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Exceptionalism: A Wile for Imperialism

The Imperialist Violence in Syria, Part 4 of 7 - Part 1

By Kim Petersen and B. J. Sabri

January 13, 2016 "Information Clearing House" - So far, we have argued that international and regional interventions brought Syria to the present violent point and that Western imperialist and regional objectives (American, Israeli, European, Saudi, Turkish, etc.) are at work throughout the Arab world. It is also self-evident that all of America's wars after WWII were about imposing its dominance and confirming its aspiration to be a super-hegemon. Moreover, American imperialism (hyper-imperialism1) is not only the model driving its interventions, but also a mechanism to change political and economic systems of other sovereign nations to suite its imperialistic and economic interests. The central motor of this type of imperialism is the Zionist neocon doctrine to expand the boundaries of American Empire and the strategy to implement it—especially in the Arab World.2

Four forces have been driving the rabid course of the United States since the collapse of the Soviet Union: aggressive, hyper-militarized capitalism; belligerent ideology of empire; Israel and Zionism; and a psychopathic sense of exceptionalism, with this not being a force per se but an expedient to a wider purpose. That is, America's claim of exceptionalism is only a ruse to promote an artificial notion of supremacism and thus entitlement.

As for the role of Zionism, and how it is shaping the other three driving forces, this is a topic requiring discussion beyond the scope of the present essay. However, briefly described, Israel and Zionism have become so entrenched inside the American ruling system that all US policies regarding relations with the Arab states are viewed with a Zionist Israeli bias.

With regard to US global outlook: while the American system with its war machine, particular brand of capitalism, and intimate ties with the military industry is the soul of its imperialism, its ideology of empire and creed of exceptionalism is the religion. An added aggravating factor is the unrestrained willingness—since the foundation of the so-called republic—to inflict massive death and destruction on others whenever recalcitrance or disobedience arises. The mantra for this genocidal lust is "Bomb them back into the Stone Age"—used first by Gen. Curtis LeMay in his 1965 autobiography, and then repeated by every US military commander till this very day whenever the US wants to intimidate those who oppose it.3

For US imperialism to impose its global hegemony, it needs superior military power and an unrestrained willingness for violence and aggression. A neocon thinker of the Brookings Institution, Bruce Jones, expressed the imperialistic passion with a 4-word book title, "Still Ours to Lead" while using 214 pages of text to detail ways for protracted control.

To begin answering the question "why Syria?" let us consider the following topic from recent American political history. In the memoir of his White House years (Waging Peace, Double Day & Company, New York, 1965), President Dwight Eisenhower denigrated President Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt with unkind epithets and proposed that Saudi Arabia and its kings become the spiritual leaders and rulers of the Arab world. Eisenhower's aversion toward Nasser was mainly motivated by the latter's revolutionary decision to put Egypt on a course independent from American and British interests such as seeking the USSR's financing and technology to build the Aswan Dam.

Eisenhower even called the revolutionary transformation of Egypt from a monarchy to a republic (1952) as a change to dictatorship. The motive behind what Eisenhower thought of Nasser and of the new Egypt is transparent. Nasser embraced Egyptian and Arab nationalism as catalysts for the new course of Egypt and called for union between Arab states. A union between Arab states is anathema to Washington; Eisenhower saw it as a challenge to American interests.

What kind of man was Eisenhower? He was the Commander of the Occupation Force in Germany that intentionally exterminated (in the period 1944-49) over one million German prisoners of war in American and French camps through starvation, extreme calorie restriction, and disease.4

What is the connection between Eisenhower's position vis-à-vis Nasser and Eisenhower's conduct in Germany? How does this relate to violence in Syria?

Eisenhower clearly embodied the violent bent of American militarism and imperialism to impose its policies regardless of cost. When the US decides something, retreat is unlikely despite external objections. He set the policy to confront Egypt and the Arab world if these countries sought independence from Western control. He portrayed Israel as a state surrounded by enemies without ever spending a word on how it came about to be a state. And he never mentioned the name of Palestine or its adjective Palestinian in his 700-page book. But Eisenhower's treatment of German prisoners of war set the precedent for George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush to impose a 13-year near total blockade of Iraq that caused the death of over one million Iraqis from malnutrition and lack of medicine. Eisenhower's impulse for criminality is the same impulse that drives all successive presidents including the incumbent Barack Obama.

These criminal American presidents cannot imagine retreating from mass killing and mass destruction. Obama's criminal policy in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Sudan, Palestine, and Afghanistan is no different from his predecessors. George H. W. Bush expressed no retreat with his words, "I will never apologize for the United States." Mitt Romney echoed Bush's words almost verbatim, "I will never apologize for America."

In the Egyptian example, when Nasser turned to the Soviet Union, Eisenhower and the Dulles brothers charged that Nasser was spreading communism; hence, stopping his influence in the Arab world should become a US priority. Yet, in suggesting that the Saud clan become the rulers of the Arabs, Eisenhower displayed historical illiteracy of the Arab nations and their aspirations. Essentially, by consigning the Arabs to the rule of Wahhabi rulers—whose hallmarks are corruption, suppression of political dissent, fake Islamic values cast to serve the ruling clan, buying off foreign governments, lust for concubines, and beheading of convicted inmates in public squares.5

Eisenhower's idea was, however, not accidental. He envisioned that the Al Saud's "appeal" as the "custodians of Islamic shrines" would sedate the Arab Muslim masses yearning for independence and a decent life. In other words, the US of Eisenhower was already thinking to turn Wahhabism into ersatz Islam and use it as the Trojan horse to control the Arab nations from inside by echoing the Marxist axiom, "Religion is the opium of people." We can deduce what Eisenhower was aiming to accomplish. He was implicitly fantasizing to make Wahhabism the dominant confessional ideology of Arabs and Muslims. In this way, Arabs would be dominated through the Wahhabist tool.

Can we read Wahhabism as an imperialist tool of control?

Colonialist Britain and its offshoot, the United States, share the same culture, same background and ideology of empire, same intelligence gathering, same supremacism, and similar history of colonialism, imperialism, militarism, and resort to genocide. When Eisenhower advocated Al Saud to rule the Arabs, he considered how to control Saudi oil of which ARAMCO owned fifty percent at the time of its founding in 1933. Wahhabism, therefore, was that single imperialist tool to fend off any attack against US imperialist interests in that region. In doing so, Eisenhower was following in the footsteps of Britain. Britain, as a former occupier of most of the eastern and southern shores of the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf, helped in the promotion and spread of Wahhabism in the mid-19th century6 to harass and weaken the Ottoman Empire that was occupying the rest of the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, and greater Syria.

But to see Wahhabism as an imperialist tool, we need to know what motivates US imperialism. Particularly since Manifest Destiny, the American culture of domination has been fixated on the notion that the world is an object that only powerful, blessed-by-god US hands can reshape, civilize, and democratize. Following in the footsteps of countless American figures who mythologized the stature of the American empire, Zionist neocon Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz have joined the brigade of US aggrandizers with their recent book, Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America. Conclusively, exceptionalism is not just an artifice to dominate based on supremacist notions of self—it is a tool to expand the boundaries of US domination.

For example, after the United Stated had invaded and occupied Afghanistan in 2001, it did not ask the Afghani people to vote; it used a tool of Afghani tradition, the Loya Jirga (Council), to select Hamid Karzai—from the majority Pashtuns—as a "president" of the American-shaped "democratic" Afghanistan. And when the United States occupied Iraq, it used the tool of the Shiite Marjaeya (highest body legislating Islamic Shiite edicts) to preempt the Iraqi Arab Shiite Muslims from rising against the US occupation. On that occasion, the Marjaeya abstained from issuing any fatwa to resist the invaders. Shiite clerics Jawad al-Khalisi and Muqtada alSadr were the exception. And with that abstention, it agreed with the Americans via Ahmad Chalabi and the al-Hakim clan, and the US managed to impose its occupation regime on Iraq.

Shaping a country or region according to imperialist models, however, requires control by many means including military. To achieve such control, American ideologues of empire have created operative rules to facilitate the launching of wars and interventions. Specific objectives of an imperialist phase, their long-term benefits, and tools needed to implement them, are just a limited sampling of such rules.

Now, in trying to understand what Eisenhower was thinking about how the Arab nations should be ruled, we must mention that his approach for control by proxy, cohabitation, or auxiliary means, has been applied before by all European colonialist powers in the territories they colonized and before them by many other powerful states and empires throughout history. Moreover, we look at Eisenhower's idea of control via auxiliary means (using religions, ethnic animosities, sectarian rivalries, etc.) from a conventional perspective: the American system (from Washington to Obama) deliberately misreads how the world works. Meaning, US ruling classes and their capitalistic orders know that world societies want to be free in choosing their path for change and progress

The plan to reshape the Arab nations from within is in tune with the basic American modalities of domination. The Eisenhower administration considered the use of the Wahhabi tool along these lines: because Wahhabism's primary precept requires people's total obedience to their rulers, controlling the Arab and Muslim masses through proxy Wahhabist regimes would be easier to accomplish. So this American generalissimo had a vision: submitting the Arab Muslims to the will (via religious fatwas and edicts) of a Saudi "king" indirectly implies obedience to the United States, which protects Saudi rulers. (Note: obedience to rulers is cited in the Quran [An-nisa Surah: 4:59]. However, the concept was taken out of context since the verse of the Surah puts conditions on how obedience is applied and what types of rulers deserve it.)

