The ISIS Truth We Hide From

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What’s Old is New Again. By DonkeyHotey.

What’s Old is New Again. By DonkeyHotey.

Identifying Terrorist Enemy No. 1—the Islamic State militants—is easy now, after a spate of horrific videos of beheadings and burnings.

But what’s hard for Western governments and the mainstream media is figuring out the popularity of this terror group among young western Muslims. Why do these people choose to leave the relative comforts of home and take up arms with IS militants? It’s as if these young people are from another planet.

Even after President Obama’s three-day White House Summit on Violent Extremism, few establishment “experts” and commentators seem ready to consider one possible answer: that it is the extreme militarism of the U.S. and its allies that helped spawn IS, and al Qaeda before that.

On the PBS NewsHour segment covering the White house confab, panelists were asked “why people are drawn to the kind of extremism we are seeing today?” The assembled pundits identified “local grievances” like “access to education and job opportunities” and faulted recruiting for “extreme ideology through books and social media.”

Yet there was no mention of U.S. drone strikes, prisoner rendition, torture, and the thousands of dead and wounded Muslim civilians. All of those factors have been exploited by ISIS and other violent groups to make their case that the U.S. is waging a war on Islam.

U.S. Army security sweep, Baghdad. U.S. Army/Wikimedia.

U.S. Army security sweep, Baghdad. U.S. Army/Wikimedia.

After several decades of self-proclaimed “nation building” and “exporting democracy” in the Middle East and its environs, the results are all too clear. There are shattered nations in Iraq and Afghanistan, failed states in Yemen, Libya and Syria, and more than a dozen African nations that the U.S. State Department concedes are under constant threat of attack by well-armed and organized terrorists.

Is it possible that what the U.S. has actually been doing in these hot spots is “terrorism building” and “exporting chaos”? Is this the awful truth the United States cannot bring itself to admit?

Massaging History

It would seem so, since instead of changing course, the U.S. is in the process of doubling down on its mistakes. How else to explain that the new GOP presidential hopeful, Jeb Bush, nonchalantly told the Chicago Council on Global Affairs that “mistakes were made” in Iraq. He then proceeded to lay out his own plan for becoming the new global sheriff in town.

Here’s a jaw-dropping statement from that speech:

There were mistakes made in Iraq, for sure. Using the intelligence capability that everybody embraced about weapons of mass destruction was not—turns out not to be accurate.

Watching his brother’s back, Jeb wove out of thin air a phony consensus that “everybody” signed on for the rationale for the Iraq war. That’s despite a vote in Congress in which 23 U.S. Senators and 133 House members opposed it.

You see, if “everybody” was wrong, then nobody was right. It should come as no surprise that Jeb’s team of policy wise men includes many Bush II veterans, among them the unrepentant Iraq war architect Paul Wolfowitz.

His Own Man, With an Old Plan

As much as Jeb Bush insists he is his own man, the audience in Chicago could hear echoes of his brother George’s cowboy-like approach. When Jeb was asked about how he would handle IS, he said he would develop a “global strategy” that would “tighten the noose” so he and the posse could “take them out.”

During Bush’s remarks, he took aim at the Obama administration for being too quick to disengage from the world and Iraq. He blamed Obama for creating a power vacuum that set the stage for the rise of IS and Iranian influence.

Yet an examination of President Obama’s new National Security Strategy, his proposed military budget and his request for his own War Powers re-authorization all indicate an administration that is prosecuting a global war on terror with unfettered latitude as to where and whom it targets.

Could it be that this “global war on terror,” whether it be the Bush 1.0 or Obama 2.0 version, may actually be what is proliferating the very thing it was aimed to eradicate?

Who is it, and whodunnit? By DonkeyHotey

Who is it, and whodunnit? By DonkeyHotey

One policy expert who dares to look deeper is Graham Fuller, a career CIA agent and analyst who was vice-chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council. Fuller says it was the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 that set the stage for IS. By creating an endemically corrupt central government in Baghdad, notes Fuller, the American occupation provided a focal point to unite disparate opposition groups. As for the high-profile effort to train a new Iraqi army, that “security” force collapsed the moment its U.S. handlers left. (In an odd twist to an already bizarre security meta-narrative, Fuller’s former son-in-law is the uncle of accused Boston Marathon Bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.)


