partner during each
stage of America’s empire-building project in the Middle East, from its early entry
into the region to its gradual military encroachment, to its expansion into an
on-the-ground military presence, and finally to the emergence of the United
States as an army of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the 1950s, the enemy was not only Moscow but the Third World’s
emerging nationalists, from Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt to Mohammed
Mossadegh in Iran. The United States and Britain used the Muslim Brotherhood, a
terrorist movement and the grandfather organization of the Islamic right, against
Nasser, the up-and-coming leader of the Arab nationalists. In the CIA-sponsored
coup d’état in Iran in 1953, the United States secretly funded an ayatollah who
had founded the Devotees of Islam, a fanatical Iranian ally of the Muslim
Brotherhood. Later in the same decade, the United States began to toy with the
notion of an Islamic bloc led by Saudi Arabia as a counterpoint to the nationalist
In the 1960s, despite U.S. efforts to contain it, left-wing nationalism and
Arab socialism spread from Egypt to Algeria to Syria, Iraq, and Palestine. To
counter this seeming threat, the United States forged a working alliance with
Saudi Arabia, intent on using its foreign-policy arm, Wahhabi fundamentalism.
The United States joined with King Saud and Prince Faisal (later, King Faisal) in
pursuit of an Islamic bloc from North Africa to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Saudi
Arabia founded institutions to mobilize the Wahhabi religious right and the
Muslim Brotherhood. Saudi-backed activists founded the Islamic Center of
Geneva (1961), the Muslim World League (1962), the Organization of the Islamic
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Conference (1969), and other organizations that formed the core of an
international Islamist movement.
In the 1970s, with the death of Nasser and the retreat of Arab
nationalism, the Islamists became an important prop beneath many of the
regimes tied to the United States. The United States found itself allied with the
Islamic right in Egypt, where Anwar Sadat used that country’s Islamists to build
an anti-Nasserist political base; in Pakistan, where General Zia ul-Haq seized
power by force and established an Islamist state; and in Sudan, where the
Muslim Brotherhood’s leader, Hassan Turabi, marched toward power. At the same
time, the United States began to see Islamic fundamentalism as a tool to be used
offensively against the Soviet Union, above all in Afghanistan and Central Asia,
where the United States used it as sword aimed at the Soviet Union’s underbelly.
And as Iran’s revolution unfolded, latent sympathy for Islamism—combined with
widespread U.S. ignorance about Iran’s Islamist currents—led many U.S. officials
to see Ayatollah Khomeini as a benign figure, admiring his credentials as an
anti-communist. As a result, the United States catastrophically underestimated
his movement’s potential in Iran.
Even after the Iranian revolution of 1979, the United States and its allies
failed to learn the lesson that Islamism was a dangerous, uncontrollable force.
The United States spent billions of dollars to support an Islamist jihad in
Afghanistan, whose mujahideen were led by Muslim Brotherhood–allied groups.
The United States also looked on uncritically as Israel and Jordan covertly aided
terrorists from the Muslim Brotherhood in a civil war in Syria, and as Israel
encouraged the spread of Islamism among Palestinians in the occupied
territories, helping to found Hamas. And neoconservatives joined the CIA’s Bill
Casey in the 1980s in secret deals with Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini.
By the 1990s, the Cold War was over. The political utility of the Islamic
right now seemed questionable. Some strategists argued that political Islam was
a new threat, the new “ism” replacing communism as America’s global opponent.
That, however, wildly exaggerated the power of a movement that was restricted
to poor, undeveloped states. Still, from Morocco to Indonesia, political Islam was
a force that the United States had to deal with. Washington’s response was
muddled and confused. During the 1990s, the United States faced a series of
crises with political Islam: In Algeria, the United States sympathized with the
rising forces of political Islam, only to support the Algerian army’s crackdown
against them—and then Washington kept open a dialogue with the Algerian
Islamists, who increasingly turned to terrorism. In Egypt, the Muslim
Brotherhood and its offshoots, including a violent underground movement, posed
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a dire threat to President Mubarak’s regime; yet the United States toyed with
supporting the Brothers. And in Afghanistan, shattered after the decade-long
U.S. jihad, the Taliban won early American support. Even as Osama bin Laden’s
Al Qaeda took shape, the United States found itself in league with the Islamic
right in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the Arab Gulf.
And then came 9/11.
After 2001, the Bush administration appeared to sign on to the
neoconservative declaration that the world was defined by a “clash of
civilizations,” and launched its global war on terrorism, targeting Al Qaeda—the
most virulent strain of the very virus that the United States had helped create.
