The origins of ISIS are not even in dispute. The Washington Post put it simply: “almost all of the leaders of the Islamic State are former Iraqi officers, including the members of its shadowy military and security committees, and the majority of its emirs and princes.” Even Tony Blair – Tony Blair – admits that there’d be no ISIS without the invasion of Iraq: “‘I think there are elements of truth in that,’ he said when asked whether the Iraq invasion had been the ‘principal cause’ of the rise of ISIS.” As The New Yorker‘s John Cassidy put it in August:
By destroying the Iraqi state and setting off reverberations across the region that, ultimately, led to a civil war in Syria, the 2003 invasion created the conditions in which a movement like ISIS could thrive. And, by turning public opinion in the United States and other Western countries against anything that even suggests a prolonged military involvement in the Middle East, the war effectively precluded the possibility of a large-scale multinational effort to smash the self-styled caliphate.
Then there’s the related question of how ISIS has become so well-armed and powerful. There are many causes, but a leading one is the role played by the U.S. and its “allies in the region” (i.e., Gulf tyrannies) in arming them, unwittingly or (in the case of its “allies in the region”) otherwise, by dumping weapons and money into the region with little regard to where they go (even U.S. officials openly acknowledge that their own allies have funded ISIS). But the U.S.’s own once-secret documents strongly suggest U.S. complicity as well, albeit inadvertent, in the rise of ISIS, as powerfully demonstrated by this extraordinary 4-minute clip of Al Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan with Gen. Michael Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency: