US/Middle East – The US government’s interventionist policies toward the Middle East helped the rise and expansion of the Daesh (also known as ISIL and ISIS) terrorist group in the region, a former US Department of State’s official said.
“I don’t think America or any other country “created ISIS” but I do think, in Iraq, America created the conditions that birthed ISIS. I do not think it was purposeful or policy, just another unintended consequence of that terrible, wasteful and unnecessary war. But once that was done, I think America took advantage of the formation of ISIS as an excuse to return to Iraq, and invade Syria, militarily,” Peter Van Buren told Habilian news website recently.
Peter Van Buren, a former United States Foreign Service employee, blew the whistle on State Department waste and mismanagement during the Iraqi reconstruction in a book titled “We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People”.
Following is the full text of the interview.
Q: As you know Americans will cast their ballot to choose a new president in November elections with Barack Obama leaving office in January 2017. It will be the country’s 58th quadrennial presidential poll. How do you asses Obama’s second 4 years in the office, particularly his foreign policy?
A: Sadly for America and the people of the Middle East, Obama did worse than making no change in US policy, he actually made things worse. After withdrawing from Iraq in 2011, he reinserted the US into that war in 2014. He attacked Libya and Syria, and backed the Saudi war in Yemen. He has American soldiers on the ground in multiple nations across the Middle East. He has made no change in US policy towards the Palestinians. Nearby, he has militarized Africa and pledged to keep American forces in Afghanistan indefinitely. The nuclear deal with Iran is one bright spot for peace.
Q: The US has always adopted warmongering and interventionist policies toward a number of Middle Eastern countries, including Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. There are also reports suggesting that it is backing Takfiri militants operating in these countries as well. Do you believe that next US president, either a Democrat or Republican, will change such policies?
A: I see no change coming. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump favor war in the Middle East under the banner of “defeating ISIS.” I fear that slogan is simply an excuse to continue a larger process of American military intervention across multiple countries.
The US clearly supports Saudi Arabia in the war in Yemen, selling them terrible weapons, such as cluster bombs, to use against civilian targets. The US continues to overlook Saudi support for terrorists, and indeed is willing to ignore evidence of Saudi government involvement in 9/11. Oil is powerful, money is powerful, and the US record of short-term thinking is controlling. With Turkey, I see the US more and more supporting the Kurds against the Turks, likely in retaliation for Turkish assistance to ISIS. I question what US policy will be if this leads to an independent Kurdistan that helps break up Iraq.
Q: The Saudi foreign minister has repeatedly claimed that departure of Syrian President Bashar Assad is the only way to uproot terrorism in the Arab country. What’s your take on this? Do you also believe that the US directly created Daesh?
A: I believe Assad is fighting ISIS, so I don’t understand the Saudi’s argument in that sense.
I don’t think America or any other country “created ISIS” but I do think, in Iraq, America created the conditions that birthed ISIS. I do not think it was purposeful or policy, just another unintended consequence of that terrible, wasteful and unnecessary war. But once that was done, I think America took advantage of the formation of ISIS as an excuse to return to Iraq, and invade Syria, militarily.