OK. Name your poison. pl
"... two Islamic State car bombs hit Kurdish positions on yesterday evening, leading to casualties. A cloud of black smoke towered over Kobani on Sunday.
A fighter from one of the female units of the main Syrian Kurdish militia in Kobani, YPG, said Kurdish fighters were able to detonate the car bombs before they reached their targets.
“Last night there were clashes all across Kobani ... this morning the clashes are still ongoing,” she said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The Observatory said 70 Islamic State fighters had been killed in the past two days, according to sources at the hospital in the nearby town of Tel Abyab, where Islamic State bodies are taken. These reports could not be independently confirmed due to security restrictions." Irish Times
General Austin, the CENTCOM commander, used much the same kind of figure the other day in a press briefing at the Pentagon. IMO, nobody knows how many men IS is losing at Kobane. How would they know? I expect that they are using Syrian opposition reports as facts because we have no independent sources of data. This has been a problem throughout the Syrian civil war. Neocon entities like ISW and AEI have continuously used opposition reporting as though it were something other than propaganda.
It appears that IS has "gotten the word" about the symbolic value of victory or defeat at Kobane and is reinforcing its efforts there. Kobane may have begun as a diversion for IS but the battle now has a life of its own.
“British parliament’s decision this week to grant ‘Palestine’ diplomatic recognition is essentially a symbolic move since Britain’s government, headed by Prime Minister David Cameron, is not obligated to translate it into actual government policy.
“Passage of the motion, in contrast, legitimates (sic) the position that Israel is to blame for the conflict and that Palestinians are the weak side, in need of international support for their cause.” So said a recent article in The Guardian.
This new fact deserves some consideration and to understand it, we need to peruse an earlier time.
The Jews of Europe had long been bossed, exploited, mistreated, humiliated, persecuted, and murdered. The Jews were among the best and brightest of the European peoples. Nietzsche with great eloquence stomped on the anti-Semitism of his day by asserting just that, but clearly the Jews have had a tragic history. They had been thrown out of Spain; there were pogroms that targeted the Jews in Russia, and the culmination of Europe’s anti Semitism came with Hitler’s homicidal plan to murder them in an industrial scale, a crime so horrible that to think of it floods one’s heart with grief. That vast Nazi massacre destroyed the members of a benevolent, talented and optimistic culture and left the survivors with a sense of having been deeply wronged that nothing could make right. “One can do nothing before the permanent soul of a race,” said Gustav le Bon, and that race not only survived, it flourished by establishing its own state in Palestine.
“Nothing is more terrible than a body of men who have been afraid and are afraid no longer,” said Gustave le Bon. The new state of Israel was not simply going to be settlers; they were going to be conquerors as well engaging in a constant battle to survive.
In 1948, Israel had won its first war against the ill-disciplined, poorly trained Arab armies. Now, conscious of their uncertainty of their fate in the region, the Israelis spoke as masters of the situation. Suddenly there was no one more aggressive in war than Israel’s military. They were aware of the helpless and slaughter by the Germans, but unfortunately, the wounds to self-love are the most difficult to heal. Israel’s military were going to triumph at whatever cost and they would triumph because of their unending pugnacity and intellectual resourcefulness. Their aim was to make the Zionist enterprise to succeed at all costs. “We will make a cemetery of France,’ said Carrier, “rather than fail to regenerate it in our own way.”
Or as Robespierre put it, “The republic is the destruction of everything opposed to it.” That was the attitude of Israel’s military culture. It was to be inexorable, tireless, and endlessly devious.
Israel knew that its neighboring Arab nations were resentful and very hostile, but their armies were divided, amateur and poorly trained, and Israel’s military was on the march. From the first, Israel’s military tried to concentrate the entire nation’s power in itself. The people is of a nation are far less excitable than a crowd; but certain events – national insults or threats of an invasion – can arouse it instantly. It is not always easy to explain the acceleration of certain sentiments under the influence of a constant, exciting cause but the Arabs provided the acceleration. Constant cross border attacks had killed any sympathy between the two groups, and to Israel, the presence of Arabs and the threat they posed could rouse Israel’s military in an instant. A lot of Israel’s aims embodied a desire for vengeance or conquest. This feeling can be seen in Israel’s unending pugnacity. Within just a few years after the victory of 1948, Israel became cocky and believed that it owed nothing to anybody. Being the Chosen to rule the nations of the Earth thanks, to a biblical promise, apparently exonerates you from playing by rules unless they are gamed on your favor.