In linking Washington’s Middle Eastern policies to the rise of terrorist groups in the region, MIT professor Noam Chomsky takes it even further back. He says the roots start with the U.S. support of Iraq in its brutal war with Iran in the 1980s, and include the draconian economic sanctions that followed Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait. In Chomsky’s view, these sanctions punished Iraqi civilians while reinforcing Saddam’s dictatorial control.

In his 2006 book Devil’s Game: How the U.S. Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam, longtime Nation correspondent Robert Dreyfuss documents how the U.S., as early as the 1950s, backed the Muslim Brotherhood in exchange for help fighting communism.

Peace’s Deadliest Year

One way to justify failed policies is to pretend that they have worked as advertised. Nowhere was this disconnect between rhetoric and reality more on display than in President Obama’s updating this month of his National Security Strategy.

In presenting this new security game-plan, the president exhibited excessive confidence in declaring that the United States was heading “home” and “moving beyond” ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In his mini-version of Bush’s infamous ‘Mission Accomplished’ statement, he asserted that “the threat of catastrophic attacks” against the U.S. had “diminished.”

But even as the president describes a winding-down of combat operations, anything but peace is taking hold in those places.

The sectarian violence has resulted in record numbers of civilian deaths and injuries. The UN reported last month that more than 12,000 civilians were killed in Iraq in 2014, the deadliest year for noncombatants since 2008. In Afghanistan, the UN Assistance Mission counted close to 3,200 civilians killed and more than 6,400 wounded, the deadliest year since America’s longest war started.

U.S. Marines in Fallujah. By the DOD.

U.S. Marines in Fallujah. By the DOD.

Providing a sharp contrast to the president’s own assertion that peace is almost at hand, he has sent troops back into Iraq. And just a few days ago, his new Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, said the U.S. might end up sticking around in Afghanistan after all.

What the Administration and a cheerleading media refuse to acknowledge is that the two U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, aimed at ending terrorist threats in the region, have done the exact opposite. They not only caused tens of thousands of civilian casualties but hardened the resolve of yet another generation to seek revenge against their perceived Western oppressors.

Bottom Line

While details of how the president plans to use his refreshed war powers are still vague, the price tag is not.

In the name of defending the country and fighting terrorism, the president’s proposed 2016 budget calls for adding $38 billion in regular defense spending and another $58 billion for so-called “Overseas Contingency Operations.” These expanded outlays would come on top of the more than half a trillion dollars the U.S. is already spending on the military.

Even under the sequester restrictions, says one specialist, U.S. military spending was already quite robust and shamefully under-scrutinized.

“If you can’t protect the nation with $500 billion dollars,” then something is amiss, according to Veronique deRugy of George Mason University’s Mercatus Center. She notes that even under the sequester restrictions, U.S. military spending was already quite robust and shamefully under-scrutinized.

The failures are especially pronounced, says deRugy, when one takes into account that in the years since 9/11, Washington’s extra expenditures, labeled “emergency” war funding, have topped Pentagon budgets by tens of billions annually.

And so under presidents from both parties, who were supposedly ‘conservative’  and ‘liberal’,  the “emergency” continues to spread.


Image sources for Neo-con cast panel: Comic-Con – Sue Lukenbaugh/Flickr, Jeb Bush – The World Affairs Council/Flickr, Paul Wolfowitz – International Monetary Fund/ Wikimedia, John Negroponte – U.S. Department of State/Wikimedia, Michael Chertoff – DHS/Wikimedia, Michael Hayden – NSA/Wikimedia, Stephen Hadley –U.S. Department of State/Wikimedia, Pyramid from Money – Walter A. Moore/Wikimedia

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38 responses to “The ISIS Truth We Hide From”

  1. Z54 says:

    Like I’ve always said, that if you want a continuous war of terror, you need a continuous source of so-called terrorists. What better way of assuring a healthy crop by vaporizing wedding and funeral parties, students attending school, old men and women tending their flocks or their gardens ?

