by Daniel Greenfield
The United States’ relationship with the Islamic world is in its most vulnerable state in the history of this nation. With terrorism rising, foreign policy has never played a bigger role in the relationship between the U.S. and Middle Eastern countries. As we have seen in the past, war can be rather complicated and in the current state of the nation, one wrong move could cause major problems for us.
This article will examine which historical contexts the U.S should look to in answering the question of future relations. Out of the major issues in our history that have influenced the dangerous relationship between the U.S. and the Middle East, the hunt for abundant natural resources in Iran could easily be considered paramount. The demand for the oil was in a sense the cause for the conflicts, but the intervention of the U.S. in Iran, was what completely destroyed any relations between the two regimes and gave rise to bad feelings toward Americans in Middle Easterners. It can be said as a fact that interventionism is risky, and the history of the U.S has definitely shown that to be true by playing an important role in the conflict with other nations.
With the abundant natural resources in Iran’s soil, several countries were stopping at nothing to get in on the wealth. In 1952, Mohammad Mosaddegh was democratically elected to power in Iran. After elected to power, Mosaddegh nationalized Iran’s British-owned oil fields. The United Kingdom was bitter over the loss of Iran’s oil industry, therefore causing Mosaddegh to cut off diplomatic relations with the increasingly hostile Brits. The United Kingdom came to President Eisenhower with pleas for assistance in Mosaddegh’s removal.
The U.S. happily obliged to avenge the angry British because it would only further enhance their own goals in the region. This was a perfect opportunity to get in on the wealth. Iran, starting to develop a democratically political structure in their country, was soon subject to change after U.S. intervention brought the Shah back to power. The Shah came to power in 1941, when he took his fathers throne. The U.S played a role in the Shah’s gain of power by backing a Coup d’etat to overthrow Mosaddegh. The Shah’s arrival signaled the beginning of the White Revolution upon a nation that was not ready for democracy. U.S. intervention and the White Revolution are what signaled the end of democracy in Iran, embittering the people against the U.S. invaders for decades to come.
After the U.S. destabilized Iran’s road to democracy, an anti-American sentiment began to develop. Even today, this anger is still evident in Iran. At the time, the U.S. looked out for its short-term interests; however, in the long run, their actions harmed the nation and were the start of the development of anger to Americans.
Key factors played a further role in the vulnerability of Iran. The Shah believed he had the power to mold his country in any way he wanted just because he had money from oil and support from the United States. The belief gave the Shah confidence, making him believe that Iran had stepped onto the world stage as a true power and that his people would prosper. Unfortunately, such power blinded him to the fact that he could be overthrown.
Iran was surrounded by hostile nations and a coveted object to both the Soviet Union and the U.S during the Cold War. The United States, unlike Iran, was strong enough to repel foreign meddling. The United States of America has one of the most formally educated populations in the world. The Shah knew that his illiterate population could not foster productivity. This led to the rise of the Literacy Corps. The important thing to learn here is that the Literacy Corps did not help Shah gain or keep his power. The Literacy Corps helped the people of Iran become aware of all the ways they were mistreated and exploited by the Shah. The people of Iran distanced themselves from the government. The Shah, though well intentioned, initiated polices and programs that were not beneficial to Iran, leaving it in a very grim state. The state of the nation was going south, and the Shah ruled with an iron fist regardless. The people felt the need to revolt, and successfully did so. With the Shah out of power, the United States lost an ally. This was a turning point in the relationship between the U.S. and Iran.
Nevertheless, the individual story between the U.S. and Iran is just one example of a problem that created the unfriendly relationship between the United States and the Islamic World. The concept of interventionism is the main key point that really pushes the problems forward from the start, not only in Iran, but also in a majority of the Islamic World.
When a country intervenes in another country, “red flags” are thrown. These “red flags” are a symbol to the people of a country that there is foreign interest with ulterior motives. It becomes very difficult to understand the ulterior motives of different countries because each country could be in a different stage of development. There are many people in America who feel that the countries in the Middle East are completely in the wrong and that there is nothing America did to cause problems.
Personally, I think these people are mistaken, for the reason that in every conflict, there are two sides of the story, and history can prove this. The citizens occupying the Islamic State do have a reason to be angry. If another nation started getting involved in America’s, it would make me along with millions of other citizens upset. Because the U.S is so much more advanced than countries in the Middle East, it feels the right to intervene. If I were a citizen of one of these countries, I would be distrustful of America. However, this does not mean that the U.S. is entirely at fault. Americans are scared of terror attacks by people who feel that the U.S. has done them wrong. Neither side will ever be able to regain that trust. Once all the trust is lost, this is when starting a war doesn’t seem like such a big deal.
Good examples providing solid evidence of this lack of trust can be found in the quotes of former presidents. In 2003, President George W. Bush claimed to “know that Iraq is harboring a terrorist network headed by a senior al Qaeda terrorist planner. This network runs a poison and explosive training camp in northeast Iraq, and many of its leaders are known to be in Baghdad.” Now when the President of the United States of America announces such an informational statement to the public, this should be heavily considered when determining relations to these Islamic countries. This information is extremely important to foreign policy because the President is able to access information that the general public in the country don’t know.
When a very qualified man with tons of information from mainly reliable sources and holds such high power in the world comes out with what can be considered a statement of distrust it’s hard for that trust ever to be reinstated. .
