6
   

The Guardian Suggests a way I agree with to handle Isis.

 
 
Reply Tue 16 Sep, 2014 06:30 pm
The Islamic State (Isis) is without question a very brutal extremist group with origins in the insurgency of the United States occupation of Iraq. It has rapidly ascended to global attention by taking control of swaths of territory in western and northern Iraq, including Mosul and other major cities.

Based on my experience as an all-source analyst in Iraq during the organization’s relative infancy, Isis cannot be defeated by bombs and bullets – even as the fight is taken to Syria, even if it is conducted by non-Western forces with air support.

I believe that Isis is fueled precisely by the operational and tactical successes of European and American military force that would be – and have been – used to defeat them. I believe that Isis strategically feeds off the mistakes and vulnerabilities of the very democratic western states they decry. The Islamic State’s center of gravity is, in many ways, the United States, the United Kingdom and those aligned with them in the region.

When it comes to regional insurgency with global implications, Isis leaders are canny strategists. It’s clear to me that they have a solid and complete understanding of the strengths and, more importantly, the weaknesses of the west. They know how we tick in America and Europe – and they know what pushes us toward intervention and overreach. This understanding is particularly clear considering the Islamic State’s astonishing success in recruiting numbers of Americans, Britons, Belgians, Danes and other Europeans in their call to arms.

Attacking Isis directly, by air strikes or special operations forces, is a very tempting option available to policymakers, with immediate (but not always good) results. Unfortunately, when the west fights fire with fire, we feed into a cycle of outrage, recruitment, organizing and even more fighting that goes back decades. This is exactly what happened in Iraq during the height of a civil war in 2006 and 2007, and it can only be expected to occur again.

And avoiding direct action with Isis can be successful. For instance, in 2009 and 2010, forerunners to the Isis group attacked civilians in suicide and car bombings in downtown Baghdad to try and provoke American intervention and sectarian unrest. But they were often not effective in their recruiting efforts when American and Iraqi forces refused (or were unable) to respond, because the barbarity and brutality of their attacks worked against them. When we did respond, however, the attacks were sold to the Sunni minority in Iraq as a justified response to an occupying government favoring the Shia government led by former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Based on my intelligence work in Iraq during that period, I believe that only a very focused and consistent strategy of containment can be effective in reducing the growth and effectiveness of Isis as a threat. And so far, Western states seem to have adopted that strategy. With very public humanitarian disasters, however, like the ones on Mount Sinjar and Irbil in northern Iraq, and the beheadings of journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, this discipline gets tested and can begin to fray.

As a strategy to disrupt the growth of Isis, I suggest focusing on four arenas:

Counter the narrative in online Isis recruitment videos – including professionally made videos and amateur battle selfies – to avoid, as best as possible, the deliberate propaganda targeting of desperate and disaffected youth. This would rapidly prevent the recruitment of regional and western members.
Set clear, temporary borders in the region, publicly. This would discourage Isis from taking certain territory where humanitarian crises might be created, or humanitarian efforts impeded.
Establish an international moratorium on the payment of ransom for hostages, and work in the region to prevent Isis from stealing and taxing historical artifacts and valuable treasures as sources of income, and especially from taking over the oil reserves and refineries in Bayji, Iraq. This would disrupt and prevent Isis from maintaining stable and reliable sources of income.
Let Isis succeed in setting up a failed “state” – in a contained area and over a long enough period of time to prove itself unpopular and unable to govern. This might begin to discredit the leadership and ideology of Isis for good.
Eventually, if they are properly contained, I believe that Isis will not be able to sustain itself on rapid growth alone, and will begin to fracture internally. The organization will begin to disintegrate into several smaller, uncoordinated entities – ultimately failing in their objective of creating a strong state.

But the world just needs to be disciplined enough to let the Isis fire die out on its own, intervening carefully and avoiding the cyclic trap of “mission creep”. This is certainly a lot to ask for. But Isis is wielding a sharp, heavy and very deadly double-edged sword. Now just wait for them to fall on it.
 
