Glen Ford: ISIS Declares Caliphate as US Middle East Policy Continues to Unravel

The always excellent Glen Ford of BAR, interviewed by Jessica Desvarieux of the Real News Network:

More at The Real News

This passage from the transcript caught my eye:

DESVARIEUX: So, Glen, what should the U.S. policy be, then, in that region?

FORD: It doesn’t have any options. The United States began 35 years ago in Afghanistan where it had no reliable foot soldiers to affect the outcome of events, to, in league with Saudi Arabia, fund and arm the mujahideen so that they could undermine the leftist government of Afghanistan. And this was in the months before the Soviets intervened. In the following years, the United States and the Saudis developed what became the international jihadist network. It had never existed before, but the U.S. and the Saudis breathed life into it.

And they found uses for these jihadists, most notably in 2011, when the Arab spring threatened these very regimes, the Saudis and the emirates and the Qatars, all of these filthy rich royal folk felt threatened by what was–by the Arab Spring. And so the United States and its Saudi partners said that we should stage a display of force and mount an attack on the secular regime of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, to show who’s boss in the region in the face of these threats of disruption. And they, of course, had to utilize the only foot soldiers they had, who were the jihadists, and the United States and Europe acted as the air force for the jihadists. And they tried to replicate that again in Syria, because, well, who else were they going to get to overthrow a secular regime that, like Gaddafi’s in Libya, was not threatening the United States in any way? So the arming of these jihadists became central to U.S. and Saudi policy in the region.

If these jihadists are no longer controllable–and they clearly are not–who are to be the foot soldiers of the United States and the Saudis in the region? And how can the Saudis and the Kuwaitis and the Qataris who live in the countries from which these jihadists come, how can they feel safe when there is a caliphate that claims temporal authority in the region and says that wherever it moves, its borders move with it–that caliphate moves as well?

ISIS: The mother of all blowbacks?

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Maju

    I understand that ISIS obeys the USA via Saudi Arabia (Prince Bandar, who is the actual leader of all Sunni jihaddists under the clout of King Abdullah) and Turkey and follows Washington-drawn strategies to undermine Iranian, Russian and Chinese influence in the region.

    “Calif Ibrahim” was released by the USA in 2009. Jordan (who is feeling the threat) has denounced that the USA has trained them in a secret base in their territory. The US Congress was recently discussing 500 million for “Syrian” jihaddists (the every day smaller secularist opposition forces are totally ignored in Washington), money that will obviously reach ISIS in Iraq as well (although this is not explicit).

    The reality on the ground in Iraq is that Iran and Saudia have been waging a bloody terrorist war for the control of the country, what has drawn the Shia majority closer and closer to Iran. ISIS is just the latest stage of this Saudi-sponsored war with all the blessings of Washington, which has been happy to use the Islamist pretext to serve its own imperialist goals once and again (puppet opposition).

    Of course one does never know how it may play in the mid run. But I will only believe that ISIS is a real threat to the US-sponsored NWO, when they attack Saudia and Israel, not before. All the rest is mere warmonger propaganda.

    1. Working Class Nero

      This is exactly right. Both Al-Qaida and the ISIS work for the Saudis, and through them indirectly, the Americans. But the US and KSA need plausible deniability, and so these jihadi groups are sold to the public as serious threats to the House of Saud and the West. The funny thing is, despite the fact that the ISIS can take over huge swaths of Iraq and Syria, despite the fact that Al Qaida can knock down huge skyscrapers in New York, can kill politicians at will in Pakistan, can organize bombings in Bali, Spain and England, despite all this, both the ISIS and Al Qaida have failed miserably to interdict even one barrel of oil from leaving Saudi ports – which is the most obvious way to overthrow the Saudi regime. The few half-ass “terrorist attacks” that have occurred in Saudi Arabia over the past fifteen years have only served to make the Saudi security forces look good; which is no mean feat.

      Now back in November of 1979 there really was a terrorist attack when militants seized Islam’s holiest shrine in Mecca. Ever since then Saudi intelligence, originally aided by the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan, have co-opted the militant Islamist movements and made them an operational division of Saudi intelligence under direct control of the House of Saud, and have oriented them towards foreign jihad .

      This is because the Saudis were caught in the classic contradiction faced by any group who use a fanatical ideology to stay in power. On the one hand the ideology is useful for cementing their power; on the other hand the reality of global power politics means they will sometimes have to be in apparent conflict with the various dogmas associated with their ideology.

      The best literary illustration of this conflict appears in Koestler’s “Darkness at Noon” where in the Thirties, the communist-led dockworkers in Belgium were enthusiastically affecting a boycott on goods bound for Italy, just after the invasion of Ethiopia. But then unbelievably, their Soviet masters delivered the news that due to the realities of protecting global markets, the dockworkers would have to break their boycott and unload a Russian ship full of petrol bound by truck for Italy. The idealistic true-believer leader of the workers was so crushed that he hung himself.

      After the Iranian revolution the Saudis found themselves in a similar dilemma although unfortunately for them, their militants didn’t choose the route of suicide and instead started to fight the regime. For years the House of Saud had given their Wahhabi militants control over internal affairs but had kept foreign policy separate from the typical militant Islamic ideology. After the Iranian Revolution, militant Saudis demanded to Islam-ify the Saudi foreign policy too, in other words to force their leaders to stop dealing with dirty infidels like the USA.

      The way the Saudis dealt with this challenge was to send their militants off to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan or, to a lesser extent, to fight the Persians in Iraq. These two conflicts served as a release valve to for Saudi society. The potentially dangerous militants, the Islamist and Col/Major level officers who didn’t accept the idea of limiting their ideological imperatives to domestic issues, were strongly encouraged to go and fight, and hopefully die, abroad.

      The nineties brought peace and with it the internal contradictions of Saudi society started to build up pressure as more and more militants demanded Islamic orthodoxy on foreign policy issues. In this light, the Saudi-sponsored attacks of 9/11, at least from the point of view of the Saudi princes, were less an attack on American freedoms but much more an attempt to create an effect similar to that of a booster rocket; not to drive the US out of the Middle East but instead to change the orbit of US foreign policy. The Saudi goal was isolated conflicts, virtual incinerator pits in fact, in Afghanistan and eventually Iraq to deal with the detritus of their Wahhabi-based society.

      Once hostilities declined in Iraq, other areas of conflict were needed and so some elements (but not in Egypt) of the Arab Spring were also opportunities for exporting Saudi troublemakers. But much as the Montgomery Ward brand name lost cache in the States and ultimately was replaced by Walmart – the fiction that Al Qaida was a threat to Saudi Arabia was no longer believable so the new and improved ISIS was brought in and declared a Caliphate, which in theory is a mortal threat to the Saudi monarchy.

      But, again, until a single barrel of oil is blocked from leaving a single Saudi port, there is no reason for anyone to even start considering the possibility that the ISIS is anything but a creation of the Saudi intelligence services.

      1. James Levy

        I agree with you. The perceived incoherence of US policy is a manifestation of the endless lies that have been told, lies that are no longer reconcilable with previous lies or reality. What is interesting is the muted Kabuki in Washington as Dems and Repubs, neocons and neolibs, try to remember which lies they supposedly believe are real and how to work around the fact that those lies no longer work. The obvious fact that the evil ISIS is also the Syrian “freedom fighters” is making it tough for Washington to act in ways that even dim members of the public don’t find stupid and contradictory. The fraud of American foreign policy is becoming too obvious for the media, the pundits, and the designated party talking heads to cover up. The perception of incoherence arises from these facts.

      2. Banger

        There is a strong element of Kabuki to the whole ISIS thing. Foreign policy nowadays is never what it seems because all the actors have to hide their motives.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          US policy is not “unraveling” one little bit, this IS the policy: breed instability and war, keep the flow of spice from the taxpayer through to the military complex. I mean how obvious can you get, ISIS leads a parade of captured US Humvees and we don’t instantly turn it into a Highway of Death, gee I wonder why? Because we don’t want to. Peace and Prosperity would mean no more prosperity for America.

    2. Fiver

      It is necessary, though, to identify:

      1) Israel as the third point of a US/Israeli/Saudi axis – one may toss in the UK, France, NATO, Turkey, Qatar and others as important but dependent, peripheral players. The essential fusion of US/Israeli regional ‘interests’-defining narratives and geopolitical stratagems in the form of the still-dominant neocon/Christian Zionist theology is fundamental to this horrificly murderous project to permanently dismember, disrupt, dissolve any indigenous Arab or Islamic (though not of necessity fundamentalist) State capable of competing with Israel. Saudi Arabia will join the ‘out’ group the minute its oil production enters serious decline barring a truly radical transformation in either Israel, or the Kingdom

      2) The aggressors since 1979 as this US-led axis. Iran’s conduct from the outset has been overwhelmingly defensive in nature.

  2. Clive

    Gosh, I hadn’t realised, until I just listened to Glen explaining it, that prior to western (or western allies’) military involvement, states such as Libya, Iraq and Syria — and even pre-revolutionary Iran — were by-and-large secular. Of course, they had an Islamic culture. But they weren’t theocracies. The spur to embrace — or allow a way in for — religion-based governance structures and principles was western (or allies of the wests) military interventions. No one would defend the Shah, Saddam Hussein, Gadhafi, or Bashar al-Assad. But if their being unseated merely creates a power vacuum which can seemingly only be filled with hard line governments, who are the antithesis of separating religion from the state, the agencies doing the unseating have to know what they are getting themselves into.

