Is George Bush responsible for creating ISIS? Not really

Published: December 5, 2015

Some key Iraq war players have gathered up moral courage, confessed to their follies or simply criticised the way things have gone down in a seemingly unending fight.

The bloody Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) onslaught has left us bewildered, slammed into a corner with little hope of return to peaceful times. Humanity has been blatantly pushed into an unprecedented, smouldering pit of fire that refuses to die down, butchering innocent masses simply trying to get through their days. While bringing to justice this portentous enemy may be an impossible adventure, clearly an axis of evil has descended upon us. All bets are off. Rules have been summarily dispatched out of the window.

To every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction – doesn’t take a genius to prophesise that!

ISIS is a reaction to US’s invasion of Iraq.

As the world tries to grapple with the unforgiving ISIS juggernaut, some key Iraq war players have gathered up moral courage, confessed to their follies or simply criticised the way things have gone down in a seemingly unending fight.

One such figure is Mr Tony Blair – the then US president’s supporter-in-chief – who despite his astute political credentials proved himself to be a total sell-out to Washington’s superfluous Iraq policies.

To Blair, ISIS wouldn’t have seen the light of the day had the Iraq war not been fought – a shameful confession coming from a man who was thoroughly convinced, at least in public, that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. A dozen years later, he’s come forward and explained how the war led to destruction of institutions and antagonised groups that put them on a warpath with each other thereby encouraging Islamist extremism.

The other prominent individual to condemn the US’s Iraq policy and accusing it of having an indirect hand in the mushrooming of ISIS is Michael Flynn, a retired general and former head of Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). He blames the Bush administration of ‘strategically marching in the wrong direction’ and acting in a ‘dumb’ manner.

Whereas Blair and Flynn’s assertions are clear-cut expressions of strategic mishaps, the ‘star of the show’, generally thought to be responsible for the Iraq conundrum, is George W Bush. Bush turned a tragic event into a political opportunity and solidified his rule by instilling fear and employing Machiavellian tactics to launch a bogus war.

Some argue that Bush was the worst thing ever to happen to America. I do not disagree with that. We, as people, descended into sadness and darkness the day Bush took oath of office. The Bush presidency fuelled negativity, war, hatred, and aggression, and was mortgaged to hawkish advisors/stooges of the military industrial complex – Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Michael Gerson, Paul Wolfowitz, et al.

Bush’s unscrupulous approach prompted chaos. Although he claimed talking to God, there was nothing Biblically noble about his intentions. Almost seven years after his exit from the White House, his successor is still struggling to clean up the mess.

John McCain, the enigmatic Arizona senator, is often referred to as someone who helped ISIS become a reality. He pushed Congress to provide funding to a disjointed group of so-called Syrian rebels that included the ISIS ‘caliph’ and several other ugly faces. McCain, a diehard warmonger, has the war itch even while he doses off in the middle of public gatherings.

Iraq undoubtedly brought countless skeletons out of the US foreign policy closet. Bush attacked Iraq on a false pretext. But to hold him or ‘iron-ass’ Cheney or ‘arrogant’ Rumsfeld solely liable for sowing the seeds of destruction would be overestimating their intellect and ignoring a number of ‘ground truths’.

Middle Eastern politics is a strange can of worms. ISIS would’ve been a non-existent, inconsequential entity had countries of their current area of influence nipped the movement in the bud. The damage could’ve been mitigated had the oil rich Arab emirates taken charge of situation at the right time.

For instance, soon after 9/11 when the US was trying to muster support for the Iraq invasion, not even a single Arab Gulf state reasoned Washington out of the war or indicated that they were marching in the wrong direction.

No Arab country brought home the point that invading Iraq was a ‘dumb’ idea that will cause perilous dissension and turn the world into a slaughterhouse. The Emiratis and the Saudis instead of assuring the Americans that they’ll go all out against militancy simply opted to stay quiet. Fast forward to now – the Arabs are still silent about ISIS. Why don’t we see Saudi or UAE military participation in air strikes against the Islamic State? Why no princely boots on the ground?

Furthermore, Bush and his coterie would have been as impotent as the Nevada Boxing Commissioner vis-à-vis their expedition had the Arabs not tacitly given them a go-ahead to use their lands to launch attacks on Baghdad and elsewhere.

So, yes, the Americans faked a war. Yes, the US military industrial complex needed to make the fast bucks. Yes, the hawks were eyeing Middle East oil. Yes, America was hurting as a nation and wanted to teach the perpetrators a lesson. But let’s not entirely blame the Americans or the Brits for the Islamic world/Middle East/ISIS-related ails. Let’s play hardball and think how the Arab brethren have time and again ditched the Ummah’s interests. Think how much effort has been put in uniting different warring factions.

Absolutely next to none!

How much energy has been spent to cultivate liberal, progressive elements within the community?

Zero! Nada!

How much effort has been put in stopping religious extremists going rogue?

None whatsoever! In fact, the Saudis and the Iranians have gifted us with the mullahs, the madrassas, the Ayatollahs, the Hizbullahs, the Boko Harams, the Lashkar-e-Taibas, the Talibans, and whoever is ready and willing to tow their contemptible lines.

How many reformersbloggersactivistsheretics and atheists have fallen a prey to militant Islam, thanks to the spread of Saudi-brand Wahabism?

Thousands of them and the violence continues unabated.

Since we are talking about filtering reality from emotion and seeing through reason, we must take a moment to reflect on the real root cause of ISIS. It’s not Bush or any of the washed-up has-beens. It’s the Islamic fundamentals – not the faith – that have undergone transformation for the worse.

Islam doesn’t warrant the creation of ISIS or turning peaceful lands into killing fields. It’s actually a chain of politically motivated events incited by the Muslim world powers that’s responsible for the diabolical and devilish Daesh. The ball is in the court of 1.6 billion Muslims – either brace yourselves to be bullied, sledged, hated and condemned or simply take ownership, stop radicalisation and reform as soon as possible!

Don’t talk barriers but think of solutions. Done, over, finito!

Ahson Saeed Hasan

Ahson Saeed Hasan

The writer is a proud American, a peacenik who has traveled well over 80 countries and lived in four continents. He likes to share his experiences and reflect on the worldly surroundings. He tweets @tweetingacho (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.