One Eyed Mind
 
  0  
Reply Tue 16 Sep, 2014 06:31 pm
"very brutal"

Running out of adjectives, are we?
0 Replies
 
thack45
 
  2  
Reply Tue 16 Sep, 2014 07:10 pm
@edgarblythe,
A disciplined world would hardly make a buck for anyone. Geez Edgar, stop being so selfish
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Tue 16 Sep, 2014 07:22 pm
@thack45,
Before they ever went into Afghanistan, I told my brother, "They will never pacify that part of the world." Before Bush invaded Iraq, I told another brother, who was gung ho for it, "You will not be happy with the way that war ends." Enough is enough. The only way to fight your way to outright victory would be through a genocide of the people there.
One Eyed Mind
 
  -1  
Reply Tue 16 Sep, 2014 07:27 pm
@edgarblythe,
Edgar, everywhere is fucked.

Pain is pain.

Fear is fear.

Death is death.

By your logic, this entire species needs to be nuked, but here's where my brain wins over your brain - Wise men fix their tools when they are broken - Unwise men replace their tools when they are broken.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Wed 17 Sep, 2014 01:55 pm
The ones beating the drums for war loudest are tied to contractors. Of course they want more and more war.

This post first appeared at The Nation.

If you read enough news and watch enough cable television about the threat of the Islamic State, the radical Sunni Muslim militia group better known simply as ISIS, you will inevitably encounter a parade of retired generals demanding an increased US military presence in the region. They will say that our government should deploy, as retired General Anthony Zinni demanded, up to 10,000 American boots on the ground to battle ISIS. Or as in retired General Jack Keane’s case, they will make more vague demands, such as for “offensive” air strikes and the deployment of more military advisers to the region.

But what you won’t learn from media coverage of ISIS is that many of these former Pentagon officials have skin in the game as paid directors and advisers to some of the largest military contractors in the world. Ramping up America’s military presence in Iraq and directly entering the war in Syria, along with greater military spending more broadly, is a debatable solution to a complex political and sectarian conflict. But those goals do unquestionably benefit one player in this saga: America’s defense industry.

Keane is a great example of this phenomenon. His think tank, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), which he oversees along with neoconservative partisans Liz Cheney and William Kristol, has provided the data on ISIS used for multiple stories by The New York Times, the BBC and other leading outlets.


Jack Keane (Screenshot: Fox News)

Keane has appeared on Fox News at least nine times over the last two months to promote the idea that the best way to stop ISIS is through military action — in particular, through air strikes deep into ISIS-held territory. In one of the only congressional hearings about ISIS over the summer, Keane was there to testify and call for more American military engagement. On Wednesday evening, Keane declared President Obama’s speech on defeating ISIS insufficient, arguing that a bolder strategy is necessary. “I truly believe we need to put special operation forces in there,” he told host Megyn Kelly.

Left unsaid during his media appearances (and left unmentioned on his congressional witness disclosure form) are Keane’s other gigs: as special adviser to Academi, the contractor formerly known as Blackwater; as a board member to tank and aircraft manufacturer General Dynamics; a “venture partner” to SCP Partners, an investment firm that partners with defense contractors, including XVionics, an “operations management decision support system” company used in Air Force drone training; and as president of his own consulting firm, GSI LLC.

To portray Keane as simply a think tank leader and a former military official, as the media have done, obscures a fairly lucrative career in the contracting world. For the General Dynamics role alone, Keane has been paid a six-figure salary in cash and stock options since he joined the firm in 2004; last year, General Dynamics paid him $258,006.

Keane did not immediately return a call requesting comment for this article.