    I’m wondering now if the west’s foreign policy isn’t based on a rational analysis of what is best for it — and best for the countries it has no choice but to engage with both friend and foe — but more like something Freudian whereby it feels compelled by trauma (the trauma being what happened with Iran) to repeat the same actions again and again hoping for different results…

    1. Banger

      History is key here. Britain and the the U.S. have supported any reactionary force in the region (and everywhere else) since the end of the Ottomans. The Brits helped create the current version of the House of Saud and the Americans inherited the task of making sure that the regime continued to be stable through supplying arms, training, and security (critical) to the Saudi royals. During the Cold War the main focus of U.S. policy in the region was to secure oil and influence in the region. The main opponents were secular nationalists like Mossadegh in Iran and Nasser in Egypt and the socialists mainly trained in Moscowt that seemed to dominate the professional class. The Islamists seemed to be the best bet to kill two birds with one stone and it has worked fairly well along with bribes, skullduggery (see Saddam’s early career) and so on has put a major crimp in the ability of the region to rule itself.

      All this doesn’t remove responsibility from Islamic society for so easily being swayed by Western influence. The domination of the West since the end of the Ottomans in the region has caused great tensions and resentments in societies that were insulated from the modern world under the Ottomans who provided a structure of peace and stability for the entire region until, during the 19th century corruption rotted the Empire from the inside. The spectre of a supine Islam was easily exploited and the gradual influence of secular society threatened customs and religious traditions that gave life meaning.

  3. Banger

    The problem with U.S. policy is that the mainstream media has given us a false picture of what is going on in the region so everything, like the ISIS movement, comes out of the blue. We were “surprised” there were not WMDs in Iraq because the media had given us false strories that many editors knew to be false but they did it anyway as they always do when they are ordered by the government to do so. This is our problem, the mainstream media is under de facto government control and we should not forget that–to be fair it is not under “central” government control but, rather, various reporters and editors are under the control of different factions within the government.

    This lack of accurate information creates and atmosphere that allows for secret activity in the region and keeps the ability of policy “debates” to stay secret. Thus the clear path of U.S. covertly supporting through Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and Pakistan/Turkey so-called “terrorist” groups which in the case of ISIS is made up not just of jihadis but mercenaries hired by these reactionary actors. This is why Washington appears to be in a dilemma about what to do with ISIS–it supports ISIS secretly but Maliki publically. And that whole scene is just an indication of how convoluted U.S. policy has become and, again, illustrates the critical role the mainstream media plays in all this.

    For true change or reform of the corruption spreading in our society the mainstream media must be deconstructed and exposed–it has created a false-narrative about everything and is the biggest enemy of a healthy society.

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘If these jihadists are no longer controllable–and they clearly are not–who are to be the foot soldiers of the United States and the Saudis in the region?’

      Why, the economically marginalized! Kids from West Virginia and Kentucky and Texas and Puerto Rico. Same as it ever was.

    2. James Levy

      I heard one media type describe it this way: everyone in Washington knew that Bush was going to attack Iraq; you could either look foolish and irrelevant by trying to resist the inevitable or you could go along and get the boost as everyone rallied around “our troops” and the attention of the nation was fixed on the media (thus boosting revenue). No orders needed to be given. Everyone wanted to be one of the cool kids in on the deal. Nobody wanted to endure the Mighty Wurlitzer attacks on the liberal, traitorous media (that’s why they fired Donoghue even though he had the best ratings on the network–when the bullets started to fly no network wanted to call attention to its lack of “support for the troops”). Perhaps a phone call gets made from time to time, but I think control is much more insidious and diffuse than that.

      1. MikeNY

        “Support the troops!” is the most knuckle-headed, reflexive militarist, American exceptionalist vacuity vomited forth in our political discourse today.

        Chomsky said something to that effect (I embellish perhaps a smidge), and I totally agree.

  4. Middle Seaman

    The post implicitly assumes that the US can control, direct, predict and influence what other political/military groups can or will do. That also means world hegemony by the US. The Muslim and Arab world go through their own changes not unlike the one the US and Europe went through. We killed Native American, but without TV and Tweeter no one posted that. Europe murdered 200 million people in the 20th century; that’s less than an 100 years ago.

    We don’t see the Arab getting even close. The current Shia/Sunni war is more than a millennium old. It will settle and the US can do nothing there. The Israeli/Palestinian problem that Kerry tried to push towards solution has current players that are happy with the current state. The US tried, made mistakes (who doesn’t?) and hopefully will resume.

    No unraveling just reality hit you on the head.

    1. Banger

      Again, please note that repeating the canard of a mighty struggle between Shia and Sunni is misleading at best. Islamic society has been, on balance, a fairly peaceful society where Jews, Christians and many other sects were able to live peacefully together in ways that were utterly impossible in Europe through much of its history.

