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Hypothetical Debate: ISIS if the US didn't retaliate after 9/11

Primavera

TRIBE Member
Hypothetical debate. 2001, after 9/11 the US swallows their pride real hard and doesn't retaliate. They send a message to the Muslim world saying they don't want to go to war and they apologize for the transgressions that started the dissension that sparked the 9/11 attacks, mainly the previous Gulf War. The US leaves Osama / Al-Queda up to his their devices in Afghanistan. The people of Afghanistan are not liberated from Taliban rule, Saddam and his nonexistent WMD's are ignored (and he probably does nothing). Fast forward to today, does ISIS exist? It's it possible they both the War in Afghanistan and War in Iraq that followed 9/11 are a crucial reason for the numbers behind these vicious extreme Islamic organizations?
 

praktik

TRIBE Member
The answer is yes - chaos is sowed and breeds more chaos.

Syria had its own internal tensions, but dealing with millions of Iraqi refugees coming in, among them experienced fighters coming from a war zone - well that has a way of destabilizing you further.

Certainly it's a reasonable position to suggest that ISIS would at least be much smaller and insignificant were it not for a war of occupation in Iraq and the later collapse of Syria.
 

praktik

TRIBE Member
Some milestones along the way for the growth of ISIS:

By contrast, even before ISIS gained control of eastern Syria, starting with small villages and towns, then Raqqa in June 2013, and finally the greater territory in June 2014, the Syrian regime had largely abandoned the region to focus on controlling the more populated western areas of the country. It left ISIS mostly undisturbed once the group was in power, since its growth was helpful to Damascus’s efforts to portray the opposition as “terrorists.” Syria’s rebels, who originally took Raqqa from the regime in April 2013, are a hodgepodge of groups, far weaker than ISIS. Although supportive countries such as America, Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia have become more coordinated in their funding of some Syrian rebel groups, those groups are fragmented. The Islamist groups, even those who rely on private donors, are stronger than the more secular American-backed fighters—and even they pale into insignificance when compared to ISIS.​
Basically the escalation of the Civil War resulted in the abandonment of ISIS home turf by the Syrian regime - this created the space for their growth.

There's also the power of the ISIS narrative right now - not only fed by the crimes of the infidel, gladly handed to them by hawkish Western forces giving them dead muslims and "demonstrating western resolve" - but also by the relative weakness of other forces in the area to create a compelling alternative narrative. Its also a combination of "right place/right time":

There is still a question, which preoccupies American officials, of why ISIS has attracted so many fighters—the most rapid mobilization of foreign fighters so far, outstripping recruitment in the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan and the war against Saddam Hussein in Iraq, according to jihadist experts. The answer may lie in part in ISIS’s unprecedented use of social media to attract people, the relative ease of getting to and living in Syria, and coming at a time at which governments in the region and in the West lack convincing ideologies and are seen as corrupt by their inhabitants, Muslim or otherwise.​
All of this is made much tougher absent American invasions and American military (mis)adventures in the middle east creating this context - this is how many commentators have remarked upon how OBL has really won the last decade or so of the War on Terror, successfully goading the Americans into situations that create the conditions for forces like ISIS to thrive.

Bear in mind these same sorts of questions were asked in 2008, about Al-Qaeda in Iraq, who just didn't exist there prior to occupation. "Is the US responsible?" Was the question.... which is probably remarkable, when you think that such a question needed to be asked in the first place.
 
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