ISIS Gaining Ground . . . But We’ve Stopped Their Momentum!

ISIS owns more territory than it did when the US bombing campaign began.

ISIS Fighters

A Pentagon official says ISIS “has gained some ground. But we’ve stopped their momentum.” That would seem a non sequitur.

The Daily Beast (“Exclusive: ISIS Gaining Ground in Syria, Despite U.S. Strikes“):

ISIS continues to gain substantial ground in Syria, despite nearly 800 airstrikes in the American-led campaign to break its grip there.

At least one-third of the country’s territory is now under ISIS influence, with recent gains in rural areas that can serve as a conduit to major cities that the so-called Islamic State hopes to eventually claim as part of its caliphate. Meanwhile, the Islamic extremist group does not appear to have suffered any major ground losses since the strikes began. The result is a net ground gain for ISIS, according to information compiled by two groups with on-the-ground sources.

In Syria, ISIS “has not any lost any key terrain,” Jennifer Cafarella, a fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for the Study of War who studies the Syrian conflict, explained to The Daily Beast.

Even U.S. military officials privately conceded to The Daily Beast that ISIS has gained ground in some areas, even as the Pentagon claims its seized territory elsewhere, largely around the northern city of Kobani. That’s been the focus of the U.S.-led campaign, and ISIS has not been able to take the town, despite its best efforts.

Other than that, they are short on specifics.

“Yes, they have gained some ground. But we have stopped their momentum,” one Pentagon official told The Daily Beast.

A map developed by the Coalition for a Democratic Syria (CDS), a Syrian-American opposition umbrella group, shows that ISIS has nearly doubled the amount of territory it controls since airstrikes began last year.

syria-territory-map-20150110

“Assessing the map, ISIS has almost doubled its territorial control in Syria. But more importantly, the number of people who now live under ISIS control has also increased substantially,” CDS political adviser Mouaz Moustafa said.

With the fall of that much territory into ISIS hands, Syrians who once lived in ungoverned or rebel held areas are now under ISIS’s grip. Of course, in an irregular war like this one, control of people is far more important than control of territory. In that regard, too, things appear to be going in the wrong direction.

As Dave Schuler comments, “Reports of the containment of ISIS have been greatly exaggerated.” Certainly, if our stated goal of defeating and destroying ISIS is our actual goal, we’re failing. But maybe we’re really just worried about ISIS in Iraq and are happy to let the war in Syria play out?

In its public comments, the U.S. military has said repeatedly the effort against ISIS is on the right track. However it often does this by conflating its war in Iraq and Syria. Ask a question about what is happening in Syria, and U.S. officials will stress that ISIS has not gained ground in Iraq. Ask if the U.S. effort is working in Syria, and the military often points to the fact that ISIS has failed to take control of Kobani.

During a Jan. 6 press briefing, for example, when a reporter asked “where ISIS’s relative strength is right now,” Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby replied by talking exclusively about the U.S. effort in Iraq, naming cities were the military believed ISIS’s momentum has been “halted.”

When the reporter pressed for an answer on what was happening in Syria, Kirby struggled, saying, “I couldn’t give you a—a specific point at which, you know, we believe, well geez, we’ve halted their momentum. It—it’s come slowly, in various stages. But I think it’s safe to say that over the last three to four weeks, we—we’ve been confident that that momentum has largely been blunted.”

On Friday, Kirby proclaimed that ISIS had lost 700 square kilometers since the campaign began—over half the size of New York City or about four times the size of the District of Columbia. But the Pentagon spokesman could not say what percentage that area marked of total ISIS-controlled land. Nor could he say if that loss was in Iraq, Syria, or combined in both nations. As Kirby asserted: “I’m frankly not sure how relevant that is. I mean, it’s—they have less ground now than they did before. They’re trying to defend what ground that they have. They’re not going on the offense much, and they’re really trying to preserve their own oxygen.”

