You are on page 1of 6

Jason Crews

English 102 T TH 7:40


January 26, 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 are already their. Osama bin

Laden is one of those people. United States policies affected his entire life and shaped his

perception the United States. This shaping had violent repercussions, that perhaps the United

States could have avoided had more than just their interests been considered. Every action has a

consequence and those foreign polices had consequences led to an attack on 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 and was largely to fight communism (1 - 3)2, and to do this

they supplied the Mujahedeen with weapons and ammunition. As a result of this 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 now took the view that if America wanted something done, it would

have to do it itself. Although this was not generally well understood, their goal stopped being to

find reliable allies or even surrogates, but to enhance the United States’ own ability to respond to

any crises (19) or threat to their interests3; now the United States was stationing more troops in

region. This could only have been seen as more Western military power hanging over the head

of bin Laden. Americans be told, and most would believe, this was the most prudent course of

action, and not to mention help keep oil prices down, but bin Laden only saw this as a defilement

of their sacred land, the “Cradle of Islam” (4).4

Then from 1980 to 1988 Iraq invades 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. Simultaneously, the United States lets Israel

provide arms to Iran until 1985 when the United States provides 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). 5 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 allow “mistakes” lead to the death of nearly 300 civilians.

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

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]
Crews 3

refuses 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).6

Civilian casualties didn’t stop their. In 1991 the United States imposed devastating

economic sanctions Iraq, and as a result hundreds of thousands die. Though the Security Council

stated the sanctions would be lifted once Saddam Hussein's programs to develop weapons of

mass destruction were ended, Washington makes sanctions remain as long as Saddam remains in

power. In fact, the sanctions strengthen Saddam's position and he is never displaced 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) says "the price is

worth it."(28)7 Thousands of uninvolved civilians are a “fair” price to pay to protect a United

States Interest? Surly 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).8 This allowed

United States to place more forces in the Middle East, furthering their defilement of holy lands.

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).9 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
6
“The Politics of Rage: Why Do They Hate Us?”. <http://www.msnbc.com/news/639057.asp?cp1=1#BODY> .
[Accessed April 11, 2002]
7
Ibid.
8
Prof. Rubin ,Barry. “1992”, U.S. MIDDLE EAST POLICY DATABASE. <http://www.biu.ac.il/SOC/besa/
meria/us-policy/data1992.html>. [Accessed March 20, 2002]
9
“Osama bin Laden Timeline”. CNN Programs People in the News.
Crews 4

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). 10

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). 11 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

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).12

The regions list of grievances grew in 1998 when the United States and Great Britain

bomb Iraq over the issue of weapons inspections, even though Security Council is just then

meeting to discuss the matter (31).13 Now the United States had decided that take on an

authoritarian police role to coerce a sovereign nation into doing its bidding, in spite of

international organizations established to deal with such incidents.

To people such as bin Laden the United States has been an ever present force that is

constantly watching over the nations of the Middle East’s shoulder, killing their people whenever
10
“The Politics of Rage: Why Do They Hate Us?”. <http://www.msnbc.com/news/639057.asp?cp1=1#BODY> .
[Accessed April 11, 2002]
11
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]
12
“Osama bin Laden Timeline”. CNN Programs People in the News.
13
“The Politics of Rage: Why Do They Hate Us?”. [Accessed April 11, 2002]
Crews 5

they feel the area is not moving the proper direction. Plus, to add insult to injury this power is a

morally corrupt nation whose existence only blasphemed Ala and defiled their sacred lands. Its

foreign policies have been oppressing them their entire life, while retaining enough distance to

dissolve responsibility. Bin Laden found a way to fight his oppressor, terrorism. This method

shunned by the people around the world, including his own, was possibly what he saw as his

only recourse.
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]