Fathering and tenderly midwifing ISIS

Published: May 22, 2015
The writer is a columnist, a former major of the Pakistan Army and served as press secretary to Benazir Bhutto 

The writer is a columnist, a former major of the Pakistan Army and served as press secretary to Benazir Bhutto kamran.shafi@tribune.com.pk

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.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • Arifq
    May 22, 2015 - 1:44AM

    Rant against the worst US Presidency does not alter the fact that seeds of Takfiri ideology were sowed elsewhere. Recommend

  • lancersboy
    May 22, 2015 - 7:02AM

    Major,you are on the dot for facts,but still stumbling on the issue of intentions.Iraq was to be a test lab for fuming grand Shia Sunni conflict in MENA region. The jokers in White house and those waiting out are notorious for false flag operations and then posing innocent when things go out of control. More than a million Iraqies including 40%children lost their lives because of Dubya Bush,his Dad and their cohorts.Syria is already a rubble and by and large MENA region have been destabilized till dooms day. Greater Middle East was a deliberately coined doctrine to do exactly what is happenning,so Major,do some article on INTENTIONS as well. It will make more sensr.Recommend

  • Naeem Khan
    May 22, 2015 - 8:10AM

    According to Colin Powell “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.” I have lived here for 5 decades and I know how uncle Tom phrase came about. And you forgot to mention another jewel Condi Rice.Recommend

  • Shakil
    May 22, 2015 - 1:03PM

    These were merely blunders but planned actions for todays chaos and replicated same in Libya and Syria!Recommend

  • Taimoor
    May 22, 2015 - 5:10PM

    After all that the US still considers itself the moral authority of the world. I want to know what kind of training they gave iraqi forces. The thing they know how to do best is Run. As far as numbers, quality of equipment, and logistics go they are still better than isis. Yet kurds have greater success against isis than the national army. Iraq is perhaps an even worse failure than vietnam, and the gaul that obama had when he declared iraq a “stable and free iraq.” Thats what you call no shame.Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad
    May 22, 2015 - 5:37PM

    Most of us focus on American sins and blunders but forget second most important sinners and those are Shia majority of Iraq and Iranian Mullahs. We at liberty to call it a sin or blunder, the fact was Americans, liberated Shia majority from the clutches of a worst dictator and removed each and every obstacle e.g. Sunni led Iraqi army and bureaucracy. Shias of Iraq and their Iranian mentors could have chosen either to act like previous regime or path of reconciliation and brotherhood. They became another Saddam in Shia garb. They were the ones who first started rebellion against their liberators, did not allow Americans presence in Iraq and finally showed no interest in defending Sunni majority areas of Iraq.Recommend

  • ilyas
    May 23, 2015 - 2:16AM

    It wasn’t accidental. MI 6 head in his report on WMD had amongst others, mentioned that while traveling in taxi in Baghdad, the driver told him that ” some time back two men traveling in his taxi who seemed to be the relevant men talked about Iraq possessing WMDs”. If you will jot down similar reasoning and decisions, you will arrive at only one conclusion that someone was pulling the strings towards a common goal, attack Iraq, destroy its army, its economy, divide it on religious and ethnic lines and so on so that its no more a threat to Israel. It was long term plan but got momentum after Hizbullah thrashed Israel out of Lebanon. It was becoming evident that starting from Pakistan and Iran and going all the way to Libya, a long strip of enemy was strengthening against Israel. The Jewish reaction was only natural, break the chain. Recommend

  • Parvez
    May 23, 2015 - 10:13PM

    Very nicely explained……..the bottom line is that the ‘ west ‘ has clearly understood that Islam is a house divided and thus can not stand. So all they have to do is give it a ‘ push ‘ or better still…….divide and rule…….forever.Recommend

  • Cool Henry
    May 30, 2015 - 3:19AM

    When did Hizbullah thrash Israel out of Lebanon?Recommend

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