To take an example.
"The leader of the Nigerian Islamist rebel group Boko Haram has offered to release more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by his fighters last month in exchange for prisoners, according to a video seen on YouTube. About 100 girls wearing full veils and praying are shown in an undisclosed location in the 17-minute video in which Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau speaks. Boko Haram militants, who are fighting for an Islamist state, stormed a secondary school in the northeastern village of Chibok on April 14 and seized 276 girls who were taking exams. Some managed to escape but about 200 remain missing." Reuters
This has been a tragic event and the worldwide frenzy over it is also terrible.
What a crock all this is! Is it not clear that this whole thing has been a sophisticated ploy on the part of Boku Haram to "spring" their comrades from Nigerian jails? And for this Michele Obama makes a continuing spectacle of herself on television and the 24/7 newsfreaks whip up their usual hysteria? It's a damned good thing that this Shekaku fellow released his video before Michele succeeded in pressuring her husband into doing something foolish.
You can be sure that the girls are dispersed for the purpose of making operational planning difficult and that by now the Stockholm Syndrome has set in. Trying to get them all onto the buses to leave Boku Haramian Islam would be a real task.
I suggest that a tri-partite delegation consisting of the Reverend Al Sharpton, the Reverend Jesse Jackson the elder (his son being otherwise engaged), and former everything Bill Richardson be sent to negotiate the release of the damsels in distress. Perhaps Michele could perform an oversight function in this matter. But, then, Kerry's interests should be considered. That Nobel has proven elusive. And then there are the electoral concerns of the old lady from South Carolina. This could be a game changer for him.
We are the world! We are the children!
"Iraqi MPs have approved new defence and interior ministers, completing a unity government that is battling the spread of Islamic State militants.
Mohammed Salem al-Ghabban, a Shia, was appointed interior minister, while Khaled al-Obeidi, a Sunni, was confirmed as defence minister.
IS controls large parts of the country, and has been making gains despite US-led coalition airstrikes.
On Friday, a curfew was imposed in the city of Ramadi amid fierce fighting.
The vote by Iraqi MPs will be a big relief both inside and outside Iraq after weeks of wrangling, says BBC Arab affairs editor Sebastian Usher.
A more inclusive cabinet is seen as an essential first step in countering IS fighters, particularly among Iraq's Sunni minority, our correspondent adds." BBC
This is truly hopeful. The Iraqi Army is now trying to move north from Baghdad against Tikrit and the Beiji refinery. We will learn something from ther success or failure. West of Baghdad the government and IS are still fighting over control of Ramadi. This is another key fight that will have a major psychological effect on the outcome of the war. pl
"The net effect was more people living in crowded and insanitary conditions than ever before, alongside a thriving population of rats, whose fleas carried the plague virus.
The outbreak was believed to have started in December 1664 after goods imported from Holland were carried to a house in Long Acre. Initially deaths were few and restricted to the St. Giles and Long Acre areas. By June however, there were signs it had spread to the City and after sixty-eight deaths in St. Giles, the hope it would be short-lived and parochial was shattered: 'Now there died four within the city, one in Wood Street, one in Fenchurch Street and two in Crooked Lane'." Defoe
The author, a well-connected city merchant, locates his address with characteristic exactitude: 'I lived without Aldgate, about midway between Aldgate church and Whitechapel Bars, on the left hand or north side of the street'. (Whitechapel Bars marked the eastern boundary of the City’s liberties at the junction of Aldgate High Street, Whitechapel High Street and Petticoat Lane).
"In Kobani, the former third-biggest town in Syrian Kurdistan, in the far northeast, The Caliph also wins big. Another biblical exodus has reached 300,000 refugees - and counting, with over 180,000 headed to Turkey.
The Caliph counts on indirect help from The Sultan (or alternate Caliph), aka Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. Tehran is - rightfully - furious, as it sees the "West" - and Turkey - betraying the Kurds all over again. It's no secret Sultan Erdogan is doing nothing because he wants to screw the guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Syrian-Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD); let them die instead of repelling The Caliph and then be strong enough to threaten Turkish domination of those huge, essentially Kurdish patches of Anatolia. Thus the only thing Sultan Erdogan does support is aimless bombing by the Pentagon cum coalition of the clueless-cowards.
