Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 10, 2014

The Stampede Towards War On ISIS

The stampede towards waging war on ISIS and whoever else is quite weird. I see no real discussions of the sense of it all. How much will this cost? What are possible unintended consequences? How long will it take? How will we know when it is over?

No one seems to ask these questions. Instead this is considert to be journalism and reporting on teh issue:

Over a dinner of D’Anjou pear salad and Chilean sea bass, Obama, Vice President Biden and the outside experts engaged in a deep discussion of the options to combat the Islamic State, those who participated said.

"D’Anjou pear salad" - how interesting. But what are the options discussed, what are their up- and downsides and what are their costs? There is nothing about that in the Washington Post. The fourth estate is gone, nowhere to be found.

But what about the parliament. Isn't the United States supposed to be a democracy? What about those people who were voted into Congress? Cowards:

Democratic leaders in the Senate and Republican leaders in the House want to avoid a public vote to authorize force, fearing the unknown political consequences eight weeks before the midterm elections on Nov. 4.

“A lot of people would like to stay on the sideline and say, ‘Just bomb the place and tell us about it later,’ ” said Representative Jack Kingston, Republican of Georgia, who supports having an authorization vote. “It’s an election year. A lot of Democrats don’t know how it would play in their party, and Republicans don’t want to change anything. We like the path we’re on now. We can denounce it if it goes bad, and praise it if it goes well and ask what took him so long.

Obama would be crazy to let Congress get with this position. A war on ISIS will certainly have some very bad consequences, as any war does, and he will be solely blamed for all of them should Congress be allowed to dodge its responsibility.

Should Congress be forced to vote the real discussion, missing now, would have to take place and the vote in the end would likely be a resounding "No!"

These are the two groups. Which one would have, after an open public discussion, more support with the people?

some lawmakers in both parties will team with conservatives who do not want to support Mr. Obama on anything to oppose or limit any authorization of force, Mr. Kingston said. Hawks in the Republican Party will team with pro-Israel lawmakers and humanitarian interventionists in support.

The warmongers are of course trying to avoid the discussion and the vote and that is why they are pressing the stampede and hope that everyone else will panic with them and jump off the cliff.

The reporting today makes it look as if Obama has already taken the decision to, illegally by the way, bomb Syria. I sense a lot of hawkish spin in that and will not be surprised should Obama kick the problem over to Congress and demand a vote.

Posted by b on September 10, 2014 at 15:29 UTC | Permalink

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Now that the US is on a war footing with ISIL, the idea of training and weaponizing anti assad jihadists is the wrong move. ISIL has shown that it can punk the US trained Iraqi military in which the US military had years to train. So why would any competent military mind in the pentagon think they could train anti assad jihadists on the fly to effective combat ISIL?

The slight of hand and wish to not use US troops on the ground in Syria immediately to combat ISIL will most likely only allow ISIL to get stronger and increase its rank and file. Also all the US made weapons sent to so called moderates is a potential problem. If that hardware is captured by ISIL, there is going to be a visual friend vs. foe identification issue for US military forces and allies. ISIL will be a bigger problem for the US ground forces to combat the longer the Us govt. tries to train moderate jihadists in syria to fight ISIL jihadists in syria, and we all know ground troops, not just special forces must be deployed to realistically defeat ISIL in syria.

Posted by: really | Sep 11 2014 11:44 utc | 101



Of course that is the PNAC/USG plan...

Posted by: really | Sep 11 2014 11:59 utc | 102

Don Bacon

So why is there such a big thing then? War is already on going.

Posted by: Anonymous | Sep 11 2014 12:33 utc | 103

When it Comes to ISIS™ and the New War in Iraq: As Cheney Leads, Obama and Maddow Must Follow

Yeah I remember first hear Racheal Maddow on a Saturday internet podcast back in 2004-5. She is totally different now, night and will do that I guess.

Posted by: really | Sep 11 2014 12:41 utc | 104

war on communism, war on drugs, war on terrorism, war on isis.. see a pattern here?

Posted by: james | Sep 10, 2014 11:53:47 AM | 2

Yes, it's called conflation — meaning you're conflating in an attempt to fit these disparate circles into your square paradigm. No matter how hard you try though, they just don't, and won't, fit.

Posted by: Cold N. Holefield | Sep 11 2014 12:57 utc | 105

"...Quite aside from the turmoil in neighboring Afghanistan Central Asia now saw a number of radical Islamic movements take covert root, the most global being an organization devoted not to direct action but to ideological struggle, Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT, or the “Party of Liberation”), a transnational movement that has served as radical Sunni Islamism’s ideological vanguard.

Today, HT is active in more than 40 countries and has a carefully designed strategy for each. HT focuses its efforts on three areas: Turkey, Central Asia, and Western Europe. HT has been able to advance its agenda in the region with help from groups in the West, by framing the Central Asian governments’ reactions to its activities as efforts to suppress religion and dissent rather than efforts to combat radical ideology..."
The other branches of ISIL?...

This is worth the read. Turkey, Turkey, Turkey.....what to do about Turkey...

Posted by: really | Sep 11 2014 13:49 utc | 106

from the files -- SecDef Rumsfeld on Iraq security forces

--November, 2003: More than 130,000 Iraqi security forces are now taking the responsibility for security for their own country.
--February, 2004: There are over 210,000 Iraqis serving in the security forces. That's an amazing accomplishment. And there are a number of thousand more that are currently in training. And the goal is that by April to be -- we'll be over 226,000 Iraqis serving in the security forces.
--April, 2004: The security forces in Iraq are coming along well. They’re now up to something like 200,000 strong, but they have not been fully trained and not been fully equipped.
--August, 2004: We’ve gone from zero to something like 220,000 Iraqi security forces of which 110,000 are properly trained and equipped and functioning.
--December, 2004: Their security forces, as I mentioned earlier, are -- oh, they’re now up to something like 110[000], 120,000 -
--March, 2005: The Iraqi Security Forces now number some 145,000 and they're doing a good job of working with us to deal with the insurgency.
--September, 2005: Iraqi security forces now number over 190,000.
--October, 2005: Iraq now has 406,000[sic] security forces that have been trained and equipped since the end of that war[sic] and they are getting better every single day.
--December, 2005: On the security side, today some 214,000 Iraqi security forces have been trained and equipped.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 11 2014 13:56 utc | 109

Posted by: Cold N. Holefield | Sep 11, 2014 8:57:34 AM | 101

They are all labelled wars on not for.

So a lot of people will get killed because there is a war on, and the American people will have nothing to show for.

That was easy.

Posted by: somebody | Sep 11 2014 14:00 utc | 110

@Anonymous #99
Don Bacon So why is there such a big thing then? War is already on going.

The US has decided to double or triple the average of five daily airstrikes the U.S. has launched against ISIS targets in Iraq over the past month from Air Force and Navy warplanes, and drones.

Whenever the US doubles or triples airstrikes it requires a speech from the commander-in-chief, which is why the US has commanders-in-chief and airstrikes (which is a euphemism for murdering and injuring various foreign men, women and children with fragmentary bombs).

It's all for the good. "America, our endless blessings bestow an enduring burden. But as Americans, we welcome our responsibility to lead. From Europe to Asia, from the far reaches of Africa to war-torn capitals of the Middle East, we stand for freedom, for justice, for dignity. These are values that have guided our nation since its founding."

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 11 2014 14:13 utc | 111

Don Bacon

What kept obama from bombing more, he could have kept it secret like his other warcrimes in the middle east.

Posted by: Anoynmous | Sep 11 2014 14:42 utc | 112

Obama: "ISIL is certainly not a state."
Neither is Taiwan.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 11 2014 14:44 utc | 113

Syria, on the other hand, is a state, and Obama proposes bombing Syrian territory, without the Syrian government's authorization, and indeed against that government's protests, and in violation of international law. When that government's authorization could undoubtedly be obtained, as a result of negotiation with it.

Posted by: lysias | Sep 11 2014 14:47 utc | 114

The US is probably using largely ineffective bombing as a diversion, and betting that it can buy off the Sunni tribes which provide the military muscle to ISIS. Sort of a Sunni Awakening redux.

from Graeme Wood:
The head of the Dulaimi tribe, Anbar’s largest, is reportedly already negotiating the loot he’ll get from the United States if he separates from ISIS. The details could be complicated, since there are no longer any Americans around to guarantee the safety and prosperity of the Sunnis and to protect them from the Iraqi Shia.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 11 2014 14:53 utc | 115

"...It's all for the good. "America, our endless blessings bestow an enduring burden. But as Americans, we welcome our responsibility to lead. From Europe to Asia, from the far reaches of Africa to war-torn capitals of the Middle East we stand for freedom, for justice, for dignity. These are values that have guided our nation since its founding."

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 11, 2014 10:13:51 AM | 107

That ranks with some of the most malodoruos political bullsh!t I have ever read. Marie Harf must have wrote that...

On to more theatre, this time from Al Nusra Front al qaeda jihadi terrorists, who are with the help of Israel auditioning for the so called "anti assad moderate jihadi terrorist" part in the USG proxy conflict against assad. This takes the appears Nusra Front was serving milk and cookies to their UN "hostages" and playing board games....

"..The head of Fiji's army said on Wednesday the Islamist militant group had dropped all of its demands to free the 45 hostages, but at least slightly back-pedalled later in the day as the situation appeared to deteriorate. It was unclear whether the video, carried by the SITE monitoring service, was made before or after the confusion surrounding those comments, but a U.N. source earlier told Reuters that the militants had insisted on such a video as a condition for the peacekeepers' release.

"We are all safe and alive, and we thank Jabhat al-Nusra for keeping us safe and keeping us alive. I'd like to assure you that we have not been harmed in any way," one hostage, who was not identified, said, using the Nusra Front's full name.

,"We understand that with the limited resources that they have, they have provided the best for us and we truly appreciate it and we thank them. We are thankful that Jabhat al-Nusra has kept its word and that we will be going home."

Posted by: really | Sep 11 2014 14:56 utc | 116

Happy Patriot Day, everyone.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 11 2014 15:01 utc | 117

Russia's UN Envoy on US strikes in Syria

Posted by: really | Sep 11 2014 15:33 utc | 118

Reconstruction business is SOOOOO juicy

Posted by: Mina | Sep 11 2014 15:36 utc | 119

Maddow is just another Ziomole,foisted on US by Diane Sawyer.I read he was landscaping her property and Sawyer saw her viability as a talking head for LGBT and Zion forever interests.
Quoting Bloomberg makes me vomit,please desist,they are the enemy of mankind.
OT;Ted Cruz spoke at a ME Christian gathering in Washing;When he saiid to the gathering,"you have no better friend than Israel in the region",they yelled stop!Desist!
The mole traitor from Cuban-Canadian hell walked off the stage in anger.

Posted by: dahoit | Sep 11 2014 15:54 utc | 120

@108 Budgeting. The oligarchs won't put their money up, so what is the operational budget currently? The MIC is about graft first, and planes can operate a handful missions before they have to be rebuilt. Boeing wants it's money for parts and maintenance. The bombs we supplied to Israel are bombs we don't have. The local governments, vendors, and troops and contractors expect to be paid.

Posted by: NotTimothyGeithner | Sep 11 2014 16:15 utc | 121

John Boehner wants a vote, if he can force one, maybe this train can be slowed down.

Posted by: Crest | Sep 11 2014 16:22 utc | 122

How amusing - the resident troll is now quoting a (literal) old Sovietologist as a credible source.

Posted by: c1ue | Sep 11 2014 16:24 utc | 123
Gloomy prognosis

Posted by: Mina | Sep 11 2014 16:26 utc | 124

@: NotTimothyGeithner #117
what is the operational budget currently?

news report:
Lawrence Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, is among the experts who argue that the fiscal 2015 defense budget contains the money in the Overseas Contingency Operations account to deal with threats like ISIL.

“The war funding budget they set up this year … that’s got an awful lot of extra money,” Korb told

The $58 billion OCO account is down significantly from $85 billion in fiscal 2014’s budget. However there is new money — about $4 billion — known as the Counter Terrorism Partnerships Fund, that’s designed for threats like ISIL, Korb said.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 11 2014 16:27 utc | 125

The US has no foreign policy.

It does have various clans fighting behind the scenes for ideological positions, some quasi-religious (economic models, and so called ‘democracy’, though the last is fake), some purely tribal mixed with alliances (e.g. Israel as the 51st state) as well as many crack-pot long-term world-domination schemes. All this combines to make a schizoid patchwork that is totally irrational.

Of course, the interpretation that as much confusion, chaos, murder, etc. as possible can only serve the hegemon - and the arms merchants, the traffikeers and all those on one or another gravy train - remains. It is, however, long term, self-defeating.

The very expression ‘foreign policy’ - no matter how ugly the goals and the implementation - implies a distinction between foreign and domestic policy, that is, a Nation (or whatever entity) which presents some sort of unity and has some plan for favoring, or at least protecting and sheltering, itself.

Not so for the US: domestic and foreign policies mirror each other, in inequality, repression, militarization, etc. Black slave-labor in the prisons is not drone-killed but exploited. Food stamp recipients, 47 million of them, are kept on the edge of starvation and destitution, to prevent rebellion, if not slowly killed off with depleted uranium and loss of clean water, medical care (etc.)

Seen in this way, the US’ problem is finding partners - dictatorial, oligarchic, fascist, neo-colonialist, modern-medieval, that are manipulable (everyone on the take but the top Kapo gets 10% straight up ..), or by other means ‘pliant’ - too weak or small to resist, infiltrated from the top (which, btw, is usually covered up.) Inevitably, wild instability results, as such partners are by their very nature prone to shifting alliances, underground deals, deception and trickery. Gangsterism exported..

Posted by: Noirette | Sep 11 2014 16:32 utc | 126

I'm sorry, my mistake. Boehner only wants a vote separate from the government funding bill and supports the eternal war wholeheartedly.

Posted by: Crest | Sep 11 2014 16:38 utc | 127

"The US has no foreign policy."

Indeed. In the sense of the US as Congress/executive branch, when *WAS* the last time policy was made in this way?

"In 1948 a committee of the Commission for the Reorganization of the Executive Branch of Government, headed by former President Herbert Hoover, reported that national policy does not now come from the civilian heads of government. Instead, 'the military have picked up the ball of national policy and are running down the field with it.' Congress, the report said, was practically helpless."
- John Swomley, "The Military Establishment", 1964, p.1

Posted by: erichwwk | Sep 11 2014 16:44 utc | 128

@: Noirette #122
It is, however, long term, self-defeating.
--Not to the people who benefit from it. It's The Iron Law Of Institutions

The Iron Law of Institutions is: the people who control institutions care first and foremost about their power within the institution rather than the power of the institution itself. Thus, they would rather the institution "fail" while they remain in power within the institution than for the institution to "succeed" if that requires them to lose power within the institution.-- Jonathan Schwarz

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 11 2014 16:57 utc | 130

@really #125
The F-35 is currently in development. It has no combat capability and is not certified as airworthy. Only prototype airplanes exist, and they are currently under severe flight restrictions due to a yet-unexplained engine failure. The most recent F-35 test report:
"Overall suitability performance continues to be immature, and relies heavily on contractor support and workarounds unacceptable for combat operations."

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 11 2014 17:02 utc | 131


All that doesn't mean they won't stop spending hand over fist to keep developing it. They have not ended the program as far as I know. Now with the new war long term air war against ISIL they can now justify pouring taxpayer money into the F-35 pit. It will be in service eventually after they stuff themselves silly with "development" profits. Similar to the V-22 Osprey boondoggle a few years ack. Win win.

Posted by: really | Sep 11 2014 17:12 utc | 132

President Obama is a charachter in a story that was written long ago. The msm and certain msm punditry doubting his decision to take action that they drummed up by clammoring for war against ISIL is the height of hypocrisy. Obama has laid out the bullet points of the plan last night. Obama was not going to go into specifics on public television.