      The Shia/Sunni conflict was created, largely, in modern times using the British scheme of divide and conquer which won them India and continues with U.S. policies that seek to increase chaos, destroy civil society everywhere it can so its functionaries and hirelings can fill the power vacuum.

      1. Vatch

        Jews and Christians are allowed in Islamic societies, so long as they pay a special tax. What are the “many other sects” that are able to live peaceably in Islamic societies?

        1. James Levy

          Historically, Baha’is and Zoroastrians until the coming of Khomeini in Iran. Also Druze. It was an uncomfortable peace much of the time, but again, compared to Europe until well into the 1700s it was possible to be a member of a different religious community in much of the Islamic world and not constantly fear for your life. The brutal expulsion of the Jews from England (almost completely forgotten) for over two centuries until Cromwell let them back in gives some indication of what life was like for minority religions in much of Europe for much of its history (and the Holocaust is, just, in the living memory of people today).

          1. Vatch

            Of course I agree about Christian Europe. Christian behavior towards other religions has been disgraceful.

            As for the Druze and the Bahais, many Muslims consider them to be offshoots of Islam, which probably accounts for the tenuous tolerance. The Zoroastrians experienced much intolerance over the centuries. As a result, many Zoroastrians moved to India, where they are known as Parsees. There aren’t many Zoroastrians left in Iran, and they would be in much greater trouble if they weren’t perceived by Muslims to be “fire worshippers” rather than idolaters.

            Sikhs carry ceremonial daggers because they needed them to defend themselves from violence by the Muslim rulers of Punjab.

            1. Newtownian

              Are you sure? Zoroastrianism pretty much precedes Islam by maybe 1500 years.

              Bahais on the other hand are arguably derivative – their found claimed to the Mahdi apparently (yet another) though their main reference texts are pretty different and internally developed – so they are comparable to the difference between Mormons and Catholics – monotheistic but with a completely reworked theology.

              As to persecution as they told the story one night (went along to a big dinner with a friend who was flirting with Bahai) it was pretty evident the Shia mullahs had given them a hard time in their early days – indeed the leader the Bab being executed – leading to a bit of a diaspora journey and migration to the Ottoman Empire and further afield.

        2. Banger

          Today it’s not so easy for non-Muslims but in the past many Christian sects, Sufi sects (quite diverse), sects like the famous Yazidis of Iraq and bits and pieces of ancient religions as well as a variety of scholarly sects had been allowed, depending on the local political situation (there were periods of repression), whereas in Christian lands Sufis (who actually inherited the Gnostic traditions of early Christianity) would have been wiped out. Also there was not the hysteria in Muslim society concerning witchcraft and shamanism but that was also true, generally, in societies in the eastern Mediterranean. Greece and Italy for example have always had a strong shamanistic background where wise women and witches had far more freedom than in Northern Europe.

          Here’s a suggestion, do some reading on the subject.

          1. Vatch

            Christian and Muslim sects do not count (Sufis are Muslims). They are already included in the small number of religions tolerated by Islam. I have done reading on the subject, but perhaps I have not read the right books. Muslims were very intolerant of religions considered idolatrous. In some cases, Islamic governments had to grudgingly tolerate some idolatrous religions, such as in India, but those were not Islamic societies. India was a Hindu society with Muslim governments, such as the Mughal dynasty, in many regions.

            I agree that Pre-Enlightenment Christian societies were usually less tolerant than Islamic societies, but that doesn’t mean that the Islamic societies tolerated infidel religions besides Judaism and Christianity.

            1. Farishtah

              Salafis and Wahhabis, in particular, consider Sufis to be heretics as do the extremists of the self-appointed IS caliphate. In the last few days the IS destroyed the shrine of Sufi saint Sayyid Ahmad al-Rifa`i in Iraq. The Rifa’i Sufi Order spans the Muslim world from Bosnia to Gujarat with centers also in the US and Europe.

              900 years ago, Hazrat Shaykh Moinuddin Chishti brought Sufism to Northern India from Herat in what is now Afghanistan and declared that one did not need to be a Muslim to subscribe to Tassawuuf (Sufi teachings). He proceeded to accept men and women of all faiths into his Sufi Order, a policy still followed by some lineages today. The early Moghul rulers of India were extremely tolerant of other faiths and, in fact, Akbar held long spiritual conversations in his court at Fatehpur Sikri with scholars and holy men/women of various authentic traditions of the time, even referring to the Upanishads, I think it was, as the Hindu Qur’an.

              Past this, most Sufis also are practicing Muslims, mostly Sunni but also a minority who are Shi’a.

              I offer this not as a scholar but as one who follows this path of the heart.

            2. Gaianne

              “but that doesn’t mean that the Islamic societies tolerated infidel religions besides Judaism and Christianity.”

              Except that they did. While intolerance was the official norm, local politics was everything, and local religions persisted in many places. You might want to start by reading about the history of Lebanon.

