How’s that working for ya?

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U.S. Middle East policies bring to mind insanity definition

By John Pawlak

Do you ever wonder why children don’t routinely stick their hands in fire?  
Maybe it’s because they did it before and it hurt?  They learned not to do it again.  This is what psychologists call “one trial learning.”
The recent upheaval in Egypt’s government has raised new concerns.  Egypt has been “experimenting” with plutonium reprocessing for nearly three decades.  With all the concern for Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear development, one might question why U.S. officials were so quiet about Egypt’s efforts.  
Well, of course, Egypt is our ally.  And of course, any intelligent person would agree that a country in the Middle East would have little to no chance of ever experiencing changes in its political structure.
This reminds me of when the Russians decided that they couldn’t win in Afghanistan and left.  
One of the weapons used by Afghanistani warlords was the U.S. Stinger missile, a wonderful little toy that we gave them during their fight with the Russians.  Oh, by the way, we gave them hundreds of these little toys.
After the Russians withdrew, the CIA immediately tried to buy the Stingers back (with little success.)  Later, to our great surprise, when we invaded Afghanistan in 2001, guess what those ungrateful cretins over there did?  They started using those Stingers against us!  Seriously, who would have guessed?
Let’s turn the clock back even earlier and look at Iran.  
Their nuclear program didn’t begin in the past decade.  No, it began in the 1950s as part of the our “Atoms for Peace” program (initiated by President Dwight Eisenhower.)  
By the 1960s, the United States supplied Iran with its first nuclear “research” reactor.  
With billions of dollars to spend, countries rushed to help build more reactors (aided by U.S. technology).  
By 1976, President Gerald Ford authorized the sale and operation of U.S. built nuclear reprocessing facilities in Iran “for the extraction of plutonium.”  
Ford’s administration said “the introduction of nuclear power will both provide for the growing needs of Iran’s economy and free remaining oil reserves for export.”
(A little note of interest — the White House Chief of Staff was Dick Cheney, the Secretary of Defense was Donald Rumsfeld, and the Secretary of State was Henry Kissinger)
So we advanced Iran’s nuclear program to get more oil from them.  And gosh darn it, wouldn’t you know it?  The Shah got deposed and the new government was no longer friendly to us.  
Seriously, who would have guessed?  I mean, really, what are the chances?
Of course, one might ask the same about Iraq.  Where did Saddam get all that military hardware?  
Well, when Iran turned against the U.S., we stopped shipping arms over to them.  
With all those weapons looking for a customer and the Iran-Iraq war staring to put Iraq on the defensive, the U.S. began supporting Iraq (we even removed Iraq from our list of states supporting international terrorism).  
President Ronald Reagan sent Rumsfeld over to Iraq as the United States “special envoy” to discuss how we would supply Saddam with military equipment.  
The White House even pressured the Export-Import Bank “to provide Iraq with financing to enhance its credit standing and enable it to obtain loans from other international financial institutions.”
Why would we enhance Iraq’s military position in the Middle East?  Reagan’s administration characterized these decisions as our effort “to strengthen regional stability.”  
And darn it again, guess what happened?  That old rascal Saddam eventually turned anti-American.  
A trillion dollars and thousands of U.S. military deaths later, we can now proudly say that “regional stability” has been achieved!  Well, maybe not.
Let’s see if we can find a pattern here and make some predictions.  
Billions of dollars given to Pakistan over the past eight years.  Nuclear technology given to India.  
And in the last decade alone, we’ve given nearly $20 billion in foreign aid to Egypt, a country that has been slowly moving towards having nuclear WMDs and is currently undergoing a massive governmental change.
Time and time again, we rush forward to give money and military arms to countries that seem to end up hating us.
As Dr. Phil would say, “Uh guys, how’s that working for ya?”
 John Pawlak
Los Alamos columnist