Anybody who believes the US Central Command's spin that House of Saud and United Arab Emirates fighter jets conduct "bombing raids" on the outskirts of Kobani gets a one-way ticket to Oz. Imagine these clowns being able to deploy precision-guided bombs or trained laser spotters. To start with, the Pentagon has zero local intel - as in zero operatives able to paint lasers on targets. Thus the "coalition" can barely hit the odd tank (out of 25 around Kobani) or Humvee out of 2,000 crammed in a valley for almost two weeks now. " Pepe Escobar
Just take the time to read it. It's a great read! pl
By the 4th of July, 2015:
NW Syria Front.
SAR forces have consolidated control over Aleppo and are re-occupying border posts to the north and west of the city. IS forces have withdrawn to the NE of Aleppo under severe pressure from SAR ground forces as well as SAR air force and US combat aviation. The US continues to deny the obvious tacit cooperation with Syria,
PM forces with support from both the US and Iran have advanced to positions in which they control Kurdish populated areas in Iraq. The KAR government states that it does not intend to advance further into IS controlled areas. The KAR government does not believe that it has the strength that would be needed to retake Mosul. There has been a large scale evacuation of Kurds from all the areas of northern Iraq. These Kurds are fleeing into the KAR. The KAR government states that it will not attempt to take any action in Syrian Kurdistan but that refugees who make their way to the KAR will be welcomed. Delivieries of US supplied equipment to the KAR continue through Iranian ports and are tranported to Suleimaniya by Iranian transport. Obama Administration efforts to bring 1 USSFGA de facto liaison to an end have failed. There have been several instances of violent confrontation between CIA and Green Berets over this issue.
The Iraqi/Abadi government "suspended" most governmental functions in Baghdad as of 1 May 2015. The government is moving to Nasiriya far to the south. In response, the US Embassy has largely abandoned its compound on the west bank of the Tigris and is moving to co-locate with the government at Nasiriya. Some US military functions continue at the former embassy. AH64 Apaches are operating from within the compound. A battalion of USMC have been airlifted into the embassy compound to join the battalion + already on the scene. BIA is entirely in the hands of IS. All of Anbar is under IS control.
Jordanian Army has deployed to combat ready positions in the north and around Ma'an in the south. There is now a combined division sized armored task force in position at Azraq Air base in eastern Jordan. TF Hashemi consists of two US Stryker brigades, a French light armored brigade, and the Jordanian 40th Armored Brigade. TF is OPCON to Jordanian Army. A prince of the royal house is in nominal command.
"Iran instructed Hezbollah to attack Israeli forces on the border with Lebanon in retaliation for the “bombing” of Iran’s Parchin nuclear facility, a Kuwaiti newspaper reported.
The report Friday in the al-Rai newspaper cites high-level Washington-based European diplomats, who said a “foreign country” was responsible for the bombing of the military base and suspected nuclear facility." JTA
Bibi likes to say that Israel reserves the right to act in its own self defense. IMO Israel could manage a small scale air attack of this sort. The problem is that such an attack would be an act of war. Does Israel really want war with Iran and/or Hizbullah? pl
In spite of increased US air support Kobane was totally in IS hands by 15 November. Several thousand residents fled across the border into Turkey before the end came. Over the next several weeks IS staged several execution dramas for the TV cameras waiting on the hillside across the border from the city. The UN estimates the number of executed to be more than 5,000. IS has kept several more thousand residents alive and display them on roof tops for the benefit of US air reconnaissance. This has effectively stopped US air attacks on the city. IS forces previously concentrated in the action at Kobane have moved to other positions along the border or to the Aleppo area. Kurdish rioting has built steadily in Turkey since the fall of Kobane. These riots have been put down with severity by the Erdogan government's police. There have been numerous instances of intercommunal conflict across Turkey between ethnic Turks and Kurds.
SAR forces completed encirclement of Aleppo before the end of the battle at Kobane. IS forces returning to Aleppo have repeatedly tried to break the Syrian lines of circumvellation but have failed in spite of heavy employment of suicide truck bombers as part of their fire plans for attacks. Syrian and US air attacks are occurring in close proximity to each other against much the same IS forces who are trying to break the SAR siege.
In December, Turkey announced its revocation of permission for the French Navy carrier battle group's presence in the Black Sea as well as for over flight clearance for anti-IS air operations in Iraq. Turkey stressed that emergency landing rights for damaged French aircraft would still be available at Batman. France withdrew from the Black Sea in January re-positioning the battle group in the Mediterranean Sea NE of Cyprus where it began air operations against targets in northern Iraq. Syria's foreign minister expressed satisfaction with that as well as blanket overflight clearance for French aircraft from the De Gaulle to and from Iraq. Syria also offered to exchange IFF codes with France to prevent accidental engagements. It is believed that France responded favorably to the offer. In February a group of active and retired senior Turkish Army officers attempted to depose Erdogan's government. The attempt failed when Turkish Jandarma units loyal to Erdogan blocked the attempt of a Turkish Army brigade to occupy the capital, Ankara. The brigade has been disbanded and many of its officers and soldiers arrested and held for trial for treason and mutiny. The generals and colonels who instigated the coup attempt have fled into hiding within Turkey. The government accuses the Army of hiding them within Turkish Army cantonments. In March Erdogan allowed IS to open two more consulates. One is in Antakya and the other in Erzerum. This action and the cancellation of the waiver for France in the Black Sea has caused backchannel discussions in NATO of the possibility of expelling Turkey from NATO. Russia has made it clear that it would not veto a resolution condemning Turkey in the Security Council so long as the resolution includes economic sanctions. China has not expressed an opinion with regard to such a resolution. Ambassador Samantha Power has made a public statement that the US opposes such a resolution.
Covert and unacknowledged US/Iranian cooperation has continued in building up the Pesh Merga. US aircraft are now operating in significant numbers from KAR airfields. Equipment and supplies are now arriving with Iranian cooperation in overland deliveries from Gulf ports. These deliveries have enabled a steady build up in PM capabilities. The KAR government has made it clear that it has no interest in advancing its forces beyond what it considers to be authentically Kurdish territory. The KAR government has made it clear that it will not attempt to relieve Baghdad or any other area under Iraqi covernment control if such operations endanger Kurdish forces.
The U.S. media constantly belittles, derides, or haughtily stares down its nose at Islam when it doesn’t slander it, and the media does these things hour by hour, day in, and day out. Almost all the judgments of Islam in the media are political judgments which have no basis in fact. They are made in ignorance and one wonders such judgments can be made with such facility since there has been no attempt by reporters or commentators to inform themselves of the facts of the world’s great religions. American reporters describe Islam as a shadowy, vaguely criminal menace whose reach extends to the edges of the Earth and whose presence darkens the light of the sun. It is a system that desires to enslave free men, they say. No distinctions are made between the bloodthirsty, predatory fanatics in Iraq and Syria who use Islam to gain their own self-interested ends, and a religion whose goal is to improve and enlighten human conduct and perfect the human mind. In other words, it’s a bit like saying that the Sicilian Mob is merely a form of Capitalism.
The so--called “Christian Right” in America, whose main motive is to inflame its own sense of self-righteousness, displays very little, if any, sound understanding of Christianity, and they by instinct deride Islam, and their preachers appear to be cut from the same coarse cloth of ignorance, rigid bigotry, hostility and inane dogmatisms that inhabit much of the media. I listened very briefly to a local TV broadcast where a Christian preacher described Muhammad as a kind of Arab Hitler gobbling up the countries of Belgium and Holland. Everything was conquest, everything was consolidation and slavery. My jaw dropped as I listened. Clearly, there is not in this man’s Christian nature, any hesitancy, any caution, nor any sign of wanting to respect what he did not know. His vulgar goal was to cry up Christianity and cry down Islam. One wonders what was the effect of this ignorance had on his followers. It clearly would not be a good one.
This mischaracterization of Islam is truly disgusting to anyone with any mental integrity.
One of the most interesting expositors of Islam was Sayyid “Ameer Ali (1849-1928) He makes it clear that Islam was based on sound ethical and metaphysical principles. It believed, he said,” in the unity, immateriality, power, mercy and supreme love of the Creator.” It believes in charity and brotherhood among mankind; it believes in subjugating the passions; its followers are to manifest an outpouring of gratitude for what God as created and given them since is God s generous and good; it believes in the accountability of human behavior in reference to an afterlife. (The good in God’s eyes goes to heaven, bad goes to hell.)
