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No, Pulling Out Of Iraq Didn’t Create ISIS

And don’t let anyone tell you it did. This is the latest republican talking point, and every time a republican delivers it, the sentence mysteriously starts with "the Obama Clinton foreign policy". Huh. It almost seems like they were all told what to say. Unfortunately for them, we have entered a period of time when their revisions of history fall within the parameters of the existence of the internet.

I didn’t know when and where ISIS was formed. I had heard conflicting reports on whether they formed in Iraq or Syria. There’s a meme going around that claims it was formed in 2004. I decided to do something bizarre; rather than forwarding the meme and advancing the notion that ISIS formed in Iraq (because the idea of blaming Bush sounds just swell) without knowing if it was true, I researched. I know it’s a strange concept, but that’s just how I roll.

Here’s what I found; strictly speaking, ISIS was formed in about 2003 in Iraq. Why did I throw in the "about" qualifier? Because it looks like the name "Islamic State" and all of the subsequent derivations, "Islamic State of Iraq" and then "Islamic State Of Iraq And Syria" started in 2006. They were referred to as "the al-Masri brigade" before that. 2003 is the first year I can find any reference to them. That’s not to say that they weren’t definitely brewing before then. I don’t have access to high level intelligence, so I’m relying on all of the information available to the general public. When I say "all", I mean all. I spent days on researching this. 

I’m not going to go into great detail on al-Masri’s biography because I’ve read a lot of conflicting information up to, and including when he died. I’m going to share what is generally agreed upon about him. He was from Egypt, and was involved with the Muslim Brotherhood offshoot that assassinated Anwar al-Sadat in 1981. He spent the 90s forming al qaeda cells in Africa.

It looks like he knew Bin Laden even before the CIA involvement in training and arming the Mujahadeen in the 80s. In 2001, he became related to Bin Laden, when his 14 year old daughter married Bin Laden’s son, Abdullah. He was actually indicted (in absentia) by a US court in 1998 for his involvement in the embassy bombings in Africa. He was directly involved in 911. So the US has been aware of him and his activities for a long time. So this guy had been in the terrorism business for a long time. He just didn’t have the unstable environment he needed to get a foothold and to spread the batshit until we destabilized Iraq and Syria destabilized itself (more on that later in the post).

I’m going to go off on a minor tangent for a minute. During the Clinton presidency, our intelligence community appeared to have a pretty good grip on who the big terrorist players were, and what they were doing. And yet, the Bush administration claims that 911 was a failure of intelligence? Remember when Condi gave this pathetic performance before congress?


Yeah, those PDBs (the one they’re referring to in this hearing wasn’t the first, it was the last in a series that began 5 months earlier) were "historical" and not really a warning. So while Clinton was mounting legal cases against, and indicting these guys Bush was ignoring the intelligence and torturing the wrong guy. OOPSIE.

Sorry, I had to take a moment out to demonstrate how fucking incompetent the Bush administration and their posse of neocons were. 911 truly might not have happened under a Gore administration. The Bush administration were fucking clowns and anyone who denies that is a fool.

Okay, back to al-Masri. In 2006, he was tapped to take over as leader of al qaeda in Iraq, when their leader was killed. Now AQI (as they’re known) was a particularly brutal offshoot of al qaeda. Once al-Masri took over, they appear to have been rolled into ISI (they hadn’t moved into Syria yet). You know how you keep hearing that ISIS is too batshit, even for al qaeda? That’s technically true. The more accurate way of describing the situation is that ISIS is so brutal, that they’re not "winning hearts and minds" in any region they go into. As we learned during our tenure in Iraq, not winning hearts and minds isn’t good for business so al qaeda is separating themselves for the purpose of recruitment.

So ISI had been busy working away in terrorizing Iraq since 2006. In 2011, when the Syrian civil war began, ISI saw an opportunity.

Just so that you are clear on the events, I’m going to take a minute to explain what happened in Syria. The Syrian civil war began over famine. Syria had been going through a devastating drought period that shrank the wheat crops significantly, and killed 85% of it’s livestock.Since there was a massive drought in the middle east, the cost of wheat went up precipitously. Assad being Assad saw an opportunity to cash in so he put some of the wheat on the open market. This left Syria starving, and the world community knew it. From the article;

The international community, however, failed to effectively counter this crisis. A confidential cable sent from Syria explained the dire situation, with the Syrian minister of agriculture stating publicly that the economic and social fallout from the drought was beyond their capacity as a country to deal with.

The cable explained how Syria, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, U.N. Development Programme and the World Food Programme requested roughly $20 million from donor countries and donor organizations to provide emergency food aid, restore food production and safeguard agricultural livelihoods. In a direct appeal to Washington, an FAO representative in Damascus even expressed his hope that "improving relations" between the U.S. and Syria might encourage the U.S. to become a donor to the 2009 Drought Appeal.

And the response from the US (from the article);

The U.S. government balked at the appeal, saying: "Given the generous funding the U.S. currently provides to the Iraqi refugee community in Syria and the persistent problems WFP is experiencing with its efforts to import food for the refugee population, we question whether limited USG resources should be directed toward this appeal at this time." In light of America’s lackluster leadership, the world’s response was insufficient: Donor countries only ponied up around $5 million, a quarter of the total need.

That decision would befall congress. I don’t know if the Obama administration attempted to get the money, but I can guarantee that congress wouldn’t have appropriated the funds. We’ve already spent more in Syria than what they were asking for. 

Do you hear that isolationists, libertarians, and Randroids? The Paul family have no pearls of wisdom for you so stop listening to them because they’re idiots who don’t think anything through. Doing nothing is an action that can be as devastating as doing the wrong thing. 

I explain this so that you understand two things;

  • The Syrian civil war is the first of the wars over climate change. Have you ever heard someone say that the next world war is going to be over water? Well, it’s true.
  • The problem that started this whole thing will have to be addressed in order to really clean up the mess in Syria. As long as the Syrian people are starving, there will be no stabilization to be had.    

So when the civil war started in Syria, it created a power vacuum and ISI became ISIS. And that’s how we got here. You now have all the information to combat the bullshit.

And here are some more materials for you to read. I’d never been to this site before, but here’s a fantastic (it even held up to hindsight) analysis of (then) ISI. I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely adding The Long War Journal to my list of go-to places. Here’s a great timeline of ISIS from Stanford. Here’s a 2003 report from The Guardian.

I saved the best for last. Here is a 2007 story about ISI from Fox fucking News. That one is for the willfully ignorant, blindly faithful dumb dumb that you all know. They won’t hear anything else you say, but you can end the conversation by throwing that gem at them.

And here’s one that I’ve posted several times and will no doubt, post several more. Here’s Dick Cheney in 1994, telling you what would happen if we took out Saddam. Here’s a hint; it’s exactly what happened when we took out Saddam.       


That one is also a good one to shut up the stupid sycophant in your life. Enjoy!


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