  2. Sinner88 says:

    “He maketh fire come down from heaven on earth in the sight of men” – “He maketh war with peace” – “He destroys wonderfully with peace” – “…by his sorceries were all nations deceived.” – “And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the MEANS of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of Rome; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make a democracy like Rome, which was defeated but lives on” – “…but he honors the god of forces…” and theres much more!

  3. Roman Law says:

    It’s clear that the plan is to destabilize specific targeted middle eastern nations that do not play nice with our global foreign economic policies and threaten “U.S. Interest”.

    • Mercy Sinclair says:

      Why the scare quotes? Are you implying the US military has another’s interest? or what do you think its agenda is?

    • Roman Law says:

      What on earth do you mean by “scare quotes”? I am implying nothing other than what is plain for any intelligent and aware individual to see what has been happening on a global scale is no accident. As to an agenda? If you have to ask you are indeed too deep in sleep.

  4. Jeffersonian says:

    Here is Fox ADMITTING the beheadings are FAKE!

  5. Mercy Sinclair says:

    I see, so the US is to blame for the current bad conditions in the Middle East…and you base this claim on what exactly…a presumption that had the US *not* “interfered” when it did (pick your date–those who don’t read history like to pick the Iraq War) the peoples of the Middle East would all be holding hands, singing happily together, helping their neighbors, electing good leaders, building schools and businesses, creating jobs, respecting diversity, caring for their environments? That somehow these people would lose their blood thirst and savage ways (as evinced by the thousands of years of plundering any land they could reach) and become responsible nation states? Seriously, I thought this lunacy (of blaming the Middle East mess on the US) had run its course, but here it is again, in all it’s usual form. This argument is so fallacious, I don’t know what self-respecting writer would put his name on such nonsense.

    The US makes a lot of messes, but the Middle East is not one of them. They have only themselves (their dictators and oil sheiks and false prophet) to blame. Iraq specifically is a land of vicious marauders today not because the US went in when it did (lawfully, backed by Bill 1441) but because Saddam Hussein (who enjoyed being the reigning bully on the block) made suicidal choices. To allow him to build a WMD and take his threat *beyond* his immediate neighbors was not an option for the West. A threat has been removed. Without him, the place has merely returned to its natural state of marauding madmen full of greed and lust and aiming for nothing more than a shot at being the next bully dictator.

    You could argue that some in the US are profiting from the violence, but that is not to say the profiteers would have just as easily–if not preferably–profited from peace and stability (America is nothing if not opportunistic). No matter how large or small a role the US plays in the Middle East, it makes little difference to the place. In fact, you could make a much better case (by looking at the past 2000 years instead of the past 20) that SINCE the US has been involved in the Middle East, there has been much less bloodshed.

    • nathenism says:

      congratulations. you have been successfully tricked into believing a pack of lies that are provably false. we overthrew iran’s elected government in1953 and installed a brutal dictatorship. is that what you meant by “they did it to themselves”? the Iraqi WMD claim was totally unfounded. and you are making assertions that are irrelevant. you are asserting that if we didn’t destroy their countries for them they would have certainly done it themselves, so that makes it ok. because they won’t hold hands and come together in a perfectly peaceful utopia it is ok for us to totally destroy their countries and murder millions and completely destroy the lives of tens of millions. the USA is just5 as screwed up as anywhere and I bet you wouldn’t support a foreign invasion and occupation. your perspective is totally insane.

    • Mercy Sinclair says:

      Save your tantrums for someone who has patience for your tedious, predictable, uninformed nonsense. Or better yet, climb back into your parent’s SUV and put on your bib and suck on a bottle of crude because you know that’s what you do every day–or maybe you mainline it: it’s usually the loudest cry babies who consume the most oil and pretend their abundance is a right (the grown-ups know the real price that’s paid so you and millions of others have the best life on the planet). Grow up and stop biting the hand that feeds you. It’s not too late to stop sucking down what you pretend not to want.

