Obama and the ISIS Blame Game

This past Sunday, President Obama speaking on 60 Minutes admitted that the U.S. underestimated ISIS. More specifically, the blame was placed on Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. True our intelligence community, which mind with its enormous budget and resources has blundered quite often. But when members of that same intelligence community along with military leaders, and civilians of all sorts have been saying this is a group that deserves further attention for well over the past year, I think a good portion of the blame should also fall on the shoulders of the president. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, playing the blame game is not a sign of leadership.


Truth be told Clapper admitted in early September that there were several underestimations and miscalculations, notably understanding of the fighting ability of ISIS and the Iraqi military. Despite Clapper being the senior intelligence advisor to the president, he isn't the only person who provides him with foreign insight and he isn't the only intelligence advisor who has the ear of the president. Does that mean the Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Security Advisor, and other officials ranging from intelligence department heads to state department officials were all clueless as well? ISIS has been a serious threat to the stability of Iraq since 2013. To say that Obama was misinformed or unaware is absurd as there have been repeated instances where it has been brought to his attention and it has been reported that for over a year the CIA and DIA submitted analysis that warned that the Iraqi military would falter under ISIS attacks.

In November 2013 then Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki on a visit to the White House requested U.S. assistance in the fight against ISIS. Shortly after Deputy Secretary of State for Iraq, Brett McGurk warned Congress of the growing threat ISIS posed and the inability of the Iraqi government to quell the threat. A month later Fallujah fell to ISIS fighters, a city a mere 50 miles from the capital Baghdad and in January, al-Maliki requested actual U.S. airstrikes against ISIS which were refused. The Obama administration failed to act militarily which is understandable given political reasons concerning al-Maliki. Regardless, despite these warnings and calls for assistance one would believe that ISIS would've been afforded more attention by the intelligence community. While Obama says we underestimated ISIS, numerous members of the intelligence community say otherwise.

I must ask why didn't the capture of Fallujah in central Iraq force a major reconsideration of ISIS at the time? What about the fact that ISIS was able to hold Fallujah while advancing elsewhere? If the intelligence community failed to provide more scrutiny to ISIS after each of its victories, then this I would say represents a massive failure of our intelligence community. Who's to blame, the intelligence community, the president, or both? What of the president though who acknowledged that he knew of ISIS in January this year? Then he referred to ISIS in an interview with the New Yorker as being a "JV basketball team." Rather different words were spoken at the annual House and Senate intelligence committees' threat hearings where the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency testified that ISIS "will attempt to take territory in Iraq and Syria." He wasn't the only person in that conference to share those concerns as did Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan. At the same time they were joined by others elsewhere including former ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey in saying that if ISIS could take Fallujah, they do indeed represent a serious threat.

Until June we only performed one unmanned surveillance mission per month of areas operated by ISIS. In that same month Iraq's second-largest city, Mosul, fell to ISIS and Sunni militias. True many underestimated the ability of ISIS to take the city and the speed in which the Iraqi military would collapse. To that I say if perhaps we devoted more attention to ISIS, the surprise would not have been as great. And what is clear is that there were numerous instances where high ranking officials made it known that ISIS deserved more attention in the months leading up to the fall of Mosul. In August this year, former acting Director of the CIA Michael Morell who served in that capacity under Obama as recently as August 2013 rejected claims by Obama then that the situation with ISIS was an intelligence failure.

Did the intelligence community fail to fully appreciate the threat of ISIS, it would appear so. To that end I refuse to say that the intelligence community was ignorant of ISIS. Repeatedly its members and others had declared that ISIS was a threat while some spoke in ominous terms of it. Even the public was aware of ISIS activities in Syria and Iraq by just watching the nightly news or reading a reputable paper. Then there is the president who is quick to blame Clapper. Mind you Obama did bring the troops home from Iraq despite the repeated warnings from numerous military, intelligence, and diplomatic officials that the Iraqi military and government were not ready for an American pullout. Mind you that al-Maliki was the cause of many of the problems in Iraq, something which Obama is correct to admit though that didn't stop us from continuing to support and arm the Iraqis with weapons they didn't need while failing to have al-Maliki answer for his actions.

