Saturday, January 23, 2016

Saddam and Jihadis and Causation, Oh My!

Speaking of the rise of ISIL, don't forget the hand of Saddam.

The battle against Saddam's boys continues in the war on ISIL.

Which fits nicely with this writer's take on Saddam and jihadis (tip to email from Eric at Learning Curve):

WHOM should we blame for the Islamic State? In the debate about its origins, many have concluded that it arose from the American-led coalition’s errors after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In fact, the groundwork for the emergence of the militant jihadist group was laid many years earlier by the government of Saddam Hussein.

The Arab nationalist Baath Party, which seized power in 1968 in a coup in which Mr. Hussein played a key role, had a firmly secular outlook. This held through the 1970s, even as religiosity rose among the Iraqi people. But soon after Mr. Hussein invaded Iran in 1980, it began to change. ...

The Islamic State was not created by removing Saddam Hussein’s regime; it is the afterlife of that regime.

So we go another couple steps back in the causal chain.

Saddam, in a variation of the saying, "false patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel," turned to Islam to bolster his regime under the pressure of the Iran-Iraq War. And that laid the ground work for Saddam's boys to join ISIL and help them organize into a proto-state.

I'm not sure where you draw the line between the overlap between Saddam's Baathists and jihadis and a merging of the two as the author describes (and in more detail here). My sense was that through 2004, at least, Baathists as a whole wanted to use the jihadis as their shock troops to defeat us and would try to shove the jihadis aside to regain power. And that after that the jihadis began to dominate the array of resistance to our liberation of Iraq. Indeed, even I've noted that in so-called "secular" Iraq, the history of jihadis predates our 2003 invasion.

But I may under-estimate the conversion of Baathists to jihadis.The author makes a strong case for that.

In any case, we did not create jihadis--we are their victims (well, we and everyone else not a jihadi).

And yes, Iraq under Saddam did support terrorism.

Finally, do remember that everything and anything make jihadis mad at us.