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.

  • Rex Minor

    There is nothing to discuss; all the names involved with the American invasions in the middle east are the causual factors for the unleashing of the satanic response from the region, which in ancient times was accepted as the cradle of civilisation.

    How on earth one can eliminate the devil in this world?

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Parvez

    Always interesting reading you. You say all the right things having a lot of merit but in the end draw the wrong conclusion…….this read like a cleverly crafted attempt to deflect the blame from the pro-golfer to the caddie…..for messing up.Recommend

  • Anon

    So its not Bush’s fault because none of the countries he threatened to bomb to the stone age if they didnt support him tried to dissuade him….

    Stellar reasoning there!Recommend

  • Anon

    Of course the real reason its not his fault is that he’s white… it’s never a white man’s fault! They’re always just trying to make things better when this stuff happens…. right?Recommend

  • Anon

    If anything the questions should be about why the US continues to do business with the Saudis and other regimes that are supporting these loons… Nobody is holding a gun to their heads!Recommend

  • Sarfaraz

    A worthless article, as much as Daesh is!Recommend

  • Acz

    Good question, did Bush, Blair, the strange hastily formed “coalition of the willing” and all those in the government and parliamentarians in these states who voted for war on Iraq based on a flimsy (and impossible to believe then) false claim create ISIS? This “coalition of the willing” even refused any negotiations and any delay to allow inspectors in, which resulted in Hans Blix throwing his hands up in the air…Saddam Hussein neutralised all Islamists protagonists in Iraq. When we consider the name ISIS: I stands for Islamic, S for State of, I for IRAQ and S for Syria.. Yes, that is right, IRAQ.. It all started in Iraq. Destroy Iraq and its power base, the Islamists form in Iraq first, then spread to Syria when the Syrian power base is shaken. Now, dear readers, please do guess who destroyed the power base of Iraq? They did so and to this day remain completely unaccountable and above the rule of law, let alone morals. Almost a million dead, and all we get is an apology “en passant” by one of the perpetrators some 12 years later on television. Amazing!!! The US lost 400.000 souls in the Second World War and they rightly held war crime tribunals after wrongly launching 2 nuclear attacks on civilian cities when Japan was suing for peace indirectly via the Soviet Union. Does the loss of nearly one million warrant the same legal action (nuclear attacks are abhorrent as indeed are any attacks on innocent civilians) ? Does the artful use of the “Casus Belli” mean that suspected war criminals rise above the law and are not even indicted? I shall let the author and the readers reflect and decide for themselves.. Recommend

  • Gullu

    How about billions and billions of dollars worth of military hardware sales?
    To, two bit countries like Saudia, Emirates, Kuwait….who hire mercenaries
    to fly these fighter jets, drive these tanks and so forth. And patrol their borders. Because their own citizens simply do not have the patriotism or the guts to do so, themselves. [that’s where retired soldiers or ex military Pakistanis come in]
    Some are, also, on “loan” to these countries, from Pak armed forces.
    These sales, creates jobs, in the US and the factories working 3 shifts. And keeps the constituents happy, and voting, again and again for the same war mongers. So, you cannot blame the US, alone, for this mess.
    Hope this helps. Just a tad.Recommend

  • JP

    But Rex, the latest from Angela Merkel is, she will NOT accept Afghans
    if they come seeking a better economic future. Recommend

  • Anon

    I totally agree. But contention is firstly, to start with the title of the article which exonerates George Bush of all responsibility – clearly not the case!
    Secondly, it could possibly be argued by countries like Pakistan and these other middle eastern countries is that they are acting out of a need for survival. The battle are going on in their backyards and cannot be ignored. Furthermore, in a great many instance these countries (especially Pakistan) has often been strongarmed into involvement either by threat of violence or economic sanction.
    If there is one actor in all these affairs that is not susceptible to threat of extreme economic or physical damage it was Mr Bush. Its always easier to be moral when you’re richer and more secure… if you still forego morality in such a situation that makes you more culpable, not less!Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    She is darn right! Asylum seekers from save countries including Pakistan and Afghanistan do not qualify under the Geneva convention, and are therefore being returned.

