Many American political scientists and commentators seem to be oblivious to the long history of American intervention in Syria since the late 1940s. They also seem to ignore western exploitation in the Middle East since at least 1908 when the British Petroleum Corporation sabotaged and exploited Iranian and Iraqi political and economic systems for generations. Assuming they are acting in good faith (often an invalid assumption), this historical blindness prevents American policymakers and citizens today from understanding why the Syrian Civil War and refugee crisis is occurring, why no other country trusts U.S. intentions in the region, and why U.S. intervention has neither served American interests nor the interests of the Syrian people.
What Are America’s Interests in Syria? Attempting to classify American interests within the conventional International Relations (IR) Liberalism-Realism paradigm would result in an inaccurate picture of reality because the U.S. Government has no coherent foreign policy in the Middle East. Nevertheless, what exactly are America’s interests in Syria? The most common answers are: a cessation of conflict to create regional stability, end the refugee crisis on humanitarian grounds, eliminate ISIS because terrorism is bad, and reduce the regional influence of Russia and Iran because they are evil and America is good.
A Long History of Western Exploitation in the Middle East. Do American officials really believe all those talking points about American interests in Syria? Whether they do or not, the reality is that American Middle East foreign policy (at least since Henry Kissinger in the late-1960s) has been explicitly designed to maximize Middle East instability to prevent any other nation from achieving regional influence; and since the 1973 Yom Kippur War, to protect Israel from the consequences of its own actions. The notion that American foreign policy in the Middle East is intended to spread democracy and peace has been a false pretext for intervention since the U.S. Government and corporations began to exploit Middle East countries in the 1940s . . . after the British and French had already exploited them for decades.
Everything Changed in the Late 1940s. In fact, compared to the European powers (primarily Britain and France), which had oppressively controlled the entire Middle East for generations after defeating the Ottoman Empire in 1918, the U.S. was “popular and respected throughout the Middle East. . . .” and “Americans were seen as good people, untainted by the selfishness and duplicity associated with the Europeans.” Then, everything changed in the late 1940s. What changed?
Corporate Greed Fuels the War Machine. The ballooning U.S. military-industrial complex metastasized into a major political lobby in Washington during WWII, which led to the formation of the CIA by the 1947 National Security Act. This new and ultra-secretive war machine combined with the 1948 founding of the State of Israel collectively mutated American foreign policy into a perpetual war-profiteering machine under the guise of spreading democracy and peace to humanity., And beginning in 1948 with the founding of the RAND Corporation by several profit-seeking defense corporations, the merchants of death have created their own jobs program by funding their own think-tanks and Political Action Committees to pump American politicians full of money, fear, uncertainty, and doubt about American interests in the Middle East.
War Profiteers Cannot Profit from Peace. Today, the military-industrial-media-banking-think-tank complex (the “Complex”) is certainly not interested in ending Middle East conflicts and is happy to perpetuate the profitable, vaguely defined “war on terror” that the Syrian conflict amplifies. Additionally, American oil companies (and the politicians they substantially control) have no legitimate mechanism to profit from Syrian peace because almost all major oil fields on Earth have been effectively nationalized since the 1970s due to Western oil companies’ long history of abuse of OPEC nations. Thus, American oil companies can only profit from high oil prices, which are generally highest during war and political instability.
Is Wasting $6 Trillion (So Far) Really in America’s Interest? Neither IR Realism nor IR Liberalism can effectively explain American Middle East foreign policy. In fact, American foreign policy is a toxic brew of historical ignorance and profit-driven diplomatic and commercial interests, which bear no resemblance to any coherent framework of diplomacy. A genuine IR policy of Realism would recognize that spending close to $6 trillion on fighting evil brings far more harm to the American people than ISIS could ever inflict; and thus, is not in America’s best interest. A genuine IR policy of Liberalism would recognize that, no matter how distasteful the Assad-Russia-Iran “axis of evil/terror” might seem to our pro-America sensibilities, it is not a legitimate use of American power to install puppet dictators or dethrone existing dictators, even if the U.S. Government (USG) is substantially responsible for the Assad Family’s rise to power in the first place.