Still, before, during, and after the invasion of
Iraq—a socialist, secular country that had long opposed Islamic
fundamentalism—the United States actively supported Iraq’s Islamic right,
overtly backing Iraqi Shiite Islamists, from Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to radical
Islamist parties such as the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and
the Islamic Call (Al-Dawa), both of which are also supported by Teheran’s
The vaunted clash of civilizations, that tectonic collision between the West and
the Islamic world, if that’s what it was, began inauspiciously. Amid the wreckage
of World War II, America stumbled willy-nilly into the Middle East, into a world it
knew little about. If the United States made mistakes in dealing with Islam in the
second half of the twentieth century, it was in part because Americans were so
profoundly ignorant about it.
Until 1941 the Middle East, for young America, was a fearsome and
wonderful place, a fantasyland of sheikhs and harems, of turbaned sultans, of
obscene bath houses and seraglios, of desert oases, pyramids, and the Holy
Land. In early literature—novels, poems, travelogues—it was a place of mystery
and intrigue, inhabited by the unsavory and the irreligious. Its people were often
portrayed as scimitar-waving “Mussulmen” and “Mohammedans,” uncivilized and
uncouth. It was the land of pirates and “Turks,” a term that retains its pejorative
connotation today.
Since its appearance in 1869, Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad has
come to symbolize a peculiarly American sort of naïve blundering overseas. Yet
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few realize that Twain, perhaps America’s most acute satirist and observer, used
the book to describe a months-long sojourn in the Mediterranean and the Middle
East. It was hugely influential among nineteenth-century U.S. readers. But Twain
unfortunately contributed to, and took advantage of, built-in prejudice against
things Islamic. Meandering through Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine, Twain
seems to be fairly holding his nose, marveling at the barbarism he is surveying.
Dwellings are “tastefully frescoed aloft and alow with disks of camel dung placed
there to dry.” Damascus (“How they hate a Christian in Damascus!”) is the “most
fanatical Mohammedan purgatory out of Arabia.” He added: “The Damascenes
are the ugliest, wickedest looking villains we have seen.” Comparing the Holy
Land to a classical engraving of Nazareth, Twain wrote:
But in the engraving there was no desolation; no dirt; no rags; no fleas; no ugly
features; no sore eyes; no feasting flies; no besotted ignorance in the
countenances; no raw places on the donkey’s backs; no disagreeable jabbering in
unknown tongues; no stench of camels; no suggestion that a couple of tons of
powder placed under the party and touched off would heighten the effect and
give to the scene a genuine interest and charm which it would always be pleasant
to recall.
By the early twentieth century—with the advent of World War I, the
forced disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, and the start of the Britishsponsored
“Arab Awakening,” led by the likes of Winston Churchill, T. E. Lawrence
(“of Arabia”), and Gertrude Bell—the modern Middle East had begun to intrude
on the American consciousness. Still, it was filtered through a layer of
romanticism and ignorance. Lawrence’s sexually charged, desert-romantic
accounts, including his famous Seven Pillars of Wisdom, became U.S. bestsellers,
as did oasis-to-oasis travelogues by various adventurers. For most Americans,
the Middle East was most memorably encapsulated in film and song. Rudolf
Valentino’s The Sheik (1921) embodied what would become the standard-issue
American idea of the Arab, along with its accompanying 1921 song, “The Sheik of
Araby,” whose lyrics included the vaguely threatening: “At night, when you’re
asleep / Into your tent I’ll creep.” Its influence lasted decades. Benny Goodman
recorded the song in 1937, as did the Beatles in 1962 and Leon Redbone in
Little if any professional American Middle East expertise existed in the
years leading up to World War II. From the nineteenth century until well into the
twentieth, pretty much the only Americans who ventured into the region were
members of a band of Protestant missionaries, educators, and doctors who took
it upon themselves to bring the gospels to the heathen masses and to preach
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among the Christians of the Ottoman Empire, in Syria and Lebanon especially.
Pioneers such as Daniel Bliss, his son Howard Bliss, and the Dodge brothers
(Reverend David Stuart Dodge and William Early Dodge), who built and ran
Syrian Protestant College—renamed the American University of Beirut in the
1920s—and Mary Eddy, a missionary’s daughter who founded a clinic in Lebanon,
alighted on the shores of the Ottoman Empire’s Arab provinces. The Blisses,
Dodges, and Eddys would become the parents, grandparents, and greatgrandparents
of America’s priesthood of “Arabists” who emerged after World War
President Franklin D. Roosevelt meeting with King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud
In 1945 Franklin Delano Roosevelt went east in search of oil—and found Islam.
He conducted a fateful shipboard encounter with the king of Saudi Arabia, Ibn
Saud, and for the United States, it marked the real start of its political and
military engagement with the region.
Flushed with victory, the United States found itself in the role of a
worldwide superpower. Its activism then was naïve in the extreme—endearingly
so for its partisans, and frighteningly so for others. The post–World War II
generation of U.S. leaders believed wholeheartedly that the American spirit would
conquer all, figuratively speaking—or, if necessary, on the ground in real life. This
was, after all, Henry Luce’s “American Century.”
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The Middle East was then emerging as the most strategically vital area
outside the industrial West and Japan. Though it lacked expertise, language
skills, and cultural familiarity with the region’s complex civilization, the United
States was called to its imperial mission by the very logic of its immense power.
In Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead, General Cummings presciently
described the inexorable growth of American power that would be unleashed by
World War II:
I like to call it a process of historical energy [says Cummings]. There are
countries that have latent powers, latent resources, they are full of potential
energy, so to speak. . . . As kinetic energy a country is organization, coordinated
effort. . . . Historically, the purpose of this war is to translate America’s potential
energy into kinetic energy. . . . When you’ve created power, materials, armies,
they don’t wither of their own accord. Our vacuum as a nation is filled with
released power, and I can tell you that we’re out of the backwaters of history
But as America’s energy flowed into the Islamic world, the United States began
its long-running engagement with little or no comprehension of the forces it was
dealing with.
Until after the Second World War, Middle East studies in the United
States were virtually nonexistent or relegated to a subset of theology. Partly
sponsored by the government, centers for Middle Eastern affairs began springing
up after 1947, when Princeton University created the first Near East center in the
United States. But it would be many years before the United States would have a
cadre of academic experts who had a grasp of Islamic politics, culture, and
From FDR on, leading U.S. politicians were prisoners of misguided
stereotypes. They seemed entranced by the almost otherworldly appearance of
their Arab interlocutors. FDR, after meeting Ibn Saud, returned to Washington
and “could not shake the image of the hawk-like Saudi monarch, ensconced in a
gold chair and surrounded by six slaves.” Harry Truman, two years later,
described a leading Saudi official as a “real old biblical Arab with chin whiskers, a
white gown, gold braid, and everything.” And Eisenhower dismissed the Arabs as
“a very uncertain quantity, explosive and full of prejudices.” The official record is
full of such uninformed stereotyping of Arabs and Muslims by U.S. officials. For
the next sixty years, the handful of American Arabists who actually knew
something about the Middle East would try to combat those stereotypes. But
they would fail.
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The American attachment to a romanticized fantasy of Arab life and a racist-fed,
religious disdain for the Arabs’ supposed heathenism proved a deadly
combination when the time came for America to engage itself politically and
militarily in the Middle East. Perhaps those stereotypes led American policy
makers to see Muslims as fierce warriors. Perhaps they believed that the
fanaticism of their religious tenets would lead them to resist atheistic
communism. Perhaps it was the notion that in southwest Asia the traditional
religious establishment was a bulwark of the status quo. But it never dawned on
U.S. officials that Islamist organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood were a
qualitatively different phenomenon from the comprador clerical establishment.
Certainly, as the Cold War progressed, the big enemy, the USSR, and its alleged
accomplice, Arab nationalism, seemed to have a common enemy: Islam.
In some ways, the Cold War itself began in the Middle East. President
Harry Truman proclaimed U.S. responsibility for Greece and Turkey, replacing
Great Britain in that role, in 1947, and confronted the Soviet Union in northern
Iran’s Azerbaijan. England’s imperial presence was shrinking: London abandoned
Greece and Turkey, then India and Palestine, and the retreat was on—with only
the United States to fill the vacuum, an allegedly tempting target for Soviet
expansion. (Later scholarship would show that neither Stalin nor Khrushchev had
either the intention or the capability to seize control of the Persian Gulf and the
Middle East.)
The strategic importance of the Middle East was obvious to all: it was
(and is) the indispensable source of energy for America’s allies in Europe and
Japan. At the time, the United States did not depend on the Persian Gulf for oil,
relying instead on Venezuela and Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. But Europe
and Japan desperately needed the Gulf for day-to-day survival. It is no
exaggeration to say that U.S. strategists realized that the defense of Western
Europe was inconceivable without a parallel plan to control the Gulf. Despite
important internal tensions among the Western powers, they forged a series of
alliances in the region: NATO, the abortive Middle East Defense Organization, the
Baghdad Pact, CENTO—all directed against the USSR. More quietly Washington
and London supported the Islamic right against the left in country after country
and encouraged the emergence of an “Islamic bloc.”
For those who knew little about the religion and culture of the Middle
East—presidents, secretaries of state, CIA directors—the Islamic right seemed
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like a sensible horse to ride. They could identify with people inspired by deep
religious belief, even if the religion was an alien one. In their search for tactical
allies, Islam seemed like a better bet than secularism, since the left-wing
secularists were viewed as cats’-paws for Moscow, and the centrist ones were
dangerously opposed to the region’s monarchies and traditional elites. In the
aftermath of World War II, the list of nations ruled by kings included not only
Saudi Arabia and Jordan, but Egypt, Iraq, Iran, and Libya.
By the 1950s, the military-intellectual complex of Middle East studies
was up and running in many U.S. universities, producing Arabists and Orientalists
who were called on by policy makers for advice in grappling with the region’s
complexities. The CIA and the State Department gobbled up Ivy League
graduates who spoke Arabic, Turkish, Farsi, Urdu, and other Middle East
languages, and a core of U.S. government Arabists emerged with at least a
working understanding of the region. Yet, by their own testimony, few of them
learned much about Islam or Islamism, concentrating instead on the
nuts-and-bolts economic and political questions. Most of the Arabists were
secularists, and did not have much sympathy for fundamentalist Islam. Many, in
fact, instead sympathized broadly with Arab nationalism. Many of them saw
Islam as the bygone symbol of a past era.
As the Cold War unfolded, however, State Department and CIA officers
who sided with Arab nationalism were increasingly ignored. Their views were
attacked by Cold Warriors, and by the supporters of Israel, who were determined
to undermine anyone who considered himself or herself “pro-Arab.” By the
1970s, the very term Arabist had become indelibly tainted. Since then,
pro-Zionist activists have piled on, waging an ideological blitzkrieg against those
Arabists who remained in government or academia. Robert D. Kaplan’s
tendentious 1993 book, The Arabists: Romance of an American Elite, marked the
high point of this effort. Ever since its publication, attacking Arabists has become
a cottage industry. Virtually all of them were excluded from prewar planning on
Iraq. To a man, most Arabists were strongly opposed to the preemptive war. But
by excluding them, the Bush administration guaranteed that planning for the war
would be carried out by know-nothings.
Some may argue that the United States created neither Islam nor its
fundamentalist variant, and that is true. But here we need to consider an
extended analogy with America’s Christian right.
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Conservative and evangelistic Christians have been present in large
numbers in America since the colonial era. But in another sense, the emergence
of the Christian right in the United States can be dated to the late 1970s, with
the formation of the Rev. Timothy LaHaye’s California alliance of churches, the
creation of the Moral Majority by LaHaye and Jerry Falwell, and the role of those
two men and others in the rise of the Council on National Policy, the Christian
Coalition, and organizations like Pat Robertson’s broadcast empire and Dr. James
Dobson’s Focus on the Family. Until then, conservative Christians were a
politically inchoate force. Relentlessly organized over the past three decades,
they have become a self-conscious, politically powerful movement.
The same is true for the Islamic right. The reactionary tendency within
Islam goes back thirteen centuries. From Islam’s earliest years, obscurantists,
anti-rationalists, and Koran literalists competed with more enlightened,
progressive, and moderate tendencies. In more recent times, Muslim
reactionaries have been a drag on modernization, opposing progressive
education, liberalization, and human rights. But it wasn’t until the creation of the
pan-Islamic movement of Jamal Eddine al-Afghani in the late 1800s, the founding
of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt by Hassan al-Banna in 1928, and the
creation of Abul-Ala Mawdudi’s Islamic Group in Pakistan in 1940 that the Islamic
right had its LaHayes, its Falwells, and its Robertsons. Those early Islamists
sharpened the culture wars in the Middle East just as their Christian right
counterparts did in the United States, and for the same reasons.
Just as the Christian right found support from wealthy right-wing donors,
especially oil men from Texas and the Midwest, the Islamic right won financial
support from wealthy oil men, too—namely, the royal families atop Saudi Arabia
and the Gulf. And just as the Christian right formed a politically convenient
alliance with right-wing Republicans, the Islamic right established a similar
understanding with America’s right-wing foreign policy strategists. In fact,
support for the Christian right and the Islamic right converged neatly during the
Reagan administration, which eagerly sought alliances with both. So blinded were
some Americans by the Cold War that militant Christian-right activists and
fervent Zionist partisans of Israel cheerily supported Islamist fanatics in
The analogy between Christian and Islamic fundamentalists holds in
other areas, too. Both exhibit an absolute certainty about their beliefs and they
tolerate no dissent, condemning apostates, unbelievers, and freethinkers to
perdition. Both believe in a unity of religion and politics, the former insisting that
America is a “Christian nation,” the latter that Muslims need to be ruled either by
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an all-powerful, religio-political caliphate or by a system of “Islamic republics”
under an ultra-orthodox version of Islamic law (sharia). And both encourage a
blind fanaticism among their followers. It’s no accident that among followers of
both Christian and Islamic fundamentalism, the world indeed appears to be
engaged in a clash of civilizations.
A war on terrorism is precisely the wrong way to deal with the challenge posed
by political Islam.
That challenge comes in two forms. First, there is the specific threat to
the safety and security of Americans posed by Al Qaeda; and second, there is a
far broader political problem created by the growth of the Islamic right in the
Middle East and South Asia.