When one looks at the big picture, for the president to cast off of any responsibility for underestimating ISIS is disgraceful. I would say he either lacks the initiative to ask his advisors questions or simply doesn't care. Many spoke of the limitations of the Iraqi government and military and of ISIS, warnings were offered, caution was advised, and early predictions took place. What are we going to underestimate and or dismiss next Mr. President?

Posted by SPBrooker at October 1, 2014 12:33 PM
Comments
Comment #383846

The continued failure to appreciate the depth of the Sunni vs. Shiite conflict is the underlying factor in the intelligence failures.

ISIS is nothing more than the tip of the spear of a Sunni revolt in that region. It is successful because it has the support of the Sunni populations in Iraq and Syria. You don’t see a flood of Sunni refugees from ISIS controlled areas.

The author cites Fallujah as a warning bell about ISIS that was ignored. Maybe, maybe not. To me, the fall of Fallujah was a warning less about ISIS but more about the return of a virulent Sunni insurgency in Iraq. It was the site of two major battles between the insurgency and the US Marines during the occupation. It was a strong signal that the Sunnis are not going down without a fight. As the US Marines learned, the Sunnis will fight.

Thinking of ISIS as some isolated extremist organization is a real mistake. Thinking that we can militarily defeat ISIS is a real mistake. ISIS is the embodiment of a Sunni revolt. That is the lesson from the occupation.

Only a political solution will work. That is also the lesson from the occupation. Until the “Awakening”, the US was incapable of fully suppressing the insurgency. Until we vigorously pursue a Sunni political solution in that region, we will be mired in an endless civil conflict.

The reluctance of Obama to once again engage in that region is only a reflection of the dismal political climate in which the US would be immersed.

Posted by: Rich at October 1, 2014 8:19 AM
Comment #383850

It would also help if we considered the Sunni vs. Shia conflict a political one and not a religious one.

This divide came into being over a thousand years ago. The issue was who will succeed Muhammad, not who will worship Muhammad. The divide is rooted in revenge.

Our interest lies in whether we want a united Sunni population, or do we want the divide between the two to keep them both weak?

Perhaps, if the Sunni were able to subdue/eliminate the Shiite… Would they become the peaceful people they claim they are, or would they continue on with a goal of world domination?

Tough call. Should we preserve both parties and guarantee perpetual war between the two? Or, do we wait for the Sunni to eliminate/convert the Shiite and hope they are satisfied with what they’ve got?

I might think it wise to tell Iran that ISIL is their problem and stay on the sideline. A united Sunni population across the ME and SE Asia without the drag of the Shiite opposition would make WWIII inevitable.


Posted by: Weary Willie at October 1, 2014 11:44 PM
Comment #383851

Who is responsible, how, and why? These are objective questions which, when given to a partisan, become blame game ‘sports’. Was the mission in Iraq to take control of their government and create a self-styled democracy puppet government of the U.S. as was the case with the Shah of Iran? Answer: No. Ergo, is the U.S. responsible for the rise of ISIL in Iraq since withdrawing our ground forces? Answer: No. Does the U.S. have any responsibility for what is happening in Iraq at present. Answer: Only to the extent that the U.S. overthrew the Saddam Hussein government which kept at bay any civil war between Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds.

ISIL became the responsibility of the U.S. when ISIL took direct hostile actions against American citizens and began announcing intentions to bring terrorism to the U.S. mainland.

Posted by: David R Remer at October 2, 2014 1:21 AM
Comment #383860

We couldn’t defeat al-Qaeda in Iraq with 100,000 US troops until the Sunni tribal leadership reached an agreement with the US to intervene with the Iraqi government to reverse anti-Baathist policies and provide the Sunnis some political representation within the Iraqi government. The Iraqi government subsequently reneged on those promises. Hence, the rise of ISIL, a progeny of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Without a viable political alternative for the Sunnis, they will continue to support the only actors (ISIL) promising them protection and economic self determination. Better to live under a Sunni caliphate than under the subjugation of a Shiite state.

