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As Militants Advance, Iraqis Look To U.S. For Help

Iraq Map

Just days ago, the Iraqi militants loosely associated under the name ISIS captured Mosul, widely regarded as the second most important city in Iraq, in a battle that seemed from the outside to be fairly one-sided. Now there’s word that these same militants have scored another victory with the seizure of Tikrit, formerly the home base of none other than former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein:

Islamist insurgents in Iraq have seized the city of Tikrit, their second major gain after capturing Mosul on Tuesday, security officials say.

Tikrit, the hometown of former leader Saddam Hussein, lies 150km (95 miles) north of the capital Baghdad.

Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki vowed to fight back against the jihadists and punish those in the security forces who fled offering little or no resistance.

The insurgents are from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).

ISIS, which is also known as ISIL, is an offshoot of al-Qaeda.

It controls considerable territory in eastern Syria and western and central Iraq, in a campaign to set up a Sunni militant enclave straddling the border.

There were also reports on Wednesday of fighting further south, in Samarra, 110km north of Baghdad.

Separately, at least 21 people were killed and 45 hurt by a suicide bomber at a Shia meeting in Baghdad, police said.

In what seems like a probable explanation for the recent military successes scored by the militants, The Telegraph reports  that the Iraqi army seems to be giving up the fight:

Iraqi officials told the Guardian that two divisions of Iraqi soldiers – roughly 30,000 men – simply turned and ran in the face of the assault by an insurgent force of just 800 fighters. Isis extremists roamed freely on Wednesday through the streets of Mosul, openly surprised at the ease with which they took Iraq’s second largest city after three days of sporadic fighting.

Senior government officials in Baghdad were equally shocked, accusing the army of betrayal and claiming the sacking of the city was a strategic disaster that would imperil Iraq’s borders.

The developments seriously undermine US claims to have established a unified and competent military after more than a decade of training. The US invasion and occupation cost Washington close to a trillion dollars and the lives of more than 4,500 of its soldiers. It is also thought to have killed at least 100,000 Iraqis.

(…)

Mosul is by far its biggest prize so far: a gain that will seriously undermine Nour al-Maliki’s efforts to be renominated as prime minister for a third term - and cripple the standing of the military, regarded for the past three years as the most important institution in the land. Any counter-offensive against Isis is expected to be led instead by Kurdish Peshmurga forces, which remain fiercely loyal to Kurdish leaders, but not to Baghdad.

A spokesperson for the Peshmurga, Brigadier General Halgord Hekmat, told the Guardian that “the sudden collapse of the Iraqi army has left us with no option but to fill some areas with our forces because we can’t have a security vacuum on our border”.

Maliki accused some senior military figures of “negligence” and “betrayal”, attempting to deflect blame for the rout. As commander in chief, Maliki has ultimate responsibility for Iraq’s armed forces and has presided over a series of spectacular defeats at the hands of Isis, starting last July when Abu Ghraib prison on Baghdad’s western outskirts was overrun by the extremist group in a raid that freed several hundred convicted terrorists.

In December parts of Fallujah and Ramadi – both former al-Qaida strongholds – were retaken by the group, which has ever since deterred Iraqi forces from trying to re-enter the cities and maintained a withering insurgency in the nearby countryside.

“I know the reasons why the army collapsed,” Maliki said. “But now is not the time to point the blame to whoever ordered the army to fall back. Even if it’s a ploy, the generals who are responsible must be held accountable. A conspiracy has led Isis to occupy Mosul. Whoever is responsible will not get away with that they did.”

Most of the weapons seized by Isis were taken from the al-Qayara base in Mosul, the fourth largest in the country, after two divisions of the Iraqi army fled the city en masse on Tuesday, allowing a far smaller extremist force to enter.

The haul included armoured humvees, rockets, tonnes of ammunition and assault weapons. Evidence of the large-scale desertion remained littered across the streets of the central city, with flak jackets, camouflage uniforms and ammunition clips being held up by insurgents as they celebrated their victory.

Hamad al-Mutlaq, a member of the Iraqi parliament’s defence committee, said: “I’m convinced that what happened in Mosul is deliberate negligence or there is an agreement between the parties because it’s impossible for an army to be unable to stand up to a group made up of hundreds of men.”

“Isis can’t have had more than a few thousand men versus two divisions made up of 30,000 Iraqi soldiers. This signifies that the army has been built on weak foundations. The Iraqi government is the one to blame and should be held responsible for this failure; it has been unable to build a healthy state and unable to defend it.”

Meanwhile, The New York Times reports that the Obama Administration seems to be rebuffing requests from the Iraqi regime for military assistance:

WASHINGTON — As the threat from Sunni militants in western Iraq escalated last month, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki secretly asked the Obama administration to consider carrying out airstrikes against extremist staging areas, according to Iraqi and American officials.

But Iraq’s appeals for a military response have so far been rebuffed by the White House, which has been reluctant to open a new chapter in a conflict that President Obama has insisted was over when the United States withdrew the last of its forces from Iraq in 2011.

