Good reasons and real reasons
It is generally held that George Santayana’s observation that “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it” has merit, whether the powerful, or even the powerless, hearken to it. But, it is also true – and equally frequently ignored – that absent an some knowledge of history, the affairs of the moment cannot be accurately understood. As the world enters the second decade of the 21st century, two horrid, fetid, cesspools; reeking of death and ruin serve to illustrate this corollary to Santayana’s admonition – the war and occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq. It seems all but certain that if the citizens of the
It is not uncommon in the history of the
Since September 12, 2001, we have heard a constant stream of reasons and rationales for the invasion and occupation of these two countries. Despite the unequivocal evidence that most of the reasons in the case of
For those with a little knowledge of contemporary history, Mr. Morgan’s real reason for these wars should stand out with crystal-like clarity. In his 1980 State of the Union Address, President Jimmy Carter established what came to be known as the “Carter Doctrine.” Carter declared that the natural resources of the region, dubbed the “arc of instability” by his National Security Advisor, to be of critical, strategic national interest to the
Carter’s National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, described a geographic “arc” extending from the oil rich countries of the Middle East, through Central and
It is all but certain that the death, destruction, cost and greatly aggravated regional instability that has followed in the wake of Carter’s 1980 declaration was never imagined, much less intended, by him at the time. It is also important to note that the Carter Doctrine, like its far better known early predecessor, the Monroe Doctrine, was not a one-sided policy.
When Ronald Reagan came to power the next January, he famously ripped from the White House roof one of the most important symbols of that domestic policy – the solar water-heating panels. He repudiated the balancing aspect of the Carter Doctrine, while silently embracing its foreign and military component. It can be argued that creating that policy imbalance has had more to do with the tragic and ruinous results than did the original policy. That it was adhered to without acknowledgement (perhaps initially purely out of political spite in the same manner as the ridicule heaped upon Carter for his famous sweat-clad fireside chats) points to both the explanation as to why discussions of US policy in the region center on every justification except fossil fuel and marks critical difference in the evolution of the policy, as contrasted to Monroe’s.
While Reagan and subsequent Presidents’ abandonment of the domestic leg of Carter’s policy has served to increase rather than decrease the nation’s dependence on oil, it is the second departure – the reliance on, but willful silence about the policy foundation - may be the more damaging. Because in each instance very different reasons or excuses for application of military force have been, at best, nonsensical (like defeating terrorism) and at worst outright lies, the nation has been deprived of the honest debate about whether the use of military force and economic sanctions are the best and proper methods for securing the resources to power our cars, power plants and most other aspects of our lives. The lack of such a debate may well prove catastrophic.
It would be improper to close this discussion without an acknowledgement that the Carter Doctrine, itself, reflected a long standing de facto
A lead player in that game was the venerable firm of Brown Brothers-Harriman. Two of the most active in that aspect of the Brown Brothers’ business were its senior executives Herbert Walker and Prescott Bush. One notable example of this is found in the intertwined relationships between Standard Oil of California, Brown Brothers-Harriman and the fledgling ARAMCO. That oil company based in
In spite, or more likely because, of those activities
Our nation is long, long over due for an examination and debate of the real reasons for our military policies in the nations of the “arc of instability,” if it is not already too late.