The great challenge in this region is aligning the political governance structures with the sectarian and ethnic population distributions. This issue is not that unique. The breakup of the Yugoslavia Soviet Republic into independent states was violent but ultimately resolved. It is not impossible.

The great danger is allowing the dysfunctional political arrangements to perpetuate the conditions giving rise to extremist organizations like ISIL.

Obama’s conditioning of US support on reform of the Iraqi government is a step in the right direction. However, it may be too late. A bolder plan providing independence for the Kurds and Sunnis or a loose federation of states may be necessary. Because without basic political changes, we may never resolve the ISIL challenge. We can win the battles but not the war.

Posted by: Rich at October 2, 2014 9:28 AM
Comment #383861

Weary,

You make a good point about the Sunnis. Would they stop if they were to gain independence from the Iraqi and Syrian Shiites?

I was impressed by the tenacity of the Sunnis in their resistance to the US occupation. They went toe to toe with the US Marines in the Sunni Triangle. They are a battle hardened resistance now under the flag of a religious/sectarian extremist organization.

Whether there is a moderate alternative is unclear.

Posted by: Rich at October 2, 2014 9:45 AM
Comment #383863

Rich,
Sooner or later, we will have to deal with a Sunni government in Iraq/Syria led by religious fundamentalists. They might be ISIS. They might be another group. We all ignore the fact that there are many religious fundamentalist groups in Syria that rarely receive any mention in the media.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_armed_groups_in_the_Syrian_Civil_War

The astounding thing is just how many of them are out there! Groups such as Al-Nusra, the Army of Mujahedeen, Islamic Front, the Green Battalion, and versions of Al-Qaida are allied with ISIS for the time being, but that can change. Meanwhile, CNN and FOX pound the drums for war, but ignore some very obvious gaps in their argument; for example, our good ally Turkey borders these areas and has far more at stake than the US, and Turkey possesses overwhelming military strength, yet they have resisted the idea of sending in troops, at least so far.

It would be better for all of us to follow Obama’s lead and support him: to act with deliberation and careful consideration, act in tandem with good allies, and resist the braying of those who want war, or criticize for partisan gain without offering alternatives.

Conservatives, supporting the Obama administration does not mean voting for Democrats in the upcoming midterms. If the prospect of Democrats achieving yet another foreign policy success is a prospect that must always be denied in all circumstances, rest easy, conservatives- there is very little chance anything good will come out of this.

Posted by: phx8 at October 2, 2014 12:52 PM
Comment #383865

We should look at the bigger picture. I mentioned SE Asia before and I should have emphasized Northern Africa’s Sunni majority. SE Asia also has a Muslim population, also Sunni.

The point I’m trying to make is the Sunni make up almost 90% of the Muslim population. The Shia are a minority of about 12%. The Shi’a are concentrated in Iran, Syria, and a few small countries on Russia’s southern border. I have no idea why we supported the Iranian backed Shi’a when making up Iraq’s post war government, but we did. That action alone gave Iran an influence in Iraq.

Would all this be a factor if Europe weren’t dependent on Iranian oil? Would Iran and Syria be an issue if they weren’t trying to replace the dollar to purchase oil?

Perhaps we should have a real heart to heart with ourselves to figure out why we think the Middle East is all that important. I doubt it’s the rugs.

Posted by: Weary Willie at October 2, 2014 1:54 PM
Comment #383868

“….rest easy, conservatives- there is very little chance anything good will come out of this.”

phx8,

I think that Obama instinctively knows this. His past reluctance to enter the Syria conflict with support for “moderate” rebels was based upon skepticism that there were actually such groups.

As you said, we need to move cautiously and with support of regional allies. To be stuck in an occupation of substantial portions of Iraq and possibly Syria would be a nightmare.

Posted by: Rich at October 2, 2014 2:18 PM
Comment #383870

Rich,
An occupation of substantial portions of Iraq & possibly Syria would keep us there for a generation or more.

