The US has killed no less than a half-dozen al-Qaeda number-twos and number-ones. From Yemen to Iraq, from Afghanistan to Somalia, the US has proven skillfully adept at taking out the leadership of Islamic terrorist groups. And yet 13 years after 9/11, after spending $3 trillion and suffering the deaths of 7,000 US soldiers, the threat against the US is greater than ever.
Why? Because our foreign policy in the Middle East remains corrupt and largely unchanged. As long as we remain addicted to the region's cheap oil, our efforts to arm and fund oppressive, despotic regimes like Saudi Arabia will continue -- even though some of these regimes (or wealthy donors within them) secretly fund (look here and here and here ) organizations like ISIS and al Qaeda.
But why and how, exactly, will this oil addiction of ours prevent us from continually and successively defeating every ISIS-like organization, as each one follows on the heels of its predecessor?
Most people understand that the US provides arms and military training to oppressive Mideast regimes like Saudi Arabia. By this means we acquire high quality oil at a good price. Meanwhile, the media and politicians seem to suggest that ISIS and its ilk are created in a vacuum, which is the illusion that allows us to ignore how our "arms-for-oil" strategy has created a permanent majority-economic-underclass in countries like Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Iraq -- an underclass kept politically powerless and in servitude, by which means the ruling criminal class at the top is allowed to live in unbelievable luxury.
Over the course of the last century, US foreign policy has turned various Mideast countries into economic basket-cases, all in the name of ensuring our nation's economic self-gain. As a result, ISIS is attracting new recruits from the entire Mideast. But new volunteers are also coming to it from countries like Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan, which (surprise, surprise) have long been the targets of U.S. drones. Other volunteers are coming from Libya, the nation that was subjected to intense bombing by the U.S. and its Western allies. Most alarming is the fact that several hundred new recruits have come from the U.S., Britain and other Western nations.
Oil-rich despotic regimes ask the US to protect them from predatory neighbors. Toward this end, the US sells $55 billion of arms to these countries annually, thus a) making them US protectorates and b) generating lots of badly needed American jobs. In return, the US and its Western allies receive an uninterrupted supply of high quality oil at very low prices. (Examples of the aforementioned arms sales here and here)
What do the vast majority of citizens of Mideast countries get from this deal? . . Nothing. Members of the ruling autocratic elite take virtually all of the oil proceeds for themselves, and by this means the ordinary people of these countries are deprived of the funds needed for investment in the common good. And so it is that US foreign policy has inadvertently created the very means by which organizations like ISIS and al Qaeda are generated and regenerated.
This is not a new phenomenon