On “Fighting in Iraq Until Hell Freezes Over,” courtesy of Peter Van Buren @ The Unz Review:
… The staggering costs of [Iraq] — $25 billion to train the Iraqi Army, $60 billion for the reconstruction-that-wasn’t, $2 trillion for the overall war, almost 4,500 Americans dead and more than 32,000 wounded, and an Iraqi death toll of more than 190,000 (though some estimates go as high as a million) — can now be measured against the results. The nine-year attempt to create an American client state in Iraq failed, tragically and completely. The proof of that is on today’s front pages.
According to the crudest possible calculation, … America’s war of terror resulted in the dissolution of a Middle Eastern post-Cold War stasis that, curiously enough, had been held together by Iraq’s previous autocratic ruler Saddam Hussein. We released a hornet’s nest of Islamic fervor, sectarianism, fundamentalism, and pan-nationalism. Islamic terror groups grew stronger and more diffuse by the year. That horrible lightning over the Middle East that’s left American foreign policy in such an ugly glare will last into our grandchildren’s days. There should have been so many futures. Now, there will be so few as the dead accumulate in the ruins of our hubris. That is all that we won.
… And then came the Islamic State (IS) and the new “caliphate,” the child born of a neglectful occupation and an autocratic Shia government out to put the Sunnis in their place once and for all. And suddenly we were heading back into Iraq. …
… The truth on the ground these days is tragically familiar: an Iraq even more divided into feuding state-lets; a Baghdad government kleptocracy about to be reinvigorated by free-flowing American money; and a new Shia prime minister being issued the same 2003-2011 to-do list by Washington: mollify the Sunnis, unify Iraq, and make it snappy. The State Department still stays hidden behind the walls of that billion-dollar embassy. More money will be spent to train the collapsed Iraqi military. Iran remains the foreign power with the most influence over events.
One odd difference should be noted, however: in the last Iraq war, the Iranians sponsored and directed attacks by Shia militias against American occupation forces (and me); now, its special operatives and combat advisors fight side-by-side with those same Shia militias under the cover of American air power. You want real boots on the ground? Iranian forces are already there. It’s certainly an example of how politics makes strange bedfellows, but also of what happens when you assemble your “strategy” on the run.
Obama hardly can be blamed for all of this, but he’s done his part to make it worse — and worse it will surely get as his administration once again assumes ownership of the Sunni-Shia fight. The “new” unity plan that will fail follows the pattern of the one that did fail in 2007: use American military force to create a political space for “reconciliation” between once-burned, twice-shy Sunnis and a compromise Shia government that American money tries to nudge into an agreement against Iran’s wishes. …
Here we go again.
What would happen in the miasma that is the Middle East if a silly, if well-intentioned, superpower—profoundly ignorant of history, in general, and the region, in particular—quit enabling one side or the other; stopped lurching maniacally (a la “McMussolini”) from supporting one bloodletting entity or another?
What would transpire if, as I wrote in “Leave ISIS To The Homies,” the US left “ISIS to Syria, Tehran and Tel Aviv”; “let the locals take out their trash”?
Today I heard one of the interchangeable bimbos on CNN pondering—oh the sacrilege!—whether the US should talk to Iran.
However, were we to leave things be, the feuding parties might cease vying for American money and materiel and begin hammering out a strategy among themselves that would ensure longevity—an uneasy balance of power, if you will—in the region.
The Israeli government, as was noted, is already endeavoring to “radically change its tack on Syria, reversing a policy and military strategy that were long geared to opposing Syrian President Bashar Assad.”
By the way, how stupid is the American state? Look no further than that Marie Barf, that sibilant tart at State. Go Foggy Bottom …
“Leave ISIS To The Homies” is the current column, now on WND. An excerpt:
… Despotism and populism finally coalesced. Driven by polls and craving plaudits from the pundits, the president cobbled together a strategy. Within hours, love was in the air again. Members of a lovelorn liberal media scurried about like teens on prom night. It had been a long time since they felt the same rush about Obama. In his televised address to the nation, the president committed to increasing the ongoing airstrikes in Iraq; said he would take the fight to ISIL in Syria, too. The hormonal monitors at CNN spiked with each paternal promise of protection. “If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven,” roared Big Daddy. …
… Easily the most ludicrous aspect of Dr. Feelgood’s “plan” is the promise of “military assistance to the Syrian opposition”: “I again call on Congress, again, to give us additional authorities and resources to train and equip these fighters.”
