OPINION: So is the U.S. the human-rights crusader in the Middle East?
The U.S. has been at war in the Middle East for the larger part of at least two decades. Our involvement in the region goes back even further, in true American fashion. The U.S. has had various motivations throughout the 70-odd years we have had true relations. The U.S. government did not see the economic value of bullying the Middle East until after World War II, when thwarting communist governments meant more oil and money for the U.S.
One of our first real involvements began in 1953. It resulted in deposing the democratically elected leader in Iran, Mohammad Mosaddegh, because he wanted to nationalize the oil industry in Iran. The Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was famous for spying on citizens and forcing westernization on citizens, was reinstalled into power. Ever since the 1979 revolution in Iran that overthrew the oppressive shah, the U.S. has made sure to turn Iran into the evil, freedom-hating nation, despite the well-known fact their originally elected leader was toppled by the American government.
It is wishful thinking to assume the U.S. only overthrows leaders because they are oppressive. They are overthrown for economic reasons, like not wanting to grant the U.S. easy access to oil reserves or other natural resources. If Saudi Arabia suddenly closed up shop and cut all business ties, they would be the next to experience the wrath of the American military.
A real-life example of America’s faulty influence in the Middle East is the beginning of Saddam Hussein’s rule. When he invaded Iran, he was the next-best thing since sliced bread. The U.S. despises Iran, remember? When Hussein wanted Kuwait’s oil to pay for the Iran-Iraq War; the U.S. just couldn’t have that. The result was the Gulf War, a war hardly remembered even though it took place in the 1990’s – less than 30 years ago.
It has never been about establishing democratic governments. The most recent invasion in Iraq proved this tenfold. Although leaders like Saddam Hussein were undoubtedly tyrants, they were friends before they became foes. The U.S. invaded Iraq based on dubious and unconfirmed findings, such as links to terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, which led to a failed state. The aftermath was worse than Saddam Hussein controlling any oil; it brought ISIS and power vacuums.
U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East is hardly complicated. It's about controlling oil reserves, but because the inhabitants of these so-called desert wastelands practice a different religion and celebrate different traditions, the U.S. government has rather successfully made the public hate Islam and the Middle East.
It is not as simple as a group of deranged people hating the West and wanting to occupy the White House. People simply want the freedom to form their own institutions without fearing the U.S. will trample all over their human rights and create war and chaos.
Currently, the U.S. is bombing Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Iraq and Syria, on top of Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the wake of these bombs, the U.S. is only destroying more lives and creating unrest that will only lead to terrorism and death.
So, while there have been a few terrorist attacks in the west since 9/11, the number of casualties and injuries pale in comparison to the amount of people that are bombed everyday because the U.S. either disagrees with their government or they were unlucky enough to exist on a plot of land with oil near it.
So, while there are leaders that truly believe in crusading for their fellow man, the rest only see dollar signs.
Anika Pasilis is a sophomore studying Middle Eastern Studies and Journalism. Follow the Daily Wildcat on Twitter