1979-2014 and still counting!
We have been engaged in a nearly continuous but rarely acknowledged war for thirty-five years. It began in 1979, twenty-two years before the terror attacks of 9/11. This war is fought around the globe as a patchwork of campaigns between various factions of multiple and shifting alliances. Even Pope Francis recognized this odd and gruesome conflict as a “piecemeal third world war.” Although the combat is small in scale, it has at least two characteristics of a world war: 1) the sheer number of nation-states, stateless-nations, and non-state groups engaged, and 2) fighting and bombing on every continent save Antarctica.
This war has also been called the Middle East’s version of Europe’s Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) and the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453) due to its widespread, confusing, and desultory patterns of overlapping conflicts and aims. Yet this war is barely recognizable as one long war. Even fewer see the direct relationships between the capitalist system and warfare. The more people see and openly acknowledge we have been in an ongoing war for at least 35 years, the greater we experience a long, overdue change of perspective. The sooner more and more people recognize this long war and numerous others are driven largely by capitalism with its systemic exploitation of ethnic and religious divisions to better access and control natural resources and transportation routes, the sooner we develop strategies to end war. A deep shift in perspective may shift how we approach and resolve this conflict. First we need to see what we are doing.
Changing our state of mind may allow us the insight and the will to address the wicked problems underlying the multiple causes of this complex world war that’s not a world war. We must change our approaches here as this conflict threatens to escalate out of control into a truly global conflagration. Infectious pandemics, refugee crises, environmental destruction, economic chaos, financial destitution, and famine also ride Horses of Apocalypse into areas hollowed out by hatred, war, and mass murder.
We are too deep into this pandemic of violence to see the continuity and interrelationship of conflicts between two primary groups as one long war. It doesn’t resemble the conventional idea of war as violent conflict between two or more groups, especially organized groups with weapons. As with many large, long, and complex conflicts, this war is a patchwork of overlapping military campaigns, battles, terrorism, riots, guerrilla insurrections, and advances in technology.
A few scholars of military history and current affairs analysts within the U.S. Armed Forces at the Pentagon use the term, “the Long War” as much or more than “the Global War on Terror.” President Obama forbids use of the latter term, and many see the war unfolding against the Islamic State Caliphate as a continuation of the Iraq War, or the post-9/11 GWOT, or the Persian Gulf Wars of 1990-1991, 1991-2003, and even 1980-1988. This global conflict may be termed the Global Long War on Terror until a far more accurate and appropriate term than “Terror” can be realized. But where does the 35 years timeline come from? These overlapping and interconnected conflicts can be traced back to 1979.
Yes, 1979. What war are we talking about? Not the Israeli-Arab/Arab-Israeli Wars still ongoing since World War II, or Ancient and Medieval Arab-Persian-Turk Wars. Nor the Muslim Conquests or the Wars of the Crusades (1095-1348) fought over 253 years with Christians versus Muslims and Pagans and Muslims versus Mongols. Not the partially concurrent 132 years-long Wars of the Mongol Conquests (1205-1337). Nor are we referring to the Ancient wars between the Greeks and Macedonians of “the Occident” and the Persian Empire of “the Orient.”
We’re not even going to start with the thoughtless Anglo-Franco division of the Ottoman Empire at the expense of Arabs, Jews, Kurds, and Turks at the end of World War I. Nor do I refer to centuries old Sunni-Shi’a strife. Yes, of course, all of these affected the current war that began in 1979. We need to see, however, exactly what a nasty muckhole we have all gotten ourselves stuck in.
The point of demarcation here with a time frame of chronological progression begins with several pivotal events in 1979. These key incidents mark the beginnings of what now appears to be a sustained, long war between radical Muslim fundamentalists and Islamic jihadists against the West headed by the de facto Euro-American Global Empire. This war began more as an outgrowth of superpower rivalry during the Cold War as the Soviet and American empires stirred up conflicts around the world including across the Middle East and Central and South Asia which antagonized fundamentalists Muslims against both the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A. and their respective allies and vassals.
