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Steven Kinzer

The kind of terror that is witnessed in the Middle East is more or less a direct result of some of the actions of the Western countries. The terrorist events as witnessed in parts of the Middle East are not necessarily the result of hatred for the West (Kinzer xxvi). In as much as Western governments sponsor coup d'états, upheavals and armed incursions, they do this to their detriment. They do such things with the hope that they will emerge victorious. In most cases, they win; however, these “victories” come back to rile them in destructive and catastrophic ways. This happens to be true even as today’s composite and hot-blooded Middle East reels from political and military intrusion from the West (Kinzer xxvi).

The Arguments Used by the Author to Support the Thesis

Ever since the 9/11 terrorist attack on the United States, terrorism and terrorists has become the monomania of Washington, which has guided both the foreign and military policies of the United States (Kinzer 65-7). Over the past, major decisions have typically twisted public opinion in the Middle East in opposition to the United States and its allies (Kinzer 56-8). It is the result of these decisions that fundamentally spawned the conditions that have led to the development of terrorist groups in the Middle East. Some of these are such as jihadists, Al-Qaeda, and suicide bombers (Kinzer 78).


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One of the decisions made by the United States took place immediately after the end of the Second World War in 1945. Leaders of the United States decided to extend their dominion all over the Middle East (Kinzer 45-7). This was done with the aim of knocking out their wartime partner, the Soviet Union, in having a grip of the region. Since that time, the goal of Washington has been to establish some form of dominion over the rich oil region. This would go a long way to insure America’s global economic supremacy (Kinzer 47-9).

For the sake of accomplishing this objective, the United States decided to make agreements with the ultra-conservative kingdoms in the region (Kinzer 52-6). The US did this by offering these nations armed fortification and protected dynastic elongation in return for allegiance and concessions on the supply of oil (Kinzer 47-9). Otherwise, the royal houses in nations like Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and other places would have been history. As a result, the prolongation of monarchical rule in these nations has impeded democracy and instead led to the rise of Muslim extremists who perpetuate terrorism (Kinzer 54-6).

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A good example is the case of Iran, which was a young democracy. When the elected democratic government took the reigns of power and nationalized Iran’s substantial petroleum reserves, Washington had other intentions (Kinzer 7-8). With the help of the CIA, the United States in conjunction with Britain launched a propaganda campaign against the then Prime Minister Mossadegh (Kinzer 1-2). Even though many Iranians thought of Americans as of friends who were in support of their delicate democracy, the situation changed drastically (Kinzer 1-2).

To most Iranians, America was a great country, perfect country that protected them from countries that browbeat them. All the trouble began with the overthrow of Mossadegh in 1953 (Kinzer xxvi). Consequently, this led to the crush of democracy and reinstallation of the atrocious Shah of Iran to power (Kinzer 1-2). In the process of establishing a foothold over the region and gaining dominance in the Middle East, the majority of the Middle East has largely remained undemocratic resulting in the alienation of the masses all over the region (Kinzer 86).

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In a rejoinder, since the United States demanded a lot from the Arab monarchies, the opinionated left and developing secular forces led to the administrative deterioration of the region (Kinzer 78-9). As a result, there has been an Islamic struggle which has in turn occupied the vacuum and taken up the national resistance against American dominance. This has then led to formation of extremist fundamentalist ideologies with others joining terrorist elements like Al-Qaeda (Kinzer 109).

In the case of Afghanistan, having spent colossal amounts of money in the war against the Soviet Union, the United States took the chance to harvest the fruits of combat (Kinzer 206). With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States needed to establish a foothold for the sake of establishing an oil pipeline from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to the Indian Ocean. The two nations were previous oil fields of the former Soviet Union (Kinzer 49-51).

For the whole undertaking to succeed, the United States decided to replace the Islamic State with more radical Islamic forces (Kinzer 56-9). This prompted the US to mobilize fundamentalist Islamic forces of Afghanistan and other Middle East countries (Kinzer 78-83). As a result, clergymen with radical Islam beliefs together with their followers were organized and armed by the CIA. This in turn led to the formation of Taliban since other Arab countries joined them in the crusade (Kinzer 93-6).