Disclosure would also help the public weigh Keane’s policy advocacy. For instance, in his August 24 opinion column for The Wall Street Journal, in which he was bylined only as a retired general and the chairman of ISW, Keane wrote that “the time has come to confront the government of Qatar, which funds and arms ISIS and other Islamist terrorist groups such as Hamas.” While media reports have linked fundraisers for ISIS with individuals operating in Qatar (though not the government), the same could be said about Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, where many of the major donors of ISIS reportedly reside. Why did Keane single out Qatar and ignore Saudi Arabia and Kuwait? Is it because his company, Academi, has been a major business partner to the United Arab Emirates, Qatar’s primary rival in the region?

Other examples abound.


Anthony Zinni (Screenshot: Charlie Rose)

In a Washington Post story about Obama’s decision not to deploy troops to combat ISIS, retired Marine General James Mattis was quoted as a skeptic. “The American people will once again see us in a war that doesn’t seem to be making progress,” Mattis told the paper. Left unmentioned was Mattis’s new role as Keane’s colleague on the General Dynamics corporate board, a role that afforded Mattis $88,479 in cash and stock options in 2013.

Retired General Anthony Zinni, perhaps the loudest advocate of a large deployment of American soliders into the region to fight ISIS, is a board member to BAE Systems’ US subsidiary, and also works for several military-focused private equity firms.

CNN pundit Frances Townsend, a former Bush administration official, has recently appeared on television calling for more military engagement against ISIS. As the Public Accountability Initiative, a nonprofit that studies elite power structures, reported, Townsend “holds positions in two investment firms with defense company holdings, MacAndrews & Forbes and Monument Capital Group and serves as an advisor to defense contractor Decision Sciences.”


Fran Townsend (Screenshot: CSPAN)

“Mainstream news outlets have a polite practice of identifying former generals and former congressmembers as simply ‘formers’ — neglecting to inform the public of what these individuals are doing now, which is often quite pertinent information, like that they are corporate lobbyists or board members,” says Jeff Cohen, an associate professor of journalism at Ithaca College.

Media outlets might justify their omissions by reasoning that these pundits have merely advocated certain military strategies, not specific weapons systems, so disclosure of their financial stake in the policy need not be made. Yet the drumbeat for war has already spiraled into calls for increased military spending that lifts all boats — or non-operational jets for that matter.

When the Pentagon sent a recent $2 billion request for ramped-up operations in the Middle East, supposedly to confront the ISIS issue, budget details obtained by Bloomberg News revealed that officials asked for money for additional F-35 planes. The F-35 is not in operation and would not be used against ISIS. The plane is notoriously over budget and perpetually delayed — some experts call it the most expensive weapon system in human history — with a price tag now projected to be over $1 trillion. In July, an engine fire grounded the F-35 fleet and again delayed the planned debut of the plane. How it ended up in the Pentagon’s Middle East wish list is unclear.

“I think an inclination to use military action a lot is something the defense industry subscribes to because it helps to perpetuate an overall climate of permissiveness towards military spending,” says Ed Wasserman, dean of the UC Berkeley Graduate School for Journalism. Wasserman says that the media debate around ISIS has tilted towards more hawkish former military leaders, and that the public would be best served not only with better disclosure but also a more balanced set of opinions that would include how expanded air strikes could cause collateral civil casualties. ”The past fifty years has a lot of evidence of the ineffectiveness of air power when it comes to dealing with a more nimble guerrilla-type adversary, and I’m not hearing this conversation,” he notes.

The pro-war punditry of retired generals has been the subject of controversy in the past. In a much-cited 2008 exposé, The New York Times revealed a network of retired generals on the payroll of defense contractors who carefully echoed the Bush administration’s Iraq war demands through appearances on cable television.

The paper’s coverage of the run-up to a renewed conflict in the region today has been notably measured, including many voices skeptical of calls for a more muscular military response to ISIS. Nonetheless, the Times has relied on research from a contractor-funded advocacy organization as part of its ISIS coverage. Reports produced by Keane’s ISW have been used to support six different infographics used for Times stories since June. The Times has not mentioned Keane’s potential conflict of interest or that ISW may have a vested stake in its policy positions. The Public Accountability Initiative notes that ISW’s corporate sponsors represent “a who’s who of the defense industry and includes Raytheon, SAIC, Palantir, General Dynamics, CACI, Northrop Grumman, DynCorp and L-3 Communication.” As the business network CNBC reported this week, Raytheon in particular has much to gain from escalation in Iraq, as the company produces many of the missiles and radar equipment used in airstrikes.

In addition to providing reports and quotes for the media, ISW leaders have demanded a greater reaction to ISIS from the Obama administration. In The Weekly Standard this week, ISW president Kim Kagan wrote that President Obama’s call for a limited engagement against ISIS “has no chance of success.”

ISW’s willingness to push the envelope has gotten the organization into hot water before. In 2013, ISW suffered an embarrassing spectacle when one of its analysts, Elizabeth O’Bagy, was found to have inflated her academic credentials, touting a PhD from a Georgetown program that she had never entered.

But memories are short, and the media outlets now relying heavily on ISW research have done little to scrutinize the think tank’s policy goals. Over the last two years, ISW, including O’Bagy, were forcefully leading the push to equip Syrian rebels with advanced anti-tank and anti-aircraft weaponry to defeat Bashar al-Assad.

For Keane, providing arms to Syrian rebels, even anti-American groups, was a worthwhile gamble. In an interview with Fox Business Network in May of last year, Keane acknowledged that arming Syrian rebels might mean “weapons can fall into radical Islamists’ hands.” He continued, “It is true the radical Islamists have gained in power and influence mainly because we haven’t been involved and that is a fact, but it’s still true we have vetted some of these moderate rebel groups with the CIA, and I’m convinced we can — it’s still acceptable to take that risk, and let’s get on with changing momentum in the war.” 

That acceptable risk Keane outlined has come to fruition. Recent reports now indicate that US-made weapons sent from American allies in the region to Syrian rebels have fallen into the hands of ISIS.

Keane, and ISW, is undeterred. The group just put out a call for 25,000 ground troops in Iraq and Syria.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Sep, 2014 09:08 am
By SEUNG MIN KIM | 9/17/14 1:04 PM EDT
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) left little question Wednesday on her position on sending U.S. combat troops to battle the crisis in the Middle East: not a chance.

The top House Democrat flatly ruled out supporting ground troops against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant under any scenario — opposition that came as Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey told a Senate panel Tuesday he would recommend that option if the current U.S. strategy does not succeed.

“I will not vote for combat troops to engage in war,” Pelosi told reporters on Wednesday. “All I can say to you is … we are not there to support combat troops in any of these engagements.”

That view is reflected broadly among the House Democratic Caucus, Pelosi said, though it is not unanimous.

When pressed whether she could see scenarios where she could support combat troops into the region, Pelosi said her opposition is a “blanket no” and even if the circumstances worsen, “the less reason, I think, we should send in troops.”

“I don’t think the American people are up for it,” she said. “I don’t know that it would even achieve success to send troops in. But whatever it is, I’m against it.”

She defended Obama’s request to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels, which the Republican-led House is poised to approve later Wednesday, despite considerable opposition from both parties. Pelosi stressed that it was a “short-term initiative” and should not be “confused” with broader military authorization.

“I don’t know how the vote will turn out,” Pelosi said. “It’s not a vote we whip. We just don’t whip war votes.”



Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/09/nancy-pelosi-isil-us-ground-troops-111059.html#ixzz3DgE5ogNs
0 Replies
 
thack45
 
  2  
Reply Thu 18 Sep, 2014 09:19 am
Pelosi is ignoring the power of fear mongering that some R's have alrrady started. Of course this intentional, arrogant ignorance is SOP for the dems. To my mind, ground troops in Iraq is all but a done deal
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Thu 18 Sep, 2014 09:21 am
@thack45,
I agree. But we who oppose should not merely roll over.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Thu 18 Sep, 2014 09:22 am
Bush's little quickie war is an ever expanding tragedy.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Fri 19 Sep, 2014 02:07 pm
The votes to authorize costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan still haunt some lawmakers more than a decade after those wars began. No one knows this better than the current crop of presidential hopefuls in the Senate, who on Thursday had to decide whether to approve President Barack Obama's request to arm and train Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State.