In terms of Syria, that’s simply not right:

syria-territory-map-20140831

But maybe Syria isn’t the the focus? Indeed, the article hints at that deep into the discussion:

The U.S. military stressed it is waging an “Iraq first” war, that is focused on eliminating ISIS from that country first. There, the U.S. can turn to Iraqi troops on the ground to assess its efforts. But there is no equivalent resource on the ground in Syria. Perhaps because of that, the U.S. military has offered a far more detailed assessment of the air campaign in Iraq than the one in Syria.

Interestingly, the greatest threat to ISIS right now isn’t military at all:

The American military has not been able to take full advantage of the difficulties ISIS is facing. A worldwide drop in oil prices threatens the recently declared state’s ability to raise revenue, while declining standards in public services, distribution of aid, and provision of electricity threaten to undercut the group’s support across the territories it controls. ISIS has also not been able to follow through on its military quest to challenge the Iraqi government all the way to Baghdad.

It’s not obvious to me that the US military needs to “take advantage” of the situation in the near term. ISIS could well wither of its own ineptitude if its funds dry up.

I’ve frequently described our policy here as “being on both sides of the Syrian civil war,” a clearly untenable position. But we may be largely ignoring Syria and just concentrating on preventing the collapse of Iraq.

FILED UNDER: General
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Tony W says:

    Yeah, creating a power vacuum in the middle east, on the national credit card, tops a long list of dubious accomplishments for Mr. Bush. Now the right, again, gets to throw rocks at the adults trying to clean things up.

  2. gVOR08 says:

    @Tony W: And there’s a fair chance we’ll elect his brother president.

  3. James Pearce says:

    “I couldn’t give you a—a specific point at which, you know, we believe, well geez, we’ve halted their momentum. It—it’s come slowly, in various stages. But I think it’s safe to say that over the last three to four weeks, we—we’ve been confident that that momentum has largely been blunted.”

    (Snort.) The first sentence should have been followed by this one: “But that’s the language we agreed to use: ‘We’re halting their momentum.’ Doesn’t really mean anything. If one could quantify ‘momentum’ we would have had to use another term.”

    But we may be largely ignoring Syria and just concentrating on preventing the collapse of Iraq.

    Not the most robust strategy if one really wants to pin ISIS to the mat, but probably the only one that would get endorsed by the American public. If I remember correctly, we were going to get more involved on the Syrian end of things but everyone went, “Nah.”

    I think on one level, the level of geo-politics and history, it’s definitely in our interests to crush ISIS as completely and swiftly as we can. But on another level, the level of who we want to be and what we want to do, it’s a complete waste of time and energy.

  4. munchbox says:

    it not just iraq and sryia were the islamists are taking over…..

    More than 7,400 boys were called Muhammad, Mohammed or Mohammad last year. Oliver, the name which officially took the top spot, was only given to 6,949 babies.

    Muhammad is thought to be the most popular name in the world, given to an estimated 150 million men and boys. Statisticians put the high numbers down to the tradition amongst some Muslim families of naming their first-born after the Islamic prophet.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/most-popular-baby-names-the-top-20-boys-and-girls-names-in-england-and-wales-9671635.html

  5. gVOR08 says:

    Don’t feed the troll.

  6. Tyrell says:

    The last few months have seen a new type of terrorist activity with attacks in Australia, Pakistan, France, and Belgium. A terrorist in the US was planning to blow up the Capitol building. ISIS has activated its “cells” in other countries and experts are warning the people to expect more of these horrendous attacks. The president needs to speak and act firmly, and challenge the leaders of the Muslim denomination and organizations (Muslim “Brotherhood”) to take action against the radical Islamic clerics and members. This could include large marches, more cooperation with intelligence agencies, and turning in people who have suspect connections to terrorists, have shown favorable actions to the terrorist agenda, or refuse to condemn terrorist actions. The Muslim leaders must show that they mean business. The president needs to be more aggressive and quit trying to tiptoe and the warm fuzzy approach of not using words like terrorist and radical Islam. He should not be worried about offending someone. This is the time to be bold, decisive and aggressive. Take action, take a stand, and get moving. That is how Churchill, Eisenhower, Patton, Truman, Roosevelt, McArthur, and Marshall lead.
    Read “Obama’s New Year Irresolution” by Thomas Sowell. thomassowell.com/columns

  7. Mu says:

    Sounds a lot like those reports that Greece has the largest economic growth in the EU. Their economy is actually contracting, but the deflation has outpaced the contraction for a net “growth”.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    And I am supposed to care about this, why? We are doing absolutely nothing to combat Islamic extremism, and instead doing everything we can to feed it.

  9. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Tony W: Yeah, creating a power vacuum in the middle east, on the national credit card, tops a long list of dubious accomplishments for Mr. Bush.

    Why does that sound so familiar?

    Oh, that’s because it’s what Obama does. He takes a Bush policy, says it’s bad, and then does the same thing, but with the stupid turned up to 11. And STILL it’s Bush’s fault.

  10. munchbox says:

    Now the right, again, gets to throw rocks at the adults trying to clean things up.

    by adults i assume you mean the zero? Zero has nurtured ISIS into the monster it is today. Had zero not pulled out our ground troops and Led from behind in Libya we wouldn’t be having this problem.

  11. Lounsbury says:

    In re the DAESH, eh… when did anyone get the impression that the US intervention was about changing the ground control in Syria? The intervention was provoked by the Iraqi situation and that was stabilized, reversed on ground controlled by the Kurds.

    Aside from the Bolshy partisan opposition, did anyone have any other actual impression? (If so, you’re daft I think). Attritioning DAESH and letting them alienate populations under their control seems like quite the scrumptious and practical strategy.

    @Tyrell: So you’re not only a loony-tune on issues energy and automobiles.

    ISIS has activated its “cells” in other countries and experts are warning the people to expect more of these horrendous attacks.

    Sheer bloody fantasy. So cretins freelancing is not the same as your action movie fantasies.

    The Muslim leaders must show that they mean business.

    Right becuase the Islamic Hive Mind so requires…

    What the hell a Maliki Sufi has in common with the DAESH and some salafist losers rather does escape, but I suppose once you start denouncing the US evangelical motivated attacks on gays promoted by American Evangelical Xians on the ChristianHive Mind Front (and the Pope really should get involved,because you know Christian….) then we’ll have a common action front, now won’t we.

    That is how Churchill, Eisenhower, Patton, Truman, Roosevelt, McArthur, and Marshall lead.

    Utterly daft comparison – what is it about USA where the entire world of international political thought is frozen to the idea that your pretension to leadership is modelled after WWII – it’s really at once idiotic and impoverished, and extremely boring.

  12. Surreal American says:

    That is how Churchill, Eisenhower, Patton, Truman, Roosevelt, McArthur, and Marshall lead.

    By coordinating efforts with Stalin?

  13. PJ says:

    @munchbox:
    There were about 358,100 boys born in England and Wales in 2013.
    8,006 of these were named Mohammed, Muhammed, Mohammad, or Muhammad. (The Independent forgot Muhammed.)

    8,006/358,100 … … … that’s …. like …. 2.2%.

    Clearly the islamists are taking over…

    This is all tragic, you really need to get a life, and a clue.

  14. PJ says:

    @gVOR08:
    I can’t help it. I need help. Is there a support group for troll feeders?

  15. PD Shaw says:

    I think the map is a little misleading in that a lot of the large territory increases are in the desert. There are not many people living in the “red” states subdistricts away from the towns on the Euphrates that were mostly already in ISIS control. Otherwise any gains appear to be at the expense of regime opposition groups.

  16. michael reynolds says:

    It’s sad to see this kind of superficial commentary from From Dave Schuler, but he’s not an expert. You, James, are supposed to be an expert, and I’m frankly embarrassed for you.

    The source – the only real source – are our “moderate allies.” So consider that source and their obvious motives.

    But even taking what they say at face value the analysis is laughable. ISIS has as its stated goal the conquest of the entire Arab Middle East. And yet they have lost Kobani the one place they applied maximum effort. The Saudis are building an impressive armed border, Hezbollah is keeping them out of Lebanon and they’ve lost ground in Iraq.

    Do you and Dave not understand just how absurd it is to base a claim on square footage of empty desert?

    1) Lost at Kobani.
    2) No progress against Kurdistan, Jordan, Lebanon or Saudi Arabia.
    3) Lost ground in Iraq.
    4) Incapable of really threatening Assad.
    5) Filling in the blanks in an empty desert.

    Good grief, people. When the Nazis were stopped at Stalingrad and Leningrad and Moscow they kept seizing neglected villages along their supply line. There was a period of time when the clueless might have said, “Look! They’re gaining territory!” No one who understood the military realities would have agreed, and history was clear on the matter.

    ISIS as a “Caliphate” has already lost. It has been contained, it is being degraded, all at a cost of 3 Americans and in about 5 months’ time. It may morph into a terrorist group, but that will signal defeat for them, not victory.

  17. michael reynolds says:

    @PD Shaw:

    Thank you. And may I add, “Duh.” I would have thought that would be obvious to James and Dave.

  18. JohnMcC says:

    Unpacking the Original Post, one turns over a rock and finds virtually nothing there. We have an unidentified ‘pentagon official’, a Syrian-American activist who has been involved in ‘working’ the US political system to oppose the Assad regime (Mouaz Moustafa who arranged Sen McCain’s tour of Syria way back when) and a questionable ‘think tank’ (‘the Institute for the Study of War’ partially supported by Raytheon, spokesperson Jennifer Cafarella with academic attainments that seem to have stopped with a BA from Minnesota-Twin Cities).

    Armed with dubious claims from this menagerie we put together a lengthy cut-and-paste essay that in some undefined way seems to criticize the administration’s Syria policy.

    Disappointing, Dr Joyner. I know you can do better.

  19. michael reynolds says:

    @Lounsbury:

    Utterly daft comparison – what is it about USA where the entire world of international political thought is frozen to the idea that your pretension to leadership is modelled after WWII – it’s really at once idiotic and impoverished, and extremely boring.

    Because all the history they know is the Civil War and WW2, and what they think they know about those two events is wrong.

    I’m sorry to break it to my fellow Americans, but by the time we got physically engaged in the European theater in WW2 (November 1942) the Nazis were already driving in reverse. And our first contribution was a humiliating collapse in the face of the rump of an Afrika Corps that was busy retreating from Montgomery. As we were fleeing at Kasserine Pass, the Soviets were watching the shattered remains of the German army pull out of Stalingrad. By July of 1943 the Germans were obliterated at Kursk.

    We certainly contributed in a big way, but the UK had already endured the Blitz and the Atlantic submarine war before we sauntered in to take Sicily, fail to take Italy, and finally, succeed at Normandy.

  20. Slugger says:

    About three years ago, the guy who sells me falafel asked me why the US was supporting the rebels in Syria. He is a Christian of Greek ethnicity born and raised in Syria. He said that the rebels were Sunni, jihadis, Salafists believers in Sharia just like their main sponsor, the House of Saud. The rebels destroy the houses of worship of anyone not of their sect and use harsh measures against anyone not of their confession. My falafel guy was upset that John McCain went there and got himself photographed with leaders of Jabhat al-Nusra who were known killers of religious minorities.
    The US has given support to the anti-Assad effort. Now one of the anti-Assad groups has turned out to be too ambitious and want not only to control Syria and even Iraq but claim the title of Caliphate or leader of the whole Sunni world at a minimum which means that they dispute the holdings of the House of Saud to the sites of Mecca and Medina as well as the oil, oil, oil.
    Our strategy is to support “moderate rebels” who I put in quotes because I have no information that they exist.
    I think we should step back to assess the intersts of our country in a situation where it is easy to identify lots of bad guys, but good guys seem to be scarce. This will require serious thinking. We could take the shortcut of asking Senator McCain and doing the opposite.

  21. JKB says:

    @michael reynolds:

    So according to your narrative, hero of the Progressives, Franklin Delano Roosevelt purposely killed hundreds of thousands of American men for no good military reason. However, according to Progressive hero, Paul Krugman, entering the war and sending productive men to their deaths did bring the country out the decade long Great Depression FDR and the Progressives had created in America.

  22. Guarneri says:

    ISIS leaders were horrified and called emergency strategy meetings after learning that Pres Obama had met with Secy of State John Kerry and approved distribution of what amounted to a Doomsday machine :

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=VlrKETxwRvM

  23. michael reynolds says:

    @JKB:

    No, don’t be ridiculous.

    FDR tried to get us into that war earlier only to be stymied by pacifist Dems and the GOP. The only reason we were remotely ready was that FDR had laid the groundwork for an arms build-up. Thank God. Against opposition from within his party and yours.

    While we are not the shining heroes of the European theater we made very large contributions. By the time we got in the forces of the British Empire had already been fighting for a very long time, in a whole lot of places. They had just about run out of Englishmen and were running out of colonials. And the German navy was sinking ships left and right. Had we not entered the war in the Atlantic, England might have starved.

    Our biggest contribution was in materiel, not men. Our food, our ships, planes and (lousy) tanks made it possible for England to survive and begin pushing the Germans back in Africa.

    And the UK was in no shape to take Sicily by itself and that was vital to controlling the Mediterranean, holding onto allied gains in North Africa, protecting the Suez Canal, etc…

    So we saved Britain and its empire. And we liberated France and were able to take part of Germany and sow the seeds of the postwar era. But the Soviets beat Germany – albeit with some material help from us and thanks in part to our cleverly pinning some Germans down in an amazingly ill-conceived effort to take Italy from south to north.

    No, FDR is a great, great man – despised by your party – in large part because he lied to the American people and manipulated public opinion, and even then needed the timely assist unintentionally supplied by Japan at Pearl Harbor. Without FDR the Nazis would still have lost, but England would have been permanently impoverished and France (and others) would likely have fallen under Soviet domination.

  24. lounsbury says:

    @munchbox: Right of course as Muslim = Islamist, ipso facto….

  25. C. Clavin says:

    I’m missing the point here even if you buy the statements of these sources who have a clear agenda.
    ISIS has taken control of a bunch of desert?
    But has been kept out of Kobani…which is what they really want?
    Is your argument that we should be commiting resources to defend desert?
    The civil war Bush and Cheney tee’d up continues…meh.
    I’m more concerned with the small cells and lone wolfs, setting up shop in the worlds urban centers, who are virtually impossible to stop.
    A couple successful attacks and the right wing nut jobs will be doing everything they can to eliminate freedoms in the name of freedom.

  26. michael reynolds says:

    @lounsbury:

    That’s how Malala Yousafzai got her Nobel: for being an Islamist Jihadi.

  27. michael reynolds says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Kind of like the way here in California the Republicans have so much more territory than Democrats. Here’s a map. My God, look at all that Republican acreage. They’ve got Needles! They’ve got Barstow! And what do we have? Just Los Angeles and San Francisco and Silicon Valley, while they have Twenty-Nine Palms!

  28. C. Clavin says:

    @michael reynolds:
    I do like twenty nine palms.

    I think the lesson here, which I assume James and David are selling, is that if only we had left 100,000 troops there and kept spending billions every month despite the wishes of the Iraqis and the American people then we wouldn’t have lost that desert.

