Copied from where I originally posted this: https://criticl.me/post/new-atheist-sam-harris-right-about-islam-and-middle-east-2503#comments
Is New Atheist Sam Harris right about Islam and the Middle East?
The answer is a resounding no; before you comment, I ask that you simply read my contentions in this article. I go into more depth regarding my issues with “New Atheism” in my ebook, “The Fallacies of New Atheism”, written because of my growing disgust with how these self-stylized leaders have turned Atheism into a hate group. This article delves into the facts regarding why Sam Harris is just wrong about Islam and the true reasons for hatred and war in the Middle East.
Sam Harris seems to have a rather selective understanding of the Middle East and he doesn’t seem to harbor any understanding of the U.S.’s actual role in Middle Eastern politics.
There are reasons why we’re taught to condemn Iraq’s beheadings and yet call Saudi Arabia’s beheadings a “force of moderation” in this country.
“Still, Abdullah became, in some ways, a force of moderation. He contested Al Qaeda’s militant interpretations of the faith as justifying, even compelling, terrorist acts. He ordered that textbooks be purged of their most extreme language and sent 900 imams to re-education sessions. He had hundreds of militants arrested and some beheaded.
But he was also mindful that his family had, since the 18th century, derived its authority from an alliance with the strict Wahhabi sect of Sunni Islam. He accordingly made only modest changes to the kingdom’s conservative clerical establishment. When Islamic State forces conquered vast stretches of Syria and Iraq, imposing a creed linked to Saudi Arabia’s own, the kingdom was slow to respond.”
I’ll give the abbreviated version of what exactly is going on. I’ve heard most people say “oh I know that already” but it seems as if they really don’t know or don’t know the full details of why we’re in Iraq War 3 and keep focusing on problems “over there” and not “here where it matters!” as the popular opinion is expressed.A quick recap from what I elaborated upon my previous article:
During the 1970s, the U.S. economy was teetering close to collapse. LBJ and later Nixon made several agreements with several Islamic dictators in the Middle East. The most important terms were thus:
*We will protect them from other countries and essentially fight their wars to keep the balance of power in the Middle East.
*Our treasury will buy their debt securities
*All they will have to do is sell their oil on the U.S. dollar.
The U.S. began working, and continues to work, their CIA operatives in keeping these dictators in power. To this day, we sell them sophisticated military weaponry, have military bases in Islamic soil throughout the Middle East, and ignore any secret police killings, rapes, murders, torture, or essentially any human rights abuses that these dictatorships do upon their own people.
I’m assuming most of you won’t believe me so here’s more details on the billions in weaponry that we sell Islamic dictators just to abuse their own people or sell to groups like Hamas:
Please note, for those who haven’t read the NYTimes article: Saudi Arabia beheads people for witchcraft, doesn’t allow women any rights, and exists under Sharia Law. In fact, public opinion is a crime there and dissidents who protest for democracy, better human rights, or better education are put into prisons and tortured to death to be made examples of. We sell their dictators about 97 billion in weapons yearly, they’re our top buyer above Israel and other countries. Also, that’s a conservative estimate because we don’t know how much the private contractors closed to the U.S. public’s scrutiny make.
I’ve mentioned all of this to point out significant facts that people simply deny as “conspiracy theories” when they’re all verifiable and not secret at all: These backdoor dealings are very real and they’re the primary motivator of 9/11/2001. Shocking as it may sound, Binladen had a hard time convincing the Muslim world that killing innocent American civilians was justifiable. I would like to point out that, even now, the majority of Muslims living in the Middle East don’t want to go killing Americans with this weird obsession of killing infidels. The number of people with a terrorist mindset was 9% last time there was a survey done. The reason Binladen gained the support that he did was because he made the argument that the U.S. citizens support their government’s bombings of the Middle East, which kill civilians including innocent children, because we’re willing to pay the taxes that fund those bombings. They might have far less qualms with killing soldiers and U.S. politicians because soldiers are perceived as aggressors (bringing a gun to another person’s country is not exactly a sign of friendly relations) and U.S. politicians work with dictators to keep them oppressed. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if they viewed CIA agents similarly to a psychopath. Which brings me to my next issue:
Abbreviated history: the CIA found a Jordanian refugee by the name of Saddam Hussein; young Saddam was of peculiar interest to the CIA because he was a thug and a murderer. They vetted him and helped assist in his rise to power within the Baath party of Iraq. They may have helped in killing his political rivals to solidify his power as dictator of Iraq.
Eager and fresh-faced, Young Saddam held celebrations in his honor, anyone who objected to such ceremonies seemed to disappear at night. Soon, Young Saddam caught the eye of President George H.W. Bush and Mr. Bush began to have a grandfatherly relationship with young Saddam.
He aided young Saddam with biological weapons and eagerly invited Saddam’s Iraqi nuclear engineers to the United States to learn how to make and operate nuclear power:
Then of course, there was a falling out on the love affair. Saddam attacked Kuwait in 1990, he did so because Kuwait was originally an Iraqi province before Europe helped break it apart and Saddam wanted it back under Iraq’s control, There may have also been slant drilling on Kuwait’s part. We know how the story goes from there, he had his army destroyed by the combined military might of the U.S. and its European allies. “Protecting international law” really meant preserving the system of selling oil on the U.S. dollar and Western weapons contracts with other Middle Eastern dictators. The U.S., most of Europe, and our Gulf allies sought to curb Saddam’s rising influence. Overnight, Saddam became the boogey man in the Western media.
Sometime during the 1980s, France helped Iraq build its nuclear energy facilities. Saddam hoped to gain nuclear weapons because of the very real fact that no country invades another country that has nuclear weapons. Neither he nor Iran was ever going to try to nuke the U.S. or any other country unless we invaded them first. We just seek to weaken them and keep the status quo so that we can exercise more control over political dealings in the Middle East.
During Clinton’s Presidency, there was an attempt to emphasize how much of a serious threat this was because we didn’t want them to be able to protect themselves from invasion. Our Gulf allies and most of our National Security advisors wanted to upend Saddam and replace him with someone more suitable because he wasn’t being complaint with U.S. demands under the guise of U.N. security resolutions. Enter Martin Indyk, and his idea of Dual Containment.
Clinton imposes unilateral sanction on both Iraq and Iran. Under this guideline, both countries are contained by U.S. power. Unfortunately, sanctions have real consequences on people that everyday people don’t seem to understand. The sanctions cut off Iraq’s power supply and shut down their hospitals. It led to a massive infanticide that killed 500,000 Iraqi children. Most of them were five year olds and died of diseases that would’ve been easily treatable if those hospitals were running normally:
“The costs of sanctions, meanwhile, have been vividly described by Denis Halliday, the U.N. official who coordinated the “oil for food” program in Baghdad before resigning in protest in August 1998. Halliday contends that the program “remains a largely ineffective response to the humanitarian crisis in the country and has not begun to tackle the underlying infrastructural causes of continuing child mortality and malnutrition.” He attributes the death of 500,000 Iraqi children directly to the sanctions. Health services are unable to handle the most basic preventable diseases, like polio and diarrhea, or curtail their spread to epidemic proportions. Thousands of teachers in the Iraqi primary and secondary education systems have simply left their posts, and student dropout rates have reached 30 percent, in a country previously famous in the Arab world for the quality of its education. All this has led to the breakdown of the Iraqi family structure, with high levels of divorce and a growth in single-parent families and prostitution. It is common now to see children begging on the street, an unimaginable sight in Iraq before the 1990s.”
This was a genocide of infants and for all of Clinton’s claims of working hard to stop it, he could have modified the sanctions. There were calls by National Security advisors, foreign countries, and human rights groups here for him to do so but he didn’t make any changes. His advisors openly said that it was worth it as did Congress.
Now, here’s a short clip of two of these advisors saying it was worth it along with a few clips of children who were dying during this time. This is somewhat a piece of propaganda but I think it’s important to look at these people and realize that this is an event that really happened; it’s an event that really did affect Iraq’s opinion about the U.S. and affected the U.S.’s image in the world. To put it bluntly, the average Iraqi probably wouldn’t care about the death of U.S. peoples because their memories go back to the deaths of so many children in their own country.
