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Jason Crews

English 102 T TH 7:40

April 11, 2002
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“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

“Dwight David Eisenhower”, CNN Cold War Profiles. <
profiles/eisenhower/>[Accessed March 20, 2002]
Prof. Rubin ,Barry. “1980-1991”, U.S. MIDDLE EAST POLICY DATABASE. <
meria/us-policy/data1980.html>. [Accessed March 20, 2002]
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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.

Prof. Rubin ,Barry. “1980-1991”, U.S. MIDDLE EAST POLICY DATABASE. <
meria/us-policy/data1980.html>. [Accessed March 20, 2002]
“Osama bin Laden Timeline”. CNN Programs People in the News. <
Programs/people/shows/binladen/timeline.html> [Accessed March 20, 2002]
Shalom, Stephen R. “The United States and Middle East: Why Do "They" Hate Us?”. <
shalomhate.htm>. [Accessed April 10, 2002]
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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
“The Politics of Rage: Why Do They Hate Us?”. <> .
[Accessed April 11, 2002]
Prof. Rubin ,Barry. “1992”, U.S. MIDDLE EAST POLICY DATABASE. <
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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

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?”. <> .
[Accessed April 11, 2002]
Prof. Rubin ,Barry. “1995”, U.S. MIDDLE EAST POLICY DATABASE. <
meria/us-policy/data1995.html>. [Accessed March 20, 2002]
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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.

“Osama bin Laden Timeline”. CNN Programs People in the News.
“The Politics of Rage: Why Do They Hate Us?”. [Accessed April 11, 2002]
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References Cited
“Dwight David Eisenhower”, CNN Cold War Profiles. <
cold.war/kbank/profiles/eisenhower/>[Accessed March 20, 2002]

“Osama bin Laden Timeline. CNN Programs People in the News. <
Programs/people/shows/binladen/timeline.html>[Accessed March 20, 2002]

Prof. Rubin ,Barry. “1980-1991”, U.S. MIDDLE EAST POLICY DATABASE.

[Accessed March 20, 2002]

Shalom, Stephen R. “The United States and Middle East: Why Do "They" Hate Us?”
<>. [Accessed April 10, 2002]

Zakaria, Fareed. “The Politics of Rage: Why Do They Hate Us?”. News Week. October 15,
2001. <> . [Accessed April 11,