US bases

What the U.S. leaves behind!

Following Imam Khamenei's speech concerning the destructive, harmful presence of the United States in other countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, publishes the following Op-Ed.

Nearly two centuries have passed since Monroe Doctrine was introduced by US president and shaped foreign policy of the country for a good share of history. But engagement in the World Wars, whether through reluctance or enthusiasm, helped the United States to turn into a superpower and expand its influence much beyond the western hemisphere. World War II paved the way for US intervention in as far east as Japan and it gradually expanded to other parts of the world. These experiences and mistakes made in places like Vietnam and Korea did not prevent Washington from seeking a long, extensive and expansionist presence in West Asia.

In his first in-person meeting in months, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei pointed to destructive and corruptive aspects of US presence. Receiving Iraqi PM Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, who was in his first foreign trip in Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei emphatically advised Iraqis to “bear in mind that the presence of the US in any country will bring about corruption, ruin and destruction.[1]” In addition, in his recent speech, Imam Khamenei, as to the condition of Afghanistan stated, "The source of Afghanistan’s crises is the US. During 20 years of occupation, they committed all sorts of atrocities— bombing weddings and mourning ceremonies, imprisonment and 10 times more drug production."

Destructions that America’s 21st century endless wars have brought to West of Asia, namely in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, are no secret to the world and have been discussed in academia and media. It has been bad enough to find a place in US presidential debates in recent years and be criticized by running candidates and other officials as well. Yet, it is naïve to allow pass of time whitewash US longer history of harm and limit our perspective to damages US made in recent couple of decades.

Retired army colonel and New York Times bestselling author Andrew J. Bacevich has widely discussed a variety of messes made by US in his acclaimed book America’s War for the Greater Middle East.[2] Bacevich argues US shift toward West of Asia and shows how in retrospect losses and mistakes were sold to the public as winnings and democracy promotion. “Notably, in each case where the administration claimed victory—over the Soviets in Afghanistan, over Moamar Gaddafi in Libya, and over Iran in the Persian Gulf—the outcome proved at best inconclusive and at worst plain bad. Meanwhile, in the one instance where the administration inarguably failed—inserting U.S. Marines into Israeli-occupied Lebanon—sacralizing that failure took precedence over learning from it, thereby making future failures on a larger scale that much more likely.”

He enumerates many cases of US involvement in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Libya and even the Balkans and unveils how failures were sold out to the public each as a ‘Mission Accomplished.’ Bacevich also traces war in Afghanistan back to Cold War era when “Afghanistan stands out as the ostensibly big win that over time gave way to an even bigger mess. This signature initiative of the Reagan era, undertaken to wound the Soviet Union, eventually became a wound inflicted by the United States on itself.”

The blowback is due to the fact that US founded and funded Al Qaeda in Afghanistan to stand against the Soviet; Russians left the country, but the wound has remained open so far leaving the country in turmoil. The compensation Americans made under the Foreign Claims Act or condolence payments, blatantly named ‘Money as A Weapons System’ in US Army, can be one way to get a window into the damage caused by the US presence. While it is only paid to those who claim for it and are approved by officials, the program has paid tens of millions of dollars to families of Afghan and Iraqi victims, each receiving as low as 100 dollars to maximum 70,000 dollars in one case.[3]

Though the human casualties are the worst damage, yet American presence causes more harms, too. In case of Iraq, Americans imposed heavy sanctions that claimed as many as 5,000 lives, mostly children, dying from malnutrition and preventable diseases every month, Institute for Policy Studies reported.[4]

Written before the turn of millennium when American foreign policy dedicated a lion’s share of its foreign policy to so-called promotion of democracy programs, the report observes that policy of “encouraging the adoption of neoliberal economic policies by a number of Middle Eastern governments [has] destroyed traditional economies and turned millions of rural peasants into a new urban underclass populating the teeming slums of such cities as Cairo, Tunis, Casablanca, and Teheran. [5]

Another example of this approach in Honduras is documented by American historian Walter LaFeber in Inevitable Revolutions: The United States in Central America.[6]

In the late 1890s, US-based banana companies became active in Honduras and “built railroads, established their own banking systems, and bribed government officials at a dizzying pace.” As a result, the Caribbean coast “became a foreign-controlled enclave that systematically swung the whole of Honduras into a one-crop economy whose wealth was carried off to New Orleans, New York, and later Boston.” Soon, Honduran peasants “had no hope of access to their nation’s good soil.” Sadly, US administration now blames Honduran migrants going to US.

Even if one doesn’t want to get deep into history, current US policy towards other Latin American countries is a telltale story. In Bolivia, richest in lithium reserves, US sowed discord to topple democratically elected President Evo Morales and now Elon Musk, with an unquenchable thirst for lithium to be used in his electric cars, brags (in a now deleted tweet) that “We will coup whoever we want! Deal with it.[7]



People in Venezuela are hurt by economic woes US sanctions and confiscation of assets have inflicted upon the country who simply doesn’t want to bow to US liberal capitalism.

Even the closest allies in Europe are suffering economically, militarily and politically from being with the United States. Long after Fukuyama’s idea of ‘End of history’ dictated the world to become ‘Western,’ 2008 financial crisis made by US capitalism warned Europeans that how dangerous following Americans could be; they witnessed Donald Trump’s support for Brexit that divided the EU and are at odds with US role in NATO, and of course lost many protective equipment US stole from them amid Coronavirus crisis. These explain why Munich Security Conference dedicated its latest round to the ‘phenomenon of Westlessness[8]’ in February 2020, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel who “grew up in the certain knowledge that the United States wanted to be a world power,” now warns against assuming “US still aspires to be a world leader[9],” and French President Macron wants Europe to become less reliant on US[10].

These are the same states that allied with US in attacking Libya tearing it apart into current situation in the name of ‘responsibility to protect’ and supported US in destroying Syria; where the same Al Qaeda scenario was applied and as Michael Flynn, former director of defense intelligence agency during Obama and former national security advisor to president Trump, has admitted, they ‘intentionally’ supported formation of the extremist group later known as ISIS “in order to weaken President Assad in Syria.[11]

Thousands of lives are lost, many infrastructures are destroyed and even cultural heritage sites are demolished just due to US adventurism in the region. If Iraqis rightfully want to have sovereignty and independence, they strongly need to “bear in mind that the presence of the US in any country will bring about corruption, ruin and destruction.”



[2]  Andrew J. Bacevich, America's War for the. Greater Middle East: A Military History. New York: Random House, 2016.



[5] Ibid.

[6] Walter LaFeber, Inevitable Revolutions: The United States in Central America. New York: W.W. Norton, 1993.






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  • Coup d'état
  • Elon Musk
  • Expulsion of the U.S.
  • Middle East
  • West of Asia