In regard to Al Qaeda, the Bush administration has willfully exaggerated
the size of the threat it represents. It is not an all-powerful organization. It
cannot destroy or conquer America, and it does not pose an existential threat to
the United States. It can kill Americans, but it has never had access to weapons
of mass destruction, and it almost certainly never will. It does not possess large
numbers of cells, assets, or agents inside the United States, although after 9/11
the U.S. attorney general made the unfounded charge that Al Qaeda had as
many as 5,000 operatives in America. None of the many hundreds of Muslims
arrested or detained after 9/11 were found to have terrorist connections. In three
and a half years after 9/11, not a single violent act by Al Qaeda—or any other
Islamic terrorist group—occurred in the United States: no hijackings, no
bombings, not even a shot fired. No ties were ever proved linking Al Qaeda to
Iraq—or to any other state in the Muslim world: not to Syria, not to Saudi Arabia,
not to Iran. In short, the threat from Al Qaeda is a manageable one.
Using the U.S. military in conventional war mode is not the way to attack
Al Qaeda, which is primarily a problem for intelligence and law enforcement. The
war in Afghanistan was wrongheaded: It failed to destroy Al Qaeda’s leadership,
it failed to destroy the Taliban, which scattered, and it failed to stabilize that
war-torn nation more than temporarily, creating a weak central government at
the mercy of warlords and former Taliban gangs. Worse, the war in Iraq was not
only misguided and unnecessary, but it was aimed at a nation that had absolutely
no links to bin Laden’s gang—as if, said an observer, FDR had attacked Mexico in
response to Pearl Harbor. The ham-handed use of the armed forces against a
nonstate actor like Al Qaeda is useless and self-defeating. Like some grotesque
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ancient legend, for every head lopped off by laser-guided missiles, Marine-led
raids into Islamist redoubts, Israeli gunship attacks on Hamas and Hezbollah
enclaves, and cruise missile attacks on remote strongholds, three new heads
grow in its place. But because the Afghan and Iraq wars fit nicely with the Bush
administration’s broader policy of empire building and preemptive war, and
because they allowed the United States to construct a vast political-military
enterprise stretching from East Africa deep into Central Asia, those two wars
went forward. A problem that could have been dealt with surgically—using
commandos and Special Forces, aided by tough-minded diplomacy, indictments
and legal action, concerted international efforts, and judicious self-defense
measures—was vastly inflated by the Bush administration.
Still, Al Qaeda can be defeated.
The larger problem, that of the growing strength of Islamic
fundamentalism in the Middle East and Asia, is far more complicated.
Naturally, the first problem is related to the second. Unless the Islamic
right is stopped, it is possible that Al Qaeda could resuscitate itself. Or, as in Iraq
after the U.S. invasion, new Al Qaeda–style organizations might emerge by
drawing on anti-American anger and resentment. Or, one of the other
Islamic-right terrorist groups, such as Hamas or Hezbollah, might metastasize
from a group with a mostly local focus to one with larger, international ambitions.
The violence-prone and terrorism-inclined groups in the Middle East draw
financial support, theological justification, and legions of recruits from among the
more established Islamic fundamentalist institutions that have sprung up in the
past three decades in virtually every Muslim country. Like a kettle of water
boiling on a stove, out of which only a small volume of steam steadily escapes
into the air, in the Middle East the forces associated with political Islam are kept
simmering. Out of it, a steady stream of radicals is constantly emitted
—extremists who are immediately absorbed by one of the already existing
terrorist groups.
So what can the United States do to turn down the heat? To lower the
political temperature underneath the Islamist movement?
First, the United States must do what it can to remove the grievances
that cause angry Muslims to seek solace in organizations like the Muslim
Brotherhood. Not all of these grievances, of course, are caused by the United
States, and not all of them can be softened or ameliorated by U.S. actions. At the
very least, however, the United States can take important steps that can weaken
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the ability of the Islamic right to harvest recruits. By joining with the UN, the
Europeans, and Russia, the United States can help settle the Palestinian-Israeli
conflict in a manner that guarantees justice for the Palestinians: an independent
state that is geographically and economically viable, tied to the withdrawal of
illegal Israeli settlements, an Israeli return roughly to its 1967 borders, and a
stable and equitable division of Jerusalem. That, more than any other action,
would remove a global casus belli for the Islamic right.
Second, the United States must abandon its imperial pretensions in the
Middle East. That will require the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan and
Iraq, the dismantling of U.S. military bases in the Persian Gulf and facilities in
Saudi Arabia, and a sharp reduction in the visibility of the U.S. Navy, military
training missions, and arms sales. Many U.S. diplomats who have worked in the
region know that the provocative U.S. presence in the Middle East fuels anger
and resentment. The United States has no claim to either the Persian Gulf or the
Middle East, whose future economic ties and political relationships can and must
be determined solely by the leaders of the region’s states, even if it redounds to
the detriment of U.S. interests.
