Unless the US changes its policies in the Middle East the so-called War On Terror cannot be won. There is a symbiotic relationship between our policies and the resistance we encounter, between our state terrorism and their non-state terrorism.

By Dr. Lawrence Davidson / My Catbird Seat

Part I – Egypt


Last week I was in Egypt, a country presently moved by optimism. The optimism reflects a high state of political consciousness. Almost everyone I met, be they workers (urban and rural), students, shopkeepers, and the ubiquitous taxi drivers know why their country is beset by problems. They can itemize the structural flaws that led to massive corruption, economic deprivation and brutal repression. For instance, they all know that the “laughing cow” dictator, Hosni Mubarak, had substituted his personal interests, and that of his friends, for the national interest. Everyone has the same general notion of what needs to be done: destroy the power of this “party of thieves” and rid the country of the failed policies it has so long endured. How all this will play out in the new environment of relative freedom, with its multiple party formation and emotional debate, is uncertain. However, if the United States can refrain from its usual level of gross interference, things should end up better rather than worse. Hence the optimism.

What are the odds that the US will leave the Egyptian reform process alone? In the long run, they are not good. The new Egypt has already moved to repair ties with Iran and ease the blockade of Gaza. The latter, in particular, is immensely popular in Egypt and will be just as unpopular in the US Congress. Egypt’s military still exercises ultimate control and is supposedly guiding the nation on its path of political reform. That same military is the recipient of billions of US aid dollars and Congress controls those purse strings. There is a lot of room for behind the scenes interference here. The pressure to meddle will increase if the Muslim Brotherhood is successful in the forthcoming parliamentary elections. They are getting ready to contest up to half the legislative seats and their prospects look good. However, such particulars are but catalysts that set in motion a more general, essentially structural, US approach to places like Egypt. On-going meddling in the affairs of other “sovereign” nations has become a veritable part of the culture of the “intelligence” and military bureaucracies of the United States.

Part II – The United States

Leon Panetta and David Petraeus

Here is a depressing example of this attitude. While in Cairo I picked up the 29 April edition of the International Herald Tribune. The story that caught my eye was entitled “New Missions, Blurred Roles.” In part, the opening paragraph went like this, “President Barack Obama’s decision to send an intelligence chief [Leon Penetta] to the Pentagon [as Secretary of Defense] and a four star general [David Patraeus] to [be head of] the CIA is the latest evidence of a significant shift…in how the US fights its battles: the blurring of the lines between soldiers and spies.” What level of awareness does this maneuver reflect of the problems that have long beset America’s failed Middle East policies? In relative terms, certainly something short of that possessed by your average Egyptian cab driver. The Egyptians now boldly think about and discuss not only what is wrong but also why it is so. A significant aspect of why their problems persisted so long was the decades of US support for the country’s dictator. They know that and there is popular sentiment for avoiding that sort of “aid” in the future. If they can achieve this the Egyptians have a genuine shot at a better future. On the other hand, America’s leaders are fixated on what they think confronts them and have relegated the why of it all to irrelevancy. In other words, when it comes to foreign policy our leaders, to say nothing of our soldiers and our spies, are dismally short-sighted. Hence the policy failures.

The CIA, along with the rest of America’s so called “intelligence” agencies, are designed to tell the country’s leaders what is going on in the world. Somewhere buried deep in these information gathering bureaucracies are people who can also tell them why things are happening as they are, but these folks carry little or no influence. This is because the explanations they often give for events conflict with or call into serious question the special interest motives and ends that drive US policies. You see, just as in Egypt, special interests have supplanted national interests. With rare exception, American foreign policy in the Middle East is designed to respond to the desires of domestic lobbies such as the Zionists and not to any national interest, or even to the conditions on the ground in foreign lands. If foreign opposition develops to what our domestic special interests desire, we want to know what it is and then destroy it. Why it arises is a question to avoid because it opens space for the questioning the influence of the special interests.

If the CIA is stuck at the ‘what’ stage of things (say, the what of Israeli security or the what of Iranian nuclear energy development), the Defense Department is dedicated to designing tactical responses to the ‘what.’ Now the efforts of these two aggressive government organizations are to be closely coordinated within a political environment that refuses to look objectively at the roots of its own policies. So what can this move really mean?

