Tag Archives: George W. Bush

Response to Response: Yes, Saddam Laid the Groundwork for the Islamic State

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on January 12, 2016

Iraqi army MIA1 Abrams tanks march under the victory Arch landmark during a parade to mark the 91st Army Day in Baghdad on January 6, 2012, weeks after US troops completed their pullout. The Armed Forces Day display by the fledgling 280,000-strong security force completely reformed after the US-led invasion of 2003. AFP PHOTO/ALI AL-SAADI (Photo credit should read ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/Getty Images)

The “Victory Arch,” which Saddam built after the war with Iran. (January 2012)

About three weeks ago I wrote a piece for The New York Times explaining the evolution of Saddam Hussein’s regime away from the hard-secularism of its Ba’athist origins, and how this had prepared the ground for the Islamic State (IS). I received much positive feedback, but the social media reaction was inevitable: little thought and much anger, particularly from people who view Iraqi history through a political prism and felt I was trying to exculpate George W. Bush. With rare exceptions, the critique could hardly be called thoughtful. So it is nice to finally have such a critique to deal with, from Samuel Helfont and Michael Brill in today’s Foreign Affairs. Continue reading

Iran Tries To Get American Support For Its Takeover Of Lebanon

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on December 31, 2014

In early August, the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) arrested Abu Ahmad Jumaa, the leader of Liwa Fajr al-Islam (Islamic Dawn Brigade), which had been loyal to al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch, Jabhat an-Nusra but which had then-recently defected to the Islamic State (I.S.). In response, Nusra and I.S. fighters poured across the border into Arsal, Lebanon, where Jumaa was being held, and after five days of clashes the Salafi jihadists withdrew, taking with them thirty Lebanese security personnel. Five of the thirty are now dead: one from his injuries, the other four murdered—at least two of them beheaded. Continue reading

A Tetchy Defence of a Bad Foreign Policy

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on May 7, 2014

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A little over a week ago, President Obama was asked in the Philippines about his foreign policy. It was a rather complex question that asked for Obama’s “vision,” “doctrine,” and “guiding principle“—and also how he “answer[s] those critics who say they think the doctrine is weakness.” The President gave a 949-word answer. To say that it was defensive, disingenuous, and wrong-headed would be to say the least of it. Continue reading

The Tragedy of Tony Blair

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on April 24, 2014

Tony Blair at Bloomberg on April 23

There’s a case to be made that Tony Blair is the most important figure in the development of the concept of “humanitarian intervention” since the end of the Cold War. When adumbrating his doctrine at the Chicago Economics Club in April 1999, Blair made very clear that this was no wild-eyed utopianism. Continue reading