Give Josh Earnest Another Job

As Ramadi falls to Islamic State militants - or ISIS or ISIL or whatever the next name they think up is - one hears cautious detachment and outright concern from the Pentagon. The worry is that Iranian-backed Shiite militants might pre-empt other groups in re-taking Ramadi and have Iraq finally fall under control of it’s long time rival Iran. Or that fighting between anti- Islamic State groups will be as bad as the fighting against Islamic State itself. So, according to the Pentagon, the latest fall of Ramadi is merely a case of a small percentage of the city not already under IS control finally falling to the Sunni fighters. The Sunni fighters under IS, not the Sunni groups opposing them, which the Iraqi forces - in the majority Shiite - are desperate to recruit to gain support in Sunni regions of the country in their ongoing battle against IS. So the worry is what happens next and how to help Iraq hold together alliances that can push back and even defeat IS.

But the fog of who is ally and who is foe extends beyond Iraq, Syria, and Kurdish regions, right into Turkey, a NATO ally of course. Rumours are that the islamist factions inside the Turkish intelligence community are supplying weapons and other logistical aid to IS fighers in Syria and Iraq. In other words, the US military has no easy task in deciding when and where to provide support from the air, because who is neutral, ally, or enemy keeps changing. And it has little to do with sandstorms and everything to do with a chaotic, fluid situation where IS seems to retreat and gather force and then return to conquer once again. And in the middle of all the fighting, people get beheaded, tortured, raped, and burned. Especailly minorities and Christians.

So given the context, one has to say that White House Spokesman Josh Earnest - a long-time Obama aide - is a plain jerk. His sickening quote over Ramadi:

Are we going to light our hair on fire every time there's a setback?

is beyond cynicism or sloppy thinking. It's beyond dumb. It betrays a complete lack of understanding over what is really happening there. Or worse, a complete disregard for the human rights violations that are happening. And precisely because the US military has such a tough job - since the Obama administration-led pullback - trying to help Iraq survive IS's campaign to take the country over, along with Syria and anywhere else the terrorist organization decides it's caliphate should extend to, that Earnest should have displayed a minimum of tact. That he instead came up with such a phrase is stunning. In the debate over what should have been done in Iraq - one that will last for years to come - Josh Earnest's comment will seen as a low point, a very low point. He should be given another job, to put it politely.

Posted by Keeley at May 20, 2015 4:30 PM
Comment #395629

Josh Earnest is right.

Are we going to light our hair on fire every time there’s a setback?

Posted by: phx8 at May 20, 2015 4:55 PM
Comment #395630

Lousy boss, lousy spokesperson.

Frankly, I don’t want our military in peril with such a person as CIC. obama certainly can’t lead, and is incapable of following.

Posted by: Royal Flush at May 20, 2015 5:19 PM
Comment #395631

The new conservative/Republican narrative has changed from what Jeb Bush was asked last week, “Given what you know now would you still have invaded Iraq?”, to the new narrative that just came out this week, “Iraq would be just fine if Obama hadn’t screwed it up.”

The cognitive disconnect and subsequent hair on fire actions required by this new narrative is causing conservative/Republicans to perform political high-energy acrobatics rivaling a performance of “Cirque Du Soleil”.

I say good job Josh Earnest.

Posted by: Speak4all at May 20, 2015 5:27 PM
Comment #395632

Frankly the conservative/Republicans shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the levers of power possessed by a President of these United States. I expect that our electorate recognizes that and will act accordingly.

RF, you need to come up with a new shtick. This Obama bad, Obama bad routine is totally worn out and besides he will only be your President for another 22 months and then you may be addressing “Madame President” for the next 8 years. You need to focus man, focus.

Posted by: Speak4all at May 20, 2015 5:33 PM
Comment #395633

LOL…when obama changes I will change my opinion of him. He says he leads from behind…anyone doubt that? The only lie there is the word “leads”.

Posted by: Royal Flush at May 20, 2015 5:36 PM
Comment #395634

The city of Chicago along with their school system have been downgraded to junk bond status. Looks like we may have another Detroit before long.

This is appropriate as obama will have his presidential library in that city. The dems have run Chicago since 1931 and have just about run it into the ground. With continuation of liberal government from the oval office the nation will likely also face junk bond status.

Posted by: Royal Flush at May 20, 2015 6:06 PM
Comment #395635

Did anyone listen to our Fool-in-Chief at his commencement address to Coast Guard grads?

He found a way to blame MMGW for nearly every ill known to mankind going back to ancient Egypt. I guess every thing else bad happening now is George Bush’s fault.

Posted by: Royal Flush at May 20, 2015 7:00 PM
Comment #395636

“Frankly the conservative/Republicans shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the levers of power possessed by a President of these United States. I expect that our electorate recognizes that and will act accordingly.”

I know that is cryptic, but it sounds like you want those who you disagree with to not have the power to pull the levers in the voting booth?

Posted by: tom humes at May 20, 2015 7:12 PM
Comment #395638

Royal Flush,
Chicago definitely needs a political shake-up and it has needed it for a long time.