Let’s undertake a brief review of those events of 1979 thirty-five years ago from today:
January – The pivotal point of the Iranian Revolution occurred as the Pahlavi Shah of Iran fled into exile on 16 January followed by the return of the Shi’a Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on 1 February. The revolution began slowly in 1977, picked up steam in the latter half of 1978, and quickly escalated by early 1979. European, American, and Russian/Soviet imperial interests collide in the Iranian “bridge” between the Middle East and Central and South Asia and served to ignite a web of bloody conflicts.
February – Kidnapping and murder of U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Adolf “Spike” Dubs on 14 February in a crossfire initiated by Soviet agents during the Afghan Civil War. The latter began with the pro-Soviet Saur Revolution in 1978. Meanwhile in Tehran the First Iranian-American Hostage Crisis occurred also on 14 February. Known as the Valentine’s Day Open House Event, it lasts seven days. It helped set the stage for Muslim Student Followers of the Imam’s Line to seize over fifty U.S. hostages nine months later.
June – SALT II treaty between the Soviets and the Americans to mutually reduce nuclear weapons finally came into being, only to be rejected by the U.S. Senate, which led to further heightening of Cold War proxy conflicts. During this time former Governor of Georgia Jimmy Carter was President of the United States and Leonid Brezhnev was the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
November – The 444 daylong Iranian Hostage Crisis begins on 4 November 1979 with the seizure of 54 American diplomats by militant gangs of Fundamentalist Muslim university students. The Iranian students rallied around their hatred of America for its role in the 1953 Coup and support of the Shah and his secret police forces.
Later during the same month occurred the seizure of Al-Masjid al-Haram, the Grand Mosque of Mecca, on 20 November in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by an international group of Islamist jihadis, including a small number of Americans, against a corrupt, despotic, and opulent monarchy. Saudi Salafis led these armed radicals under the command of Juhayman ibn Muhammad ibn Sayf al-Otaibi of Najd. The Battle of Mecca lasted for two weeks with the rebellion finally snuffed out by early January 1980.
This revolt was the precursor to al-Qaeda.The young Osama bin Laden as well as many Saudi Wahhabi Salafis sympathized with al-Otaibi’s rebels. The response of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was also international in scope. Among those engaged in suppressing the revolt were Pakistani paratroopers, French commandos, and American CIA agents. Apparently all involved who were not Muslim, including the French and Americans had to rapidly convert to Islam before they were allowed into Mecca to fight the jihadists.
The Iranian seizure of American hostages followed by the Battle of Mecca led to violent anti-American demonstrations, many fueled by rumors fanned by the Ayatollah Khomeini, in Muslim countries around the world. They included Libya, the Philippines, Turkey, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the UAE. On 21 November, enraged mobs stormed the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, and burned it to the ground.
Many of the rioters were armed, and a sniper among them shot U.S. Marine Corporal Steve Crowley in the head and killed him. Another American, U.S. Army Warrant Officer Brian Ellis was also killed. So were two Pakistani staffers working for the Embassy and two of the demonstrators. Pakistani Army and police forces stood aside and did nothing to stop the assault or to help the Americans, which triggered a severe breakdown in relations with the U.S. The United States quickly closed its embassy in Tripoli, also burnt to the ground by enraged rioters, and withdrew from Libya until 2004.
December – Anti-American protests continued across the Muslim world. On the 2nd of December a mob stormed, overran, and burned down the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya. The Battle of Mecca comes to end in Saudi Arabia. The last half was fought in the Qaboo, an subterranean city beneath the Grand Mosque. Interestingly enough the wealthy construction family owned by the House of bin Laden had one of only two sets of blueprints to the underground maze.
On-going Soviet intervention in the Afghan Civil War escalates with the full-scale invasion of Afghanistan by the U.S.S.R. on 24 December 1979 with the subsequent occupation of the country. The U.S. reacts with the 1980 Olympic boycott and with significant Pakistani and Saudi assistance train and armed the Mujahideen against the Soviets. Many Arab Muslims flocked to help the Mujahideen. Out of this cauldron of superpower violence and regional intrigue arose a network of jihadist groups including what became known as al-Qaeda. Osama bin Laden entered Afghanistan to fight the Soviets as early as 1980.
General – Iran-Iraq War or First Persian (or Arab) Gulf War begins as 1979 saw the outbreak of Shi’a revolts inside Iraq and increasingly widespread border skirmishing between Iraq and Iran after Khomeini seizes power in Tehran. These conflicts erupted into Saddam’s invasion of Iran on 22 September 1980. This war draws in U.S. intervention, albeit limited such as the CIA covertly assisting the Iraqis with their mass poison gas attacks and openly in the so-called Tanker War phase. This sets the stage for an ongoing series of conflicts spreading out from what the Iranians call the Persian Gulf and the Arabs insist is the Arab Gulf.
Economic and Financial Crises
These converging geopolitical and military crises overlapped with economic crises at the time. One could use the term “financial warfare” in a loose sense, although such was unconscious, as if a child unaware of consequences picked up a light machine gun, pulls the trigger, and loses control of the weapon post-recoil but keeping the trigger finger squeezed tight. The Energy Crisis of 1978-1980 peaked with the Oil Shock of 1978-1979. Demand for oil surged worldwide and the cost of oil doubled and kept increasing. A significant and immediate cause of this was the Iranian Revolution with the Iran-Iraq War. Oil production in these two countries, in particularly Iran, plummeted.
The ricocheting instability in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, the on-going Arab-Israeli Wars, and a severe racheting up of Cold War tension between the Soviets and Americans also played into this drama. People still remembered the Yom Kippur Arab-israeli War of October 1973 followed by the oil embargo by the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC). This triggered the Energy Crisis of 1973-1974 with significant increases in inflation.
Perhaps with these factors in mind, President Jimmy Carter appointed Paul Volker, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, to Chair the Federal Reserve System. Volker and the Fed successfully tackled runaway inflation with an aggressive, interventionist approach to monetary policy. They broke the grip of stagflation with its odd mix of declining or slow economic growth with high and rising interest rates plus inflation. The resulting severe contraction of the U.S. monetary supply with doubling oil prices and a scarcity of petroleum plunged the American economy into what was then the worst recession since the Great Depression. This crisis also affected global finances and led to turmoil around the planet.
The U.S. dollar has served as the de facto world dollar since the Bretton Woods Agreements were hammered out in July 1944 towards the end of the Second World War. Then, during February 1945, the dollar was coupled to Saudi oil by agreement between President Franklin D. Roosevelt and King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia. These elements set the stage for the near-collapse of the U.S. dollar with a near-implosion of the global economy in 1979.
Back in 1971, President Nixon, rocked the world economy by abandoned dollar-to-gold convertibility, thus completing the process of abolishing the gold standard that began under FDR during the Great Depression. Nixon sought to manage a runaway dollar by devaluing it. He decoupling the U.S. dollar from gold and thereby prevented the dollar from being exchanged for gold. He was concerned by the mounting costs of the Vietnam War abroad and near-civil war at home as well as the Federal Reserve continuing to inflate the value of the U.S. dollar. In addition, foreign banks, central banks, and wealthy individuals had purchased to accumulate enormous quantities of dollars which they had pegged to gold. Nixon feared an international run on U.S. gold reserves and sought to cancel out or reform Bretton Woods as he felt those agreements held America to a severe financial disadvantage.