WW,
Although Shias are a minority of the worldwide Muslim population, they are a majority in Iraq. When we overthrew the dictatorial, relatively secular regime of Saddam Hussein and the Baathists, we attempted to install a democracy, and that meant the majority Shias took power. In addition, the Bush administration decided to disband the predominantly Sunni military. The Sunni generals and soldiers found themselves unemployed and ruled by their enemies, the Shias. The rest, as they say, was history. Not good history, either.

The main reason we went into Iraq was for the oil. That is obvious.

The best way to undercut the way oil drives national security goals is to become energy independent and encourage alternative energy sources. That is not as hopeless as it might sound. The auto company Tesla is run by a modern day Thomas Edison, and the company is introducing revolutionary electric cars. Someone quipped that it is actually not a car company- it is really a battery company. In ten years the gasoline powered vehicle will be obsolete, not just in this country, but around the world.

We’re getting there. In the meantime, about the best we can do is keep people in the Middle East from slaughtering each other in larger numbers than usual.

Posted by: phx8 at October 2, 2014 3:53 PM
Comment #383875

phx8,

If we have to put boots on the ground in substantial numbers, I don’t see how we can avoid a long and bloody occupation.

“Perhaps we should have a real heart to heart with ourselves to figure out why we think the Middle East is all that important. I doubt it’s the rugs.”

Weary, you have a point. Our preoccupation with anything and everything that happens in the Middle East is sort of strange. Sure oil is an important factor, but what are they going to do, not sell it to us? Better yet, as phx8 says, we should spend our resources on alternative sources rather than on endless and thankless wars.

We should also be wary of a deliberate provocation by ISIL to lure us back into Iraq and Syria. Remember, Reagan withdrew from Lebanon after the Marine barracks bombing killing almost 250 US troops as well as the assassination of the CIA station chief. It may take discipline to avoid further entrapment when Americans are being ritualistically slaughtered.

So, yes, Weary, we need to have a real heart to heart with ourselves about our Middle East strategy and priorities.


Posted by: Rich at October 2, 2014 5:09 PM
Comment #383922
More specifically, the blame was placed on Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

If there was ever a Truman-esque “The buck stops here” moment, this was it. Shame on Obama for taking the low road instead of being contrite regarding how his administration has mishandled the situation in Syria.

Although I am wary of the recent air strikes, I firmly believe Obama has made the correct decision by not committing American boots to the ground. Assad, ISIL, Al-Qaeda and Iraq already have plenty of boots and I don’t see the need to transform a 3 way conflict into a 4 way one. This conflict cannot end until Iraq’s Shia majority is able earn the trust of its Sunni minority. This requires action from politicians in Baghdad, not politicians in Washington.

Posted by: Warren Porter at October 3, 2014 12:02 PM
Comment #383928

“This conflict cannot end until Iraq’s Shia majority is able earn the trust of its Sunni minority.”

That isn’t likely to happen, Warren. Iraq is a failed state. The Sunnis know that. They don’t need any concessions from the Shia in order to regain control of their region. In fact, but for the intervention of the US, the Sunnis under the banner of ISIL would probably have already taken Baghdad and most of the Kurdish Iraq areas by now.

If it wasn’t for the fact that ISIL could be a major terrorist threat to the US, the best course of action would be to simply let the factions fight it out. I would bet on the Sunnis, at least in Iraq.

Our choices are excruciatingly difficult.

Support the Iraqi government against ISIL and we are essentially supporting Iran and the Assad regime in Syria.

Support moderate Sunni rebel factions to fight ISIL and the Assad regime. Of course, for that approach to be successful there needs to be moderate and capable Sunni factions. There are none.

Thus far, Obama has chosen a third path: limited support to the Iraqi government conditioned on political reformation, development of a moderate rebel army and support of a coalition of regional Sunni governments (Saudi Arabia, Jordan, etc.) to police the extremist Sunni ISIL movement. We of course will do much of the heavy lifting. Not likely to have much success unless it is coupled with a political solution providing for a substantial degree of autonomy for the Sunni and Kurdish areas of Iraq and Syria.

