How the US Helped ISIS Grow Into a Monster
In his new book, Patrick Cockburn writes that America’s failed strategy will only make ISIS stronger.
—By Patrick Cockburn | Thu Aug. 21, 2014 4:39 PM EDT
ISIS fighters parade through the streets of Raqqah, Syria. AP Photo/Raqqa Media Center
This story first appeared on the TomDispatch website. This essay is excerpted from the first chapter of Patrick Cockburn’s new book, The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising, with special thanks to his publisher, OR Books. The first section is a new introduction written for TomDispatch.
There are extraordinary elements in the present US policy in Iraq and Syria that are attracting surprisingly little attention. In Iraq, the US is carrying out air strikes and sending in advisers and trainers to help beat back the advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (better known as ISIS) on the Kurdish capital, Erbil. The US would presumably do the same if ISIS surrounds or attacks Baghdad. But in Syria, Washington’s policy is the exact opposite: there the main opponent of ISIS is the Syrian government and the Syrian Kurds in their northern enclaves. Both are under attack from ISIS, which has taken about a third of the country, including most of its oil and gas production facilities.