Part III – Assassination as a Panacea

Photos show three dead men at bin Laden House - Reuters

In the post Cold War era the decision was made that ability to carry on classical warfare, the warfare between fielded armies, is a less immediate priority than “special operations” designed to “penetrate, disrupt, defeat and destroy” small militant groups which stand against US policy positions in the Third World. Beyond the supporting of dictators and their armies, how does this presently translate into practice? Well, under Leon Panetta, the CIA oversaw “a sharp escalation” of the agency’s “bombing campaign in Pakistan using armed drone aircraft and an increase in the number of secret bases and covert operations in remote parts of Afghanistan.” On the Defense Department side, in 2009 General Patreaus, acting as head of the US Central Command signed a classified order “authorizing US special operations troops to collect intelligence in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iran and other places outside of traditional war zones.” The intelligence gathered is to be used to “prepare the environment for future military attacks.”

What we have here is an admission that both the CIA and the Defense Department have taken up the tactic of assassination as a major adjunct to the support the dictator policy. These are not like the horridly romanticized James Bond “license to kill” actions, nor even the cruder, but still selective, operations of the 11th century Assassins. What Washington has elevated to the level of high tactics is the extraordinarily messy fighter bomber and predator drone attacks that are as likely to massacre entire families, wedding parties, mosque gatherings and café crowds as they are any intended victims. And now the fighter bombers of the Defense Department and the predator drones of the CIA will be oh so better coordinated. Of course, none of this touches on the question of why the “bad guys” are out there, in so determined a fashion, in the first place.

The refusal to consider why opposition to American foreign policy in the Middle East has grown steadily since the end of World War II and finally, on September 11, 2001, reached an unparalleled level of destructiveness, suggests that this latest tactical maneuver will be of little long term worth. It will not alter the US policy of allying with dictators and oppressors. It will not alter the US policy of destructive economic exploitation. It will only intensify American violence against the innocent people who happen to be in the vicinity of those we decide are guilty. And, in doing so, drive them into the arms of extremists – that is those who stand against the US by pursuing tactics as extreme as those used by the US itself. Keep in mind that the violence of the oppressed tends to raise to the level of the violence of the oppressor.

Part IV – Conclusion

There is a difference between being smart or clever, and being truly intelligent. The men and women who run the United States are very clever, but they are not equally intelligent. They are clever enough to design deadly responses to specific situations. However, the responses are almost always bounded by a priori domestic political positions. Our leaders never display the intelligence and the political courage to challenge those positions no matter how disastrous they prove to be.

The most recent example of this stuck in a rut scenario is the national hoopla that followed the assassination of Osama bin Laden. In the president’s speech announcing this action, and the subsequent media discussion about what it might mean for the future, no attention was paid to why the 9/11 attacks were originally launched. President Obama solemnly declared that “justice had been served” but he dared not note the fact that bin Laden had launched the attacks of 2001 in order to obtain “justice” for what American policy in the Muslim world had wrought.

Unless the US changes its policies in the Middle East the so-called War On Terror cannot be won. There is a symbiotic relationship between our policies and the resistance we encounter, between our state terrorism and their non-state terrorism. You cannot bludgeon the connection away by simply honing your tactical abilities to “penetrate and disrupt” because doing so does not “destroy” the reasons for continuing opposition. That is the truth that comes from an objective consideration of the ‘why’ of things. Unlike the Cairo taxi drivers, America’s leadership just does not get it.

Dr. Lawrence Davidson is the co-author of A Concise History of the Middle East and author of America’s Palestine: Popular and Official and The Alexian Brothers: An Evolutionary Look at the Monastery and Modern Health Care. A member of West Chester University’s history faculty since 1986, he earned his bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University and completed his master’s and Ph.D. degrees from Georgetown University and the University of Alberta in Canada, respectively. ldavidson@wcupa.edu,


  1. 9/11 researcher on the 09. May, 2011 remarked #

    Which ‘war on terror’ are you talking about, Mr. Davidson? I generally respect your work but now that you seem to be wanting to legitimize a war on my civil rights and my liberty as a ‘war on terror’, it makes me wonder what precisly is your motivation here with this.

