"The Islamic State was not created by removing Saddam Hussein’s regime; it is the afterlife of that regime"Interesting perspective:
by Daniel Greenfield:
This is a pretty good piece that makes its way through much of the same territory that my own, "The US Didn't Create ISIS, Saddam and Assad Did" followed. Kyle Orton goes deeper into depth in some areas and it's a good thing to see something like this run in the New York Times.
Kyle Orton also makes some important points,
The government imposed a version of Shariah law: Thieves had their hands cut off, homosexuals were thrown from rooftops and prostitutes were beheaded in public squares. Numerous mosques were built, Quran study became a national focus and midlevel clerics acquired new roles as community leaders.I don't agree with some of his conclusions about "radicalization". What Orton calls Baathi-Salafism and what is now the Islamic State have a common agenda of Sunni Supremacism. There are a whole lot of other things on top, but if you're invested in having a Sunni-run Iraq, with all the resulting benefits to your family, Saddam's Baath Party and the Islamic State are both the same ticket.
The Faith Campaign claimed to be ecumenical, but its clear pro-Sunni tilt led to a final collapse of relations between the state and the Shiite population and heightened sectarian tensions. In the Sunni areas, however, the campaign was effective, creating a religious movement I call Baathi-Salafism, under Mr. Hussein’s leadership. It also eased strains between the regime and independent religious movements like the “pure” Salafists, whose long opposition to the regime gave way to some of its members serving in its administration, even though Mr. Hussein was warned by his intelligence chief that if the alliance continued, the Salafists would eventually supplant the regime.
Alongside the Faith Campaign, Mr. Hussein’s regime constructed a system of cross-border smuggling networks designed to evade the sanctions. This funded a system of patronage, much of it distributed through mosques, that maintained a series of militias directly loyal to the ruler, like the Fedayeen Saddam and the Sunni tribes, as a hedge against any repeat of the 1991 Shiite revolt. These networks, which are deeply entrenched in the local populations, especially the tribes of western Iraq, are now run by the Islamic State, adding to the difficulty of uprooting the “caliphate.”
One of the less advertised aspects of the Faith Campaign was the infiltration of mosques by military intelligence officers. There was a trapdoor in this policy: With Baathism a spent force by the late 1990s, many of them slid into Salafism. The security sector had been profoundly influenced by Salafism by the time Mr. Hussein’s government fell.
Were Baathists really radicalized or did they just see ISIS as doing the same basic things that Saddam had been doing? A strong Sunni leader using brutal terror to dominate Shiites and intimidate foreigners.
The Islamic State was not created by removing Saddam Hussein’s regime; it is the afterlife of that regime.Indeed the key point that Orton makes is that Saddam was not a secular dictator. He had, for whatever reason, embraced Islamism. And that may be the inevitable trend in the region where religion is proving to be more enduring than the various Socialist experiments. From that standpoint, even without the Gulf War or the Iraq War, Iraq was on an inevitable trajectory.
Its best defense against Shiite militancy was Sunni militancy.