The swift capture of Mosul by militants aligned with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has underscored how the conflicts in Syria and Iraq have converged into one widening regional insurgency with fighters coursing back and forth through the porous border between the two countries. But it has also called attention to the limits the White House has imposed on the use of American power in an increasingly violent and volatile region.

A spokeswoman for the National Security Council, Bernadette Meehan, declined to comment on Mr. Maliki’s requests. “We are not going to get into details of our diplomatic discussions,” she said in a statement. “The current focus of our discussions with the government of Iraq and our policy considerations is to build the capacity of the Iraqis to successfully confront” the Islamic extremists.

(…)

Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq’s foreign minister, last year floated the idea that armed American-operated Predator or Reaper drones might be used to respond to the expanding militant network in Iraq. American officials dismissed that suggestion at the time, saying that the request had not come from Mr. Maliki.

By March, however, American experts who visited Baghdad were being told that Iraq’s top leaders were hoping that American air power could be used to strike the militants’ staging and training areas inside Iraq, and help Iraq’s beleaguered forces stop them from crossing into Iraq from Syria.

“Iraqi officials at the highest level said they had requested manned and unmanned U.S. airstrikes this year against ISIS camps in the Jazira desert,” said Kenneth M. Pollack, a former C.I.A. analyst and National Security Council official, who is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and who visited Baghdad in early March. ISIS is the acronym for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, as the militant group is known.

As the Sunni insurgents have grown in strength those requests have persisted. In a May 11 meeting with American diplomats and Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, the head of the Central Command, which oversees American military operations in the Middle East, Mr. Maliki said he would like the United States to provide Iraq with the ability to operate drones. But if the United States was not willing to do that, Mr. Maliki indicated he was prepared to allow the United States to carry out strikes using warplanes or drones.

In a May 16 phone call with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Mr. Maliki again suggested that the United States consider using American air power. A written request repeating that point was submitted soon afterward, officials said.

Some experts say that such American military action could be helpful but only if Mr. Maliki takes steps to make his government more inclusive.

“U.S. military support for Iraq could have a positive effect but only if it is conditioned on Maliki changing his behavior within Iraq’s political system,” Mr. Pollack said. “He has to bring the Sunni community back in, agree to limits on his executive authority and agree to reform Iraqi security forces to make them more professional and competent.”

But so far, the administration has signaled that it is not interested in such a direct American military role.

“Ultimately, this is for the Iraqi security forces, and the Iraqi government to deal with,” Rear Adm. John F. Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said Tuesday.

Obviously, any decision to intervene in Iraq even in a limited fashion would be fraught with domestic political complications for the Obama Administration. At the top of that list, of course, there’s the fact that President Obama campaigned for office on his opposition to the Iraq War and for re-election on the fact that he presided over the end of that war. Making the case to the American public for what would obviously be new American intervention in Iraq that could not credibly be sold as an extension of the 2003 war would be difficult for any President, of course, but it would be doubly difficult for him. Second, of course, there’s the fact that the the American public has a negative opinion of the Iraq War even today, an opinion that has shaped public opinion regarding the propriety of U.S. involvement in other world hot sports such as Libya, Syria, and Ukraine. As the President’s failed efforts to sell the public on the idea of attacking Syria over chemical weapons use last year demonstrates quite well, the American public is not in a mood for foreign adventurism right now. A President who tries to sell the idea of even limited American involvement in what is quite obviously a deteriorating situation in Iraq is going to be fighting an uphill battle that they probably cannot win, and while it’s true that President Obama could decide to take unilateral action without public support, such action is not likely to have a positive impact on his poll numbers or on the prospects for his political party in November. Finally, of course, there’s the fact that any new military action in Iraq would seem to require some kind of Congressional authorization. The AUMF that authorized war in Iraq clearly wouldn’t apply to a military intervention in what is clearly turning into an Iraqi civil war. By all indications, Obama would have lost a vote to authorize military action in Syria had it taken place. Given the current political climate, it seems unlikely that he’d do any better with a vote on military action in Iraq. Taking all of that into account, it strikes me as incredibly unlikely that the United States will be taking any military action on Iraq’s behalf.

As for Iraq itself, it’s hard to know what’s going to happen next. The recent spate of advances by ISIS, as well as development in the north such as the seizure of Kirkuk by Kurdish forces certainly lead to the conclusion that the state is falling apart into the kind of ethnic civil war between Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds that many anticipated might occur after the downfall of Saddam, and which indeed flared up during the American occupation.  The additional influence on the situation of al Qaeda linked militants drawn to the area by the Syrian Civil War certainly hasn’t helped to calm down the situation. Already, there is speculation about how much longer it will be before ISIS and its supporters, now strengthened by the arms they have captured with the fall of Mosul and the retreat of the Iraqi Army, start advancing on Baghdad. As well as reports that American officials are preparing to evacuate personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad should it become necessary. Viewing all this from the outside, it certainly seems as though the situation in Iraq is about to go from bad to worse.

