This is the question Hal Brands (who blogs over at Shadow Government) and I tackled in a recent article for Survival, the journal of the International Institute for Strategic Studies: “Was the Rise of ISIS Inevitable? Spoiler alert: We argue the Islamic State threat was not inevitable. We take considerable pains to show how different choices by Presidents George W. Bush and Obama would have likely headed off the Islamic State threat long before it reached its peak in late 2014. Nothing in our argument transfers blame for the toll from the terrorists, where it belongs, to American policymakers, who could have made different choices that would have stymied the terrorists more effectively. But weighing carefully where American policies fell short is a vital part of policy analysis and essential to doing better against whatever terrorist threats emerge after the Islamic State.
Could ISIS Have Been Averted?
Read the full article at Foreign Policy.