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Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam (American Empire Project)
Robert Dreyfuss
October 3, 2006
Devil’s Game

How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam

The United States found political Islam to be a convenient partner during each stage of America’s empire-building project in the Middle East, from its early entry into the region to its gradual military encroachment, to its expansion into an on-the-ground military presence, and finally to the emergence of the United States as an army of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the 1950s, the enemy was not only Moscow but the Third World’s emerging nationalists, from Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt to Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran. The United States and Britain used the Muslim Brotherhood, a terrorist movement and the grandfather organization of the Islamic right, against Nasser, the up-and-coming leader of the Arab nationalists. In the CIA-sponsored coup d’état in Iran in 1953, the United States secretly funded an ayatollah who had founded the Devotees of Islam, a fanatical Iranian ally of the Muslim Brotherhood. Later in the same decade, the United States began to toy with the notion of an Islamic bloc led by Saudi Arabia as a counterpoint to the nationalist left.

Devil’s Game is the first comprehensive account of America’s misguided efforts, stretching across decades, to dominate the strategically vital Middle East by courting and cultivating Islamic fundamentalism.

Drawing on extensive archival research and interviews with dozens of policy makers and CIA, Pentagon, and foreign service officials, Robert Dreyfuss follows the trail of American collusion from support for the Muslim Brotherhood in 1950s Egypt, to links with Khomeini and Afghani jihadists, to longstanding ties between radical Islamists and the leading banks of the West. The result is as tragic as it is paradoxical: originally deployed as pawns to foil nationalism and communism, extremist mullahs and ayatollahs now dominate the landscape, thundering against freedom of thought, science, women’s rights, secularism—and their former patron.

Chronicling a history of double-dealing, cynical exploitation, and humiliating embarrassment that continues to this day, Devil’s Game reveals a pattern that, far from furthering democracy or security, ensures a future of blunders and blowback.

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