But it’s not just Chicago.

Can you recognize it elsewhere?

Most of the poorest states in the country, and almost all of the poorest counties are red. Almost all of the richest states are blue. States such as Kansas, which instituted an extremely conservative agenda, have see a budget disaster. Wisconsin is about to have the same thing happen. Contrast Wisconsin with Minnesota. They are very similar, yet a liberal agenda in Minnesota has produced a booming economy.

Meanwhile… The GOP Congress STILL cannot decide what to do about authorizing action against ISIS. They are frozen like deer in the headlights, and for good reason: every time the GOP brings up Iraq, it brings up the invasion and all the lies that led to it. We now know more about the formation of ISIS. It originated in part with some of Saddam Hussein’s people, a top intelligence guy named al-Douri (The “King of Clubs) and an Air Force intelligence colonel. They and other Sunni members of the Iraqi military met the religious fundamentalists in prison, and it took a while to overcome their mutual distrust, but they finally came together. This was yet one more example of the catastrophically bad decision to disband the Iraqi military and implement the policy of de-Bathification. The combination of the Sunni Iraqi military people and the religious fundamentalists in Syria has turned out to be absolutely toxic.

There is something important to realize. Sunni Iraq will not accept being ruled by the Shia government in Baghdad. The endgame is obvious. The Sunnis will eventually set up their own organically formed government which will look a lot like a combination of the Sunni Iraqi military of Saddam Hussein’s time and religious fundamentalists; in other words, it will be a version of ISIS, even if it is not actually called ISIS.

The US can eliminate some of the more rabid and diabolical elements, and that is exactly what the Obama administration has been doing. Al-Douri and that Air Force colonel are dead. The head of the ISIS financial network was recently killed and his database captured intact. The religious fundamentalist al-Baghdadi is said to still be alive, but partially paralyzed by a US air strike.

It’s a terrible mess, but their is no earthly reason to commit US troops. When ISIS morphs into a more tolerable organization/government, like it or not, we will work with them.

Posted by: phx8 at May 20, 2015 11:00 PM
Comment #395641

RF, it is your choice to diminish your comments by constant reference to a man that was elected and re-elected President of the USA. I know you don’t like any reminder of that but it may help you to understand that by making your foolish comments you only point to your ability to make critical thinking of your position a distant possibility. Good luck with that.

TH, I have no idea how you could take the comment:

“the levers of power possessed by a President”

and turn that into some crazy idea that I would attempt to subvert a fellow citizen from voting.

I suppose it could be because you may support the state legislatures that are using voter id laws and manipulation of voting practices to subvert the voting process for senior citizens, students and minorities in general. If you support those processes I can understand why you might believe other people would want to do that for the benefit of their partisanship. Some of us still believe that the voting process is the best way forward to letting every voice be heard. I count myself as part of that group.

Posted by: Speak4all at May 21, 2015 9:51 AM
Comment #395686

I think the voting process is kinda pricey. Will take a billion or so to elect the next president. I’m betting on Hillary since she has the largest war chest.

But, I can’t think of a thing she has to run on other than being a prolific speaker and …?

I can’t find it in myself to vote for any demrep in any election. A brief rational: lack of immigration rules, actual refusal to create or follow any rules for the last 60 years or so. Screwed up trade policies. China and Russia taking on the mantles of globalised trade and using their increased wealth to stick it to the US, ie, currency manipulation, counterfeiting, nationalizing industry, ignoring long standing regs vis a vis S. China sea, Ukraine and the Baltics, etc.

Let’s see. We shipped jobs overseas and now we are asked to pony up for an increased defense force to counter China’s and Russia’s aggressive moves on neighboring real estate. Likewise, taxpayers are buying anti-tank missiles to knock out tanks bought with taxpayer dollars. Debt, budget fights and on and on.

I can’t see where carrying water for the demreps can improve the situation in any quarter. I believe we need a new third party w/a/dif/pol att…

Otherwise, we have the corpocracy we deserve.

Posted by: roy ellis at May 21, 2015 8:49 PM
Comment #395688

Panic is the last thing that the administration needs. Josh Earnest may have inartfully conveyed that message but it was the correct message.

This is a complex situation as the author points out in great detail. Overreaction to the loss of Ramadi may set in course actions that we will regret in the coming months.

There is now a chorus of critics calling for more direct US military presence (boots on ground) and equipment to support the Iraqi government. But, the Iraqi government is employing Shiaa militias controlled by Iran in the fight against Sunni ISIS forces. There are few Sunni government fighters deployed.

Does anyone disagree with the analysis of Obama on this overall issue published in the recent Atlantic article: “And one lesson that I think is important to draw from what happened is that if the Iraqis themselves are not willing or capable to arrive at the political accommodations necessary to govern, if they are not willing to fight for the security of their country, we cannot do that for them.”

The real problem is that there is no will from the Sunnis to fight for a government that they perceive and, rightly so, has marginalized their power, stripped Sunni officers from the army and limited their resources. So who are we going to send a few thousand special forced to? Where are the ant-tank weapons going? Now it appears that they will go to Iranian trained Shiaa militias.

