In an interview with Vice News, President Obama said the rise of Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS/ISIL) can be directly linked to America’s excursion into Iraq under Bush.
“Two things: One is, ISIS is a direct outgrowth of Al-Qaeda in Iraq that grew out of our invasion,” Obama said in an interview with VICE News. “Which is an example of unintended consequences. Which is why we should generally aim before we shoot.”
Obama stated that he is “confident” a coalition consisting of 60 nations “will slowly push back ISIS out of Iraq,” but added that the challenge of stopping extremism won’t stop unless there is a political solution to the internal strife affecting so many countries in the Middle East.
“What I’m worried about” he said, “is even if ISIS is defeated, the underlying problem of disaffected Sunnis around the world – but particularly in some of these areas including Libya, including Yemen – where a young man who’s growing up has no education, has no prospects for the future, is looking around and the one way he can get validation, power, respect, is if he’s a fighter.”
“That’s a problem we’re going to have, generally. And we can’t keep on thinking about counter terrorism and security as entirely separate from diplomacy, development, education.”
The president dismissed concerns that the US spends too much on foreign aid, noting that just over one percent of the federal budget goes to other nations. He argued that “we should be thinking about making investments” overseas that will prevent America from sending troops to engage in military operations.
Obama’s comments regarding ISIS mark the first time he has framed the extremist group’s existence as a consequence of American foreign policy decisions. The president’s opponents have often argued that his withdrawal of US troops from Iraq in 2011 left space for groups like ISIS to grow.