  29. Modulo Myself says:

    Wow–a map generated by the Coalition for a Democratic Syria, a group that has called for military intervention in Syria. Why it must be true. Next thing you know, a group with Bill Kristol’s son-in-law will announce that appeasement is putting us in danger and another group led by Bill Kristol’s other son-in-law will say it’s time for Obama to get serious about terrorism, which means calling it by his real name.

    I don’t know what’s worse–that people might fall for obvious propaganda, or that nobody even wants to pretend they care about the truth.

  30. anjin-san says:

    they have Twenty-Nine Palms!

    I hear you can get great waffles there…

  31. Gustopher says:

    @Surreal American:

    That is how Churchill, Eisenhower, Patton, Truman, Roosevelt, McArthur, and Marshall lead.

    By coordinating efforts with Stalin?

    That would be Assad this time around.

    Ok, there are no moderate rebels in Syria — they just don’t exist in any significant numbers. That basically means we will either have an endgame with Assad, radicalized rebels, ISIS, or a US dominated nation building effort there. Or continuing civil war.

    Nation building didn’t turn out well in Afghanistan or Iraq, and there’s no reason the believe Syria would be different.

    Are there any other options? Is there a nice general in the Syrian army who could lead a coup against Assad and then unite the people of Syria? Can we persuade the Turks that they want to rebuild the Ottoman Empire starting with Syria?

    So far, our strategy has been to push ISIS out of Iraq, and that seems to be working. But, we don’t even have an idea of what we want Syria to be in the medium term (a western leaning liberal democracy will not just suddenly appear), so it’s really impossible to say that ISIS gains of mostly empty desert is our policy failing.

  32. michael reynolds says:

    @C. Clavin:

    No, I don’t think either James or Dave want to put more men in. They just both bought the conventional wisdom blather about a “lack of strategy.” The sources of that failed analysis range from interventionists to the come-home-America folks who want to walk away from it all, to Army generals who can never accept the notion that we don’t need 1000 tanks rolling across the desert in a cloud of dust to manage this ISIS infestation.

    It’s just the latest iteration of Obama Derangement Syndrome. Six years’ worth of James and Dave both explaining at great length the many ways in which Barack Obama cannot possibly do what he then proceeds to do.

    ISIS as an army, as a viable land force, is screwed. They missed their window for going after the KSA and instead impaled themselves on Kobani. Now they have to figure out how to rationalize failure and keep recruitment up, so they’ll presumably go to more “traditional” forms of terrorism: infiltration and bombs in Jordan or KSA, the odd terrorist attack in the West, rinse and repeat.

    You cannot win a desert war when the other side totally dominates the air. You just can’t.

  33. lounsbury says:

    Outside of the world of pointless American navel gazing, <DAESH is continuing to bleed itself in its own little Stalingrad, rather nicely supported by air power (and leveraging the only decidedly non-salafist and non regimepower base, the Kurds, in Syria):

    In the video, a Tunisian fighter among the large contingent of foreign jihadis fighting in Kobani, was shown wearing sunglasses and carrying a Kalashnikov assault rifle. He made a pledge to ISIS group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi that militants in Kobani were willing to fight to “the last drop of blood.”

    “We are not scared by their warplanes,” the fighter said.

    It’s great that meglomaniacal, resentment driven aggrandizing dictators have similar mental flaws….

  34. jukeboxgrad says:

    munchbox:

    Had zero not pulled out our ground troops

    Are you in favor of higher taxes to pay for your never-ending war, or do you prefer the Bush approach of sending the bill to our kids? Just curious.

  35. jukeboxgrad says:

    Tony W:

    Yeah, creating a power vacuum in the middle east, on the national credit card, tops a long list of dubious accomplishments for Mr. Bush.