Posted by: Rich at October 3, 2014 5:34 PM
Comment #383938
That isn’t likely to happen, Warren. Iraq is a failed state.

Ergo, the conflict has no foreseeable end.

On occasion, I honestly wonder if ISIL dominance in Syria/Iraq wouldn’t be the lesser of two evils. As long as they are still fighting Iran and its proxies (Assad, Iraq, Hezbollah), they won’t easily be in a position to attack the US.

Posted by: Warren Porter at October 3, 2014 8:43 PM
Comment #383953

“Ergo, the conflict has no foreseeable end.”

Probably true unless there is an alignment of political boundaries consistent with ethnic and sectarian interests. It eventually happened in the former Soviet state of Yugoslavia. It is possible to see the area segmented into separate or loosely related federated Sunni, Kurd and Shiite states. The problem is the unequal access to oil revenue in the Sunni areas. And, who is going to do it? We blew it when we had a chance.

I don’t know about ISIL being the lesser of two evils. It seems to me that the most virulent and dangerous extremism has emerged from Sunni states, i.e., Wahabism, al-Qaeda and ISIL. Also remember that even the Sunni secular Baathist state of Iraq initiated the long war with Iran and provoked the first Gulf War with its invasion of Kuwait.

On the other hand, Iran has not been a significant aggressor nation in practice. Also, while a Muslim state, it does provide constitutional protections for minority religions including Judaism and Christianity. Contrast how women are treated in Iran vs. Saudi Arabia. Sometimes I wonder if we haven’t gotten some of these relationships backwards. The aftermath of that CIA engineered coup in Iran in the 50’s poisoned our relationship for decades. Perhaps ISIL and the threat of another aggressive Sunni state will motivate a rapprochement.

Posted by: Rich at October 3, 2014 9:49 PM
Comment #383962

ISIL’s goal is to reclaim the Levant

It encompasses the eastern shores of the mediterainian from Turkey to Egypt and inland into Iraq and Jordan.
It would be redrawing the map to pre WW1. How was the balance of power pre ww1 in the middle east? It could just as easily return to that same balance of power again. All we would have to do is quit buying the oil from them all.

Posted by: Weary Willie at October 4, 2014 1:47 AM
Comment #383965
qI don’t know about ISIL being the lesser of two evils. It seems to me that the most virulent and dangerous extremism has emerged from Sunni states, i.e., Wahabism, al-Qaeda and ISIL. Also remember that even the Sunni secular Baathist state of Iraq initiated the long war with Iran and provoked the first Gulf War with its invasion of Kuwait.

Israel remains our #1 ally in the region. Iran’s anti-Israeli belligerence (as well as its development of weapons capable of striking Israel) cannot be ignored.

It seems to me that the most virulent and dangerous extremism has emerged from Sunni states, i.e., Wahabism, al-Qaeda and ISIL… I wonder if we haven’t gotten some of these relationships backwards. The aftermath of that CIA engineered coup in Iran in the 50’s poisoned our relationship for decades.

We cannot undo history and the US-Iran relationship has certainly been poisoned far more than it should have. Not to mention that we have invested a considerable amount of effort forging alliances with Iran’s Sunni adversaries (Saudi Arabia & Jordan in particular). Switching our alliance to Iran would disrupt the entire region and should not be done on a whim. It would require a considerable quantity of concessions on Iran’s part (including most importantly an end to anti-Israeli belligerence).

For a number of decades, it has been US policy to support Sunni states at the expense of Shi’ite ones (eg Jordan, Saudi Arabia). Reversing that policy seems foolish without a good reason.

Also, I want to repeat that it really is Iran’s responsibility now to thaw relations with the US if that is what it wants. I think Obama has done more than enough to extend a hand. The US doesn’t need to make any more concessions, we need to be firm with our convictions and our promises to our allies (Israel, Egypt, Jordan, etc). US inaction in the region would certainly boost ISIL in the short-run, but it would definitely put pressure on Iran in the long-run.