There is no telling the good Syrian opposition from the bad. If anything, there is a “growing preponderance of radical Islamists in the Syrian rebel force fighting Assad’s army,” seconds the outstanding intelligence provider DEBKAfile. Currently fighting ISIS is Bashar Hafez al-Assad, Syria’s embattled leader, whom Hussein, McCain and Clinton wanted to unseat.
The unseating of yet another extremely effective law-and-order leader, Saddam Hussein, is what unleashed ISIS. Despite what Delphic Oracle Dana Perino says in praise of her “prescient” boss’s “strategizing”; Bush 43 owns ISIS. Fidelity to historical fact demands that Bush get Brownie points for turning Iraq from a rogue state to a failed state, where mad dogs thrive. …
Read the complete column. “Leave ISIS To The Homies” is now on WND.
The media-military-industrial-congressional complex has won. Non-stop propaganda from this monolithic lot has convinced Americans of the necessity of another offensive in Iraq. According to a NBC/WSJ poll:
… 61% of American voters believe that the United States taking military action against ISIS is in United States’ interest, versus 13% who don’t. (Another 24% said they don’t know enough to have an opinion.) That’s a significant change when a similar question was asked last year about the U.S. taking possible action against Syria’s government after its reported use of chemical weapons. Back then, only 21% said action was in the nation’s interest, while 33% said it wasn’t.
As the political winds blow so does Rand Paul. Rand has now reversed course to please the opinion-shaping Idiocracy—Republicans, Democrats, and their attendant enablers in media, having previously exhibited some insights as to the US’s “unhinged” foreign policy:
… We aided those who’ve contributed to the rise of the Islamic State. The CIA delivered arms and other equipment to Syrian rebels, strengthening the side of the ISIS jihadists. Some even traveled to Syria from America to give moral and material support to these rebels even though there had been multiple reports some were allied with al Qaeda. …
… A more realistic foreign policy would recognize that there are evil people and tyrannical regimes in this world, but also that America cannot police or solve every problem across the globe. Only after recognizing the practical limits of our foreign policy can we pursue policies that are in the best interest of the U.S.
The Islamic State represents a threat that should be taken seriously. But we should also recall how recent foreign-policy decisions have helped these extremists so that we don’t make the same mistake of potentially aiding our enemies again.
Since August 27, a mere days, Rand has change course, “announcing that he supports military action to eliminate the Islamist group”:
“The military means to achieve these goals include airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria,” the Kentucky Republican and likely 2016 presidential hopeful wrote in an op-ed in TIME. “Such airstrikes are the best way to suppress ISIS’s operational strength and allow allies such as the Kurds to regain a military advantage.”
Paul’s hawkish turn comes after months of hedging and skeptical comments regarding U.S. involvement in Iraq and Syria. Yet Paul boasted on Thursday that as president he would have committed to a grand plan to eliminate ISIS earlier and more effectively than President Obama.
“If I had been in President Obama’s shoes, I would have acted more decisively and strongly against ISIS,” Paul said. “I would have called Congress back into session—even during recess.”
Paul’s new position challenges his longtime reputation as a champion of non-interventionism
Meantime, RT reports that Steven Sotloff, beheaded by ISIS, “was sold to ISIS by ‘moderate’ Syrian rebel group.” The ones we are assisting, presumably. We “don’t know Shiite from Shinola.” We’re dangerous at foreign policy.
Better that the US stops degrading the Syrian Army; leaves the Islamic State In the Levant to Syria and Iran and the Arab League. If the players in the region are unconcerned about curtailing this ghastly gang, it is probably because the US keeps enabling their inertia with futile interventions.
To extrapolate from Dinesh D’Souza’s illogic (explained nicely by Jack Kerwick), when an exceptionally ‘Good Country,’ as the US surely is, downs a plane, that country deserves mitigation, for it is good. In other words, the properties of the crime, which are the same whoever commits it, somehow change, depending on the identity of the perpetrator.
