American Raj

51vRrURcHgL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I came across Eric Margolis’ book on the TRL reading list. I haven’t finished it yet, but what I have read has really, really helped give me much better context for the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. It’s certainly not the whole picture, but that’s part of why I like it. Margolis is a journalist and he’s largely reporting on the history and culture of the Middle East, rather than an economic or political commentary (though it does it include that).

American Raj ($4.99 on Kindle)

In 1993 Samuel P. Huntington turned conventional political wisdom on its head by arguing in a provocative essay that the secularized West and the fundamentalist Islamic world were destined to clash-a clash of civilizations. At about the same time, veteran journalist and foreign policy expert Eric S. Margolis was arguing virtually the same point-but from a unique vantage point: inside and on the ground in the Muslim world itself. American Raj: Liberation or Domination? is the culmination of all those years of feet-on-the-ground reporting and analysis-many of them spent actually fighting alongside mujahedeen-as well as a lifetime of insight into the complex reality of the way the Muslim world really operates. It is a masterful synthesis of experience and insight that answers the most pressing questions we in the West confront: Why does the Muslim world distrust us? Is the idea of a secular Muslim world-especially one based on the western model-realistic? Has ideology blinded Western powers to both political and historical reality? Is accommodation between these two ideological adversaries possible? What can be done to prevent a clash of civilizations? American Raj: Liberation or Domination? takes the reader behind the conventional headlines and into the thinking and world view of anti-Western Islamic radicals throughout the Muslim world, and identifies the historical, political and religious factors that have played such a huge role in generating Islamic hostility towards the West. Employing the model of Britain’s imperialist hegemony in Asia, which culminated in the eighteenth-century Raj, Margolis explores in fascinating detail whether the West-and in particular the United States-risks a repetition of the Raj experience or whether we face an entirely new-and entirely unfamiliar-world order.

