Critics of such policies, however, continue to remind the public that it was the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq and broader U.S. foreign policy that created the conditions for ISIS to rise in the region and warn that further military escalation in either Iraq or Syria is a mistake that plays right into the hands of jihadist groups like ISIS.
As Tom Engelhardt, editor of the online magazine TomDispatch.com, wrote on Tuesday:
Though the militants of ISIS would undoubtedly be horrified to think so, they are the spawn of Washington. Thirteen years of regional war, occupation, and intervention played a major role in clearing the ground for them. They may be our worst nightmare (thus far), but they are also our legacy — and not just because so many of their leaders came from the Iraqi army we disbanded, had their beliefs and skills honed in the prisons we set up (Camp Bucca seems to have been the West Point of Iraqi extremism), and gained experience facing U.S. counterterror operations in the “surge” years of the occupation. In fact, just about everything done in the war on terror has facilitated their rise. After all, we dismantled the Iraqi army and rebuilt one that would flee at the first signs of ISIS’s fighters, abandoning vast stores of Washington’s weaponry to them. We essentially destroyed the Iraqi state, while fostering a Shia leader who would oppress enough Sunnis in enough ways to create a situation in which ISIS would be welcomed or tolerated throughout significant areas of the country.
And Engelhardt warns that for Obama to be so easily goaded into escalation by the brutal videos released by ISIS would be a foolish, and rather transparent, mistake.