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U.S. Airstrikes Hit ISIS In Northern Iraq

Iraq Map

Last night, President Obama announced that the United States military was undertaking an effort to provide humanitarian relief to ethnic groups who had been chased out of their villages by ISIS forces that have recently been scoring significant military victories in areas of Iraq controlled by the Kurds. In doing so, he also stated that he had authorized the military to undertake “limited airstrikes” for the purpose of defending those humanitarian airdrops and halting the advance of ISIS forces. This morning, those first airstrikes took place against targets outside of the Iraqi city of Erbil:

WASHINGTON — American warplanes struck Sunni militant positions in northern Iraq on Friday, the Pentagon said in a statement, confirming the first significant American military operation since ground troops left Iraq in 2011.

Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon Press Secretary, said that two F-18 fighters dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs on a mobile artillery target near Erbil. Militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria were using the artillery to shell Kurdish forces defending Erbil, Admiral Kirby said in a statement.

The strike followed President Obama’s announcement Thursday night that he had authorized limited air strikes to protect American citizens in Erbil and Baghdad, and, if necessary, to break the siege of tens of thousand of refugees stranded on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq.

“As the president made clear, the United States military will continue to take direct action against ISIL when they threaten our personnel and facilities,” Admiral Kirby said, referring to the Islamic militants.

Further details from The Washington Post:

U.S. military jets carried out two airstrikes Friday on Islamist militants outside the Kurdish regional capital of Irbil, hours after President Obama authorized attacks against the Sunni extremists advancing on the northern Iraq city.

The F-18 combat aircraft targeted artillery being used by militants of the Islamic State extremist group against Kurdish forces defending Irbil, the Pentagon said. It said the artillery was fired at Kurdish forces “near U.S. personnel.”

The planes dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs at about 6:45 a.m. EDT, said Rear Adm. John F. Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary.

Obama authorized the strikes following the launch of a powerful offensive by Islamic State militants in northern Iraq. He also sent U.S. military aircraft to drop food and water to besieged Iraqi civilians in the region.

The U.S. airstrikes hit Islamic State positions in Makhmour, about 35 miles southwest of Irbil, said Mahmood Haji, an official at the Kurdish Interior Ministry. “This is a victory for all the Iraqi people, for the pesh merga, and for America,” he said. “We need these airstrikes to destroy their bases and vehicles so the pesh merga can move forward.” The pesh merga is the Kurdish security force.

In a statement delivered at the White House late Thursday, Obama said the United States would use targeted attacks against extremist convoys “should they move toward” Irbil, where the United States maintains a consulate and a joint operations center with the Iraqi military. “We intend to take action if they threaten our facilities anywhere in Iraq . . . including Irbil and Baghdad,” he said.

Authorization for airdrops — an initial round of which was completed just before Obama spoke — and for airstrikes was a major development in the Iraq crisis that began in June.

A senior administration official described the airstrike authorization Thursday as “narrow” but outlined a number of broad contingencies in which they could be launched, including a possible threat to U.S. personnel in Baghdad from possible breaches in a major dam Islamist forces seized Thursday that could flood the Iraqi capital.

U.S. aircraft also are authorized to launch airstrikes if the military determines that Iraqi government and Kurdish forces are unable to break the siege that has stranded tens of thousands of civilians belonging to the minority Yazidi sect atop a barren mountain outside the northern town of Sinjar.

“As we can provide air support to relieve that pressure, the president has given the military the authority to do so,” the senior official said. He said that congressional leaders had been consulted, but that Obama had the legal authority as commander in chief to launch the strikes to protect U.S. personnel and national security interests.

Viewing this abstractly, there’s nothing per se objectionable about the idea of providing humanitarian relief to the Yazidi, and obviously such a mission requires that the United States military be able to protect itself. At the same time, though, as is always the case with any foreign military action, the real question is just how far the United States is willing to go in this situation, and how far it actually ought to go. For obvious political reasons, the President has been reluctant to get involved in Iraq again, and at least on the surface this does appear to be the limited mission that the White House claims that it is. However, conflicts of this kind have a way of taking on a life of their own. What do we do, for example, if these airstrikes fail to slow the advance of ISIS and the Kurds are unable to stop them? And what if ISIS forces near Baghdad resume the advance on the capital that had largely stopped as they concentrated their efforts on what has seemed to be much easier targets in the north? And what if the Iraqis themselves continue to be unwilling to defend themselves against ISIS, as has been the case up until now with Iraqi Army units that have tended to retreat as ISIS has approached, leaving much of their American-provided equipment behind?

