For the past 12 years the West has been engaged in a determined effort to suppress the fundamentalist sects of Islam that it organized against the potential threat of communism and socialism in the Middle East. The defeat of the Soviets in Afghanistan has been bought with the blood of thousands of Afghans and Western troops and continues unabated. The USA and its European allies set up secular dictators like the Shah and Saddam Hussein from Indonesia to Morocco. Hundreds of Millions were spent on corrupt anticommunists in Tiawuan and billions on destroying the communists in Vietnam. In the end the Chinese Communists substantially weakened a several thousand year entrenchment of Buddhism and turned capitalist. The same for Vietnam. In retrospect communism seems to be a route from pre-industral states to capitalist formation. Had Western capitalists really believed in capitalism they would not have supported religious alternatives to communism that are now threatening not only capitalism but Christianity as well.
From the Beginning
While the suppression of popular movements against colonialism was the usual response to resistance, Western governments saw the communist threat everywhere linked to anti-colonial movements. Playing one native tribe against another was a strategy that worked at the start of the Reconquesta in Spain, with the arrival of Cortez in the Americas, the Belgians and French in Africa and the colonial powers in Asia. But the use of a religious movement associated with regional aspirations and traditions had not been typical until the success of the Communists in Russia.
THe Allied invasion of the young Soviet Union in 1918 included the participation of 14 nations with America and Britain in the Baltic region and the White Russians under British and French aid in Ukraine was a turning point. Even Canadian and Japanese troops were involved. The failure of the Russian people to rise up against the Soviet leadership and the revolutionary parties was a shock. Some new means of undermining the socialist and communist threat had to be found, especially as the Great Depression hit. As the Second World War wore on it become evident that the communist menace was winning and the West falling prey. China's collapse to the communist side sparked the introduction of desperate measures as in the threat of use of the atomic bomb against China in Korea and biological and chemical warfare.
Religion as a Means of War
In the 1950s at the height of the Cold War anthropologist E.T. Hall experienced the flood of dogmatic Christian recruits into the American organs of foreign policy under the State Department and CIA. He writes about the purge of supposedly "open minded" but suspect thinkers from government. In his case, this meant the anthropologists. From the beginning of the Cold War America began a campaign to use religion as a weapon against communism. Whether in Central and Southern America or Asia and Africa, or the Soviet Block, the broadcasts of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty (American Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia) were part of a program to use religion as a weapon against communism to promote Christianity against "godless communism." (See T. Jeremy Gunn's article, "God a Spiritual or Political Weapon?" in The Washington Post, 2010.
In the period after 9/11 this process has reoriented so that now we have radical Christian sects in the military directing American military officers that America is at war with Islam (see article in the National Post by Pauline Jelinek and Robert Burns, Associated Press (12/05/11) at http://news.nationalpost.com/...). So our history of the "war on terror" is really a result of our war against communism, a self created crisis that has resulted in the last 30 years of war in Iraq and lately a decade in Afghanistan. There is no end in sight.