Third, the United States must refrain from seeking to impose its
preferences on the region. Since 2001, the United States has done incalculable
damage by demanding that the “greater Middle East” conform to American
visions of democracy. To be sure, for the more radical idealists in the Bush
administration, Bush’s call for democracy in the Arab world and Iran is seen
primarily as a pretext for more intrusive U.S. involvement in the region. Even
taken at face value, however, the initiative ignores the fact that the nations of
the Middle East must find democracy at their own pace and in their own time. An
obsessive drive for democratic reform in the region is self-defeating and insulting
to the states and peoples of the Middle East. Some of those states may be ready
for reform, and some may not. Democratic changes that end up empowering the
Islamic right and catapulting the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Cairo,
Damascus, Riyadh, or Algiers will not serve their intended purpose. They will only
deliver additional states into the hands of the Islamists. The United States should
adopt a hands-off policy in connection with democracy in the Islamic world.
And fourth, the United States must abandon its propensity to make
bellicose threats directed at nations in the Middle East, including those—such as
Iran and Sudan—that are still under Islamist rule. The wave of Islamism may not
yet have crested. Other nations may succumb to its tide before it recedes, since
it is a force that has gathered momentum for decades. But the United States
must get used to the fact that threats of force and imperial-sounding diktats
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strengthen Islamism. They do not diminish it.
The true emancipation of the Middle East will require action by the
secular forces in the region to uplift, educate, and modernize the outlook of
people who have been captured by Islamism. It is an effort that will take
decades, but it must begin now. There is nothing about Islam that requires it to
remain mired in the seventh-century belief that the Koran must govern the world
of politics, education, science, and culture. It means changing a culture that
allows millions of deluded Muslims to think that back-to-basics fundamentalism is
somehow an appropriate answer to twenty-first-century problems and concerns.
Fundamentalism, whether it takes the form of Islamism, or whether it appears in
the form of America’s Christian right or Israel’s ultra-Orthodox settler movement,
is always a reactionary force. In the Muslim world, a rational division of the
secular and the divine is far from unheard of. Tens of millions of Muslims are able
to separate their religious beliefs, held privately, from their politics, just as
millions of Muslims, Christians, and Jews do in the United States. It is they—the
true silent majority—who must seize the initiative from the fundamentalists. They
may ask for, and should receive, support from civil society in the West: from
NGOs and universities, from research centers and think tanks, and more.
The peoples of the Middle East must engage not only in nation building
but in “religion building.” As the hothouse temperatures in Middle East political
discourse are lowered, Muslim religious scholars, philosophers, and social
scientists can come together in a great debate to hammer out a twenty-firstcentury
vision of a tolerant, modern Islam, to create a new culture no longer held
hostage by self-dealing mullahs and ayatollahs. A consensus can emerge
organically in the Muslim world that reinterprets ancient texts and traditions in a
manner appropriate to an enlightened world outlook, and then that consensus
must find its way into every nook and cranny, beginning in the major cities
—Istanbul, Cairo, Baghdad, Karachi, Jakarta—and spreading to every village and
mosque. It will mean reforming the educational curriculum in the Muslim world,
deemphasizing religious universities and so-called madrassas in favor of modern
education. It will require new mass-media outlets in places where they can
flourish, and the use of radio, satellite television, and the Internet to reach places
where they cannot. All this will take many years. It cannot occur unless the
armed conflicts that roil the region are ended, and unless economic conditions
move steadily upward. Religion building, like nation building, can take a long,
long time.
About The Book:
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Despite the surge in books about the Middle East, one fundamental question has
remained largely unexplored: How and why did the United States encourage and
finance the spread of radical political Islam?
Gripping, wide-ranging, and deeply informed, Devil’s Game is the first
comprehensive account of America’s misguided efforts, stretching across
decades, to dominate the strategically vital Middle East by courting and
cultivating Islamic fundamentalism.
Drawing on extensive archival research and interviews with dozens of policy
makers and CIA, Pentagon, and foreign-service officials, Robert Dreyfuss follows
the trail of American collusion from support for the Muslim Brotherhood in 1950s
Egypt, to links with Knomeini and Afghan jihadis, to long-standing ties between
radical Islamists and the leading banks of the West.
The result is as tragic as it is paradoxical: Originally deployed as pawns to foil
nationalism and communism in the region, extremist mullahs and ayatollahs now
dominate the landscape, thundering against freedom of thought, science,
women’s rights, secularism — and their former patron.
Robert Dreyfuss, who covers national security for Rolling Stone, has written
extensively on Iraq and the war on terrorism for The Nation, The American
Prospect, and Mother Jones. A frequent contributor to NPR, MSNBC, CNBC, and
many other broadcast outlets, he lives in Alexandria, Virginia.
“Crisp, lively . . . Provides a concise and readable account of the evolution of
America’s partnerships with radical Islamic groups and regimes.”
—The American Conservative
“The most clear and engaging history of the deadly, historic partnership between
Western powers and political Islam.”
