Jason Crews English 102 T TH 7:40 April 11, 2002 Page 1 “American Interests Are Not the World’s Interests” Throughout

the years the United States has had varying foreign policies regarding the Middle East. These policies protect United States’ interests in the region, but from a native’s perspective the United States is not considering the people who already live there. Osama bin Laden is one of those people. United States policies affected his life and had a critical impact on of the United. This shaping had violent repercussions; repercussions that the United States perhaps could have avoided had more than just its interests been considered. Every action has a consequence and those foreign polices had consequences that wounded “The Invincible.” Bin Laden was born the son of a wealthy Saudi Arabian in 1957. The same year Congress approved the Eisenhower Doctrine, which pledged U.S. financial and military aid to Middle Eastern countries to fight communist aggression (7)1, the first notable extension of United States’ influence into the area. This change marked a whole new philosophy for involvement in the area, and because of this change bin Laden’s would always have a foreign, “infidel”, power in his land practically dictating the course of history for his people. Perhaps the first significant contact bin Laden had with the United States was in 1979 at the height of the cold war when Russia invaded Afghanistan. Bin Laden left Saudi Arabia to aid the Afghan resistance fighters, known as the Mujahedeen, to repel the Soviet invasion. The United States interest in the region was due largely to fight communism (1 - 3)2, and to do this it supplied the Mujahedeen with weapons and ammunition. As a result of the Russian invasion the
1

“Dwight David Eisenhower”, CNN Cold War Profiles. < http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cold.war/kbank/ profiles/eisenhower/>[Accessed March 20, 2002] 2 Prof. Rubin ,Barry. “1980-1991”, U.S. MIDDLE EAST POLICY DATABASE. <http://www.biu.ac.il/SOC/besa/ meria/us-policy/data1980.html>. [Accessed March 20, 2002]

Crews 2 American policy makers took the view that if America wanted something done, it would have to do it itself. Although this was not generally well understood, its goal changed from finding reliable allies or even surrogates to enhancing the United States’ own ability to respond to any crises (19) or threat to its interests3. Now the United States began stationing more troops in region. This could only have been seen as more Western military power hanging over the head of bin Laden. Americans were told, and most believed this was the most prudent course of action and it would help keep oil prices down. Bin Laden, however, only saw this as a defilement of his sacred land, the “Cradle of Islam” (4).4 Then from 1980 Iraq invaded Iran. The United States opposed any Security Council action to condemn the invasion and United States removed Iraq from its list of nations supporting terrorism supplies weapons to Iraq (19)5. As a supporter of terrorism the United States was unable to support Iran, however, this was a minor setback. When the United State’s interests became involved they easily changed their position to what ever suited them. Meanwhile, the United States let Israel provide arms to Iran until 1985 when the United States provided arms directly, though secretly, to Iran. Finally, in 1987 the United States sends its navy into the Persian Gulf, taking Iraq's side, and a United States ship shoots down an Iranian civilian airliner, killing 290 civilians (19). 6 Not only had the United States played both sides against one another in a local conflict, attempting to shift the balance of power in the region and dictate how its history should unfold, but in the process allowed “mistakes” which lead to the death of nearly 300 civilians.
3

Prof. Rubin ,Barry. “1980-1991”, U.S. MIDDLE EAST POLICY DATABASE. <http://www.biu.ac.il/SOC/besa/ meria/us-policy/data1980.html>. [Accessed March 20, 2002] 4 “Osama bin Laden Timeline”. CNN Programs People in the News. <http://www.cnn.com/CNN/ Programs/people/shows/binladen/timeline.html> [Accessed March 20, 2002] 5 Shalom, Stephen R. “The United States and Middle East: Why Do "They" Hate Us?”. < http://www.zmag.org/ shalomhate.htm>. [Accessed April 10, 2002] 6 Ibid.

Crews 3 Further U.S. interference in the region occurred in 1991 when the United States rejected any diplomatic settlement of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and they lead an international coalition in war against Iraq where civilian infrastructure targeted. Then the United States refused to aid post-war uprisings by Shi'ites in the south and Kurds in the north, denying the rebels access to captured Iraqi weapons and refusing to prohibit Iraqi helicopter flights (27).7 At this time the United States saw fit, once again, to play both sides of the conflict against one another, in spite of their claims to be promoting stability. How is a rejecting a diplomatic settlement for favor of war promoting stability? The civilian casualties didn’t stop there. In 1991 the United States imposed devastating economic sanctions on Iraq, and as a result hundreds of thousands died. Though the Security Council stated the sanctions would be lifted once Saddam Hussein's programs to develop weapons of mass destruction were ended, Washington allowed the sanctions to linger, saying they were necessary as long as Saddam remained in power. In fact, the sanctions strengthen Saddam's position and never displaced him from power. To make matters worse when asked about the horrendous human consequences of the sanctions, Madeleine Albright (U.S. ambassador to the UN and later Secretary of State) said "the price is worth it"(28)8. Thousands of uninvolved civilians are a “fair” price to pay to protect a United States interest? Surely the native people didn’t see it this way. By 1992, the US had failed to create a formal Gulf security framework after the Gulf War; it had instead built an informal structure by becoming the region's protector. US dominance was based on military power, and was entrenched through defense pacts signed with Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain, and the expansion of an existing agreement with Oman (58).9 This allowed
7

