1. What’s the exit strategy? Is anyone discussing what that is? How do we get out? It’s simple to get in. Getting out is the hard part.
2. What are our political goals in Iraq in re: IS(IS)? What do we hope to achieve? And in what time frame? Will our means achieve the ends?
3. These are just some questions that President Hopey-McKill-List™ did not answer last night. He didn’t even come close to answering.
Color me curious.
Karl Marx wasn’t wrong about everything.
Tonight, President Hopey-McChange goes on the television to attempt the following (as expressed by Chris Nelson):
The President goes on nation/world TV tonight in what’s being billed as an effort to rally the people, and our allies, to a robust, long-term, strategically and historically essential battle to the death against ISIS and its ilk.
It’s neither essential strategically or essentially. Why? First, because ISIS can be contained. Second, because ISIS does not pose a threat to our vital national interests. Robust and Long-term? Those can’t mean anything other than wasted lives and treasure.
The only silver lining I can see to this is the following: by our obsessive focus on Iraq we can’t escalate against the Russians. Our military simply cannot do that much at one time and our allies in Europe won’t do it. So, there is that.
They’re back! John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Bill Kristol, Dick Cheney – the people who pushed the U.S. into the devastating mistake that was the 2003 invasion of Iraq, have discovered yet another existential threat ready and able to destroy the world. Back then it was Saddam Hussein and his mythical cache of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Now it is ISIS and its army of fanatical jihadists who are torturing, raping, crucifying, decapitating and genocidally killing anyone who stands in the way of the new caliphate they are building in what is left of the nations of Iraq and Syria. It is precisely because there is a political, military, and economic vacuum in the heart of the Middle East that ISIS is able to thrive and expand.
The tragedy of American foreign policy is that the people who helped create that vacuum – who set into motion a war of aggression and choice – have never been held accountable for their mistake. So here they are, this time doing the bidding of ISIS, spreading terror and fear into the hearts of the American people, priming the country for yet another war of aggression. The foreign policy of these cheerleaders is encapsulated in one sentence, which ought to be carved on the tombstone of Bill Kristol, the man who said this: “What’s the harm of bombing them at least for a few weeks and seeing what happens?” Read More
From Gregory Djerejian, the last remaining realist in foreign policy circles:
In an orgy of public preening, the Iraq ‘Class of ’03’ flooded print and television media post Mosul’s capture by ISIS forces in Iraq last week. If one had hoped for the merest dose of humility given the calamitous missteps this hearty band of adventurers had presided over, manifold disappointment was instead in the offing.
As they say, read the rest, here.
Today, the White House has announced a new war plan for Iraq, with a new Secretary of Defense, a new commanding General, and the clear identification of the leader of ISIS (or ISIL), in Northern Iraq.
In late 2002, early 2003 I wrote a post here at The Agonist spelling out my opposition to the soon to be launched war of aggression against Iraq. We heard a lot reasons for why we had to wage war against Saddam Hussein: weapons of mass destruction, human rights, democracy and freedom and some others I’ve mercifully forgotten.
There were a lot of us like me who opposed the war as a bad idea for multiple reasons, some of which were: they didn’t attack us and Al Qaeda is not there so it’s kind of illegal to wage war against them (which was my reason) and then there were other more prescient reasons like it’ll create chaos in the region, not bring democracy, and some even said the whole WMD excuse was a joke.
All three of those were true.
Look at Iraq today? Hardcore conservative Islamists have taken over Mosul and Tikrit with more to come. There is now an crescent running through the region run by radical Islamists, from Syria to Iraq. Except these radicals aren’t Shi’a, as Vali Nasr would have us believe, but Sunni. Iran didn’t cause this disaster. The United States of America did.
It’s not even worth saying “I told you so” anymore. The human tragedy is too overwhelming and far too much blood is on our hands.
I’m afraid that the lessons we learned from Rwanda were zero. Sure, we intervened to ostensibly prevent genocide in Kosovo and we used Saddam’s genocide against the Kurds as one of many excuses to wage aggressive war against Iraq. The doctrine that came out of Rwanda, and Susan Rice has a lot of blood on her hands for how it played out as many people who worked with her at the time have told me, is R2P: responsibility to protect.
Where has that gotten us? Into Libya? How’d that work out? Almost got us into Syria too.
Look, I’m not a fan of RT. I was once asked to come on one of the shows and I politely declined, which might have been dumb, but I just had qualms about going onto a foreign propaganda outlet funded by a foreign government that is a rival of my own government to bash my own government. Call me old fashioned, but I’ll go on an American propaganda outlet or TV show any time and complain about the US government, but to do so on RT? That’s just in bad taste in my personal opinion.
All that being said, wow, I’m surprised Obama has stooped so low as to say that what we did in Iraq wasn’t as bad as what the Russians did in the Crimea. That’s just astonishing. Sometimes it’s just better to shut up and not say anything that to say something that baldfaced hypocritical. There are literally thousands of dead Iraqis blood on American hands. How many have died in Crimea? Really, sometimes it’s just better to shut the fuck up. In the annals of shitty justifications this one is pretty close to #1.