Much of that, however, may be just be fear talking, and it may well be possible that the Iraqi government will be able to stem the militants rise before it spirals out of control. Whatever happens, though, it strikes me that the fate of Iraq is ultimately in the hands of the Iraqis and that we’d be wise to stay out of there this time around.

Map graphic via Al-Jazeera 

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. PAUL HOOSON says:

    There you go. Just like Vietnam, once you broke it, you bought it. You can’t withdraw U.S. troops from a situation like this and leave a weak and corrupt government in charge, and expect them to stand up more than a couple of years without strong U.S. support and military backing. – We’re making this same mistake not just in Iraq, but in Afghanistan as well. – In Afghanistan, the Taliban is responsible for 3/4 of the illegal heroin trade in the world, using these billions of dollars to buy arms to promote their radical Islamic revolution in both Afghanistan as well as Pakistan. – The Taliban heroin business is so big right now, that an estimated 2.5 million Russians are heroin addicts, with an estimated 25,000 dying each year from drug overdoses. And this same story is repeated all through Europe and the U.S., giving these Taliban-types billion of dollars to finance wars and terrorism. – The U.S. and the West are either going to act serious against these terrorists now, or pay the price later with many 9/11 type big scale terrorist attacks throughout the Western world. That spectacular airport terrorist attack in Pakistan that took 29 lives in which there was an attempt to hijack an airliner to use as a flying bomb is a pretty good example where things are headed. – The U.S. and West need to declare total war on these terrorists for their own safety and security. Nothing else will work. There is no such thing as making peace with these terrorist people.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 35

  2. CB says:

    @PAUL HOOSON:

    Your ideas are intriguing to me, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  3. stonetools says:

    @CB:

    Your ideas are intriguing to me, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

    Well, actually more like his alternate universe.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 4

  4. James in Silverdale, WA says:

    @PAUL HOOSON: “The U.S. and West need to declare total war on these terrorists for their own safety and security.”

    Aren’t there already laws on the books in western countries to deal with violent acts? Doesn’t the invasion of Iraq, based on lies and torture, itself constitute terrorist activity? Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died as a result of America’s foolish aggression.

    Your are much more likely to cash in your winning lottery tickets (plural) later this afternoon than having so much as one hair moved on your head from Them Terrirsts, Inc. (TM).

    As for “you broke it, you bought it,” this is utter nonsense. A sane mind always breaks the cycles which confine it. Always.

    Iraq remains a matter for the citizens of Iraq to manage.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 4

  5. michael reynolds says:

    @PAUL HOOSON:
    You should absolutely hop on the next flight to Bagdhad and take care of this. Bon voyage!

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 41 Thumb down 5

  6. Lyle says:

    Let these animals kill each other. This administration does not have a clue how to handle this. I would rather do nothing than try to assist Iraq when our intelligence is so bad. The rest of the world obviously doesn’t give a crap and no is going to do anything about the humanitarian crisis in Syria. Let Iran and double dealing Turkey work this out among themselves.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 17

  7. Ron Beasley says:

    How Should The U.S. Respond To The Iraq Crisis?

    We should start by admitting that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was a horrible mistake. I think a vast majority of the Iraqis were better off under Saddam Hussein than they are now.
    The Al-Maliki government is becoming a client state of Iran, let them request help there. The Iranians should be worried about the Sunni/ISIS activities in Iraq.
    I can’t help but returning to this quote from Bill Kristol on PBS in 2003:

    “There’s been a certain amount of pop sociology in America … that the Shia can’t get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There’s almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq’s always been very secular.”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 3

  8. Jim R says:

    The best response is to wish them luck and be glad we’re out.

    Not our problem any more. We should never have been there to begin with.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 3

  9. Another Mike says:

    I am trying to remember, wasn’t it Senator Biden who suggested that Iraq be broken up into three countries? The idea didn’t get any traction at the time, but it seems Iraq will break up on its own. This is serious humanitarian crisis for the people of Iraq. Innocent people are always at the mercy of bad guys with guns. I guess the world is slipping away from the end of history.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  10. Dave Schuler says:

    Doug, I’m glad you’ve addressed this issue. I’d meant to post on it myself but, sadly, was unavailable to do so this morning.

    I think the Kurds taking Kirkuk, something I predicted shortly after the fall of Mosul, is an important development. Although there haven’t been any reliable censuses for decades back in the 1960s Kirkuk’s population was 75% Kurds and Turkomans. Mosul was mostly Kurds and Assyrians (Christian Iraqis—Syriac, Chaldean, Nestorian). In the 1970s Saddam began his program of “Arabization”, forcibly removing Kurdish and Christian families from their homes and replacing them with Muslim Arab families so that now both cities are majority Arab.

    I expect a bitter fight for both cities. Kirkuk is oil-rich and it’s a valuable prize. I don’t expect things to end here.