    There is no WAR ON TERROR, Mr. Davidson. Listen, I once lived in Britain years ago when the I.R.A. was blowing up things, and I wondered then if there ever would be a true way to fight people who had no other recourse but to blow up innocent lives with bombs back then. Since then, I have come to see exactly why the Irish were doing that, trying to oust the British rule from their country.

    Today there is no such thing as a true ‘war’ on ‘terror’ of all stupid and moronic concepts. How does one conduct a ‘war’ on an ‘idea’ that sometimes manifests itself in some form of physical destruction? You cannot.

    this sham called the GWOT, or Global War on Terror is an excuse to destroy civil liberties, and allow governments across the globe to illegally spy, wiretap, conduct other forms of drift net surveillance of their citizenry and then take unprecedented and wholly ridiculous and outrageously invasive measures in our daily lives in order to ‘protect’ us from a boogeyman that never existed in the first place.

    Don’t you be de-legitimizing your fine career by writing about winning any war on a ‘thought’ process. You besmirch your image to the point of relegating you to one more Rothschilds puppet if you do this kind of thing, Mr. Davidson.

  2. Alexander J Ajay on the 09. May, 2011 remarked #

    The US’s policies are directed by the interests of the ruling class… the financial oligarchy. In a social/economic system where capitalism takes the form of monopoly,and imperialism is the dominant means of competition and militarist/economic expansion a broad.

    This fact is an outcome of the internal dynamic of capital and can’t be changed while the state is controlled by the oligarchs…

    To suggest that it can is to offer people false hope…

  3. Earlaiman on the 09. May, 2011 remarked #

    “….. Hosni Mubarak, had substituted his personal interests, and that of his friends, for the national interest….”

    Change “Hosni Mubarak” to “Bill Clinton,” “George Bush,” or “Barack Obama,” and insert Israeli before “friends,” and does it change anything regarding the accuracy of the statement?

    America has never been in a war it did not pick.

    America has never had a dog in any of those fights.

    Is there anything wrong with those two statements?

    America is always negotiating, studying, offering, proffering, angling, wrangling dealing for alliances, trade agreements, treaties and coalitions with other countries. America’s only and bottom line in all and any of these “negotiations” is absolute agreement and submission to American dominance and influence in each and every one of these alliances,coalitions, or treaties. And, there is always an unwritten, unspoken and undiscussed, singular condition, that America is not bound by any of the terms of these agreements, treaties etc., and can abandon or withdraw from them without notice or penalty at any time.

    Is there anything incorrect in that statement?

    So, what is all this shit which America is discussing with Egypt? I think it is straight forward… a search for some Egyptian authority who will take it or leave it, as-is, no questions or conditions asked, and play the game. No others need apply!

    If there are no Egyptians in Egypt who qualify, they will import a few of their own and have another little “revolution.”

  4. azul on the 10. May, 2011 remarked #

    bonne lecture,
    bush la dit toute personne qui ne pense pas comme nous est contre nous; on ne peut mieux dire.
    les américains veulent exporter la démocratie dans le monde MAIS QUELLE DEMOCRATIE? leurs façon de faire,avoir du sang sur les mains, faire un contage de nombres de mort depuis 50 ans, encore résament une violation de territoire pour aller tué spolier un fils de dieu comme vous et moi,il fallait le juget, il a emporté ces secrets avec lui, l amérique commence a avoir peur……..

  5. richard cardulla on the 10. May, 2011 remarked #

    Reading your article and knowing your advice will not be followed, I think we can predict the future. More money and blood shed by America, more hatred towards America. A hastening of the end of America as it was supposed to be.

  6. Rehmat on the 10. May, 2011 remarked #

    The western colonial powers have an old habbit of calling the natives’ resistance to their occupation – terrorism. However, in the Middle East terrorism was introduced by the European Jewish terrorist groups.