At the very least, this is unlikely to be a short engagement on the part of the United States. This morning, CBS News White House Correspondent Major Garrett  quoted military sources as characterizing ISIS’s as “swift, effective, and capable of carrying out military mission with quote ‘tremendous military proficiency,” and stating that “The Iraqi army and Kurdish fighters have been no match for them. Now, from the air, the U.S. will join the fight. Top advisers predict a long, very long military campaign.” Along the same lines, the top commander of the (currently small) U.S. military force in Iraq says that “we must neutralize this enemy,” and that ISIS  not just a violent extremist organization.” “This is an army,” he went on to say, “and it takes an army to defeat an army.” This obviously means that we’re talking about a lot more than just the limited airstrikes that we’ve seen today and that at some point President Obama is going to have to decide whether he wants to become the second President in just over a decade to send American combat forces into Iraq, this time in the middle of a civil war that seems likely to tear the country apart before it’s over.

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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. C. Clavin says:

    This is f’ing stupid…there is limited upside and nearly unlimited downside potential.

    Obama is going to have to decide whether he wants to become the second President in just over a decade to send American combat forces into Iraq

    And the third in the past 1/4 century?
    Well yeah…but only because he had the cajones to do the right thing and get the fvck out of there…anyone from the Republican Party would have us bogged down there still, spilling American blood and spending American treasure.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 13

  2. mantis says:

    @C. Clavin:

    This is f’ing stupid…there is limited upside and nearly unlimited downside potential.

    I think there is considerable upside for the Kurds, our allies whom we have pledged to support/protect if needed.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 2

  3. ernieyeball says:

    President Obama has authorized air strikes in Iraq.

    “I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq…

    Where have I heard this before???

    We are not about to send American boys 9 or 10 thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves. LBJ 1964

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/islamic-state-militants-seize-christian-town-in-northern-iraq-thousands-flee/2014/08/07/942a553a-1e2b-11e4-ab7b-696c295ddfd1_story.html

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  4. Just Me says:

    I think it’s okay to pick sides here.

    Air strikes and arming the Kurds makes sense. Neither involves US troops on the ground.

    This is essentially ethnic cleansing again and this kind of wholesale murder of non Muslim or wrong Muslim (given that the yazidi are viewed as Muslim apostates) can bleed I to other countries-one of them Turkey.

    How much is too much and at what point a hands off approach becomes a moral failing is the issue. Iraq doesn’t seem equipped to deal on any level with this problem.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  5. Gustopher says:

    I really don’t like it, but it may be the least worst option. It does give us some very unsavory allies, of course, but any action in the region does that.

    I generally trust Obama to do the right thing, and not commit our military needlessly, and I don’t like standing by and doing nothing while there is ethnic cleansing and/or genocide, so I very grudgingly support this.

    It will end badly, of course, but probably less badly than letting ISIS get well established.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  6. Tillman says:

    It is nice to see us not abandon the Kurds again, but for now I’ll reserve judgment. I imagine we’ll mostly be bombing our own munitions anyway. Then we get to sell them again; it’s win-win.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  7. Another Mike says:

    President Obama really had no choice whether to take action or not. He did not want to be remembered as the president who sat and watched and did nothing as a genocide unfolded right in front of his nose in a country we have a responsibility for. He hesitated too long, but in the end he did the right thing. It is risky, and there is no guarantee that it will succeed, but it is the morally right thing to do. If he can rescue the minorities facing genocide, protect the Kurds and secure Baghdad, he will restore the world’s faith in our goodness, not to speak of building his legacy. If he wants to be a great man, and we a great nation, then he and we need to do great things. Preventing a genocide is what great nations do.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  8. gVOR08 says:

    @Gustopher:

    I really don’t like it, but it may be the least worst option.

