When I say the United States “created” the Islamic State (or “ISIS” as it’s sometimes known), one may very well think I’m also about to tell you that jet fuel can’t melt steel and that Bush knocked down the towers. But this is no convoluted conspiracy involving holograms and crisis actors. It’s quite simple and tragic: The United States invaded Iraq, killed an ungodly amount of people who had friends and family who loved them, unleashed a wave of terrorism across the Middle East—turns out, watching one’s mother die in a US airstrike does not nurture moderation—then installed and armed a sectarian Shiite leader in Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki, who proceeded to kill, torture, and generally alienate the Sunni population of Iraq, which is now, not coincidentally, lending support to the Islamic State’s vicious brand of Sunni extremism.

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