This is how Al Saud generated obedience: the foundation of the Saudi state (1932) was based on a pact between them and the Wahhabi religious establishment—thriving since the mid-19th century with the help of Britain, which physically occupied most of the Arabian Peninsula—that they rule while Wahhabi clerics control all religious aspects of the state. These include teaching their brand of Islam and interpretation of the Islamic sharia (laws), school religious curricula, graduating imams and muftis, proselytizing, raising funds, but most importantly: providing absolute obedience by the people to the state. The direct result of such an arrangement was that any resistance to or criticism of the Saudi clan is automatically translated into contravention of Islamic laws and even defection from Islam. (For expanded information, and to understand how Saudi rulers use Wahhabism (conveniently named, "Islam") as an instrument of absolute state power, read footnote # 7)

Still, to render the idea of how Wahhabism controls the Saudi people on behalf of Al Saud, consider the two following examples. When over 500,000 US soldiers camped in Saudi Arabia under the pretext of defending it from an Iraqi threat (Operation Desert Shield, 1990), Al Saud reined in the objections of the citizenry via the Wahhabi clergy. They issued fatwas supporting the US military buildup and the looming American war under the justification that Iraq was atheist because of the Baath ideology of Arab Socialism.8

Unlike the official Wahhabi establishment paid for and controlled by the House of Saud—thus keeping the establishment is in line with the aims and policies of the United States via the ruling family—mainstream Wahhabism broadly defined as Salafism is militant and follows a pan-Islamic ideology. This pan-Islamic ideology is not necessarily anti-West or East. Rather it is centered on one purported tenet: "defending Muslims" and their lands anywhere in the world using the strictest interpretations of Islamic sharia.

No one harnessed the power of militant ideological Wahhabism better than the United States of Jimmy Carter and Zbigniew Brzezinski. With the House of Saud ready, for any number of reasons, to spend billions of dollars in support of the US aims in Soviet-invaded Afghanistan, Carter and Brzezinski transformed Wahhabism from a creed mostly concerned with the strict interpretations of the Quran and dogmatic application of Islam into a warring ideology (jihad) to fight the "atheist" Russians. Some 30 years after the Soviet Union left Afghanistan, new teams of US imperialists, neocon Zionists, and Saudi rulers amplified the objectives of "Afghanist" Wahhabism to create another tool whose declared aim, as demonstrated by events, is the disintegration of the Arab system of nations.9 The occasion leading to this planned disintegration was the so-called Arab "spring". Aside from the genuine Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings (later contained and reversed by the West and Saudi Arabia), it was not surprising that the successive violent waves of that "spring" hit only selected Arab countries (Libya, Syria, Yemen) not yet subjugated to the US and Israel. Not only that, but militant Saudi Wahhabism has gone beyond its Afghanist model to become a multi-national force directed specifically against the Arab Muslims. Thus, after over 1400 years from converting to Islam, Arab Muslims are now accused of apostasy and deviation from Islam.

The reason that we do not see the banners of armed Wahhabi militants anywhere except in those selected Arab states, is an evidence that their use is politically and strategically coordinated between the US and Saudi Arabia. It also points to a reasoned conclusion: because these two countries are fighting for similar objectives in Syria—removal of Bashar Assad by means of armed groups financed and trained by both, and isolation of Hezbollah to finish it off—then these objectives unify them on three fronts. 1) The US (and Israel) and the House of Saud converged their forces to implement the US plans for the partition of Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen. 2) To reward the Saudis for their role in implementing these plans, the US would ease its pressure on them while promoting their sense of becoming a regional military power as evidenced by their war of aggression against Yemen—publically justified as an opposition to Iran's assumed penetration in the Arab world. But the threatening Saudi stance against Iran has a hidden target: destroying Islam from within by openly declaring the Shiite Muslims as apostate and heretic. This has radicalized the conflict within Islam and within the Arab nations, divided Muslims in good and bad according to Wahhabi metrics, and made religious violence an acceptable way to resolve political problems. 3) The redesign of the Middle East would make of Saudi Arabia and Israel the pivot of a new alliance that would define the future of the Palestinian Issue and the Arab world. (For more information on the emerging alliance between Saudi Arabia and Israel, read note 10.) (For an overview on Saudi animosity toward Shiism, which is incidentally the official confessional creed of Iran, see note 11, 12.)