Now Obama gave Congress the opportunity to weigh in with constructivevideas on how to defeat the Cheney/Dubya/PNAC jihadi frankenstein that is ISIL. So instead of Congress and msm pundits sniping at Obama trying to politicize the ISIL problem, they need to suggest to the Obama Administration how to do it effectively. Congressional members need to come up with some ideas to combat ISIL which they call a very complicated issue. There needs to be serious congressional planning debate, not sniping like MCCAIN, CRUZ, GRAHAM ETC. ETC.

Debate of a plan and congressional authorization will ensure that not only does the Obama Administration and the pentagon has skin in the game but Congress will too. Realistically this would be the best way to effectively plan the defeat of ISIL, if defeat of ISIL is what the USG really wants to do.

Posted by: really | Sep 11 2014 18:15 utc | 133

Politicians in Washington are not only good at spending OPM -- other peoples' money -- but also spending OPL -- other peoples' lives, AKA boots on the ground.

news report:
Opponents say Obama will need ground troops against Islamic State -- Conservatives pushed back Thursday against President Barack Obama’s contention that the United States can stabilize Iraq without committing U.S. troops to a ground combat role in the country.

news report:
'Tens of thousands' more medical staff needed, says VA chief -- The Department of Veterans Affairs needs “tens of thousands” more personnel working in VA hospitals and clinics to meet patient demand, the new VA Secretary, Robert “Bob” McDonald, told lawmakers Tuesday at a hearing of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 11 2014 19:24 utc | 134

"ISIL Fighting With Weapons From US and 'Moderate' Syrian Rebels: Report"

Posted by: Willy2 | Sep 11 2014 20:21 utc | 135

Is ISIS using Colonel John Boyd's O.O.D.A. Loop?

Boyd’s O.O.D.A Loop and How We Use It
By: Tracy A. Hightower

The O.O.D.A. Loop is a process we go through hundreds if not thousands of times in a single day. It is a process that defines how we humans react to stimulus. Colonel John Boyd coined the term O.O.D.A. Loop, in the 1950’s. Colonel Boyd, known as the “Fighter Pilot who changed the Art of War”, was an F-86 pilot and commander of a fighter group during the latter part of the Korean War. He believed that when at a disadvantage a competent pilot could still overcome that disadvantage by “Attacking the Mind” of his opponent. His observations led him to a greater understanding of Human reaction time and the coining of the term O.O.D.A. Loop. Colonel Boyd trained his pilots based upon his observations of Human reaction time and as a result his pilots had a 10 to 1 kill ratio over the superior Mig-15’s.

Human reaction time is defined as the time elapsing between the onset of a stimulus and the onset of a response to that stimulus. The O.O.D.A. Loop, which stands for Observe, Orient, Decide and Act, is Boyd’s way of explaining how we go through the process of reacting to stimulus. ...
As Instructors we are always striving to find ways to give our students the advantage in a fight while diminishing their opponents will and ability to fight back effectively. Making sure our students understand the O.O.D.A. Loop and how we react as humans can go a long way toward accomplishing that goal. The really great thing about understanding the O.O.D.A. Loop is the realization that everybody has one and their O.O.D.A. Loop is affected by the same factors that yours is. This is one of the reasons why in nearly every drill we teach it incorporates moving. This has the effect of resetting your opponent’s O.O.D.A. Loop and giving you still another advantage. Learning how your opponent’s mind works and using tactics that allow you to take advantage of that kowledge is what we should strive to do. Colonel Boyd had it right, know your opponent’s mind and then attack it.

(h/t picard578)

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 11 2014 21:05 utc | 136

If ISIL is the biggest and baddest terrorist army menace ever, why has it not run roughshod over Assad and the Syrian Army?

It has not beaten Assad because it is not the world beaters that it has been portrayed to be. The USG has to slow down and think twice about carpet bombing ISIL targets. ISIL is embedded with Syrian populations that are not sympathetic to ISIL. Saw Jeremy Scahill on the msm (I know I was surprised myself) and he said the USG and its allies will create catastrophic blowback if the kill scores of non ISIL affiliated Syrians. I agree with him, the USG would make thousands upon thousands of possible new al qaeda and or ISIL sypathizers by a revengeful reckless carpet bombing campaign against ISIL.

Mr. Scahill said the best way to defeat ISIL is to begin with ISIL finances and ending all the back channel support from the applicable GCC member regimes and NON-GCC financiers.

I think Assad and his allies would defeat ISIL and all the other Al qaeda groups in Syria rather quickly, and with the least amount of civilian casualties if left to do so.

Posted by: really | Sep 11 2014 21:44 utc | 137

The policy Obama suggested makes so little sense as a means of destroying or defeating ISIS that I think we have to conclude that defeating ISIS is just a pretext.

Posted by: lysias | Sep 11 2014 21:55 utc | 138

whod have expected turkey to put a spoke in Obamas war plans?

Posted by: brian | Sep 11 2014 22:17 utc | 140

Now the cia is saying ISIL now has 20 to 30k fighters. Even if that number is true, which I highly doubt it is, they are still spread over that tract of land they supposedly control in Iraq and Syria so I don't think this is a big deal. just my opinion...

