The US administration of Barack Obama - like its neoconservative predecessor - has made military aggression the mainstay of its policy in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Today, the “War on ISIS” has taken the headlines from the “Global War on Terror,” but the storylines remain the same: massive air assaults; death and destruction for the people under attack; floods of refugees; and desperate humanitarian crises.
President Obama continues to hear criticism for his failure to swiftly defeat ISIS. But while crushing ISIS may be the official stated goal, the actual agenda may be a long, drawn-out war to weaken regional powers. We have seen this policy before - with many of the same players - in the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s.
In February 1979, the Iranian Revolution overthrew Shah Reza Pahlavi, the ruler of Iran since 1953, when a CIA-orchestrated coup brought him to power. The Islamic Republic of Iran was established by the Revolution under its first Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Once the Shah’s US-friendly regime in Iran was deposed, American administrators sought a new ally in the region. They began to warm their relations with neighbouring Iraq, even though that country was listed with the State Department as a state sponsor of terrorism.