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Joe Conason
Joe Conason
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Why ISIS Needs the 'Useful Idiots' Who Demonize Muslims


When France's Prime Minister Manuel Valls said after last Friday's attacks in Paris, "nous sommes en guerre" — we are at war — there could be no doubt that the rest of the civilized world, including the United States and NATO, will stand beside our oldest ally in a common struggle to extirpate the barbaric ISIS.

But as this conflict deepens and national emotions surge, it is vital to keep minds clear and principles intact.

Sadly the Republican candidates for president, and too many in their party, will seek to use this crisis as a partisan weapon against President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the leading Democratic presidential contender. They will charge the Obama administration with "weakness" even as American warplanes fly thousands of sorties against ISIS positions in Iraq and Syria. Such political attacks sound ridiculous to anyone familiar with the recent history of the Mideast. As a product of al-Qaida in Iraq, ISIS rose directly from the ill-conceived invasion and occupation of that unfortunate country — and the fact that Clinton mistakenly voted to give George W. Bush the conditional authority to wage that war in no way makes her (or Obama) responsible for its botched execution.

The social chaos, religious strife and massive bloodshed resulting from the U.S. invasion created fertile ground for a new terrorist movement. And as Washington Post reporter Joby Warrick explains in "Black Flags," his authoritative new history of the rise of ISIS, the Bush administration elevated its founder, a minor Jordanian gangster named Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, into an international terrorist celebrity with its bogus claim that he represented a link between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.

So when historians someday apportion blame, that process won't flatter the Republicans and their neoconservative advisers, who assured us that "regime change" in Iraq would reshape the region at very little cost to us. Few national security predictions have ever been so confident and so wrong, with such enormous and enduring consequences. Influenced by those advisers, the Bush White House failed to address the terrorist threat before 9/11, and later used it to build a fraudulent justification for invading Iraq.

We might thus hesitate before continuing to follow the counsel of such figures — from William Kristol to Dick Cheney to Jeb Bush, one of the original members of the Project for the New American Century, a powerful lobbying outfit formed 15 years ago to promote war in Iraq, among other misguided ideas.

These are the same characters who fought more recently to kill the Iran nuclear deal. Had they succeeded, we now would have no chance of even minimal cooperation with Tehran against ISIS, which is vital.

We would do better instead to reject their ill-conceived notions - and especially their mindless hostility toward Muslims and Islam.

Consider the latest instance: Along with Senator Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Ben Carson and too many other Republicans, "moderate" Jeb today articulates a response to ISIS that includes ominous anti-Muslim overtones. Specifically, he and Cruz urge the government to accept Christian but not Muslim refugees from Syria — and this is merely the most recent in a wave of remarks and statements offensive to Muslims from Republican elected officials and political hopefuls. Whenever a Republican candidate — or any other American — endorses bigotry against Islam and its billion-plus believers, he or she becomes a "useful idiot" serving the cause of terrorist jihad.

As George W. Bush said in his finest hour, our cause is not a war against Islam or the overwhelming majority of Muslims who live peacefully and loyally in the United States and in scores of other nations, from Europe to Malaysia. Indeed, the destruction of ISIS will require an unbreakable alliance with Islam's true followers, not only in Syria and Iraq, but also in every place that jihadi terrorists may target. We cannot rely on military, police and intelligence cooperation from people demonized and demeaned by political leaders and media outlets.

Every imbecile who threatens Muslims is an unwitting agent of ISIS; in fact, it would be unsurprising to learn that ISIS itself is covertly promoting such messages in order to intensify enmity between the peoples of the Quran and the rest of the world. Certainly that is among the primary objectives of attacks like last week's atrocities in Paris.

What we need now is a diplomatic solution for Syria, which may at last be on the horizon if the Russians are serious about bringing down ISIS. We need a smart, careful and focused military strategy that builds on recent advances by Kurdish and Shiite forces on the ground. And we need to assure Muslims everywhere — as President Obama has wisely insisted — that they have a place of security and honor in the world we hope to build.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



2 Comments | Post Comment
Glad you recognize the real enemy - George Bush and friends. Maybe after these Republican Terrorists are brought to justice for causing the Paris nightclub bombing the ever-innocent and leading from behind Obama can attest to how well his seven year plan to contain ISIS worked to perfection.

In the modern world not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims. We all know that not all Germans were Nazis, but all Nazis were German. And all Germans were eventually forced to conform to Nazi standards and beliefs.

Let that happen in the Muslim world and you will see a lot of dead bodies - and it won't matter whose fault it was. Fighting ISIS is not playing into their hands; eventually no one wants to die for a losing cause. That is what we must make of Jihad, a losing cause not worth dying for.

The only question for Conason and his like-minded neo-nazi defending supporters is do you find Western values and ideals of liberty and equality worth fighting for?

This war is brought to you by fifteen years of USA foreign policy, and that especially includes the last seven years.

There will be no honor or security in the world Conason hopes to build. Muslim terrorists have already decreed that coming world a bloodbath. We would be wise to take them at their word.

Hey you, Conason, you got anything worth fighting for?
Comment: #1
Posted by: Tom
Mon Nov 23, 2015 7:21 AM
In short, who were the useful idiots, those who spoke against the Nazis during the 1930's, or those who spoke of Peace In Our Day, those who negotiated and reasoned with the Nazis? Those who waved the Treaty of Munich, did they manage to negotiate their way out of war?

You are trying to convince others to acquiesce to mad men; mad men who blow up innocent people. Your type of idiocy has a counterpart in history. i have no doubt that the American Military Industrial Complex Eisenhower warned of bears much of the blame, but that does not change the fact that we are at the crossroads.

Call the evil by its name so you may begin the process of defeating it.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Tom
Mon Nov 23, 2015 7:35 AM
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