What really caused the rise of the so-called "Islamic State"

Simplistically ascribing the subsequent rise of "Islamic State" to the international intervention in Iraq ignores the geo-political complexity of the region before, during and since 2003. Such claims also generally reflect an ideological and/or ahistoric belief rather than an informed viewpoint.


Letter to The Canberra Times 
Thursday, 19 November 2015
(published, Monday, 23 November 2015)

Mike Reddy’s reply (Letters, November 19) to A. Pavelic (Letters, November 17) accuses him of something he did not say (closing borders) and, somewhat ironically, of “one-eyed” and “short-memory” barracking.

Followed by a syllogistic and largely linear claim of cause to effect  that Australia “played a major role in the rise of [the so-called] Islamic State” to 2014 by joining the 2003 intervention in Iraq.

In a complex geo-political situation other factors surely played predominant roles over this decade.

First, the Shiite sectarianism and general corruption and incompetence of Iraq’s Maliki Government once free elections had been enabled, international forces had left over 2009-11 and there were few external or internal restraints on Nouri al-Maliki’s counter-productive actions.

Second, the Arab Spring and particularly its resonance in authoritarian Syria, where the supposedly malign “Western” influences to which Mike attributes continual blame have been almost totally absent, and no actual military interventions have occurred, since the final French withdrawal in 1946.

Finally, the ideological or other simplistic belief that countries contributing to multinational stability and peacekeeping operations in overseas trouble spots incur some kind of additional responsibility for refugees fleeing such locations surely turns morality, logic and the UN Charter on their heads.

Instead it is the countries that avoid helping UN and other multinational efforts to ameliorate or resolve crises at source so refugees can safely return home that are usually the same humanitarian bludgers who refuse to sign the Refugee Convention, or only pay lip service to its obligations, even for crises in contiguous countries.

For all our occasional faults in execution — and especially in contrast to virtually all our neighbours — Australia rightly takes both types of international obligation seriously.


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