Posted by: really | Sep 11 2014 22:25 utc | 141

The leader of the free world, the most powerful man on earth, may be in history stood up and told the American people and the world he is going to arm the Moderate Opposition in Syria (MO) "the good guys" to fight ISIL. This can be a Farce or Real:
1 - A Farce, an attempt by Obama to silence his critics WRT arming the MOs, at the same time he knows the MOs will add no value to the fight with ISIL.
2 - Real: a cleaver scheme (not necessary smart) to get MOs involved one way or another so when ISIL is expelled from some region in Syria, the US will bring them as liberators from two evils; ISIL and Assad. The targeted region is the area adjacent to the Kurds from the east and Turkey from the north. This will be the pretext to implement no fly zone, control Assad's supplies, air and missiles attack on Assad to defend the new budding democracy.This what the Saudis wanted for a long time and they will pay for it. From there Obama is hoping to enlarge the new Syria to include Alepo (Halab) to the west, take over Syrian ports on the Mediterranean (Turkey want a piece of that also) essentially suffocating Assad's Syria. Plus added bonus like denying Russa any presence on the Mediterranean.
I called it a cleaver scheme because it look attractive, simple and easy to sell to the leadership, the kind of scheme that Susan Bangazi Rice would think of and propose. The assumptions behind this is that Israel will take care of Hizbu-Allah and the Syrian army from the west and occupy the rest of Golan Heights, Jordan and Saudis will take control of the southern region and so on. But the results of such scheme will be no different (could be worst) from the result of Iraq war and occupation, endless wars, instability etc. After such accomplishment, Obama would say ISIL who?

Posted by: DanE | Sep 11 2014 22:47 utc | 142

Too many moving parts, too many

This is worth the read.

Posted by: really | Sep 12 2014 1:38 utc | 143

To guest77 @ 69 --

Thanks, I know he's got quite a following. And a really slick website, with plenty of standard issue anti-Soviet tripe. Easy give away -- it's posted under "Russia," not "Soviet Union." I'd have no problem for "Russia" for current events, "Soviet" discussion of the experience.

Like many of the soft left, the line is indistinguishable from the right.

Posted by: rufus magister | Sep 12 2014 1:43 utc | 144

c1ue @ 123

"How amusing - the resident troll is now quoting a (literal) old Sovietologist as a credible source."

Soviet studies definitely my bag, I assume to you refer to the backsliding Cold N. Holefield (aka Cold1, aka the Hole, aka Cold N. Trollfield). I had quick look at his postings on this thread, didn't see him quoting anybody. Is it somewhere else, or his he facing competition for Resident Troll?

He's got my vote. The electrons on my props at 58 about being on target about education and the Ivy League are barely charged when there he goes again, crude "mecca" shtick at 94. I read the brian's post at 82 to which it is directed, and as a "comeback" it makes absolutely no sense, in addition to being highly unamusing, to put it lightly.

BTW brian, caught yours at 83, "left wing ineffectuals," both spot on and quite droll. Innkeeper, I'll have what he's having. "You're a gentleman, a scholar and a judge of fine whiskey."

Posted by: rufus magister | Sep 12 2014 2:11 utc | 145

from the Pentagon , Sep 10:

475 new US troops
--150 will supplement those already in Iraq conducting assessments of Iraqi security forces. These forces primarily operate from the joint Operation Centers in Baghdad and Irbil. “The assessment mission they have been conducting will now transition to one of advise and assist,” Kirby said. “About a dozen teams [modified to somewhere between 15 and 20 advise-and-assist teams] will embed with Iraqi security forces at the Iraqi brigade level and above.”
--125 to support the operation of manned and armed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms from Erbil, Iraq.
-- 200 personnel to provide headquarters command and control for the mission in Baghdad and Irbil.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 12 2014 4:05 utc | 146

Stripes, Sep 11
Obama hasn’t given specific order to strike in Syria, officials say

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has not yet authorized U.S. Central Command to conduct offensive combat operations in Syria, two senior defense officials told McClatchy on Thursday, underscoring the uncertainty that U.S. officials still have over how best to counter the rise of the Islamic State in that country.

Speaking anonymously to discuss sensitive military operations, the officials said that although U.S. CENTCOM commander Army Gen. Lloyd Austin has been granted the authority to expand the U.S. effort in Iraq to offensive operations, that authority has yet to be extended to Syria. Austin’s authority for Iraq operations was explicit in Obama’s national address Wednesday, the officials said, and official written authority, called an execution order, is expected to reach Austin from the Joint Chiefs of Staff sometime next week, a defense official told McClatchy.

But despite the assertion by White House officials in background briefings with reporters that military action in Syria is a certainty, Pentagon officials said they think direct military action there is at least weeks away. In his speech Wednesday, Obama said that he would not hesitate to strike in Syria, but he gave no indication of what developments would lead to an actual authorization for a strike, and other U.S. officials have acknowledged that the United States is still determining what to do.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 12 2014 4:11 utc | 147

CNN, Sep 11
ISIS can 'muster' between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters, CIA says

Washington (CNN) -- A CIA assessment puts the number of ISIS fighters at possibly more than three times the previous estimates.

The terror group that calls itself the Islamic State "can muster between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters across Iraq and Syria," a CIA spokesman told CNN on Thursday.

Analysts and U.S. officials initially estimated there were as many as 10,000 fighters, including those who were freed from prisons by ISIS, and Sunni loyalists who have joined the fight as the group advanced across Iraq.

"This new total reflects an increase in members because of stronger recruitment since June following battlefield successes and the declaration of a caliphate, greater battlefield activity and additional intelligence," the spokesman said.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 12 2014 4:18 utc | 148

The good folks at the Carter Center only want what's best for the Syrians: Using Technology to Map Conflict in Syria

P.S.: If this is the level of civilian conflict monitoring, imagine the greater knowledge which military and intelligence agencies have. Also, points to why our guys (ISIS) use the web so much. Just phonin' home, that's all.