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As their strategy was to win the support of the people, the Taliban activists invited people for peace. Their strategy was to bring into their ranks as many warriors of the Islamic parties as possible (Kinzer 93-6). In fact, many of them joined their ranks. Eventually, the peaceful strategy proved very effective especially with the help of the US government (Kinzer 103-7).

After gaining strength, the strategy produced sufficient synergy that pooled fanaticism with terror (Kinzer 48-9). Though not successful in dislodging the Islamic State at first, later they managed to win and establish a permanent base with the financial and political support of the CIA (Kinzer 78-9). Eventually, the establishment of Taliban in Afghanistan led to a series of terror activities all over the Middle East (Kinzer 140-3).

The Underlying Causes of Terror in the Middle East

The United States’ Unequivocal Support of Israel

The unequivocal support of the United States that Israel enjoys is also major factor that contributes to creating Arab and Muslim hostility towards the United States (Kinzer 151). All these has happened much to the detriment of peace in the entire region (Kinzer 153-9). Following the Yom Kippur war of 1976, Israel overrun and ended up taking up huge swath of the Palestinian territory (Kinzer 157-9).

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As a matter fact, the question of where Israel stands today is still in contravention of some international regulations. Were it not for the backing of the United States, the occupation of the region by Israel would have come to an end many years ago (Kinzer 155). The very fact that Israel continues to occupy the land under contention has led to the growth of many terrorist activities in the region (Kinzer 160-1). Apart from the issue of Israel, the contradiction that exists between the international political systems that are based on values has led to broad-spectrum abrogation. These contradicting behaviors have led to the materialization of terrorism in the Middle East (Kinzer 177).

Again, it baffles the mind that in spite of the ability of the international community to respond and put an end to indiscretions, violation of human rights, and other intimidations by security, nothing has been done (Kinzer 134-5). Instead, the international community has been making use of sanctions and other restrictions against such contraventions. Over time, this has proved to be very futile (Kinzer 134-5).

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Consequently, the inability of the international community to address such issues has led to loopholes which create a favorable environment for the establishment of terrorist groups (Kinzer 145-7). These loopholes enable radical organizations to enlist members, employ skilled mercenaries and other elements that are influenced by their sacred, ideological and opinionated beliefs (Kinzer 153-6).

In most cases, the leaders of these terrorist groups encourage their cohorts to disregard international law, mug state sovereignty, and affront civil liberties and lawful interests (Kinzer 147-8). Most of the methods they use are condemned by international norms and ethics, for instance, denigration, extortion, assassination, commandeering and hostage taking of blameless unprotected inhabitants (Kinzer 148-9). As a result, this pandemonium and the failure of the international community to come up with viable solutions have led to terror in the Middle East.

International Politics

In some cases, terrorist organizations in the Middle East take advantage of flaws of state borders and the dimensions of travel. Some of the goals of Middle East terrorist activities include upsetting global order (Kinzer 148-50). This is usually alleged to be manifestations of Western supremacy. A very vital concern is the collapse and involvement in extensive civil conflict (Kinzer 149). At the moment there is an international involvement that leads to the weakening of state administration, a proliferation of terrorist activities takes center stage (Kinzer 150-1).

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It is claimed that existence of failed or failing states like Iraq and Afghanistan that lack central governments or have governments cannot sustain power over their regions and/or populace encourages terrorism (Kinzer 152). As a result, they end up becoming hosts for deep-seated schemes that both obstruct stabilization and export terror campaigns to other nations and audiences (Kinzer 153-6).

Any form of protracted civil variance and volatility ends up producing scores of refugees and immigrants who in turn form estranged Diasporas which provide safe havens for terrorist activities (Kinzer 156-7). In some cases, economic weak spots in these nations and political suppression also lead to immigrations. Therefore, displeasure with the prevailing atrocious conditions is eventually shifted onto the global system (Kinzer 157-9).