              This really is unlike the Christian West, where extermination was consistent and thorough.

              Of course, the rise of Western funded fanatical groups (that includes the Saudis) might well change the Middle East utterly.


              1. Vatch

                What are the religions in Lebanon, besides Christianity, Judaism, and the largely Islamic Druze religion, that the Muslims tolerated?

  5. Cocomaan

    Gaddafi was instrumental in trying to form a strong African Union, and take oil off the petrodollar. Heck, he wrote a NYT editorial you can find online about how Israel/Palestine needed a one-state solution.

    He got his, after all that. Not a great guy by any means, but his fall was purposeful.

    Also keep in mind how it devastated the entire region, including Mali and the other Sahel states. The region has not been the same since.

  6. EoinW

    The canary in the coal mine is Mecca and Medina. I find it funny that ISIS has enjoyed success conquering northern Iraq – which is populated by Sunni Muslims – yet now has a goal of Baghdad, populated by Shias. On top of that, they’d have to defeat the Mahdi army, backed by Iran. Clearly they have no hope of ever reaching Baghdad.

    Meanwhile to their south and west is Arabia and Jordan. Nothing but Sunnis and sand. Same terrain they just took over in northern Iraq. Furthermore there is Mecca and Medina, Islam’s two holiest cities. Would you not think that would be the #1 goal of religious fanatics, not Baghdad? Especially as there is a more realistic chance of success. Of course Jordan is a US ally while the Saudis control ISIS. We also know the policy of Saudi intelligence is to kill Shia Muslims. Attacking Baghdad, ISIS continues to play its role.

    Now they may be playing a longer game here. The fight for Baghdad may serve to buy them time to further establish their recent gains. Plus fighting Shias they know there is less chance of US air force intervention, the one thing they must fear most of all. In the short term, as every US bomb creates another jihadist, in theory. It could also be a case of one enemy at a time. Jordan, Arabia and Israel’s time will come but not just yet. Going after those countries I’d first expect internal revolts, with ISIS then invading to create a two front war. This is where the attack on Saudi oil fits in. Hopefully, for ISIS, with a devastating impact on the global economy thus distracting the US from the Middle East.

    I do believe that until ISIS actually moves against the Saudis and takes aim at its true goal – Mecca – that we should assume it continues to be a proxy army for the KSA and USA.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      There is disinformation too. Taking Baghdad is impossible, but making it uninhabitable at least as a site for a counter offensive is the goal. Baghdad in 2003 was basically London in Iraq. It’s huge, but it needs food, water, and fuel to function. If the Shiites are dealing with a Baghdad refugee crisis, they aren’t preparing a counter offensive. If ISIS, now IS (Bill Clinton was ahead of his time) hopes to replicate it’s success in places not currently in revolt (Sunni Iraq and Sunni Syria weren’t just places with simmering anti-government letters to the editor), ISIS has to produce the appearance of stability. Asking people who aren’t fighting tanks to join is different than what they did in Iraq and Syria. The offensive was only less than two months ago, and it’s hot and it’s Ramadan. Decisions will come in August. September is the key month. Don’t fight the Russians in winter. The desert has similar issues when it comes to campaigning.

      Our Iraq surge was designed to match dates with declines in violence from Summer heat. W. declared the Surge a success before the violence cycle would rise again or even the forces were deployed much less following the new plan. ISIS planned their offensive to prevent an immediate counter attack. If you were a Shiite would you fight in a Sunni area when it’s 120 degrees out? Not without the cooling systems of v the modern U.S. army. Even Israel’s current air campaigning Gaza is being timed to prevent Hamas from retaliating because it’s too hot to organize and fight.

  7. Globus Pallidus XI

    The problem is that our elites have lived in a bubble for so long that they have forgotten how to think.

    No matter how bad their decisions, they are always insulated from any consequences. Make a bad investment, trash the economy? Get bailed out! Lose a war? Call yourself ‘experienced’, have your lackeys tell you how great you are and get medals and accolades and million-dollar speaking engagements.

    Our elites are like spoiled children living out a Tom Clancy fantasy. They have these secret meetings where they make these secret plans that are very ‘clever’ and completely unworkable and impractical, and when things fall apart they just say that proves how hard the job is and thank goodness we have people like them protecting us…

    And thank goodness for government secrecy! If the American people had known that their government was arming islamic extremists, why they might have demanded a stop to it, and then it might all have ended badly.

      1. James Levy

        NO! The terrifying fact is that these assholes are, because of the sick, warped nature of our society, WINNERS! They have all the money, all the power, all the perks. People like me are losers, no matter how much more clearly we see what’s up and understand the nature of our collective problems, because we have no money, no power, and no influence. We get to watch the ship hit the iceberg and, next time, if we too loudly yell “I told you so!” you’ll be disappeared.