What became known as the Nixon Shock of 1971 set in motion a series of unexpected economic repercussions. U.S. dollar devaluation occurred faster than expected. Dollar inflation shot back up, purchasing power dropped precipitously, and fear of hyperinflation spread as a malaise. Foreign creditors demanded their now nearly worthless holdings of dollars be repaid in gold. The general population went about their everyday life worrying and angry and puzzled with the economy. They struggled through a second energy crisis with yet another oil shock. Few people, however, had any idea the situation was so severe. The bottom came close to dropping out in 1978. It wasn’t much better in 1979. Both the Fed and the U.S. Treasury were at their wit’s end and turned to the neutral Swiss for help.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF), one of the three United Nations institutions spawned by Bretton Woods along with the World Bank and what became the GATT and eventually the WTO, all interlocked into one global banking system dominated by Wall Street and the Fed, was compelled to rescue the U.S. dollar. The IMF pumped out billions of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to help stabilize global finances. SDRs were initially created to uphold fixed rates of exchange between currencies of member nations whose governments supposedly backed their own currencies with gold reserves and foreign currencies. SDRs are not a currency or a claim against the IMF, but SDRs act as a form of world money.
As a psychological aspect of economics, the IMF’s actions, however reluctant, helped restore worldwide confidence in the U.S. dollar and in global economic stability. Ronald Reagan followed Jimmy Carter into the American Presidency, and with his Administration working closely with the Fed slashed and tamed inflation, jacked up interest rates, slashed taxes, promoted financial capitalism, and drew foreigners back to the dollar. The crisis passed by the mid-1980s. The dollar reigned supreme until the still-ongoing Great Recession.
The Nixon Shock led to the near-collapse of the U.S. dollar and thus the global economy in 1978 and 1979. The Second Energy Crisis including the Second Oil Shock were more early warning signs of Capitalism as a human planetary system in breakdown. The Bretton Woods international monetary system broke apart and collapsed. Keynesian Capitalism went into retreat. Gradually what came to be known as the Washington Consensus emerged by 1980. Fluctuating fiat currency replaced real currency pegged to a common gold standard. Finance Capitalism exploded across the planet as compound interest became a monster and capitalism turned in upon itself to generate virtual wealth rather than real wealth as hard, tangible assets with real value.
President Reagan’s policies caused severe shocks to the American society with staggering numbers of mentally ill patients ending up homeless on the streets or in prison. Carter’s push for alternative energy sources was ridiculed and abandoned. The development of what became known as green energy was set back by decades. Poverty fueled an explosion of illegal drug use, police corruption, and filled the prisons. Reagan turned to Alan Greenspan to head the Federal Reserve System in 1987. As the Cold War worsened, Reagan continued Jimmy Carter’s massive military and intelligence buildup after Carter’s quick turn about in the wake of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Iranian Revolution, and the Iran-Iraq War. A significant aspect of the Reagan buildup was the initiative to develop so-called Star Wars system of orbiting platform-based space weapons powered by nuclear power plants. It was Reagan who offered to share this Strategic Defense Initiative with the Soviet Empire in 1986 and in 1987 called for humanity to reconsider priorities and unite against possible Extraterrestrial Alien invaders from Outer Space.
This buildup in turn led to an enormous drain on capital assets, which in turn pushed more people into the increasingly virtual and digitalized world of finance capital with the corresponding decline of the middle and working classes. Reagan’s deregulation and unbridled encouragement of capitalism allowed a corruption scandal over Ponzi schemes to morph into the Savings and Loans Crisis of the 1980s. This crisis continued well into the 1990s, finally ending under President Bill Clinton. The opposite extremes of a fast-growing economy with the U.S. dollar back on top versus growing poverty and a prolonged S&L crisis in the financial sector presaged the same financial schizophrenia of the so-called “post-Great Recession recovery.”
This is a brief glance at the intersection of so many complex factors into the economic warfare and financial intrigues intensifying the Already Thirty-Five Years’ War. Everything is interconnected regardless of humanity’s attempts to compartmentalize and see what it wants to see. Such patterns of behavior lead to ongoing and seemingly perpetual warfare, economic turmoil, social chaos, political corruption and paralysis, corporate domination of governments, extreme wealth with extreme poverty, and environmental destruction.