A History of Diplomatic Incompetence & Systematic Sabotage. Just before the USG directly sabotaged the democratically elected president of Syria and installed the USG’s first Middle East puppet dictator in Syria in 1949, a U.S. diplomat named Deane Hinton said, “I want to go on record as saying that this is the stupidest, most irresponsible action a diplomatic mission like ours could get itself involved in, and that we’ve started a series of these things that will never end.” Indeed, the entire Middle East has become a never-ending story of CIA-backed coups and botched USG interventions from which Syrians and Americans are still suffering today. What IR framework explains these foreign policy outcomes? IR Liberalism? IR Realism? No, simply incoherent stupidity and crony capitalism.
“But the USSR Started It!?!” This is the excuse I hear from some people who defend the USG’s actions in the Middle East. They point out that the USSR was actively seeking to influence Syrian and Egyptian elections in the late-1940s and 1950s to gain more influence in the Middle East; thus, it was justifiable for the USG to install American-owned dictators and ignite generations of war, death, destruction, and $ trillions of wasted American taxpayer resources to protect Syria and Egypt from the scourge of communism. Aside from the fact that Syria and Egypt were forced into the arms of the USSR to escape western exploitation, think about their logic for a moment: In any human community, when does sabotaging and controlling people ever result in widespread, long-term social stability, peace and economic prosperity?
The Price of Realpolitik. In reality, the insane, sociopathic principles of realpolitik never work to achieve anything other than short-term economic dominance, but that dominance always comes at an unnecessary and unjustifiable high price in blood, treasure, and the destruction of moral legitimacy. Embracing an immoral policy of realpolitik destroys trust between nations and obliterates any hope for long-term global peace, stability, and prosperity. It also creates a cascading series of self-fulfilling prophecies that superficially vindicates the Complex’s dire predictions of terrorism, while concealing the Complex’s own culpability in creating the conditions that fundamentally spawn international tensions, wars and terrorism.
What Do We Call Ideologies that Destroy Life, Liberty & Property? Defenders of realpolitik claim that statecraft is amoral, and thus, beyond the reach of any moral or ethical scrutiny. This is utter self-serving nonsense; any ideology that directly causes the unnecessary destruction of life, liberty, and property is inherently unethical, immoral, and evil by any definition. Thus, their superficial, pseudo-rational, and arbitrary assumption that statecraft exists outside the boundaries of ethical, moral human conduct is ludicrous. Arbitrary denial of moral considerations in statecraft does not magically enable politicians to avoid accountability for policies that lead to the mass destruction of life, liberty, and property. When “terrorists” do this, we call it evil. Double-standards don’t inspire trust in anybody.
Where Does This Path Lead? An obsession with realpolitik is the great curse and flaw in American foreign policy, which only benefits a tiny number of corporations and career politicians at the expense of the large masses of taxpayers and victims worldwide who suffer from U.S. foreign policies today. Until we force our so-called political leaders to acknowledge the truth about the USG’s past, the truth about the Middle East, and embrace genuine national sovereignty and democracy for all nations, the United States and all our most important American political and cultural institutions will continue to crumble into a cesspool of self-serving corporate greed, geopolitical conflict and a nuclear World War III.
 Among many other sources, see: Kinzer, S. 2008. All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.
 The USG’s obsession with realpolitik became institutionalized by Henry Kissinger’s notorious disregard for human life, liberty, and democracy.
 Fawcett, L. 2005. The International Relations of the Middle East UK: Oxford University Press p 285.
 Talbot, D. 2016. The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government. Harper Perennial.
 Butler, S. D., & Parfrey, A. (2003). War is a Racket: The Antiwar Classic by America’s Most Decorated Soldier (Reprint edition). Los Angeles, Calif: Feral House.
 The technological advances achieved by RAND (e.g., in computers, telecommunications, and information theory) have been incidental to its primary purpose: to justify corporate welfare to defense companies. All the technologies that RAND is supposedly responsible for inventing could have been invented by private sector innovation—funded by private and/or public investment—without the need to weaponize them and without the need to profit from mass murder and perpetual global instability.
 The Cost of War for The U.S. Taxpayer Since 9/11 Is Actually Three Times the Pentagon’s Estimate. 2017, November 8. Time Magazine. http://www.newsweek.com/how-many-trillions-war-has-cost-us-taxpayer-911-attacks-705041
 BBC – Adam Curtis: The Baby and The Baath Water. 2011. http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/2011/06/the_baby_and_the_baath_water.html
 Sanchez, E. J. 2013. Washington’s Long History in Syria. http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/washingtons-long-history-syria-8717