    Yup. Sunni and Shia have been at war for 1,500 years. As George Will pointed out last year, “Saddam Hussein’s horrific tyranny at least controlled Iraq’s sectarian furies.” Notice this prediction that was made years ago, about what would happen once Saddam’s government was removed:

    … we’d have had to put another government in its place. What kind of government? Should it be a Sunni government or Shi’i government or a Kurdish government or Ba’athist regime? Or maybe we want to bring in some of the Islamic fundamentalists? How long would we have had to stay in Baghdad to keep that government in place? What would happen to the government once U.S. forces withdrew? How many casualties should the United States accept in that effort to try to create clarity and stability in a situation that is inherently unstable?

    Who said that? Dick Cheney, 4/29/91. He once understood that Iraq without Saddam would be “inherently unstable.” Too bad he developed Romnesia and forgot that later.

    ISIS exists because Bush removed Saddam. There was no AQ in Iraq until Bush invited them in by removing Saddam. Conservatives think history began on 1/20/09.

  36. Tyrell says:

    @Guarneri: One of my favorite songs from the ’70’s. I also liked “Ahab the Arab, the sheik of the burning sands”. I heard that the other day on some country music station.

  37. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @JKB: FDR created the Great Depression? WTF??? Did he also go to Hawaii to plantpo the (postdated) birth certificate that Obama would need, too?

    You gotta get out more, dude!

  38. JohnMcC says:

    For anyone who like I do comes to these threads late, there is a related article on Dr Juan Cole’s fine website Informed Comment. Headline: Iraqi Shiites, Fuming over Slow US Fight against ISIL, Threaten to Revoke Agreement.” Which stripped of it’s ya-ya-ya basically finds that another constituency for letting US soldiers solve a regional problem for that constituency has found a microphone. Amazing, I know. But there it is, as young Andre-Louie Moreau knew back in the day, ‘dog does NOT eat dog!’

  39. Kari Q says:

    @Just ‘nutha’ ig’rant cracker:

    @JKB: FDR created the Great Depression?

    Yes, according to the right wing, FDR is responsible for the Great Depression. Because when he took office, unemployment was 25%, and by 1937 it had shot up to 11%. From 1933 through 1937 the economy grew at a meager annualized rate of 9% per year.

    Then he briefly wised up and imposed austerity, only to reverse course when the economy began to improve. Why in 1937 unemployment increased by 5% and manufacturing declined by 33%, so things were looking up. Unfortunately he didn’t let the benefits of austerity continue, he returned to deficit spending, and unemployment dropped and manufacturing recovered the lost ground. What a missed opportunity.

  40. Tony W says:

    @Kari Q: It’s as if schools south of the Mason Dixon line don’t even read Orwell.

  41. Grewgills says:

    @Tony W:
    I’m not sure where you are getting your information. I’m guessing you are sitting on that source at the moment. I grew up in the bible belt and I can assure you we read Orwell.

  42. Barry says:

    @Surreal American: “By coordinating efforts with Stalin?”

    And at the end of the cooperation, did not Stalin control more territory and people? 🙂

  43. Barry says:

    @lounsbury: ““We are not scared by their warplanes,” the fighter said.”

    That doesn’t really bother me; I hope that they stand out in the open and bravely shout defiance at those warplanes. Maybe they could fire streams of tracers up in the air, to intimidate them – yeah, that’d be nice.

  44. Barry says:

    BTW, those interested in a good analysis should Google ‘The War Nerd’.

  45. Recon says:

    @Tony W:

    Ah yes, the power vacuum. Which one would you be referring to specifically, Tony? The one in Syria, where IS originated, or the one in Iraq, with the duly elected government whose success “the adults” lauded as fait accompli while they withdrew the troops that had been riding herd on it against the counsel of all those other children in the military and that of various Iraq Ambassador’s as well?
    Any thoughts on “the adults” successes in Libya, Tony? How about Yemen? And when exactly was it that Bush invaded Syria, anyway? I seem to have missed that.
    I’m a little unclear as to what these adults are accomplishing as far as “clean up” goes in general, Tony. As far as I can tell, “the adults” have spent some seven months to acquire all of about half a city.