The responsibility of the West

By Angelos Stangos

Events in Iraq, Syria and the broader Middle East region today are to a large extent the result of the West’s failed policies and strategy. The United States, in particular, along with Britain and even France (in the case of Libya) bear a great deal of responsibility for the bloodshed and chaos in those countries, not to mention allowing Islamist extremists to massacre people at will.

No doubt the Iraqi, Syrian and Libyan regimes were authoritarian to varying degrees, but they were nevertheless secular states. And it didn’t take some big-shot CIA or other secret services intelligence analyst to realize that overthrowing such regimes wouldn’t lead to democracy in those countries, but most probably to some rigid theocratic dictatorship if not complete chaos. For some peculiar and indefinable reason it seems that logical thinking is a rarity even at the decisionmaking centers of superpowers.

It started with the US and British invasion of Iraq in 2003. The target was to overthrow Saddam Hussein and his regime in order to establish democracy and bring stability to the region. The entire plan was the product of the obsession displayed by luminaries comprising the George W. Bush administration. Big lies were used to persuade international public opinion that Saddam posed a threat to the entire planet. The invasion succeeded only as far as the easy strategic target of overthrowing the regime was concerned, but it failed miserably in terms of rebuilding a country based on stability. On the contrary, it laid the foundations for Iraq’s breakup and the reinforcement of Islamist extremists.

The next step was Syria, where the attempts of a combination of countries in the region to overthrow Bashar al-Assad and his authoritarian (yet secular) regime were initially tolerated and subsequently supported by Washington and London. International media focused on the Syrian regime’s real as well as imaginary atrocities during the country’s civil strife, ignoring the possibly even worse atrocities committed by the Islamists. The latter were also the recipients of weapons supplied by various sources to the so-called anti-regime forces. The West showed no signs of alarm even when persecutions of Christians were revealed.

It was only when the infamous ISIS surfaced that Western governments came to realize the danger. After great delay the West now seems determined to stand up to the extremists, while they, in turn, are adding a religious war dimension. No one can predict to what lengths the jihadists will go in order to spread their terror tactics.