Obama’s “war” against Isis falls apart

September 23, 2015

These guys would be an improvement.

Writing in the liberal New York Observer, national security analyst John Schindler paints a bleak picture of the Obama administration’s efforts against the Islamic State, which all but concede Syria to Russia:

For the Obama administration, the news from the Middle East keeps going from bad to worse. Vladimir Putin’s power play, moving significant military forces into Syria to support his ailing client, Bashar al-Assad, caught the White House flat footed and unsure how to respond.

Although the administration gave the Kremlin de facto control over American policy in Syria some two years ago when it walked away from its own “red line,” granting Russia a veto on Western action there, President Obama and his national security staff nevertheless seem befuddled by this latest Russian move.

The forces Mr. Putin has just deployed to Syria are impressive, veteran special operators backed by a wing of fighters and ground attack jets that are expected to commence air strikes on Assad’s foes soon. They are backed by air defense units, which is puzzling since the Islamic State has no air force, indicating that the Kremlin’s true intent in Syria has little to do with the stated aim of fighting terrorism and is really about propping up Russia’s longtime client in Damascus.

The White House is left planning “deconfliction” with Moscow—which is diplomatic language for entreating Russians, who now dominate Syrian airspace, not to shoot down American drones, which provide the lion’s share of our intelligence on the Islamic State. The recent meeting on Syrian developments between Mr. Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who clearly finds dealing with the Russian strongman preferable to parleying with President Obama, indicates where power is flowing in today’s Middle East.

Did you catch that last part? After seven years of being pimp-slapped by an at-best indifferent (1) American administration, our strongest enemy in the Middle East feels a need to protect its own interests by “reaching out” to the new power in the area, since we can no longer be counted on.

Team Obama’s foreign policy (and that includes former Secretary of State Clinton) has been an accelerating avalanche since the day it took office and, in the last couple of years, we’ve started seeing the bitter fruit of “smart power.” From the Russian reset and the backstabbing of Poland and the Czech Republic on missile defense, to the withdrawal from Iraq and the total misreading of the Arab Spring and the monumentally bad deal with Iran, I don’t believe our foreign policy has ever been lead by such a toxic mixture of leftist dogmatism and sheer incompetence. What we’re witnessing in the Middle East is the utter –and perhaps deliberate— destruction of an American position built up over 40 years by administrations of both parties.

Go ahead and read the whole thing. And have a stiff drink handy.

(1) And, arguably, anti-Israel or even antisemitic.

9-11: George W. Bush and his bullhorn

September 11, 2015

Lots of people have written today about that terrible morning: where they were, what they remember, maybe honoring the victims or the many valiant heroes of the battle and its aftermath. I wondered what I would write. I decided that, rather than focus on the day itself, something others have done much more eloquently than I ever could, I wanted to share video of what has become one of my strongest memories from that time: the moment, when, three days later, George W. Bush stood amidst the smoldering ruins from which the dead were still being recovered and rallied a stunned and bloodied nation:

That was the day a man who won a disputed, contentious election truly became President of the United States of America, and I’ll forever be grateful for him.

Note: This is a re-posting, slightly updated, of something I wrote for the tenth anniversary; I think it’s a moment that needs recalling.

Hillary’s Sources, Methods, and Lies

September 9, 2015

Phineas Fahrquar:

An interesting discussion of how the same piece of information can wind up assigned different levels of classification by different agencies: it depends on how the information is obtained.

Originally posted on The XX Committee:

I’ve been doing my best to explain the complex intelligence realities behind Hillary Clinton’s on-going #EmailGate scandal for months now, and we’re still far from the end of this messy saga.

Hillary’s take on what happened with her State Department “unclassified” email and her “private” server has see-sawed with the customary Clintonian lawyerly evasions, untruths, and now something approaching half-truths.

First it was: everything done was legal and acceptable.

Then came: mistakes were perhaps made, but not by me, and I’m not apologizing.

Followed by: the inevitable Clintonian sorry-not-sorry.

Now, having seen her polls dropping in rock-like fashion, we’re at: I’m kinda sorry but still nothing I emailed was “marked” classified.

The last is a particularly dishonest evasion, given that the Intelligence Community has twicedetermined that in fact TOPSECRET//SCI information was included in Hillary’s “private” email on at least two occasions. Given that’s from a sample of just forty…

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The Iraq War: Not Illegal, Not Immoral, and Not Over

August 27, 2015

Phineas Fahrquar:

I’ve said many times since 2003: I was a supporter of the liberation of Iraq, I remain so, and I still think it was justified given the strategic situation of those days, regardless of the mistakes under Bush during the occupation and reconstruction, or under Obama. I think you’ll find this post of interest.

Originally posted on James Snell:

Today sees the publication of an entirely excellent article in The Times by Nigel Biggar, Regius Professor of Moral Theology at the University of Oxford. In it, the good professor takes apart a number of myths which have been allowed to coagulate about the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the toppling of Saddam Hussein, one of the most evil men in recent history whose autocratic (and kleptocratic) rule led to the foundation not just of ISIS – as if it was not enough – but the creation of much of Iraq’s current sectarian turmoil.

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100 Years Ago: The First Allied Victory of World War I

August 19, 2015

Phineas Fahrquar:

Nice post by Mr. Schindler about a forgotten 101-year old battle in World War I. My recent reading has me convinced that the Austro-Hungarian high command was headed by lobotomy survivors.

Originally posted on The XX Committee:

[This is the beginning of a new blog series, 100 Years Ago, I’ll be posting to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.]

Exactly a century ago today, on 19 August 1914, Austria-Hungary suffered a shocking battlefield defeat at the hands of Serbia, delivering the Allies their first victory of the Great War. This unexpected defeat occurred in the mountains of northwest Serbia, with Austro-Hungarians forces sent back into Bosnia in a ragtag state after suffering a sharp local setback that quickly unraveled the entire Habsburg invasion of Serbia.

Vienna invaded “Dog Serbia” in mid-August to avenge the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Belgrade-backed assassins in Sarajevo on 28 June. Although Austro-Hungarian intelligence did not have a complete picture of the background to the assassination — there remain unanswered questions even today — they knew enough that it was time to settle accounts with troublesome little Serbia…

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(Video) Was slavery the cause of the Civil War?

August 10, 2015

civil war blue grey

That’s always an intriguing question for those interested in the US Civil War and US History in general: why did such a promising young nation tear itself apart in a conflict that cost perhaps more than 800,000 lives? (1) Aside from slavery, proffered explanations include economic and other regional differences between North and South; discriminatory tariffs (from the Southern point of view) and unfair internal improvements; and federal violations of the Constitution against “states’ rights.”

But, to this armchair historian, these and other reasons never felt sufficient to justify the turmoil of the late 1850s and the carnage of 1861-1865. For me, at least, it always comes back to slavery, that “peculiar institution” about which northerners and southerners held increasingly mutually exclusive opinions.

In the video below from Prager University, Colonel Ty Seidule, head of the Department of History at West Point, makes the argument that the war was about slavery, period:

And I agree with him. Col. Seidule refers a couple of times to the secession declarations of the southern states, asserting that each one (2) wrapped its arguments around the core of preserving slavery. And historian William C. Davis in his history of the Confederacy, “Look Away,” marshals strong evidence that the Confederate constitutional convention, held at Montgomery, Alabama, focused on the need to preserve and expand slavery. Finally, there’s this from the famous “Cornerstone Speech” of CSA Vice President Alexander Stephens:

Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.

Seems pretty clear, no?

Davis and many, many others saw slavery as an existential sine qua non for the new nation. If the United States was conceived in liberty and was unimaginable without it, the Confederate States and Southern society were founded on the bedrock of human bondage — and were equally inconceivable without it. With their very reason for existence threatened, secession and civil war became almost inevitable. Without slavery, there would likely have been no Republican Party committed to abolition, nor any reason to secede on the election of Lincoln.

Anyway, this isn’t meant to bash modern Southerners, and I recognize the sore spot created by the anti-Southern bigotry that grew rife after the massacre in Charleston and the nonsense over the CSA flag. It annoyed me, too.

But I think honesty and a sober assessment of the historical evidence requires a recognition of the truth.

Slavery was at the root of the Civil War.

PS: Sorry there were no posts the last few days. It turned into a busy, busy Friday and weekend.

(1) Consensus estimates of total casualties hover around 600,000, but recent research indicates the toll of dead and wounded may well have been much higher.
(2) Unless I misheard him, the Colonel is wrong in this assertion. Several of the secession declarations make no mention of slavery — Florida’s, for example. But many do at length, and I think this shows the importance of slavery to the new nation overall.

Can we kill them, now? ISIS burns mothers and children alive.

July 10, 2015
Seal of the new Caliphate

Destroy them

There’s an old joke that the first rule of Texas Common Law is “He needed killing.”

Meet some people who desperately need it:

ISIS have reportedly executed five mothers and their children after the women refused to allow their children to become child soldiers in the ranks of the jihadi group.

The victims are all believed to be from the Sunni Albu Nimr tribe, well known for their long time resistance in fighting against Al Qaeda and ISIS in the Iraqi province of Anbar.

The claim was described in graphic detail by tribal leader Sheikh Naim al-Kaoud, who said that the women and children were rounded up by ISIS gangs and set on fire in the streets.

According to the London based Saudi newspaper Sharq al-Awsat, the tribal leader told how the women had resisted the militants demands for them to release their children and join ISIS.

The barbaric punishment was carried out in the neighbourhood of  Al-Jamiya, inside the ISIS held city of Heet.

I’m a firm believer that, to justify a major US military intervention, there has to be an intersection to American strategic interests and moral values. We’re not French; we don’t do “raison d’Etat” very well. We have to feel good about what we’re doing, too.

ISIS is a case where our national and moral interests intersect. Not only has ISIS made it quite clear they want to attack us (and they will, bet on it) and not only do they threaten to throw the Near East, a region vital to our interests, deeper into chaos. No, they also:

  • They destroy priceless ancient relics (aside from those they sell on the black market), robbing civilization of its heritage.
  • They behead people
  • They burn them alive
  • They throw them off buildings for being gay and shoot them if they survive
  • They drown people in cages
  • They take non-Muslim women as sex slaves and sell them in slave markets

How is it not moral, how is it not right, how is it not just, how is it not obligatory on good people to send an expeditionary force to destroy these demons in human skin? We don’t have to do this alone, though we should if no one else will join us. With sufficient American leadership, an international force could be put together to crush these vermin.

Wait. Did I just say “American leadership?” Sorry, people suffering under ISIS. You’ll have to wait until sometime in 2017.

But ISIS still needs killing.

PS: For those wary of another massive military commitment to that godforsaken region (and understandably so), there is a middle course that might well work — special operations forces combined with heavy, but targeted airstrikes.


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