    It certainly looks as though Iraq were collapsing into ethnic enclaves. I hope that those who think that a war raging from the Mediterranean to the Tigris (or, worse, to the Hindu Kush) won’t affect us are right.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  11. stonetools says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    Wow, Kristol may have been right about SOMETHING in his life , but it seems he’s wrong about 99 per cent of the time.
    This is a problem for Iraqis to resolve. The US response should be humanitarian relief aid ONLY-for now.
    That said, it’s not so simple as ignoring the situation altogether. Oil is still oil, and any major disruption of the oil supply is going to bite both us and our allies right in the a$$. (Sorry, non-interventionists. The ME ain’t the Congo). Want the EU to stand up to the Russians? Want to pressure Iran over its nuclear program? This ain’t helping. Interconnected world, and all that.
    More immediately, Turkey, a NATO ally whose government is under some stress, is facing still more stress if refugees flee northward.
    Guess that pivot to the Pacific is in danger of becoming a pirrouette.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  12. Tillman says:

    I’d heard the army dissolved in front of the insurgents because ISIL had been intercepting the trucks carrying their pay for some time. It wasn’t bad training, it was Iraq’s inability to pay their damn soldiers reliably.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  13. PAUL HOOSON says:

    @michael reynolds: The Taliban and the Islamic extremists have sized up the West as their adversaries, and view the West as very weak because in our own minds we may believe we are acting in a rational manner thinking that we can have peace with their self-righteous warrior culture. We make a huge mistake when we assume that they are rational and peace loving. – Even during the Cold War, an uneasy peace was possible with Communist states like the former Soviet Union because the bottom line is that people in that country wanted to live in a peaceful world. – But, with these Taliban and terrorist elements, there is no underlying sense of moderation with them. This is an extremist warrior culture almost prehistoric in it’s reasoning, where education and other moderating factors that have civilized our culture are near absent. The West is dealing with a culture not entirely unlike wild cavemen who carry clubs to attack anything that differs from their very primitive world view. – Western troops need to go to these world hotspots to keep Westerners safe back at home. Terrorism is like politically motivated gang crime. Gangs don’t back down. They look for weakness in others and take full advantage.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 19

  14. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Ron Beasley: We should start by admitting that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was a horrible mistake.

    Beasley on a road trip: “No windows will be rolled down until someone confesses to farting!”

    Hey, Obama said that Al Qaeda’s on the run. What he didn’t say was that they were on the run not from something, but to something…

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 23

  15. CB says:

    @PAUL HOOSON:

    Just to start with: Taliban =/= Al Qaeda =/= ISIS

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  16. stonetools says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    It certainly looks as though Iraq were collapsing into ethnic enclaves..

    Looks that way. Rember when Peter Galbraith urged a peaceful partition of Iraq and was derided as an impractical defeatist?

    Iraq is broken.

    Iraq’s national-unity government is not united and does not govern. Iraqi security forces, the centerpiece of the U.S.’s efforts for stability, are ineffective or, even worse, combatants in the country’s escalating civil war. President George W. Bush says the U.S.’s goal is a unified and democratic Iraq, but we have no way to get there. As Americans search for answers, there is one obvious alternative: split Iraq into separate Kurdish, Sunni and Shi’ite states

    Guess it’s going to happen , and not so peacefully.

    I hope that those who think that a war raging from the Mediterranean to the Tigris (or, worse, to the Hindu Kush) won’t affect us are right.

    Come on, you know they’re wrong. The only question is how much, and what we can do to mitigate the effects.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  17. stonetools says:

    @Tillman:

    It wasn’t bad training, it was Iraq’s inability to pay their damn soldiers reliably.

    Ever heard of the maxim: “In war, amatuers talk tactics and professionals talk logistics?”
    This is what they are talking about. Gotta feed, clothe, pay and equip your soldiers. Don’t do any one of those? Then they aren’t your soldiers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  18. bandit says:

    Susan Rice is getting queued up to say ‘The IraQi Army served honorably’ and BO will soon be declaring total victory over AQ.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 27

  19. Neil Hudelson says:

    @PAUL HOOSON:

    their self-righteous warrior culture

    Hey Pot! My name is kettle. Boy, you sure do look black today.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 1

  20. anjin-san says:

    This is an extremist warrior culture almost prehistoric in it’s reasoning,

    Wait, are you talking about Republicans?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 17 Thumb down 4

  21. Ron Beasley says:

    @Another Mike: I’m not really sure that division was an answer. I live on the boundary between dense forest and an open area. We also have 2 species of blue jays here. The Steller’s jay and the scrub jay. The Steller’s jay is a resident of the deep forest while the scrub jay is a resident of the more open areas. Each morning they have a battle of sorts to decide where the territorial line is going to be for the day. I suspect would would see something similar in a divided Iraq.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  22. Nightrider says:

    Wait, so we’d bomb the same people we’re being told we should help in Syria? And we thought it was hard here at home to tell the difference between a good guy with a gun and a bad guy with a gun.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  23. anjin-san says:

    @ Ron Beasley

    Put out some peanuts (in the shell) and the jays will put on a show. We just have scrubs here, the Stellar’s are a few miles closer in to the coast.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  24. PAUL HOOSON says:

    @CB: There is a very similar mindset in all three of these very primitive minded radical Islamic groups. Moderate followers of Islam who believe in a peaceful world don’t accept the extremist views of these radicals who cite some minor passages of the Koran who believe in a 1400 year old practice known as Taqiyya or “holy deception” where you make a temporary peace with your enemy while you regroup in strength to completely knock them out later in total defeat.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 8

  25. JohnMcC says:

    The TV pictures certainly remind one of the rout of the ARVN (the Army of South VietNam, for you youngsters). Disturbs me to this day. I recall seeing scenes from DaNang that showed the barracks that I’d lived in being evacuated by streams of South VietNamese airmen. Put me into a pretty damn deep depression. (And I’d hated that damn war. Demonstrated against it at the March on the Pentagon, among others.)

    So I’m sort of sympathetic to our (fairly) new friend Mr Hooson (or perhaps he prefers HOOSON?).

    But I think we can pretty quickly rule out taking advice from someone who believes: “The West is dealing with a culture not entirely unlike wild cavemen who carry clubs to attack anything that differs from their very primitive world view.”

    Not that the ISIS isn’t ‘primitive’; public beheadings in city squares do take us back if not to ‘cavemen’ at least to the 19th and very early 20th centuries (at least in the US). If you admit with me that public hangings are pretty much the same thing.

    But the primal nature of Mr HOOSON’s response to their primal nature should warn us. I certainly could have felt enough territorial outrage at the thought of some North VietNamese sitting on MY bunk that a club in my hands and a murderous spree would have — JUST FELT GREAT!

    In the realm inhabited by thinking people, however, there is one overwhelming military doctrine that we have ignored to our pain and danger: Do not get involved in a land war in Asia.

    What great sorrow and bloodletting our invasion of ’03 has caused! Repeating the mistake is entirely different from correcting it, however.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  26. cian says:

    Hard to know what Paul wants other than to repeat the last ten years all over again, getting us where exactly? I think if you scratch his surface you’ll pretty quickly reach the sulphurous core: We broke it, now we own it, lets nuke ‘em.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  27. Lyle says:

    I haven’t heard anyone blame Israel yet for the fall of these cities. That’s a first in the Middle East

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  28. PAUL HOOSON says:

    @Neil Hudelson: A few years ago in a business I owned a very disturbed man came in and threatened my customers with a machete. I stood up to him unarmed and made him back down to protect my customers. I stood between him and my customers as a human shield, and sized him up, and he decided to back down and leave. Even an irrational man will back down when faced with greater strength. – I own a $2 million dollar strip club bar in a largely African American neighborhood where six ethnic gangs are very strong in this neighborhood, and there were previously shootings and even one gang related murder at our front door some years ago. Some of my club security are associated with the Hells Angels MC and I’m part of the local biker community as well. We took what could have been a very dangerous situation here and brought in the local biker community and others with excellent security skills to keep order here where this club is now a safe entertainment venue in the neighborhood. The local ethnic gangs know that we won’t tolerate guns in this bar because a turf conflict could blow up into gun violence, so instead we created a peaceful and safe entertainment venue where everyone is treated with respect and no gang related problems are allowed to break the peace here. – We achieved some things here that even the police have not been able to do. – In regards to Iraq and Afghanistan, some tougher gangs are calling the shots in both countries, where they sized up the standing governments as weak and constructed by the U.S. and will topple both governments within a short period of time without U.S. military backing. This will only allow terrorists a safe haven to further both drugs and terrorism in the West. Nothing could more be in our national interest than to look after our own well being and security right now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 6

  29. JohnMcC says:

    @PAUL HOOSON: I don’t quite get your meaning here Mr pH (our acidic friend). Is this comment supposed to mean that ‘moderate’ Muslims are only a sort of ‘cover’ for Salafists? Are you saying that ALL Muslims — even ‘moderates’ — are our enemies and that we should just declare a war exists between the West (whatever that is in your mind) and Islam.
    Is it possible that you’ve used this much bandwidth to basically say KILL THEM ALL?

    It’s of interest because to serious people looking at the political/diplomatic/military world it seems that the correct way of parsing affairs is between moderates and nut-cases. We who think of ourselves as persons guided by our thinking selves do not see too much difference between the ISIS beheadings and (a current example) Mr Scott Esk, a candidate for the state legislature in OK who would be satisfied if the U.S. law sentenced people to death by stoning for the crime of homosexual conduct.

