"I ask myself, how could this happen? How could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction?" U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commenting on the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya 12 September 2012.
As anti-American rage roils the Muslim world, shock and indignation takes hold within the U.S. It’s a phenomenon we’ve come to see repeat itself time and again. For every time anti-American violence erupts across the greater Middle East, a bewildered American public inevitably comes to naively ask, “Why do they hate us?”
Of course, the U.S. power elite are always short in providing any sort of satisfactory answer as to the origins of anti-Americanism in the Islamic world. And when answers are indeed proffered-as when former President George W. Bush claimed that the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 stemmed from a hatred of American freedoms-they appear rather comical.
Thus, we have the explanation now offered that the latest wave of anti-American protest is rooted in an obscure and profane “film” created by some crank anti-Islam crusader in California. This account is given despite credible reports indicating that the lethal attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, for one, occurred prior to any protests associated with the despicable film.
Nonetheless, a mysterious bigot, we are told, is responsible for stoking regional resentment of the U.S. and undoing what goodwill towards America exists in the region. As the New York Times lamented, “whoever made the film did true damage to the interests of the United States.” The U.S., we see, is but a victim of a deranged film producer. “How,” as Secretary of State Clinton so innocently pondered, “could this happen?”
It’s easy, though, to see why the U.S. power elite constantly offer up such incoherent explanations and feign shock and confusion alongside the stupefied American public when confronted with such raw rage from abroad. After all, to contextualize the anger now manifested outside U.S. embassies across the region requires addressing the history of U.S. foreign policy in the Muslim world. That is, one must come to acknowledge the costs inflicted upon the people of the greater Middle East by the naked military aggression of the U.S. And the process of laying U.S. militarism bare has, of course, been long in the making.
Speaking back in 1980, former President Jimmy Carter first explicitly asserted the aim of the U.S. to exert control over the entire Middle East by force. As Carter then declared, “An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”
This posture, known today as the Carter Doctrine, has been the guiding force of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East ever since. And it has seen the U.S. come to intervene again and again in the region (although not to repel outside forces, but rather to suppress nationalist movements of various sorts). For instance, the three decades since the establishment of the Carter Doctrine has seen the U.S.:
--- Deploy marines to Lebanon in 1982
--- Shoot down two Libyan jets in 1982
--- Deploy military equipment and personal to the Sinai in 1982
--- Bomb Libya in 1986
--- Arm Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War
--- Shoot down Iran Air Flight 655, killing all 290 passengers in 1988
--- Fight the Gulf War against Iraq in 1991
--- Deploy forces to Somalia in 1992
--- Bomb a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan in 1998
--- Fire cruise missiles into Afghanistan in 1998
--- Invade Afghanistan in 2001
--- Implement economic sanctions and a bombing campaign against Iraq from 1990-2003
--- launch the second Gulf War against Iraq in 2003
--- Institute widespread torture in Afghanistan, Iraq, other “black sites” since 2001
--- Expand drone strikes against targets in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen since 2004
--- Bomb Libya in 2011
--- Maintain economic sanctions till this very day against Iran
All the while, the U.S. has continued to arm and diplomatically support Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine.
Such a ghastly, blood drenched record is no doubt well known to those who have found themselves pinned under the American military jackboot. But for the globally uninterested American public, of whom only 30 percent even possess a passport, such a record is virtually unknown. The victims of U.S. imperialism are thus little more than unpeople.
Hence, as President Obama deploys warship and drones to Libya with the promise of delivering “justice,” we can be assured that the victims of U.S. imperialism are once again set to mount. More unpeople will undoubtedly come to be incinerated by Predator hellfire missiles rained down from above.
But such is the ultimate folly of the naked imperialism of the U.S. For with every military “success,” with every delivery of “justice,” future blowback becomes inevitable. And in this sense, the recent wave of protests directed against the U.S. in the Islamic world is but a mere foreshadow of what lies ahead. For no matter the indignation of the Washington elite, no matter the indifferent ignorance of the American public, nothing can stop the chickens from coming home to roost.