Russia, France and Turkey have agreed to a one time exception to the Montreux Convention to allow positioning of the French Navy De Gaulle carrier battle group in the eastern Black sea for the purpose of air operations against IS in Iraq. France does not want to participate in Syrian operations. France does not want to lured into overflying Syria. Turkey will allow overflight of eastern Anatolia to and from Iraq. Turkey will also allow forward positioning of French naval SAR at Batman and emergency landings at Batman, Mus and Erzurum as necessary. Russia has offered the French battle group port privileges at Sebastopol for ship chandler and re-fueling operations. France has yet to respond to this offer.
Turkey continues to deny the US the use of its airbases for offensive operations in either Syria or Iraq. Turkey seems to believe that it has enough leverage over US to force US ground participation in decisive campaign against the Syrian government as well as in establishment of a "no fly zone" in Syria that would inevitably result in direct combat between US and Syrian air forces.
Iranian assisted Pesh Merga forces in eastern Iraq continue to receive US air support. This unacknowledged cooperation between Iran and the US is effective.
Syria's foreign minister stated once again on 1 November that Syria is pleased with US intervention against IS forces and positions. Syrian and US aircraft are carefully avoiding each other by mutual consent.
In Jordan, IS sympathisers attacked and killed two American tourists at Petra on the 20th of October. Three French tourists were kidnapped on 25 October from the vicinity of one of the Ummayad hunting lodges in the eastern desert near Azraq air base. The kidnappers were Saudi beduin who took the French back across the border into the northern Najd where they have posted Utube videos demanding multi-million Euro ransoms for each one. They state that if their demands are not met they will begin beheading the captives in the name of the Caliph Ibrahim. The Saudi government has made no effort to rescue these people.
German police have apprehended an Al-Qaida affiliate cell in Hamburg. The group was well advance in planning a bombing attack against the NATO headquarters in Brussels.
The US mid-term election resulted in Republican gains in the House of Representatives and control of the senate by the GOP 53-47. On 5 November, Senator McConnell, the presumptive next majority leader, demanded that President Obama take firm and decisive action against Islamic terrorism and IS in particular or face decisive action with regard to failure to "defend the United States." A large group of Republican senators voiced immediate agreement. Washington is overflowing with media hyped rumors that Obama is about to seek a new civilian national security team.
By 5 November a dozen new Ebola cases had appeared in the US causing a serious distraction from foreign affairs. Many more had appeared by then in Europe. Media personalities excoriated public health officials on both continents. In west Africa the first cases of US military personnel displaying signs of what might be Ebola had appeared by 5 November.
President Obama had not, by 5 November, authorised a US ground presence in Iraq or Syria other than as operations advisers, trainers and guard for the embassy in Baghdad. As a result the nearest US ground combat units were in Kuwait and Jordan.
By 5 November IS had taken 90% of the town, in spite of the large number of coalition air strikes, many of them flown, at Kurdish request, by US heavy bombers against targets inside Kobane. These had failed to halt IS' advance but killed many Kurdish defenders and destroyed much of the city. On the 2nd of November IS brought a hundred Kurdish prisoners to the Turkish border where they were executed for the TV cameras. This was staged for network news. In the fighting for Kobane throughout the latter half of October the IS used suicide truck bombers as part of their attack fire plans, rolling the trucks forward through their infantry lines to detonate them just before assaults.
More and more IS fighters have returned to the Aleppo area for the purpose of trying to stop the Syrian Army's finalization of the encirclement of the old city. US air activity has followed them and as a result, US aircraft are now (5 November) flying missions against ground targets presently engaged by the Syrian Army.
US aircraft are now operating from several KAR airfields. Erbil, Suleimaniya, etc. USArmy's first SFGA is present in increasing numbers in the KAR. They are returning to the region with many of the people who were instrumental in the "awakening." Contacts are being re-established and these SF soldiers are returning to the tribal areas behind IS lines. Most of 1 SFGA are engaged as adviser/trainers with the Pesh Merga.