    By that measure, you — my friend — end up on the same side of things as the Jihadis. You call your God by a different name and wear different clothes. Your hearts are indistinguishable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  30. stonetools says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    Actually, partition works quite often-Czechoslovakia, India-Pakistan, Yugosalavia, Ireland. The end result generally isn’t the “Brotherhood of Man” -but it’s better than incessant civil war, guerilla activity, and ethnic conflict.
    Its the worst solution-except for all of those that have been tried and failed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  31. socraticsilence says:
  32. PAUL HOOSON says:

    @JohnMcC: Vietnam was far different because Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Minh were merely nationalists content on self-determination by their own terms only. That was more predictable to deal with than these primitive Islamic extremists who are challenging for power as the Taliban, al Qaeda or ISIS, or any other similar philosophy. In each case, these elements want not only to consolidate power in their own lands, but to further terrorism and the heroin trade in the Western world. – Once the Viet Minh gained control of Vietnam, they invited in investors like Nike shoes and others to improve their economy and behave much more like the Chinese and their probusiness economy. – On the other hand, these primitive Islamic terrorists only want a base to power to expand terror against the West and will certainly be a real danger if their billions of dollars in drug trade some day buys nuclear bombs on the underground market which will be much more spectacular than more 9/11 type low tech incidents against the West. – In other words, it has been proven that you can do business with many of the Communists, but not the terrorists who have no interest in constructing a moderate and modern society.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  33. PAUL HOOSON says:

    @socraticsilence: Do the Marines take 58 year old bikers? – I know that during the Vietnam War President Johnson turned down an offer by Ralph “Sonny” Barger of the Oakland Chapter of the Hells Angels MC for a force of volunteer biker paramilitary soldiers to fight their own guerrilla war behind the borders of North Vietnam and raise havoc to weaken the enemy. The U.S. government didn’t want independent paramilitary groups fighting in this war or the possibility of some being taken prisoner, so the offer was flatly rejected.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  34. stonetools says:

    @socraticsilence:

    I bet he won’t take up this offer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  35. PAUL HOOSON says:

    @JohnMcC: I have a number of Muslim friends, as I do Jewish friends. And moderate Muslims have nothing but peace and goodness in their hearts. They are wonderful peaceloving people I love as friends- That is far different than the Afghan Taliban making what appeared to be a peaceful prisoner trade one day with the U.S. and a few days later, a main airport in Pakistan is the scene of explosions and a terrorist plot to hijack an airliner to use as a suicide bombing vehicle by the Taliban in that country.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  36. Barry says:

    @Tillman: “I’d heard the army dissolved in front of the insurgents because ISIL had been intercepting the trucks carrying their pay for some time. It wasn’t bad training, it was Iraq’s inability to pay their damn soldiers reliably. ”

    I would be more like the Iraqi government/high military officials stealing their pay.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  37. Lyle says:
  38. JohnMcC says:

    @PAUL HOOSON: Thank you for clearing that up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  39. JohnMcC says:

    @PAUL HOOSON: Easy to say now. As a person nearing my age group perhaps you recall the days when the dreaded Communist Menace was marching across the earth with blood on their hands anxious to make all of us into slaves of socialism. That’s how the VietNam War was sold. We had to fight them there or they’d be in Kansas within our lifetime.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  40. Moosebreath says:

    @Lyle:

    “Looks like Iran is taking care of everything.”

    Can we root for both sides to lose?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  41. ralphb says:

    @Lyle: This was almost a certainty as soon as we took down Saddam and destabilized the whole Middle East. The ascendance of Iran to fill the vacuum was completely predictable.

    Should make for a nice fight in the desert.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  42. C. Clavin says:

    Below is the list of all the PNAC folks who thought getting rid of Saddam would be a swell idea. I suggest we pack them all up, along with all of their family members, and fly them over to Iraq and let them take care of this problem. Include George Bush and Dick Cheney and send along this Hooson guy and his biker friends too.
    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article5527.htm
    Elliott Abrams
    Richard L. Armitage
    William J. Bennett
    Jeffrey Bergner
    John Bolton
    Paula Dobriansky
    Francis Fukuyama
    Robert Kagan
    Zalmay Khalilzad
    William Kristol
    Richard Perle
    Peter W. Rodman
    Donald Rumsfeld
    William Schneider, Jr.
    Vin Weber
    Paul Wolfowitz
    R. James Woolsey
    Robert B. Zoellick

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

  43. Ron Beasley says:

    @ralphb: Indeed! Juan Cole and others predicted this in 2003.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  44. Ben Wolf says:

    @ralphb: While a homicidal psychopath, Hussein did run a tight ship in Iraq and was bitterly opposed to Islamic extremists and fundamentalists. As you say, we created problems for ourselves vastly worse by taking out a regime which was, in this case, an ally of convenience.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  45. ralphb says:

    @C. Clavin: If you could get them on that plane, be sure and send a camera crew along. The pay-per-view audience should be gigantic!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  46. C. Clavin says:

    @PAUL HOOSON:
    Well…the Angels are really just another gang that sells drugs and women and traffics in stolen goods and extortion and just happens to ride crappy motorcycles.
    So all you have really done, if there is an ounce of truth to your story, is pit gang against gang.
    Probably works short-term on the neighborhood level…especially if the gang with the most power is the gang you happen to align yourself with.
    But it certainly ain’t much of a foreign policy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  47. Lyle says:

    @Moosebreath:

    I hope so. I’m starting to understand the Obama foreign policy straight out of the Godfather.