        1. Fiver

          I agree. We have not witnessed some bizarre series of policy ‘errors’ in this region – these are the outcomes desired, the goals pursued in the name of utterly perversely defined ‘interests’ of an entirely corrupted US State and polity. The ‘winners’ are now the very worst people the ‘West’ has to offer.

    1. lee

      Jared Diamond would concur:

      ” …One of the predictors of a happy versus an unhappy outcome has to do with the role of the elite, or the decision-makers or the politicians or the rich people in the society. If the society is structured so that the decision-makers themselves suffer from the consequences of their decisions then they are motivated to make decisions that are good for the whole society. Whereas, if the decision-makers can make decisions that insulate them from the rest of society then they are likely to make decisions that are bad for the rest of society.
      I would like to see the rich suffer even more and the politicians even more.”

      1. TG

        Well said! That’s why parachute packers are occasionally required to jump with a chute that they themselves have packed.

        One advantage of limiting the compensation of a CEO to some fixed multiple of the lowest page worker, is not just that it would limit compensation to something sane, but it would give the CEO an incentive to maximize pay, as opposed to our current system where the incentive is to minimize pay….

        Maybe U.S. senators etc. should have their pay, benefits and pensions indexed to a fixed multiple of the median salary.

  8. indio007

    It’s going exactly to plan.
    Now the US will be able to use their weapons directly and say, “We didn’t give them to the Syrian Rebels, they must have been stolen by ISIS and transferred.”

    If anyone thinks, ISIS, with less than 7K ISIS soldiers, with little comparable firepower , overpowered a standing army of 30K in Mosul ….in the big oops theory of warfare… YOUR OUT OF YOUR MIND

    1. Banger

      The new Caliphate makes perfect sense for US policy which has always favored Jihadis, in part to scare the American public into supporting large Pentagon and Homeland Security budgets, and in part to control the region. In addition a chaotic region makes the US more crucial in guaranteeing oil flowing to China. This explains Putin’s quick action in supporting Maliki–he knows what this is all about.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        There’s also a (somewhat) new dynamic, where states utterly at war co-exist with booming economies right next door, profiteering. So we get the Turkey boom, the Pakistan boom. Permanent War is required so we’ll just see a rotating list of countries. Iraq is on Round 3, Afghanistan ditto, Libya is due for another round, Syria looks good for a few more rounds. We’re building a $25 million health club for US troops in Niger, so pretty soon Americans will need to find that country on a map…or maybe not. Africa in general is looking VERY good for our Permanent War aficionados.

        1. Mark P.

          ‘Africa in general is looking VERY good for our Permanent War aficionados.’

          It’s looking very good to the Chinese, too, so that’s going to get interesting within the next 8-15 years.

    2. Fiver

      Concur – and this just may be the last we see of the “Oops Theory” for some time – everything about ISIS reads, sounds and resonates like a bad script.

  9. Crazy Horse

    Amazing: A short article followed by 33 comments about the roots of American foreign policy in the Middle East, and not a single word recognizing the pivotal role that the Israeli lobby and the interests of the Israeli State have in determining US policy in the region. Defense of Zionism is an unconditional requirement for any aspirant to national office in the US— and it follows that US policy is first and foremost Israeli policy.

    Control over oil is the number one imperative of the US national interest, and as long as Saudi Arabia has the largest oil lake in the world under it’s sands the US will remain locked in the marriage. Oil has built a society in the US whose infrastructure and social values demand an endless supply of Spice—- as soon as it runs out the wolves of change may come howling at the door. So the reality of American foreign policy is that it must search for a path that satisfies both the Israel and the Oil imperative simultaneously. The notion that the Overlords purposely created the jihadist movements to destabilize the region makes no sense— Immoral and inept American bumbling more closely fits the historical record.

    1. Fiver

      Agree with all but last statement re causality. We can no longer accept the infinite ‘boo-boo’ theory when the players involved – US, Saudis, Israelis absolutely do have the capability to pull this off. They pulled up short in knocking over Assad, leading to the confrontation with Putin over the false allegations re chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian Government, Obama’s red light, subsequent Saudi venting, the counter-move in Ukraine – while the myriad groups of ‘jihadists’, actually mercenaries, in Syria but of Iraqi origin made their way home for a name-change and a new mission. And the US just happens to have had the new and terrible ‘Bin Laden 2’ in custody for 5 years in a mind-wringer.

  10. masterslave

    OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL :
    “” US policy is not “unraveling” one little bit, this IS the policy: breed instability and war, keep the flow of spice from the taxpayer through to the military complex. I mean how obvious can you get, ISIS leads a parade of captured US Humvees and we don’t instantly turn it into a Highway of Death, gee I wonder why? Because we don’t want to. Peace and Prosperity would mean no more prosperity for America.””

    Exactly .

  11. masterslave

    James Levy : “” WINNERS! They have all the money, all the power, all the perks.””

