Did U.S. policies foster the rise of radical Islam?

By Perry Willis

This is the sixth installment in a series of articles reviewing U.S. wars and interventions. I am trying to demonstrate four things…

  1. Most U.S. wars have made the world a worse place, and Americans less free and secure.
  2. The claim that U.S. soldiers “defended freedom” is sweet-sounding but false.
  3. Our “patriotic holidays” should honor soldiers without mischaracterizing U.S. wars.
  4. We must deny politicians the ability to wage aggressive war. I think we can best achieve this by making military funding voluntary.

Voluntary funding would give us a system of defense that’s consistent with the Zero Aggression Principle. Taxes are inherently aggressive. They force people to do things against their will. This is immoral. But there are also practical reasons to replace taxes with voluntary funding…

  • Voluntary funding would give us a consumer-controlled military. This would block political misuse of the military.
  • Citizens could increase funding for wars they like, and decrease it for wars they oppose.
  • The politicians would have to mold their foreign policy to fit public desires, rather than impose crusades on us against our will.
  • The military would also have to become more efficient and effective in order to gain and retain public support.

These arguments are made more compelling if the historical record shows that past U.S. wars have done more harm than good. Here’s what we’ve covered so far…

  • Were early U.S. wars good or bad?
  • Did Teddy Roosevelt co-found the Japanese empire?
  • Did U.S. politicians choose the more evil side in World War 1?
  • How U.S. politicians helped create the Soviet Union
  • How blundering U.S. politicians enabled the rise of Nazi Germany

Now comes…

How U.S. intervention in World War One aided the rise of radical Islam

When World War One began, President Woodrow Wilson gave a speech admonishing the American people “to be neutral in thought as well as deed.” It was sound advice, but Wilson didn’t follow it. Instead, he favored Britain and France almost from the beginning by honoring Britain’s blockade of our trade with Germany. This meant that…

Americans funded and supplied Britain and France against Germany, long before German submarines started sinking our ships to compensate. Let’s recall who we were aiding.

  • Great Britain was the largest empire in history
  • Russia had conquered the second most territory
  • France was the third largest empire

By comparison…

  • Germany was a gangster state too, having conquered a few colonies of its own, but it was a piker compared to Britain, France, and Russia.
  • Germany was also a parliamentary monarchy, like Britain, with a federal system similar to the U.S.

In other words…

  • There was no obvious “clash of ideology” that required Wilson to choose sides against Germany.
  • There were actually many reasons to slightly prefer Germany to Britain, France, and Russia.

To be clear, there was no “good side” in World War One! Still, it’s pretty obvious that the U.S. was supporting the more evil set of gangsters. Let’s drive this point home by looking at what Britain, France, and Russia were doing in the Islamic world prior to World War One…

  • Britain conquered the Arabian Gulf chiefdoms (1820)
  • France conquered Algeria (1830)
  • Britain conquered Oman (1861)
  • France conquered Tunisia (1881)
  • Britain conquered Egypt (1882)
  • Britain conquered Kuwait and then Sudan (1899)

All these conquests came at the expense of the Islamic Caliphate that ruled the Ottoman Empire.

Meanwhile, Russia fought eleven wars against the Ottoman Empire between 1568 and 1878. These wars were designed to seize access to the Mediterranean through the Turkish-controlled Dardanelles. So it’s not surprising that the Ottoman Empire joined Germany and Austria-Hungary when World War One began.

Now consider these two questions…

  • How would you feel about Britain, France, and Russia if you were a Muslim?
  • How would you feel about the U.S. giving victory to Britain and France?

The answers come pretty easy, right? You would hate Britain, France, Russia, and even the U.S. You might not seek future prospects for revenge, but you wouldn’t be surprised by or necessarily opposed to a neighbor who did. Well…

Muslim motivations for hatred and revenge were about to get even worse

WW1 began in August 1914. By 1915, the British were negotiating with various Arab leaders for an alliance against the Ottoman Turks. The Arabs wanted a British commitment for a pan-Arab state. It would run from…

  • the 37th parallel in the North (near the southern border of Turkey)
  • to Iran and the Persian Gulf in the East
  • the Mediterranean in the West
  • the Arabian Sea in the South

Barring such a commitment the Arabs would fight on the side of their Islamic Turkish brethren against Britain, France, and Russia. The British accepted the Arabic proposal on October 24, 1915 with the limitation that the new Arab state would not include the Mediterranean coast of Syria.

With this agreement concluded, British officer T.E. Lawrence joined the Arab forces. The Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire began in June 1916. The story of that revolt is told in the classic movie, Lawrence of Arabia. Alas…

The Arabs would fight and die for promises that would not be kept

Having made one agreement with the Arabs on October 24, 1915, the British then made a contrary agreement with the French on May 16, 1916. This second agreement lives in infamy as the Sykes-Picot Treaty because of the “diplomats” who negotiated it — Mark Sykes for the British and Francois Georges-Picot for the French.

