Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 13, 2014

Iraq And The "Replacing The Head" Fallacy

Eight years after the United States and Iran agreed to enthrone Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister of Iraq they agreed to replace him with the relatively unknown Haider al-Abadi.

The United States claims it wants a more "inclusive" government while Iran goes along just making sure someone friendly to its own plans is at the top. Al-Abadi seems to fit both their ideas. But the hope that changing a head will change the path Iraq is on is vain. It is only very seldom the man at the top who is a country's problem.

It is a U.S. foreign policy fallacy that changing the man at the top, always likened to Hitler, will solve everything. The fallacy is somewhat self enforcing. Some "senior administration official" leaks to the media that X is probably not such a good man. The media then go around and collect anecdotes, rumors and quotes which support the unspecific claims about X. The next day the "senior administration official" reads the New York Times or watches CNN and fells affirmed in his position because, you know, X is really a very bad man and the sole problem and all you need to confirm that is right there in the media.

But usually it is not the person who manages a nation who is forming that nation. The nation and its situation are just as much forming the person leading it. Ghaddafi wasn't the way he was because he created Libya to his likeness but because successfully leading a united Libya required him to be the way he was. Russia is not re-surging because of Putin but because Putin formed his policies to the way Russia is. It is that, not his personality, that gives him sky high poll ratings. Maliki led Iraq in a way that gave him the support of the majority of its people. He did not give in to the blackmail by Sunni tribes which had become accustomed to the bribes the U.S. military had showered them with. It is that "lack of inclusiveness" that made him successful:

Mr. Maliki’s bloc won the most seats in April’s national election, and Mr. Maliki personally won more votes than any other politician.

If al-Abadi changes Maliki's major policies he will have no support from the majority of his country and will either end up as a brutal dictator or dead.

The rules of the political cycle in unruly countries apply:

  1. A strongman is replaced by a weak man who resorts to force to rule over a fractured society
  2. See #1

Replacing Maliki, a still complicate and uncertain process, will not change Iraq, its problems, like the U.S. support for a Kurdish oil state, or the policy decisions its leaders will have to make to stay liked and alive.

Posted by b on August 13, 2014 at 13:49 UTC | Permalink

next page »

Amerika is just trying to help the citizens of Iraq, that was hard to type. Oil, Amerika just wants their oil and it happens to be under Iraq to bad for them.

Posted by: jo6pac | Aug 13 2014 13:56 utc | 1

b this is a really great article, you'll like it, "Writing off America's losses in Iraq and Ukraine":

Posted by: Dave | Aug 13 2014 14:08 utc | 2

It is interesting to note the latest softening in Iran's position, however, regardless of the personalities (b's points being well taken):

1. Agree to a Maliki replacement in the hope of some US smiley faces, increased hits on ISIS, and a positive march toward a P5+1 November agreement.

2. Hamas folding most of its wings under Egypt's leadership (to some extent). This has Iran's signature.

3. HA has been surprisingly quiet in Lebanon - seems like Iran is willing to accept M14 resurgence ($1B is not too shabby if it ever gets there) to stem the rise of Sunni militants. Iran is shifting that fight to be a March 14 and Saudi problem.

Syria is the only notable exception to Iran's new policy: Assad is there to stay.

Posted by: MikeA | Aug 13 2014 14:18 utc | 3

No. I disagree. According to my info Maliki promised to give the Sunnis jobs in the military or the police. But after the US left Iraq he reneged on those promises and started to prosecute/kill them instead.
Later on he tried to reverse course but the damage was already done. The divide between the Sunnis & Shia has become permanent. It's a desperate attempt to change things in favour of the "iraqi government".
The corruption in the iraqi army runs very deep and it has weakened the Maliki government as well. Over time the iraqi government became weaker & weaker. Whatever the US and/or Iran will do doesn't matter any more. The current Iraqi government & parliament is/are "toast".

(Source: Patrick Cockburn).

Posted by: Willy2 | Aug 13 2014 14:23 utc | 4

Iran's policy can't be measured with the same "categorical imperatives" as the US on.

The driving aspect of the "near-abroad" policy is the long-term goal of promoting and facilitating regional trade of goods and services. The two basic rules shaping it are (1) respecting the sovereignty and (2) governments formed on the basis of the will of the people, not withstanding the way this is done, are the ones fitting Iranian interests the best.

Formulated and practiced in this way the policy, as a soft power tool, always keep a wining edge when competing with other actors in the region.

Posted by: ATH | Aug 13 2014 14:56 utc | 5

Can all this be a precursor to a public rapprochement between the U.S. and Iran? Or is that politically impossible? Could Iran send ground troops into Iran? Could Turkey?

Posted by: lysias | Aug 13 2014 15:02 utc | 6

I hear a lot of talk about Iran selling out, but I don't see it that way. Maliki was becoming a liability. For whatever reason, the Sadrists hated him and Sistani seemed not to have liked him much either. No need for Iran to stick it's neck out for him when someone else can do just as well.

Iran is also playing the covert game. The collapse of the iraqi army gives iran room to build up militias under their influence. Which is exactly what it's been doing.

Re Hamas, Egypt has always been next door and so has more control over the situation. Not that much Iran can do. And I suspect they are still angry Hamas backed the Syrian "rebels"

Lastly, Iran doesn't need to kiss US back side for a deal. With the US distracted by Russia, and with its control over global trade diminishing, its ability to punish Iran by sanctions dwindles. Iran is signing oil barter deals with Russia, is likely to join the SCO in September, etc.

The only leverage point the US has is its support for ISIS. That's not enough to scare Iran.

Posted by: Lysander | Aug 13 2014 15:16 utc | 7


Uh Iran wont send any troops and you really believe Isra..uh US want rapproachment with Iran?

Posted by: Anonymous | Aug 13 2014 15:21 utc | 8

Maliki also promised to not seek a third term ... I said yesterday I had never heard anyone say anything nice about this man. Certainly America came to hate him back in 2008 until after a year of "balking", he proved his mettle by attacking "his own people" allowing an attack on Sadr City, after which he was again embraced.

Whatever "popularity" as far as I can tell was his American backing, and his entrenched power (the military, the death squads, the intelligence services) after two terms. The fact that the Americans want him "out" does not make him a good man or an efficient leader or even that they have significant policy disagreements. Maliki's domestic unpopularity has been growing. It was his party's ability to eventually form something that worked like a coalition government that ended months of no-working-government ... that coalition didn't work very well either, but attributing their their meager success to Maliki I suspect is too generous.

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Aug 13 2014 15:36 utc | 9

the only reason other countries are involved in dictating the terms of iraq affairs is they are meddling.. oil is the reason they're their.. it isn't just the usa, although the usa does stand out for the level of hypocrisy we are regularly told, including the latest supposed 'humanitarian' mission..

@7 - lysander. thanks for your comments.. any additional comments on how you think russia, saudi arabia or israel are wanting to push the direction of iraq?

Posted by: james | Aug 13 2014 15:37 utc | 10

Maliki has been particularly incompetent. He really is sectarian anti-Sunni - I've seen personally lots of cases of discrimination against Sunnis. It may be that it is necessary in order to retain the Shi'a vote, but it does nothing for holding the country together. The ISIS conquest of large areas stems largely from this discrimination - Sunnis are tempted to throw in their lot with ISIS.

He also takes some bonkers decisions, like saying that ISIS are in bed with the Kurds, accusation that unravelled almost immediately when ISIS turned on the Kurds, and put the Peshmerga to flight.

I think Iraq is probably better off without Maliki, but I have no idea how the new guy Abbadi is going to turn out. Nor do I know whether he was the American candidate or not: no doubt someone will tell me.

Posted by: Alexno | Aug 13 2014 15:52 utc | 11

@Alexno - Exclusive: Inside Obama's Push for Regime Change in Iraq

Since June those diplomats have quietly supported a member of Maliki’s own political party to be the next prime minister. On Sunday, the effort appeared to pay off, when a majority of Shi’ite politicians threw their weight behind Haidar al-Abadi, leading to Iraq’s president to instruct him to begin forming a new government.

“We have been working very quietly on the ground and sending messages to various parties that al-Abadi is a viable alternative,” one U.S. official told The Daily Beast.

Posted by: b | Aug 13 2014 16:32 utc | 12

Maliki was apparently focused on consolidating his own power. He micro-managed the military and police and made them route every jot and tittle through his office. He was more concerned about a coup, than he was the welfare of Iraq. The speculations about some alliance which could form between USdotgov and Iran is interesting. Stranger things have certainly happened.

Posted by: Ben Franklin | Aug 13 2014 16:43 utc | 13


How is he anti-sunni? Give some sources.

Posted by: Anonymous | Aug 13 2014 16:47 utc | 14

Suggestions of a US/Iran "rapprochment" appear to be being deliberately scotched by Iran

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday there there was no point in holding negotiations with the United States on issues outside the country’s nuclear program.

That ostensibly would preclude conversations on topics such as the governmental transition in Iraq. Reuters reports:

“There are no benefits in having relations or negotiations with the United States, except in certain specific cases,” Khamenei told a gathering of Iranian diplomats, according to a statement on his website.

“Of course, on the nuclear front, talks will continue. What (Foreign Minister Javad) Dr. Zarif and his team started and has been going well until now, will continue,” he said. [...]

“Some people were under the impression that sitting down to talk with America would solve all our problems. I knew that wouldn’t be the case, but gave it a try due to the sensitive nature of the nuclear issue,” he said.

I think Iran is far too close to Russia to "use this opportunity" to improve relations with the U.S. Seriously, again, just because Iran endorsed the new guy does not mean they like him or even particularly approve of the U.S.'s role in this quasi-coup.

I'm not sure how this counts as a coup since it is normal after an election for parliament to nominate a prime minister ... the only thing "coup-like" here is the (genuinely) questionable right of the (unquestionable bigg) Broader Shiite coalition to nominate this "other guy" ... Maliki's group is smaller but their bona fides are in better order. One court has sided with Maliki -- oh, and he may win legally.

I disapprove of foreign intervention, particularly American, in this matter -- particularly when "we" are advocating what may be quick-fix extra-legal ("but they're bigger and represent more voters!!!!") quite possibly unconstitutional measures. That doesn't me I like Maliki.

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Aug 13 2014 16:52 utc | 15

It is true that the U.S. worked strenuously to oust Maliki, but as Susan Sunflower notes, this does not make him "a good man or an efficient leader." The fact is that Maliki had a rapidly eroding base of popular support and all the major players -- Iran, Sistani, even his own party, Dawa -- had abandoned him. He had to go.

But as Cockburn notes in the London Review of Books piece that b linked to on Sunday, the problem is that everyone in Baghdad has drunk the "It's All Maliki's Fault" Kool-Aid. And it is not all Maliki's fault. All the problems, as b says, remain. Baghdad is not free and clear. Iraq will not be put back together again. An independent Kurdistan is a reality. What form the caliphate takes remains to be seen.

Posted by: Mike Maloney | Aug 13 2014 16:55 utc | 16

oops, forgot the link: guardian: (no permlink)

From I think it was the guardian yesterday, some part of the Yazidhi mountain have water spigots and are the site of fig tree groves. I was baffled to read they supplied "wheat" and what sounded like really small amounts of water ... since wheat usually needs to be cooked. They've also dropped some tents. It's all quite mysterious. I also read that Turkey has, in fact, accepted some refugees and that Yazdhi's who escaped into Syria are promptly returning to a safer city in Kurdish Iraq ... again, much of this makes little sense to me. If ISIS wanted to murder all these folk (and they have them cornered, as I said before, bombs are not likely prevent genocide by small arms. No word on the slaves / hostages, although one managed to reach her father (2 days ago) on a communal cellphone to report she was due to be sold into marriage that afternoon for, iirc, $10 or somesuch. No more information, such as who the buyer might be ... again, wondering about Sunni men marrying Yazidhi devil-worshipping infidels. whatever.

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Aug 13 2014 17:00 utc | 17


"The nation and its situation are just as much forming the person leading it."

Looking at the murderous war criminals that lead the US one would be curious as to what one - following this line of reasoning which I don't disagree with necessarily - would have to say about the US as a nation. Yikes.

As concerns changing leaders and all that jazz: as the Zionist US exports it's brand of neoliberal hegemony around the globe I believe taking a good look at how it operates domestically might also provide us clues as to what's really going on.

Beginning in the 80s - with the Reagan Democrats - and clear through the Bushes and Clintons to today, the inverted totalitarian model of organizing a neoliberal society has become the MO of the US. It doesn't matter a whit who's actually nominally/titularly "leading" the country b/c economics - i.e. neoliberalism - have superseded politics as the dominating ethos of the elite.

Exporting this idea from the UK and US to the rest of Europe we've seen the continued watering down/erasure of political differences between formerly rival political factions until there is nary a bit of difference - except on fringe lightning rod issues - between the parties/rulers as they've all had a healthy dose of inverted totalitarian Kool-Aid. Some slurp it down greedily enough - i.e., are easily bought off whores - while others need some "encouragement" at times. Either way it appears the end is the same.

Now, the question: why would the US/West change its game plan concerning countries in the ME? Is what we are seeing really just the birth throes of the "normalization" of leadership of these new "markets" which would include the highlighting/accentuating of differences between regional factions - Sunni versus Shia, e.g., - by TPTB just in order to keep the peons busy with their arguing and debating in the face of their continued consolidation of power?

For example, by intentionally/incessantly highlighting and ramping up the meager differences between liberals and conservatives in the US, TPTB have created "problems" that can only seeming be solved through the "solutions" they offer - i.e., compromise leaders who are so compromised that they stand for nothing except the neoliberal ideology which is - in the end - the most important thing, right?

Yes, the sectarian violence in the ME fostered by the West is a bit more "messy" than the Internet flame wars they foster between rival factions domestically but then again we've been indoctrinated to believe that's just how brown people behave naturally as seen in the responses to the murder of yet another unarmed 18 year old kid in MO.

Instead of issuing an apology that MIGHT begin to defuse a tinderbox situation, TPTB instead double down on their crimes/injustice thereby guaranteeing people - after the slaughter of even more innocent people - will be screaming for whichever compromised person is set up to be their savior - e.g., Obama in the US.

Thus, with the creation/funding of ever more evil "jihadist" groups by the Zionist West, observers of the ME can't but help but be drawn to the seemingly implacable differences between everyone living there all the while TPTB laugh themselves to sleep on a pile of money; the questions/concerns of the analysts debating who is going to lead this country and or that and how complex the situation is is sweet music to their ears.

The US creates Al-CIAda, ISIS, SA death squads, Iraqi death squads abroad and the Tea Party at home to foment instability for the peons.

Israel assists by creating Hamas and ISIS.

But we always seem to fall back into discussions that accept the "realities" of that TPTB have created.

Shorter: is discussing how the various power blocs operate with one another in the ME yet as much of a waste of time as discussing whether the Democrats or Republicans would be better for America? whether the Socialists or the UMP are better for France? whether Labour is better than Conservative? etc etc etc

Because those discussions ARE INDEED wastes of time in our current world as should be apparent by now.

Are all of the horrible atrocities - especially as they are instigated/perpetrated by the Zionist West - in the ME over the last decade simply just blood-soaked "theater" for all of the rest of us to witness? Theater meant to distract people from appreciating the full-fledged US war of aggression that started in 2001? Yes, it's divide and conquer once again but I don't think we see it as clearly as such b/c it involves the death/raping/mutilation of innocent people as mere stage play, the complete and total use of innocent people as the merest of pawns and that is still - a la 9/11, etc - very difficult for normal people - especially in the West - to wrap their minds around.

This is why I think people may sometimes believe that I am being "simplistic" when I speak to events: it's because I believe - after having studied all of these situations for decades - that we are all being manipulated to believe that things are much more complex than they are on purpose.

One of the lessons I think the Western PTB learned from the mistakes of the Germans in WWII was that it's more effective to wage a sh!tzkrieg than a blitzkrieg. Better to slow things down - i.e., wage 4th generational world war - than to rush ahead and play all of your cards. You'll get much farther AND you can make $$$$ along the way! What's not to like?

Situations have been and still are being created so ever more seeming "complexities" arise to keep us all busy all the while our "leaders" don't even fake that they themselves have any knowledge about any of these said "complexities" in any given arena. It's one of the tells.

They know they don't need to know anything about the situations they are involved in anymore. It's all a bunch of manipulable theater that they can keep changing until their needs are suited.