A conflicted Congress this week approved $500 million in funding to equip Syrian rebels, thereby authorizing the Obama administration to expand its military campaign against extremists in the region. The measure, which in the Senate was attached to a must-pass bill to fund the government, cleared by a vote of 78 to 22. The vote was largely bipartisan, with 45 Democrats and 33 Republicans supporting the measure, while 10 Democrats and 12 Republicans opposed it.

By avoiding a standalone up-or-down vote on the Syria matter, Senate leaders gave their members political cover on a hot-button issue less than two months before the midterm elections.

The tally provides some insight into the inclinations of those senators considering a presidential run in 2016. All potential 2016 candidates for the White House voted against, except Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Here's where they stand:

Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)

The Florida Republican and Senate Foreign Relations Committee member has positioned himself as one of the most hawkish voices of his party in recent days. Though he voted in September 2013 against airstrikes against the Syrian government, Rubio on Thursday signed off on the latest escalation of U.S. involvement in Syria. In a statement shortly after the vote, Rubio said that action was necessary because "if we fail to influence the direction of that situation, it would leave open a space for radical jihadists from all over the world to establish an operational space from which they could carry out their plots – not just against us, but all free and freedom-loving and peace-loving people in the world."

Ted Cruz (R-Texas)

In a bit of a surprise, the conservative firebrand known for supporting a muscular U.S. policy abroad voted against the measure. Cruz, who recently proposed bombing Islamic State militants "back to the Stone Age," echoed concerns among both Republicans and Democrats that arming Syrian rebels was a risky endeavor, one that could further destabilize the region and possibly even empower President Bashar Assad. “The Continuing Resolution funds Obama’s Amnesty, it funds Obamacare, and it funds military operations in Syria that are not authorized by Congress and are dependent on unreliable actors in the region," he said in a statement explaining his vote.

Rand Paul (R-Ky.)

Despite recent attempts to shed his reputation as an isolationist, the Kentucky Republican voted against arming and training Syrian rebels. While Paul said that he supported an air campaign to fight the Islamic State, he expressed concern that arms provided to moderate Syrian rebels could wind up in the wrong hands. Paul, who has also said that Congress needs to authorize the new military campaign, gave a fiery speech on the Senate floor ahead of Thursday’s vote to criticize the president's plan. “It’s not that I’m against all intervention. I do see ISIS as a problem. ISIS is a threat to us,” Paul said. “There are valid reasons for going to war. They should be few and far between. They should be very importantly debated, not shuffled into a 2,000 page bill and shuffled under the rug.”

Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)

The Massachusetts Democrat voted against the measure, and questioned whether arming moderate rebels would be effective in combating the Islamic State.

“I am deeply concerned by the rise of ISIS, and I support a strong, coordinated response, but I am not convinced that the current proposal to train and equip Syrian forces adequately advances our interests ... even if we could guarantee that our support goes to the right people, I remain unconvinced that training and equipping these forces will be effective in pushing back ISIS," she said, according to the Boston Globe.

In what may have been an appeal to the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party, Warren highlighted her concern that the measure would lead to a prolonged military engagement in the region.

Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

The Vermont senator, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, has been making headlines recently for a possible progressive challenge to Hillary Clinton, should she decide to run in 2016. Sanders polls well behind Clinton and even Vice President Joe Biden, but he could point to his vote against arming Syrian rebels, among other progressive positions, to pressure the former secretary of state from the left. While he supports airstrikes against Islamic State extremists, Sanders said in a statement after the vote that he fears "that supporting questionable groups in Syria who will be outnumbered and outgunned by both ISIS and the Assad regime could open the door to the United States once again being dragged back into the quagmire of long-term military engagement.”

Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)

If Hillary Clinton does enter the race, which by all indications appears likely, the road to the White House in 2016 is probably closed for Gillibrand. But in voting against the measure to arm Syrian rebels, as she did Thursday, Gillibrand may be laying the groundwork for the future. Her opposition was not unexpected, however.

After the vote, Gillibrand tweeted, "After consulting w/experts & admin officials, I don't believe arming the Syrian rebels is an effective strategy, & therefore voted no."
Huffpost article
0 Replies
 
One Eyed Mind
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Sep, 2014 12:10 am
We the people must own up to the fact that this mess was created by the U.S government. The end of Saddam created more death than when Saddam was alive. The U.S came to this country under the impression they were in possession of weapons of mass destruction. Instead of owning up to their global error, they took matter into their own hands and killed a man who knew how to run a deadly country. The U.S government does not understand that Saddam ran this country the way he did because it's not a country of love, peace and companionship, neither is ours - at least we created the illusion that it is; this is all it takes to create a dichotomy between the U.S and their country.
hingehead
 
  3  
Reply Mon 22 Sep, 2014 07:35 am
Interesting piece on the financial underpinnings of ISIS

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/34e874ac-3dad-11e4-b782-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3E34a3kdU
0 Replies
 
hingehead
 
  3  
Reply Wed 24 Sep, 2014 04:26 am
First dog nails it.

http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2014/9/24/1411539946412/firstdog-isis-800w.jpg
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  3  
Reply Wed 24 Sep, 2014 04:54 am
One point that really galls me is the Republicans demand to cut a penny for every new penny spent. Except when it comes to war. In that case, money is fuel for the fire. Shovel it in as fast as you wish. And too many Democrats oblige.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Sat 27 Sep, 2014 11:55 am
The war whoops of the pundit class helped propel the nation into yet another doomed military adventure in the Middle East. Ghastly beheadings by a newly discovered enemy were the frightening flashpoint. The president ordered bombers aloft and US munitions were once again pounding battlefields in Iraq — and as of last night, in Syria. The president promised to “degrade and destroy” this vicious opponent.

Here we go again, I thought. This is how modern America goes to war. When superpower Goliath is challenged by sudden savagery, it has no choice but to respond with brute force. Or so we are told. Otherwise, America would no longer be a convincing Goliath. When war bells clang, politicians of every stripe find it very difficult to resist, lest they look weak or unpatriotic. And the American people, as usual, rally around the flag, as they always do when the country seems threatened. Citizens and members of the uniformed military are tired of war, but both in a sense are prisoners of the media-hyped hysteria that is the usual political reflex. Shoot first, ask questions later.

Only this time something different seems to be unfolding. Some of the most belligerent political commentators like Thomas Friedman of The New York Times are beginning to sound, well, wimpish. The new war is only a few weeks old, but Friedman and other prominent cheerleaders are already expressing sober second thoughts.

“How did we start getting so afraid again so fast?” Friedman asked. He ought to remember because Tom Friedman was a leading fear-monger a dozen years ago when the United States invaded Iraq with “shock and awe” destruction. Now the columnist wants us to be cautious. “Before we get in any deeper,” he wrote, “let’s ask some radical questions, starting with: What if we did nothing?”

Radical indeed. In 2003, he celebrated US intervention as a generous gift to the Iraqi people. “The only reason Iraq has any chance for a decent outcome today,” Friedman boasted, “is because America was on the ground with tens of thousands of troops to act as that well-armed midwife, reasonably trusted and certainly feared by both sides, to manage Iraq’s transition to more consensual politics.”

What did Americans learn at the Iraq War? We learned not to believe cocky pundits with their grandiose ideas about how America would use its awesome military weapons to civilize other countries. That war-of-choice doctrine has been America’s foreign policy for the quarter century since the Cold War ended. We have deployed troops and weaponry around the world, looking for trouble in scores of countries. Sure enough, trouble found us.

The big media have been an important component of the US war machine because they transmit and amplify any potential dangers we are supposed to fear. Then the big-foot columnists act like theater critics, righteously questioning if the government performance has been sufficiently vigilant and aggressive. President Obama resisted these go-to-war pressures, hoping foreign policy could be gradually demilitarized. In the end, he surrendered to the battle cries.

Belated second thoughts by elite media may simply be an attempt to paper over their past failures and perhaps dodge blame for this new borderless war they helped promote. The evidence of how the press failed the country in that last war is so overwhelming, bringing it up again is like shooting fish in a barrel. If some pundits feel guilty, they have much to feel guilty about.

When George W. Bush’s war turned sour, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius offered an incredibly lame explanation for the media’s failure. “In a sense,” Ignatius wrote in 2004, “the media were victims of their own professionalism. Because there was little criticism of the war from Democrats and foreign policy analysts, journalistic rules meant we shouldn’t create a debate of their own.” The press is not supposed to stir up things on its own? That narrow notion of what reporters and editors are not supposed to do bluntly explains why media heavies in Washington serve their sources among the governing elites, without thinking much about the broader public.

Then Ignatius provided an even more damning excuse for not asking tough questions. “Because major news organizations knew the war was coming,” he explained. “We spent a lot of energy in the last three months before war preparing to cover it — arranging for reporters to be embedded with military units, purchasing chemical and biological weapons gear and setting up forward command posts in Kuwait that mirrored those of the US military.” War is exciting, war is a chance to dress up in camouflage suits and play like real soldiers.

Like Tom Friedman and others, Ignatius is elaborating on reasons why this new war in Iraq and Syria might not work out so well. His columns cite many critical questions, but without actually opposing the intervention. This is progress of a sort, but not so different from what he said during the last Iraq war. Ignatius apologized many times then for overlooking key factors but always retained his support.

“I don’t regret my support for toppling Hussein but I wish…” “I still think the war was a just cause but I worry…” “My own gut tells me this is a war worth fighting but I’m bothered…” “My own mistake was thinking more about the justice of overthrowing Saddam Hussein’s tyrannical regime than about the difficulty of building a new postwar Iraq.”

In the sophisticated milieu of Washington policy makers, it is acceptable to question specific policies or strategies, so long as you do not go overboard and denounce the administration’s overall objective. If you do that, you may discover that valued sources will no longer take your calls.

So it is possible that the various commentators criticizing elements of Obama’s war policy are actually reflecting what their government sources tell them and want to see published. The press is often used in this round-about way by agencies that want to lobby the White House on sensitive policy debates but without getting blamed. Sophisticated readers know, for instance, that David Ignatius is regarded as the CIA’s go-to guy at The Washington Post. His deep sources at the agency trust him not to violate their anonymity or intrude on dark secrets like torture or assassination. Washington insiders know how to read between the lines of unsourced stories and figure [out] who is pushing on whom.

In that regard, David Ignatius has raised some smart questions about how this war will be fought and the tension with Obama’s vow not to deploy uniformed American ground troops. The CIA, Ignatius pointed out, could help solve the problem if it is given the management role for special forces and for running paramilitary units covertly, the kind of war the agency often directed in the past.

“Let’s be honest,” Ignatius wrote. “US boots are already on the ground and more are coming. The question is whether Obama will decide to say so publicly, or remain in his preferred role as covert commander in chief.” Ignatius conceded that covert war by the CIA would quickly be known by the enemy. Only Americans would be kept in the dark.

These tactical issues will generate a lot of controversy in Washington, but they do not address the larger question facing American war-making. The US notion that it can pursue lots of little wars wherever it sees bad guys is a doomed concept. Not only do these wars fail their objectives — establishing peace and order — but they literally build recruiting strength for our so-called enemies (most people resent having their village bombed by Uncle Sam). If not this war, then maybe the next war will finally persuade the American public (if not Washington policy hounds) that this open-ended search for enemies is plain nuts. The United States must somehow find ways to back out of its exposure as the singular Goliath willing to fight on limitless fronts. Getting out of this trap won’t be easy, for sure, but neither is the foreign policy of endless war.

The best news I see in Washington right now is that scattered voices in the media and government are beginning to ask the right questions — the same questions Tom Friedman posed but did not quite answer. What exactly are we afraid of? What would happen if we did nothing? Among leading columnists, I have seen only two who are framing the American dilemma in a more straightforward way.

Columnist Eugene Robinson is a lonely voice at The Washington Post arguing for a fundamental shift. He has no touchy-feely illusions about holding hands with jihadists. But he knows repression by military force insures the cultural collision will get worse.

“Political Islam cannot be bombed away,” Robinson wrote. “If it is not somehow allowed constructive expression, it will make itself heard and felt, in more tragic ways.”

Robinson is a liberal. The other columnist exploring similar terrain is Ross Douthat of The New York Times, a conservative. Douthat suggested a hybrid strategy of containment and attrition that avoids a larger war in Syria and backs away from the illusions that ground warfare leads to nation-building. “It does not traffic, in other words, in the fond illusions that we took with us into Iraq in 2003 and that hard experience should have disabused of by now,” Douthat wrote. “But some illusions are apparently just too powerful for America to shake.”

The views expressed in this post are the author’s alone, and presented here to offer a variety of perspectives to our readers.

BMJ250SG2_WilliamGreider_sWilliam Greider is a prominent political journalist and author who has been a reporter for more than 35 years for newspapers, magazines and television. Over the past two decades, he has persistently challenged mainstream thinking on economics. He is the national affairs correspondent for The Nation.
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Sep, 2014 12:25 pm
Quote:
Let Isis succeed in setting up a failed “state” – in a contained area and over a long enough period of time to prove itself unpopular and unable to govern.

Saddam was unpopular, how long did he stick around? Second problem: ISIS has proven to be the most effective government these people have seen in a lot of years.
0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Sep, 2014 12:28 pm
@edgarblythe,
Quote:
The war whoops of the pundit class helped propel the nation into yet another doomed military adventure in the Middle East

At root this is the same problem as we have with our criminal justice system....we always conclude that no matter what the problem is the hammer is the right tool for the job, the bigger the better. We give Sadists a bad name, most sadists are not as stupid as we are.
0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Sep, 2014 12:37 pm
@thack45,
thack45 wrote:

Pelosi is ignoring the power of fear mongering that some R's have alrrady started. Of course this intentional, arrogant ignorance is SOP for the dems. To my mind, ground troops in Iraq is all but a done deal


THere are already 1600 active duty and many thousands of contractors (DOD will not tell us how many) in Iraq, and at least ten thousand active duty waging war in Iraq and Syria. The " ground troop" line in the sand is basically irrelevant, it is a matter of language manipulation.

http://www.stripes.com/news/in-place-of-boots-on-the-ground-us-seeks-contractors-for-iraq-1.301798
thack45
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Sep, 2014 12:52 pm
@edgarblythe,
Quote:
The best news I see in Washington right now is that scattered voices in the media and government are beginning to ask the right questions — the same questions Tom Friedman posed but did not quite answer. What exactly are we afraid of? What would happen if we did nothing? Among leading columnists, I have seen only two who are framing the American dilemma in a more straightforward way.


This is promising, if only slightly. It's disheartening how many don't seem to grasp the scope and reality of what's going on. Like if it's in print, or in a little TV box, it's somehow not so real.. dunno

As I mentioned above, I fully see US ground troops there in the future. Obama gave in to the cries for action, knowing full well what the results would-and wouldn't be. Only then, when the next wave of crying for action comes along, will he officially make the decision to send in the fodder. He can't not know what's going on here. The best we can hope for is a change in the tide, where more people look at the facts, and less listen to the woefully negligent talking heads. The appeal to emotion is effective, and an America beaten by radical brown people is the vehicle. Shameful, but that's the long and short of it for many an average 'Murican who doesn't think any further than they're provoked
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