Why IS the U.S. Waging War in the Middle East... Again?

by Larry Everest | September 1, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


Why is the U.S., once again, bombing and militarily intervening in Iraq and thinking about military intervention in Syria, after Obama said the Iraq war was over two years ago and the "tide of war" was receding?

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the U.S. was taking action because ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) is "an imminent threat to every interest we have, whether it's in Iraq or anywhere else."

But what are those "interests" that Hagel is talking about? They are the interests of America's imperialist rulers, whose system is based on exploiting and suppressing hundreds of millions of people around the world.

Controlling the Middle East has been a key link in this global empire for over 60 years. This region is home to enormous oil and natural gas resources. Controlling their flow gives the U.S. leverage over the global capitalist economy and other powers. The Middle East connects Europe, Asia, and Africa, making it militarily crucial real estate and home to key trade routes.

The U.S. and imperialists before it have built up a whole system for dominating the region. It involves installing and backing up ruthless tyrants beholden to the U.S. who suppress their own people—like in Egypt. It involves backing the settler state of Israel and building it up into an American attack dog. And it includes violently attacking or waging war against any forces or regimes that threaten this setup.

This is what Hagel means when he calls ISIS a "threat to every interest we have." ISIS has rapidly spread and now controls much of northern Iraq and Syria. If ISIS continues to spread, it could threaten the entire U.S.-dominated order by shattering states like Iraq, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. This could give openings to other regional powers and imperialist rivals to advance their interests at U.S. expense. And an ISIS-controlled region could become a magnet for many more anti-U.S. jihadist fighters.

So now the U.S. feels compelled to get more fully back into Iraq in order to stop ISIS and roll it back. Obama declares the U.S. goal is ultimately "rooting out" ISIS, and that this "won't be easy and it won't be quick." Forget all their talk about humanitarian missions or freeing hostages—the U.S. is using this crisis to try to deal with a whole host of problems they're facing in their region and to try to keep their grip on a region where more than any other factor, it is the problem not the solution.

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