MIDDLE EAST 3-Pack
The U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 is one of the great crimes in modern history. No one has been held to account. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died, many more wounded and millions became refugees. Washington’s insane action unleashed a cascade of disasters across the Middle East from Syria to Libya and sparked the rise of jihadi groups. But Western intervention in the region has a long history. One can mention the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement or the Balfour Declaration the following year and right down to the inheritor of European imperialism: the United States. Any country that says no to Washington’s diktats is threatened with “obliteration” as the current occupant of the White House warned Iran. The Empire’s subjects at home, the American people, are largely kept in the dark about what their country is doing abroad.
Today, fear stalks the globe. The grim reaper is taking a heavy toll. The coronavirus pandemic has led to many thousands of deaths and tremendous economic dislocation. In this climate of fear, authoritarian regimes from Saudi Arabia to Hungary, from Russia to Turkey, from Iran to the Philippines use the crisis as a pretext to curtail civil liberties, expand police power and surveillance, silence their opponents, settle old scores, muzzle the press and jail dissidents. The pattern repeats in different shapes and forms among tyrants and would-be tyrants. Indian prime minister Modi has thrown journalists critical of his rule in jail. Kashmir remains under military control. In Washington, the U.S. president has declared "ultimate authority. I call the shots.” How can people in democratic societies effectively respond to the current crisis?
The book The Management of Savagery is a teaching manual of the so-called Islamic State, aka ISIS. It defines the techniques of deploying terror. The book outlines how a group of militants could seize land and establish their own self-governing Islamic state. It lays out how to create small pockets of territorial control and from there to establish a caliphate. ISIS has become notorious with its sectarian violence and atrocities. Its meteoric rise took Washington and all the experts by surprise. Initially, Obama dismissed them as the equivalent of a JV, junior varsity, an amateur basketball team. The media fail to pose the crucial questions: What fuels ISIS? What makes it tick? How does U.S. policy in the Middle East and that of its regional allies contribute to the instability that ISIS thrives on? What’s the relationship between Arab jails and American jets?
Robert Fisk, based in Beirut, was the renowned Middle East correspondent for The Independent. He was winner of the Amnesty International UK Press Award and the Lannan Prize for Cultural Freedom. The Financial Times called him “one of the outstanding reporters of his generation.” He was the author of Pity the Nation: The Abduction of Lebanon, The Great War for Civilization, and The Age of the Warrior. He died in October 2020.
Nader Hashemi is the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver. He is the author of Islam, Secularism & Liberal Democracy and co-editor of The People Reloaded. He is a contributor to David Barsamian’s Retargeting Iran book.
Rami Khouri is a well-known journalist based in Beirut. His articles are syndicated in major newspapers around the world. He was the former director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut. He is recipient of the Pax Christi International Peace Award for his efforts to bring peace to the Middle East.