To read Pt. 1: The Terror of our Cognizance Pt. 1
Part 1 of this blog narrates the story of how ISIS came to be. I would like to offer more analysis in how the U.S. went about handling the whole situation.
One of the main events that led to the birth of ISIS was the United States invading Iraq and causing the society to fall into greater ruin. There are speculations that the U.S. invaded Iraq for reasons in addition to the belief that Hussein had WMD’s. One hypothesis is that the American oil company Halliburton wanted acquisition of certain oil reserves in Iraq. Luckily for them, the VP of the U.S., Dick Cheney was the previous CEO of Halliburton. Thus, he influenced Bush to invade Iraq so that Halliburton had easier access to those reserves. Another hypothesis is that Bush Jr. wanted to oust and kill Saddam Hussein, which was a campaign that was started by Bush Sr. in the Gulf War. Bush Jr. wanted to finish the job. Of the many reasons to why the U.S. invaded Iraq, none of them seem concrete enough to justify the invasion and further destruction of Iraqi society.
In addition to causing initial destruction to Iraq through invasion, the U.S. had a hand in further devastating Iraq by appointing Nouri al-Maliki. Nouri al-Maliki is not completely responsible for the disenfranchisement of Sunnis in Iraq because of the fact that he was appointed by the U.S. The U.S. diplomats in Iraq didn’t have a thorough enough understanding of Iraqi society and Iraqi culture. Thus, they put Maliki in power, hoping that he would fix everything. If these diplomats understood Iraqi society better, they might have not empowered Maliki or they would have influenced Maliki to act in a more reconciliatory manner.
These examples show that the U.S. did not go about dealing with Iraq in the most intelligent manner. They pursued capital expansion. They also failed to learn enough about Iraqi society which resulted in the appointment of a despotic prime minister. By these senseless decisions, Iraq was made a worse place. As a result, Iraq became a breeding ground for terror and violence.
We are quick to label ISIS as a group of trigger happy fanatics and religious zealots. We tend to write them off as violent people who have no justification for doing what they are doing. This is true to some extent considering that their actions are unbelievably atrocious. Yet, we Americans never question their origin story. If we ever do investigate their origins, we will find that ISIS was birthed from the U.S.’ poor leadership and hunger for oil acquisition and capital gain.
The story of the U.S. creating a terrorism breeding environment is not unique to the story of ISIS. The U.S. helped train Osama Bin Laden and the mujahedeen in Pakistan during the Afghani war. Regardless, many people in the U.S. make statements about terrorists hating the U.S. because we are not a Muslim nation and that they are committing acts of terror because of their adherence to radical Islam. When we make these statements, we are denying the reality that the U.S. had an integral part in the formation of these terrorists groups. We are not willing to take responsibility for our actions.
The U.S. not taking responsibility for its actions in helping to create terrorist groups is problematic. This is because an ideology is established, claiming that the terrorists are the only ones to blame and that the U.S. is completely innocent. Many times, Americans stereotype Muslims or Arabs as radical Islamists. Due to that stereotype, many Americans act out of fear of Muslims and as a result, are hateful and violent towards Muslims and Arabs. When people act violently against Muslims, they understand themselves as protecting their communities from dangerous individuals. This is wrong, first, because not all Muslims or Arabs are terrorists. Furthermore, considering the statements made previously in this paragraph, if Americans feel the need to protect themselves from terrorists, they also need to protect themselves from the ideologies that inspire the U.S. to create environments that give rise to terrorists. We cannot justify our Islamaphobic actions by claiming that we are the pure ones, while they are the evil ones. We are all the evil ones and our histories are inextricably bound together.
I do not write this essay to defend the actions of terrorist groups. What they do is horrendous and their violent acts should never be celebrated, nor tolerated. The purpose of this essay is to show that our capitalistic and white supremacist U.S. society allows for a beast like terrorism to come into being. The only way that the U.S. can move forward in dealing with global terrorism is by acknowledging this reality. A simple, yet complex initiative that every U.S. citizen can do to combat terrorism is not by preaching military dominance, but by becoming more aware to how our ideologies create a country that fosters environments of violence and terrorism.
The majority of the information about ISIS, Iraq, and the Bush presidency was provided to me by PBS Frontline’s segments titled, Losing Iraq and The Rise of ISIS.