It’s 2016, and our liberties are threatened more than ever. We’ve seen more sporadic terrorist attacks in the last seven months than in any given year, the Middle East is in a geopolitical mess, and we haven’t been closer to nuclear conflict since the collapse of the Soviet Union. However, these issues of 2016 have not come out of nowhere. They are the result of American attempts of foreign intervention throughout our time as a world superpower. These can include but are not limited to: The attempts at regime change in Syria and Libya, the wars in Iraq, the arming of the mujahideen in Afghanistan, or even the CIA overthrow of the democratically-elected Iranian government in 1953.
Many try to blame the current mess on the Sykes-Picot agreement, which is the British-French agreement that arbitrarily drew borders for the Middle East while claiming to be a self-determination project. However Sykes-Picot has not been the problem, at least not nearly as much as American intervention has been. Many historians, academics, and political figures try to pin the Middle East’s problems on how Sykes-Picot tried to group different peoples together, however this couldn’t be further from the truth. Sykes-Picot is just one more example of the divide and conquer strategy that the United States (as the new Western power) has been using in the Middle East in its interventions for decades. The problems in these countries have been caused by the disunification of these nations due to American intervention.
Furthermore, these interventions breed the rise of radical movements like ISIS and Al-Qaeda, and have resulted in blowback to our liberties. One such example, divide and conquer in Iraq, is how a CIA-backed Saddam Hussein overthrew the Iraqi government conveniently when the government was in the final stages of a full political and military unification with Syria, and then decades later the US directly overthrew Saddam Hussein. The American-forced disbandonment of the Iraqi Baath party created large ethno-sectarian divisions in Iraq resulting in the rise of ISIS.
Our interventionist foreign policy has resulted in our congressmen and congresswomen on both sides of the aisle attempting to take away our 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th amendment rights due to ISIS inspiring attacks, without even considering how our foreign policy might be a problem. They haven’t considered the human toll, or how our actions of interventions and the actions of our allies have contributed to the increased destabilization of the world.
As a result, the next stage we are entering into is a political one of nationalistic movements, highlighted by Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump. In some ways, this will be better than the alternative of a continuation of our disastrous policies. The world as a whole will probably suffer less at least in the short-term, however this has also lead to risks in divisions in American and other Western societies, and we may now face internal instability and disunity; a result of America inflicting it onto the rest of the world.
By Michael Beshara