    Agree. The only thing I’m sure about in this situation is that it’s really depressing. And yes, I would far rather go into this led by Obama than by McCain, who wants to bomb everybody, or Romney, who was clueless about foreign policy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3

  9. Ron Beasley says:

    I opposed the invasion and occupation of Iraq but I think we are now stuck with the mess we made. We should protect the religious minorities like the Yazidi and we must look out for the Kurdish people. We must not allow the city of Erbil to fall. If we can do it all by air that would be good, if not I wouldn’t object to some special forces boots on the ground.
    In a region of the world made up largely of bad actors ISIS appears to be the baddest actor of them all. So bad in fact that even al-Quada has distanced themselves from them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  10. aFloridian says:

    I approve of this action. This is exactly the sort of mission that America should be undertaking.

    We created the mess in Iraq, and now the Yazidis, Christians, Shabak, and others are suffering for it.

    No, I do not think we should put troops on the ground into that chaos, but providing some relief for what should be an independent Kurdistan, who have allowed many Christians, Turks, Shia, Yazidis and other to come into their autonomous region.

    Reading between the lines Doug is obviously opposed to this, but can we really sit back and watch religious minorities, for whose plight we are almost directly responsible, become the victims of genocide? These are ancient communities full of people who are not our natural enemies. Certainly a nation full of Christians like America should take some interest in the plight of the Chaldeans?

    Again, I don’t think we are in a position right now to put troops on the ground, but American air superiority can do a lot to help the Kurds fight off the Islamic State. And contrary to what Doug is saying, I think we’ve already seen it will be much, much harder for IS to take Southern Shi’ite-majority Iraq, and the Army, bolstered by militias, will be much less likely to flee.

    And this isn’t super relevant, but I’ve thought a lot lately about doctrinal libertarianism and what it means. I am heavily, heavily influenced by libertarian principles, but most libertarians take it too far. This article makes me think of that.

    The dirty secret of the libertarian is that it isn’t just all the pot you can smoke and low taxes, its also stepping over the starving people in the street, it’s letting the elderly die alone in their homes, and it’s letting the diseases of poor children go untreated. That old chestnut about “private charity” is laughable. The idea that a patchwork blanket of charitable organizations could ever effect the scope, expertise, administrative abilities, and pure wholesale buying power of the United States Government dooms the proposal. Let’s just fix what we’ve got.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  11. stonetools says:

    I understand why people don’t want Obama to get involved in Iraq in any way. But you really can’t have 60,000 men, women, and children, the last of their etnic group, be massacred on a mountain by IS without doing SOMETHING.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  12. Scott says:

    This operation (which I think I agree with) puts us more clearly on the side of the Kurds as well as the defenders of religious minorities. All this is, I think, morally defensible.

    Longer term, our efforts agains ISIS puts us temporarily as allies of Kurds, Iranians, Assad, Hezbollah, Shiites in general, Turks and others and somewhat against some of the more duplicitous Sunni elements in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates. After all, who is supporting ISIS, where is its money coming from?

    I think our best efforts here are coldly temporary knowing full well we could have different allies tomorrow.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  13. Pinky says:

    @Another Mike:

    it is the morally right thing to do….Preventing a genocide is what great nations do.

    Yes. Partisanship (ideally) ends at the shore. What’s right is right.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  14. gVOR08 says:

    @Scott:

    the more duplicitous Sunni elements in Saudi Arabia

    may well include the government/royal family. I can’t claim expertise, but my impression is not much happens in Saudi Arabia unless the royal family wishes it to.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  15. Scott says:

    @gVOR08: I sometimes get the feeling that we’ve been propping them up for generations and that if we left, the facade would come down and they would collapse. Another delightful prospect to look forward to.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  16. Scott says:

    @Pinky:

    Partisanship (ideally) ends at the shore.

    I agree with you there. Unfortunately, we are moving away from that to the detriment of the nation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  17. C. Clavin says:

    @mantis:
    I take your point…and I think the Kurds deserve support…but I remain dubious of our involvement.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  18. Modulo Myself says:

    I support the intervention, but I’m curious about the long-term situation. Nowhere in the Post article are any numbers mentioned. My impression was that ISIS numbered around a thousand or so. I can’t imagine that in conventional battle they will present much of a problem. So what’s up with the dire predictions for how long the engagement will take?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  19. gVOR08 says:

    @Scott: I keep seeing stories that the Saudis are lying about their oil reserves. Inflating the reserves to drag out the game as long as they can before everybody realizes they’re bankrupt.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  20. Mu says:

    For the second third time in just over ten twenty years, the United States is involved in military action in Iraq.
    Lets not forget Gulf War I in this, bombing Iraq is becoming a mandatory part for US presidents.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  21. Dave D says:

    @Scott: The main problem with the Saudi royal family is that they only exist due to their embrace of Wahhabism but that is a double edged sword that will come back to cut them. And it recent years they seem to be losing control of the more extreme elements of the Wahhabi and the result has been 9/11, the Riyadh bombing and various other terror attacks committed by Saudi nationals. The Saudis have long been a more natural enemy to the US than Iran or Iraq, they have just been hiding behind their oil reserves and buying tons of US weapons and vehicles.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  22. Scott says:

    The Saudis have long been a more natural enemy to the US than Iran or Iraq,

    I agree. I would also say that Iran is a more natural ally than the Saudis.

    Natural ally, artificial enemy. The US should work to rectify that situation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  23. Ron Beasley says:

    @Dave D: @Scott: I agree. In the not too distant future Saudi Arabia will be taken over by Wahhabism just as Israel is being taken over by the extreme orthodox Jews. Our best potential ally in the region is indeed Iran and the sooner we recognize that the better.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  24. gVOR08 says:

    As long as the Saudis have cheap oil, we will need their oil and they will need our dollars. Once the oil dries up, they’re just a bunch of religious fanatics on a patch of desert that can’t possibly sustain them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  25. dazedandconfused says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    I would venture to guess there will be no big changes in the nature of Saudi Arabia until the oil runs out. A hungry mon is an angry mon, and they have more money than God.

    The phenomena of ISIL could invert the situation of tolerance to radical Islamic rhetoric into severe intolerance in a hurry though. Some have been even encouraging it in order to cynically manipulate people with it (talking to you, Turks and Sauds!), but the result is barking near their own door now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. michael reynolds says:

    1) We are not “bombing Iraq” in the facile sense that the phrase is being used. The Iraqi government is thrilled that we are bombing in their country.We’re bombing Iraq in the same way we bombed France in 1944.

    2) I agree and have long agreed that Iran is our natural ally in the region. The crazy seems to be all on the Sunni side of the street for now. But Iran should also get it’s head straight and realize that the Kurds are a defensive front line against the craziest of the Sunnis. If we are staying involved in the Middle East we need Iran, and they need us.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  27. Pinky says:

    Sane Saudi Arabia is a natural ally, as is Sane Turkey, Sane Iran, Sane X. Internally Oppressive X is only an ally to the extent that we’re fighting Internally and Externally Oppressive Y, or X can be nudged in the direction of freedom. Caliphate Wannabe X is always an enemy, in that they’ll destroy their own people and others in pursuit of their goal.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  28. michael reynolds says:

    You could almost dichotomize this down to:

    1) People killing people for Allah.

    2) People killing people to hold onto power and money.

    We can’t get along with 1, we can get along with 2. So shouldn’t our strategic goal be to strengthen Group 2 and, as unlikely as it seems, try to form a loose alliance of necessity between (and here I take a deep breath) Turks, Kurds, Alawites, Iranians, whatever the hell that is in Baghdad, Jordan and Egypt?

    Don’t we have a bit of a Hun problem here? An aggressive, motivated, and unfortunately rather capable bunch of killers who are arriving on the scene of pre-existing conflicts and exploiting the lack of cohesion among foes too stupid to see that for the moment at least they should suspend the long-running Vandals and Franks and Romans (east and west) kill-fest and focus on these new aholes?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  29. Dave D says:

    Has the US had a cogent ME policy since before WWI? When overthrowing PM Mosaddeq and returning power to the Shah so BP didn’t have a sad is not the biggest policy blunder in the region it shows that we are seemingly aimless. I’m tempted to become one of those pessimists that write off the entire region. However, looking at pictures of Iran and Afghanistan in the 70’s compared to now show that there is some hope there. I begrudgingly agree this is the least worse option for the US, mainly due to our causing this situation, but I think the US needs to meddle less. Especially when it comes to the ME since we now have 100+ years of bad foreign policy. Hopefully a more isolationist (not meant to be a pejorative) US will encourage more international cooperation and hopefully listening to people who actually know about these regions and their people and what is best for them in the long term, as opposed to short term US interests.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  30. Jim R says:

    Getting us out of Iraq (with the GOP kicking and screaming) should be remembered as one of Obama’s finest achievements after he leaves office.