Here is my outline of the book (what I’ve read so far – I’ll update this post when I finish it). Sorry for the formatting. For some reason the blog theme inserts an extra line space at the end of paragraphs:
  1. Chapter 1: The Arc of Anger
  2. Chapter 2: The Muslim World in Chains
    1. 1945, post WWII, only 5 independent Muslim nations (Turkey, Saudi Arabia, North Yemen, Afghanistan, Muslim Republic of Eastern Turkestan). The remaining 1 billion Muslims were colonial subjects.
    2. Major events in last 2,000 years:
      1. Mongol invasions
        1. 13th Century Genghis Khan decimated advanced muslim civilization
          1. Bagdad did not reach 13th cent population again until Saddam Hussein
        2. Never recovered. Under foreign rule since, which caused further decline
      2. European colonialism
        1. Fall of Granada in 1492 began European imperialism
          1. crown jewel = British Indian Empire = British Raj
        2. Justified as spreading Christianity
    3. Post-war (WWI) rape of the Ottoman Empire divided spoils (land) among European countries
      1. France got Syria
      2. Britain created Iraq (for oil)
      3. Most of the world was under European colonial rule, yet freedom, liberty, and democracy was limited to the rulers
        1. Why wasn’t democracy spread while they were under European control?
      4. Foreign nations uniting smaller provinces into nations
        1. What would America look like if England bypassed our federal process, ignored states’ arguments of self interest, and conglomerated us?
  3. Chapter 3: The Great Muslim Revolts
    1. The Great Mutiny (1857, India)
      1. revolt after new rifle cartridges feared greased with pig (Muslim) or cow (Hindu) fat
      2. insurgents took Delhi
      3. Muslims called for jihad (first time in modern era)
      4. Ended rule of East India Company; now under direct rule of the Crown
      5. Colonial “divide and rule” provoked Muslim/Hindu tensions, resulting in Pakistan/India tensions
    2. The Madhi Attacks (Egypt)
      1. 1881 Mohammed Ahmad claims Madhi (savior), declares jihad against Western oppression, calls Muslims to live like Prophet’s followers (“ansar”)
      2. liberated Sudan, declared it “Islamic Caliphate”
      3. Salafism (strict path) = 18th cent call to Islamic “fundamentalism” (Wahabist creed)
        1. dedicated followers = “Ikhwan” (Brotherhood)
        2. Salafism = official creed of 1924 establishment of Saudi Arabia
      4. revived Islam seen as only force capable of freeing Muslims from colonial rule
      5. The Madhi became the Osama bin Laden of Britain
      6. revolt ended by Britain with new Maxim machine gun
    3. North Africa
      1. 1919 Abdel Krim declared jihad against Spain’s invasion of Morrocco
      2. 1921 Krim defeated Spain & declared Rif Republic (first independent Islamic republic of 20th century)
      3. 1926 Spain called upon France to defeat Krim
    4. The Grand Senoussi
      1. Senoussi  preached the concept of Islamic brotherhood, tribal cooperation, and a reawakening of traditional Islam.
      2. forced into battle against French, Italian, and then British
    5. Libya – Lion of the Desert (1920s-30s)
      1. Omar Mukhtar led resistance against Italy
      2. hanged in 1931, ending the resistance
      3. first time funds were raised for jihad across Islamic world
      4. 1959 Britain made aged member of Senoussi family king
      5. U.S. took over influence in Libya
      6. king’s inaction in 1967 Arab-Israeli War = replaced by CIA appointed Muammar Khadaffi (in a 1969 coup)
    6. Sheik Shamyl (Chechnya, 1830)
      1. Chechen religious leader led resistance against Russian Cossacks
    7. Somalia – The Mad Mullah
      1. Muhammed bin Abdullah Hassan preached message of purifying Islam (like Wahabis)
      2. 1920 defeated by British air power
      3. British military found new Mad Mullah in Afghanistan
    8. The Moro War
  4. Chapter 4: The Mirage of Independence
    1. 1960s European countries decolonized, but left “brown Europeans” in their place
      1. “outsourced” colonial administration and economic exploitation to much lower-cost Third World staff (nations became wholly owned subsidiaries of Europe)
    2. Muslims are fed up with “imposed backwardness”
  5. Chapter 5: Dawn of the American Raj
    1. Britain bankrupt by WWI and WWII abandoned it’s imperium
    2. Colonies across the world began revolting/demanding independence from European powers
      1. America seen as ally in this struggle (to liberate Muslim world as it liberated Europe)
    3. U.S. slowly drawn into Middle East power vacuum by Esso’s interest in Saudi Arabia (“mission creep”)
      1. Baghdad Pact = attempt to prevent Soviet encroachment into Iran, Iraq, Persian Gulf; containment
      2. Iran = “the west’s policemen in the Gulf”
    4. 1956 Suez Invasion
      1. led to end of Anglo-French domination
        1. US scolded British & French to retreat
      2. Israel forced to retreat by US
        1. taught them that their politlcal future depended upon alliance with US
    5. 1958 Egypt & Syra formed United Arab Republic
