“It’ll take time to restore chaos.”

It’s one of George W. Bush’s most famous garbled quotes, but lately I’ve begun wondering if it was actually intended as a straightforward description of America’s long-term ambitions in the Middle East. By now, it’s clear to everyone that the U.S. failed to achieve even a single stated goal in either Afghanistan or Iraq. And surely anyone with any intellectual integrity has to be asking very serious questions about whether any of those goals — building a stable democratic republic, rooting out all terrorists ever, etc. — were ever even possible. Yet things seem to be more or less on automatic pilot over there, with Obama pondering leaving troops in Afghanistan for all eternity.

This is one of those points where one needs to apply the “what if it’s a feature, not a bug” test. What if the positive goal is to create chaos and turmoil? If we stipulate that the U.S. can’t positively shape events in the Middle East — or, what amounts to the same thing, that it’s not willing to commit the resources necessary — then the next-best result is to prevent anyone else from controlling the situation.

From this perspective, we can see the true horror of America’s Middle East policy: a seething cauldron of violence that threatens to explode into World War III is preferable to allowing anything like genuine self-determination by the people of the Middle East. And it becomes even worse when you realize that the whole thing is engineered to maintain control over a fuel source that may literally render the earth uninhabitable in the long run.

As a Palestinian preacher once said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”

6 Responses to ““It’ll take time to restore chaos.””

  1. David Says:

    “… a seething cauldron of violence that threatens to explode into World War III is preferable to allowing anything like genuine self-determination by the people of the Middle East.”

    Unfortunately, so far leaving the area for good and allowing the people “genuine self-determination” would probably mean another and probably worse than ever Intifada, no? (Sure, partly because the US has been so eager to destabilize the Middle East for decades (and to come), so that radical forces can establish themselves and be more welcomed by the people because … of their desperation, poverty, lack of education, etc. [?])
    (As far as I understand the conflict it partly reminds me of Rwanda-troubels: The West marched in, colonized the shit out of the region, fucked the country and the people up, rallied them against each other; the West leaves, and the shit hit the fan for good … that´s pretty much just the outlines and not totally comparable, but still there´s some analogies)

  2. SLHinchey Says:

    This is precisely the conclusion of some of the better columnists in the Russian-owned English media (e.g. Pepe Escobar, Andrew Korybko).

  3. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Part of the argument for “things would get even worse if we left” has to be an accounting for how we’re making anything better. I see literally zero evidence for any positive influence of the US whatsoever. And I’m pretty sure Israel can take care of itself.

  4. David Says:

    I´m not saying we are making anything better – I´m just saying: if we leave, it could get worse. (regarding Israel: I hope so!)

  5. David Says:

    *even worse

  6. Paul Says:

    You could say Russian is working at the same game in Ukraine: Stability has a pro-western bias, instability not only keeps the East in the Russian orbit, but, by making Kiev fail, will ultimately keep Ukraine in the Russian sphere of influence.

    I think the US strategy is dual in the Middle East: Stability to the degree of crushing all dissent for its allies (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan) – destabilization through “democracy promotion” for anyone else (Saddam, Gadaffi, Assad). Anything but genuine self-determination.


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