“The crusade against the former Soviet Union is still viewed as the holiest of
holies in elite circles to the point where it has become difficult to dissect anything
that contributed to the retreat of Communist parties, including Islamic
fundamentalism. This is what makes Robert Dreyfuss’s Devil’s Game so
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important, even shocking. For it is not only the best book extant on how the US
collaborated with the most retrograde elements in the Islamic world during the
cold war, it is also one of the more informative books on how the left
transnationally was battered and bludgeoned.”
—Gerald Home, Political Affairs Magazine
“Robert Dreyfuss has taken us—all of us—behind the trauma of 9/11 and shown
that George Bush’s failure to understand the dynamics of Islamic fundamentalism
is nothing new. Our presidents have been missing the point for decades and, by
doing so, have become the best allies of our worst nightmare. I would have
entitled this brilliant book Dumb and Dumber.”
—Seymour Hersh, author of “Chain of Command”
“The enemy of my enemy is my friend’ is usually considered unsophisticated,
tribal thinking. But Robert Dreyfuss shows how, during the Cold War, precisely
this principle led the United States to support anti-Communist Islamist
movements throughout the Muslim world—nurturing the whirlwind we are
reaping today. His book is judicious, fascinating, and deeply grounded in a
little-known history that stretches many decades back from the CIA’s supports
for anti-Soviet forces in Afghanistan. He is wise enough to know that all of the
strength of fundamentalist Islam can’t be blamed on American bungling, but the
amount that can is appalling.”
—Adam Hochschild, author of Bury the Chains and King Leopold’s Ghost
“A fluent tour de force—Dreyfuss skillfully documents the misguided stratagems
of generations of statesmen whose attempts to use the Islamic right to Western
strategic advantage have helped make political Islam the formidable force it is
today. He makes a convincing case that the U.S. government inadvertently
played a central role in building up the forces that struck New York and
Washington on 9/11, and questions whether some current U.S. policies and
actions are not still strengthening rather than weakening enemies of our country.
Dreyfuss’s carefully researched and well-written story will be a revelation to
experts on the Islamic world and a shock to concerned Americans.”
—Chas W. Freeman, Jr., former assistant secretary of defense and U.S.
ambassador to Saudi Arabia, 1989-92
“Reagan’s CIA director William Casey knew next to nothing about Islamic
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fundamentalism or the grievances of Middle Eastern nations against Western
imperialism. He saw political Islam as a natural ally in the American campaign
against ‘atheistic’ Communism. The costs to Americans of such misguided, secret
machinations include the 9/11 attacks. Robert Dreyfuss’s history is eye-opening,
original, and important.”
—Chalmers Johnson, author of The Sorrows of Empire and Blowback
“The United States government underwrote the rise of radical Islam, argues a
frequent contributor to The Nation and The American Prospect. Any American
who watches the news is familiar with the photograph of a younger Donald
Rumsfeld looking chummy with Saddam Hussein. Forget that picture, Dreyfuss
tells us. The more important photograph shows President Eisenhower looking
chummy with Said Ramadan, bigwig in the Muslim Brotherhood. (If you’ve never
heard of the Muslim Brotherhood, a militant group that among other things
morphed into Hamas, all the more reason to read this book.)
That photograph, states the author, shows in miniature the history of American
Middle East foreign policy since WWII. Concerned about limiting the spread of
communism and arresting the development of leftist Arab nationalist political
parties, the U.S. has over and over again allied with and supported radical
Islamic groups throughout the Middle East.
The CIA, of course, sponsored the 1953 coup in Iran and financed an ayatollah
who had founded a radical pan-Islamic political group; American taxpayers
funded an Israeli government that funneled money to fanatical Islamic
Palestinian activists who, the Israeli government believed, would ultimately
weaken the secular PLO; and so forth. The U.S. didn’t dream up this strategy,
actually. The British did the same thing, partnering in the late-19th century with
the great-granddaddy of ideological Islamism, Jamal Eddine al-Afghani.
Dreyfuss insists that today’s geopolitics is not the inevitable result of a ‘clash of
civilizations,’ but at least in part the fruit of shortsighted, ill-conceived U.S.
foreign policy. His account is not a disinterested history, but rather a stinging
indictment of the Bush administration for, among other things, replicating the
same strategy in Iraq: toppling a decidedly secular regime and encouraging
Islamists to grab power (to wit, the administration’s alliance with Ali al-Sisatani).
A worthy addition to Metropolitan’s American Empire Project: a devastating
account that policymakers—not to mention American citizens—ignore at their
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—Kirkus Reviews
“The more important photograph shows President Eisenhower looking chummy with Said Ramadan, bigwig in the
Muslim Brotherhood.”