    Hopefully he will not allow us to be sucked back in.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  31. Eric Florack says:

    A few years back, there were a lot of charges flying around how Bush was trying to start a war to distract from the economy, scooter Libby, etc. Obama even gave a speech to that effect, when helped him earn areas with the far left. Many of the usual suspects in here echo that nonsense to this day.

    So, now, we have an even worse economy, a scandal sheet a mile long…. and Obama trying to start a war in Iraq to divert attention from his issues at home. Or so, the left would say this time,e as they did last, if intellectual honesty was part of their makeup.

    Except, the left isn’t making quite the same noises this time. Honesty? Credibility? One need look no further than the reaction to the current Iraqi campaign, and the delta between this campaign, and the former one to see they’ve never had an atom of it.
    Gee.

    (Spit)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 8

  32. edmondo says:

    Somewhere in Oslo, there must be a Nobel committee getting ready to ask for that Peace Prize back.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  33. dazedandconfused says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Whaddaya say we leave the Mexicans out of this…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  34. JohnMcC says:

    Sooner or later ISIS is going to reach some sort of limits. They will engage Jordan or their conflict with Lebanon will involve Israel. My personal prediction is that they will decide that as The Caliphate, they are the proper protector of Islam’s Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina. From the Iraq-Jordanian border in Anbar, they are about 700 nautical miles from Mecca (using a sailor’s calculation from Lat-Lon using ‘great circle route’).

    When they crash into a modern armed force they will discover the importance of air power.

    After they are crushed on the battlefield — especially if the Saudis or Jordanians instead of the IDF or US does the deed — we will discover that their apparent dominion over Sunni areas of Syria and Iraq is a mile wide and an inch deep because of the brutality of their regime.

    The biggest question is what to make of the nation-states of Iraq and Syria after ISIS.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  35. michael reynolds says:

    @JohnMcC:

    The Jordanians, sure, but will Saudis fight? Or will their Filipino maids at least fight? Yes, they have jets, but do they have the will? How much of a fifth column will there be in the land of Al Qaeda financiers? How many Saudis died kicking Saddam out of Kuwait? Would that number be zero?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  36. Tyrell says:

    This ISIS, or whatever they call themselves , presents a totally different situation. The reports that I have read are just horrendous: 2,000 innocent people murdered in one day, wholesale executions, towns displaying heads mounted on poles, people skewered on poles, Christians and other groups being systematically eliminated, and expansion into other countries. This group tells the world what they are going to do, and then does it. They murder just to be murdering, with no thoughts. It has been described as a medieval scene of barbarity. They have said that they will send some of their people into the US; hopefully our border patrols and intelligence will root these criminals out. We can’t have another Boston or worse. Even Al Quida has criticized them. The president should have given the people a clearer picture of what is going on, even shown photos. While the actions that the president is taking are a good first step, it will require more. The president needs to put it to them this way: surrender or get wiped out. No negotiations or this trying to to contain them. They will not be contained. Do whatever it takes to rid the world of this threat, and get out.
    A few good things: this is not a large group (not yet), they do not have unlimited resources, and they can’t hold onto large territory.
    “No terms except unconditional surrender” General Grant

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  37. dazedandconfused says:

    @JohnMcC:

    I think they over-played their hand too. I doubt they wanted to have to deal with air cover right now, and ten gets ya a hundred a lot of drones will be there shortly. I think a good case can be made that we have something of an obligation to destroy their tanks and heavy artillery at least . ISIL is the hell-spawn of AQIM, and we all know how that crap got going.

    I imagine the current goal is US contributes air power in critical situations, tactical intelligence to the boys who will have to do the dirty work, and does what it can to get the people in the region organized and off their duffs. Some of them may need convincing we won’t send troops in there for them anymore, but I suspect those mobs in Baghdad could begin to feel like they could do with a spot of glory…if they become convinced ISIL is in a bad way.

    As disgusting as mobs are, this will be a no-prisoners affair, so perhaps this is one of those situations where they are good for something.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  38. michael reynolds says:

    @Tyrell:

    Oh, for God’s sake. You want to re-invade Iraq?

    If we say we’re here to wipe out ISIS, that’s what we have to do. We have to re-invade with tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of men, hundreds of billions of dollars, all because the jackasses we left in charge in Baghdad after the last invasion are utterly incompetent. How does re-invading help us with that?