Thus, because he belongs to a good collective, D’Souza, presumably, would diminish the culpability of the “U.S. Navy captain” who shot “Iran Air Flight 655″ out of the sky, on July 3, 1988.
“A quarter-century later,” writes Fred Kaplan of Slate, “the Vincennes is almost completely forgotten, but it still ranks as the world’s seventh deadliest air disaster (Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is the sixth) and one of the Pentagon’s most inexcusable disgraces.”
Kaplan compares the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 to “The time the United States blew up a passenger plane—and tried to cover it up.”
… In several ways, the two calamities are similar. The Malaysian Boeing 777 wandered into a messy civil war in eastern Ukraine, near the Russian border; the Iranian Airbus A300 wandered into a naval skirmish—one of many clashes in the ongoing “Tanker War” (another forgotten conflict)—in the Strait of Hormuz. The likely pro-Russia rebel thought that he was shooting at a Ukrainian military-transport plane; the U.S. Navy captain, Will Rogers III, mistook the Airbus for an F-14 fighter jet. The Russian SA-11 surface-to-air missile that downed the Malaysian plane killed 298 passengers, including 80 children; the American SM-2 surface-to-air missile that downed the Iranian plane killed 290 passengers, including 66 children. After last week’s incident, Russian officials told various lies to cover up their culpability and blamed the Ukrainian government; after the 1988 incident, American officials told various lies and blamed the Iranian pilot. Not until eight years later did the U.S. government compensate the victims’ families, and even then expressed “deep regret,” not an apology. …
Read “America’s Flight 17.”
Patrick Cockburn offers a cogent, matter-of-fact account of the latest developments in Iraq:
Iran is moving to stop the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) from capturing Baghdad and the provinces immediately to the north of the capital.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is taking a central role in planning and strategy in Baghdad in the wake of the disintegration of the Iraqi army in the country’s north, an Iraqi source has told The Independent.
With the Iraqi army command completely discredited by recent defeats, the aim of the IRGC is to create a new and more effective fighting force by putting together trustworthy elements of the old army and the Shia militias. According to the source, the aim of the new force would be to give priority “to stabilising the front and rolling it back at least into Samarra and the contested areas of Diyala”. The Iraqi army has 14 divisions, of which four were involved in last week’s debacle, but there is no sign of the remaining units rallying and staging a counter-attack. MORE…
On June 11, Cockburn wrote: “Iraq Crisis: Capture of Mosul Ushers in the Birth of a Sunni Caliphate”:
The capture of Mosul by Isis means a radical change in the political geography of Iraq and Syria. Moreover, the impact of this event will soon be felt across the Middle East as governments take on board the fact that a Sunni proto-caliphate is spreading across northern Iraq and Syria.
The next few weeks will be crucial in determining the outcome of Isis’s startling success in taking over a city of 1.4 million people, garrisoned by a large Iraqi security force, with as few as 1,300 fighters. Will victory in Mosul be followed by success in other provinces where there is a heavy concentration of Sunni, such as Salahuddin, Anbar and Diyala? Already, the insurgents have captured the important oil refinery town of Baiji with scarcely a shot fired by simply calling ahead by phone to tell the police and army to lay down their weapons and withdraw.
These spectacular advances by Isis would not be happening unless there was tacit support and no armed resistance from the Sunni Arab community in northern and central Iraq. Many people rightly suspect and fear Isis’s bloodthirsty and sectarian fanaticism, but for the moment these suspicions and fears have been pushed to one side by even greater hatred of Iraq’s Shia-dominated government.
This may not last: Iraqi government officials speak of a counterattack led by special “anti-terrorist” forces that are better trained, motivated and armed than the bulk of the Iraqi army. It may be that the Kurds will use their peshmerga troops in Nineveh and Kirkuk provinces to drive back Isis and create facts on the ground in areas often rich in oil, in Kirkuk and Nineveh provinces. A successful counter-offensive could happen but the failure of the Iraqi army to retake Fallujah, a much smaller city than Mosul, in the six months since it fell in January does not bode well for the government. If the Isis advance takes more towns and villages, then the territory lost to the government may become too large to reconquer.
But Isis too has its weaknesses: in the past it has isolated itself by its fierce determination to monopolise power, impose fundamentalist Islamic norms and persecute or kill all who differ from it. MORE …