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The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

Monday Wake Up Call – July 10, 2017

The Daily Escape:

Mosul – Old City, July 3, 2017 – photo by Felipe Dana

Mosul is now back in Iraqi control. The strategy for Mosul was “clear, hold, and build”. America used a similar tactic in Vietnam; “clear and hold”, without lasting success.

The “clear, hold and build” approach involves clearing contested territory through military operations and then holding that territory, isolating and defending it from insurgent influence. The build phase involves economic, developmental or governance-related activity intended to increase the legitimacy of the counterinsurgents and the government they represent. It has not been successful in Afghanistan, where clear and hold have been difficult or impossible, to achieve.

So far in Iraq, clear, hold and build has more or less worked in Ramadi and Tikrit, but the corrosive Sunni-Shia rivalry may have negative impacts going forward. The defeat of ISIS will offer Baghdad a fresh state-building opportunity to correct the mistakes made following the ouster of the Saddam Hussein in 2003. And there is some reason for optimism, as the Cairo Review states:

Post-Saddam Iraq has managed to write a new constitution, and has witnessed four national electoral cycles, four peaceful transfers of power, and three constitutional governments in which Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds have been consistently represented. Iraq today can claim a flourishing civil society, a thriving media, and expanded civil and political liberties. By the standards of the Middle East, these are no small achievements.

So, what’s next? Widespread corruption persists, as does the continuing struggle for power among Iraq’s Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish communities. This has been a feature of Iraqi politics since Iraq’s independence from Ottoman rule in 1920. The post-Saddam era has allowed Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds to pursue their own interests. In part, the Shia effort to strip Sunnis of power after Saddam brought about the ISIS ascendancy. The Kurds have used the ISIS insurgency to consolidate all territory in northern Iraq that is Kurdish-speaking, including oil-rich Kirkuk. The Iraqi Kurds are planning a referendum on independence in September, and Turkey, Iraq and Iran have all announced their opposition.

The majority Shiites are divided. Elites run the government, and hold economic power. But, the vast majority of Shiites have not done well since the start of the Iraq war. The prominence and successes of Shiite militias gives Shiites great influence in their struggle for power in post-ISIS Iraq. Some of the militia leaders have become so popular they may win positions in the 2018 national elections.

Shiites and Kurds must recognize that it is in their interest to see that Sunnis are stable and thriving. Sunnis, humbled by the disaster they helped bring to the country by the ISIS insurgency, should now be eager to secure their place in a new political reality.

Post-ISIS, will the country break into a federation of three distinct areas? The Kurds are hoping for that outcome. US policy has been to encourage a united Iraq. Iran favors that as well, but the situation on the ground is volatile. Let’s give Cairo Monitor the last word:

Perhaps the best hope is that Prime Minister Al-Abadi and his eventual successor will push for incremental measures toward securing Sunni communities and settling Shiite disputes with the Kurds.

Time for the Iraqi groups contesting for power to wake up and support something bigger than themselves. Violence over the past 14 years has taken the lives of some 268,000 Iraqis, including nearly 200,000 civilians, with perhaps, many more to come.

To help them wake up, here is Big Country with their 1983 tune “In a Big Country”. The song is anthemic, a rallying cry to get up off the floor and grab for the things you want. Here is a live video from 1983 recorded in London at the Hammersmith Odeon:

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

Takeaway Lyric:

Cry out for everything you ever might have wanted
I thought that pain and truth were things that really mattered
But you can’t stay here with every single hope you had shattered, see ya

 

I’m not expecting to grow flowers in a desert
But I can live and breathe
And see the sun in wintertime

In a big country dreams stay with you
Like a lover’s voice fires the mountainside
Stay alive

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – July 10, 2105

Our Havanese dog Bandit lost his fight with an autoimmune disease at age 15 this past Tuesday:

DSCN5103

Gonna miss him terribly.

Turning to other news, what does the Dallas attack against police mean for the rest of this American summer? As Mark Shields said on PBS, “events are in the saddle”, and there is a distinct feeling that our leadership is not only not in control, but they have no answers.

No one knows what the reaction will be to New Orleans, Minneapolis and Dallas:

COW Dallas Reaction 2

Despite all we know, we can’t escape our need for Gunz:

Culture of Violence

Some truths demand an explanation:

COW Broken Tail Light

Our satellite in orbit around the giant gas planet Jupiter found something horrifying:

COW Gaseous Titan

The Brits waited seven years for the Chilcot report on Tony Blair’s role in the Iraq War:

COW Chillicot Report.gif

Really, is W. sorry? Maybe he’s sorry he got 4500 American soldiers killed, and another 32,000 wounded. And unknown numbers of American military damaged mentally. Or, that the Middle East is totally destabilized. Or, that our economy crashed. Or, that the country is totally polarized. Maybe he’s sorry, but that’s highly doubtful.

You know, it was OKAY  because a Republican did it.

That’s the mission he accomplished.

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America’s “Fill in the Blanks” Middle East Policy

(There will be no further posting until Monday 10/26, since Wrongo and Ms. Oh So Right are attending a weekend family reunion)

We have been talking about our failed strategy in the Middle East for several days. Here is a great observation by Tom Englehardt that summarizes our all-too-true ME reality:

Sometimes I imagine the last 14 years of American war policy in the Greater Middle East as a set of dismal Mad Libs. An example might be: The United States has spent [your choice of multiple billions of dollars] building up [fill in name of Greater Middle Eastern country]’s army and equipping it with [range of weaponry of your choosing]. That army was recently routed by the [rebel or terrorist group of your choice] and fled, abandoning [list U.S. weaponry and equipment]. Washington has just sent in more [choose from: trainers/weaponry/equipment/all of the above] and [continue the sentence ad infinitum]. Or here’s another: After [number, and make it large] years and a [choose one or more: war, air war, drone assassination campaign, intervention, counterinsurgency program, counterterror effort, occupation] in [Greater Middle Eastern country of your choice] that seems to be [choose from: failing, unraveling, going nowhere, achieving nothing], the [fill in office of top U.S. official of your choice] has just stated that a U.S. withdrawal would be [choose from: counterproductive, self-defeating, inconceivable, politically unpalatable, dangerous to the homeland, mad] because [leave this blank, since no one knows].

Englehardt’s blog, TomDispatch, has an important article by Peter Van Buren, a 24-year veteran of the State Department, who spent a year in Iraq. The article is entitled: What If They Gave a War and Everyone Came? − What Could Possibly Go Wrong (October 2015 Edition)

You should read it all, but here are some extensive quotes:

In March 2003, when the Bush administration launched its invasion of Iraq, the region, though simmering as ever, looked like this: Libya was stable, ruled by the same strongman for 42 years; in Egypt, Hosni Mubarak had been in power since 1983; Syria had been run by the Assad family since 1971; Saddam Hussein had essentially been in charge of Iraq since 1969, formally becoming president in 1979; the Turks and Kurds had an uneasy but functional ceasefire; and Yemen was quiet enough, other than the terror attack on the USS Cole in 2000. Relations between the U.S. and most of these nations were so warm that Washington was routinely rendering “terrorists” to their dungeons for some outsourced torture.

Soon after March 2003, when U.S. troops invaded Iraq, neighboring Iran faced two American armies at the peak of their strength. To the east, the U.S. military had effectively destroyed the Taliban and significantly weakened al-Qaeda, both enemies of Iran, but had replaced them as an occupying force. To the west, Iran’s decades-old enemy, Saddam, was gone, but similarly replaced by another massive occupying force. From this position of weakness, Iran’s leaders, no doubt terrified that the Americans would pour across its borders, sought real diplomatic rapprochement with Washington for the first time since 1979. The Iranian efforts were rebuffed by the Bush administration.

More:

There hadn’t been such an upset in the balance of power in the Middle East since, well, World War I, when Great Britain and France secretly reached the Sykes-Picot Agreement, which, among other things, divided up most of the Arab lands that had been under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. Because the national boundaries created then did not respect on-the-ground tribal, political, ethnic, and religious realities, they could be said to have set the stage for much that was to come.

And more:

What if the U.S. hadn’t invaded Iraq in 2003? Things would undoubtedly be very different in the Middle East today. America’s war in Afghanistan was unlikely to have been a big enough spark to set off the range of changes Iraq let loose. There were only some 10,000 America soldiers in Afghanistan in 2003 (5,200 in 2002) and there had not been any Abu Ghraib-like indiscriminate torture, no equivalent to the scorched earth policy in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, nothing to spark a trans-border Sunni-Shia-Kurd struggle, no room for Iran to meddle. The Americans were killing Muslims in Afghanistan, but they were not killing Arabs, and they were not occupying Arab lands.

And finally: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

The invasion of Iraq, however, did happen. Now, some 12 years later, the most troubling thing about the current war in the Middle East, from an American perspective, is that no one here really knows why the country is still fighting. The commonly stated reason — “defeat ISIS” — is hardly either convincing or self-explanatory. Defeat ISIS why?

What are we doing in the ME?

Why are we doing it?

What end state do we want?

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A State for the Kurds?

The Kurds are on the verge of creating a homeland of their own, despite Iraq and US efforts to avoid it. If they do, the Middle East may never be the same. The Wall Street Journal had an interesting report about the possibility of an independent Kurdish state:

Amid an imploding Middle East ravaged by religious hatreds, the Kurds are providing a rare bright spot—and their success story is finding fresh support and sympathy in the West. By contrast with the rest of the region, all the main Kurdish movements today are broadly pro-Western and secular.

There are 30 million Kurds in the ME and only 4.5-6 million live in Iraq. Their language, Kurdish, is part of the Indo-European family of languages—close to Persian (Farsi) but unrelated to Arabic or Turkish.

Unlike Iranians, who are mostly Shiite Muslims, most Kurds are Sunnis. Despite that, they are confronting the Sunni ISIS, and the Shiite-supported Syrians.

Here is a map of the potential Kurdish state:

Kurdish Empire

 

In Iraq, the autonomous Kurdish Regional Government, (KRG), was adopted by the new Iraqi constitution after the US invasion. Kurds control their own affairs. This has allowed the Kurds to achieve a boom in investment and construction that has produced new highways, hotels and shopping malls.

The Kurdistan government in northern Iraq maintains its own armed forces, known as the Peshmerga (literally, “those who confront death”), and no Iraqi troops are allowed in the region. The KRG controls its own borders, and Westerners can fly into the region’s capital, Erbil, without a visa. Kurdish is used everywhere as the official language, and few young Iraqi Kurds can speak fluent Arabic.

Yet, political divisions hamper the Kurds’ fight against ISIS, and their prospects for self-rule. Only a minority of Peshmerga brigades on the front lines are under KRG command, while the rest still report directly to one of the two rival political parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party or the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.

From a regional perspective, Iran has a significant Kurdish minority that it has suppressed in the past. Now, it is strengthening ties with the KRG, since Iran views the KRG as an ally in the fight against ISIS.

In Syria, the civil war has enabled Kurds to set up a wide area of self-administration in the northeast of the country, eliminating the border between Syrian and Iraqi Kurds, who now travel back and forth across it without visas.

And in Turkey, decades of outright denial of the existence of Kurds, (they called Kurds “Mountain Turks”) led to a bloody war between the Turkish state and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. The fighting ended only after a cease-fire was proclaimed in March 2013. The PKK was once an ally of the Assad regime, and is still classified as a terrorist group by the US and Turkey.

But, in the just-concluded Turkish elections, Kurds voted for the Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, or HDP, which won 13% of the national vote and gained 86 seats in the Turkish parliament. The Kurds demonstrated they can serve as check against the anti-democratic aspirations of Turkey’s President Erdogan.

But neither the Iraqis nor the US want an independent Kurdistan, despite the possibility that Kurdistan as an independent state would be a buffer against the expansion of ISIS. They act as a “Northern Front” in the war against ISIS, and ISIS will be forced to commit resources to the area, as demonstrated by the Kurds seizing the crucial border crossing, Tal Abyad, cutting ISIS supply lines and uniting Kurdish areas that now stretch from Iraq halfway to the Mediterranean Sea.

Yes, an independent Kurdistan would mean the “fragmenting” of Iraq, which Mr. Obama does not support. But Iraq was never a real country; it was cobbled together after WW1 by European bureaucrats drawing arbitrary lines on a map, with no thought to historical or cultural realities. Like Humpty Dumpty, no one knows how to put those historical anomalies “Syria” and “Iraq” back together again. They’re going to be a mess for a while.

The Kurds are different. They have the makings of a state − an area that enjoys the allegiance of its people, has civil order that allows it to raise taxes and create an effective army. It is doubtful that the US will formally recognize a Kurdish state anytime soon, but the ME is a place where that is irrelevant.

No need to recognize the Kurds as a state, just treat them like one. Buy their oil (as Israel does), and give them weapons and humanitarian aid.

They may richly repay the investment.

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Monday Wake Up Call – June 15, 2015

You may vaguely remember that President Obama went to the Tomb of the Unknowns’ on Memorial Day. You probably don’t remember that he said:

Today is the first Memorial Day in 14 years that the United States is not engaged in a major ground war.

Yet, just two weeks later, he sent more “advisers” to Iraq. This will bring the number of US locations in Iraq to five. Mr. Obama and his own advisers continue to believe that the US should defeat or degrade ISIS in Iraq without significant help of Iran and the Shi’ite militias.

Most of Washington’s foreign policy establishment is pushing Obama to “win” in Iraq. To do that, he must exercise at least as much influence with Baghdad as Iran. He must keep a US-friendly leadership in power, and keep the Iraqi military engaging ISIS outside of Baghdad.

Obama’s decision to locate a new base in Anbar province between Ramadi and Fallujah conforms to the FP establishment’s program. The new location only makes sense if American troops are there for some kind of combat role. If they were only going to Iraq to train Sunnis, (the stated role), it could be located anywhere in the country. But, as the Wrongologist has reported, the new advisers will be stationed at Taqqadum, an Iraqi base near the city of Habbaniya, where they will act as a trip-wire for ISIS advances.

Add to this what General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week about creating a string of “lily pads”, American military bases around Iraq:

You could see [them] in the corridor from Baghdad to Tikrit to Kirkuk to Mosul.

General Dempsey acknowledged that such sites would require many more troops than those already authorized by Mr. Obama. Unfortunately, it didn’t work against the Taliban in Afghanistan, so a good question is why it will work in Iraq. The “lily pad” idea will increase the already high likelihood that the American forces will soon be shooting, and being shot at. This means Gen. Dempsey is suggesting an open-ended American presence in Iraq engaging an open-ended insurgency by ISIS. Any decision to plant additional lily pads will certainly require more US troops in Iraq.

Wake up America, these DC Hawks will never end the war in the Middle East. To bring you gently into consciousness, here is another spring visitor to the fields of Wrong, the Magnolia Warbler:

If you read the Wrongologist in email, you can view the video here.

Monday’s Hot Links:
Homosexual mounting is a common behavior in bed bugs as male sexual interest is directed towards any newly fed individual. Mounted males discharge alarm pheromones, while mounting males consider the alarm signal a major sex identification cue, suggesting that male bed bugs use alarm pheromone communication to avoid homosexual harassment and mounting. Who funds this crap??

Disney World upped their prices to get in to $125. But it’s the cross-selling that takes the Disney experience to a new price level. Their Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutiques sell a $195 pampering for little girls that includes a makeover, hair-styling, a costume and a princess sash. Sounds like some Wall Street Dad’s idea. Not judging, people can spend their $$ however they want.

Costco has surpassed Whole Foods to become the biggest organic grocer, selling more than $4 billion last year. That means more than 1 out of every 10 dollars in organic food sales are made at a Costco since trade association estimates of the total market are ~$36 billion. But you have to buy a bushel of organic mangoes when you want just one.

The number of people killed by police in the United States during 2015 reached 500 last week, according to The Guardian. The updated findings means that the total is on track to exceed 1,000 by the end of 2015 – and that people are being killed by officers at more than twice the rate most recently detected by the much-criticized FBI system, which recorded 461 killed in 2013.

The Onion said the US has run out of options and that continued intervention will only prolong the US’s suffering. Experts say the best course of action is to keep the US as comfortable as possible until the end. Here is a quote:

We need to accept the fact that the US doesn’t have long—simply helping it pass that time in comfort is the humane thing to do…letting it meet its end naturally is the merciful decision here.

Totally agree. Put us out of our misery. Please.

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – June 14, 2015

Let’s talk taxes. Specifically, let’s focus on a Republican governor, Jindal of Louisiana. Louisiana faced a massive shortfall ($1.6 billion) due to the fact they are governed by Bobby Jindal and a bunch of Republicans who can’t admit that they are raising taxes because otherwise, Grover Norquist will get angry at them. From the NYT:

With less than two hours left in the 2015 session, Louisiana legislators agreed Thursday on a solution to the worst budget shortfall in decades, approving a funding arrangement that drew bipartisan criticism

The legislators had looked at raising taxes, but Jindal said that he would veto anything that violated his pledge to Norquist. The big losers if no deal was reached would have been public education and health care.

So, the governor consulted with Americans for Tax Reform, the Washington anti-tax advocacy group led by Norquist, and came up with a complicated plan that was an accounting fiction, in order to solve the budget crisis.

• The plan obligated $350 million of the revenue raised during the session to higher education, thus preventing cuts
• That was augmented by an “assessment” of $1,600 per student on the state’s public college students
• Nobody would actually pay the assessment because students would also be granted a tax credit against that assessment
• The student’s tax credit, in turn, would be transferred to the state Board of Regents, the body that runs higher education

The board would then use the credit to draw money from the Department of Revenue. It’s confusing, and not just to the accounting-challenged. But, under the plan, no one’s tax burden went up or down, which allowed the Louisiana Legislature to raise the cigarette tax by 50 cents a pack, increase costs for businesses by reducing a variety of tax credits and raise fees on car buyers and other Louisianians.

Lawmakers have called the provision everything from “money laundering” to “stupid,” and that was just the Republicans. Robert Travis Scott, president of the nonpartisan Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana said:

There is no way you can explain that it’s an offset…This is a vehicle that allows Governor Jindal to raise taxes, period.

The fact that Norquist helped Republicans in Louisiana figure out a way around HIS OWN PLEDGE tells you that this “no new taxes” nonsense has become simply theater. Now Jindal can run for president with Norquist’s blessing. Isn’t that nice?

On to cartoons. The big news of the week included the Trade Fast Track fail, sending more troops to Iraq, and a new Jurassic Park movie.

Fast Track is side tracked:

COW Fast Track

The same old Iraq strategy reappeared:

COW Adjustment

With predictable results:

COW Iraq Surrender

New Jurassic movie brought out new GOP creatures:

COW Jurassic GOP

Like Jurassic movies, STEM in Congress creates BIG problems:

COW STEM

 

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More Iraq??

We have solved nothing in 12 years in Iraq. As Tony Wikrent says at Naked Capitalism,

The sheer imbecility of American leaders is brought into glaring light [by] Bush’s attempt at the transformation of Iraq from among the Middle East’s most repressive states to a multiparty democracy.

As Col Lang says, we own it [Iraq], but cannot fix it.

So naturally, we will send more troops there in the next month or so. And to a new location. This will bring American troop levels to 3,500 since we left Iraq in 2011. The air base where the additional US forces are to deploy is al-Taqqadum, which sits about halfway between ISIS positions in Ramadi, about 40 kilometers (24 miles) to the west, and Fallujah, to the east.

Pat Lang reminds us that al-Taqqadum was originally a British air force base called RAF Habbaniya, which later became an Iraqi air force base. It had been abandoned for a long time when US forces occupied it in March, 2003. We initially called it Forward Operating Base (FOB) Ridgway before settling on the more Iraqi-friendly Camp Taqqadum in 2004. Pat Lang on our plans:

Former RAF Habbaniya was the center of the…British presence in Iraq. Look at the pictures of chapels, cemeteries, and swimming pools for the British troops… Habbaniya is the place we will defend and try to make Sunni tribesmen and Shia cowards into fighters? The omens for this are not good.

Think about it: It is an airfield we know well and maintained for years, but it’s only 24 miles from the ISIS lines. We are by design putting our newest effort right where the enemy could take out our planes and our soldiers. Makes you think that it is a trip wire of sorts, leading to a large re-deployment to Iraq when ISIS crosses our wire. We will have to fortify and defend this place very heavily. Otherwise, ISIS will see it as a place to engage us directly in battle.

Da Nang anybody?

The idea behind the new site is to provide greater support for Sunni tribal fighters, who have yet to receive all of the backing and arms promised by the Shiite-led government. But there may be a glitch. The Guardian quotes Mr. Obama at the close of the G7 summit, saying that there were not enough recruits to train:

We’ve got more training capacity than we’ve got recruits…It’s not happening as fast as it needs to.

The Guardian also quoted Hisham al-Hashimi, an Iraqi scholar and expert on ISIS that:

Only 1,100 Sunnis had taken part in the US training program, and none of them have graduated from it. In total, about 9,500 fighters have completed the training.

