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67 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blowback, March 7, 2006
This review is from: Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam (American Empire Project) (Hardcover)
Anyone interested in learning about the true dynamics behind Hamas's reportedly "shocking" victory in recent Palestinian elections may want to pursue this book's many stirring revelations about Hamas's roots. Dreyfuss reports that Israeli intelligence--particularly the Mossad--not only endorsed but participated in the creation and development of Hamas as an organization that could be used to defeat the PLO. "In the early 1980s", Dreyfuss writes, "Israel supported the Islamists on several fronts. It was, of course, supporting the Gaza and West Bank Islamists that, in 1987, would found Hamas . . . They were trying to defeat Arab nationalism with Muslim zealots." Hamas's recent electoral victory was hardly the surprise that mainstream media reported it to be. In reality, it was a rather predictable response to a gradual increase in support for Hamas over recent years inspired by the marginalization of Arafat and the PLO by Bush and Sharon (conspicuously absent from Dreyfuss's analysis, however, is that corruption within the Fatah party also contributed to Hamas's surge in popularity). As Dreyfuss's book documents, "in 1996, only 15 percent of Palestinians backed the Islamists", but, by 2002, that support had risen to 42 percent.

Contrary to what some may think, "Devil's Game" helps readers understand that Islamic fundamentalists are adamantly opposed to Arab nationalist movements such as Arafat's PLO on religious grounds. This includes opposition to the creation of a Palestinian state, a concept of far less importance to Islamists than their agenda of "first Islamizing Palestine and the Arab world." Admittedly, one cannot help but wonder whether Dreyfuss shoots himself in the foot here, given that a major contention of his introduction is that peace between Palestinians and Israelis would end much of the current strife between east and west. Dreyfuss's analysis opens the door to another possibility--though apparently without the author's comprehension: perhaps Islamist assertions that tensions between Israel and Palestinians motivates their campaign of terror is actually a front designed to perpetuate their fundamentalist indoctrination of the region. The PLO's association with movements to "modernize" the Arab world by allowing for a comparatively more secular society provoked the bitter and vengeful disdain of Islamists. While the PLO sought to "secularize" The Islamic University in Gaza, for example, the Muslim Brotherhood from which Hamas emerged fought violently to "preserve its Islamist character".

Reading Dreyfuss's book within the context of Hamas's recent triumph further enhances the allure of this absorbing read. It becomes especially amusing, for instance, to listen to Israeli officials denounce Hamas as a terrorist organization in the wake of their recent democratic victory--as if they didn't know what Hamas was back when they found it convenient to shake hands with them. Israeli officials continue to brilliantly manipulate Islamists to their advantage, as evidenced by Sharon's strategically-timed visit to the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount in 2000 just when a "comprehensive deal" was about to be achieved between Barak, Arafat and Clinton. The temple visit was calculated to destroy these negotiations by inciting Islamists into violence, and it worked with stunning and terrifying success.

The CIA translated the Islamists' violent resistance to nationalism in the Arab world as vehement anti-communism that could be used to stave off the USSR's influence in the region. The U.S. routinely supported Islamist movements from the early stages of the Cold War era on into much more recent years, forging relationships with any fundamentalist group or leader that American intelligence viewed as a tool against communism, despite knowledge of their involvement in terrorism or human rights abuses. The cataclysmic flaw in this policy became especially apparent after the U.S. left Afghan freedom fighters out to dry when the USSR withdrew from battle there. An entire force of CIA-trained Jihadists was abandoned without any regard for where they would invest their acquired skills, leaving a wasteland of warlords to reign over an Afghanistan that would soon give birth to the Taliban and bin-Laden's Al-Qaeda organization, which absorbed much of the suddenly unemployed freedom fighters into a militantly anti-western army whose influence spread across many nations. "We knew exactly who these people were, and what their organizations were like, and we didn't care" says a Rand corporation expert on political Islam. While Dreyfuss's notably balanced investigation into this topic tends not to explicitly link 9/11 to the history of American policy in the mid-east, it is fairly difficult for the reasonable reader to conclude otherwise. Even Dreyfuss cannot help but indulge in the ominous observation that the consequences of this environment "would become painfully obvious on September 11, 2001." Such a conclusion is consistent with the kind of "blowback" which, as Dreyfuss's narrative suggests, was an inevitable consequence of American ignorance, avarice, arrogance and fear.

While Dreyfuss consistently characterizes America's approach to fundamental Islamist movements as a naive policy based on an ignorant underestimation of the fundamentalist movement, the boundless strategic and corporate advantage behind Western and Israeli support for Islamic fundamentalism over the past 60 years suggests that they knew exactly what they were doing and simply did not care about possible consequences. It may not be a matter of ignorance, but rather a matter of willful near-sightedness without any regard for future implications of current policies. Such "near-sightedness" appears to have been motivated in no small part by an American Cold War strategy that favored the interests of international corporations in the Arab world, including funds for the dissemination of Islamist propaganda and visits to Eisenhower's Oval Office by Muslim fundamentalist organizer and likely U.S. intelligence agent Said Ramadan, provided by such companies as Aramco, Exxon, Mobil, Texaco, U.S. Airlines, Pan Am, TWA and Chevron. You do the math.

Two perfect--if not essential--companion pieces to Dreyfuss's excellent book are Chalmers Johnson's "Blowback" and "the Sorrows of Empire", which further explore the motives behind American exploits in the mid-east while documenting their tragic ramifications for global stability.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 1, 2011 11:55:27 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 1, 2011 11:56:57 AM PDT
Dreyfus does not shoot himself in the foot when he claims that a resolution of the Palestinian Israeli conflict will end islamism. In fact the root of all problems in the ME including fundamentalism is the Israeli occupation and nationalism was tried and failed we are currently experimenting with islamism, a resolution of the conflict will kill any public sympathy with the Islamists and they will die spontaneously. I am sorry but as an Arab I must point out that dreyFus is correct

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 11, 2012 8:24:16 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 11, 2012 8:25:22 AM PST
M. Abrams says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 25, 2012 5:05:23 AM PDT
I must say that with a name like "Gianmarco Manzione," I sure would make for one interesting Arab! LOL! ;0)
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