‘US policy in the Middle East is extremely reckless, leading to deeper war tension’
RT: Why did Washington recognize the ISIS threat that late?
Eugene Puryear: That is a very good question, and we should certainly find out. I think that perhaps the real answer is that the US government isn’t terribly concerned about the number of these groups until it really threatens their own interest. In fact, as we have seen in the civil war in Syria the US has been more than willing to allow and to encourage its own allies to fund groups like ISIS and of a similar ideological stance. I think the US looks at a lot these groups as long as they are not directly threatening the US interests, to be potentially pawns in their broader game to control the Middle East. And I think quite frankly that when we look at what is happening here, we saw that the US on a number of organizations and quite frankly their states-sponsors is more than willing to look the other way until it comes to something that is directly threatening to the broader interest of those who are in control of the US policy.
RT:Do you think the US was surprised by the fact how fast ISIS became popular and influential in the region?
EP: I think they were certainly surprised at the capabilities of ISIS. The Obama Administration really didn’t look fully [...], I think it was in a very reckless fashion when they walked into Syria into the war, where they were themselves along with the EU countries and their proxies and the Gulf states pumping weapons, pumping money, pumping logistics into different parts of Syria without any real consideration of what the impact could be, what the spillover could be, and ultimately, they opened Pandora’s Box. I think they certainly were surprised by the rapid rise of ISIS because they felt they could control this cauldron, this Pandora’s Box that they have created themselves by massively arming these groups. It is not really a surprise for those of us who have been saying for some time that the US intervention in the Syrian civil war could have drastic consequences in the region because of this mass influx of arms, money and logistical material. I think that the US government, however, with its own hubris felt that they controlled the situation and didn’t expect anything of this nature to happen. But what we have seen that just like in Iraq the best laid plans of the US imperialist forces and their European allies often lead to greater death and destruction in the region.
RT:What’s your opinion about US aspiration to bring troops into Syria?
EP: In my view that is intervention. I think that what has been happening is that the US government has really been using their whole “troops on the ground issue” as a smoke screen. But when you are providing key logistical material with quite a bit of money and arms, you are certainly choosing sides and you are certainly doing everything you can to influence it. So moving forward we’ll see what will happen in terms of bombing inside of Syria, but as we have seen reported from the NYT, the Washington Post and others, the Obama administration is attempting now to put together a plan that would move their offensive against ISIS out of purely Iraq and into Syria at some point, even if it’s a couple of years into the future, so it is certainly on the table. The US and the EU have done quite a bit of damage though their intervention that may not be troops on the ground, but is certainly and quite clearly decisive in the ability of the Syrian opposition forces to offer any sort of resistance.
RT:Washington has a great influence in the Middle East region, with most of the regional states being its allies. Isn’t it afraid of losing its positions?
EP: I think they are absolutely willing to risk it all. What we have seen throughout this whole period of the Obama presidency and Bush presidency, what has come out, it is not as if there was no-one inside the administration or in a broader foreign policy establishment or in the public sphere who didn’t foresee that some of these things could take place. And yet the US government is more than willing to take this risk because for them, the most important goal is to attempt to maintain their broad hegemony over the Middle Eastern countries, and when that's a threat they are willing to take a huge risk to maintain the status quo there. This is another sign of how that risk-taking has been extremely destructive to the people in these countries – Iraq, Syria and others.
RT:Didn’t the US learn lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan? What lessons can it draw out of the situation in Syria?
EP: It may be the same. Certainly the way they looked at organizations, did they pose a direct threat to the US set up in any particular region of the world, and until they do, they can potentially be used or facilitated with other allies. So I think that the lessons will be the same. The US government will act generally in the same way and ultimately all they will be concerned about is does X-group facilitate their ability to maintain their hegemony over the Middle East, and if they do not then they will be targeted, and if they do, or at least are neutral in that fight, then they will certainly be ignored. The US government’s entire policy is extremely reckless in the Middle East and all around the world and really leads to deeper war tension. I hope the lesson could be that the war is really not the answer, but ultimately we have seen that this current government and this current regime are not willing to pursue another course.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.