Posted by: Malooga | Sep 12 2014 4:43 utc | 149

I want to return to my theme at #136, which is the comparison between the success that ISIS has had, primarily by getting into the West's minds, and the failure of the West to modify it's 'bomb, bomb, bomb' mentality, which has proven not to work.

DailyBeast, Sep 11

...“That’s why Western rational approaches to counterterrorism do not work,” says Dawn Perlmutter, an expert on symbols and their forensic significance. “The West applies reason and logic to true believers who have no fear and have an abundance of imagination.” Because primal violence is justified by religious belief, “the offenders have no remorse, no fear, and are extremely confident.”

University of Michigan anthropologist Scott Atran, who frequently briefs the Pentagon on terrorist movements, marvels at the military’s rigid approach to the problem it defines as “transnational violent extremism.” The central concepts are “strategic planning” focused on a “cost imposing” strategy, which is to say, lessening costs on the American side and making them unbearable on the enemy side.

Unfortunately, says Atran, when it came to fighting al Qaeda, the “cost imposition” approach backfired badly, and the results were the opposite of those intended. “We end up imposing unsustainable costs on ourselves,” says Atran: Trillions of dollars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in response to an terrorist attack [9/11] that cost less than $500,000 to mount—and we are compelled to withdraw without achieving any sustainable results....

How did ISIS get totally inside the West's minds? By beheading two US journalists, especially the second. The result was that US media responded just as ISIS wanted. CNN devoted a complete newsday, and then several partial newsdays, to the second killing. All Sokoloff, all day. And the beleaguered US president was trapped. He had no choice. Triple the (ineffective) bombing.
And so it will go, unless the West modifies its approach.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 12 2014 5:00 utc | 150

I didn't know that Dan Froomkin, formerly of the Washington Post, is now at The Intercept.

News Organizations Finally Realize Obama's War Plan Is a Hot Mess

Well worth reading, to see that even the corporate media are saying that what the White House is doing with regard to ISIS is very silly.

Froomkin ends with a piece by Andrew Bacevich:

Obama is picking his targets in Iraq and Syria while missing the point

Posted by: Demian | Sep 12 2014 5:08 utc | 151

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 12, 2014 12:18:15 AM | 148


It is an exercise in branding. ISIS fighters can rebrand to Saudi/US supported Syrian Freedom Fighters without having to change much and vice versa.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 12, 2014 1:00:35 AM | 150
They also have a female US aid worker. Imagine the effect of beheading her.

The place to look for is Turkey. Turkey seems to have refused to take part in the fight on ISIS.

The other place to look for of course is the relationship of Saudis and Washington.

This here is the Washington Post.

U.S. politicians, including the outspoken Sen. John McCain, routinely hector over the state of human rights in Iran — Saudi Arabia's main geopolitical rival in the Middle East and a country with a far more democratic political system than that of the Saudis. But they are more quiet about the many abuses carried out in the kingdom.

And of course an interesting place to look to is Israel. I personally find the Jerusalem's post very studied neutral reporting quite amusing including the wording "Syrian axis" for Syria, Iran, Russia.

State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said on Thursday that strikes in Syria would not target the Assad regime.

“Obviously we believe Assad has lost legitimacy, but that is separate from our fight against ISIL,” Harf said.

Iran, too, questioned the breadth of the coalition that Washington says represents the international community.

“The so-called international coalition to fight ISIL is shrouded in serious ambiguities,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said, according to state-run television, noting that some coalition members were “financial and military supporters of terrorists in Iraq and Syria.”

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has raised the possibility that Islamic State might have been created by the United States.

The Islamic State organization, which considers itself Sunni, calls for the conversion or killing of all Shi’ites and violently opposes the government in Tehran.

There is also this

Yair Shamir said that Tel-Aviv sees Western sanctions against Russia as an opportunity for Israel to advance into the Russian market. “For us it is a great opportunity. Absolutely. Even if the sanctions are reduced I believe our products will continue to flow into Russia. It will be easier to deal with us, it will be cheaper and more stable with no political price tag for what you do and what you don’t,” he added. Shamir also expressed confidence that trade between Russia and Israel could increase rapidly in the context of current political situation. “It can go up to a billion of dollars. Easily. Of course it will not be 40 billion that Russia used to buy from Europe. But I think we can get to a billion dollars. Easily. In the short term,” the minister mentioned.

They are talking on agriculture. But of course there is also Israeli-Russian security cooperation.

TEL AVIV — Israel has forfeited some US $1 billion in defense trade and dual-use development projects with Russia due to a delicately balanced foreign and export licensing policy aimed at preserving security ties with Moscow without harming vital interests of the US and its NATO allies.

In interviews here, officials underscored Israel’s sovereign right and need to advance its diplomatic and security agenda through strengthened ties with Moscow, an increasingly pivotal player in the region and the world.

But given ongoing US-Russian geopolitical posturing and recent tensions over Ukraine, Israel must remain sensitive to the interests of its key ally in Washington, officials here say.

Posted by: somebody | Sep 12 2014 5:41 utc | 152

@somebody #152
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has raised the possibility that Islamic State might have been created by the United States.