“The Politics of Rage: Why Do They Hate Us?”. <http://www.msnbc.com/news/639057.asp?cp1=1#BODY> . [Accessed April 11, 2002] 8 Ibid. 9 Prof. Rubin ,Barry. “1992”, U.S. MIDDLE EAST POLICY DATABASE. <http://www.biu.ac.il/SOC/besa/

Crews 4 United States to place more forces in the Middle East, furthering what the natives saw as a defilement of holy lands. The United States Not long afterwards in February 1993, a bomb at the World Trade Center killed six people and wounded hundreds more. Six Muslim radicals, who United States’ officials suspected had links to bin Laden, were eventually convicted for the bombing (7).10 This may not have been directly related to one particular preceding event; however, it was indicative of a greater problem. The people of the region were not seeing our intentions how we wanted them to. Their culture reinforces their hostility, distrust and hatred of the West—and of America in particular. This culture does not condone terrorism but fuels the fanaticism that is at its heart (4). 11 Then again in 1995, United States policy shifted. Their focus became building an unofficial Gulf security network while containing radical forces (especially Iran and Iraq), and maintaining the post-1991 international embargo against Baghdad. The US also tightened up its own sanctions against Tehran. The US was able to implement this tough policy on both fronts (34). 12 The United States is a superpower while bin Laden is one man and the al Qaeda is certainly no match for the United States. Bin Laden knew that terrorism was being used all over the world and that if it could be used effectively he had a powerful weapon which could make anyone tremble and suffer. This could be turned against the infidels from the west. This tightening was followed by Bin Laden declaring a jihad, or holy war, against United States’ forces, nineteen United States’ soldiers die in a bombing of the Khobar military complex in

10 11

12

meria/us-policy/data1992.html>. [Accessed March 20, 2002] “Osama bin Laden Timeline”. CNN Programs People in the News. “The Politics of Rage: Why Do They Hate Us?”. <http://www.msnbc.com/news/639057.asp?cp1=1#BODY> . [Accessed April 11, 2002] Prof. Rubin ,Barry. “1995”, U.S. MIDDLE EAST POLICY DATABASE. <http://www.biu.ac.il/SOC/besa/ meria/us-policy/data1995.html>. [Accessed March 20, 2002]

Crews 5 Saudi Arabia. The United States responds by indicting bin Laden on charges of training the people involved in the 1993 attack that killed 18 U.S. servicemen in Somalia (11 – 13).13 The regions list of grievances grew in 1998 when the United States and Great Britain bombed Iraq over the issue of weapons inspections, even though Security Council was just then meeting to discuss the matter (31).14 Now the United States had decided to take on an authoritarian police role to coerce a sovereign nation into doing its bidding, in spite of the international organizations established to deal with such incidents. To many people such as bin Laden the United States has been an ever present force that constantly watches over their nations shoulders, and kills the nations’ people whenever it feels the area is not moving in the direction the US feels is best. Plus, to add insult to injury this power is a “morally corrupt” nation whose existence only blasphemed Allah and defiled their sacred Muslim lands. The United States’ foreign policies have oppressed the Middle Eastern people their entire lives, while retaining enough distance to retain deniability, but unlike most people under the United States’ influence bin Laden found a way to fight his oppressor by terrorism. Its affect was dramatic and effective because it stunned people around the world, but in the end only alienated himself and his people even further.

13 14

“Osama bin Laden Timeline”. CNN Programs People in the News. “The Politics of Rage: Why Do They Hate Us?”. [Accessed April 11, 2002]

Crews 6

References Cited
“Dwight David Eisenhower”, CNN Cold War Profiles. <http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/ cold.war/kbank/profiles/eisenhower/>[Accessed March 20, 2002] “Osama bin Laden Timeline. CNN Programs People in the News. <http://www.cnn.com/CNN/ Programs/people/shows/binladen/timeline.html>[Accessed March 20, 2002] Prof. Rubin ,Barry. “1980-1991”, U.S. MIDDLE EAST POLICY DATABASE. <http://www.biu.ac.il/SOC/besa/meria/us-policy/data1980.html>. [Accessed March 20, 2002] Shalom, Stephen R. “The United States and Middle East: Why Do "They" Hate Us?” < http://www.zmag.org/shalomhate.htm>. [Accessed April 10, 2002] Zakaria, Fareed. “The Politics of Rage: Why Do They Hate Us?”. News Week. October 15, 2001. <http://www.msnbc.com/news/639057.asp?cp1=1#BODY> . [Accessed April 11, 2002]

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