October 2014        

The making of a monster

Robert Navan

If the Western media were your only source of news you could be excused for thinking that the terrorists of the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” (ISIS) and the United States have always been sworn enemies. The part the United States played in arming and equipping this force is rarely, if ever, mentioned.
      Once again in the history of American intervention we have the spectacle of the creators being threatened by their own creation. It’s not that long ago that the mujahideen, who benefited from American financial and military support during the Soviet war in Afghanistan, later turned on the West in the form of Al-Qa‘ida. Yesterday’s “freedom fighters” have become today’s “terrorists.”
      Creating monsters has been one of the major achievements of American foreign policy, and there’s not a continent that has escaped. One of their “stars” in the Middle East was the Shah of Persia. In 1953, after a coup against the popular leader Mohammad Mosaddeq, orchestrated by US and British intelligence, the Shah was installed. The reason for this coup was that Mosaddeq had moved to nationalise Britain’s oil assets in Iran. What followed under the Shah’s regime was a reign of terror, directed against his own population. He was forced to flee Iran in 1978.
      Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Turkey and Israel are the major allies of the United States in the region. The main thrust of Western propaganda has been the need to change what they label “repressive” regimes. After the successful overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya the focus has now moved to trying to do the same to President Assad of Syria. These two rulers, while far from perfect, probably are or were the most progressive in the region. Those freedom-loving beheaders of Saudi Arabia and the genocidal regime in Israel merit very little mention.
      The real sin of Libya and Syria is that they did not, or do not, toe the line as far as Western interests are concerned. The hypocrisy of the idea of “bringing democracy” to these countries has been laid bare: look at the fine examples of democracy that have been bequeathed to Iraq, Afghanistan, and indeed Libya. This is what awaits the people of Syria if the Western powers win the day.
      As most people on the left are aware, it’s (as the Yanks would say) “about the money, stupid.” The main beneficiaries of these wars have been the military-industrial complex; and firms in that area have made huge profits. In the past three years alone the three major American arms manufacturers, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon, have delivered record-shattering returns to their investors.
      Another beneficiary has been Israel. With Iraq destroyed, a major ally of the Palestinian people was removed, and the war provided cover for Israel’s massive settler expansion in the occupied Palestinian territories.
      Latin America and the Caribbean have been among the main beneficiaries of US-created monsters, and the list is impressive: Somoza in Nicaragua, Pinochet in Chile, Stroessner in Paraguay, Papa Doc and Baby Doc Duvalier in Haïti, Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, Batista in Cuba, Ríos Montt in Guatemala, and Noriega in Panama.
      Military regimes were installed with American support in Argentina, Brazil, El Salvador, and other countries. Colombia, which is the second-biggest recipient of American weapons (after Israel), has one of the worst human rights records in the world.
      This is not a definitive list for that continent, but it is an impressive one.
      Europe has also suffered similar blessings, from the CIA’s rebuilding of the Mafia at the end of the Second World War to the setting up of rogue states such as Kosovo after the enforced break-up of Yugoslavia. Italian politics after the war had drifted to the left, and the Italian Communist Party was seen as a threat to the Western powers. Determined to restrict the influence of the left in western Europe, the CIA intervened covertly in the internal politics of that country. Trade union leaders were routinely assassinated, and millions of dollars went to the setting up of bogus unions.
      In Turkey, Greece, Italy, Spain and Belgium, groups called “stay-behind armies” were set up jointly by the CIA and NATO. The reason given was that in the event of a hypothetical Soviet invasion they would become a resistance movement. These groups colluded with, funded and often directed terrorist organisations throughout Europe in what was termed a “strategy of tension,” with the aim of preventing a rise of the left. The bombing of Bologna railway station in 1980, which killed eighty-five people and wounded more than two hundred others, was carried out by one of these groups but was blamed on “left-wing terrorists.”
      In 1946, under the government of President Tito, Kosovo was granted the status of an autonomous region of Serbia and in 1963 became an autonomous province. After the break-up of Yugoslavia in 1999 governance of the province was transferred to the United Nations, and a NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) entered. Since NATO troops and UN administrators took over there has been a steep rise in human-trafficking. According to Amnesty International, NATO servicemen and UN staff generate 80 per cent of the income for pimps and human-traffickers.
      Asia did not escape Western-backed monsters. Suharto in Indonesia, who carried out one of the major civilian massacres of the twentieth century, received the full backing of the US government, which was closely supported by those of Australia and Britain. It was estimated that between half a million and a million members and supporters of the Communist Party of Indonesia, as well as people of Chinese origin, were murdered, and tens of thousands were detained in prisons and concentration camps.
      Since 1980 alone there have been thirty-five interventions in twenty-five different countries by the United States and its allies. The pretext for these actions has been the “bringing of democracy” or, later, the “war against terror.” The interventions have usually meant death and destruction for the countries involved, with 90 per cent of the victims being civilians. Most estimates put the total figure at a similar level to that of the Second World War.
      The old saying that “the terrorists are the ones with the small bombs” has long been proved to be true.

■ Since this article was written the news has come of the death of Baby Doc Duvalier of Haïti, removing a link with one of the most hated and murderous regimes in Latin American and Caribbean history.

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