Sorry for the length.

Posted by: JSorrentine | Aug 13 2014 17:01 utc | 18

re 14. How is he anti-sunni? Give some sources.

The source is me, my personal experience with the regime. Anti-Sunni discrimination is really quite powerful. Not at all fair treatment.

Posted by: Alexno | Aug 13 2014 17:07 utc | 19

More meddling;Guaranteed to fail,it's in our American DNA,as we care not one iota for the Iraqi people,their politics and their safety,only oil and Israeli security.And the Iraqis know it.

Posted by: dahoit | Aug 13 2014 17:20 utc | 20

oh, more "humanitarian crisis" porn from the International Business Times dated today ...

Witnesses have described seeing terrified women from the Yazidi sect throw themselves "to their deaths" from the Sinjar mountains to avoid being raped and sold into sex slavery by Islamic State (IS) militants.

Tens of thousands of Yazidi people have been trapped in the mountains in northern Iraq for as long as 10 days without food or water, since Islamic State militants took over the region last Sunday.

On Saturday reports emerged that hundreds of women and girls had been kidnapped by the jihadists and sold into sex slavery for as little as $5 (£3, $3.75).

"More than 30 people have died of hunger. We went back 100 years in time on that mountain," one man told witnesses upon reaching Dohuk.

By my estimation, after 3 more days of dehydration and high temperature weather, the dead should be in the hundreds, even thousands, particular if -- as has been suggested -- those remaining represent the weaker, older, very young, and ill ...

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Aug 13 2014 17:21 utc | 21


Thats the problem, alot of views with no sources, I guess you are against Assad then too, isnt he "anti-sunni" too?

Posted by: Anonymous | Aug 13 2014 17:21 utc | 22

@ Posted by: Anonymous | Aug 13, 2014 1:21:54 PM | 22

Are you unfamiliar with the provisions, still in effect, of de-baathification, the ethnic cleansing of Sunnis from many Baghdad neighborhoods, the Maliki regime's siege on Fallujah, and the reign of terror created by his anti-Sunni death squads?

Where to begin? Tell me where to start.

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Aug 13 2014 17:28 utc | 23

Susan Sunflower

Yes I am unfamiliar with this, so again please give me sources for each claim you now made.

Posted by: Anonymous | Aug 13 2014 17:37 utc | 24

JSorrentine @ #18,

Very astute line of thought. Elegant in simplicity.

Oh, and since you have been admonished to not say naughty words, I'll say it for you...Holy fuck.



Posted by: JerseyJeffersonian | Aug 13 2014 17:37 utc | 25

re 22 I haven't got time to write 1000 words on what happened. Why should I be anti-Asad? I'm not. I get on well with the Shi'a in Iraq too. Kurds, less so.

Posted by: Alexno | Aug 13 2014 17:44 utc | 26

@Posted by: Anonymous | Aug 13, 2014 1:37:22 PM | 24

Iraqis Fear Return of 'Death Squads' To Baghdad Streets ...

Ethnic Cleansing in a Baghdad Neighborhood? - TIME,8599,1550441,00.html

de-Baathification - Al-Monitor


Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Aug 13 2014 17:46 utc | 27

b b b, You certainly have a selective reading of the news. Looks like Iran endorses the "transition." If only the facts would decidedly remain in alignment with your theories of "Empire." tsk tsk.

Also, I'm waiting for a surly encomium from you for the ISIS/L anti-Imperial juggernaut. I'm not sure how these nutcases are introduced into your fractured fairytale of ME analysis, in which anti-US anythings are heroes in the revolution taking place inside your own head.

Posted by: slothrop | Aug 13 2014 17:51 utc | 28

Sorry that first link doesn't work, try this one:

the death squads were widely covered in the WikiLeaks Iraq War Diary materials (and Americans officially turning a blind eye via FRAGO 242

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Aug 13 2014 17:54 utc | 29

Looks like Germany is all in on sanctions. Oh goodness. Let's talk a little bit about Fatherland as bootlick of Empire, shall we?

Posted by: slothrop | Aug 13 2014 17:57 utc | 30

Can one recognize the machinations covert against brutes like Khaddafi, Assad and Putin without endorsing and swallowing that Flounder whole? To be anti-Assad means you are pro House of Saud, NATO, USdotgov and all the underpinnings. I think the assumption of support goes to the propensity of many to root for the underdog, and the resultant criticism of same is either ignorant or disingenuous.

Posted by: Ben Franklin | Aug 13 2014 18:00 utc | 31


First link say nothing about Maliki is behind death squads

This is a 8 year old and say nothing about Maliki, the source itself is dubious. That US would condemn
Sadr force is a no brainer.

De-bath was initiated by US not Maliki

Did you read your own source? There was a radical armed rebellion in Falluja why wouldnt Maliki have acted here.

As I thought you have no idea what you are talking about. So I ask again show me the horrific anti-sunni politics of Maliki.

Posted by: Anonymous | Aug 13 2014 18:06 utc | 32


Because Assad would also be Anti-sunni as Maliki, as you claim.
I had no idea you were from Iraq.

Posted by: Anonymous | Aug 13 2014 18:07 utc | 33

Here's the full link form Time Magazine with an embedded audio report

"" Papers found by U.S. troops suggest Shi'ite militia are systematically killing or forcing Sunnis out of their homes. TIME's Mark Kukis reports from Baghdad."",8599,1550441,00.html

This is "old news" and really no longer "controversial" or questioned. There were 3 million displaced Sunni Iraqis ... when some attempted to return to their homes, they found squatters and absolutely no help in displacing them from the police/local government, and many were additionally harassed and many (possibly even most) then again moved on ... many to Fallujah... Where the brutality imposed again and again on the civilian population in the name of "driving out terrorist" is just staggering ... No rights, no protection, thousands dead, many many still unemployable under debaathification ... massive property loss, no redress. It's appalling.

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Aug 13 2014 18:09 utc | 34

"Losing Iraq"

A film (1 hour & 24 minutes) that documents how the US made mistakes in Iraq and lost Iraq.

Posted by: Willy2 | Aug 13 2014 18:20 utc | 35

Most Sunnis seem to think that Shiites are 'anti-Sunni' because they don't let rule over them anymore (like Saddam did) nor freely genocide them (like Wahabies are doing even before the takeover of Mosul with daily car bombs with hundreds of victims).

Try to tell them they are the sectarian genocide-bend bunch that is destroying the Arab people by pursuing an infectious sect from some fringe tribes in Arabia. You are more likely to be beheaded (or menaced to be beheaded) rather than a rational answer.

That's my impression from reading many 'moderate' or 'secular' Sunnis about Iraq.

Posted by: ThePaper | Aug 13 2014 18:23 utc | 36


You mean there was no terrorists in Falluja?

Quit the emotions and start accepting the facts.

Posted by: Anonymous | Aug 13 2014 18:24 utc | 37

There were "terrorists" in Fallujah there was also an enormous civilian population ... see also Gaza.
The Sunnis were completely marginalized in government and have no legal recourse or protections ... they have become pretty much second-class citizens, based on their religion -- with no apparent hope for the future.

The current living generations of Sunni were and are no more responsible for Saddam and Sunni dominance (which had existed for 1000 years) than the average Caucasian American was responsible for slavery and/or racial discrimination ... and they had even less "agency" with which to change things. Joining the Baathist party was a required prerequisite to many jobs, much as joining the Communist party was in the Soviet Union, or joining a union is required in union shops. Saddam has been dead how long??

No Challabi is virulently anti-Sunni and this is long standing "collective punishment" ... and Maliki has done nothing (and reneged on promises he made to do so) to encourage reintegration of ordinary non-terrorist Sunnis.

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Aug 13 2014 18:40 utc | 38


How can it be proved Maliki is pro Sunni?

Isn't CNN always saying how Maliki is antagonizing the Sunni tribesmen? CNN is your favorito no?

The Yazidis, Christians and all others that haven't had their necks chopped off, they're 8 year old daughters married off to 30 year old men or forcibly converted. All these poor unfortunates should flee to Turkey. Let Ergdogan handle all these poor refugees, it's partially his fault that their lives have taken this turn for the worse.

Maliki should just fight to the death. If the Americans want to get rid of him so badly make them bleed. Putin might be amenable in lending him a finger.

Feliz Cumpleanos Comandante Castro!