Nearly all of Anbar Province was in IS hands by 5 November. Captured M198 155 mm. howitzers have been emplaced in camouflaged singleton positions within range of BIA. "Searching fire" against the airport began in late October. Two HE shells landed on the apron in front of the passenger terminal on the 25th. The dozen airlines that had been operating through BIA then "suspended' operations until safety could be assured. In the last week of October, IS artillery fire against the airport improved in accuracy. The reason for this was revealed when several airport employees were arrested by the secret police and charged with spotting for IS artillery and reporting by cell phone. These arrests were followed the next night by a ground suicide bomber attack on aviation fuel stores at the airport. It had been hoped that the provision of counter-battery radar to Iraqi Army artillery would enable them to suppress IS artillery, but, in the event, Iraqi Army artillery commanders have declined to advance to firing positions from which they could be effective. IS sympathisers in the area report Iraqi Army firing positions by cell phone and the resulting fire is more than than the Iraqi Army want to experience.
Large numbers of Shia have begun to leave the area of Baghdad west of the Tigris. More and more arms caches in that part of the city are being discovered by the police.
Based on this statement of the situation as of 5 November- 2014, forecast your views as to what is likely to occur between 5 Nomber, 2014 and 1 March 20.
Real world time for inputs for this turn will expire at 1600 GMT, 12 October 2014.
DO NOT FIGHT THE PROBLEM. The game is intended to be a pedagogic tool for sharpening our understaning of outstanding issues. IT IS NOT intended to be predictive of the future. pl
(RT Alaska's pocket badge is an example of SOF humor)
It has become clear that media hype over such operations as the Bin Laden raid has created a false impression of the value provided by such military entities as the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), US Navy SEALS, and US Army Special Forces (Green Berets). Many people now seem to think that these highly specialized, lightly armed and thinly manned units are the equivalent of line infantry (to include the sub-categories of ranger battalions and parachute infantry), artillery and armor
In fact, mass matters a lot in warfare. SOF units do not have mass. They have great skill in prosecution of the missions for which they were designed:
- In the case of counter-terrorist commandos such as Delta, SEALS, and their supporting air and HUMINT units, the mission is raiding and killing or capturing enemy terrorist targets. This mission is much like that of US domestic civilian police Special Weapons and Tactics units. Such units are inherently small, lightly armed and largely untrained in the business of engaging a larger, determined enemy in a prolonged engagement. Nevertheless, the image that has been formed of these units is that of super-soldiers who, by their existence, make conventional ground forces obsolete, The Rumsfeld regime in DoD contributed mightily to the formation of this image through its negative attitude toward conventional ground forces. Larry de Rita, Rumsfeld's fair haired boy once told me that their ambition was to make the whole US Army more like SOF. I tried to explain to him what a bad idea that would be but his eyes quickly glazed over.
- US Army Special Forces (Green Berets) I was one (am one). Although GBs can do raids with the best of skills, their real expertise is in training and in some cases leading foreign irregular or counter-guerrilla forces. Such activities are normally conducted by small teams of highly qualified soldiers who are expert in dealing with foreign people and who exhibit a talent for that activity. Such men do not "grow on trees" and they should not be wasted by committing them to battle as though they are infantry. There have been occasions in which GBs or GB like soldiers have generated large formations of what came to be very like conventional forces when given artillery support. US resistance forces in the Phillipines in 1944-45 were very like that.
IMO the US Army has been wise in struggling to retain a balanced conventional force as the basis of the Army structure. The big units will always be needed in a serious land mass fight.
USMC and CIA capabilities are similarly limited in scope. I may write about them in the future. pl
With this move we transition from yesterday's effort to describe the present real world situation to a more expansive sense of the nature of this game.
From this point forward in the game we will operate in the context of scenarios written by Turcopolier Control. These scenarios will be generated for each turn on the basis of the initial scenario (given below) as modifed by Turcopolier Control (TC) on the basis of your various situation inputs. Scenarios will reflect both real world factors and TC opinion as to the meaning of some of the data.
Remember - No Sasquatch marines (an interesting thought) or return of the Mahdi to judge us all.