The Sykes-Picot Treaty was negotiated in secret, and for a good reason. It violated every commitment the British had made to the Arabs. It’s not for nothing that Britain gained the nickname Perfidious Albion. The two empires agreed to divide the lands promised to a pan-Arab state into five parts…

  • Region 1: The British would control an area extending from Baghdad to the Persian Gulf (including modern-day Kuwait).
  • Region 2: The British would also have influence over a region covering what is now Northern Iraq, Jordan, and the Negev desert down to Sinai.
  • Region 3: The French would directly control Lebanon and the coastal part of Syria.
  • Region 4: The French would have influence over the Syrian desert east of Damascus.
  • Region 5: Palestine would be a supposed “international zone,” but it would really be controlled by Britain.

Sykes-Picot even gave parts of Turkey to Russia, Greece, and Italy. But…

The promised Arab state was reduced to the bottom part of the Arabian peninsula

Oh, what a blessing to future generations!

The Bolsheviks (Russian Communists) found a copy of the Sykes-Picot agreement when they seized Russian government offices in November 1917. They promptly revealed the secret treaty to the world. You would think this would have put the kibosh on the whole criminal enterprise, if not immediately then at least by the time of the 1919 Paris peace conference. After all…

  • The U.S. had given victory to Britain and France
  • The U.S. was by far the most powerful country negotiating the final peace settlement
  • Woodrow Wilson had declared on January 8, 1918, in the very first point of his 14-point plan for the peace, that he wanted…

“Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind, but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.”

The Sykes-Picot Treaty was the very opposite of Woodrow Wilson’s “14 Points!”

Sadly, Woodrow Wilson basically endorsed Sykes-Picot during the Paris peace talks. To cover the hypocrisy, he and his fellow gangsters adopted a euphemism. The captured Arab lands would not be called “colonies,” they would be called “mandates.”

Eventually, the regions created by Sykes-Picot would cease being mandates/colonies. They would become independent nations. But these nations were Frankenstein monsters. They contained unstable mixtures of Arabs, Persians, and Kurds — of Sunni and Shia. This instability led to a long succession of dictators, who held these unnatural states together by brute force. For the remainder of the 20th Century, Britain, France, Soviet Russia, and the United States would back these strongmen in order to contain the angry ethnic and religious factions that lived in these Frankenstein nations.

What was the antidote to this tyranny for the oppressed citizens?

For many religious minds, if things are going badly it must be because you’ve offended God. The normal cure for that is increased devotion, a.k.a., fundamentalism. Religious institutions also provide a good infrastructure for political resistance. So…

If you look for the origin of Al-Qaeda and ISIS, you will find it here — U.S. intervention in World War One gave Sykes-Picot the force of law.

Remember the four points I am trying to make with these articles…

  1. Most U.S. wars have made the world a worse place, and Americans less free and secure.
  2. The claim that U.S. soldiers “defended freedom” is sweet-sounding but false.
  3. Our “patriotic holidays” should honor soldiers without mischaracterizing U.S. wars.
  4. We must deny politicians the ability to wage aggressive war. I think we can best achieve this by making military funding voluntary.

If you find these articles valuable…

  • Please share them with others.
  • Use these articles to start a discussion about the Zero Aggression Principle and consumer-controlled governance
  • Discuss the correct way to honor veterans and the war dead given the sad reality of past U.S. wars. We believe it should be possible to honor their courage and mourn their loss, without telling lies about how the political class misused them.

If you’re new to our work and you like what you see, please subscribe. It’s free!

Perry Willis
Co-creator, Zero Aggression Project

PS: Here’s a list of books I’ve consulted in this series.

The impact of WW1 on the Islamic world

A Peace to End All Peace by David Fromkin
Paris 1919 by Margaret MacMillan

Impact of U.S. policies on the rise of Nazi Germany

Paris 1919 by Margaret MacMillan
The Forgotten Depression by James Grant

The Russian Revolution

Comrades by Brian Moynahan
Russia Leaves the War by George F. Kennan

World War 1

The Illusion of Victory by Thomas Fleming
World War I by Richard Maybury
The Pity of War by Niall Ferguson
The Forgotten Depression by James Grant

The Spanish-American War, the conquest of the Philippines, and Teddy Roosevelt’s betrayal of Korea…

Bully Boy by Jim Powell
The Politics of War by Walter Karp
The War Lovers by Evan Thomas
Honor in the Dust by Gregg Jones
The Imperial Cruise by James Bradley

The Mexican War

A Wicked War by Amy S. Greenberg

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