He's been correct before, too.
“The truth is that [the US] opposition is because of the essence of the Revolution and the existence of the Islamic Republic. They were ruling the region without any worries. They had full control over a country like Iran, with its rich resources and numerous facilities. They used to do whatever they wanted. They used to make whatever decisions they wanted. They used to make the best of the facilities of our country in order to advance their own goals. But now they have been deprived of all these things."

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 12 2014 5:50 utc | 153


Saudi Arabia has donated $100 million dollars to the United Nations to support a counterterrorism center, but the kingdom is one of the primary sources of funding for jihadist groups, including the terrorist army of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. This duplicity contributes to the increasing instability in the Middle East and is a toxic element in the growing strains in U.S.-Saudi relations.

What "growing strains?"

Kerry Seeks Arab Consensus in Campaign Against ISIS

JIDDA, Saudi Arabia — Arab nations vowed on Thursday to “do their share” to confront and ultimately destroy the Sunni extremist group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The promise came after the nations’ foreign ministers met here behind closed doors with Secretary of State John Kerry.

The promise came after the nations’ foreign ministers met here behind closed doors with Secretary of State John Kerry.

A joint communiqué issued by the United States and 10 Arab states endorsed a broad strategy to stop the flow of volunteers to ISIS, curtail its financing and provide aid to communities that had been “brutalized” by the militants.

It also called for a coordinated military campaign in which nations would contribute “as appropriate.”

Mr. Kerry, who was the only Western foreign minister at the meetings here, sought to use the talks to mobilize support against ISIS, a day after President Obama declared that the United States was prepared to carry out airstrikes in Syria in an effort to degrade and eventually defeat the Sunni militants.

None of the Arab participants said precisely what they would do, and it remained unclear whether any would join the United States in mounting the airstrikes.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 12 2014 6:01 utc | 154

@Don Bacon #154:

This is a literate blog. If you quote something, you should give a link to it.

Posted by: Demian | Sep 12 2014 6:10 utc | 155

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 12, 2014 1:50:54 AM | 153

They have the biometrics of all the leadership as they all were in Camp Bucca.

The sublime fun of the quote is that it is the Jerusalem Post matter of factly quoting - without comment.

Posted by: somebody | Sep 12 2014 6:17 utc | 156

oh well

The biggest issue weighing on Israeli thinking on Syria is how to deter al-Nusra Front and jihadists in general. Israel's experience with moderate forces in southern Syria -- as demonstrated recently, when al-Nusra Front forced a captured Syrian rebel to divulge his Israeli contacts and meetings in a YouTube video -- indicate they are qualitatively weaker than the jihadists.


Qatar, which recently negotiated the release of an American hostage held by al-Nusra Front and which is believed to have some contacts with the group ...

Posted by: somebody | Sep 12 2014 6:40 utc | 157

Indian Punchline:
US needs Saudi and Iranian allies

"The four-letter word that US president Barack Obama never once mentioned in his entire speech on Wednesday outlining his strategy to fight the Islamic State was — ‘Iran’.

Posted by: okie farmer | Sep 12 2014 9:23 utc | 158

When the justification for war needs to be increased the cia comes to the rescue with "intel" inflating the ISIL fighter numbers 2 to 3 fold. How convenient. Just blow up the ISIL bogeyman to the enemy size and capability required to fit the narrative. That is easy work if you can get it.

Posted by: really | Sep 12 2014 10:12 utc | 159

Obama's outline plan for ISIL is just what the majority if not all the msm was yelling for. Obama's plan is a reflection of what the American public was expecting because of the msm incessant and reckless drumbeat for war against ISIL.

Obama knows the plan needs to be worked. But he had to give a preliminary groundwork to deal with ISIL prematurely, beause of the msm and certain republicans irresponsible political and war mongering tactics. Did not Obama tell the msm and even the pentagon to pipedown and stop inflating the domestic threat and yapping how big and bad ISIL is supposed to be a week or so ago?

Every plan needs to be massaged and altered. This should not be a surprise to responsible and/or seasoned media, analysts and punditry.

Posted by: really | Sep 12 2014 10:46 utc | 160

Posted by: really | Sep 12, 2014 6:46:43 AM | 159

I think it is safe to assume no one you list knows or cares what they are talking about. Not really.

This is an official press release.

ISIL has been I think a galvanizing threat around the Sunni partners in the region. They view it as an existential threat to them. Saudi Arabia has an extensive border with Syria. The Jordanians are experiencing a destabilizing impact of over a million refugees from the Syrian conflict, and are profoundly concerned that ISIL, who has stated that their ambitions are not confined to Iraq and Syria, but rather to expand to the broader region.

If you don't get the joke look it up on the map.

They just want to make this sound right. No way to admit that ally Saudi Arabia is threatened by Iraq.

Posted by: somebody | Sep 12 2014 11:05 utc | 161

It appears that this is a joke and/or freudian slip...

"Saudi Arabia has an extensive border with Syria"

Posted by: really | Sep 12 2014 11:34 utc | 162

Posted by: really | Sep 12, 2014 7:34:36 AM | 161

Don't think Freudian slip. They are not into making large entities out of small entities. Not really.

But who knows. ISIS seems to have got under their skin.

Posted by: somebody | Sep 12 2014 11:45 utc | 163

Patrick Cockburn's opinion on the dilemma's facing the US.

Posted by: Willy2 | Sep 12 2014 11:46 utc | 164

Posted by: Willy2 | Sep 12, 2014 7:46:08 AM | 163

From your link.