SCENARIO 1 - game date 7 October 2014
Turkey continues to be the anvil in the hammer and anvil IS operation at Kobane while Turkish forces stand by observing the slaughter of President Erdogan's Kurdish enemies in the city. Turkish forces continue to block movement of Kurdish fighters into the city from the north as well as free evacuation of Kurdish farmers and their animals across the border into Turkey. Riots have begun to break out in SE Turkey cities like Diyarbakir but also in Istanbul and Ankara. 15 people have been killed thus far by Turkish security forces. Unrest among dissident elements of the Turkish population is spreading across the country
We are going to play a game on SST. This game will be a miniature version of the large scale politico-military games played by a number of corporations under contract to government entities in Europe and the United States. This game is based on the general principles of government gaming and does not derive from any company's proprietary interest. The purpose of this game will be educational for all of us participants rather than implied policy prescriptions as in many government contract games. These threads (each move) will not preclude other threads in parallel.
The subject of the game will be the probable course of military and geopolitical events in the war between IS and the anti-IS coalition constructed by the United States over the next six months. Although IS and the coalition are the principal players, all those parties whose interests are involved in the contest can be introduced as additional players by participants. Diplomatic, economic, political and military elements of the situation are to be included in the play.
The game will be played in "turns." W. Patrick Lang (turcopolier) will act as umpire, omniscient observer and control for the game as Turcopolier Control. The period of time available for completion of a task will be stated when each sub-part of a turn is posted.
The first turn will consist of two parts:
- A data call from players for statements of the real world situation as of this date - 7 October 2014. Estimates will be submitted to SST as comments on this post. 24 hours from time of posting for this sub-part will be allowed. After that time has passed Turcopolier Control will issue a consolidated situation statement based on the inputs and his judgement.
- Based on that new situation statement the players will be asked to forceast events for the next month for all the parties portrayed in the game.
In the second turn, Turcopolier/Control will issue a new scenario based on the results of Turn One:
- Based on that revised scenario participants will be asked to forecast additional play for the parties to the game for two additional months.
The Third Turn will be a continuation of this process. The game will continue until it is judged to no longer be fruitul. Participants are cautioned that fantasy inputs will not be tolerated or accepted, i.e, intervention by God (deus ex machina), beings from outer space or the like.
In any turn following the initial situation assesment, participants may request diplomatic talks with a player or a specific information input. Such information may or may not be available. In all such exchanges, Turcopolier Control will be the actual interlocutor.
These rules are subject to revision mid-game by Turcopolier Control. The game is proprietary to SST.
Turcopolier Control looks forward to your inputs.
Game play begins now. pl
- IS now holds the eastern part of Kobane. IMO they will hold the rest soon but will not try to cross into Turkey. IMO Erdogan made a deal with IS over trading captives and a present abstention from violence on the part of IS in Turkey. IS already has a large fifth column in Turkey. The Turkish Army forces on the border at Kobane are there as a reminder to IS of the nature of the deal.
- Joe Biden's frank remarks concerning Gulfie and Turkish early support of Islamist groups in Syria and Iraq were important. Biden may be a blowhard but he is certain to be well infomed of the Obama Administration's understanding of the situation. What is revealed in his remarks about Turkey is that the Obama Administration still thinks of Erdogan as an ally and relies on his word. This is foolish. Erdogan continues to block US combat use of Incirlik and Batman air bases.
- As I have written before, US air was remarkably ineffective in interdicting IS BEFORE they penetrated Kobane. With IS in the town the air will be even more ineffective. Some of this has been caused by USAF/CENTCOM chain of command problems brought on by tight ROE. Some may result from Turkish pressure for us not to help the Kurds.
- The Syrian Armed Forces continue their drive to encircle Aleppo on the northern side of the city. They are having considerable success.
- The IS effort to wreck the Iraqi government at Baghdad continues. The US is now employing AH 64 Apache gunships to try to hold back IS who are approaching BIA from the west (Abu Ghraib). A lot of the New Coalition activity and billeting is on the west side of BIA and inside the wire/berm. IS has a lot of AA weapons now. we may lose some aircraft. I wonder who/what are defending the perimeter at BIA pl
"Without forward air controllers in Kobane, fighter pilots likely find it difficult to distinguish friend from foe, particularly as the IS militants seek to move among civilians to conceal their location, said Ben Connable, a retired Marine Corps intelligence officer.