Posted by: Warren Porter at October 4, 2014 4:39 PM
Comment #383969

The Iranian people are peaceful and just good people. We had very good relations with Iran under Truman and the Shah. Wasn’t until the religious extremists wrestled control from the Shah that Iran and US relations soured.

I’ve expected a coup there for years to bring in a more moderate gov’t but, hasn’t happened.

I believe if the US put hard intl sanctions on Iran the people might revolt and give rise to change. We sure don’t need Israel to bomb their nuke facilities, or the US either. But, we should come up front with the people and make them understand we won’t allow the present Iranian gov’t to acquire nuclear weapons. If they would start an uprising we should be willing to help them out, if asked, IMO.

Posted by: roy ellis at October 4, 2014 8:18 PM
Comment #383976
I believe if the US put hard intl sanctions on Iran the people might revolt and give rise to change.

This is quite evident in recent history when Rouhani was elected Iranian President. Ultimately, the last thing the US should do is provide help & support to Iran’s proxies (Assad + Iraqi Dawa Party) with no strings attached. And believe me, bombing ISIL too much will create a vacuum that Iran’s proxies would be happy to fill.

Posted by: Warren Porter at October 5, 2014 12:15 AM
Comment #383982

“We had very good relations with Iran under Truman and the Shah.”

Not quite accurate. Depends on whether you think of Iran as the people of Iran or the regime in power in Iran.

Truman declined to assist the British in a coup attempt against the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran, Mohammad Mosaddegh, and the Iranian Parliament which had nationalized oil and threatened British oil interests. It would have been antithetical to the “Truman Doctrine” which pledged assistance and support for democratically elected governments as a bulwark against communism.

Eisenhower, however, acceded to the wishes of the British and authorized the CIA to conduct a coup against the democratically elected government and re-install the royal family (Shaw) to power. It led to a long period of oppressive government in Iran and resentment against the US for its support of the Shaw. While, it allowed western access to Iranian oil on favored conditions for a few decades, it planted the seeds of a strong anti-American backlash and the emergence of the ayallatolas.

The Iranian-Israeli relationships have had a rather complex history. Israel was one of the few nations supportive of Iran in the Iraq-Iran war providing arms and serving as a conduit for arms. Israel saw Persian Iran as a balancing force against the aggressive Sunni Arab states that had attacked Israel. The incursion into Lebanon, though, while directed at the PLO threatened the Shia in Lebanon resulting in the rise of Hezbollah.

My comments are not meant to be an apology for Iran but to put the issue in some perspective. Iran has not been the source of virulent anti-American terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda and ISIL. Those have emerged from Sunni states. Iran has not attacked anyone for centuries.

I don’t think that the issue is one of choosing to support Sunni or Shia states (basically Iran) or for that matter, Israel, at the expense of the other. The issue is to separate US policy from the web of regional and sectarian conflict. To position ourselves as honest brokers. Perhaps not entirely possible in reality but we should strive for that balance.

Turning a blind eye on actions of our “friends” in the Middle East is a bankrupt policy. We should tell our Sunni “friends” in the Middle East that we are sick and tired of fighting their extremists.


Posted by: Rich at October 5, 2014 6:56 PM
Comment #383983

Shah not Shaw

Posted by: Rich at October 5, 2014 7:01 PM
Comment #383994

This war seems to be more like a game of ‘52 card pickup’. At the same time it’s very interesting to watch how ‘liberals’ go to war. I’m sure we will all learn something from this.

Agree with Panetta that we will need to hang around in the ME for 20 years or so.

So, will the cowboys in the white hats arrive to save Kharbane in time? Where are the old ‘Warthog’ gunships when you need them? A-5’s I believe.

A real shootin war with no soldiers, and so on - - -

My opinion re war remains unchanged. Go in big, spill as much blood as you can as fast as possible and leave.

In this current war you go into a house with 7-8 people and have to spend a couple of days going over their paperwork to see who you can legally attack.