An absolutely excellent deconstruction of Donald Rumsfeld by the award winning writer, reporter, Mark Danner in the New York Review of Books, in three parts. One, two and three.
I hope he turns this into a book.
Things are getting intense in the Middle East and Levant. The New York Times reports that Sunni militants are on the offensive in Iraqi cities with the headline indicating that the battle was over: Parts of 2 Key Iraqi Cities Fall to Qaeda Group Active in Syria, Jan 2
Isn’t it time to get this question answered: Who is funding Al Qaeda? Wealthy Saudis and other oil oligarchs on their own? Or the same seeming deep pockets acting as proxies? If the lately restive and belligerent Saudis are behind this (and why not suspect them), watch out for the Arab Spring treatment in Ridyah?
BAGHDAD — Radical Sunni militants aligned with Al Qaeda threatened on Thursday to seize control of Falluja and Ramadi, two of the most important cities in Iraq, setting fire to police stations, freeing prisoners from jail and occupying mosques, as the government rushed troop reinforcements to the areas.
Dressed in black and waving the flag of Al Qaeda, the militants put out calls over mosque loudspeakers for men to join their struggle in both cities in western Anbar Province, which were important battlegrounds during the American-led war in Iraq and remain hotbeds of Sunni extremism. … Read More
Bradley Manning & Edward Snowden
What do Manning and Snowden have in common?
I asked that question and came up nothing at first. Manning gave specific information on the content of U.S. intelligence. Edward Snowden exposed the structure and targets of a massive spying operation without exposing specific content. However, there is a common element to both cases – aiding the enemy. And, who are the enemies? The enemies are we the people, the citizens of the United States.
Even though some foreign enemies paid close attention to the Manning releases, no doubt. Much of the information released was already available. On Tuesday, the military court trying Manning ruled that there wasn’t a case made to convict Manning “aiding the enemy.”
An extension and response to Don Henry Ford and Brian Downing
Stephen Colbert shows due respect at 2006 Washington, DC power fest
We are in a strangely quiet period of our post 9/11 world. The pretext for the war on terror and evisceration of the Constitution remains unexamined and unexplained to any necessary level of detail. What really happened on and before 9/11? Is there any conceivable connection between what happened and the direction of policies since?
How could Bush get away with all he did based on the most spectacular failure in national defense imaginable?
How could the Bush policies carry over to the Obama administration without much change?
Why aren’t these problems being addressed: the largest wealth transfer in history from the dwindling middle class to the super rich; the 2008 collapse and the wholesale theft of trillions of dollars of home equity; real unemployment of around 23% when you count the underemployed and those out of a job for more than twelve months; health care for only those who can afford it; and unparalleled, documented threats to a sustainable environment for humans that go unmentioned by the middle and upper tiers of the power structure.
Most accounts of the Second Iraq War (2003-11) attach great importance to counterinsurgency programs in ending the conflict there. The shift from using heavy firepower to winning hearts and minds is said to have created a “Sunni Awakening,” which changed the course of the war and brought a measure of peace.
In retrospect, the effectiveness of counterinsurgency (COIN) was an illusion. Its doctrines were uncritically bruited amid a vexing unpopular war. The Sunni Awakening came from entirely different reasons.
The invasion of Iraq ousted Saddam Hussein but it also displaced a Sunni minority from control of the predominantly-Shia country’s army, state, and economy – positions of privilege they’d enjoyed since the British installed the Sunni Hashemites in Baghdad in the 1920s. The sudden loss of power, capped off by the US-ordered dissolution of the Sunni-dominated army, created widespread resentment and anger, which developed into armed opposition. A deadly insurgency raged for several years and the American occupation was becoming costly, if not precarious.
The Islamic Emirate of Syriastan
By Pepe Escobar Asia Times, April
the Islamic State of Iraq – for all practical purposes al-Qaeda in Iraq – announced, via a video starring its leader Abu Bakr al-Husseini al-Qurashi al-Baghdadi, a mergers and acquisition spectacular; from now on, it would be united with the Syrian jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra, and be referred to as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
But then, the next day, the head of Jabhat al-Nusra, the shady Abu Muhammad al-Joulani, said that yes, we do pledge our allegiance to al-Qaeda Sheikh, Doctor al-Zawahiri; but there has been no M&A business whatsoever with al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Puzzled infidels from Washington to Beijing may be entitled to believe this is straight from Monty Python – but it’s actually deadly serious; especially as the House of Saud, the Emir of Qatar, the neo-Ottoman Erdogan in Turkey and King Playstation from Jordan – vastly supported by Washington – continue to weaponize the Syrian “rebels” to Kingdom Come. And one of the top beneficiaries of this weaponizing orgy has been – who else – the M&A gang now known as the Islamic State of the Iraq and Levant.