Chas Freeman served as U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia during the war to liberate Kuwait and as assistant secretary of defense from 1993-94. He is the author of five books, including America’s Misadventures in the Middle East and Interesting Times: China, America, and the Shifting Balance of Prestige. He is a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University.
He has written a good article which is worth reading. It deals with a very important subject of our time. He writes, "About 4 million Muslims have perished since 1990 as a direct or indirect result of U.S. policies and interventions. Since the turn of the century, the death toll among the Muslims of the Middle East from the U.S. “Global War on Terror” is at least 1.3 million and perhaps as many as 2 million people, the vast majority of them civilians. Terrorists, whether home-grown or imported, are “over here” because Americans are “over there” killing, wounding, and humiliating their kin, their loved ones, and others of their faith.
The vigorous embrace of populist Islamophobia by America’s leading politicians alienates and radicalizes mainstream Muslims at home as well as abroad, multiplying the ranks of those with a passionate desire for revenge against America and its allies and protégés. It promises to deny the United States indispensable Muslim allies in combating the Jihadi backlash. As the U.S. area of counterterrorism operations expands, Islamist extremism spreads concomitantly. Many expect a further metastasis of terrorism once the so-called Islamic Caliphate loses its territorial footholds in Iraq and Syria and its followers disperse. Nothing the United States is now doing lessens this probability."
He recommends a critical review of the US policy. He continues, "U.S. interests themselves are also badly in need of review. The Cold War is long over. Regional rivalries between Iran, Israel, and Saudi Arabia have replaced U.S.-Soviet contention and Arab nationalism as the drivers of events in the Middle East. Intra-Muslim sectarian warfare is spreading. Terrorism with Middle Eastern connections has become a global obsession. The role of the region’s abundant resources of oil and gas in world energy markets has diminished. Longstanding U.S. policy projects have been effectively abandoned. These include efforts to broker peace between Israelis and Palestinians, to democratize Middle Eastern societies, and to exclude Russian power from a role in the region’s affairs.
The central objective of U.S. policy in the Middle East has long been to achieve regional acceptance for the Jewish-settler state in Palestine. American diplomats have doggedly sought a political basis for a reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians that could provide sustainable security for Israel and facilitate broad Arab normalization of relations with the Jewish state.
The international community originally approved the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine as part of a proposed partition of Palestine into two states. After decades of expansion, Israel has successfully precluded a two-state resolution of its conflict with its captive Arab populations. There is now de facto a single state in Palestine. A government that is democratically elected by Israeli Jews exercises various degrees of tyranny over Muslim and Christian Arabs. This is a formula that assures continuing Palestinian resistance, the alienation of the world’s nearly two billion Muslims from Israel, and the corrosion of both democracy and traditional Jewish values in Israel.
The Jewish state has evolved since its founding. It has left behind it both the humanism that inspired Zionism and the universal moral precepts traditionally espoused by Judaism. The perception that Israel no longer shares values it once aspired to exemplify is increasing its international isolation, especially from Jews in Europe and the United States. But American diplomacy no longer even pretends to seek to halt Israel’s triumphant march toward existential implosion despite the obvious negative consequences of this for the security and international influence of the United States...
But Israeli Jewish racism, cruelty to captive Arab populations, and relentless hate-filled propaganda against Islam impart a moral taint that makes normal relations with Israel anathema to most Muslims...
American indifference to the human-rights violations that are integral to Israel’s despotic rule over Palestinian Arabs has added to longstanding doubts about the sincerity of the American commitment to human rights and democracy. Such doubts are, of course, far from new. There have been many instances in which the United States transgressed its own values abroad by supporting dictatorships or seeking the overthrow of elected regimes it saw as problematic. In the Middle East, the list begins with the ousting of the Mossadegh government in Iran in 1953 and concludes with the overthrow of the Hamas government in Palestine in 2006 and the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt in 2013."
He concludes by writing, "To sum up, Americans have arrived at a moment in which the Middle East they have long imagined no longer exists and the actions they are taking no longer yield the intended results. A fundamental reexamination of the premises and purposes of U.S. policies in the region is in order. The complexities of such a review would be formidable. But policies based on past rather than current realities will only get the countries of the Middle East and the United States into even more trouble than they are already in. American policies in the Middle East, as elsewhere, must spring from unflinching analysis of the current situation, be disciplined by a clear-eyed view of American interests, and put those interests—not those of others—first."
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