Can this President hold out for another year without committing troops? I don’t believe it possible least our credibility swoon. It will be left for the Repub’s to finish, IMO.

Posted by: roy ellis at October 6, 2014 7:54 PM
Comment #383995

“It will be left for the Repub’s to finish, IMO.”

Sure, they are great finishers, i.e., Vietnam, Iraq..

Be careful about what you wish for, Roy.

Kobane is an excellent example of the problems we face in that region. The Turkish army is watching the battle on the Syrian-Turkish border from about two miles away. It hasn’t intervened despite authorization from the Turkish government to assist the Kurds. Great! In fact, it is restricting Kurds from entering the battle from Turkey. Ethnic animosity reigns supreme.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Kurds are sending female suicide bombers into ISIS lines at Kobane.

Going in big and getting out quick seems so attractive until you consider what you are leaving behind. If you think ISIS is a problem consider the entire Middle East turned into an anti-American caliphate as the US withdraws from Iraq and Syria once again.

The problem that we face is the prospect of a massive occupation for decades. If the regional states will not or cannot police groups such as ISIS, we may have no choice. But, I wouldn’t jump at the chance.

Posted by: Rich at October 6, 2014 8:55 PM
Comment #383996

Yeah, it’s a real goat grab, Rich. I tried hard to sit it out and was doing ok until the Arab bunch started acting up again, (when did they ever stop}in Central Africa. This at the same time Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Pal’s, and others were caliphating around.

I’d like to see an army of a hundred k start in about the latitude of Jo’burg, and finish up at the Iranian border. But, what a mess. What a mess. Shouldn’t we be putting kill switches on those tanks, computerized guns and so on - - -?

Posted by: roy ellis at October 6, 2014 9:38 PM
Comment #383997

I encourage everybody to read a bit more about the Kobane battle that Roy brought up. It will provide a quick nutshell lesson on the complexity of the ethnic and sectarian strife in that region. The Kurds in Kobane are led by the PKK, a group that the US considers a terrorist organization that has been engaged for many years in a guerrilla war with the Turks. So, the Turks ask why should they help the group that has been killing us for years? The PKK and the Kobane Kurds have also been fighting on the side of Assad. So, why isn’t the Syrian government helping them? What about the Iraqi Kurds and their pershmerga? Well they aren’t the same thing.

Posted by: Rich at October 6, 2014 9:40 PM
Comment #384003

Kobane appears about to fall despite the heroic resistance of its residents and the Kurdish PYG. The US is belatedly increasing air strikes and may be using Apache attack helicopters in a last minute effort to stop ISIS. Meanwhile, our NATO ally, the Turks have stood by within eyesight simply watching the battle. Turkey, just a few weeks ago, vowed to not let Kobane fall to ISIS but has not engaged ISIS.

Once again, you have to wonder about our Sunni “friends.”

Posted by: Rich at October 7, 2014 8:38 AM
Comment #384006

I believe the situation in Africa/ME had become so bad that the US had to act, to try to do something to settle things down. Millions of new refugees, women/babies/men being tortured/killed, huge loss of property, gov’t’s/countries falling into disarray and so on - - -

The least bad policy is to assume nobody likes ISIL and wouldn’t hold it against us too strongly if we take the battle to them. The ME wants some relief from ISIL. And, ISIL does represent a threat of sorts to the US if they are left to grow fat in the desert.

also, some diplomacy seems necessary. Like the Sunni’s should be on notice that if they don’t straighten up and fly right their oil fields will be doled out to their neighbors, etc. For every dollar/tank we give to the Sunni we give five to their brothers and so on - - -

Posted by: roy ellis at October 7, 2014 8:28 PM
Comment #384009

Turkey just sacrificed the Syrian Kurds at Kobane in order to pressure the US into an agreement to join the effort against the Shia Assad government. They won’t commit ground forces unless it part of a joint effort to topple the Assad government not just IS. Now, we understand their priorities.

Going it alone will only result in a huge whack a mole game in the Iraqi and Syrian desert for decades.

