In the Wall Street Journal, Paul Wolfowitz — one of the architects of the illegal war on Iraq — advocates regime change in Syria and charges President Bashar al-Assad with “making efforts to strengthen the Islamic State”.
Meanwhile, in the New York Times, Thomas L. Friedman argues that the US should not fight the Islamic State (a.k.a. ISIS) because the US shares the goal of ISIS “to defeat the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria”.
So the question is, who has truly strengthened the Islamic State?
Wolfowitz asserts that Assad has deliberately done so by “freeing imprisoned extremists who went on to become ISIS leaders”.
But by that same reasoning, the US, too, has made efforts to strengthen the Islamic State.
After all, ISIS had its origins in the US’s illegal war on Iraq in 2003 — which, again, Wolfowitz was among the principle architects of — and it wasn’t from a prison in Syria that ISIS’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was released, but from a US-run prison in Iraq.
Indeed, most of the top leaders in ISIS had spent time in US prisons in Iraq between 2004 and 2011.
Neither was the rise of ISIS in Syria an unforeseen phenomenon. On the contrary, the US Defense Intelligence Agency warned in a memo in August 2012 that if the situation in Syria further unraveled, “there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria” (i.e., an Islamic State), which, the memo added, was “exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime”; the “supporting powers” included “The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey”.
The New York Times then relayed US officials’ ostensible perplexity about “why hard-line Islamists have received the lion’s share of the arms” funneled by the CIA to rebel groups trying to overthrow the Assad regime.
Tom Friedman evidently thinks that was a fine idea.