Propaganda video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOrrOu8uV8o
Sam Harris either has no understanding that this happened or lied through his teeth when he said that Iraq’s support for Saddam over the U.S. was because of their puritanical religious philosophy. Iraq was against us because we committed genocide more heinous than anything Saddam did to them. Saddam killed political dissidents; we committed genocide upon their children. They perceived us as the evil people for that reason. Worse still, Saddam’s chemical weapons were obtained from U.S. weapons manufacturers so we were complicit.
Knowing this, can you imagine just how galling it was to have the second President Bush talk about freeing Iraq from Saddam? Can you imagine how much anger and hatred they felt towards us when we suddenly decided to play hero when it was convenient for our economic interests? To the average Iraqi, they probably wouldn’t give a damn what happened to U.S. soldiers because chopping heads of armed soldiers is not the same moral level as making half a million children slowly suffer and die. More than that, can you see just how ignorant the U.S public is now? We call ourselves heroes trying to give them democracy . . . after a previous president committed genocide. How do you think that looks to the Middle East? The Middle East was furious about the sanctions and there was overwhelming outcry for justice for the children of Iraq. That, however, isn’t relevant news to Western media. Moreover, Bush Jr knew they didn’t have nuclear weapons, he wouldn’t have risked invasion otherwise.
Sam Harris seems to be blind to this entire history, which is why political analysts consider him a laughingstock. It isn’t a fearless show of the moral righteousness against religious extremism. It’s Harris having no understanding of the intricate social contexts that created these problems but Americans don’t really concern themselves with the facts anyway. The idea of “exceptionalism” blinds us to our own aggression against other countries that did nothing to us.
The Taliban was formed by U.S. support and Saudi monies under Carter. U.S. military officials and our Gulf Allies encouraged thousands of Muslims to go fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. Under U.S. approval, they were taught a puritanical version of Islam in training camps, young children were taught to become extremists in their U.N. sponsored schools, and they were given U.S. intelligence to fight against the Soviets. Publicly, the U.S. military brass said that they were God-fearing men fighting against those godless Soviets.
After successfully weakening the Soviet Union and forcing them to drain resources in Afghanistan, the US and our Gulf Allies realized we made a bunch of psychopaths so none of those people were allowed back into their home countries. The Taliban swore revenge against the U.S. and our Gulf Allies and began brutalizing the people of Afghanistan . . . who had actually led pretty decent lives with a strong middle class up until the Soviet war.
Sam Harris argues that the Taliban are looking to create a terrible lifestyle for the people of Afghanistan and conveniently ignores the U.S.’s ugly history behind it.
Here is what I said on my criticisms against his stance on Israel in another topic:
Harris continually refuses to acknowledge that Israel is wrong about anything. He uses the most pernicious arguments that killing Palestinian children is less worse than killing Israeli people because apparently all Palestinians are puritanical Muslims.
Sorry, but I refuse to defend an organization that deliberate targeted UN schools and killed innocent kids. Israel has started a massive land grab and continues it’s occupation. Worst of all,Harris doesn’t even acknowledge this. The level of willful ignorance that he’s showing is absolutely disheartening and shameful. So much for creating a more peaceful world through Atheism.
Harris’s laughable semantics “I don’t support the Jewish State of Israel but I support Israel!” makes absolutely no sense. Why does there need to be a Jewish State when there are several First World European Countries and the entirety of North America that’s willing to accommodate Jewish people? The State of Israel existed, and has always existed, for religious reasons and Harris is blind to this because of his own personal biases.
Furthermore, let’s entertain this laughably racist belief that all Palestinians are hateful anti-semitic murderers. Well then, why bother with living in Israel at all? Why subject Jewish people to suicide bombings, war, and hateful bigotry that will never end? According to Harris, all Muslims in the Middle East are crazy wackos, therefore the entire purpose of Israeli integration into the holy land is a complete failure by default. If Palestine is completely subsumed by Israel, then what else will occur besides massive riots and increased suicidal terrorism upon Israel and the West?
Harris’s own words:
That’s all for now, if anyone likes, I could point out the history of Iran and why Harris is wrong there but I think the history of Iran is more well-known than the others.