Washington wants to revive the “Sunni Awakening” strategy that we used in 2007 when large numbers of Sunni tribal fighters joined with US troops to help defeat al Qaeda in Iraq. Former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki promised us that he would incorporate the Sunni fighters into Iraq’s standing security forces and pay them regular salaries, but failed to do so, sparking the sectarian anger across Anbar Province that left some Sunni tribal leaders amenable to working with ISIS.

Mr. Obama originally said that we did not have a strategy, now, a year later, he sends an additional 450 troops to train Iraqi recruits that he himself says don’t exist. The Wrongologist has supported President Obama, however, this has the makings of a fool’s errand.

Why do we keep talking about training Iraqis to fight? The evidence shows that lots of Iraqis already know how to fight, and many of them are fighting very effectively against the very government that America installed.

This is almost like early days in Vietnam. We dribbled in more and more advisers and support. But it’s not what’s in the hands of the soldiers, it’s what’s in their hearts, and we have no control over that.

The NYT says this will cost us $8 million per week, or $47,619.05 per hour, which is more than many people earn in one year. Do the American people want their tax dollars spent in this way? When our infrastructure is falling apart? When our kids have to take out onerous loans to go to college? When Social Security, which we paid for, is under threat from the right side of the aisle?

Thomas P. M. Barnett has advised US leaders on national security since the end of the Cold War, including the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, Central Command and Special Operations Command. Barnett said in a TED talk:

We field a 1st half team in a league that insists on keeping score until the end of the game

Barnett is correct. We have not learned how to play the 2nd half in Iraq.

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – May 31, 2015

Get a cup of coffee and ponder a few things on this Sunday.

First, from the NYT’s Upshot, data-driven news you can use: Clinton vs. Sanders voting record. Top line numbers, they voted the same way 93% of the time. However, the 31 times that Ms. Clinton and Mr. Sanders disagreed happened to be on some the biggest issues of the day, including measures on continuing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, an immigration reform bill and bank bailouts during the Great Recession. Bernie was opposed to all these actions.

Second, recycled neo-con viewpoints from the Washington Post Editorial Board on the Obama administration’s strategy in Iraq and for ISIS: (brackets by the Wrongologist)

The Obama administration has been unable to induce [Iraq’s] Abadi government to deliver desperately needed arms…to the Sunni tribes and Kurdish forces. Yet it [the Obama administration] simultaneously refuses to deliver materiel directly to those fighters, on the grounds this might undermine the Abadi government.

Then the Jeff Bezos team trots out Iran bogeyman:

Meanwhile, US officials watch as Iran continues to provide massive direct support to Shiite militias, including forces the US has designated as terrorist organizations.

Finally the neo-con wet dream of more troops on the ground emerges, repeating John McCain’s view:

Mr. Obama should bolster them with more US advisers, including forward air controllers, and more air support. He should insist that Mr. Abadi open a weapons pipeline to Sunni and Kurdish units. Perhaps most important, Mr. Obama should make his priority eliminating the Islamic State — as opposed to limiting US engagement in Iraq.

What we know: Experienced Iraqi army officers, who were largely Sunni, were left jobless when the Iraqi army was disbanded in 2004. Some of them joined ISIS. And Iraq’s current army officers are incompetent and corrupt appointees of an incompetent and corrupt Iraqi government. No matter what equipment we provide to the Iraqi army, all the Iraqi army will be capable of doing is spending our money and losing on the field of battle.

The editors of the WaPo have an agenda that isn’t serious about Iraq. The Iraqis do not lack weapons. We have spent nearly $40 billion on weapons and training. What money can’t buy is the will to fight. The Iraqi army apparently doesn’t have a lot of that.

If what the WaPo and Republicans really are saying is that more American men and women should die in Iraq for a country whose soldiers flee at the first sight of ISIS, then they should say that.

Let’s fight an endless war with money we don’t have. Great idea. Go ahead, you can now have your flashback to Vietnam.

On to a few cartoons.

