George Graham

The Elusive Truth


The truth is elusive. Facts are not. And while assigning blame for the horrors in the Middle East is tricky, finding the facts is simply a matter of research.

So it’s not difficult to set Jeb Bush straight about the origins of  the movement now known as ISIS.

The Republican candidate for US President stated recently that ISIS did not exist when his brother was President.

The fact is that the movement did indeed exist. You can look it up.

Whether ISIS would have become the powerhouse that it is today if President Obama had pursued a different course in the Mideast is a debatable topic.

Jeb and his ilk would like voters to think that the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq caused the ISIS blight. But it is probably more sensible to argue that the invasion of Iraq, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the dismantling of his army were the underlying causes of today’s nightmare.

The real question should be: What does America do now?

I don’t like the idea of being mixed up in the Mideast, but I don’t see how we can avoid it after all that has occurred.

Like it or not, America is heavily invested in the region.

Does the next President “bomb ISIS back into the Seventh Century”? That’s what some Republican candidates are suggesting. But is that even possible?

Military experts tell us ISIS cannot be bombed into submission. It would take “boots on the ground” – lots of boots.

Whose boots, though?

President Obama would like it to be Iraqi boots. But there really is no such political entity as an Iraqi.  There are only Shia and Sunni living in Iraq. And Kurds.

The Sunnis in Iraq have more in common with the Sunnis in Saudi Arabia than with their Shia neighbors. And the Shia Iraqis have more in common with the Shia in Iran than with the Sunni Iraqis.

This division complicates politics throughout the Mideast. Especially since ISIS is a Sunni organization – a rogue organization but Sunni nonetheless.

The obvious response to ISIS is to arm the Kurds. They are formidable fighters and have no sympathy for ISIS. And they have proved staunch Western allies through the years. Unfortunately, politics interferes once again. The Iraqi government is dead against it. And so is neighboring Turkey, a traditional US ally.

The prospect of a heavily armed Kurdish population makes both governments quake in their boots. They have dominated the Kurds who live in their countries for generations and fear a regional Kurdish uprising once ISIS is defeated.

I imagine President Obama doesn’t want to alienate the Iraqi and Turkish governments. He has armed the Kurds to some extent but seems reluctant to create a really effective Kurdish opposition to ISIS.

I can understand this position, but I wish the powers that be had listened to Joe Biden when he proposed letting the Kurds have their own state within Iraq and dividing the rest of the country between the Sunnis and the Shia.

Trying to create a blended Iraq has failed utterly. The various elements are like oil and water – they cannot be mixed.

In such a volatile and complex environment, I shudder to think of the consequences if ham-handed politicians like Jeb Bush – who can’t even get their facts right – were elected President. The Mideast situation is far too delicate for amateurs to try and sort out.

Click for the origin of ISIS.

Click for more on the Iraq blame game.

Click for more on arming the Kurds.

Click for more on Shia and Sunni.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for