No 1590 Posted by fw, February 9, 2016
“There’s an interesting interview that just appeared a couple of days ago with Graham Fuller, a former CIA officer, one of the leading intelligence and mainstream analysts of the Middle East. The title is The United States Created ISIS…. He hastens to point out that he doesn’t mean the US decided to put ISIS into existence and then funded it. His point is — and I think it’s accurate — that the US created the background out of which ISIS grew and developed. Part of it was just the standard sledgehammer approach: smash up what you don’t like…. You can be pretty confident that as conflicts develop, they [ISIS] will become more extremist. The most brutal, harshest groups will take over. That’s what happens when violence becomes the means of interaction. It’s almost automatic. That’s true in neighborhoods, it’s true in international affairs. The dynamics are perfectly evident. That’s what’s happening. That’s where ISIS comes from. If they manage to destroy ISIS, they will have something more extreme on their hands.” —Noam Chomsky, Jacobin
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has decided to end Canada’s ISIS airstrikes by February 22, 2015. Conservative interim leader Rona Ambrose says Trudeau’s changes to the ISIS mission are “shameful.” Really?
To put the increasingly heated debate over Canada’s role in the war on ISIS in a larger context, consider the viewpoint of US intellectual Noam Chomsky who, a year ago this month, weighed in on the origins of the ISIS uprising. In a video-recorded interview, embedded below, Chomsky says the US and Britain ostensibly created ISIS by, first, engaging in a 2003 invasion of Iraq and overthrow of Saddam, followed by a series of disastrous US “sledgehammer actions that smashed up Iraq and has now spread everywhere.”
Somewhere, somehow, the US-British-led war has now become Canada’s war.
Below is an embedded 8:16-minute YouTube video of the Chomsky interview, followed by Jacobin magazine’s transcript. In addition, links to two related SEE ALSO articles are included at the end of this post. Alternatively read the text of the interview on Jacobin by clicking on the following linked title.
In an interview posted on YouTube on August 22, 2015, Noam Chomsky responded to a question about the origins of ISIS.
Question — The Middle East is engulfed in flames, from Libya to Iraq. There are new jihadi groups. The current focus is on ISIS. What about ISIS and its origins?
[Noam Chomsky responds]
There’s an interesting interview that just appeared a couple of days ago with Graham Fuller, a former CIA officer, one of the leading intelligence and mainstream analysts of the Middle East. The title is The United States Created ISIS. This is one of the conspiracy theories, the thousands of them that go around the Middle East.
But this is another source: this is right at the heart of the US establishment. He hastens to point out that he doesn’t mean the US decided to put ISIS into existence and then funded it. His point is — and I think it’s accurate — that the US created the background out of which ISIS grew and developed. Part of it was just the standard sledgehammer approach: smash up what you don’t like.
In 2003, the US and Britain invaded Iraq, a major crime. Just this afternoon the British parliament granted the government the authority to bomb Iraq again. The invasion was devastating to Iraq. Iraq had already been virtually destroyed, first of all by the decade-long war with Iran in which, incidentally, Iraq was backed by the US, and then the decade of sanctions.
They were described as “genocidal” by the respected international diplomats who administered them, and both resigned in protest for that reason. They devastated the civilian society, they strengthened the dictator, compelled the population to rely on him for survival. That’s probably the reason he wasn’t sent on the path of a whole stream of other dictators who were overthrown.
Finally, the US just decided to attack the country in 2003. The attack is compared by many Iraqis to the Mongol invasion of a thousand years earlier. Very destructive. Hundreds of thousands of people killed, millions of refugees, millions of other displaced persons, destruction of the archeological richness and wealth of the country back to Sumeria.
One of the effects of the invasion was immediately to institute sectarian divisions. Part of the brilliance of the invasion force and its civilian director, Paul Bremer, was to separate the sects, Sunni, Shi’a, Kurd, from one another, set them at each other’s throats. Within a couple of years, there was a major, brutal sectarian conflict incited by the invasion.
You can see it if you look at Baghdad. If you take a map of Baghdad in, say, 2002, it’s a mixed city: Sunni and Shi’a are living in the same neighborhoods, they’re intermarried. In fact, sometimes they didn’t even know who was Sunni and who was Shi’a. It’s like knowing whether your friends are in one Protestant group or another Protestant group. There were differences but it was not hostile.
