SHANE SMITH, VICE NEWS: "One of the biggest questions that I had was how did they become so popular so fast? How did they get so many foreign fighters from America, from the U.K., from Scandinavia, from all over the world, go there, outstrip al Qaeda, almost overnight. So, a, how did they become so popular out of nowhere? And then, b, how do we stop them?"
PRESIDENT OBAMA: "ISIL is direct outgrowth of al Qaeda in Iraq which grew out of our invasion which is an example of unintended consequences which is why we should generally aim before we shoot."
What about Assad? Maliki? Takfiri ideology being financed and spread in communities? These are important factors in the rise of ISIS as well and to ignore them is intellectually weak.
Taking aim at Bush and shooting down the whole complex story is not being honest with the evolution of ISIS.
President Obama's desire to be completely absent from the narrative for the growth and rise of ISIS has led him to turn away from complexity and nuance and embrace a simplistic narrative. He turned to the very simplicity he and his administration often accuse his critics of. He shot down a holistic and nuanced view out of political expediency.
To be sure the invasion of Iraq by the Bush administration was an important factor and variable in the development of ISIS. However it was not the only factor or variable. Assad's response to the Arab uprising in his own country was vicious and brutal. The sectarian corruption of Maliki in Iraq was also a factor.
Assad even used chemical weapons on his own people with no effective response from President Obama or the international community. Assad bled Syria red and President Obama and the international community did nothing of consequence. Assad's violent response to his people and the World's lack of response was an important variable in the rise of ISIS.
There are unintended consequences to invading Iraq but there also unintended consequences to Assad's blood bath in Syria.
Tyrants and Terrorists have a symbiotic relationship. There are many examples of this in history. The most recent being Assad and ISIS. Assad in the beginning enabled ISIS because it would strengthen his position on the need for security as well as discredit the opposition. Terrorists groups use the Tyrant as an example of the corrupt and unjust regime or ruler who must be confronted with religious zeal and extremism. The death and destruction from Assad was also an important factor in the rise of ISIS and ignoring this is to ignore the full weight of Assad's crimes against humanity.
There are many factors that go back even farther than the US invasion of Iraq. The ideology of Islamism, Salafism, and Takfirism, which is often ignored as a factor has been growing and has been supported by countries like Saudi Arabia for many years and that is a factor as well that should not be ignored. There are geopolitical and proxy wars many years back that helped set the stage as well.See previous post here.
Geopolitics, invasion, ideology, Assad's violence, Maliki's corruption are all part of the complex causation of the rise of ISIS and to turn to a simplistic narrative by President Obama is disappointing and partisan.Vox has a good article explaining the many factors in the rise of ISIS. See here.