Who Created ISIS? Plenty Of Blame To Go Around


Rudy Giuliani settled into a comfortable little career since his "America's Mayor" days, when he cleaned up New York and guided the city through its worst disaster on 9/11. Coasting on the goodwill he earned more than a decade and a half ago, the former mayor laps the speaking circuit, taking as much as $300,000 a pop to deliver 15-minute speeches at college graduations and Republican soirees.

When he's not pocketing six figure checks for reciting platitudes, he enjoys trolling in his leisure time, occasionally popping in on The O'Reilly Factor or GOP fundraisers to say outrageous things, like his 2015 assertion that President Barack Obama doesn't "love" America.

Giuliani donned his troll hat on March 23, when he told Fox News' Bill O'Reilly that Democratic presidential candidate and frontrunner Hillary Clinton "could be considered a founding member of ISIS" because she was part of an administration that created a power vacuum in Iraq.

"By being part of an administration [that] withdrew from Iraq," Giuliani told O'Reilly, according to CNN. "By being part of an administration that let [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki] run Iraq into the ground, so you forced the Shiites to make a choice. By not intervening in Syria at the proper time. By being part of an administration that drew twelve lines in the sand and made a joke out of it."

Giuliani's right about the power vacuum. Obama's decision to withdraw troops from Iraq the way he did was an incomprehensibly naive move that reflected his desire to follow through on a campaign promise.

That decision wasn't informed by the facts on the ground. It definitely wasn't informed by the advice of advisers who had to know that leaving would clear the way for some undesirable element to step in, whether it was another warlord, an aspiring dictator or the Islamic State.

So yes, Obama's pride helped create the conditions that allowed ISIS to grow and flourish. But if political figures are going to play the blame game, and let's face it, it's one of their favorites, there's enough blame to cover four presidential administrations and a battalion of British imperialists.

Iraq has been a jumble of disparate interests and tense co-existences since it was called Mesopotamia under British rule a century ago. Fifty years of political coups and sectarian pogroms later, the conglomerate of ethnicities and tribes that comprise "Iraq" was united under the boot of Saddam Hussein.

From then on, Iraq's people endured a four-decade-long, miserable comedy of errors that can be almost entirely attributed to American meddling.

From former Republican President Ronald Reagan using Iraq to wage a proxy war with Iran, to former Democratic President Bill Clinton lobbing cruise missiles at Baghdad, to former Republican President George W. Bush ripping the country apart -- and literally having no plan to handle the aftermath -- Obama's predecessors created more messes than an unsupervised class of kindergartners with a keg's worth of finger paint.

All that war, poverty and human suffering sowed the seeds of resentment, which would eventually make it easy for ISIS to recruit warm bodies. All that nonsense about Iraq hosting al Qaeda in the lead-up to "Operation Enduring Freedom" sowed the seeds of an actual, homegrown terrorist group. Looking back, the U.S. invaded Iraq to defeat a terrorist group that didn't actually exist there. And in the process it helped to create a far worse terrorist group that is very real.

If Giuliani was honest, he'd blame Hillary for supporting that folly as a U.S. senator, not as Secretary of State. She supported the war and provided plenty of the rhetoric used to justify it. But Giuliani can't do that, because if he takes the blame game to its logical conclusion, he'd be pointing the finger at himself, as well. The former New York mayor might have his pom pom stashed deep in a closet somewhere, but he was one of the Iraq War's most vocal cheerleaders.

Yes, Hillary and Obama deserve their share of the blame for misreading the situation, just like the Bush administration did before them. They deserve blame for ignoring the advice of their advisers and gift-wrapping a perfect base of operations for a nascent terror group.

But in the blame game, there's hardly a person in Washington who doesn't share some of the responsibility for helping to create the world's biggest monster.

Sources: The New Yorker, CNN, CNN Money / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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