Review by Publisher’s Weekly Review
One of the CIA’s first great moments of institutional reflection occurred in 1953,
after American covert operatives helped overthrow Iran’s left-leaning government
and restored the Shah to power. The agency, then only six years old, had funded
ayatollahs, mobilized the religious right and engineered a sophisticated
propaganda campaign to successfully further its aims, and it wanted to know how
it could reapply such tradecraft elsewhere, so it commissioned an internal
Half a century later, the most prescient line from that report is one of caution,
not optimism. “Possibilities of blowback against the United States should always
be in the back of the minds of all CIA officers,” the document warned. Since this
first known use of the term “blowback,” countless journalists and scholars have
chronicled the greatest blowback of all: how the staggering quantities of aid that
America provided to anti-Marxist Islamic extremists during the Cold War
inadvertently positioned those very same extremists to become America’s next
great enemy. (Indeed, Iran’s religious leaders were among the first to turn
against the United States.)
Dreyfuss’s volume reaches farther and deeper into the subject than most. He
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convincingly situates America’s attempt to build an Islamic bulwark against
Soviet expansion into Britain’s history of imperialism in the region. And where
other authors restrict their focus to the Afghan mujahideen, Dreyfuss details a
history of American support-sometimes conducted with startling blindness,
sometimes, tacitly through proxies-for Islamic radicals in Egypt, Israel, Saudi
Arabia and Syria.
At times, the assistance occurred openly through the American private sector, as
Dreyfuss describes in a fascinating digression on Islamic banking. But ultimately,
too few government officials were paying attention to the growth and dangers of
political Islam. A CIA officer summarizes Dreyfuss’s case when he says, “We saw
it all in a short-term perspective”–the long-term consequences are what we’re
facing now.
Review by Library Journal Review
During the Cold War the foreign policy professionals in the United States were
concerned primarily with preventing the spread of communism. They viewed all
groups calling themselves nationalists as likely candidates to espouse
communism soon. In the Middle East, opposition to such nationalist groups led
the United States to support conservative, fundamentalist Islamic groups, such
as those who fought the Soviets in places such as Afghanistan.
According to journalist and media commentator Dreyfuss (The Hostage to
Khomeini), that U.S. support led to the development of al Qaeda and others that
now dominate the news. Few policymakers feared that fundamentalists could
become a threat, and those who did voice such a fear were entirely ignored.
Dreyfess’s thorough research on the subject involves extensive interviews with
former officials as well as the study of published works. The result is a stunning
summary of missed opportunities and signals ignored.
While Stephen Coll’s Ghost Wars is similarly thorough but focuses only on
Afghanistan, this one ranges more widely across the Middle East. Highly
— Marcia L. Sprules, Council on Foreign Relations Lib., New York
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Pakistan-South Waziristan Taliban “Feedom Fighters”
Devil’s Game
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam is a book by
Robert Dreyfuss, an investigative journalist. It discusses how he feels Western governments
supported the growth of Islamic radicals for several purposes.
Islamic Radicalism as a tool against Pro-Soviet Pan-Arabism
The book discusses how Western governments supported the growth of the Muslim
Brotherhood in order to sabotage the efforts of Pro-Soviet Arab Nationalist leaders such as
Abdul Nasser of Egypt. The goals of Abdul Nasser were to end Western domination and
control in the Middle East. This was a great threat to Western interests, who used the
Islamic brotherhood to destabilize the Nassar government. The Islamic Brotherhood
continues to conduct terrorist activities in Egypt.
Support of Islamic Radicalism as an Anti-Communist strategy
Dreyfuss also discusses how the West used Islamic radicalism to suppress Communist
movements in the Middle East and the rest of the Islamic world. He provides a
comprehensive review of the support of Western governments for the Mujahadeen and
Jihadi Islamic fighters, who were trained and sent into Afghanistan. With the close support
and advice of CIA paramilitaries, these Islamic jihadists helped defeat Soviet forces in
Afghanistan. The book also describes the work of Dr. Bernard Lewis and his model of
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Islamic Balkanization, where the CIA secretly supported Islamic movements within the
Soviet Union to utilize them as Anti-Communist insurgents in the event of war. The
consequence of this CIA program is the present-day Islamic Chechan separatist conflict that
the Russians are fighting.
Islamic Radicalism as a divisive tactic
The author also discusses how the Israeli government supported the growth of Hamas as a
tool to fight the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The PLO was always viewed as the
major threat to Israel, because they were the more educated and secular Palestinians. They
had fought a very effective campaign against Israel, whereas Hamas has had very limited
success. The book predicts the current Palestianian crisis where (PLO) Fatah and Hamas
militias battled each other in the streets of Gaza and in other parts of Palestine for
dominance over the Palestinian people. Dreyfuss claims that the political and economic
isolation of Hamas is currently suffocating the new government. Gaza is running out of gas
and public workers have not been paid for many months. This has been a strategic victory
for Israel in a classic example of divide and conquer.
“Having dug through the files, Washington-based journalist/commentator
Dreyfuss argues that for 60 years the U.S. government (and the banks)
supported Islamic fundamentalists as a hedge against communism—and now
we’re stuck with the terrorists.”
—Library Journal
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