But before we go to the rearing of ISIS, let us take a look at what started it all for the sake of a whole lot of younger readers who will really have to face the evil that is ISIS/ISIL/Daesh in the years to come, not only in Pakistan and Afghanistan but all over the world. And that is the assault on Iraq in 2003. Let me say at the outset that Saddam Hussein was no angel, but the moot question is: is ISIS better?
I had intended to title this article “Another Bush Stumbles on to the Political Stage”, meaning Jeb Bush’s tentative entry into the presidential race, and his mishandling THE question about the Iraq invasion, but when one looks at all the Republican presidential candidates who have been asked the question (barring Dr Rand Paul) one realises that they are, all of them, stumbling about, falling over their own feet, saying the wrong thing.
The question asked, ironically by Megyn Kelly of what increasingly appears to be the GOP’s party organ, Fox News: “Knowing what we know NOW, would you have authorised the invasion?” Jeb’s answer: “I would have, and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody, and so would almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got.” Hillary Clinton of course, has clearly said she made a mistake voting for the war.
Mr Bush forgot of course that the question was if he would have authorised the invasion ‘knowing what we know NOW’, meaning that we know NOW that lies were told by his brother George ‘Dubya’ Bush’s administration, ably assisted by Tony Blair’s government in the United Kingdom to convince the world that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
I mean who does not remember the dissembling and the outright lies? Who does not remember the good General Colin Powell lecturing the United Nations Security Council that the container truck shown in a photograph was a “movable biological weapons facility and (Saddam) was involved in a ‘sinister nexus’ with al Qaeda”. However, being a gentleman, and a courageous one at that, the General says in his new book, It worked for me: “A failure will always be attached to me and my U.N. presentation” and “I am mad mostly at myself for not having smelled the problem. My instincts failed me.”
All the while a well-known and much respected and very senior Swedish diplomat was saying Iraq had no WMDs. According to a report in the UC Berkeley News (March 17, 2004): “Speaking (to veteran war reporter and noted journalist Christiane Amanpour) on the anniversary of the United States’ invasion of Iraq, originally declared as a pre-emptive strike against a madman ready to deploy weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), the man first charged with finding those weapons said that the US government has ‘the same mind frame as the witch hunters of the past’ — looking for evidence to support a foregone conclusion.
“‘There were about 700 inspections, and in no case did we find weapons of mass destruction,’ said Hans Blix, the Swede called out of retirement to serve as the United Nations’ chief weapons inspector from 2000 to 2003. Had the inspections been allowed to continue, Blix said, there would likely be a very different situation in Iraq today. As it was, America’s pre-emptive, unilateral actions ‘have bred more terrorism there and elsewhere’.”
This ill-intentioned assault of the ‘allies’ forced on them by George ‘Dubya’, in turn forced by his vice president and alter ego and puppet-master, Dick Cheney, and his band of neo-cons: Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Defence Secretary, Douglas Feith, the Under Secretary Defence Policy (according to Chris Suellentrop in Slate of May 20, 2004, not a single Iraq war screw-up has gone by without someone tagging Feith!). Nor were these all of the Humpty Dumptys: let us not forget Richard ‘The Dark Prince’ Perle, Chairman of the Defence Policy Board Advisory Committee; and of course Donald ‘Stuff Happens’ Rumsfeld.
The invasion of Iraq was the original sin, compounded by mindless actions in Iraq after the fall of the Saddam regime: the de-Baathification of the government and the army, whatever was left of it by Paul Bremer, the ‘Viceroy’ of Iraq. Estimates have it that 85,000 to 100,000 teachers, university professors, transportation, electricity and municipal technical workers and officials were laid off. This despite the local CIA chief reportedly telling Bremer: “By nightfall, you’ll have driven 30,000 to 50,000 Baathists underground. And in six months, you’ll really regret this.”
Bremer was not alone in this, an Iraqi exile, Ahmad Chalabi, was his aider and abettor who pushed Bremer into his second blunder: disbanding the Iraqi armed forces and the police, an estimated 720,000 men and women, as reported some years later in Slate: “it was a move that put young Iraqi men out of a job, out on the streets, angry, and armed — and all but guaranteed the chaos to come.”
Slate again: “When asked to roll back the de-Baathification order, Feith said that it would ‘undermine the entire moral justification for the war’. It is a stunning fact that — despite the massive library of in-depth books, tell-all memoirs, and investigative articles about every tactical decision regarding this war — we do not yet know who made this key strategic decision. Feith was a messenger, too, reporting directly to Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defence, and ultimately to Secretary Rumsfeld.
“Did Rumsfeld write the order? Bob Woodward, in State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III, quotes Rumsfeld as saying that the order came from elsewhere. My guess is it came from former US vice president Dick Cheney, if only because his is one of the most leak-proof offices in Washington. Had the order originated someplace else, that fact would have leaked by now. It’s like the dog that didn’t bark in the Sherlock Holmes story; unbarking dogs in this administration, especially at this late date of decrepitude, tend to be the hounds in Cheney’s kennel.”
And then they ask where ISIS came from; that it ‘blind-sided’ us… it was lovingly reared, my friends… Enjoy!
Thanks are due to: James P. Pfiffner, Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University writing on Intelligence and Security for Routledge, February 2010, and Fred Kaplan in Slate, September 7, 2007.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2015.