Show 165: Robert Dreyfuss on How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam

Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam

“I wrote Devil’s Game to fill in a gap amid the millions of words that have been written about political Islam and U.S. policy since September 11, 2001.

“It’s the story before the story, and it helps answer the question: How did we get into this mess? It’s my contention that part of the answer to that question, at least, is that for half a century the United States and many of its allies saw what I call the “Islamic right” as convenient partners in the Cold War.

“I approached this book not as an historian, but as a journalist. A great deal of it is based on scores of interviews with men and women from the State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S. military, and the private sector who participated in many of these events. And I relied on dozens of published works. Most of the sources I interviewed are quoted on the record, and virtually every fact in the book is footnoted…” – Robert Dreyfuss

“For those who wonder how it is possible that the United States now supports a regime in Iraq run by hard-core Islamists, by Shiite fundamentalists supported by Iran’s ayatollahs, at least some of the answers will be found in this book.

“For those who worry that Egypt, Syria, Algeria, Pakistan, and other Middle East and South Asia countries could fall to Iran-style Islamic revolution, at least some of the reasons why this is a real possibility will be found in this book.

“For those who wonder about the worldwide support system for Osama bin Laden’s movement, at least some of the background about how that system came to be will be found in Devil’s Game.

“Would the Islamic right have existed without U.S. support? Of course. This is not a book for the conspiracy-minded. But there is no question that the virulence of the movement that we now confront—and which confronts many of the countries in the region, too, from Algeria to India and beyond—would have been significantly less had the United States made other choices during the Cold War.

“Toward the end of Devil’s Game, I put forward what I believe are some constructive ideas about how to deal with the challenge posed by the Islamic right. But at the very least, it is my hope that Americans learn that the ultimate solution does not involve the U.S. armed forces. It will take many decades of nation-building and religion-building in the Middle East before enlightened, secular forces manage to eclipse the benighted forces of political Islam. Hopefully, at least, the United States won’t get in the way.” – Robert Dreyfuss

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