Posted by: Rich at October 7, 2014 10:20 PM
Comment #384021

Beck was on FOX tonite relating that we should all read the history of the ME from around the time of Jefferson. Talks about how the ME was divided up and dictators placed here and there for practical purposes. Beck doesn’t want another dollar or life committed to the ISIL thing.

I believe the developed world is so turned off by the actions of ME govt’s and so-called religious factions running around bombing and killing, medieval laws/beliefs and that it’s time for a change in the ME.

Maybe we are off to a good start with a 30 year war. Maybe it will stretch out to a 100 year war.

Posted by: roy ellis at October 8, 2014 9:58 PM
Comment #384222

Those who have done their Research will know that ISIL is a Secret Ally of America and that it is Funded and Armed by America and the Caliphate States in the Middle East.

America has publicly admitted to Funding and Arming the Syrian Free Army, who are in Reality a group of Foreign Jihadists, who America portrays as Syria’s Legitimate Opposition, even though Many of them are not even Eligible to Vote in Syrian Elections, because they were Never Citizens of Syria, and they resort to Terrorism and War, because they could Never win more than 15 % of the National Vote.

I met a Kurd recently, and I told him that America Secretly Created ISIL and that America, Saudi Arabia, and others are Secret Allies of ISIL, and they are being Funded and Armed by America, Saudi Arabia and others.

The answer he gave was that this is Correct, but that the Kurdish People Cannot say that, because they do not have their own Country, but they live in Turkey, Iraq, and Syria, and because America, Turkey, and its Secret Ally of ISIL will not like that, because ISIL is America’s Secret Attack Dog in Iraq and Syria.

We have heard how Vice President Joe Biden ‘Inadvertently’ Confessed to this, and how he later ‘Retracted’ and ‘Apologized’ for those statements.

We All know that the Vice President is Fully Aware of America’s Foreign Policy, and Americans know that their Foreign Policy is Always Bipartisan.

However, the Obama Administration and the Democrats by means of the Vice President was telling the American Voters not to make these things an Election Issue for the midterm Elections, because the Republicans Always have a Bipartisan Policy with the Democrats on Foreign Policy, and these things can be read at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/05/world/europe/turkish-leader-demands-biden-apology.html , http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/07/world/middleeast/saudis-are-next-on-bidens-mideast-apology-list-after-harvard-remarks.html?_r=0 .

Turkey wants a Caliphate in the Middle East, but Turkey’s current Secular Constitution does not allow Turkey to lose its Sovereignty and its Democracy to become part of an enormous Middle Eastern Caliphate.

There are People who think that the Turkish People should have a debate on the future of their Country.

However, the Turkish Government is Denying these things, but there are ways to know the motives of the current Turkish Government.

Turkey is currently a Secular Constitutional Democracy, but they want ISIL and its Secret Ally of the Foreign Terrorists, who are Euphemistically called the Syrian Free Army.

Syria is a Secular Constitutional Democracy, and Syrians Voted a few months ago for their current Government in a Free, Fair, and Democratic Election.

Despite these things, Turkey is an Ally of ISIL and the Syrian Free Army, because ISIL and the Syrian Free Army both want a enormous Caliphate in the Middle East.

This enormous Caliphate in the Middle East, which Turkey and Israel hopes will include Syria and Iraq will allow for the Resettlement of the Turkish Kurds into Syria or Northern Iraq, where there already is an Autonomous Kurkish State in Northern Iraq.

Israel shares a border with Syria, and there could be some Israeli Politicians who think that if Syria becomes part of an enormous Caliphate in the Middle East, then some of the Palestinian Arabs may want to move to Syria at http://www.palestineinformation.org/2a_4_maps .

There are Many People who think that the Kurdish People should have their own Country, which would be made up of Turkish, Syrian, and Iraqi land, but ISIL has not mentioned this, nor has ISIL mentioned that the Turkish People should debate their Constitution.

Posted by: Journalist at October 13, 2014 5:26 AM
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