The Soviet and American interventions in Afghanistan, the Iranian Revolution including the Iranian-American Hostage Crisis, the beginnings of war between Iraq and Iran, and the jihadist Siege of the Grand Mosque galvanized world attention. These events of 1979 continue to reverberate throughout the Islamic world long after the rest of humanity wonders how in the world did the West get pulled into a global conflict at least 35 years old and entering yet another new phase with the campaigns against the Islamic State Caliphate.
In summary we see how intervention by foreign powers in the countries of the Middle East and Central and South Asia from the First World War to the U.S.-U.K. orchestrated overthrow of Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh, the democratically elected Premier of Iran, in 1953 helped set the stage for the Thirty-Five Years’ War. In 1979, the Shah of Iran was overthrown and Ayatollah Khomeini seized power in the Iranian Revolution. This set the stage for the anti-American Iran Hostage Crisis and the Iran-Iran War. These drew the United States into a series of still ongoing Persian Gulf wars (1979-1988, 1990-1991, 1991-2003, 2003 – current, 2014 – current).
Concurrent was the brief but bloody hostage crisis in Afghanistan leading to the murder of the U.S. Ambassador. The crumbling of the Soviet-backed Afghan regime led to the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan the same year. This in turn led to U.S. efforts with both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to build up, finance, and arm the Afghan Mujahideen. This included large numbers of Muslims from around the world coming to aid the Afghan resistance against the U.S.S.R. and its puppet government in Kabul.
Among these was Saudi national Osama bin Laden who joined and eventually took over a Fundamentalist Muslim jihadist group assisted by the American CIA and the Pakistani ISI. The defeat of the Soviets led in part to Western victory in the Cold War, but also to blowback against the West. The attacks of 9/11 were the most spectacular and deadly of these terrorist attacks, which led in turn to U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and then Iraq with attacks in Algeria, Yemen, Somalia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Libya, Mali, Nigeria, and elsewhere. Apparently Zbignew Brzezenski failed to envision the possible global consequences of those Cold War games of empire he alluded to when he described the secret CIA 1979 operation in Afghanistan as “drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap.”
Islamist outrage against the opulence and corruption of Saudi monarchs and other regional despots as well as their “alliances with the Great Satan” to defeat “atheistic communism” along with chronic poverty led to growing Muslim extremism. Such an international group of jihadists united under a Saudi rebel to seize the Grand Mosque, leading to the protracted Battle of Mecca. Although the radical fundamentalists were defeated, other jihadist groups were inspired by them to pick up their mantel across the region from Algeria to Kashmir.
Some may say the failure of both sides to resolve this war and its related conflicts such as between the Palestinians and Israelis led in part to the Arab Spring uprisings followed by the Arab Winter. Now we see a band of conflict between Western and Western-backed forces and radical Islamist jihadis in a broad swath from Nigeria and Somalia into the Middle East and on to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir, and India. These wars are merging and if they merge with other conflicts such as the internationalized civil war in Ukraine, a far greater conflagration may result.
Meanwhile, atrocities continue as Christians and Muslims hack each other to death in the Central African Republic and civil wars escalate in Libya, Yemen, and Syria. The Islamic State erupted out of Iraq into Syria and back into Iraq and embarked on genocide and conquest. The U.S. and the Europeans are back in Iraq and now are bombing Syria along with elements from other nation-state regimes. The violence continues. Currently 400,000 Syrians including Kurds are fleeing into Turkey. They join about a million other Syrian refugees plus other recent ones from Iraq, straining Turkey’s capacity to help.
