The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

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.


Are We Now Borg?

On Monday, Reuters reported about the ISIS takeover of Ramadi in Iraq. They quote Secretary of State John Kerry, who said Ramadi was a “target of opportunity,” that could be retaken in a matter of days, and US officials insisted there would be no change in strategy despite a failure to make major advances against ISIS. They also reported that Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior Iranian official, said Tehran was ready to help confront Islamic State, and he was certain the city would be “liberated”.

Pat Lang at Sic Semper Tyrannis made a great point about deceptive propaganda that is directed at a country’s own people. He was talking about the US and that John Kerry and our General in Iraq, Gen. Thomas Weidly used exactly the same talking points. Col. Lang makes a case that the US Military’s embrace of “Thought Control†occurred after America lost the Vietnam War. This from Lang: (emphasis and brackets by the Wrongologist)

It came to be an article of faith that “Information Operations,” (propaganda = IO) and “Kinetic Operations” (shooting people as necessary) were equally effective ways to wage war. This belief led to an exaggerated faith in the IO side of COIN [Counterinsurgency Operations]…and [our] repeated attempts to change…the basic beliefs of the many different peoples of the earth who simply do not want to be changed by foreigners.

And we have conclusive evidence it hasn’t worked in the Middle East. Lang continues:

As a result of this kind of thinking we have done all kinds of foolish things. Among them, we situated outposts in totally hostile parts of Afghanistan next to villages from which our men would never be able to defend themselves.

And we were told that if we followed COIN, we would win in Afghanistan and Iraq. But we didn’t win. And now in Iraq, Syria and Yemen our government continues to spin us. The government narrative is that all is well, defeat at Ramadi is nothing but “a momentary setback”. This theme is propagated, while they tout a raid in Syria (see below in Links) as a distraction from what now appears to be a catastrophe in the making in Iraq.

Kerry has emerged as our “Baghdad Bobâ€. Increasingly, it seems that we are in a phase where our government tries to intervene in all aspects of our lives to keep people believing in our geopolitical strategy, whether it is Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Iran or Yemen.

When information operations (IO) came into vogue, truth was buried by the narrative. Somehow, the American public became a legitimate target for national IO. Lang closes by comparing us to the Borg:

When you are part of the Borg you eventually come to believe that the talking points are the only reality and that defeat is evidence of impending victory. Locutas said that resistance is futile.

Talking points won’t protect our Republic, they will hasten its demise.

Today’s Links:

US officials leak information about their ISIS raid that’s more sensitive than anything Snowden ever leaked. Over the weekend, the US government announced that Special Forces soldiers entered Syria to conduct a raid that killed an alleged leader of ISIS, Abu Sayyaf. In the process, anonymous US officials leaked classified information that the New York Times published. As to the “growing network of informants†the Times quotes, maybe the US wants the ISIS to believe they have traitors in their midst….

World’s longest and highest glass-bottom bridge to open in China. The foot bridge spans two cliffs in China’s Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon. It is 1,410 feet long and 20 feet wide, hovering over a 984-foot vertical drop. This may not be for the vertigo-challenged.

NYC police Chief Bill Bratton to assign 450 NYPD cops to fight terrorism that may come from the ISIS. Apparently ISIS is selling loose cigarettes on Staten Island.

Forbes reports on all 50 states ranked by the cost of weed. States where recreational marijuana use is legal are also the states where marijuana is least expensive. This is also the case in Canada, where weed can be bought legally from places like speed greens at an inexpensive price. If you would like to grow your own weed then you may want to check out grow tents for weed. Mr. Market says that’s what was supposed to happen. In four states where pot has been legalized or decriminalized–Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Alaska, the price of an ounce has fallen below $300, compared with the nationwide average of $324. Oregon leads with a price of $204/ounce.

Florida GOP approves winner-take-all presidential primary for March 15, 2016. This makes FLA a BFD, especially for Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. It means the guy who finishes 2nd in Florida will have a hard time winning the Republican presidential nomination from the guy who finishes first.