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You may have heard on the news about the Khorosan Group.  It’s supposedly a secrete Jihad group that we’ve never heard of until now.  Except we have, it’s called al Qaeda.  It’s one of al Qaeda’s many “franchises,” such as al Shabab or al Qaeda in Mesopotamia (i.e., Iraq), or al Qaeda in the Maghreb (i.e., North Africa).

Obama has always been a reluctant warrior against al Qaeda.  His passion was not for the exercise of US power but empowerment of the world’s oppressed.  Thus, he gleefully pulled us out of Iraq not to preserve US power but to enhance that of Iraq, and he abandoned our allies in Egypt and faced off with “dictators” in Syria and Libya, not because they were anti-US, but because he theorized “people power” in these countries would foster good will and justice.

It did not, and missing from his lefty analysis is that these people are powered by and aggrieved by and made crazy by Islamic Fundamentalism and not mere Third World anti-imperialist grievances.  Further, this talk of the Khorosan Group and the like are an alibi for the great strengthening of al Qaeda on his watch, exemplified by the murder of a US ambassador in Benghazi.  This is why Benghazi matters:  Obama and his minions lied to cover up a major failure of policy born from a major confusion about how the Islamic world operates.  Here, as always, Obama’s idealism is tethered to his venal narcissism and lack of curiosity, which does not permit him to be agile in dealing with a complex and dangerous world.

Two great articles in NR by Andrew McCarthy and David French take down his leftist idealism that functions ultimately to make the US less powerful.

When he wasn’t lying about running guns to Mexico, he was trying to take away Americans’ guns.  Between Trayvon, Ferguson, stonewalling Congress, getting involved in every petty racial grievance, covering up his own lies and disregard for the Constitution, and sending terrorists to US Courts even when there were adequate military commissions to try them, Holder was one of the worst and most arrogant and also whiney A.G.s we have ever seen.  It seems his speedy departure may have something to do with revelations regarding Operation Fast and Furious, which our pathetic media barely covers.

Just a reminder what it’s about:  The US government sold barely traceable guns to drug cartels that were involved in 2-300 murders, including of at least one federal agent, Brian Terry.  It was a hairbrained and hard-to-explain scheme by stupid, stupid, dishonest, and may I add again, stupid people.

 

Much of the criticism levied against the Iraq War of 2003 may just as easily, and in some cases appropriately, be levied against the current announced campaign against ISIS?

First, there is value in a coalition particularly when here, unlike 2003, we have announced an intention not to use ground troops.  Who will do the ground fighting?  The Mehdi Army?  And how do we make sure we are not misled into becoming an accomplice to counter-atrocities by equally fanatical factions whose goal is simply the mirror image of iSIS’s, i.e., to make the world safe for Shia Islam and to destroy all who stand in its path?

Second, do we have a post-war plan.  We did not have a very good one in Iraq.  In Libya, for which Obama amazingly gets a pass, we did not as well, and that state has turned into an anarchic disaster even though Khadafi, unlike Saddam Hussin, was cooperating with the West and other global institutions right up until the moment we decided to bomb him.  What is our plan to “win the peace” in the broad swath of territory including Eastern Syria and Western Iraq?  And, besides degrading ISIS, which is undoubtedly a good thing, what do we hope to put in its place? I would say a more liberal and multiethnic Iraqi government and the Assad regime–not the Free Syrian Army terrorists–is the answer, but the former does not exist and we are also talking about maintaining our conflict with the latter.  We have, it seems, not even an explanation of what end state we’re seeking, let alone some coherent vision of how we will get there.

Finally, in Iraq,  America’s presence during the occupation to some extent unified disparate, otherwise hostile-to-one-another groups, such as Shia and Sunni militants.  Even ordinary Iraqis were understandably upset and sometimes hostile to America’s military presence, not least because language and cultural barriers undoubtedly created a great deal of friction that would not prevail in the case of a true, national, or even Arab, army conducting the same task.  Iraqis were unified against us by the deep appeal of nationalist anti-imperialism and Islamic chauvinism, which counsels unity and outrage in the face of Western interlopers.  We see a similar unity against Israel, which is hated by Sunnis and Shias alike, across the Arab world.  How do we avoid this problem as our bombs begin to drop and will undoubtedly hit schools, civilians, rivals to whom our bombs are directed by malevolent Iraqis with parochial scores to sell, and the like?  There seems no solution to this dimension, although a significant admixture of Sunni help from Jordan and Saudi Arabia would help. None appears forthcoming or reliable at the moment.

War is a serious thing, and it takes a lot of thinking not just for the first step, but the third, fourth, and final steps.  Obama inspires no confidence in this area, having neglected (indeed, ignored, and to some extent fomented, this ISIS problem), and now reacting emotionally to the murder of Westerners, which seems simply an unavoidable hazard of being a Westerner in the Middle East and not, by itself, a sufficient cause of war.  I think there are good reasons to strike millenarian Islamic terrorists whenever and wherever they coalesce, but there are also times to “wait and see,” particularly when they’re fighting our other enemies and rivals in the area, such as Iran and the  sectarian government of Nouri al Maliki.  Most important, nothing said or shown to date suggests that the very recent history lessons from Iraq and Libya have been internalized by Obama’s self-satisfied and amateurish foreign policy team.  Even if the cause is just, the proposed plan seems deficient in its ultimate concept.

Boehner Supports Obama on ISIS, in Rare Show of Unity

By JONATHAN WEISMAN and JEREMY W. PETERS1:12 PM ET

Speaker John A. Boehner endorsed the president’s plan, despite divisions within his Republican ranks, saying the House would likely vote next week to authorize training of Syrian rebels.

What the hell?  It’s like saying, House supports Roosevelt and British in fight against Nazis, likely to vote for funds next week to support anti-British rebels in India.

Assad is fighting ISIS.  ISIS is terrible.  Assad is less worse than ISIS and arguably the only force of stability in Syria.  We should support Assad, or at least not fight him, in the same manner we teamed up with Stalin in WWII, even if it means eventually we may tire of Assad and need to contain him.  The fact that only a year ago we were talking about bombing ISIS’s biggest enemy in the form of Assad shows how helter skelter and unstrategic our approach to the region is.

Two good columns on Obama’s Foreign Policy here and here.

First, he is not a realist, but someone who went from being a pacifist anti-interventionist, who thought making nice would save the world.  Then he transitioned to an idealist interventionist, as exemplified by the idiotic moves we took in Libya and Egypt and nearly Syria.  Now he’s wallowing in incoherence, and he, our military, and the American people are exhausted by the ways our forces have been wasted to little effect in Afghanistan, Libya, and elsewhere.

Far from being a realist, Obama has no appreciation for the ways diplomacy must be backed up by force, credible threats of force, and the “fact of life” that diplomacy only work as a means of persuading another nation of some common interest or as a means of changing their perceived interests by the threat of imposing real harm.  Finally, in all three phases of his foreign policy, he has never shown himself to have a coherent view of the US’s role, the limits of our power, and the times when our power may be called indispensable.

In short, he is an arrogant idiot who is harming the country.

ISIS is a group of really bad actors.  It’s hard to overstate how truly Satanic this organization is.  Their strength has been brewing for years in a cauldron of real and imagined grievances, fueled by the messianic aspects of Islamic theology. I note that Obama has been asleep at the switch, hoping against hope the Middle East did not need much tending after we left Iraq, and that we could declare victory over al Qaeda.  He should have known better.  Since 1979, there is almost always something of moment there that we cannot easily ignore.

Regardless of the trajectory of any particular organization, Islamic extremism is the problem for our friends in the region and for the broader Western concern of anti-terrorism. So, while I’d rather the Iraqis stand up and do their job and not become a welfare basket case, I don’t have a philosophical opposition to the US helping Iraq push them back, or bombing ISIS when we find them, and the like.  I view all organized militant Islam as something that it is in our national interest to eradicate.  Of course, I’m reluctant to take sides in any Shia-Sunni War where extremists on both side are fighting to exterminate the other, where there is no principle involved.  That said, ISIS appears to have graduated into the looming global threat category unlike, say, al Shabab in Somalia.