    United States’ foreign policy has always based on the principle; “What’s good for Israel”. Therefore, don’t expect Washington, Tel Aviv, Paris and Riyadh will let Egyptians mould their future under free will. In order to get that ‘freedom’, they most probably would have to take arms against the western fascism as they lack the leadership to follow 1979 non-violent Iranian Revolution.

    Gen. David Petraeus, being ‘military poodle of Zionism’ would be more deadlier than he was in Iraq and Afghanistan.


  7. Solon on the 10. May, 2011 remarked #

    “Egypt’s military still exercises ultimate control and is supposedly guiding the nation on its path of political reform. That same military is the recipient of billions of US aid dollars and Congress controls those purse strings. There is a lot of room for behind the scenes interference here.”

    It would be pure genius — the kind we are accustomed to seeing from Israel and US Congress — to cut off Palestinian and Egyptian foreign aid.

    Then Iran and China can step in and take up the slack.

    Iran and China are long-range thinkers; Israel is not:

    Israel’s infrastructure is hanging by a thread
    It’s the Israeli mentality that says ‘everything will be okay,’ which negates planning ahead or preparing for crises

    As Etan Bloom reveals, Arthur Ruppin built Tel Aviv in 1908 in such a hurry that sound construction and planning were ignored in favor creating a footprint that would result in stealing Arab trade; as well, Tel Aviv building was cramped–builders were not willing to devote a single inch more than absolutely necessary to broader streets or amenities.

    We can, then, conclude that Israel acts on the basis of hate and greed, and does not plan.

    China and Iran, and Egypt, have experience in creating states that reaches back millenia; all three know how to strategize for the long term.
    Israel has never succeeded in governing its own Jewish community with justice and equality, let alone form a well-governed state that could interact rationally and honestly with its neighbors.

  8. 9/11 researcher on the 10. May, 2011 remarked #

    Rehmat, Solon, you guys are both still on the same wavelength…means there are others who see this zioturd Schlomo shaft a mile away. It’s too bad that the Sheeple aren’t that awake to recognize the parasite yet.

    the last paragraph: “Israel has never succeeded in governing its own Jewish community with justice and equality, let alone form a well-governed state that could interact rationally and honestly with its neighbors.”, hits it on the head. There are a lot of Israeli’s who are being repressed just like those of us here in the Untitled Snakes are, for their anti-zionist views. Israel is far less a haven for jews of the sephardic type than it is a breeding and spawning ground for zionist khazarians who are no more jewish than is the president of Iran.

    I think that given the dynamics of the collapse of the Untitled Snakes, and the lack of ability to militarily suppress real democracies in the third world by virtue of that bankruptcy and collapse that is coming, there is a chance that the world might shake off the zionists in the next 20 or so years and once the stranglehold of the Rothschilds central banks is released due to their collapse in all countries who walk away from that USURY debt, there is a chance.

    Israel is propped up by Rothschilds central banks. Israel was stolen from Palestinians to give these USURY demons a piece of their own ill-gotten turf to call their own. Once the nations of the world start to walk away and default on the unbelievable DEBT that they didn’t sign up for, that zionist HYDRA called Rothschilds will dry up and blow away.

    Iceland did it. Greece is next. and with the Eurozone collapsing as well back into it’s composite and sovereign constituent parts as their own nations, this will hasten this collapse.

    the key to defeating the zionist beast in Israel and to kill it off, is to destroy the central banks operated out of London by the ROTHSCHILDS zionist cartel. Until this is done in every nation, Israel will continue to piss in everyone’s cornflakes and demand fealty to them.

    As the Untitled Snakes is dying now, literally rotting like Osama Bin Decomposing has been for a decade, it won’t be able to use the sword too very much longer to force nations to bow to Israel, so in the very near term when America can’t pay it’s conscripts in overseas bases, much like what happened to the Roman Empire, the military influence will be neutralized and ended.

    BDS campaigns against the British and the American’s is the ONLY WAY for the world to shut off the hose that feeds the Rothschilds weeds that are choking the world in vomit.

    Israel will fall once this is done. and it must be done. for the sake of humanity across this globe, Israel must fall, and it’s main source of military might must collapse. It must. They must.

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