US politicians love to talk about ‘threats to stability’ in the Middle East. They usually refer to Iran or Pakistan as the major causes of instability in the region, and debate centers around what the US should do about it (more bombs, cutting aid, drone attacks etc). The media blindly accepts this narrowly focused debate, and conversation rarely deviates from the script laid out by the government.
If you pause to think about it for more than a minute, it becomes abundantly clear that the entire premise is ridiculous. Firstly, what do residents of the Middle East think about the causes of instability in their region? As Noam Chomsky points out in an interview with Amy Goodman, their views differ starkly from the official Pentagon line:
Across the region, an overwhelming majority of the population regards the United States as the main threat to their interests. In fact, opposition to U.S. policy is so high that a considerable majority think the region would be more secure if Iran had nuclear weapons. In Egypt, the most important country, that’s 80 percent. Similar figures elsewhere. There are some in the region who regard Iran as a threat—about 10 percent.
Given that the US has now preemptively (and most likely illegally) attacked three sovereign nations in the Middle East, it is no wonder the people of the region are skeptical about their intentions. The US is pouring billions of dollars into the ongoing conflicts, and there looks to be no end in sight. Troops are still in Iraq and Afghanistan, and there are continuous attacks on Libya. While the US professes to want democratic rule in the region, their historic track record proves the complete opposite, and their current support of the Saudi regime makes it a difficult story to believe.
The truth is, the US is heavily involved in the Middle East because it has geo political and strategic and interests in the region. Iran, Iraq and Libya have massive crude oil reserves, and the US wants a piece of the action. If it cared about democracy, it would not have funneled billions of dollars in aid to some of the worst regimes in modern history.
The wars in the three countries have caused untold carnage in terms of death, economic instability and the break down of civil society. While Iran’s threats to develop nuclear power may trouble some in the Middle East, the thought of America injecting itself further into their societies is clearly far more worrying.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.