    REX MINORRecommend

  • JP

    Geneva Convention has nothing to do with this.
    It ONLY applies during a declared war. Between 2 countries.
    Repeat, she will not accept AFGHANS. Because
    most of them, are claiming to be from FATA, Pakistan.
    On fraudulent papers/passports, obtained in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    He is correct to an extent Parvez:

    1. Let us remember those days when Dick Cheney used to speak to the media of an Iraqi intelligence officer meeting with Mohammed Atta in Prague as an evidence of Saddam’s links with Al Qaeda. We know now that Saddam never had any links with Al Qaeda but his removal brought Al Qaeda to Iraq and Al Zarqawi was so brutal to not just the Americans but to the Shias that Al Qaeda’s top leadership had to distance itself from him- if you go by this logic, yes America alone is responsible.
    2. By the time the US had left Iraq, Al Qaeda and the other militias had been defeated- this was achieved by buying the loyalties of Sunni groups and turning them against the militants. These loyalties were lost by a very paranoid Nouri Al Maliki who saw a baathist in every Sunni, the selective discrimination and killing of Sunnis was taken advantage of by the Al Qaeda but the term ISIS had still not come into being. The role of Maliki is much understated in this regard.
    3. It is when the unrest in Syria began and these groups were able to control the oil fields in Syria along with the money which was already coming in from rich arabs, they became self sufficient and were able to launch major operations on both sides of the border, it is around this time the term ISIS was coined, these folks are none other than the former Al Qaeda and Baathists.

    America was responsible for destabilising the region by kicking out Saddam but it still left a relatively stable Iraq which was destroyed by Maliki, the unrest in Syria only helped the cause of ISIS.Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    Geneva Convention has nothing to do with this.
    Those who apply for asylum are only eligible under the Geneva convention, European Unionn is the signotary. Germany will not grant sylum to any Indian or Paki and now from Afghanistan, because the UNO has declared them as safe countries. Period. This is what Mrs Merkel said and this has the endorsement of the parliament. Pakistani Passport holder are being returned to Pakistan straight from Greece, the outside bordeur of the European Union despite protests from Pakistan Interior minister, who like you has similar views.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • JP

    Wrong again, Rex. EU is a recent phenomenon. Just a few years old. It did not exist, when the Geneva Convention was signed. And it is NOT a country. Your info is spotty. Just as your credentials.
    Well, considering YOUR leader Karzai, is the spittoon holder
    of Modi. Rumor has it, he even polishes his boots. Since no
    country will accept Karzai, except India, he has no where to go.
    Even his old patron, will not give him asylum in US. In spite
    of having billions of dollars [most belonging to his dead,
    assassinated, brother. Ahmed Wali Karzai, the most corrupt

    Afghan in recent history. You remember Wali, don’t you?.
    Of course you do.]Recommend

  • Tony Mac
  • siesmann

    Unfortunately so is Mullah,and Muslims in general.They never accept their faults.And they are no whites.Recommend

  • siesmann

    He summed it up decently.Recommend

  • siesmann

    Right.But don’t forget the Jihad mentality,and concept of non-existent Ummah.And Pakistan’s tendency to play on all sides.Recommend

  • siesmann

    I guess you forget 9/11 and the absolute refusal of Mullah Omar to let go of Osama(even to some third country).Saddam Hussain should have been taken care of during his invasion of Kuwait,rather than coming after him on false pretext.Japan was not surrendering as you might have us believe.The bombings on Japan if continued probably would have killed more civilians than from the Atom Bomb.And a lesson from history-Japan and Germany accepted their defeat,and are prospering.The bloated brain of Jihadists will never let them do that and seek peace.Their delusions of a Khilafat won’t let the wars end,falling exactly into Western Trap.What do you think whole depts of middle east studies,special calls of CIA and other agencies ,and think tanks are there for?To study the psychology of foolsRecommend