    And they have sold their souls to satan … wait until judgement day .

    1. ogee

      Problem is; there is no judgement day and everyone in the know, knows that.
      so there really isn’t any reason for “the children of darkness”, to steal and plunder everything they can get away with.

      1. ogee

        That should be “there isn’t any reason for them to NOT steal and plunder everything they can get away with.”
        Common decency doesn’t work for those types.

  12. Jackrabbit

    Mindfriedo at the Saker thinks this is important and it seems very relevant to this discussion. Points made by the interviewee strongly suggests that ISIS is not ‘blowback’ because:
    – two years after supplying ‘moderate rebels’ with weapons, the US is only now complaining that these weapons are falling into the wrong hands (ISIS);
    – ISIS was trained in Jordan;
    – ISIS scorched earth strategy is not crazy but originates in a fearsome Gengkis Khan strategy;
    – Stoking sectarian war is deliberate and a war of attrition is intended;
    – ISIS has not killed or taken action against any US/Israeli/Western people.

    An interview conducted by pan Arab Al-Maydeen TV with Sheikh Nabeel Naiem (who was apparently an early Al Queda leader who broke with the organization).

    Or, read the transcript (provided by

    Although the interview stands on its own, here’s my impression, FWIW:
    First, I don’t know who Sheikh Nabeel Naiem is and I’m not familiar with the news station, so I am uncertain of his reliability or the objectivity of the station. With that said, much of what he says accords with other sources and the suspicions/understanding that many have developed regarding ISIS/IS. Still, some of his information is difficult to verify (we are supposed to trust him as an ‘insider’) like:

    – its not just some private citizens that are funding Jihadis but Governments;
    – 1500 wounded ISIS soldiers are in Israeli hospitals, and some Jihadi leaders are living in Israel;
    – the reason why Morsi was overthrown: conspiring with Al Queda (with US support?!);

    and it seems strange that he has been able to personally witness so much (perhaps strange because I have no understanding of how important he may be in the Arab/Islamic world).

    H O P

  13. Fiver

    What’s expressed here in comments is gaining traction in many independent media – just too many lies too many times, and with this latest plot twist too many glaring discontinuities for credibility to grant. Even 5 years ago we would not have seen nearly so much reasoned doubt expressed so quickly and based on enough evidence from various sources to legitimately question what I believe is the fairy-tale we’re all being told.

    With State, politician and media credibility so badly damaged, one wonders how much longer the entire charade of modern ‘politics’ can last.

  14. ogee

    People’s faith/belief in religion is being exploited at every level. Who is on this team, and who is on that team.
    The first fact everyone in the world needs to know, is that ALL religions who espouse “the truth’, are lies.
    Christianity,islam,judeaism….all lies.No religion has ever shown itself to be true in any way.But since Constantine sought refuge in the new roman religion amidst a crumbling empire…..Selling religion was a good thing in the eyes of the state.As long as recorded history goes back, there was the state and there was the priest class… People have been ruled by their myths as long as anyone knows.
    Nowadays, the Christians of America… ,Are tools of the establishment.Some are republican,some are democrats.Many of them are living in fantasyland on sundays, and are therefor predisposed to official news release fantasies of the state kabuki theatre.They can’t believe the levels of deception or just how big “the lie” really is.They think “god” is here.There must be some order here….The bad apples must be a small part of the whole.etc… But really, everything that forms the basis of the theological/political framework that we all must use as a context to all decisions, is a lie.
    Now if people were all Taoist, where they are searching for the good,the way… not finding answers but striving to be better in tune with all that is… fine. we would do fine to know the message of jesus which was the golden rule and all that… but when people are sold the lie that he was “divine’. they become tools for the establishment.When they believe one form of islam was the truth . when they believe that judeaism, is a true religion,,,these all prepare the “feeler” of these false beliefs to be “moldable” into what is expedient.
    the holders of religious conviction, are great for the state.They won’t ask for their rewards in this lifetime. They can be sold a bill of goods they won’t open and examine until the next….
    Children need to be taught religions as myth. They hold all the gems of mans learning through the ages. as long as people realize they are not true,just stories. What is true is all the damage done to the human spirit, and the animal world and to nature itself, because of the beliefs of people who thought their soul was above the world they see all around them.Children need to be shown how human history has been perverted by groups of peoples being exploited through their beliefs.
    while the isis, and competing Islamic factions may be a part of the story there. Here in America, Christianity is rabid.we don’t do it in the streets so much…anymore.But every chuch sunday group is thanking some soldier for doing it elsewhere.

