Blowback: How U.S. Drones, Coups, and Invasions Just Create More Violence

 | Mehdi Hasan 01/22/2018 10:46 AM MST
Drones
Credit: AF.mil

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Sir Isaac Newton called it his Third Law of Motion.

The CIA calls it “blowback.”

As the late historian of empire and one-time consultant to the CIA, Chalmers Johnson, explained in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, blowback is “a metaphor for the unintended consequences of the U.S. government’s international activities that have been kept secret from the American people.”

Time and again, the United States and its allies have intervened in a faraway conflict, typically in the Muslim-majority Middle East; they’ve dropped some bombs, killed some “bad guys,” and then declared “mission accomplished.” Time and again, these interventions have ended up resulting in bloodshed and conflict later down the line — often on U.S. or Western soil. “Historical data show a strong correlation between U.S. involvement in international situations and an increase in terrorist attacks against the United States,” the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board observed back in 1997.

Yet U.S. and Western politicians avert their eyes from this data and this correlation; acts of terror are explained away as “random,” “mindless,” and, perhaps most disingenuously of all, “unprovoked.” The public, either unfamiliar with secret operations carried out by the U.S. military or intelligence services, or uninformed about the brutal nature of the foreign wars fought in their name, tend to buy into this fantasy of an “innocent” America hated and attacked by hordes of “mad” Muslims.

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