      1. US Marines landed in Beirut
    6. Iraq
      1. Kassem overthrew British backed monarchy
      2. proclaimed Iraq socialist state allied with Syrian Ba’ath Party
      3. threatened to invade British colony Kuwait
      4. 1963 CIA/MI6 coup overthrew Kassem, replaced with Gen. Hassan al-Bakr
      5. al-Bakr replaced by Saddam Hussein (w/ US backing)
      6. Hussein supported by US against Iran’s Islamic Republic (through Jordanian channel)
        1. cost Iran & Iraq 1 million dead each; $80 billion
      7. Hussein invades Kuwait
        1. 1991 Gulf War made an example of puppet getting too big for his britches
        2. allowed US to install permanent air, land, naval forces in Saudi Arabia and Gulf Emirates
    7. Oil
      1. pillar of world power
      2. US control of Mideast oil = win Cold War against Soviet Union
    8. 1967 Arab-Israeli War
      1. pre-emptive strike by Israel
      2. Israel prepared pro-Israel lobby in US since 1956 Suez
        1. Israel attack USS Liberty was silenced by Johnson Administration
      3. Arab backlash against US
      4. dilemma: how could US reconcile support for Israel and strategic/economic interest in Muslim world?
        1. US-backed regimes (Saudi Arabia, Jordan) played double game: speaking against Israel while doing nothing (or sometimes colluding with Israel)
          1. Jordan’s King Hussein warned Israel of impending Arab attack in 1973
        2. US paid Egypt (Sadat) $1.25 billion/year to drop Israeli conflict
  6. Chapter 6: The Sun Never Sets on the American Raj
    1. American Raj is discreet in exercising it’s power
      1. pro-American cadres in member states supported financially and militarily
    2. on eve of WWII, Germany and Japan dependent upon US oil production (to fuel military)
      1. US oil embargo against Japan = Pearl Harbor
      2. Japan, Germany, and Italy lost because of fuel shortage
    3. FDR signed protection agreement with Saudis to sell to US oil companies cheaply
      1. US-Saudi pact extended to Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates
    4. First, most important tool of American Raj: offer of protection
      1. reciprocated by purchasing arms from US (billions worth)
        1. which buys votes in key electoral states (Texas, California, deep South)
        2. Arabs strategic in choosing when to buy, in order to support particular parties (Republicans)
          1. do the same with oil production (fluctuate as necessary to benefit particular parties)
    5. US-backed oil-rich nations deposit funds in US banks and investments (Saudis = $1 trillion)
      1. Arab oil embargo would be met by freezing their accounts
    6. Egypt reliant upon foreign food
      1. Sadat turned from Soviet to US
      2. Egypt’s food supply under control of pro-Israeli US Congress
      3. thus Sadat put Egypt under Israel’s control
      4. US also replaced Egypt’s aging Soviet armed forces
        1. but rigged the equipment to only be effective for a fews days’ battle, and not against Israel
        2. thus US sanction would cripple Egypt militarily
      5. US also sent financial aid to Egypt ($2billion)
  7. Chapter 7: The Fountains of Rage
    1. Israel
      1. Created in 1947, along with small Palestinian state
      2. displaced 750,000 Palestinians
      3. 1948 “War of Independence” was land expansion by Israel
        1. poorly resisted by Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan
        2. Jordan’s King Abdulla colluded with Israel’s David Ben Gurion to divide Palestine between them
          1. Jordan halted their offensive against Israel, allowing them to expand
          2. Abdulla assassinated by Palestinians: “first Arab traitor”
      4. 1967 Arab-Israeli War expanded Israel’s borders
        1. West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem’s Old City, Sinai, Golan Heights
      5. Palestinians ignored by Arab regimes fearing destabilization from revolutionary zeal
        1. new of Palestinians controlled by state run media
        2. Arab regimes paid lip service to Palestinians
      6. 1986 Palestinian intifada
        1. coincided with satellite and cable TV across Arab world (no more state controlled media): see Israel’s brutality
          1. anti-Semitism rises (believe Israel controls US Mideast Policy)
            1. Jewish Neocons in US change foe from “Arabs” to “Muslims”, a deadly new enemy of the West
              1. Supported by dispensational evangelicals whose “foreign policy is Greater Israel”
          2. blame US for creating Israel
            1. believe Israel created to hinder Arab unity
      7. Muslims begin rising up against US-backed regimes for not acting
        1. Regimes suppress opposition
          1. US (Bush) responds with “campaign for democracy” (sending Secretary of State on Mideast tour)
      8. Palestine began to symbolize the wrongs of US-backed regimes
        1. (though they failed to collectively cry out against Arab-led atrocities)
        2. bin Laden argued the liberation of Palestine starts with overthrow of western-back regimes across Arab world

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