The global financial elites and their allies, however, continue to work quietly in the background behind fiery nationalist and religious dramas. They exploit and manipulate socio-economic, religious, and ethnic divides for financial gains and economic imperialism. The megarich and their agents thrive with increased private control of the public sector in a fascism disguised as democracy. War and tyranny allow for the expansion of market opportunities and products and the concentration and control of wealth. The Great Recession, officially described as beginning in 2007 and ending in 2009, continues to grind on and confound the expectations of many pundits and analysts.
Our capitalist system generates the roots of these poisonous entities. We must replace them with democratic socialist ones before a true world war erupts and burns down civilization around the planet. Such a conflagration would be an even greater environmental and economic catastrophe. Even Pope Francis calls today’s capitalist system “a new tyranny” dominated by “the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation” powerful enough to confront and “reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control.” The pontiff later went on to tweet, “Inequality is the root of social evil.
Inequality continues to worsen and widen, driving financial crises and economic catastrophes masked by legions of construction cranes and wealthy technopreneurs who shrug off the latest rounds of fighting around the planet as long as they profit from these wars. Democratic socialism, which includes bringing democracy into the workplace and the marketplace as well as reclaiming politics and governments from corporations and big banks.
We have much work to do, people. Or this Already Thirty-Five Years’ War may well turn into another Hundred Years’ War.
What action steps are you going to take to address this already thirty-five year long war?
William Dudley Bass
22-26 September 2014
October 2014 Update and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ remarks on the new American-led war against Islamic State Caliphate:
Civil war continues to rage in Syria, Libya, Nigeria, Mali, Somalia, and in Yemen, where Shi’a Houthi rebels overran Sana’a, the capital city. Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shi’a Iran continue to bristle at each other as the latter stonewalls the West regarding nuclear weapons. Egypt sinks into an expanding domestic war against the Muslim Brotherhood. The Pakistani Taliban pledges allegiance to Islamic State Caliphate, as Boko Harem did earlier in Nigeria. Al Qaida renews its allegiance to the Emirate established by the Afghan Taliban and launches a new al Qaida branch in India and Pakistan. Buddhist Burmese including both Bamar and Rakhine seek unethical yet legal ways to drive Sunni/Sufi Muslim Rohingya out of Myanmar after a series of genocidal riots and massacres. The Israelis continue to blockade Palestinians in Gaza and build settlements in the West Bank as Hamas lobs sporadic rockets into Israel.
Despite heavy bombing by the Americans, the Islamic State continues to advance in Syria and slaughter Kurds as they had massacred Yazidis and Christians in Iraq. Turkey’s parliament gives consent for its armed forces including ground troops to intervene in Syria. The Turks and the Kurds make a shaky peace against a common enemy. The Iraqis make few gains against Islamic State forces, but more Iraqi Sunnis are joining with Iraqi Shi’a to battle ISIS/ISIL/Da’esh/DAIISH forces. Ukraine erupts into renewed civil war. Australia and more European countries join the air assault on Islamic State while Niger peacekeeping forces are ambushed in Mali.
Meanwhile reports emerge claiming the U.S. and Allied bombings of Islamic State targets inflicted little real damage except civilian casualties. Apparently many IS targets were missed and those hit were empty as they’d already been evacuated. Despite heavy pounding on the battle field, IS forces continue to hold positions and advance upon others. Currently they shoved their way through Iraqi forces and are pushing on to Baghdad despite American, European, and Arab air attacks. Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, beheaded their 46th prisoner for 2014, with 19 so far in the month of August. This barbarism gets little media attention in the West, however, as this nation dominated by extremist Monarchists, corrupt Royals, and Fundamentalist Wahabis remains one of America’s most pivotal linchpins and strategic allies. IS beheadings of Western hostages and Arab women gets greater media attention in the rest of the world.
