ISIS: George W. Bush’s Legacy or America’s Spawn?

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The term barbaric means savagely cruel, exceedingly brutal, wicked, and just about every other word denoting evil incarnate. With the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), or Islamic State (IS) the word barbaric seem tailor-made to describe the viciousness President Obama called a “cancer.”  However, unlike cancer, ISIS, in all its barbaric glory is a movement New York magazine termed “America’s legacy,” and more aptly, “Washington’s spawn” according to Tom Engelhardt. John Kerry said ISIS is the “face of ugly, savage, inexplicable, nihilistic, and valueless evil which must be destroyed,” while the Secretary of Defense said ISIS is void of any “standard of decency, or responsible human behavior,” and a former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan said the terrorists are a “scourge… beyond the pale of humanity that… must be eradicated.”

It is beyond refute that ISIS is bad; really bad. What else can one say about displaced Iraqi Sunnis and enraged Muslims that slaughter innocent journalists, water board captives, crucify prisoners, persecute and murder non-Muslims, or massacre innocent people who got in the way or failed to comply with the group’s demands? If one is honest, they say ISIS is a product of American brutality; because save beheading captured journalists, ISIS is closely following tactics that George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan employed on innocent Muslims unfortunate enough to be targets of America’s barbaric war of aggression. It is that barbarism borne of invading two sovereign Muslim nations that set the stage for ISIS’s rise to power and destabilized the entire region to such an extent that now the dreaded Islamic State of Iran and America are working in concert to defeat an enemy created by Bush’s invasion of Iraq and Iran’s aid to Iraqi Shia’s to drive Iraqi Sunnis into neighboring Syria to spawn the Islamic State.

It is possible that Americans, in their holier-than-thou exceptional glory, either ignore or choose to forget America’s barbarism against innocent Muslims in both Iraq and Afghanistan, but it is certain that hundreds-of-thousands, if not millions, of Iraqi, Afghan, and Muslims around the world can never forget. Whatever level of barbaric cruelty ISIS is responsible for, it can hardly eclipse the record of America’s ten-year vicious assault on innocent Muslims due to Bush’s ill-advised and completely unnecessary wars of aggression and outright cruelty toward Muslims in general; particularly Iraqi Sunnis now making up ISIS.

Who can possibly forget the images from Abu Ghraib prison where American soldiers and intelligence personnel  abused and tortured captive Muslims, including “imagery of a crucifixion” ISIS  is labeled as “barbaric” for doing in real life.  While Americans are reviling ISIS for killing two journalists in cold blood, and assailing President Obama for not invading another sovereign Muslim nation, Syria, to exact retribution, they should remember the video of an American Apache helicopter gunning down two journalists from Reuters and murdering innocent Iraqi civilians in a quiet Baghdad neighborhood. Maybe Americans forgot a “warrior” video of American troops urinating on dead Afghanis fighting for the Taliban to defend their homeland from an invading army,  or read about “trophy photos” of dead Muslim’s body parts brought home by U.S. soldiers. And for the record, America has no place condemning ISIS for persecuting and slaughtering people of other religions when then-President Bush labeled America’s war against two sovereign Muslim nations “a crusade;” a crusade that produced civil wars (Syria and Iraq), insurgencies, expanded extremist militias, and a recruitment tool that has proven invaluable to groups like ISIS.

It would be a mistake to claim America created ISIS, there is a centuries-old battle to create a purely Islamic caliphate in the once Sunni-populated northern Iraq. However, it is entirely fair to say America set the stage for the Islamic State’s formation and rise to power; first in Syria and now northern Iraq. Prior to Bush’s invasion of Iraq, there was no discord in Syria as a result of American support for Iraqi Shia Maliki and his campaign of terror against Iraqi Sunnis that drove them into Syria. Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator, but he kept relative peace between Shias, Sunnis, and a small Christian population in Iraq, as well as holding Iran in check. Now, there is no dearth of criticism from Republican and conservative warmongers assailing President Obama for “allowing” ISIS rise to power to wreak havoc on the region when he was one of a few Americans to oppose the invasion and occupation of Iraq he termed a “dumb war.” Sadly, it was so much more than a “dumb war,” because although America was evicted after brutally decimating Iraq, it is left to President Obama to deal with what is Bush’s Iraq war spawn; ISIS.

What incited this particular rant is not solely the hypocrisy of Americans condemning ISIS for its brutality when America’s invasion and occupation killed, maimed, and tortured innocent Muslims with no connection whatsoever to the Saudis who committed the terror attacks on 911. It is the persistent claims of primarily conservatives and Republicans that ISIS’ rise and reign of terror is somehow Barack Obama’s doing. Of particular note is the condemnation of the President over the killing of two journalists as if there would even be unrest in the region if not for America’s barbaric invasion and slaughter of hundreds-of-thousands of innocent Muslims. There was no Republican outrage against, or blame reserved for, George W. Bush when journalist Daniel Pearl was brutally beheaded; particularly when the al Qaeda leader who killed him admitted it was retribution for prisoner mistreatment at the hands of Americans at Guantanamo Bay. But Bush is white and he was prosecuting a “crusade” against Muslims so he was praised as a “war president.”

There is a well-known phrase in the Christian bible that “you reap what you sow.”  America is now reaping what it sowed by invading innocent Muslim nations and brutalizing innocent civilians for well over a decade. It is true that ISIS is barbaric and images of dead civilians, Christians, Kurds, and Iraqi Shias are hard to view, but the horrors committed by ISIS in six months cannot possibly erase over ten years of America’s war horrors against innocent Muslims.

Republicans and conservatives desperately want President Obama to launch new offensives against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, likely for the profits to their military industrial complex donors. However, it was America’s launching two wars of aggression against innocent Muslims that enabled ISIS’s rise to power and reign of terror. Many Americans are memory-challenged and not only ignore, but happily forget, this nation’s record of barbarism while condemning ISIS’s brutality and calling for another “dumb war” against Muslims. It is tragic because it is a portent that after two “dumb wars,” thousands of Americans killed and maimed, hundreds-of-thousands of innocent Muslims slaughtered, there is a movement afoot to revisit the exact course of action that incited ISIS’s brutal barbaric crusade that is not unlike Bush’s vicious crusade against Muslims.

h/t tomdispatch

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