In a nearly perfect world

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Because we have a 24hour news cycle with no one actually doing any reporting, it’s important to ask, “who’s to blame for ISIS?” Is the President to blame for not moving fast enough with the airstrikes or moving faster with the military aide to “moderate” anti-Syrian forces? A solution to intensify the fighting perhaps but, at this moment, it is doubtful that ANY amount of aide could have resulted in a quick and decisive victory. The “moderate” rebels are divided, disorganized and moderate only in the sense that they’re not quite as bad as everyone else in the region. Yet. However, they just don’t have enough support to take and hold all of Syria which is a necessary step to preventing a group like ISIS from forming. Not only that, the more support they get from outside help, the less legitimate their cause. Any meaningful or decisive help will make it all but impossible to form a government in the aftermath. Few of the Presidents critics seriously blame him for ISIS, just the fanciful notion that he didn’t use a magic wand to fix the problem because he hates America. So if it’s not Obama, who can we blame next?

Well Bush obviously. It was his ill conceived and poorly executed war that destabilized the region and allowed ISIS to gain a foothold. It was Bush that paved the way for Maliki to come to power, it was him that screwed up the rebuilding of Iraq, and it was him that failed to integrate all the various factions.
Without a doubt, Bush is certainly guilty of some of that, as is Maliki, but neither is Bush to blame for the rise of ISIS. For one, ISIS started in Syria not Iraq and has only a tenuous connection to the troubles there. Assad himself destabilized Syria in events that had little to do with our Occupation in Iraq. Once Bush pushed the Sunni and Baathist minority from power, conflict was inevitable. A civil war between Sunni and Shia has been ongoing in that region since the fall of Saddam and has now escalated into ISIS. Perhaps if Bush, Assad, Maliki had been perfect rulers and Sunni, Shia, Kurds, Christians, and other minority groups could have buried the hatchet and forgiven each other for centuries of atrocities and successive repressions, ISIS could have been avoided, but that a bit much to ask for any one president.

Besides, think about it. What would have happened had we done nothing? Imagine that Bush institutes a period of nation building a civic projects to heal the nation after 9/11 instead of going to war. What happens next? We obviously can’t know the details, but we know the rough outline of this story. It’s been repeated so often there is no need to guess. At some point through weakness or incompetence Saddam or his successor falls. There’s a coup, or a revolution. Maybe the Kurds start it or the Shia. Eventually the shit hits the fan and the price for newly minted rubble goes way way down. The various factions can’t get their act together or unite in common cause and regional powers get involved in a complex conflict and chaos is born.

ISIS was inevitable. They were a glass set half off the edge of a table. Sure Bush may have bumped the table and Obama may have failed in his heroic dive to keep it from shattering on the floor but the glass itself had always been doomed. There was no saving it. There’s no cleaning it up or putting it back together. And, unless we wish to remain there forever and ever we can not and should not be involved.

In a perfect world there would be no ISIS or terrorism. But in a nearly perfect world, what do you do? You refused to be terrorized, you stand against the erosion of civil liberties, you build this nation instead of tearing down others.


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