In fact, for a couple of years both sides were saying: there will never be Sunni-Shi’a conflicts. We’re too intermingled in the nature of our lives, where we live, and so on. By 2006 there was a raging war. That conflict spread to the whole region. By now, the whole region is being torn apart by Sunni-Shi’a conflicts.
The natural dynamics of a conflict like that is that the most extreme elements begin to take over. They had roots. Their roots are in the major US ally, Saudi Arabia. That’s been the major US ally in the region as long as the US has been seriously involved there, in fact, since the foundation of the Saudi state. It’s kind of a family dictatorship. The reason is it has a huge amount oil.
Britain, before the US, had typically preferred radical Islamism to secular nationalism. And when the US took over, it essentially took the same stand. Radical Islam is centered in Saudi Arabia. It’s the most extremist, radical Islamic state in the world. It makes Iran look like a tolerant, modern country by comparison, and, of course, the secular parts of the Arab Middle East even more so.
It’s not only directed by an extremist version of Islam, the Wahhabi Salafi version, but it’s also a missionary state. So it uses its huge oil resources to promulgate these doctrines throughout the region. It establishes schools, mosques, clerics, all over the place, from Pakistan to North Africa.
An extremist version of Saudi extremism is the doctrine that was picked up by ISIS. So it grew ideologically out of the most extremist form of Islam, the Saudi version, and the conflicts that were engendered by the US sledgehammer that smashed up Iraq and has now spread everywhere. That’s what Fuller means.
Saudi Arabia not only provides the ideological core that led to the ISIS radical extremism, but it also funds them. Not the Saudi government, but wealthy Saudis, wealthy Kuwaitis, and others provide the funding and the ideological support for these jihadi groups that are springing up all over the place. This attack on the region by the US and Britain is the source, where this thing originates. That’s what Fuller meant by saying the United States created ISIS.
You can be pretty confident that as conflicts develop, they will become more extremist. The most brutal, harshest groups will take over. That’s what happens when violence becomes the means of interaction. It’s almost automatic. That’s true in neighborhoods, it’s true in international affairs. The dynamics are perfectly evident. That’s what’s happening. That’s where ISIS comes from. If they manage to destroy ISIS, they will have something more extreme on their hands.
Graham Fuller’s Scorecard on Predictions for 2015–Part 1 by grahamefuller.com, December 31, 2015 – In an excerpt from his article, Fuller writes:
The introduction of Western military power against ISIS—that I initially opposed— has unquestionably been a significant factor in the beginning of the ISIS retreat. While I still oppose in principle more western military force in the Middle East, especially with boots on the ground, the combination of western air power along with regional troops—Kurds, Iraqis, Iranians, Hizballah—is proving productive in turning the tide.
I reluctantly came to support western air intervention against ISIS by November 2015 in view of what I called the “collateral damage” inflicted by ISIS in vital areas outside the Middle East. I forecast that this year will see the functional end of ISIS as a territorial entity in most of Syria and Iraq. That will represent a major symbolic, ideological and strategic step.
The concept of ISIS, however, while severely damaged, will not die out and will seek further territorial bases. These shifting bases will pose less of an ideological threat than does ISIS as a “state” in Syria/Iraq today, but let’s remember that the threat to the West, even by mere handfuls of terrorist-trained activists, can be generated from almost any location. This threat however should be treated as essentially an intelligence and police challenge, not an ideological problem.
Don’t Blame Islam: Al-Qaeda and ISIS are products of US and Saudi imperialism, by David Mizner, Jacobin, January 30, 2015 — After the attack on Charlie Hebdo, certain liberals joined conservatives in declaring that the killer was Islamic extremism. Any suggestion of Western culpability would be inaccurate, if not immoral. Similarly, the sentiment recalls the prevailing view after September 11, 2001, when Susan Sontag was blasted for pointing out that “this was not a ‘cowardly’ attack on ‘civilization’ or ‘liberty’ or ‘humanity’ or ‘the free world’ but an attack on the world’s self-proclaimed super-power, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions.” However, times and sentiments have changed because a few more thoughtful writers now have prominent platforms — truth has crept in. The finger of blame for the mess in the Middle East is increasingly being pointed at the US, where it rightfully belongs.
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