I do, however, have a philosophical problem with Obama, McCain, Lindsey Graham, and all of the morons who gave us Libya, Egypt, and nearly Syria last year.  All were conceived as operations against secular strongmen–the proven antidote to Islamic extremism–in favor of unreliable democracy among a radicalized, pro-Islamist group of people.  In two out of three of those countries we actually put Islamists in power or set the conditions for them to do so.  In Syria, we have opposed the one force that is fighting against Islamic extremism.  That anti-secular-strongman policy, our policy as recently as 2013, is not serving our interests at all.   The inherent lunacy of that position reaches its apotheosis in this piece by a neoconservative author who argues we should fight both Assad and ISIS.  My God, these are truly defective people.

It is not comforting that the Western Press has now decided to simply pass along the frenetic Ukrainian government’s claim of a “Russian Invasion” now that the latter is losing its punitive expedition in the East.  Ukraine’s army has lost through a variety of missteps, poor morale, and other factors, but the facts show that it has been nearly completely pushed out of its positions in Eastern Ukraine and suffered significant losses and is on the verge of collapse.

Its performance has been surprising in recent weeks, considering its superiority in arms, equipment, and organization. It previously appeared to have pushed the rebels to the brink of extinction in mid-August.  To explain matters, the government has decided to call this reversal a “Russian Invasion.”  It is no more a Russian Invasion than Ukraine’s use of Chechen, Belarusian, and Georgian volunteers is an invasion of the Donbas region by those countries. The evidence of invasion–satellite photos and about 10 out-of-uniform Russian soldiers captured by Ukraine–do not suggest anything on the scale of what occurred earlier in Crimea.  This evidence is consistent with organizational and material help, and the occasional presence of volunteers and adventurers.  Most important, even if reports are completely believed, they suggest at most 1,000 Russian troops are involved.  There are 20,000 plus belligerents or more on either side of this conflict.  Russian troops might be well equipped and professional, but 1,000 of them cannot defeat an army of 20,000 in several weeks.  Let’s use common sense.

Most of what one sees–and it is obvious from any perusal of news reports, photographs, and other social media–is a ragtag rebel army consisting of old men, Soviet and Russian veterans presumably, mostly armed with light equipment, APCs, a handful of tanks, and a handful of mortars and artillery pieces.  In recent weeks, Russian probably lent, sold, or gave the rebels the assistance of self-propelled artillery, but this is partial help, not so unlike the help provided by NATO states in the form of uniforms, intelligence support, body armor, MREs, and the like.  Everyone is getting help, receiving foreign fighters, and other forms of visible and invisible support.   What one has also seen is a well-led and relatively disciplined rebel force that flourished to a greater degree as the Ukrainian Army alienated more and more people with its tactics, shelling, and obvious disregard for the citizens of its East.  That said, the whole war is an unfortunate, if not altogether preventable, tragedy.

The tragic situation has been evident at every stage of events.  First, the Ukrainian government’s existence was brought about through a violent coup, even as the ink was still wet on a negotiated settlement with the Yanukovich government. Second, Ukraine thereafter stood up an armed force with minimal training and support, and populated it with patriots and also extremists. It then proceeded to shell civilian areas of Donetsk and Lugansk, the main cities in the East, with nary a peep from the West.  We are told “Putin in like Hitler” when the actual uniforms of these volunteer organizations in Eastern Ukraine have Nazi symbols incorporated into them.  Then, the generals of Ukraine have abandoned whole units, and we see significant desertions, massacres, low morale, and surrenders among them.  Finally, the rebels, fortified no doubt by some Russian help, proceed to beat the pitiful Ukrainian government troops and volunteer battalions, and now the West wants to pretend this is some grave injustice and proof of how evil the Russians are.  

This war is an incredible tragedy for Europe and the Ukrainian and Russian people, who are fraternal nations that share the same religion, much of a common history, and common ancestry.  But it is not a morality play with Russia as the chief villain.

In truth, Ukraine in its present form likely cannot continue and cannot be governed.  The Russophone East and the Ukrainian-speaking West do not trust one another, they have spent much of the last few months at war with one another, there is much love lost and distrust, and the manner in which the Poroshenko government has conducted the war has alienated both its supporters and its opponents.  A peaceful, negotiated settlement, perhaps with a demilitarized zone and UN peacekeepers, is far preferable for everyone involved to this continued, brutal war.

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