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xiii PREFACE This book is the final part of a trilogy.I began working on the manuscript after the publication of Breeding Ground:Afghanistan and the Origins of Islamist Terrorism (2011) and Overcoming the Bush Legacy in Iraq and Afghanistan (2010).These two books captured much of my work since the 1970s, my understanding of the turbulence from 1970 to 2010, and the conclusions I had drawn to that point. I then went through a period of reflection. Breeding Ground was a study of Afghanistan from the 1978 Communist coup to 2010. It covered Afghanistan in the last phase of the Cold War (1979–91); the collapse of Soviet and Afghan Communism and the rise of the Taliban (1991–2001); and a brief analysis of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, the American invasion, and the consequences thereof. The historical sequel, Overcoming the Bush Legacy in Iraq and Afghanistan, was an assessment of George W. Bush’s presidency (2001–9) in terms of the “war on terror”––to use his own language. The two books were about the political upheaval and tragedy imposed on a vast number of people by relatively few state and nonstate actors.There were, of course, many pawns and even more victims in the Great Game during the U.S.Soviet Cold War and after.The contest between the two Cold War giants could produce only one victor, and the prize went to the United States. But a decade after the Soviet Union was vanquished came the September 11, 2001, attacks and President George W. Bush’s declaration of the war on terror. I have suggested in the previous books that among the factors contributing to the events of September 11 was a sense of humiliation felt in the Muslim world, particularly in the Middle East.The facets of the U.S.offense—some easier to discern Imperial Designs_13448.indd 13 3/12/13 2:44 PM xiv   PREFACE than others—were complex and varied. They included America’s lack of interest in Afghanistan, a country devastated in the U.S. proxy war against the Soviet Union, after the end of the ColdWar; the humiliation of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation; the conflicts in Kashmir and Yugoslavia; the defeat of Saddam Hussein’s army by U.S.-dominated forces deployed to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi occupation in 1990–91;and theWest’s support of authoritarian and corrupt rulers. Free market economic policies borrowed from the United States, their harshest versions implemented by totalitarian rulers in the Middle East, created great disparities between the rich and the poor and a small number of elites, who enriched themselves. Extreme wealth in the midst of poverty fostered significant discontent.Unemployment,declining incomes,and a lack of opportunities eroded people’s self-respect.When they complained, they encountered state coercion. Increasingly , they held foreign influences responsible for their own plight and that of those around them. I began to think about the role of humiliation in international politics.A complete international history of conquests and humiliations would fill many volumes. It was particularly important for me to keep my ambition within well-understood limits and to maintain awareness of my focus in such a work.That such a history had some relevance for the contemporary world was also important. It seemed to me that the focus had to be Middle Eastern oil and geopolitics .The history of Arabs and Persians is rich and interesting.They have certainly fought many wars over the centuries.The meddling of external actors—the Ottomans , the British, and the Americans—in the region is intriguing.The consequences of this meddling have been profound.What other scholars and observers have said about such momentous events is worth learning. Among the historic events that have shaped the Middle East are the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in the early twentieth century and its repercussions; the discovery of oil in the region and the division of land between Britain and France; the creation of the state of Israel afterWorldWar II and its outcome for Palestinians and Arabs, including subsequent wars; the democracy movement in Iran; and the 1953 overthrow of Iran’s elected government by British andAmerican intelligence services.Such events are relevant in any study of the role of humiliation in shaping the Middle East and explaining its volatility. The region has witnessed continuing upheaval for a century, since Ottoman rule was replaced by British and French imperial rule. But the thinking, behavior, and...


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