    ISIS is going to have their two-bit Caliphate. They’re going to keep some piece of territory in Iraq and Syria. That’s the reality. What we can do is save our friends the Kurds. Baghdad has more than enough resources to defend itself if anyone there can manage to get their act together. But what we need to get our heads around is the fact that some radical Sunni group or other is keeping at least a big piece of that territory. They’ve got oil, money and thanks to our erstwhile allies in Iraq, they’ve got weapons.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  39. ringhals says:

    @Mu:

    Oh, we’ve been involved militarily in Iraq a lot longer than that, at least since Reagan started arming them against Iran in the early 80s. And our bombing of them didn’t stop after they left Kuwait, from Bush I through Clinton and Bush II. At least this time we’re trying to help the victims of a pogrom and prevent a wider genocide.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  40. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Tyrell:

    They have said that they will send some of their people into the US; hopefully our border patrols and intelligence will root these criminals out. We can’t have another Boston or worse. Even Al Quida has criticized them. The president should have given the people a clearer picture of what is going on, even shown photos.

    You…just…argh…I mean…Jebus…you can’t be this much of a simpleton. This is a character, right?

    Tsar Nicky, is that you?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  41. DrDaveT says:

    @Scott:

    Natural ally, artificial enemy. The US should work to rectify that situation.

    It’s probably too late. The US is much quicker to forget our past role in the region than the locals are.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  42. DrDaveT says:

    @Eric Florack:

    So, now, we have an even worse economy

    Um, no. Not even close.

    a scandal sheet a mile long….

    [snicker]

    and Obama trying to start a war in Iraq to divert attention from his issues at home

    [guffaw]

    OK, for a moment you had me going there, but even you aren’t stupid enough to claim that Obama is trying to START a war in Iraq, 12 years after we started a war in Iraq. Bad on me that I didn’t recognize the satire from the start.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  43. Pinky says:

    @DrDaveT: Did you read the whole comment?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  44. Lounsbury says:

    @gVOR08:

    Exaggerated impression. Wealthy tribal factions, particularly if they are close to influential salafist groups are perfectly capable of acting independently through poorly controlled religious charities (which are poorly controlled as the religious movements are one of the few countervailing forces in KSA, and the one which the Ibn Saud have the least leverage against).

    Further, the Ibn Saud are not a single ant-like entity. The family has numerous branches – some quite ‘secular’ (for the Gulf region), others quite extreme Wahhabite. Barring outright treason, it is not ipso facto easy for one branch to act against another.

    In general, the mistake is cultural – you’re understanding KSA view the lens of a Western bureaucratic state. KSA is not at all. It is a family-tribal state that acts via patronage networks with a parallel semi-non-tribal religious influence networks.

    In short, very little of KSA state works in the fashion Westerns think states should or normally do work.

    @Ron Beasley:
    Yes, DAISH / ISIS is very nasty indeed.

    And I rather think they have massively overplayed their hand. But they’re ideologues so not unexpected.

    @Scott:
    Petrol in the ground is what keeps the Ibn Saud in power, and a mastery of tribal politics mixed with judicious use of Wahhabi religious networks. USA has rather little to do with that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  45. Tyrell says:

    @Scott: Iran – “natural ally”. Interesting. I have heard this possibility mentioned recently, but not a lot of comment or elaboration. Something to think about, it should not be dismissed out of hand.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  46. Lounsbury says:

    @Eric Florack: “and Obama trying to start a war in Iraq to divert attention from his issues at home” – you really are either rather dim or rather dishonest.

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  47. Tyrell says:

    There are two objectives that must be achieved. One is to get rid of this ISIS group. Barring complete surrender, which I would not hold my breath for, they have to go. Diplomacy, negotiating, talks, and deals are not going to work with this group, which compares to Attila in terms of routine barbarity. As I have said, Obama said some appropriate and good things the other night. But he should have been clearer, more graphic, even showed pictures . His talk was kind of flat.
    After this bunch is gone, then someone has to take over who can keep order and get these various groups together. Unfortunately, General Allenby is not around any more.
    Read Hugh Hewitt: “Evil Incarnate”.
    “We fired once more and they began a runnin’, on down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico”, (Horton, “Battle of New Orleans”

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