With regard to how the US strategically spreads spurious "Jihadist ideologies", we must mentions that immediately after 9/11, new terms started to circulate massively—Islamic, jihad, radical Islam, holy war, etc. (We do not know who are the people editing the website Washington's Blog.com. But the article, “Sleeping With the Devil: How U.S. and Saudi Backing of Al Qaeda Led to 9/11,” gives considerable information on how the United States used Saudi Wahhabism in its wars. More information can be searched online.)

While controlling the Arab masses from within (as with the examples of the Gulf Sheikdoms now called emirates, states, or kingdoms) has been an effective method, controlling them by external means is direct, violent, and has all the imprints of classical colonialist imperialism. Comprehending how these policies work brings us a step closer to understand the wider meaning of violence in Syria. Consequently, we must bring into the discussion another issue: the plan behind the systematic destruction of Syria (and Iraq, Libya, and Yemen) and the destabilizations of all Arab states cannot be separated from the general plan to dismantle and destroy the Arab system of nations called the Arab world. And, although not Arab, Iran belongs in this mix as its inclusion points to a dynamic used in pushing imperialist aims—dividing and conquering—through amplification and demonization of confessional differences.

From the moment in which Britain promised Palestine to the Zionist movement, from the moment oil was discovered under Arab soils, and considering the quasi homogeneity of Arab societies across their vast lands, devising a plan to keep them under continuous Western colonialist control has been an objective. In such a plan, any of the following items is equally important: 1) preventing projects of Arab unity to weaken their collective power, 2) promoting sectarian and ethnic conflicts as a means to erode state power, 3) destabilizing the Arab system through Israel, 3) preventing solutions to the Palestinian issue to antagonize the Arabs and pushed them into Western hands, and 4) imperialist control of oil and other resources.

As for Arab unity, the plan has been around since the secret British-French Sykes-Picot Agreement in 1916 to partition the previous Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire. Yet, with all Arab nations in Western Asia and North Africa obtaining their independence from European colonialism after WWI and WWII, the idea of Arab nationalism and unity survived the Western plan to partition them into separate entities and continued to be an unconquerable ideological force. Above all, the single most important catalyst that pushed the Arabs to a common ground was their rejection of a Jewish Zionist European state on Arab Palestine.

Kim Petersen is a former editor of the Dissident Voice newsletter. He can be reached at kimohp@inbox.com

B. J. Sabri is an observer of the politics of modern colonialism, imperialism, Zionism, and of contemporary Arab issues. He can be reached at b.j.sabri@aol.com


  1. B. J. Sabri, The Hyper-Imperialist Paradigm, Parts Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Dissident Voice, 2003

  2. Free Republic, Empire Builders: Neoconservatives and their Blueprint for U.S. Power, Note: originally published by the Christian Science Monitor in 2003

  3. Quoted in the New York Times Obituary, Gen. Curtis LeMay, an Architect Of Strategic Air Power, Dies at 83, 2 October 1990. Quoted in Spartacus Educational, “Curtis LeMay.” Quoted in History News Network, “Bomb them Back to the Stone Age: An Etymology.”

  4. James Bacque, Other Losses, Third Edition, Talonbooks, Vancouver, 2011.

  5. GRAPHIC: Rare & Illegal Footage Shows Public Beheadings in Saudi Arabia

  6. David Livingstone, Globalists created Wahhabi Terrorism to Destroy Islam and Justify a Global State .

  7. Saudi Basic Law of Governance

  8. Judith Miller, WAR IN THE GULF: Muslims; Saudis Decree Holy War on Hussein,” New York Times, 20 January 1991.

  9. "The Greater Middle East Project” (An extensive multi-link document)

  10. Unholy Alliance” between Saudi Arabia and Israel . . .

* For an American Zionist view, Atlantic piece, Israel and Saudi Arabia: Togetherish at Last?
* For an imperialist view, WSJ piece,
Saudi Arabia Reluctantly Finds Common Ground With Israel About Iran.

* For an Israeli perspective, Jerusalem Post, "Israeli-Saudi relations best kept quiet"

* The Times of Israel: In very rare public meet, Israeli, Saudi officials name Iran as common foe

* Arutz Sheva, Saudi Official Shakes Hands with Israelis in Rare Meeting

  1. Al-Monitor.com, Why Salafists see Shiites as their greatest enemy

  2. Washingtonsblog, The Real Reasons Saudi Arabia Hates Iran


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