The War on Terrorism as a Cause of Terrorism

All over the world, many innocent people are paying the price of the invasion of Iraq. To an extent, the loss of hundreds of lives in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world is a direct effect of the Iraq invasion (Kinzer 156-8). A research to assess the effects of the invasion of Iraq on global terrorism indicates that the number of people killed in jihadist attacks in the Middle East and other places around the world is a direct result of the invasion (Kinzer 163-4).

In essence, the invasion of Iraq has been a crucial factor that resulted in the deep-seated counterattack. Actually, the number of people killed by Islamists within Iraq has risen to large figures (Kinzer 171-7). A similar phenomenon has also been witnessed in Afghanistan and other places in the Middle East. By engaging in the fight against terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere, the West nations are in effect fueling terrorist activities in the Middle East (Kinzer 176-8).

According to credible reports, there has been a widespread proliferation of Islamic extremists in the region beyond the invasion of Iraq (Kinzer 187). This implies that the Iraq war is the causative factor for jihadists and in reality, it is shaping a new age band of terrorist operations in the Middle East (Kinzer 193-5). The conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan has greatly increased the spread of terrorist activities like Al-Qaeda operations (Kinzer 121-4). This is indicated by the rising number of terrorist attacks in the region. Additionally, a stark evaluation of terrorism developments in the Middle East found out that the invasion of Iraq helped to spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism. This revelation was carried out by American Intelligence agencies (Kinzer 123-4).

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The Predominant Psychological Issues

In the Middle East, there are various psychological reasons that lead to extremism and terrorism. One of them is the intrinsically vicious psychosomatic inspirations (Kinzer 133-5). A number of scientists have the view that in the inside of a man, there is an inherent destructive tendency which is deeply rooted ever since his creation (Kinzer 135-7). Therefore, the need for energy to be released through being occupied in these belligerent behaviors lead to the manifestation of violence in order to obliterate one’s self and show antagonism to others (Kinzer 135-7).

Wrong Education

In as much as education factors may not necessarily be the direct causes of terrorism in the Middle East, it however plays a significant role (Kinzer 33-5). The inadequacies and pessimistic features in the existing educational arrangement and curricular could lead to the materialization of terrorism in these countries (Kinzer 33-6). In a number of these countries, there is a lack of accurate spiritual resources in the curricular programs from primary school education right to the university level (Kinzer 35-7). Most of the information that is taught in the education curriculum in relation to the fundamentals of the Islamic faith does not permit the learners to comprehend the authentic Islam (Kinzer 34-7).

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Students need to be aware of the necessities concerning the doctrines of the Islamic faith (Kinzer 38-9). However, the education system fails to act in response to the requirements of the students in reaching out them in religious affairs and informative opinions that include facts and challenges in this era (Kinzer 38-9. This deficiency in religious consciousness in general results in having an unconstructive impact on the conduct of individuals and their mind-sets (Kinzer 38-9).

It is also worth noting that the curriculum in the education system is not centered on stressing the Islamic faith moral values, forbearance, collaboration, empathy, and the respect for fellow Muslims and non-Muslims alike (Kinzer 41-4). In as much as Islam is a faith of tranquility, fairness and autonomy just like in other religions, learners in the Middle East are taught otherwise. Nations in the Middle East ought to inculcate principles right from the commencement of education system in the initial grades (Kinzer 41-4). It also goes without saying that there is the need for discipline and teaching of societal customs to children at early ages (Kinzer 44-5).

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If the United States had not sent agents to displace elected leaders like Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh of Iran, the nations would have continued to follow the paths of democracy successfully (Kinzer x-xi). Right from today’s perspectives, the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan coupled with the threats of attacks have led to the destabilization of many parts of the Middle East. Joseph Smith, a British historian, believes that invading, overthrowing, and occupying other nations has led to the rise of resistant groupings that engage in terrorism for generations to come (Kinzer x-xi).

Washington must come to the realization that military invasions produce no positive change in so far as fighting terrorism is concerned. Rather, it fosters the growth of fundamentalism in the Middle East while at the same time ignites Jihad fundamentalism (Kinzer x-xi). 



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