Obama’s ISIS conundrum in a nutshell:

COW ISIS Bombing

FIFA’s story inspires others:

COW FIFA BustFIFA gets 47 count indictment:

COW Soccer Match

Texas floods delay Texas policy:

COWTexas Floods

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One-third of Nigeria’s rescued girls are pregnant:

COW Nigeria Pro-Life

 

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Sec Def Carter Says What Politicians Can’t

After Ramadi fell to ISIS, Mr. Obama said in an interview with the Atlantic, that the fall of Ramadi was a “tactical setback” in the US effort to defeat ISIS but said, “I don’t think we’re losing.” Then, because something real had to be said, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said it:

What apparently happened was that the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight…They were not outnumbered. In fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force, and yet they failed to fight. They withdrew from the site, and that says to me, and I think to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight ISIL and defend themselves.

He captured the essence of the problem:

We can give them training, we can give them equipment — we obviously can’t give them the will to fight…But if we give them training, we give them equipment, and give them support, and give them some time, I hope they will develop the will to fight, because only if they fight can ISIL remain defeated.

This was all too much for the Republicans, who are attacking President Obama’s “failed” strategy for dealing with ISIS. John Bolton said on Fox News Sunday: “We’re losing. There’s no doubt about it.” John McCain, on CBS’s Face the Nation: “We need more troops on the ground. We need forward air controllers”.

The Republican 2016 candidates also attacked Obama’s strategy, but said little about what they would do differently. Those who have spoken out, want thousands of US troops back in Iraq.

• Lindsey Graham and Rick Santorum want to deploy 10,000 American troops in Iraq as part of a coalition with Arab nations
• Jeb Bush thinks additional American soldiers would have prevented ISIS from gathering strength in recent years. But an American-led force now? “I don’t think that will work,” he said last Friday
• Marco Rubio described his strategy against ISIS with a line from the movie “Taken” — “we will look for you, we will find you, and we will kill you”
• Scott Walker and Rick Perry are open to a combat mission
• Rand Paul wants boots on the ground — as long as they are “Arab boots on the ground”

The Republicans offer “more troops” and movie quotes. They seem to say, “It matters not if you win or lose, it’s where you place the blame”. They also want us to believe that the “surge” defeated the Iraqi insurgency back in the day, and that if Obama had just stayed in Iraq, ISIS wouldn’t be there today.

It’s just more Republican delusion about a country we broke and can’t put back together.

Def Sec Carter was correct to rebuke the Iraqis for cutting and running at Ramadi. The Iraqi military and police forces outnumbered the attacking ISIS forces by 10 to 1, and were more heavily armed. Yet they still ran away as fast as their US-provided ground vehicles would carry them. The Iraqi forces have pointed out that they did not have as much air support as they wanted.

Ok, but it is fair to point out the total lack of air support available to ISIS forces. Any army, like the Iraqis who have air support, when facing an enemy who fights without air support, and finds itself unable to overcome that enemy, is probably fighting poorly.

The military situation is that ISIS and the Iraqi Shias are evenly matched in weaponry, and the Iraqi army has superior numbers. ISIS uses their arms and smaller numbers better, and leads their fighters more skillfully. What is keeping the Iraqi army from using the mobile, combined arms operations tactics that ISIS executes routinely? Is it lack of US air support? Lack of Iranian support?

Maybe it is a marked inferiority in leadership. How about a lack of competence in tactics, logistics, maintenance and supply, not to mention nepotism and chronic corruption?

This is not our fight, and it never was. Now that the apple cart is upside down, and the Sunnis and Shias are at each other, there is absolutely no place in this for the US. At the end of the day, we need to have both Sunni and Shia friends in the ME.

Bravo, Secretary Carter!

Keep our politicians real whenever they try to posture about the ME and ISIS.

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – September 22, 2014

Will this be the Military Service Patch for our never-ending involvement in Iraq?

Operation Clusterfuck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Old Lady from South Carolina (OLFSC), on Fox a week ago: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

This is a war we’re fighting! It is not a counterterrorism operation. This is not Somalia. This is not Yemen. This is a turning point in the war on terror. Our strategy will fail yet again. This president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed back here at home.

He said the same thing a decade ago. Then-freshman Sen. Lindsey Graham (OLFSC) worried that Saddam’s (nonexistent) cache of nerve gas “could kill millions of people”.

 

Some people think Arabs are an existential threat, but climate change is a myth?

COW Climate

 

The Arab Nations really are backing our ISIS effort…Really:

COW Last American

 

We will see if we truly have an exit strategy:

COW Exit Strategy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In other news, independence remains elusive in Scotland:

COW Nessie

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