Lacking a moderate military opposition to support as an alternative to Isis and the Assad government, the US has moved to raise such a force under its own control. The Free Syrian Army (FSA), once lauded in Western capitals as the likely military victors over Mr Assad, largely collapsed at the end of 2013. The FSA military leader, General Abdul-Ilah al Bashir, who defected from the Syrian government side in 2012, said in an interview with the McClatchy news agency last week that the CIA had taken over direction of this new moderate force. He said that “the leadership of the FSA is American”, adding that since last December US supplies of equipment have bypassed the FSA leadership in Turkey and been sent directly to up to 14 commanders in northern Syria and 60 smaller groups in the south of the country. Gen Bashir said that all these FSA groups reported directly to the CIA. Other FSA commanders confirmed that the US is equipping them with training and weapons including TOW anti-tank missiles.

It appears that, if the US does launch air strikes in Syria, they will be nominally in support of the FSA which is firmly under US control. The US is probably nervous of allowing weapons to be supplied to supposed moderates by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies which end up in the hands of Isis. The London-based small arms research organisation Conflict Armament Research said in a report this week that anti-tank rockets used by Isis in Syria were “identical to M79 rockets transferred by Saudi Arabia to forces operating under the Free Syrian Army umbrella in 2013”.

In Syria and in Iraq Mr Obama is finding that his policy of operating through local partners, whose real aims may differ markedly from his own, is full of perils.

Posted by: somebody | Sep 12 2014 12:04 utc | 165

The ISIL crisis in Syria may appear to be complicated because of the religious and sectarian issues, global resource, zio-expansionist motives, violence, backstabbing, covert actions, political posturing, western propaganda and all out msm bullsh!t.

However imo the actual solution to the ISIL problem in Syria is not that complicated.

1. Saudi Arabia and Qatar and others needs to stop funding all jihadist groups.
2. The USG and its allies need to cease giving weapons to ISIL and other anti assad groups.
3. All borders with Syria need to be secured against any foreign fighters.
4. The Syrian government should be allowed to militarily coordinate with its allies to combat ISIL within its borders.
5. The west and its allies should focus on the ISIL recruitment and potential threat posed to their homelands through vigilant intelligence operations without continued violation and eroding of civil liberties.
6. As a by product this proactive military restraint by the west and its allies in Syria wrt ISIL will begin to mend West relations with the govts. of Syria and Iran.

As the old cliche goes sometimes less is more... I feel this is the only viable western participation that will effectively combat ISIL in Syria, if the West and its allies really care about protecting it civilians populations at home and abroad.

Posted by: really | Sep 12 2014 12:50 utc | 166

Lavrov just does not understand he said .."An alliance…based only based on the interests of one group of countries and that is only interested in neutralizing the threat in one part (of the region), and which is also largely based on ideological and pro-confrontation concepts, cannot succeed," he stressed". He must understand that there are good terrorists and bad terrorists. The good ones operate against Syria, Hesbollah and Iran. The bad ones operate against Iraq and the Kurds and may threaten Saudi Arabia, because they are not following the script, we may have to bomb them, hopefully back into Syria.

Posted by: harry law | Sep 12 2014 13:30 utc | 167


...Sources told Al-Akhbar that the highlight of the meeting was when Obama said the following phrase: “We know that President Bashar al-Assad protected Christians in Syria.”

Obama then used the term “the Syrian government” instead of “regime,” which is usually used by the US to describe the government in Syria.

The confused attendees could not believe what they heard. However, one of the guests addressed Obama and said: “Then you should stop talking about a moderate Syrian opposition.”

Posted by: Mina | Sep 12 2014 13:42 utc | 168

It might be Obama in fundraising mode.

This here seems to be the opinion of US evangelicals

There is a major consensus amongst the Christian leaders in this region that any military intervention by the United States will have a detrimental effect on the situation and in particular for Christians in Syria," Tunnicliffe wrote to the White House and the United Nations. "Christians have already been threatened in Syria by some of the opposition indicating that a post regime Syria will be Muslim and Christians will not be welcome."

Don't expect him to act that way.

Posted by: somebody | Sep 12 2014 13:56 utc | 169

@166 harry law

Where is the link for the Lavrov quote?

Posted by: really | Sep 12 2014 14:09 utc | 170

really @169 Stephen Lendman 11th September 2014 here

Posted by: harry law | Sep 12 2014 15:32 utc | 171

@170 harry law


Posted by: really | Sep 12 2014 18:06 utc | 172
"...revious article discussed Obama's open-ended Middle East war. It flagrantly violates international and constitutional laws They're clear and unequivocal. The Constitution's Supremacy Clause (Article VI, Clause 2) states all US laws and treaties "shall be the supreme law of the land…" Presidents and Congress have no authority to spurn them. Especially on issues of war and peace It doesn't matter.

America's last legal war was WW II. Numerous lawless aggression ones followed International law is inviolable. No nation may intervene in the internal affairs of others None may attack another except in self-defense. None may do so without Security Counci authorization. None exits. Expect none forthcoming..."

Posted by: really | Sep 12 2014 19:03 utc | 173

My sister in Portland Oregon is afraid of ISIS. How absurd is that? Makes me want to ride my bike down to the gates of hell in McLean and say why are you pretend to be American sorry excuse for human being fucks terrorizing my sister. Nazi fucks, we know you. I am right here, in Arlington Virginia.

Posted by: Me | Sep 13 2014 4:18 utc | 174

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