    “They’re animals anyway, so let them lose their souls”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  48. ralphb says:

    @Ron Beasley: I simply can’t imagine why it wasn’t apparent to everyone who had seen the violence and genicide which took place once Marshal Tito gave up the ghost. Yugoslavia should have been more than ample warning for us all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  49. beth says:

    @C. Clavin: I assume John McCain is flying the plane?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  50. ralphb says:

    @Ben Wolf: Yep, Saddam Hussein was a horror show but he seemed contained and wasn’t posing a real threat to us. I never believed a word of the phonied up intelligence otherwise.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  51. ralphb says:

    @beth: Let’s hope not or it will crash before reaching it’s destination. Oh, never mind.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  52. rudderpedals says:

    Some remind Maliki that it was his country that sent away the American military when it refused to enter into a status-of-forces agreement with us.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  53. grumpy realist says:

    I really, really don’t think that the U.S. people are going to be interested in getting involved in Iraq again, no matter no how. I know I’m not. Haven’t we meddled enough?

    Any any neocon who tries to run on a platform of We’ve Gotta Save Iraq will get his head bitten off.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  54. Jr says:

    @Ben Wolf: Pretty much and is not like we haven’t let inhumane dictators in the past do what ever the hell they want when it suited our best interests.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  55. wr says:

    @PAUL HOOSON: Instead of making war, we could simply decriminalize heroin and destroy their entire income stream. Let them fund massive assaults selling poppies at freeway offramps.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  56. wr says:

    @PAUL HOOSON: “Vietnam was far different because Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Minh were merely nationalists content on self-determination by their own terms only”

    To people spoiling for a war, THIS enemy is always completely different from the previous enemy. And if you actually look back at that last conflict you’ll discover that the previous enemy was described exactly as the current one is today — and the one before that as completely different.

    Life is always cheap to “those people” — it’s only the identity of “those people” that changes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  57. Scott says:

    As we are told over and over again, the US is broke. If we want to spend money again in Iraq, then taxpayers should have their taxes increased and put their money where their mouth is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  58. al-Ameda says:

    The U.S. and West need to declare total war on these terrorists for their own safety and security. Nothing else will work. There is no such thing as making peace with these terrorist people.

    Well okay then, let’s open up new battle fronts in Somalia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Mali, the Central African Republic, Kenya, Sudan, Egypt, Sri Lanka, and Chechnya – just to name a few places.

    Wait, perhaps we’ll need to sell this to the American public first?

    Why not have Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice and Don Rumsfeld go on the Sunday morning talk shows with a unified message to the effect that we must do this because, “we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” It worked once before, I’m sure the public will buy it again.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  59. michael reynolds says:

    @PAUL HOOSON:

    As a simple statistical fact we would save far, far more American lives by disarming the American people. My wife, my children, and I, are more likely to be killed by some American aszhole with a gun than by terrorists.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  60. mantis says:

    @Scott:

    If we want to spend money again in Iraq, then taxpayers should have their taxes increased and put their money where their mouth is.

    The taxpayers mouths have already said “Hell no.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  61. Scott says:

    @mantis: Exactly right!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  62. An Interested Party says:

    I have a number of Muslim friends, as I do Jewish friends.

    Yes and I’m sure some of your best friends are black…perhaps you give them free passes to go to that strip club bar you supposedly own…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  63. PAUL HOOSON says:

    @An Interested Party: Most of my employees at the strip club are African American, including the DJ, kitchen staff, bartenders etc. The dancers split between, White, Black and Hispanic- I provide jobs for neighbors of the local community. – Run right, this business has a gross yearly potential of $3 million a year. – I’m also a car dealer as well, and own a car dealership.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  64. Tyrell says:

    @michael reynolds: Of course, it would be foolish for the US to send any kind of military expeditionary force there. The US has done quite a lot for those people.
    The US must use other resources and methods to make sure that this area is stable. Mideast stability is vital to the US and many other countries. Unsettled areas there can have adverse effects on our economy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  65. PAUL HOOSON says:

    @michael reynolds: I agree that might be true. But, it violates the 2nd Amendment, so it will not happen. – If anyone is to have guns at my business, I want it only to be our staff. – We don’t need or want customers in the club with guns and use metal detectors, etc for security purposes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  66. C. Clavin says:

    @beth:
    And, of course, Butters is his co-pilot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  67. rachel says:

    @rudderpedals: Maliki wanted to eat his cake but still have it afterward. It doesn’t work like that. AFAIK, the USA doesn’t station its troops in allied countries without a SOFA in place.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  68. PAUL HOOSON says:

    @C. Clavin: I was actually opposed to the Iraq War, but now we broke it and own it. – Looking at the dismal reports of the ISIS victories so far, and the breakup of Iraq, it looks more likely than not that the U.S. and West may have to deal with a new radical terrorist state that comprises some parts of Iraq and Syria very soon as a new threat. – This White House and the military need to quickly devise some strategy that will protect American interests before this window closes entirely and American women and children once again find themselves in the crosshairs of potential terrorist threats like 9/11 once again. – Intelligence isn’t good, but an aircraft carrier involved in some sort of airstrikes is probably our best option right now. ISIS has an estimated 9,000 fighters using equipment abandoned by fleeing Iraqi troops like trucks and light arms. American airstrikes would only face limited risk against these type of forces, although without good intelligence collateral damage to civilians will be very high.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  69. bill says:

    @C. Clavin: here’s a list of democrats in the senate who voted to invade iraq. wow, biden, clinton, reid, kerry, feinstein……uber alles !

    Bayh (D-IN)
    Biden (D-DE)
    Breaux (D-LA)
    Cantwell (D-WA)
    Carnahan (D-MO)
    Carper (D-DE)
    Cleland (D-GA)
    Clinton (D-NY)
    Daschle (D-SD)
    Dodd (D-CT)
    Dorgan (D-ND)
    Edwards (D-NC)
    Feinstein (D-CA)
    Harkin (D-IA) Hollings (D-SC)
    Johnson (D-SD)
    Kerry (D-MA)
    Kohl (D-WI)
    Landrieu (D-LA)
    Lieberman (D-CT)
    Lincoln (D-AR)
    Miller (D-GA)
    Nelson (D-FL)
    Nelson (D-NE)
    Reid (D-NV)
    Rockefeller (D-WV)
    Schumer (D-NY)
    Torricelli (D-NJ)

    oh, who said this in 2011 anyway? hint, he’s in the white house.
    “we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq,”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  70. grumpy realist says:

    @bill: Isn’t that what all your critters were saying?

    It’s amazing how all the people who now say “we broke it, we own it” are the same one who were so happy to charge into Iraq without thinking the possibility of something like this happening.

    I think they’re now trying to use the “we broke it, we own it” as an excuse to meddle indefinitely, no matter how much of a drain that puts on the US, psychically and financially.

    Heck, would anyone who now claims “we broke it, we own it” either sign up for the Army or donate all his possessions to the US government? Otherwise we know you’re just flapping your mouth in the breeze. PH, why don’t you go sell your company and donate the proceeds to the military? If it really is all that important?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  71. al-Ameda says:

    @bill:

    @C. Clavin: here’s a list of democrats in the senate who voted to invade iraq. wow, biden, clinton, reid, kerry, feinstein……uber alles !

    Yeah, and then they had ACTUAL weapons inspections, which showed there to be no WMDs. There is a difference between thinking that Iraq had WMDs and actual evidence to the contrary. I wonder why Bush was in a hurry to go to war in Iraq – was it because his pretext for going to war was shown to be a sham?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  72. PAUL HOOSON says:

    @grumpy realist: I opposed the war in Iraq. But, once the U.S. enters a war situation, we need to maintain U.S. military bases like we did with Japan , Germany and Korea to deter problems created by projecting an image of U.S. weakness or defeat. Projecting this weakness emboldened enemies to regroup in Iraq, creating this serious foreign policy mess.

    And no, I don’t want to sell $2or 3 million dollars in property, just to hand it to the wasteful government. I’m 58, and I enjoy having young girlfriends half my age and riding motorcycles and having cars, thank you….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  73. bill says:

    @grumpy realist: most of us knew it woukd be a long process and would require support. I assume you wrren’t one of them, just like the senators listed above. Just fyi- we’re still in germany, japan, s korea,..get it now ?

    @al-Ameda: we told him to invade, is your memory too selective to recall that ?

    But back to reality, looks like obama underestimated something again-but it’s not his fault, he has no foreign policy experience.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  74. An Interested Party says:

    most of us knew it woukd be a long process and would require support.

    Oh yeah, go to the American people and tell them you want to put troops and bases in Iraq for a long period of time…see how well that sells…

    Just fyi- we’re still in germany, japan, s korea,..get it now ?

    Since we’re passing out information, in Germany, Japan, and South Korea, American troops aren’t being blown up by roadside bombs on a daily basis…hopefully you get it now…

    we told him to invade, is your memory too selective to recall that ?

    Umm, who is this “we” that you are referring to?

    …looks like obama underestimated something again…

    BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!! That’s hysterical, considering how the Bush Administration severely underestimated EVERYTHING in Iraq and Afghanistan…

    …but it’s not his fault, he has no foreign policy experience.

    As opposed to the previous president who had a cabinet loaded with foreign policy experience and we see how fabulously that turned out…and to think you wrote something about reality… *CHUCKLE*

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  75. Grewgills says:

    @bill:

    most of us knew it woukd be a long process and would require support.

    So, did you oppose Bush signing the agreement that Obama has continued? Are you saying that Obama should have defied that agreement between Iraq and the US and forced more US troops to stay in Iraq to “see the mission through”?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0