Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Scahill: ISIS Disaster Has Failed 'War on Terrorism' Blowback Written All Over it

'What I think we're going to end up seeing [in Syria] is the end result of the disaster that Obama inherited, not just from Bush, but from his own first term,' says investigative journalist

Jon Queally, staff writer

Investigation journalist Jeremy Scahill sat down with MSNBC's Ari Melber on Thursday to discuss President Obama's announced plan to escalate the U.S. military campaign against the group known as the Islamic State and offered a damning assessment of the administration's "strategy."  He said that not only is the militant group (also known by the acronym ISIS) the product of failed military adventurism but that continued attempts to bomb al Qaeda-like groups out of existence simply creates a cycle of "blowback" that is self-defeating and counter-productive.

Scahill's analysis of the current situation—including his criticism of the Obama administration's so-called "counter-terrorism strategy" which he argues has exacerbated, not decreased, the problem of extremism in places like Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen—paints of a picture in which wars and conflict across the Middle East, south Asia, and large swaths of Africa will continue to claim lives and enrich the military-industrial complex while pushing political stability ever further from being attainable.

"Now I think there's the potential for huge blowback here," Scahill said of Obama's plan to launch airstrikes—including possible carpet bombing—against targets in Syria. "I also think that ISIS is, in part, the product of blowback from the Bush era and the Obama era."

Scahill continued: "What I think we're going to end up seeing [in Syria] is the end result of the disaster that Obama inherited, not just from Bush, but from his own first term." Scahill reminded the audience that though former President Bush had bombed Yemen only once ("that we know of"), but but President Obama has dramatically increased the number of airstrikes in Yemen and Pakistan, ratcheted up the covert war in Somalia, and otherwise expanded the sphere of the U.S. so-called "counter-terrorism" operations.

"President Obama, for all the criticism he gets from Dick Cheney," argued Scahill, "is actually far more effective at the 'war games'—so to speak—than the neocons were, because he's able also to sell it to the liberal base."

Watch the full interview:


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We need your help.

Support progressive journalism.

Common Dreams is not your average news site. We don't survive on clicks or advertising dollars. We rely entirely on your support. And without it, our independent progressive journalism simply wouldn’t exist. Every gift of every amount matters.

Join the fight and support our common dreams today.

Summit Participants Embrace 'Vaccine Internationalism' to End Pandemic

"Our goal is simple: to end the pandemic as quickly as possible by securing Covid-19 vaccines for all," says the coordinator of Progressive International's four-day virtual summit.

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·


As Iran Elects New President, Experts Urge Biden to Rejoin Nuclear Deal, Lift Sanctions

"The Biden administration must remain resolute and seek a break from the disastrous conditions that helped contribute to this result."

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·


UN General Assembly Condemns Myanmar Junta Violence, Urges Arms Embargo

Member nations voted 119-1 in favor of the resolution, which also calls for a return to the country's fragile democracy.

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·


Dems Introduce Abolition Amendment to Scrap Constitution's 'Slavery Clause'

"The loophole in our Constitution's ban on slavery not only allowed slavery to continue, but launched an era of discrimination and mass incarceration that continues to this day," said Sen. Jeff Merkley.

Julia Conley, staff writer ·


'Surreal' and 'Distressing': Climate Experts' Predictions Come True With US Heatwave

"The current heatwave and drought leave no doubt, we are living the dangerous effects of the climate crisis."

Jessica Corbett, staff writer ·