Tuesday, November 13, 2007

In the Mideast, America Casts an Imperial Shadow

By Rashid Khalidi

"......So it may come as a bit of a shock to learn that the United States has had an uninterrupted military presence in the Middle East for 65 years, dating to 1942. Most Americans would also bristle at the idea that this presence, from the arrival of GIs in North Africa onward, has essentially become a continuation of nearly a century and a half of European military adventures in the region. But history shows a disturbing continuity between what the European colonial powers did in the Middle East, starting with Napoleon's invasion of Egypt in 1798, and what the United States is now doing in Iraq and elsewhere. Indeed, the United States has managed in a few short years to do more damage in the region than did the hated colonial powers that were finally driven out only a few decades ago.

Of course, the European powers did not stint in their use of force in the Middle East. As Juan Cole of the University of Michigan has shown, Napoleon's troops savagely repressed Egyptian resistance even while the French proclaimed the ideals of their Revolution. Aerial bombing of civilians was pioneered by the Italians in Libya in 1911, perfected by the British in Iraq in 1920 and used by the French in 1925 to level whole quarters of Syrian cities. Home demolitions, collective punishment, summary execution, detention without trial, routine torture -- these were the weapons of Europe's takeover....."

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