Where ISIS Came From

In thinking about ISIS and their campaign of terror, I don’t have any better ideas about the best response than anyone else I’ve read recently.  I do notice however several things about their origins:

At the top the organization is the self-declared leader of all Muslims, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a radical chief executive officer of sorts, who 1) handpicked many of his deputies from among the men he met while a prisoner in American custody at the Camp Bucca detention center a decade ago.

He had a preference for military men, and so his leadership team 2) includes many officers from Saddam Hussein’s long-disbanded army. (Disbanded by the US invasion)

They include former Iraqi officers like Fadel al-Hayali, the top deputy for Iraq, who once served Mr. Hussein as a lieutenant colonel, and Adnan al-Sweidawi, a former lieutenant colonel who now heads the group’s military council.

The pedigree of its leadership, outlined by an Iraqi who has seen documents seized by the Iraqi military, as well as by American intelligence officials, helps explain its battlefield successes: Its leaders augmented traditional military skill with 3) terrorist techniques refined through years of fighting American troops, while also having deep local knowledge and contacts. ISIS is in effect a hybrid of terrorists and an army.

NY Times; Hubbard and Schmitt

These three points can be expanded by several others.  Not only 3) techniques but logistics of 4) supply and 5) delivery have been developed against American forces.  They know where to get guns, gas, food and water, and how to get all of it to blitzkrieging company sized units.  As any student of warfare can tell you, these are not incidental to taking and holding territory and killing the enemies, they are central.  Had the Americans not invaded Iraq, or carried out the war they way they did, it seems safe to say the practices honed thereby would not exist — at least to such a high degree. These points do not even mention the high-grade and heavy equipment and ammunition left, which have been scooped up and used with some degree of skill. So, 6 ways in which ISIS sprang from American actions.

I’m not of either of  the two camps currently giving ‘expert’ advice on what should be done about the carnage, neither those who claim that had Obama been tougher in Syria two years ago this would not have happened, and so the lesson is to Get Tough Now, nor with those who say a) this has nothing to do with American interests, or b) American intervention will only fuck it up more, therefore, from both at this end: do nothing.

I come from the ‘citizen of the world’ camp, which used to be a commonplace among many of my friends.  The threatened and the dead along the ISIS trail are not neighbors as near as those in California, but they are neighbors nonetheless.  What should, and what can, be done to stop the carnage?  What is available to those out of danger to help those deeply in it, which will not repeat the catastrophic errors enumerated at the top?  How can the guns, gas, water and food to the fighters be pinched and choked off until their threshing machine comes to a halt?  How can the fuel of war-is-wonderful, god approves, be diluted?

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