    • Mercy Sinclair says:

      Murder millions? Hyperbole much?

    • Roman Law says:

      Talk about revising history to justify our empire building, warmongering rationalization for invasion, mayhem and bloodshed. Nicely done!

    • Mercy Sinclair says:

      Hey no one is holding a gun to your head. If you don’t have the stomach for the price of Democracy–if you hate the US system of government and all the choices you have I’m sure there’s a kingdom or a tribe [gang] in the Middle East that will take you…just don’t be a Jew or a woman or a queer or a Catholic or a dog lover or object to public beheadings (e.g., the national sport over there for 2000 years). Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.

    • Roman Law says:

      LOL. Who asked the United States to impose our form of “Democracy” unto to the rest of the World that doesn’t practice it? Perhaps they didn’t teach World history where you went to school. Too bad for you.

  6. ICFubar says:

    I notice the security agencies all seem to say they are tracking the recruiters and the recruitees, but that they do nothing to intervene (no fly list) to stop these young people from joining up with ISIS. This falls within the playbook of the support the U.S. led western nations give to ISIS, providing recruits, arms, training, medical treatment of the injured, intelligence and other logistical supports like air drops of weapons and ammunition..

    Until it is widely disseminated that ISIS is a de facto NATO proxy army used in a dual role as a terrorist hobgoblin for western population consumption and as the tip of the spear in warring against adversaries in the mid east, while also creating a atmosphere of sectarian tension as deemed necessary throughout the region.

    From the rank and file ISIS member’s point of view the west, as clouded as any general westerner citizen’s view point, the USA is still the great Satan which means attacking the USA’s allies in the mid east, the Iraqis and Kurds, in the effort to establish a Sunni Caliphate, which also means attacking Syria, Hezbollah, Iran, Russia et cetera as being the whipped up sectarian Shia enemy and backer.

    It is indeed a masterful narrative the western agencies have created in ISIS, perhaps the greatest charade of deception to ever be witnessed by those living today. Turkey is playing much the same game, allowing the continuous re supply of ISIS from its territory to aid in the destruction of Syria, while simultaneously making friendly with Russia, an arch supporter of the Syrian government.

  7. FiuToYou says:

    This is being done by and for 2% of the population. Say 40% population are “SHEEPLE”, (believe anything media tells them), that leaves 58%. 20% of that is criminal elements sucking off the rest, (not interested in “politics”). That leaves 38% half of them so poor that they don’t have a clue what’s really going on. The other half are in the military so they can eat. So I can never see the facts change. Rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the war machine keeps rolling along. SICK!!!!!

  8. Paul E. Merrell, J.D. says:

    Low credibility. The U.S. relationship with Terrorism™ goes far beyond mere blowback. As in the U.S. training, arming, supplying, and commanding Al Qaeda, Al-Nusrah, and ISIL forces.

  9. Bilbo says:

    I agree with other commenters here. This isn’t a “failed” U.S. policy. This is a very successful U.S. policy, creating an enemy to justify the continuation of huge military expenditures, creating obscene profits for the military/industrial complex.

    • jane24 says:

      Also in agreement that the consequences of US foreign policy are intentional rather than accidental. The notions of “exporting democracy” and “building nations” are so far from the reality that to hear this even suggested is almost funny.

    • Mercy Sinclair says:

      Assuming what you [Bilbo] say is true, that US presence in the ME is all about profiting the “US Military,” why do you suppose that is? What would the world look like without it? Just curious because you stop short of saying why the military should *not* want to be the most powerful and profitable–even feared–military on the planet. I suppose there is an implicit assumption that the world would be a better place if the US military aimed for….what instead? mediocrity? Tell me something…where is your computer made? your iPhone? Did you drive a car, use wifi, eat a mango; did you take vitamins or medications, drink a cup of tea. Did you visit a hospital, did you put on a pair of shoes? a jacket? Did you read a book? How long could you live without all these things? a month, a year? ten years, decades? Do you suppose the US Military has anything to do with your comforts? Seriously, that is not a rhetorical question. Do you think commerce (i.e., the comforts you enjoyed today) would be better or worse or exist at all if there were no US Military?

    • Bilbo says:

      Hi Mercy,

      I was pointing out that in order to maintain our huge military budget, which funds our global military presence and keeps the military/industrial complex going, it must be justified by the existence of an enemy. Since 9/11, this enemy has been Terrorism. If our policies encourage even more terrorism, so much the better for maintaining our huge military budget. In that case, our policies are not failures, but successes. If we actually eliminated terrorism, we would no longer have justification for our huge military budget.

    • Mercy Sinclair says:

      Hummm. And you think it (the size and strength of the US military) has nothing to do with protecting world commerce?

    • Bilbo says:

      I’m sure it has a lot to do with protecting American commerce, which is part of American empire. This was all laid out in this document one year before 9/11:

    • Mercy Sinclair says:

      Sorry can’t take anything from that website seriously….way too inflammatory and biased. And the irony should not be lost on you that as it rails against big media, it makes ample use of big media articles to support its biased views (links to Al Jazeera, Yahoo, The Guardian, Reuters et al abound.)

    • Bilbo says:

      Mercy, all that website does, in this case, is provide an online copy of a key paper put out by a group known as Project for a New American Century. The paper is signed by many people who were in the Bush administration, including Cheney and Rumsfeld.

    • John Smith says:

      “Hummm. And you think it (the size and strength of the US military) has nothing to do with protecting world commerce? ”

      Nothing to do with “protecting WORLD commerce”, everything to do with ensuring US supremacy and domination of world commerce at the direct expense of these other countries. It has zero to do with bringing “democracy” to anywhere else. More often then not, dictators are installed and supported, the only thing that matters is that whatever is installed is friendly to having the country raped of its valuables.

      This is nothing more than old-fashioned Colonialism: conquer a country and enslave its people (today that’s with debt), rape all the resources and profits out and the home country gets fatter while the victim country gets nothing. The people who get trod on in the process don’t matter because they’re ‘less evolved’ – “we need to protect them from themselves” …

      Wash, rinse and repeat. Same game that has been played since the beginning of time and the same excuses used each and every cycle.

      Watch out for those WMDs…….

      I suggest you start start looking a little deeper than the nightly news so you get past the propaganda….

  10. Patriarch says:

    How coincidental:
    Graham Fuller is the ex-father in law of the Tsarnaev bros’ paternal uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, an attorney by education who works with BIG OIL.

  11. Mark Plummer says:

    Since this nation was founded in 1776 (235 years ago) it has been AT WAR for 214 of those years. So, for only 21 years was the US not making war on someone, usually on people of a darker skin color. AND, the US seldom fights to win. It fights enough to extend the conflict. Why? Because war is good business. Follow the money.

    • ICFubar says:

      and the other 21 years it was preparing for war….

    • Mercy Sinclair says:

      If that’s true than you are guilty of enjoying the spoils. Maybe you should consider living in a country that meets your moral standards so you don’t have to compromise yourself so much.

  12. cstahnke says:

    We live at a time when war serves many functions none of which have anything to do with the national interest if by that you mean the welfare and security of most Americans not connected with the National Security State. As far as I can see, the main reason for endless wars is to keep change and reform away and, mostly, to create huge profits and power for the “defense” and “security” contractors. That is why there are seldom any realistic strategies to achieve real military successes–to much success would spoil the contractor party.

    • Mercy Sinclair says:

      He said as he sipped his Colombian coffee and tapped out a missive on his Chinese made computer. Yes, commerce would thrive without the US Military and the Grid would run on children’s laughter.

  13. Steve Sperdacion says:

    This isn’t hard to hear. But if you dared say they did it on purpose? You’d be in Michael Hastings territory so you won’t.