This is why I feel that the relationship between Americans and the Middle East will never fully return to peace. In addition, the events of September 11th, 2001 will always be in the back of American’s heads. The attacks on the Twin Towers started the Iraq War, which completely changed the dynamic between the two countries economically and in terms of death tolls. The Iraqi War is a perfect example of the effects that intervention can on the relationship between the people of each nation. Intervention can and does lead to war, and the conflict with Iran and Iraq prove it.
On the topic of Presidents and Presidential information, a major question of trust arises. Are Presidents really the most reliable source of information? Could former Presidents make things up about the Islamic State in order to enact a selfish policy and to swing the opposition in their favor? Presidents can be very biased and can resort to finding the best way to realize the policies they believe in. At the end of the day, it is all politics, and sometimes in politics you have to be sneaky. As the President and with the power that comes with it, they can quite easily twist a story, making it sound believable, to deceitfully get something done. Not only that, but they will get away with it.
In an interview with President Bush, a reporter stated, “Mr. President, Dr. Rice and Secretary Rumsfeld both said yesterday that they have seen no evidence that Iraq had anything to do with September 11th…” The President responded, “No, we’ve had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September the 11th.” (https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2003/09/text/20030917-7.html) This was from an interview in 2003, two years following the attacks in 2001, in which President Bush was being questioned that soldiers had not found any atomic bombs or weapons of mass destruction.
Today, President Donald Trump is banning several countries from visiting the U.S.A. A deeper look into these countries reveals that there are ulterior motives that stem from trade profits. As a result, President Trump did not ban countries that had historical terrorist activity because of previous or current trade agreements. After 9/11, George Bush campaigned heavily to send troops to Iraq again and many were obliged to agree after the attack. However, one thing that could have been motivating President Bush to have soldiers return to Iraq was oil profits. Remember, Iraq is one of the biggest oil producers in the world. This was a window of opportunity that Bush jumped on.
In recent years, there have been several terrorist groups that have tried to avenge themselves on the United States. Terror groups such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS have recently gained more power with increased troops and firearms. Day after day, these organizations try to come together to develop the technology to win their war with America. Now with this information, would any rational person not want to step up the security within the borders of America?
In addition, obtaining stronger and more advanced weapons to be ready for an attack is also extremely important for the safety of Americans. There have recently been terror attacks not only in the U.S., but also in Europe. In the past year, France, Belgium, and Germany have all undergone terror attacks from terrorists located in the Middle East. These organizations are fearless, and the U.S needs to realize this moving forward in our foreign relations.
America is stepping its safety and military up with an increase in spending by President Trump, and these terror groups across seas are spending every minute trying to plan an attack for revenge. As a result, I find it quite difficult to see many key issues being resolved in the fight between the world and terrorism. Having the common knowledge that kids across the seas are being drilled with jihadist principles still to this day leaves Americans on edge about these foreign countries. Kids are being taught to hate America, and I believe, the anger is stronger than ever now.
We can look at all the historical context we want. However, it isn’t history that will change the fact that the war is still going on between Americans and the Islamic State. There is more and more news on these terror groups every day. Al-Qaeda was at one point the biggest threat to American civilization. This was, of course, until their leader, Osama Bin-laden, was killed. I think at this point in time, the American people just wanted this war and hatred to end. The American people don’t want to be scared of these countries anymore. They don’t want to be scared that there will be another 9/11 attack, Boston Marathon bombing, or even a war. A large majority of what U.S citizens want today is peace, and the Islamic State just won’t give it to them. The leaders in the Islamist world want revenge on the U.S for all of the harm that has been caused throughout history. Here, is where history does play a role in modern day relations. Intervening in their personal business and quickly jumping in during the great oil wealth increase can now be seen as one very influential piece of history between these nations.
So all in all, if the U.S is going to make decisions about how to resolve this conflict, I do think that America should absolutely look into the history. The issues and conflicts of today’s world stem from the 1970s and 1980s, when the Islamic state decided to come together to get revenge on the U.S. This vengeance is for the intervention in Iran and Iraq, as a result of actions made all the way back in time to after World War II. The profits that could be made from the oil and natural resources in these areas of the world overtook American leaders, along with many other countries in the world. During these times, we saw the power shift in the Iran due to U.S. intervention, causing the state of Iran to decline and the people to become upset. This along with the several different attacks in the past few decades are responsible for creating this dangerous relationship on the verge of exploding.
In conclusion, the anger and aggression of the people in the Middle East towards the U.S, have given some former and current Presidents tough situations to handle. The President of the United States is one of the most powerful people on Earth, and this power can be used in many ways, some good and some bad. As we saw in President George W. Bush’s speeches and comments on what was happening overseas, it becomes slightly difficult to know if the information he was telling was truthful and accurate.
In recent years, terror attacks all throughout Europe and the dangerous accumulation of weapons in the Middle East, along with a rise of power in ISIS, just goes to show that this feeling of hatred from the Middle Eastern countries is not finished, it may just be the beginning. So, the past is the past and there is nothing we can do to fix that.
We need to look to the future as a nation and decide on the best strategic plan to bring more peace to the world. Quite frankly, with the distrust that has corroded our relationships so far, there is really not much we can do anymore.