“Most Iraqis Believe the Islamic State was Created by the United States.”

Yazidi refugees and American aid workers on Mount Sinjar in August 2014 (public domain image via USAID)

“Most Iraqis believe the Islamic State was created by the United States.”

This observation was made not by a conspiracy theorist, but by an Orthodox priest who along with his whole Christian village was forced to flee Daesh (as the Islamic State is known by Iraqis) into the safe haven of Kurdistan.  He told me this on Wednesday as we spoke in a Kurdish village in the mountains of far-north Iraq, not far from the Iraqi-Turkish border. I had come here to learn of the condition of the Christian refugees and to explore ways to help the Christian Church in exile.

To American ears, the charge that the U.S. created Daesh is absurd.  To Iraqis, it has a compelling logic.  In their minds, we are the creators of their current reality; for better or worse, we made the State of Iraq as it exists today.  We are said to have allowed Daesh to occupy Mosul (a city of 1.5 million taken over by 3000), and they think we can eliminate Daesh easily if we really wanted to.  “How long did it take the U.S. to defeat Saddam Hussain?  A month?  And he had a powerful army.”

But most disappointing about the Abba’s charge is his belief that our policy in the Middle East is entirely motivated by the desire to work our will in the region.  “You promised us democracy.  Where is the democracy?”  If Iraq is today not democratic, the reasoning goes, that is because we never wanted it to be democratic; we wanted it to be compliant.  Continue Reading