LONDON, October 2 (RIA Novosti) — Western bombing of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq provokes a depressing sense of déjà vu.
The US and its allies have been engaged in almost continuous hostilities against one or other Islamic country since the 1980s. We have seen interventions in Lebanon, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya and Syria. These interventions take various forms: from support for insurgents to economic blockades, to drone attacks, to ‘traditional’ bombing and to outright invasion by ground troops.
All have had things in common.
First they are generally represented as an act of defence. Most often, as in the case of the latest attack on the Islamic State, the justification is the fight against terrorism (the so called “War on Terror”). The attack on Afghanistan in 2001, for example, was justified on that basis.
Secondly, they are represented as promoting Western concepts and western values such as democracy and human rights.
Thirdly, none has succeeded. Instead they have created more problems than they have solved. In every case, they have left the countries affected in a worse condition than before.
Fourthly and lastly, they have caused enormous suffering and loss of life, with thousands dead, countries shattered and cities reduced to rubble.
Given this disastrous record, one would expect Western leaders to pause and think before doing the same again. One fact above all ought to make them cautious. This is that the target of the intervention, the Islamic State, is obviously the result of their own policies.
The West and especially the US have loudly denounced Islamist terrorism. Recent history, however, shows that their actions do not correspond with their words. The sad truth is that the US has never hesitated to support Islamist terrorists when it has thought it in its interests to do so. It does so according to the principle that “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” and in the complacent belief that it can control the Islamist terrorists it manipulates. Remarkably, it goes on doing this even though the consequences are invariably bad, as both the principle and the belief prove to be wrong time and time again.
In the 1980s the US supported Islamist insurgents in Afghanistan. The US favorite was one Gubudullin Hekmatyar. He now fights alongside the Taliban against the US. Another Islamist terrorist in Afghanistan in the 1980s was Osama bin Laden. Claims that he had CIA contacts have never been proved. The fact however remains that he was initiated into Islamist terrorism as part of a project the US sponsored.
In the 1990s the US and the West made no secret of their support and sympathy for the Islamist terrorists in the Caucasus. In the west, their atrocities were often denied. Even today it remains unfashionable in the West to point out that they are Islamists and terrorists. When the Russian authorities attempted to tip the US off about the Tsarnaev brothers, the US authorities looked the other way. Today there are reports that some of the highest ranking commanders fighting for the Islamic State are from the Caucasus.
The US and the West turned a blind eye to the presence of Islamist fighters in the 1990s in Bosnia. Similarly, they “failed to notice” that the rebels they supported fighting Gaddafi in 2011 were also Islamists. Some had been fighting with Al Qaeda in Iraq against the US only a short time before.
As for the Islamic State, it is the product of a civil war in Syria that the US itself incited. Though the Syrian government repeatedly offered negotiations to settle the conflict in Syria and agreed to peace plans proposed by the Arab League and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the US declared that its government was illegitimate and insisted on the resignation of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad. When that did not happen, the US sponsored the creation of yet another insurgency, arming and supporting rebels who it again “failed to notice” were Islamist terrorists (and even cannibals). Out of this insurgency the Islamic State emerged.
The best way to defeat Islamist terrorists, who are indeed a threat, is not through this erratic policy of first using them and then attacking them when (as invariably happens) they slip out of control, but through proper coordinated multilateral action within the framework of international law to oppose terrorism whenever and wherever it takes place.
Of that there is no sign. The US is bombing the Islamic State in Syria illegally, without a Security Council mandate and heedless of consequences. Reports are now circulating that the US is committed to setting up yet another insurgent army to overthrow the Syrian government to replace the one that resulted in the rise of the Islamic State. Why the US thinks the outcome this time will be any different is impossible to say.
In the Islamic world, US policy has become one of repeatedly using force and of alternatively supporting and then attacking Islamist terrorist groups US policies in the region are largely responsible for creating. Though these policies have been consistently unsuccessful, the US obsessively persists with them. If insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting on each occasion a different result, then US policy in the Middle East is insane.
Alexander Mercouris is a London-based lawyer. The views expressed in this article are the author’s and may not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.