Is Islam the problem? While most people recognize that Islam is at its core a peaceful religion and it is only a small minority of radicals who give the religion a bad name, others are beginning to call the entirety of Islam flawed. “Radical” Islam, isn’t the problem – Islam itself is. Anti-Islam fervor is growing in America and in the west generally, but history may tell a different story.
The “War on Terror” was started more than 15 years ago, and shows no signs of letting up. The Trump administration is hell bent on continuing U.S. intervention in the middle east. Regardless of whether American troops are on the ground, the CIA is running covert operations with the end goal being more regime change.
The big question – if the reason for going to war wasn’t “terrorism”, then why go to war? The answer – resources. And to get at those resources, those countries needed to be thrown into chaos. Enter “radical” Islam.
They Have What We Want
U.S. intervention in the area isn’t anything new. The middle east has long been a region where western rulers attempt to exploit underdeveloped countries. These countries are rich in natural resources, just waiting to be mined and sold to western countries. Most Americans are aware of the vast amounts of oil in the middle east, but few recognize some other reasons why the west can’t get enough of poverty stricken countries like Afghanistan.
It was discovered in 2010 that Afghanistan had perhaps the world’s largest supply of a mineral that is becoming more and more needed in today’s technology – lithium. Lithium is used in many modern electronics. It is key to the manufacturing of everything from iPhones to electric cars. According to the New York Times, Afghanistan may be sitting on $1 trillion of untapped mineral deposits. Afghanistan could be the “Saudi Arabia of lithium.”
Of course, we cannot forget about Afghanistan’s #1 export – opium. Studies suggest that the country produces as much as 90% of the world’s opium. Opium is used in a variety of pharmaceuticals, as well as heroin. When looking at the timing of America’s invasion of Afghanistan, one begins to wonder what the war was really about. It was in 2000 when the leaders of the Taliban declared the growth of opium illegal. In 2001, America invaded, and the production was back on track.
Renewing and increasing the production of heroin has had a major impact on the people of Afghanistan. There are said to be as many as 1.6 million heroin addicts in the country – a major drain on human resources, and a problem that will keep the country poor and powerless. The government itself will be a nice puppet of the U.S., and will not put up any fight as the west confiscates any and all resources from the country.
The West Keeps Afghanistan in Disarray by Supporting Radicals
Fighting for Afghanistan’s resources isn’t anything new. The country has a long history of changing government. Coup after coup, king after king, the country had trouble finding a firm footing in the modern world. It wasn’t until after WWII that Mohammed Zahir Shah came to power, and while much of his rule was ineffective, in 1964 a new republican constitution was written for the country.
The new constitution put emphasis on a freer society, introducing free elections, civil rights, and women’s rights. That’s right. This post-WWII Islamic nation was becoming “western” so to speak – implementing democracy into the region. King Zahir eventually lost power to his cousin, Mohammed Daoud Khan, who modernized the country even more, stressing the importance of industry and education.
The country was making strides in what seemed to be the right direction, and it was only after President Khan decided to distance himself from the Soviet Union that he was assassinated in 1978. Soviet troops began exerting their influence in the country, part of Afghanistan’s “Marxist revolution”.
Unfortunately, what this led to was civil war, competing groups of anti-Soviet Mujahideen, and the influx of even more Soviet troops with American funding and training to follow. Both the U.S. and the Soviets saw Afghanistan as a key battle ground in the Cold War. Afghanistan was important. It’s placement put it in a prime location for the Soviets to continue expanding their empire south.
To Beat the Soviets – America Helps the Taliban
The war over Afghanistan was fought for decades, but U.S. involvement increased under President Ronald Reagan. In an effort to save the country from Soviet takeover, the CIA helped fund, train, and arm the Taliban as a part of Operation Cyclone. Ultimately, the Soviet Union collapsed, and the troops left Afghanistan. U.S. influence remained for years after.
While funding the Taliban helped defeat Soviet forces in Afghanistan, it also threw the country back decades. The Taliban enforced far stricter laws upon its people, virtually eliminating the progress made under King Zahir and President Khan. After decades of moving towards a more tolerant society, complete with democratic principles and religious tolerance, Afghanistan was now ruled by radicals backed by the United States.
It took only a decade for the Taliban to eventually declare opium against the Koran and Islam, and put an end to its production. Lo and behold, soon after, the CIA’s own Tim Osman, aka Osama bin Laden, was blamed for an attack on 9/11 and troops were flown into Afghanistan. Heroin is BACK, BABY! (Even if 9/11 hadn’t happened, on September 4th, a week before the attacks, George W Bush approved a directive to take on Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.)
The Point of All of This
Conservatives, whether they declare themselves part of the “alt-right” or not, should take some time to understand exactly how complicated the history of the middle east is. Afghanistan alone has seen periods of great progress, and periods of Islamic extremism, but during both periods, Islam was the religion of the majority of the people there.
Islam has been a constant. What differentiated a peaceful and progressive Afghanistan from a backwards fundamentalist country was the ability of extremists to come to power – which began with increased Soviet intervention after WWII, followed by additional intervention from America in the 1980s and early 1990s. Islam has its flaws, but those flaws had been taking a backseat to democratic principles before Russia reared imperialism’s ugly head.
The battle over resources, whether it be oil, lithium, or heroin, all continue to be a driving factor for western intervention in the region. Pointing the finger at Islam alone for all of the middle east’s problems is a simpleton’s answer to a far more complicated question – that of American foreign policy and the never ending “war on terror”.