Flynt went on Russia Today’s CrossTalk to discuss the U.S.-led military campaign against the Islamic State; click on the video above or see “Washington’s Jihad,” here or here (YouTube). As this campaign expands into Syria, we think the points that Flynt made on CrossTalk, and that Hillary has been making in several appearances on CNN, remain important—and underrepresented in what passes for a policy debate in Washington.
Flynt opens by setting the current U.S. campaign against the Islamic State against the backdrop of U.S. policy since 9/11:
“America’s self-declared post-9/11 ‘war on terror’ has been strategically disastrous for the United States. It has weakened America’s strategic position, in the Middle East and globally; squandered vast material and human resources; and has basically destroyed the perceived legitimacy of American purposes in the Middle East for the vast majority of people who live in this strategically critical region. And now President Obama is effectively recommitting the United States to this profoundly self-damaging, post-9/11 template for never ending war in the Middle East.”
As Flynt points out, one of the clearest indicators of the thought-free character of the Obama administration’s policy toward the Islamic State is its emphasis on stepped-up support for Syrian oppositionists:
“I have been saying for over three years that the idea there is some moderate, secular Syrian opposition with enough military potential and, even more importantly, enough political standing in Syria to overthrow the Assad government flies in the face of reality. To say that this mythical moderate Syrian opposition is now going to be able to take on the Islamic State is, I think, just delusional.
The Syria policy that the United States and its partners in the region have been pursuing since the spring of 2011 has helped, in a big way, to create the situation in Iraq, with this dramatic ascendance of the Islamic State. We have created this problem, and now we’re coming up with pseudo-solutions that are only going to make the problem worse…The one thing that could come of this is that you’re going to create more channels for the Islamic State to get hold of Western weapons and military equipment than it already has. Having the Saudis train these so-called moderate fighters is just going to augment the problem that we’re supposedly trying to deal with.
We have fed the creation of the Islamic State through our policy of support for the Syrian opposition. And it’s going to have huge repercussions regionally.
Obama can declare all he wants that the Islamic State isn’t Islamic. But the fact is—as evidenced in polls, in social media across the Sunni Arab world—is that this movement has a lot of sympathy and support, even among constituencies that don’t like some of its tactics, don’t like prisoner beheadings. By launching this military campaign against them, the United States is basically—in the eyes of a lot of Sunni Muslims—it is basically re-launching a post-9/11 war against Islam. And the one thing we know, over thirteen years since 9/11, is that that drives jihadi recruitment more than anything. It is going to make the problem vastly worse.”
In the program, Flynt also critiques the Obama administration’s thoroughly warped notion of what a “regional strategy” against the Islamic State should look like.
–Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett