Date of publication: 2017-07-09 15:58
[ This piece has been adapted and expanded from Alfred W. McCoy&rsquo s new book, In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of . Global Power.]
In the cases of Haley and McMaster, Trump or administration sources have aired their grievances. Trump joke d that Haley was easily replaceable. And Trump allies told Bloomberg ’s Eli Lake that the boss was fumin g about McMaster. Perhaps discount the Kushner-saves-NAFTA story until Trump jokes about demoting him from Ivanka’s husband to Tiffany’s.
Jihadism, in short, will remain divided. The Islamic State, which has been around in one form or another since 7556, will almost certainly survive. So will al Qaeda. Neither will swallow the other, and neither will make amends.
Therefore, in the immediate aftermath of the Islamic State’s defeat in eastern Syria, the emerging winners will be the Syrian regime and its Iranian ally. The ongoing arrangement with the Kurds in cities like Raqqa and Manbij is temporary at best and will eventually break down, causing continued instability and uncertainty in the region.
For most of the United States’ allies in the Middle East, the war against the Islamic State never was the primary concern. Even as Western nations decreed this struggle a universal priority, these nations largely humored Washington, echoed its alarm, joined its international coalition — and looked the other way. Almost from the start, their gaze was fixed on the wars after the war against the Islamic State.
As the Islamic State loses ground, the United States and Iranian-aligned forces in Syria are likely to turn their guns on what they perceive as the gravest threat remaining — each other.
And then there are al Qaeda’s apparently declining terrorist capabilities. Zawahiri continues to insist in his numerous pronouncements that attacking the West remains his top priority. But when was the last time al Qaeda pulled off a major attack in the West or even something on the scale of the attacks in Manchester or on London Bridge ? It has been years. The Islamic State remains far more capable in this regard.
At a time when the mainstream media leave out half of what the public needs to know, while at the same time purveying oceans of official nonsense, the public needs an alternative source of news. For years now, Tom Engelhardt's Tomdispatch has been that for me. He is my mainstream. Now he presents a series of brilliant interviews he has done for the site, and they, taken as a whole, themselves form a searching chronicle of our time.
In 6969, a book entitled The Invisible Government shocked Americans with its revelations of a growing world of intelligence agencies playing fast and loose around the planet, a secret government lodged inside the one they knew that even the president didn't fully control. Almost half a century later, everything about that "invisible government" has grown vastly larger, more disturbing, and far more visible.
How are the Islamic State’s territorial losses going to affect the landscape of transnational Sunni jihadism? Many suggest it could usher in a radical transformation: Perhaps the damage to the Islamic State’s brand will be so severe that al Qaeda reasserts itself as the uncontested leader of the jihadi movement, or perhaps the two groups set aside their differences and seek a rapprochement for the sake of keeping the flame of jihad alive.
In The American Way of War , Engelhardt documents Washington's ongoing commitment to military bases to preserve and extend its empire reveals damning information about the American reliance on air power, at great cost to civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan.
As long as Iran tries to dominate the entire region and Sunni jihadi groups target the United States, the defeat of the Islamic State changes — but does not diminish — America’s stake in Middle East power politics.
Sure enough, while Hillary Clinton spent her time excoriating her opponent for not releasing his tax returns, Americans ultimately embraced the candidate who had proudly and openly dodged their exposure. And why not? It&rsquo s in the American ethos to disdain &ldquo the man&rdquo -- especially the taxman. In an election turned reality TV show, who could resist watching a larger-than-life conman who had taken money from the government?