I’ve read several books about the cultures of the Middle East, its history, wars, and conflicts with the western world. Some of those books provided viewpoints from the individual or the tribal/group perspectives.
This book (America’s Secret War) offers a geo-political perspective on the recent conflict between this region of the world and the US by studying our interactions with Al Qaeda, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia. It describes the thinking of US leaders and how, and more importantly why, decisions were made to go to war. I found a number of points in this book surprising:
- US intervention in Afghanistan was, at least in part, a payback to the USSR … USSR had instigated and were major supporters of the Vietnamese conflict, creating a desperate situation which bloodied the US in many significant ways … so the US wanted the USSR to experience the same ignominy in Afghanistan
- US and Iran cooperated significantly on a number of issues relating to Iraq and Al Qaeda
- US went into Iraq primarily to pressure Saudi Arabia into taking significant action against Al Qaeda, which received the majority of its support from Saudis
- US intelligence systems were (are?) tremendously inadequate when it comes to knowing what the Islamic world is doing, intends to do, wants, needs, etc.
- Significant mistakes were made by the governments of US, France, Al Qaeda, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia which extended hostilities in a number of conflicts
The viewpoint of this book is quite different from the others that I’ve read lately. It presents these recent events as actions in a global chess game, where what is said and claimed may not be what is really meant. Governments and leaders interpret events and statements far differently from the average citizen in the various cultures, and we may not actually understand what is going on in the world around us.
This book offers new meanings to global events. The truth is somehow a combination of all the various viewpoints I’ve read recently … the hard part is understanding just how to integrate these various, often contradictory, viewpoints.