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Talking Heads: How the US Created the Islamic State

Mark Danner discusses his 2003 essay "Iraq: The New War," which outlined how American policy in the Middle Eastern country helped incite what was then an emerging insurgency.

​VICE News and the New York Review of Books have teamed up to create Talking Heads, a series about the big issues of the day as seen by the Review's most renowned contributors.

In this episode, Mark Danner discusses his New York Review of Books essay "Iraq: The New War," which he wrote in mid 2003, in the process outlining how American policy during the Iraq War effectively helped incite what was then an emerging insurgency.

For starters, the occupation of Iraq created a broad front to which militant jihadists began to flock. The mishandling of the Iraqi army sent thousands of highly trained and angry men into the streets with no jobs. And photos of Iraqis being tortured by American personnel at the Abu Ghraib prison provided telegenic images that helped these groups recruit from an increasingly indignant public.

Danner's analysis of the insurgency forecasted how it evolved into what we know today as the Islamic State over a decade before the jihadist group came to be so feared.

VICE News sat down with Danner to discuss how the invasion of Iraq and the ensuing war provided what he described as a warm petri dish in which insurgent elements would grow.