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"Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam" by Robert Dreyfuss

Reader comment on item: Wait Out the War in Syria
in response to reader comment: History don't matter if you control the "Ministry of Truth"

Submitted by Ianus (Poland), Sep 3, 2012 at 08:49

Ismael wrote :

>Clearly it is a political agenda to favor the islamist ambitions of Saudi Arabia and his wahabist ideology."

There is a very interesting book by Robert Dreyfuss published in 2006 "Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam" on that subject. Robert Dreyfuss is a freelance investigative journalist who wrote i.al. on intelligence issues. He explores a subject which the media dependent upon the oligarchy and its various official organizations and tentacles like the Council on Foreign Relations or the Trilateral Commission will hardly touch upon and yet which is unquestionably one of the most important -if not simply the most important - subjects concerning the Near East and the US.

It is how the author introduces this problem :

"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." (p.2)

He then goes on to make the following crucial point :

" … this little-known policy, conducted over six decades, is partly to blame for the emergence of Islamist terrorism as a world wide 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. "

Now let me give a longer quote from the introduction. I hope the insight one gets from it fully justifies the length of the quotation.

" 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 avengeance. 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 medieval-minded religious fanatics who want to turn the calendar back to the seventh century...

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...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, byt he 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 anon-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 thenotion of an Islamic bloc led by Saudi Arabia as a counterpoint to the nationalist left. 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 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 withwidespread 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 alliesfailed 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 Bil lCasey 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 wasa 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 crack down 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 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." (Ibidem, p.2-7)

This very sobering, compelling and well-researched book found little favor with the various outlets of the ruling American oligarchy. The press organ of the notorious Council on Foreign Relations "Foreign Affairs", not being able to fully ignore this exposure of its own consistent policy, published a brief negative review of it. Penned by L. Carl Brown, an emeriturs professor of history at Princeton University and a regular contributor to "Foreign Affairs" it called it "very different take on U.S. diplomacy in the Middle East since the 1940s ...slightly askew when set in a broader context...Dreyfuss would have a more cogent case if he had simply faulted U.S. diplomacy for its excessively intrusive, regime-changing approach to the Middle East."

Foreign Affairs prides itself in being "ranked #1 in influence by U.S. opinion leaders... ahead of all media, both print and broadcast, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Economist, and the Washington Post." (2006) In 2010 it's again "The most influential of all media"

"The...2010 study surveys a total universe of over 480,000 American thought leaders who shape policy and opinion in the public and private sectors. The study documents this group's involvement with contemporary issues and their use of particular media as sources of information in their work. Foreign Affairs was ranked among the most influential."

As one scholar shrewdly remarked "...if you want to know what the US government will be doing tomorrow, just read 'Foreign Affairs' today!" ( James Perloff, "The shadows of Power . The Council on Foreign relations and the American Decline,1988, p.9). Well, who can expect a contributor to the bimonthly that for decades recommended and shaped the very policy that is so clearly anti-Western, anti-Christian, regressive and in the end self-defeating and self-crippling to agree with the author that dared expose the ugly truth about this very policy ? Truth is evidently not so precious to all those whose salary, position and influence depend on not caring about it.


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Reader comments (46) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
We cannot do everything everywhere, agree about Syrian intervention [171 words]Richard StoeckerAug 28, 2013 15:40209272
Assad is the lesser of the two evils ! [82 words]Phil GreendFeb 9, 2013 10:35203357
I think we should act, and we should act tomorrow [806 words]ThomasSep 8, 2012 16:19198462
2Your naivete blind you. [467 words]IsmaelSep 10, 2012 01:39198462
1Insightful Article by Robert Frisk [87 words]AhmedSep 7, 2012 14:03198439
1thank-you [104 words]john w mcginleyAug 30, 2012 12:56198256
1Turkey already uccupies Antioch-Antakya which is a part of Syria [47 words]zinovyAug 29, 2012 19:17198250
S against S [30 words]steven LAug 26, 2012 00:43198181
Is Assad Losing? [168 words]kenny komodoAug 25, 2012 08:47198164
1The War Propaganda - Remember the Tet Offensive [926 words]IsmaelAug 28, 2012 13:47198164
1an instinct of guilt [135 words]mythAug 23, 2012 17:27198145
1About time [174 words]David VAug 23, 2012 14:34198142
1And what if assisting anybody anywhere except oneself everywhere is no concern and no objective at all ? [307 words]IanusAug 24, 2012 07:24198142
2but the west does not learn.... [71 words]laisa1942Aug 22, 2012 19:30198127
1One fewer potential rival to worry about [298 words]IanusAug 23, 2012 03:50198127
Agree [8 words]WestieAug 21, 2012 17:51198106
1Question.. [32 words]arild nordbyAug 21, 2012 17:25198105
2The State Department answers your question differently. [571 words]IanusAug 22, 2012 08:44198105
1A morally and military broken world. [42 words]NuritGAug 21, 2012 16:47198104
Well said [21 words]rabbi allen podetAug 21, 2012 16:20198103
2... history ... [189 words]Amjad of ArabiaAug 21, 2012 16:19198102
History [17 words]Nenette GrunbergAug 21, 2012 23:18198102
3Wrong history as usual [930 words]IanusAug 22, 2012 07:37198102
3History don't matter if you control the "Ministry of Truth" [814 words]IsmaelAug 24, 2012 16:37198102
1The American one-party oligarchy and its outlet "Council on Foreign Relations" in praise of "Front for the Protection of the Levantine People" aka al-Qaeda [1504 words]IanusAug 29, 2012 18:05198102
Ianus, you are a very impressive contributor here [25 words]KilljoyAug 30, 2012 23:53198102
1Nothing to brag about , I am sure . [115 words]IanusSep 1, 2012 14:40198102
5Islam - a civilizational WMD [1084 words]IanusSep 1, 2012 16:36198102
Ianus, you have 9 comments judged as "outstanding" by Dr. Pipes [62 words]KilljoySep 2, 2012 11:36198102
6"Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam" by Robert Dreyfuss [1756 words]IanusSep 3, 2012 08:49198102
I never thought '---- [19 words]DemelzaSep 4, 2012 18:08198102
1Something of myself [134 words]IanusSep 5, 2012 14:16198102
Youtube was not exactly the type of forum I had in mind Ianus...... [15 words]KilljoySep 6, 2012 11:38198102
1sunni revenge [129 words]rodney allsworthAug 21, 2012 15:15198098
All Countries need to stay out of Syria [88 words]RedvixenAug 21, 2012 14:23198097
The "Exception" [36 words]B. MiglerAug 21, 2012 13:12198095
1No dog in the fight [189 words]JeffAug 21, 2012 13:08198094
Don't look now... [29 words]PaulAug 21, 2012 12:12198092
Correct except for the chemical arsenal [87 words]Abu NudnikAug 21, 2012 11:01198091
1Let Them Keep Killing Each Other [76 words]STUART KAUFMANAug 21, 2012 09:09198088
1How about the Christian minority in Syria? [43 words]IanusAug 22, 2012 08:53198088
1Let Them Keep Killing Each Other [41 words]STUART KAUFMANAug 22, 2012 18:03198088
4The US prepares the same fate for Syrian Christians as for Turkish or Iraqi Christians-genocide or expulsion through its jihadist cronies [577 words]IanusAug 23, 2012 03:03198088
5The Copts of Egypt [649 words]dhimmi no moreAug 25, 2012 08:48198088
How can you be so sure that Assad will lose? [95 words]Henk TwerdaAug 21, 2012 05:49198082
2Helping Syria [60 words]Dennis GarwitzAug 21, 2012 02:52198079

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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