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Patrick Cockburn: How to Ensure a Thriving Caliphate

Think of the new “caliphate” of the Islamic State, formerly the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as George W. Bush and Dick Cheney’s gift to the world (with a helping hand from the Saudis and other financiers of extremism in the Persian Gulf). How strange that they get so little credit for its rise, for the fact that the outlines of the Middle East, as set up by Europe’s colonial powers in the wake of World War I, are being swept aside in a tide of blood.

Had George and Dick not decided on their “cakewalk” in Iraq, had they not raised the specter of nuclear destruction and claimed that Saddam Hussein’s regime was somehow linked to al-Qaeda and so to the 9/11 attacks, had they not sent tens of thousands of American troops into a burning, looted Baghdad (“stuff happens”), disbanded the Iraqi army, built military bases all over that country, and generally indulged their geopolitical fantasies about dominating the oil heartlands of the planet for eternity, ISIS would have been an unlikely possibility, no matter the ethnic and religious tensions in the region. They essentially launched the drive that broke state power there and created the kind of vacuum that a movement like ISIS was so horrifically well suited to fill.

All in all, it’s a remarkable accomplishment to look back on. In September 2001, when George and Dick launched their “Global War on Terror” to wipe out — so they then claimed — “terrorist networks” in up to 60 countries, or as they preferred to put it, “drain the swamp,” there were scattered bands of jihadis globally, while al-Qaeda had a couple of camps in Afghanistan and a sprinkling of supporters elsewhere. Today, in the wake of the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and an air power intervention in Libya, after years of drone (and non-drone) bombing campaigns across the Greater Middle East, jihadist groups are thriving in Yemen and Pakistan, spreading through Africa (along with the U.S. military), and ISIS has taken significant parts of Iraq and Syria right up to the Lebanese border for its own bailiwick and is still expanding murderously, despite a renewed American bombing campaign that may only strengthen that movement in the long run.

Has anyone covered this nightmare better than the world’s least embedded reporter, Patrick Cockburn of the British Independent? Not for my money. He’s had the canniest, clearest-eyed view of developments in the region for years now. As it happens, when he publishes a new book on the Middle East (the last time was 2008), he makes one of his rare appearances at TomDispatch. This month, his latest must-read work, The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising, is out. Today, this website has an excerpt from its first chapter on why the war on terror was such a failure (and why, if Washington was insistent on invading someplace, it probably should have chosen Saudi Arabia). It includes a special introductory section written just for TomDispatch. Thanks go to his publisher, OR Books.


(Reprinted from TomDispatch by permission of author or representative)
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One Comment to "Patrick Cockburn: How to Ensure a Thriving Caliphate"

  1. Recipe for creating inextinguishable, persistently mutating & rabid disaster, also known as ‘bringing democracy’ to the Arab world:

    General Petraeus training and arming Sunni ‘awakening councils’ in Iraq.

    Stop paying & leave noted ‘councils’ unemployed on exit.

    Arrange Sunni insurrection in neighboring Syria, where recently trained & presently unemployed Iraqis can look for a job.

    Set up financing and arms to opposition in Syria via Saudi Arabia, courtesy of a Petraeus led CIA (financing by default to the Saudi favored Salafist fundamentalist groups, inclusive of al-Qaida aligned militia.)

    Base your operations out of NATO’s Turkey & western democracies’ lap-dog Jordan.

    Have your ally in Qatar broadcast a call to jihad in Syria, to millions of Sunni Muslims across the world (why, thank you al-Jazeera!)

    Have the CIA, in concert with MI6, DGSE & MOSSAD, contract former special operations forces to assist the opposition in Syria.

    Realize too late, fundamentalists who source their training to initial American efforts in Iraq and recently boosted by the new endeavors of western intelligence, have become the most powerful factions in Syria.

    Replace psycho-killer Petraeus at CIA with psycho-killer John Brennan.

    Freak out at your own anti-Assad effort in Syria upon realizing who will be in control if CIA led effort to overthrow the regime is successful (Salifist fundamentalists, in some cases so extreme as to be disowned by al-Qaida.)

    Distract people from what’s happening with the world class CIA screw-up in Syria with new caper engineered by same CIA, in Ukraine.

    As Assad reasserts control in Syria, see thousands of well trained fundamentalists pour out of Syria across the border into Iraq, rout the Iraqi army and capture countless tons of American supplied weapons.

    When Ukraine distraction has failed, blame Russia for everything.

    Fail to realize the eventual assessment of the Christian fundamentalists running the Pentagon will be, the only sensible option is to nuke the Islamic fundamentalists, as well as Russians, Jews, Blacks, cartoonists, author of this comment, women, gays, anyone who doesn’t believe in literal Armageddon, people who sue the church (especially alter-boys that talk) …

    http://ronaldthomaswest.com/2014/08/17/the-arab-spring-for-dummies-collection/

    ^

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