The beginnings of a solution has to start with the Iraqi Government. US pressure for accommodations for power sharing are immediately necessary. The Biden suggestion of three semi autonomous states would be a start. It is working for the Kurds who are fighters who can be counted on. A reformation of Iraq into three loose semi-autonomous states (Kudrdis, Sunni and Shiaa) makes the most sense.

ISIS is taking advantage of Sunni disaffection with the Iraqi central government.

Time to consider forcing a realignment and governance structures in Iraq. One consistent with the ethnic and sectarian divisions. Only then will we see whether Iraqi Sunnis would prefer a form of self rule or would prefer to join some massive caliphate encompassing Syria and ultimately the other Sunni states, i.e., Jordan, Ssudi Arabia, Turkey.

Posted by: Rich at May 22, 2015 1:19 AM
Comment #395697

Today’s bombing of the Shiite mosque in Saudi Arabia may very well mark the beginning of the end for ISIS or the beginning of the largest and most dangerous power in the Middle East. It was not only an attack on Shiites but, more importantly, a direct attack on the most powerful and richest of all Sunni nations, Saudi Arabia.

Whether Saudi Arabia and other predominately Sunni nations, e.g., Jordan, Turkey, etc., can effectively respond to the direct challenge by ISIS of their ruling authority will determine the fate of the Middle East.

While we fret about Iran getting the bomb, the real threat is from radical Sunni Islamists gaining control of the major Sunni nations. Imagine Saudi Arabia governed by radical extremists. Bin Laden cautioned his Sunni Wahhabist followers from taking this course toward a caliphate. He thought it a bridge too far. I only hope that he was correct.

Posted by: Rich at May 22, 2015 6:42 PM
Comment #395725

Interesting article with some good detail on what is happening in Iraq:

Don’t know if the US dropped a thermobaric bomb on an ISIS meeting and actually killed al-Baghdadi, but it is certainly plausible.

Posted by: phx8 at May 24, 2015 8:24 PM
Comment #395727

The Obama administration is getting real pissed off about the Iraqi government’s ability to field a real army. General Dempsey said that the Iraqis “weren’t driven out of Ramadi, they drove out.” Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, said that the Iraqis have a serious lack of will to fight. Very public insults and expressions of disgust by the two highest ranking US defense officials. Quite remarkable.

The only way forward is to bypass the Iraqi government and directly arm the Kurds and the Sunni tribes. The Iraqi government has been reluctant to pass through arms to either group. It would rather rely on Shiite militias trained and directed by the Iranians. Nuts!

ISIS may very well be vulnerable. It would seem vastly overextended. However, if the Iraqi government can’t field an army capable of exploiting their weaknesses, then ISIS will continue to expand and consolidate its territory.

Critics of the Obama administration are calling for more arms and US military advisors to be deployed to Iraq. Well, they need to answer the next question. To whom are those arms going and with what units are the US advisors supposed to be embedded with? The Shiite militias trained and advised by the Iranians? The Iraqi army that could flee at the mere sight of ISIS leaving our personnel defenseless?

The Surge worked because we ignored the government in Baghdad and made a deal with the Sunni tribes to arm and fund them. Call it a bribe as the Kos article does. So, what! it worked. Time to make another deal with or without the consent of the Iraqi government.

Posted by: Rich at May 25, 2015 12:25 AM
Comment #395735

It would make more sense to bribe the Sunnis, although the last time around the Sunnis switched sides and joined ISIS in the first place. Once again, in Ramadi a lot of American weaponry ended up in the hands of ISIS, and the army refused to fight.

We can send in others to fight ISIS, such as the Kurds, and we can degrade and destroy ISIS so that it cannot operate effectively, but at some point, a Sunni group needs to rule a Sunni population. The Iraqi government is completely dominated by Shias and in the Iranian orbit. Everyone always knew that would be a consequence of the American invasion. The Kurds are already independent for all practical purposes. They can be counted on to defend Shia and Kurdish territory. The problem is what to do about the Sunnis.

Posted by: phx8 at May 25, 2015 9:32 AM
Comment #395736

Well, the Iraqi government reneged on its promises of powering sharing with the Sunnis as soon as the US left. That is probably the only real reason that a remnant force would have been a good idea. Not to defend Iraq but to keep the Iraqi government honest.

It’s probably too late but revising the Iraqi Constitution to give the Sunnis semi-autonomous status like the Kurds would go a long way toward easing sectarian tensions. Biden suggested two years ago that Iraq should be revised into a loose federation of three states: Shia, Sunni and Kurdish. Oil revenue sharing is the big stumbling block.

Like I said above, the US has little choice but to directly arm the Sunni tribes if the Iraqi government continues to stonewall on pass through of arms to the Sunnis and Kurds. We simply cannot allow ISIS to consolidate power in the Sunni and Kurdish areas without challenge. Having to rely upon an incompetent and duplicitous partner is frustrating and dangerous.

Posted by: Rich at May 25, 2015 10:26 AM
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