This article is a very rough draft on a discussion on modern radical Islam as a response to US led imperialist actions in the Greater Middle East. To see the impact, imagine if you were somehow to find yourself in Afghanistan in the early 60s. You would probably be quite puzzled by the look. Back then, Afghanistan looked far more like any developed nation. Below is a photo of Afghanistan in 1967 and another in 2007. You can find more at Business Insider.
As you can see, in 1967, Afghanistan was developed. Women were treated fairly well. The region itself was essentially secular. But then Afghanistan was thrown into chaos by the cold war. The USSR started to establish relations with Afghanistan, and the US worked to disrupt that.
They did this largely through a project known as operation Cyclone, which was implemented under the Carter administration and accelerated under the Reagan administration.
In science, we use a few different tools for competing between theories. Generally, if we have two theories which are consistent with a given set of data, we select the theory that leaves the least unanswered questions. So consider the two theories:
T1: The conflict in the greater Middle East is the product of Islamic extremism.
T2: The conflict in the greater Middle East is the product of US and other imperialist forces engaging in tactics which destabalize the socioeconomic conditions of the region.
Both of these theories are consistent with the evidence. But T1 leaves a few questions unanswered. Why is it happening in the greater Middle East? Terrorism is not being exported from stable nations like Singapore, the UAE, or Saudi Arabia, even though they have large Islamic populations. Instead, they are coming specifically from the regions in which the US is heavily involved. Furthermore, why is the target of the extremism primarily the west, and especially the United States? Finally, why now? The second theory answers all of those questions.
- Years of support, by the United States military, to the populist rebels in the region, used to fight the cold war
- Starting with operation cyclone and continuing through the Reagan administration.
- Repeated terrorist attacks by the United States
- Double tap drone strikes are terrorist attacks
- Destabilization from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
- We saw a similar type of violence in Vietnam, but the violence subsided after we left. We haven’t left the middle east.
- Why is conversion and radicalization so easy? See above.
Sure, the theory could be wrong, but it is the “best” explanation for modern radical Islamic tendencies in the Greater Middle East. It also explains why so many of the terrorist attacks are committed by native born converts to radical Islam, and why strict immigration policy would have little to no impact on domestic terror attacks.