Posted by: Fernando | Aug 13 2014 18:40 utc | 39

re 33 Because Assad would also be Anti-sunni as Maliki,

Asad is not anti-Sunni. In Syria it is the Sunnis who are the main sectarians. You are tying yourself in logical knots.

Posted by: Alexno | Aug 13 2014 18:59 utc | 40

so much for "no boots on the ground"

US troops land on Mt Sinjar to evacuate Yazidis Last updated three minutes ago US marines and special forces to organise escape route for 30,000 refugees trapped on mountain
"" More than 100 US marines and special forces landed on Mt Sinjar in Iraq on Wednesday to organise an escape route for 30,000 Yazidi civilians threatened by Islamic extremists and worn down by hunger and thirst.

The force flew in on V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft that can land vertically. They joined a small number of American special forces soldiers who have been on the mountain for some days, assessing the military and humanitarian situation and guiding US air strikes against Islamic State (Isis) fighters encircling the mountain.

A handful of British SAS soldiers are also in the area to “gather intelligence” a British official said.

Fleeing Yazidis have reported seeing small teams of American soldiers high on the northern flank. “We weren’t allowed to go near them,” said a man from Sinjar who was airlifted from the former base. “They were being guarded by the Kurds.”""

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Aug 13 2014 19:00 utc | 41

On the whole Sunni vs. Shia sectarian debate vis-a-vis Iraq, these sectarian differences have only managed to augment the established powers in the region. The U.S. invaded ten years ago with the idea that "Real men want to go to Tehran." As a stop along the way it became necessary to make a counter-intuitive move, create a Shia majority parliamentary democracy. The ethnic cleansing that took place during the Surge was what won the war not U.S. martial prowess. But it should have been obvious that the Gulf monarchies would never tolerate a Shia-ruled unified Iraq. Now that Iraq is no longer. And Iran realizes this and appears to be willing at this point to go along with the new formulation: Kurdistan and Shiastan. The conflict will be over what Sunnistan is going to be: a caliphate constantly roving for juicy low-hanging fruit or something more stable along the lines of Sisi's military dictatorship in Egypt.

Posted by: Mike Maloney | Aug 13 2014 19:03 utc | 42


Was there terrorists according to you? Now you put under " ". Nonsense!

Now you are using more lies:

The Sunnis were completely marginalized in government and have no legal recourse or protections ... they have become pretty much second-class citizens, based on their religion -- with no apparent hope for the future.

Total bs! The majority of iraqis belong to the shia sect so of course there are going to be a greater shia majority in the government, besides the sunni parties have themselves distances themselves from the political sphere, apparently they cannot accept that they cant rule over shias.

The fact that you dont respond to my replies just proves you are here to peddle obama war propaganda.

Posted by: Anonymous | Aug 13 2014 19:04 utc | 43

I'm often startled (and appalled) at the acceptance by many Americans of the idea that it's "okay" for the Shiia to crush the Sunni as "payback" ... Life under Saddam was difficult for everyone -- the level of justifiable paranoia and surveillance and the capricious violence and cruelties (oh, and interestingly corruption) not only of Saddam but much of the lower levels civil infrastructure was dreadful.

Saddam was smart and savvy enough to have programs to advance worthy Shiias in government and education -- this was not some sort of Jim Crow equivalence ... however, many Shiia who suffered mightily (including Challabi and his family) are institutionalizing retribution which severely undermines the possibility of stability.

"Terrorism" is largely a buzz word -- yes, it's messy, loud and bloody and while our drones are relatively quiet, emit a big bang and incinerate their target. Don't get "confused" by the aesthetics.

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Aug 13 2014 19:11 utc | 44

The fact that you dont respond to my replies just proves you are here to peddle obama war propaganda.

I have responded to your replies and I am not peddling Obama's war propaganda -- however now I am done responding to you. Your ignorance is disturbing.

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Aug 13 2014 19:14 utc | 45

Sunnis were marginalized but Mosul (the whole Niniveh province) was ruled by the Al-Nujaifi Sunni gangsters (conspiring against the Iraq government while lining their pockets for central govt money). Similar situation in Anbar and Saladdhin I guess.

I wonder how many of the mixed Iraqi army officers that plainly deserted when 'a few ISIS' fighters appeared and destroyed the Iraq army in all the Sunni provinces were actually Sunnis. But it's all Shiite fault. That's the gulf sheiks mantra that after the abject failure of the so called 'Arab Spring' has become the last dying recourse of 'moderate' Sunnis.

Posted by: ThePaper | Aug 13 2014 19:15 utc | 46


Stop responding with non sequiter you are not fooling anyone here.
Who is Challabi? You mean Chalabi that ruled 10 years ago? What does that have to do with Maliki?

I sense you are nasty secterian yourself, against shias.

Posted by: Anonymous | Aug 13 2014 19:16 utc | 47

Wow, those ISIS boys are sharp as a tack, huh? Now they've diversified into agriculture.

Posted by: JSorrentine | Aug 13 2014 19:20 utc | 48

Chalabbi never "ruled" and he remains a high level official in the Maliki government and, last I read, was still "in charge" of de-baathification.
No, I take no "side" in any Shiia/Sunni competition/fight. I do think it is utterly unrealistic to expect Iraqi Sunnis to simply accept being displaced and disenfranchised. This violence was and is completely predictable. As is ISIS, the emergence of which was largely foreseen several years ago when Iraqi Sunni began migrating to Syria in the Sunni cause. I loathe the Saudis. I loathe the American relationship with the Saudis. Take your projections somewhere else.

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Aug 13 2014 19:27 utc | 49


Again what does Chalabi have to do with Maliki or what happens today on the ground? THat you think Maliki rule Iraq today just show that again use anti-shia bs that radical sunni groups use just as I said you are a nasty secterian.

Posted by: Anonymous | Aug 13 2014 19:33 utc | 50

What is suprising to me is that after generations of being a second-class majority the Shia in Iraq would freely give away the majority power the US gave them, to the Persians.

Tehran decides who is PM and who is not PM any longer, they decide what the Iraqi Army, what is left of it, will do, they decide what role the Militias will play and their religious decisions are made by a Persiam. I understand the cultural, religous and economic ties and influences but why this voluntary surrender of their souverignty to a foreign power especially one that has helped to bring them to the present crisis.

I know that not all Shia Iraqis support this Persian control, Maliki had his troops shoot about fifty of them in Karbala a few months ago so this resistance may be why Tehran hasn't just invaded and taken complete control of what is left of Shia Iraq.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Aug 13 2014 19:37 utc | 51

@MikeA It's hard to separate march 14 and sunni militants. Bandar spent all 350m to build them into a credible military force and they were smashed in a few days by Hizbollah and the army. But they'll keep coming.

Posted by: Crest | Aug 13 2014 19:39 utc | 52

Jesus christ, Wasn't it you who asked how Sunnis were being discriminated against ... Chalabbi is CURRENTLY in charge of de-baathification WHICH IS ONGOING and which STILL AFFECTS pretty much all Sunni citizens because under Saddam (a Baathist), Sunnis were favored and many were Baathists. When and how will these people regain their equality with other Iraqis? Sunnis lost property and employment with the fall of Saddam, many were displaced, lost family members to death squads, etc. Last I heard, those who tried to return to Baghdad could get no help in reclaiming their property (which generally had been duly registered and often had been in the family for generations) and no protection, leaving them to be forced out, can you say "ethnically cleansed" AGAIN ...

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Aug 13 2014 19:40 utc | 53

Even Tricky Dick had the sense to resign.

" After a legal deadline to nominate a new prime minister passed at midnight, incumbent Nouri al-Maliki's own party agreed to name a candidate to replace him, amid fears that he intended to prevent such a development by force or intimidation. Mr. Maliki had not agreed to step aside."

Posted by: Ben Franklin | Aug 13 2014 19:45 utc | 54


Are you slow or something? Chalabi doesnt rule Iraq and why would you try to tie debaath to sunnis?
Bath was the stateparty of Saddam, apparently you like Saddam hussein but most iraqis arent.
Your racism against shias is really ugly.

Posted by: Anonymous | Aug 13 2014 19:57 utc | 55

Wow, those ISIS boys are sharp as a tack, huh? Now they've diversified into agriculture.

Posted by: JSorrentine | Aug 13, 2014 3:20:35 PM | 48

Wow. Tptb are really pumping up ISIS. You know it is amazing the amount of trash they throw into the ether to see what sticks. The sad thing is that most of it sticks because of the lack of a responsible msm. It makes my head hurt at times...control the message, control the people. It is just that simple.

Posted by: really | Aug 13 2014 20:15 utc | 56

"It is a U.S. foreign policy fallacy that changing the man at the top, always likened to Hitler, will solve everything..."

It certainly is. The list is very long-Noriega is on it, so too is one Ngo Dinh Diem, Saddam, Ghadaffi...

Then there was that Malaysian Airliner shot down in Ukraine on the same day that Putin was thought to be flying that way.

Posted by: bevin | Aug 13 2014 21:00 utc | 57

"... it is amazing the amount of trash they throw into the ether to see what sticks. The sad thing is that most of it sticks because of the lack of a responsible msm. It makes my head hurt at times...control the message, control the people. It is just that simple." @56

To put this into perspective, this has always been the case. For a variety of reasons Foreign Correspondence has always come from a very narrow range of sources-many of The Times's correspondents abroad were actually British diplomats or consular officers. Most papers, particularly in the US where local dailies tended to dominate the market, had no permanent and few roving or occasional reporters overseas.

There is a sense in which the reason for the current lockstep imposed on the msm is that the truth is so accessible elsewhere-on the internet. By the time that maverick reporters are able to reveal that the Sarin gas attack was a false flag op or that Putin did not shoot down that airliner, it has been all over the internet for days.

This quote from Bill Blum's latest Anti-Empire report is a good one:

"It takes my thoughts back to the Vietnam era and Arthur Sylvester, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, the man most responsible for “giving, controlling and managing the war news from Vietnam”. One day in July 1965, Sylvester told American journalists that they had a patriotic duty to disseminate only information that made the United States look good. When one of the reporters exclaimed: “Surely, Arthur, you don’t expect the American press to be handmaidens of government,” Sylvester replied: “That’s exactly what I expect,” adding: “Look, if you think any American official is going to tell you the truth, then you’re stupid. Did you hear that? – stupid.”

Posted by: bevin | Aug 13 2014 21:11 utc | 58

Anyone doing a study on reverse peristalsis? Here's war criminal Netanyahoo speaking with the governor of NY state - on an important visit TO Israel, of course - about how Hamas=ISIS - hey, wait a second... - how terrible 9/11 was and sundry other GWOT narrative favorites. Better put on your bib.

Also, gotta love this headline (with accompanying quiz!):

United States Marines, special forces and the USAID disaster assistance relief teams briefly landed today on Mt. Sinjar in Iraq, a U.S. official told ABC News.

Quiz time: How many different groups of people were actually on Mt. Sinjar?


Posted by: JSorrentine | Aug 13 2014 22:18 utc | 59

Somehow it has gone unmentioned that this "appointing a new prime minister" is the result of parliamentary elections held on 30 April 2014... so it is only the "time is running out" deadline that makes "doing something" critical while this crisis has obviously been brewing a long, long time.
And Maliki promised he would not seek a third term.
Also that "relatively unknown Haider al-Abadi" is probably all but completely unknown to most American who might be able to come up with Maliki or Allawi or challabi's name and then would be stumped. Ayaltollah Ali Sistani and Moqtada Al-Sadr for bonus points, though only the latter was openly politically active, which he renounced a few months ago.

Al-Abadi is probably quite well known to Iraqis and his name has come up on the short list for Prime Minister before. Lucky him, according to wikipedia, "On July 24, 2014, Fuad Masum became the new president of Iraq. He, in turn, nominated Al-Abadi for prime minister on August 11.[14] However, for the appointment to take effect, Al-Abadi must form a government and be confirmed by Parliament, within 30 days.[15]"" -- good luck with that .... another deadline ...
For those eager to prepare for the next quiz, --

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Aug 13 2014 22:57 utc | 60

Islamic State Is US Covert Intelligence Operation - Law Professor

WASHINGTON, August 13 (RIA Novosti), Lyudmila Chernova - The Islamic State (IS) is a covert intelligence operation by the United States which aims at setting a predicate for further escalation in Iraq, Francis Boyle, a constitutional scholar and law professor at University of Illinois, told RIA Novosti.
"All the implications so far in the public record are that ISIS [IS] is a covert US intelligence operation," Boyle told RIA Novosti Tuesday. "Head of ISIS Abu Bakr Baghdadi spent five years in an American detention facility, and also three of the four military commanders were also in detention by the US forces. So, my guess is that ISIS is indeed a covert US military intervention to set precedent for US escalation in Iraq."
Last Thursday, US President Barack Obama authorized American airstrikes against the positions of IS militants. He has also approved humanitarian aid to the Yezidis. Several airstrikes have been carried out over the past several days.
It is very clear that the IS had advanced sophisticated military training that was provided by Pentagon and the CIA, the professor stated.
"The main goal of the operation is to destroy Iraq as a state so that it could no longer stand in the way of the imperial designs of the US and Israel in the region. Second, to control the oil in the region," Boyle asserted.
Although it was announced earlier by the administration that the US was not going to put ground troops in Iraq, Boyle did not believe it was true and predicted further escalation of the conflict.
"President Barack Obama already sent some 800 special forces over there on the ground that are directing these airstrikes," he emphasized.
After Professor Boyle gave this interview, the Obama administration announced another round of escalation of US military forces into Iraq, exactly as Boyle had predicted. A senior Defense Department official announced Tuesday that the military has sent 130 advisers to northern Iraq to plan for the evacuation of refugees under siege by IS militants.
Boyle stressed that there was no authorization from the Congress to go to war against Iraq.
“The argument by the Obama Administration was that they had the consent of the Iraqi government. However, that's not an excuse as he doesn't have the consent of the US Congress that represents the American people, and second, there is no government in Iraq," he said, noting that the US government installed Nouti Malaki as its puppet and now replaced him with a new one.
"Obama has clearly violated the War Powers Clause in the Constitution as well as the War Powers Resolution, and these are both impeachable offenses," the professor concluded.

Posted by: brian | Aug 13 2014 23:01 utc | 61

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Aug 13, 2014 2:40:07 PM | 38

there were no terrorists in falluhja until the US arrived

Posted by: brian | Aug 13 2014 23:02 utc | 62

Posted by: b | Aug 13, 2014 12:32:34 PM | 12

isnt this illegal? if iraqi diplomats were to do this in USA it WOULD be illegal

Posted by: brian | Aug 13 2014 23:04 utc | 63

Susan Sunflower @15,
Iran's immediate problems are as follows, and in this order:

1. Lifting of the sanctions (Rouhani's mandate)
2. ISIS (Da3esh).

Everything else, (including relations with Russia) is manageable.

Posted by: MikeA | Aug 13 2014 23:04 utc | 64

@Wayoutwest "What is suprising to me is that after generations of being a second-class majority the Shia in Iraq would freely give away the majority power the US gave them, to the Persians."

You are really insufferable. It so happens that a great many of the spiritual leaders of Southern Iraq train in Iran with "the Persians", and a great number of "the Persians" travel to Iraq on pilgrimages every year and it so happens that "the Persians" and their government have been great supporters of the people there for decades.

As if "the Persians" have taken over the country lock, stock, and barrel. Divisive nonsense.

Posted by: guest77 | Aug 13 2014 23:06 utc | 65

Ghaffar Hussain ‏@GhaffarH ·Aug 12
ISIS now issuing passports, I'm sure they won't create panic and alarm at airport check in desks -

Posted by: brian | Aug 13 2014 23:11 utc | 66

Brian @61,

Oh please, Francis Boyle is probably off his medication and is giving the US intelligence way too much credit to implement such a plan, let alone even imagining it.

ISIS is not magic - a bunch of thugs, x-Saddamist sadists, and tribal worriors filling the vaccum created by draining the brave Syrian army.

Posted by: MikeA | Aug 13 2014 23:11 utc | 67

To #4. I agree that it looks to late for any form of unity govt in Iraq. There may be a few Sunnis who are tired of the crap. But the situation created by the Bush's and continued by Clinton and Obama has only aggravated the situation. There was a tiny window when the Sunnis were hired to be the regional cops on the beat. I recall that the Saudis said they would come in to support the Sunnis once we left and they have - mostly through the usual terrorist suspects that they support. It's time for the 28 redacted pages of the first congressional 9/11 report to be released. That would be a start.

Posted by: Curtis | Aug 13 2014 23:17 utc | 68

There is nothing the United States can do to 'help' Iraq or the Iraqis. They've done quite enough already.

It's pretty amazing to read all the imperialists' diagnoses and prescriptions in the comments here. The 'west' has done more than 'enough' already in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Yemen, in Libya, in Syria, in Ukraine ... and of course the 'west', the world, has done much less than zero in Palestine.

In Palestine, too, of course, doing something is actually to stop doing something. To stop holding Israel's coat while they use both feet and both fists to murder, cripple, beat senseless and dispossess the Palestinians. The same in Iraq, although they've only actively been at it for a single decade or two in Iraq.

Less is more, someone said, and what the poor peoples of the world need is a whole lot less from the US and its European/Japanese stooges.

Posted by: john francis lee | Aug 13 2014 23:35 utc | 69

Yes, I don't see ISIS as "masterminds" at all ... more likely experienced blackmarket traders. The Guardian, I think, said they were selling hijacked oil at $30 a barrel, and making "millions a day" -- the wheat is already in the silos in areas they control so getting it loaded onto tanker trucks for the next step in processing, again, there will be buyers ... particularly since this is all now a "combat zone" and regular sources and suppliers are uncertain, not to mention this is the middle east, long famed for its black markets and smuggling. I suspect that like hashish, heroin and other contraband the 3 million dollars a day is vastly exaggerated ... I'm more curious about whether any of that oil is getting refined ... or if is just getting passed up the line.

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Aug 13 2014 23:41 utc | 70

I made this map showing the extent of ISIS controlled territory over the nighttime map of the region (assuming I have the extent correct).

As anyone can see, they control very little productive area - if we can go with the old truism that one can tell an area's "economic capacity" by how brightly it is lit at night. We can certainly see the population. And comparably, it is very, very little.

What is interesting is to see how "bright" the Kurdish areas are, even compared to Baghdad. One wonders if they suffer from the same limits on electricity the capital did. Also interesting, how relatively "dark" Mosul is compared to the smaller cities such as Erbil and Kirkuk.

Though I suppose there is no way of knowing that this map actually represents any sort of reality.

Posted by: guest77 | Aug 13 2014 23:43 utc | 71

International troops are on the mountain, U.S. can't decide whether to do an airlift or a human corridor. Why oh why is US humanitarianism only summoned to control oil-rich areas? What kinds of planes can land on that mountain? They can't just use helicopters, they'd need about 4,000 of them. How is this logistically going to work?

Posted by: TikTok | Aug 13 2014 23:44 utc | 72

@42 mike maloney... i agree with mikes viewpoint.. for the most part the game plan from before the usa invaded iraq is still this going along according to plan too.. to re-quote part of mikes post "But it should have been obvious that the Gulf monarchies would never tolerate a Shia-ruled unified Iraq. Now that Iraq is no longer. And Iran realizes this and appears to be willing at this point to go along with the new formulation: Kurdistan and Shiastan. The conflict will be over what Sunnistan is going to be: a caliphate constantly roving for juicy low-hanging fruit or something more stable along the lines of Sisi's military dictatorship in Egypt."

'replacing the leader' is a minor detail in the bigger scheme of things..i suppose it gives an insight into just how corrupt the players - usa in particular - are in all of this.

Posted by: james | Aug 13 2014 23:48 utc | 73

@67 And resupplied by the formerly under 16/18 crowd in Iraq and much of the Middle East who were too young for 2002-2007 and could care less about the feelings of Osama Bin Laden and his cult of revenge personality.

Posted by: NotTimothyGeithner | Aug 13 2014 23:53 utc | 74

JFC, I love how soon people here forget(?) - I'm being nice - that the narrative of 9/11 - hey guys, remember that? the 4 planes, the hijacking, the buildings going poof, all that fun stuff - was that all of those plans were coordinated by one man on dialysis in a cave with a laptop and a satellite phone 6,000+ miles away and accomplished by a rag tag handful of dudes who couldn't even fly a freaking single-engined plane.

It doesn't effing MATTER if in reality ISIS can do this or that because it's already been DEMONSTRATED through the purveyance of the ISIS narrative that they - meaning ISIS - have US intelligence/Establishment buy-in.

ISIS can do WHATEVER US/Israeli intelligence can do just like Al-CIAda. Do you understand that? Or are you being obtuse because you think it makes you look cute?

We've already been told that they have working knowledge of every weapon system imaginable, the ability to smuggle, raise bucco cash, rob banks, sell oil, go on archeological digs, create websites, draw up monthly reports, remain undetected as they travel the ME and hosts of OTHER innumerable skills.

Compared to ISIS, Al-CIAda were a bunch of freaking tartars and now you're gonna try and tell us that we SHOULDN'T expect "ISIS" - read: US/Zionist intelligence assets - to pull off or - at the very least - provide major assistance/cover for future US/Zionist crimes?

I mean, since now that it is crystal clear that the entire "Arab Spring" was basically a massive string of Color Revolutions for the ME - Libya, Egypt, Syria, ISIS etc - created/funded/instigated by Zionist/Western intelligence statements that seek to make it appear that NOW when the world is on the verge of witnessing the long-dreamed of - in certain circles - formal partition of Iraq NOW we should underestimate Western/Zionist intelligence because they are just TOO EFFING INCOMPETENT to carry out such big operations?!!!!

Holy Effing Eff Effing Eff!

Seriously, thinking like this can only be labeled the most appalling idiocy or the most desperate hasbara I've seen in a while.

Posted by: JSorrentine | Aug 14 2014 0:10 utc | 75

Wha humanitarianism only summoned to control oil-rich areas? Wha kinds of planes can land on that mountain? They can't just use helicopters, they'd need about 4,000 of them. How is this logistically going to work?

Posted by: TikTok | Aug 13, 2014 7:44:26 PM | 72
I heard that they might try to use these. Gangly v-22 ospreys. I remember these having development difficulties on the regular. Hopefully they ironed the bugs out of it by now.

Posted by: really | Aug 14 2014 0:11 utc | 76

@75 Yeah, who are you talking to? If you've going to convulse and sputter and piddle and accuse, just come out with it.

PS: no one gives a fuck if you're "being nice" because your "being mean" was never very threatening. Get over yourself.

Posted by: guest77 | Aug 14 2014 0:22 utc | 77

jfc, not to be confused with kfc, lol.. it might have to do with the non alcoholic version verses the alcoholic version we see 5 hours later..

Posted by: james | Aug 14 2014 0:33 utc | 78

He said the same thing -- almost word for word -- yesterday ... and the day before... and the day before that. He seems to assume "we" just need a good brow-beating, y'know "convincing" ...

I am curious in this scenario if those fighters -- y'know the flesh and blood individuals -- know that they're REALLY working for the CIA or if they've been duped ... and what they (and their buddies) are going to think when they read Chris Lehmann's blog ( ) followed by some Davis via RIA as an echo, oops "more proof" ( )

I hope they find out before "we" decimate them

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Aug 14 2014 0:36 utc | 79

Posted by: MikeA | Aug 13, 2014 7:11:52 PM | 67

so far as i now Boyle isnt on medication nor is he receiving counsiling!
and the idea is that the jihadis are not attacking israel..just USrael targets

nice job trolling tho!

Posted by: brian | Aug 14 2014 0:40 utc | 80

ISIS is reminiscent of the Mujahadeen of afghanistan...who worked with US to end the socialist republic of afghanistan

Posted by: brian | Aug 14 2014 0:41 utc | 81

I had believed that ISIS came to Iraq because Assad's men were more competent than ISIS, but I guess ISIS every move was puppet-stringed.
I guess the failure to put a puppet in Iraq the first time around was purposed too, and a resilient insurgency was really planned by the Formidable Competents of the Unbeatable Conspiracy, far from being unanticipated.

Posted by: truthbetold | Aug 14 2014 0:44 utc | 82

another loss for the Formidable Empire.

Posted by: truthbetold | Aug 14 2014 0:53 utc | 83

actually, maybe they're not really actually Arabs or Muslims (much less Syrians or Iraqis) at all ... just guys trained at Langley and flown in for the "adventure" (and the medals) ... I am impressed in this scenario that Langley has the personnel to micromanage their days.

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Aug 14 2014 0:53 utc | 84


I was originally responding to multiple people - thus no "@" - such as MikeA and Susan Sunflower - y'know people that ARE NOT you - but if you feel that you should be included in their company - and from their responses it looks like you've got quite a fan club brewing - be my guest(77).

@ all

I'm no longer taking the flame-bait you toss me such as that @77, @78 or @79. Just stop. It's embarrassing. B personally told me the other day to clean it up and I'm doing so.

Posted by: JSorrentine | Aug 14 2014 0:54 utc | 85

At risk of exposing another Hasbarist here is Glen Ford's take on the situation in Iraq:

"For more than three decades, the U.S. has deployed Islamic fundamentalist surrogates to fight its imperial wars in Muslim lands. Now, the world’s most successful jihadists have turned on their former masters – and will soon go after the Gulf oil states. “The Caliphate has taken the ideology to its logical and ghastly conclusion, and dares to challenge the legitimacy of its former funders, staunch allies of the ‘Crusader’.”

Leaving aside the matter of 9/11, and Osama bin Laden's medical condition, the question of ISIS is a lot more complex than J Sorrentine @ 75 allows.
That this army/movement was founded and financed, armed and trained by the CIA and its agents and allies in the Gulf States and the governments of those states, is more than likely.

This is the wahhabist army, AQ Mark II, which was charged with, inter alia, the destruction of Syria. It has proved, so far, incapable of doing the job and it has chosen softer targets elsewhere.
In the course of this detour from Damascus it has come into a fighting alliance with General Petraeus' old friends from Negroponte days, the same 'Sunni Awakening' people who encouraged many of its veterans to leave Iraq years ago. It has also allied itself to the old Baath/army officers looking for their old houses in the Green Zone.

ISIS has several characteristics worth noting: It has no interest in attacking the US colony aka Israel. It knows better. It knows where the US draws the line. It also knows that there is a struggle going on in Saudi Arabia for the succession. A struggle with a very large prize for the winner's side.

It knows too that the US will be quite happy for it to go to war with the shia in Iraq and that it is welcome to any plunder, territorial or mineral, that it wins there. It knows, and Saddam's old comrades will confirm this, that if the Gulf emirs are replaced by anyone the US will be content provided that nothing changes in terms of external relations and the control of the oil and gas reserves. In fact the US would probably prefer to see sadistic dynamic tyrants take the place of playboys with ideas of their own, such as the qatari sultan, provided, again that they respect Israel, honour the White House and attack America's enemies.
In Washington there will be those wondering how Syria will be able to withstand Al Nusra on steroids and how Iran and Russia will enjoy dealing with that.

Do I know these things?
Of course not, these are simply speculations. But what I do know is that they are a lot more credible than Sorrentine's theory which appears to be that ISIS is under the direct day to day control of the Pentagon and is probably under the command of a General Officer on the payroll. And that it marches, countermarches, retreats and advances like a cowboy at a square dance, following the caller's command.
And if that makes me a Hasbarista, where's my cheque?

Posted by: bevin | Aug 14 2014 1:01 utc | 86

How come we've never heard of Kurd/Yazidi's until now?

There'll be Yazidis on the mountain when she comes..

Posted by: Fast Freddy | Aug 14 2014 1:08 utc | 87


I hope you are not so simple as to believe that the fact, that a week after Maliki lost the support of Tehran/Sistani and more importantly his handler Quasem Soleimani he is no longer PM of Iraq, is a coincidence.

Iran's main agenda in Iraq seemed to be to bludgon the Sunnis for Sadam's sins and now that reactionary attitude has emboldened the Sunnis to return the favor and destroy them.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Aug 14 2014 1:09 utc | 88


It is like thankgiving discussing politics with the extended family in here...everyday. :)

Posted by: really | Aug 14 2014 1:19 utc | 89


It wouldn't be a bait JSorrentine party without ya! But I'll respond politely:

So because progressive people like BAR I'm supposed to be wowed by Ford's "analysis"?

I will be back with more on Glenn Ford because I'm interested in what he had to say about the Syrian "popular uprising" as it is missing from the following paragraphs that you cite above but there is enough below to think that Ford is a bit - shall we say - underwhelming - in his grasp of events?

"In 2011, it was jihadists to the rescue after popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt threw the imperial pack into panic. The U.S. and its NATO allies mounted a monstrous assault on Libya – a kind of Shock and Awe – providing air cover for a jihadist army largely financed by Arab oil royals. When regime change was accomplished, Libyan fighters joined their Salafist comrades in the rampage in Syria, already underway.

Today, with Libya in utter chaos, and Assad’s government still standing in Syria, the Caliphate has declared independence from its western and royal godmothers – as we at BAR predicted three years ago.

Imperialism has let loose a plague upon the world, that will – sooner, rather than later – consume the kings, emirs and sultans the U.S. depends on to keep the empire’s oil safe. The pace of imperial decline just got quicker."

Gee, that first paragraph almost sounds EXACTLY like the MSM/US government version of events since there is absolutely no mention of our involvement/motives in fomenting those "popular uprisings", huh?

I mean, Ford is basically taking the entire MSM/US government storyline - i.e., no covert, Deep State involvement mentioned anywhere - and just saying that what the MSM/government is telling us is true and that it necessarily proves his long-wished for dream: the rapid end of the US Empire.

bevin, you cited a quote in an earlier post, now let's see if I can find it...oh, it is:

“Look, if you think any American official is going to tell you the truth, then you’re stupid. Did you hear that? – stupid.”

Now could you please tell us all how Mr. Ford should not be considered "stupid" by those standards?

I mean, he is basically taking what the MSM and government officials are telling us at face-value, right?

Posted by: JSorrentine | Aug 14 2014 1:20 utc | 90

Why, here's Mr. Ford form July of last year. Now, WHO is funding those "jihadists", Glenn?

“This war will be ‘total’ in the sense that the United States considers itself at war with societies all around the globe.”

The so-called “long war” against “terror” – a patently fraudulent proposition, since the U.S. arms and finances the jihadists – is cover for an endless struggle to re-capture and re-enslave a planet that is not only escaping the clutches of Euro-American capital, but outgrowing it.

So, according to GF it WAS the U.S. "arming and funding" the "jihadists" in 2013 but in 2014 NOW GF tells us that the funding was coming from the "Arab royals."

Got it.

And that bit of searching took me all of two minutes. I can't wait to see what other treasures I will find if I decide to continue to play this silly game.

Posted by: JSorrentine | Aug 14 2014 1:30 utc | 91

Here's Glenn from LAST MONTH telling us this:

The United States has set the world on fire. It is nonsense to talk of a “new” Cold War, when what the world is witnessing is multiple conflagrations as intense and horrifically destructive as at any period since World War Two. Virtually every one of these armed conflicts has been methodically set in motion by the only power capable of perpetrating such massive, simultaneous mayhem: the United States, along with its underlings in London, Paris and Tel Aviv – the true Axis of Evil.


Whoever coined the phrase “No Drama Obama” should be sentenced to a lifetime of silence. The First Black U.S. President systematically brought swastika-wearing fascists to power in Ukraine to start a war on Russia’s borders. The passengers of the Malaysian airliner are victims of Obama’s carefully crafted apocalypse, a pre-fabricated conflict that could consume us all. Obama methodically and without provocation laid waste to Libya and Syria, and now the jihadists unleashed by the United States and its allies are destroying Iraq all over again and threatening to erase Lebanon and Jordan and even the oil kingdoms of the Gulf.

That's some pretty strong stuff there, Glenn!

"Pre-fabricated conflict", "methodically set in motion", the "US...and Tel Aviv"...

Why, I kind of thought you were saying in your August piece that the US Empire was PANICKING as it REACTED to events on the ground over in the ME but in July you make it seem as if it was the US and it's Zionist partners pulling the strings all along.

It's almost like he's saying two entirely different things.


Posted by: JSorrentine | Aug 14 2014 1:40 utc | 92

I don't want to bore people with this - and I have to go - but let's listen to Glenn again in September of 2013 tell us:

Obama claims that the U.S. has proof that “Assad’s chemical weapons personnel prepared for an attack near an area where they mix sarin gas. They distributed gas masks to their troops. Then they fired rockets from a regime-controlled area into 11 neighborhoods that the regime has been trying to wipe clear of opposition forces.” Not a shred of evidence has been presented to back up this narrative – which, under the circumstances, tends to prove it is fiction. On the other hand, there are credible reports (everybody’s reports are more credible than the Americans), that rebels under U.S. allied control were told to prepare to go on the offensive following an American retaliation to a chemical attack that would be blamed on Assad’s forces – a story whose logic conforms to what actually occurred and answers the common sense question, Who profits?

But NOW - I don't feel I need to mention/address the "rebels under U.S. allied control" stuff do I? - according to the most recent GF piece asking "Who profits?" would NOT be common-sensical because...why?

Because it might interfere with the narrative - again, being pushed and pushed and pushed by the MSM/US government for months - that what we are witnessing is the complete and total break-down of US/Zionist aims/plans/designs in the ME?

I mean, aren't there people who would still profit from all of this "designed chaos" especially as GF seemingly USED TO believe that they were the very same people who started this whole crap-ball rolling?

Why, I've talked about a number of different groups that would love to see Iraq permanently split up.

Could one consider THAT "profiting"?

Oh well, whatever the reason for GF's seeming shift in stance, we'll probably never know, however, I think the teachable moment here is that if all of us at MOA remembered to really vet our sources on discussion boards before we try throwing them in other posters' faces, it will save us all a lot of embarrassment in the long run.


Posted by: JSorrentine | Aug 14 2014 2:03 utc | 93

yikes -- from Guardian cryptic

Iraq evacuation of Yazidis on hold as White House declares siege is over

Obama administration and military back away from talk of rescue mission after receiving reports from Mount Sinjar

The Obama administration has ruled out for now a risky US military mission to rescue thousands of Iraqis stranded on a northern Iraqi mountain, declaring a siege by Islamist extremists to be over.

After a small complement of special forces and US aid workers landed on Mount Sinjar to assess the situation of the Iraqi Yazidis – who for days have received air drops of food, water and medicine – the Pentagon said things were not as bad as initially feared. “An evacuation mission is far less likely,” said Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, late on Wednesday.

US humanitarian aid drops would continue, Kirby said, but for now US planes or troops would not come to rescue the remaining Yazidis from the mountaintop terrain that has provided a harsh refuge.

Note, many even most of these people, by original descriptions, should be near-death or dead by now... extreme dehydration in the setting of 125-degree weather kills quickly ... extreme conditions, crowding, poor sanitation and unsafe water supplies lead to diarrheal illnesses which kill brutally and quickly ... particularly children and I have seen no report of same.

Now, for some followup on those 500 massacred and those 200 slaves

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Aug 14 2014 2:59 utc | 94


Where do you get the notion that the Islamic State has no plans to conquer Israel? They have stated clearly that their future target is Jerusalem and they have a five year plan to liberate Palestine.

They don't fear the US and have recently taunted the White House to send ground troops to Iraq so they can kill them. They know that if the US returns it's Occupation Forces to Iraq the ME will erupt in rage.

They don't even fear Israel's nukes because the IDF would have to nuke themselves to slow the conquest which will be as much internal as external.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Aug 14 2014 3:02 utc | 95


What even more weird is that independent media organizations are have a hard time getting access to northern iraq. This was mentioned at the very end of this sad article about a journalist who recently lost her life in northern iraq.,46786.html

Posted by: really | Aug 14 2014 3:07 utc | 96

Trying to find evidence of our "long-standing funding of jihadist" was frustrating ..

In Libya, we "aided" the SECULAR "rebels" in the very early days, months before NATO was summoned by those same rebels as their attempted revolution/coup was failing badly. The JIHADISTS arrived in Libya to assist genuine in throwing off a secular socialist (the Saudis also loathed Gadhafi deeply). When the traveling Jihadists eventually departed for Syria, they took with them what arms they could carry and left behind, as they do, an Iraqi Al-Qaida-like presence. Again, in Syria, it was not our goal to fund or arm jihadi forces, rather anti-Assad Syrian "nationalists."

I'm not sure if it has been documented for how long and how broadly the Saudi "private donors" have been funding the roaming army. Anyone? Again, I'm not certain when Bandar became the offical Saudi sponsor of jihadis in Syria and/or who else KSA may have officially assisted. I recall rumors of Saudi assistance as the Jihadi army moved to Libya. Bandar was relieved of that portfolio last spring, reportedly when Jihadi project was recognized to be moving out of his control and into a dangerous to the kingdom zone. The Saudis obviously learned nothing from their (and our support) of the mujahadeen but, again, we did not support the mujahadeen as jihadis, but as anti-communist freedom fighters -- as we initially approved of the Muslim Brotherhood as a safe, reliably anti-communist, second-party necessary for fledgling democratic elections.

I don't think that funding and arming the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan to oust the Communists exactly counts as "funding jihadists" under the current meaning of "jihadists" -- perhaps it does -- but it was a long time ago now. Certainly in the Cold War battle against Communism we had many strange bedfellows (and still do). The tradition of turning a blind-eye to faults of the enemies-of-our-enemies goes back a long way ...

Largely unrelated and I think unexpected has been the rising tide of Wahabbism among non-Saudi Sunnis. This is a phenomenon I have not seen well explained (and I wonder how durable it will be) For more than 14 years, I have been jeered for contending that for many young muslims, Al-Qa’ida and the jihadis are seen as freedom fighters and not as terrorists, as brave "role models" for Muslim manhood, fighting in defense of the faith. As the wars have ground on, and -- in fact as Arab Spring has largely failed or disappointed (not without our help) -- jihadism has grown as a desirable endeavor. ISIS and/or the evolution of Jihad in Syria has achieved what had previously eluded Al-Qa’ida -- at least since the fall of the Taliban -- the successful capture and holding of territory, in Syria and in Iraq.

FWIW, the Wahabbi Taliban were reportedly derided by the Wahabbi Saudis associated with Bin Laden and Al-Qa’ida as poorly educated, country bumpkins. I think Iraq represents a much greater prize and something over which there may well be a "fight to the death."

When ISIS "rolled into" Iraq, I counted it as yet another colossal CIA failure ... I still think that ISIS was a matter of American enthusiasm for toppling Assad (as Libya was rank opportunism to topple Gadhafi) meets Saudi imperial ambitions in overdrive. Yes, we failed to secure weapons all over the place and, yes, they fell into Jihadi hands -- We funded "rebels" who then allied with and at times morphed into Jihadi forces. I think in Libya and now in Iraq, I think we vastly underestimated the attraction of operating under that black banner ... of having agency and controlling the future. Whether this apparent rise of Wahabbism is durable remains to be seen.

Prior to 09/11, I believed strongly that strict fundamentalism and Sharia would not be durable and that the Taliban of Afghanistan would need to evolve in the face of international ostracism and populations unaccustomed to being so rigidly controlled.... sadly I fear the last decade has changed that, but how much and for how long I haven't a clue.

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Aug 14 2014 3:15 utc | 97

@97 There isn't an organized left. The neo-liberals are only fighting for token representation among the parasite class, so extremism is the only home for anyone who isn't targeted by emotional blackmail. Until the confidence fairy appears, religious extremism will rule without an organized left.

I might add the various groups in central Africa who have become more than a nuisance in the last two years sure did enjoy the weaponry flowing out of Libya.

Posted by: NotTimothyGeithner | Aug 14 2014 3:34 utc | 98

Saudis giving $100 Million to UN's counter terror agency, obviously to keep IS away from them.

Posted by: TikTok | Aug 14 2014 3:52 utc | 99

was unconscionably irresponsible ... rash, reckless, stupid ... and a piece with our history of same.

I'm one of those who opposed overthrowing the Taliban -- IMHO another reckless and stupid act -- because I believed that they could and would evolve and that destroying the dream of a "true Islamic state" was just going to strengthen the dream and anti-American, anti-infidel sentiments. No, I don't know what we do about Islam's intolerance, the treatment of women, apostates, etc. If ISIS is real and durable -- it's the durability I'm doubtful of -- things may indeed get much worse, particularly since our GWOT means -- as Scahill's book demonstrated -- the world is a battlefield ... of our making. This bizarre, declared "necessity" to intervene ... it's a sickness.

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Aug 14 2014 3:58 utc | 100

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