The Ebola virus hemorrhagic fever epidemic has already killed over 3,400 people in Guinea, Senegal, Liberia, and Nigeria. It has spread into the United States and triggered alarms around the world even though over a million people a year continue to die from Malaria. Despite the ease with which Ebola can be contained, breakdowns in human resources and logistics plus fear and mass hysteria allow the virus to spread exponentially further than anyone ever expected. Economic and environmental challenges continue to loom around the world. Recent evidence emerged demonstrating the fascist-like domination by Wall Street Big Banks over both the Federal Reserve and government regulators as the Koch Brothers continue to pour their private billions into American political campaigns to control governments at all levels. Hong Kong has erupted into mass demonstrations for greater democracy and universal suffrage as local police and government backed by the Chinese Communist regime in Beijing push back. Brazil gripped by a chaotic election campaign as Argentina sinks into another financial crisis. Putin and Obama continue in a face-off lampooned around the world. Even the Russian foreign minister called for an “American-style reset” of Russian relations with the U.S. and the E.U.
Bernie Sanders, the Independent U.S. Senator from Vermont who identifies as a Socialist, has challenged both Democrats and Republicans on their failure to even debate the wisdom and cost of yet another military campaign in the Middle East. He chides his colleagues in the United States Congress as American infrastructure, businesses, governments, and families reel from financial, economic, and environmental hardships even as mainstream news pundits pander illusory “good news” to the masses.
Sen. Sanders challenged the Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio and all Americans in general to get their priorities straight:
“The use of U.S. combat troops in Syria could well get us into a Mideast quagmire and perpetual warfare in the region. Instead of spending tens of billions on war in the Mideast, we should be investing in rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and creating millions of decent-paying jobs here at home,” Sanders said.
In other comments, the Senator called for Middle Eastern nations to step up to their regional responsibilities. He declared the following statements:
“Saudi Arabia, where the autocratic royal family is worth hundreds of billions of dollars, was the fourth largest defense spender in the world in 2013. Saudi Arabia spent more than $59 billion in 2013, more than either Great Britain or France.
“Saudi Arabia has a large and modern air force and a strong standing army. They should not expect that American taxpayers and the U.S armed forces will do their work for them.”
“In the Middle East, this war cannot be perceived as West versus East, Christian versus Muslim or the U.S. versus ISIS. It must be seen as a war in which Muslim countries throughout the region are standing up for their beliefs against an extremist and brutal organization which has grossly distorted the tenets of Islam.”
Note Sanders alludes to the length and complexity of this long, seemingly “perpetual” war. He echoes the sense growing numbers of commentators and analysts have of the Muslim umma undergoing its own version of the European Christian Wars of Religion, which includes the Thirty Years’ War. This “quagmire” has the potential to suck in local, regional, and world powers in a “forever war” far longer than the 46-year long Cold War. Listen to the Senator from Vermont in his interview on CNN below:
It is clear we must find ways to move beyond piecemeal, nationalistic, racist, and mutually antagonistic responses to interlocking webs of complex wicked problems. What are some possible steps we can take to even begin to dress these crises before any one of them tips us over into “it’s too late now?”
Sunday 5 October 2014
Update from November 2015:
Much has occurred in over a year from the last update. The Islamic State has expanded its caliphate from parts of Libya and Nigeria to Yemen to Afghanistan. The Russians have intervened. Syria and Iraq and indeed the whole Middle East increasingly resembles a Postmodern Apocalyptic Europe during the Thirty Years and other Wars of Religion. Recently there were devastating terrorist attacks claimed by the Islamic State Caliphate against the Russians in the Egyptian Sinai, against almost anyone and everyone in Nigeria and Yemen and Afghanistan, in Beirut, and, most dramatically, in Paris, France. On Saturday the 14th of November, Pope Francis once again declared we are all in a “piecemeal world war” and one without any “religious or justification for it.”
This Thirty-Five Years War will soon roll into its 37th year. It shows no sign of abating.
Copyright © 2014, 2015, 2016 by William Dudley Bass.
All Rights Reserved until we Humans
establish Wise Stewardship of and for
our Earth and Solarian Commons.
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