  15. Stelios Theoharidis

    I pretty much call bullshit on most of what this gentleman says. This is about as poor an analysis as I get from the right and it is entirely too one-dimensional and overly conspiratorial. It buys too much into the narrative that the neo-conservatives are trying to sell us on to pursue further conflict within that region. By making ISIL out to be a extant threat we bolster the idea of interventionism. Certainly ISIL is a threat for ethnic minorities within the region that they occupy, just as the Pashtun Taliban were threats to the ethnic minorities within Afghanistan. But, they can surely be contained by the many enemies that they have within the region including Sunni Kurds, Sunni Iraqis, Sunni Syrians, Shia Iraqis, the Syrian Government, Iran, and Hezabollah to name a few. American fear of supporting moderate Sunni forces in Syria actually supported their efforts. Yes we made poor decisions in supporting the Mujahideen in Afghanistan during the Cold War, but to suggest that the Islamists are currently an extension of US foreign policy is laughable. The notion that they are or were an extension of the Saudis just doesn’t pass muster either. Most of their funding is from a wide variety of illegal activities. They fund themselves like gangsters, through extortion, kidnapping, theft, resale of resources, etc.

    Regarding their origins. Lets be honest here, we should never have pursued a one state solution in Iraq. The Iraq transition was poorly administered and left open to an immense amount of corruption. Maybe this was done on purpose to aid oil companies in establishing a presence but it had lasting consequences. The Shia captured much of the state and marginalized the Sunnis as well as the Kurds in that country’s political apparatus. At some point the US could have made better efforts to ensure that the Shia incorporated these groups and solidified the Iraqi state but we didn’t push significantly enough for that. If we weren’t going to do that we should have never pursued a single state solution. We deliberately inflamed sectarian violence in Iraq which aided in the emergence of this group. Al Qaeda in Iraq (one of ISIL’s predecessor organizations) was temporarily defeated with the assistance of the Awakening / Surge (more Awakening than surge in my opinion) and many of their supporters went into Syria where they contributed to the emerging chaos there. The USA never kept any of the promises that they made to the Awakening to ensure their continued assistance in securing that part of Iraqi territory. Again these groups were marginalized and under threat by the country’s Shia majority. Consequently the country fell apart with such a limited show of force by ISIL, big surprise.

    While much of the conflict in Syria has been funded by the Saudis, UAE, Kuwait, etc., they did not singularly support ISIL, it was basically the wild west, much of that money and arms was going to the FSA. ISIL was basically a bunch of outsiders looking for Jihad and trying to impose a corrupt and fundamentalist rule in the areas they occupied. The Free Syrian Army (or the loosely connected group of militias in Syria that they represent) is basically got sick of this and became enemies with both the Al-Assad’s regime and ISIL. As I understand Al-Asaad’s regime purposefully did not assault ISIL. FSA assault on ISIL forces have pushed ISIL into the vaccuum of western Iraq.

    I am convinced that the problem really is that we are trying to uphold this illusion that is the state of Iraq, which was created by foreign powers almost 100 years ago. If we let go of this illusion and allow the three main ethnic groups to self-govern, it will probably allow other groups in the Sunni portion of Iraq to marginalize ISIL.

    1. Maju

      ISIL and Islamism in general is not so much a threat for ethnic minorities as it is for religious freedom. This fascist ideology is enemy of secularism and therefore of the values that most of us spouse. There is a triangle of religious fanaticism that is undermining secularism particularly in the Middle East and that has its vertices in Washington, Tel Aviv and Riyadh.

      There are many reasons for it but mostly two:

      1. That religious fanaticism is a reactionary (and therefore empty and powerless) ideology that serves well the designs of Big Capital, as do other forms of fascism (see Ukraine for example).

      2. That in the Middle East, secularism was largely associated to Pan-Arab Nationalism and this nationalism has been outlawed by the Western colonial order (hence the invasion of Iraq and now the agression against Syria, both ruled by the pan-Arabist Baath party, which is also secularist – even among those opposing El Assad, the few secularist modernizing forces are totally ignored).

      If the West would work according to its ideas and not to its dirty colonialist interests, then it would support secularist forces in that region and undermine theocracies like Saudia or Israel. But nope: the CIA penetrated Islamist forces are what they prefer, because they are good in keeping the region ghettoized and divided along petty lines of faith.

      In a sense it reminds of what happened in Yugoslavia, where people who spoke the very same language (Serbo-Croat), were artificially divided along religious lines, religions in which they did not even believe anymore. Divide et impera.

      “FSA assault on ISIL forces have pushed ISIL into the vaccuum of western Iraq.”

      I doubt that this is real in any way. ISIL controls a big chunk of Syria: about half of what the opposition controls. Everybody knows that the USA trained ISIL recently in a secret Jordanian base and that budget is being required for more financing of Syrian opposition in general.

      As happened in Mali first and later in the Central African Republic (and maybe in Nigeria as well) this situation has been engineered to favor a foreign intervention, either in Syria, Iraq or both. The Islamists are mere puppets of what Washington dictates and that is true since Osama bin Laden or even earlier.

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