A Reminder Following Baghdadi's Death: 'The Terrorists We're Killing Today Are the Terrorists We Created Yesterday'

Following news that the infamous leader of the Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest, killing himself along with three of his children, over the weekend during a clandestine raid by U.S. Special Forces (also infamous) in northwest Syria, critics of the U.S. global war on terrorism are highlighting how Baghdadi’s death exemplifies the endless and cyclical nature of a global conflict that perpetuates the very terrorism it claims as its mission to destroy.

“There would have been no Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had Bush not invaded and occupied Iraq in 2003.” —journalist Spencer Ackerman”Nobody is better than the U.S. at killing terrorists. Nobody is better than the U.S. at creating terrorists,” tweeted author and peace activist Medea Benjamin on Sunday. “The cycle continues. The weapons companies get rich. Children—yes, including Bagdadi’s children—die.”

Writing for The Week on Monday, freelance columnist Joel Mathis argues that al-Baghdadi’s “grisly demise”—though greeted with cheers by many in the U.S., the western world, and across Middle East—should be viewed neither as triumph nor a victory.

According to Mathis, the story of this latest terrorist leader should be a “reminder that when America ventures abroad, we sometimes help create the monsters we later feel compelled to destroy, starting a loop of self-justification that results in an endless string of ‘forever wars.'”

Responding to Mathis’ column, journalist Will Bunch put it this way:

Like others before him, the origin story of Baghdadi’s vicious campaign can be found in the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the brutality that followed. Himself a prisoner at the notorious Camp Bucca prison, Baghdadi was among those held by the U.S. military during the early years of the Iraq occupation following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

Writing for Common Dreams on Monday, longtime anti-war campaigner and humanitarian Kathy Kelly—who, as co-coordinator of  Voices for Creative Nonviolence, has traveled into U.S. war zones for decades—remembers her visit to Camp Bucca in 2004 as being “one of the most hellish spots” she had ever encountered in the world.

Allowed to speak with a small group of prisoners, Kelly recounts how the young men corroborated grievances that others had shared about Camp Bucca as they “spoke of loneliness, monotony, humiliation, and the fearful uncertainty prisoners face when held without charge by a hostile power with no evident plans to release them.”

President Donald Trump, who took to a podium in the White House on Sunday to announce Baghdadi’s death, is the third U.S. president in a row to hold such a press conference, with George W. Bush in 2006 announcing the demise of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Barack Obama doing the same after Osama Bin Laden was assassinated by U.S. Special Forces at a Pakistani compound in 2011.