Friday, March 11, 2016

How ISIS came about: by my former student Neil Swidey of the Boston Globe

My student from 1990 at Tufts University interviewed me back in 2003 about the possible consequences of the US invasion of Iraq: "NOT LONG AFTER US TROOPS ROLLED INTO Baghdad in 2003, I wrote an article for the Globeexploring the unintended consequences of military occupations and the surprisingly small events on which they often pivot. The panicked reaction of a few Israeli soldiers during the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon in 1983 had birthed a ferocious Shia resistance. The presence of US troops on sacred Muslim soil in Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War had radicalized Osama bin Laden against the United States, the Saudi royal family, and his own family, which had won contracts to build those bases. My piece concluded with this quote from Middle East specialist As’ad AbuKhalil: “The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan gave us the Taliban. The American occupation of Saudi Arabia gave us bin Laden and Al Qaeda. The Israeli occupation of Lebanon gave us Hezbollah. Let us see what the American occupation of Iraq is going to give us.”  The suspense is over. We now know that the American occupation of Iraq gave us ISIS. (More on that later.) However, pinpointing when it became a doomed occupation is harder to determine.  AbuKhalil, a professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus, argues all occupations are fated to fail in the modern era. But he suggests the tipping point for this one came with the selection of Bremer. “They chose the best man to do the worst job,” he says. “They chose a very arrogant person with a very colonial attitude.”"