President George W. Bush with Dick Cheney. (photo: Getty)
12 August 16
he year is 2003. Saddam Hussein is ruling Iraq with an iron fist. There is no ISIS, there isn’t even al Qaeda in Iraq. Osama bin Laden calls on the Iraqi people to rise up against the infidel. Bin Laden was talking not only about the United States, but also about the secular Sunni leader of Iraq, Saddam Hussein. You see, Saddam only called for Jihad when it benefited his grip on power or a war effort that was anything but holy.
Then came the US invasion of Iraq. We removed one Islamic sect, the Sunnis, and replaced them with the Shia. Saddam wasn’t Bin Ladin’s type of Sunni, Saddam was a Baathist. When his regime fell and the Shia were installed by US forces, Sunni extremists formed groups like the Islamic State and Al Qaeda in Iraq.
For years they tried to hold regions in Iraq, like Anbar Province and Fallujah. Instead of providing the Sunnis with an autonomous region, we purged them from local governments and the military and drove them out of Iraq. They regrouped in Syria and formed what we now know as the Islamic State or ISIS. They are now radicalized and following radical clerics. Their goal is to create a Sunni Muslim state. Syria, Iran, and Iraq are now Shia. They view the secular Saudi leaders as infidels like Saddam. The reason they are at war with Assad in Syria is they want a religious Sunni homeland.
It is true that once the United States pulled out of Iraq, ISIS marched back across the border and retook land that had been their home before American forces drove them out of Iraq. ISIS wasn’t created by Obama pulling troops out of Iraq, it was created by the Bush/Cheney invasion of Iraq. ISIS formed during the invasion of Iraq and was radicalized by the way we, and the Iraq government we installed, treated the Sunnis.
Let me offer an example Americans might understand. Consider a Morman dictatorship in the United States ruling with an iron fist. Canada invades and installs a Catholic government that tortures and drives the Mormons into Mexico. The Canadians pull out and the Mormons return to the Southwestern United States, chopping off people’s heads.
Did the Canadian leader who pulled out of the US create the Mormon radicals, or did the Canadian leader who invaded the United States create the radical mormon sect? Of course that is an extreme example, but is exactly what happened in Iraq.
George W. Bush and Dick Cheney broke Iraq and didn’t rebuild it. Instead they helped the Shia crush the Sunni population. Many experts proposed dividing Iraq into three autonomous states. One Sunni, one Shia, and one Kurdish State. Of course not invading at all would have prevented the formation of ISIS, but post-invasion, giving the Sunnis a state would have prevented the radicalization.
From the moment we invaded Iraq our occupation only delayed the inevitable. Sure, we could have stayed there for decades and kept ISIS from returning to Iraq. They would still however be in Syria where they are trying to establish a Sunni state. We also delayed Iran’s influence over Iraq, but it was always a matter of time since Iraq is now the same sect of Islam as Iran.
So Donald, I have to ask, do you even know what ISIS is? Do you know what a Shia is? Do you know what a Sunni is? I’m willing to bet you don’t.
Scott Galindez attended Syracuse University, where he first became politically active. The writings of El Salvador's slain archbishop Oscar Romero and the on-campus South Africa divestment movement converted him from a Reagan supporter to an activist for Peace and Justice. Over the years he has been influenced by the likes of Philip Berrigan, William Thomas, Mitch Snyder, Don White, Lisa Fithian, and Paul Wellstone. Scott met Marc Ash while organizing counterinaugural events after George W. Bush's first stolen election. Scott will be spending a year covering the presidential election from Iowa.