"We probably don't have good enough intelligence to separate all the prospective targets from friendly fighters," Connable, now a senior anlayst at the RAND Corporation think tank, said.
Even with the advanced cameras and sensors on US warplanes, clearly identifying an enemy target remains difficult, and even more challenging in poor weather, Connable said.
"It's hard to tell," he said. "You may think you have identified something in a video, but you may not have."
But Kurdish leaders and some critics in Washington have accused President Barack Obama of taking an overly cautious approach, arguing that US air strikes could stop IS extremists in their tracks if it the full potential of American air power was unleashed.
Retired US Air Force lieutenant general David Deptula said the air crews flying the combat missions are hampered by cumbersome procedures and restrictive approval rules for strikes that are undercutting the impact of the campaign.
"There is a sense and there is feedback that there are too many people trying to micro-manage the application of air power," said Deptula, who oversaw air campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In Kobane, "there needs to be 24/7 constant overwatch, and every time there are ISIL (IS) troops, vehicles, weapons that are observed -- they need to be hit immediately," he said." al-bawaba
Some things change little over time. This is often little appreciated among the bird men. Boring Anecdote: I was sitting in the day's ops briefing in Tay Ninh Province CORDS Headquarters one day in 1968. The ops adviser's deputy, a captain, was briefing the days events. The Province Senior Adviser (PSA), a USAID civilian, was sitting in front of him, looking glumly at the floor.
The briefer droned on. "And at coordinates -----, a light fire team from the umpty umpthed Attack Helicopter Battalion engaged 4 large yellow stake bed trucks and enemy troops. The trucks were left burning and six KIA were visible on the ground."
The PSA looked up. "Say that again."
The nervous captain read the item again.
"God damn it! I just gave that logging company a permit to work in there. God damn it!"
The representative of the helicopter unit looked both defiant and defensive. "We don't know anything about that..."
Those of you inclined to think that incidents like that are/were rare or peculiar to American efforts are just wrong. Personally, I have always been fearful of "friendly" air when they were going to hit anything near me.
Nowadays we are told that the airmen have such wonderful instruments as JSTARS and the F15E Strike Eagle that, taking its data from JSTARS, can magically fire missiles and guided bombs at targets with pinpoint accuracy and then just turn away letting the gadgets take over.
Well, boys and girls, "it ain't necessarily so." As was so beautifully explained in "Jurassic Park," in regard to chaos theory, if there are a lot of moving parts in any phenomenon, something will inevitably go wrong. In air attacks the consequence is often a lot of dead civilians or meaningless strikes.
We have a lot of very brave and capable men in the Green Berets who are quite willing to take their chances with the Kurds in Kobane or in other places. Their use as JTACS forward controllers would greatly improve the effectivenes of US air. pl
Civilian Abdullah Qatmawi, 30, said he was unable to drive directly to Aleppo because of the blocked road. "When we arrived to the northern countryside (of Aleppo) we felt there was a problem on the road and when we arrived to Handarat there was fighting," he said.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks violence in the country, said the army was not yet in control of the main road but that clashes centred around Handarat, a northern Aleppo district, had blocked the route.
"If the army can take and hold Handarat, then Aleppo will be under siege," Observatory head Rami Abdulrahman said by telephone." Reuters
We have all been focused on Kobane on the Turkish border far to the east of Aleppo but that is nothing like as important as this encirclement and coming siege of Aleppo. As is often said, Aleppo is the second largest city of Syria. The central parts of the town have been in rebel hands for two years and a kind of pseudo-normality had returned. There is actually a theatrical production underway in the rebel held area.
If the Syrian Army succeeds in surrounding the city, then as RE Lee said of his ill prospects after the lines firmed up at Petersburg, "it is only a matter of time."
The war against IS will go on for a long time but the loss of Aleppo would be a severe blow to the rest of the rebels. A lot of non IS jihadis are now deserting to join IS. This would accelerate the process.
In the meantime the Turks continue their passive-aggressive behavior and IS prepares for something big in Anbar. A great mystery (to me) is the ineffectiveness at Kobane of US air. IS artillery is sitting out in the open there. pl
"Jim, you were selected as DNI because of your reputation as the kind of leader people instinctively trust. More than anyone else, you also understand that the president is responsible for the nation’s intelligence system, his decisions and preferences inevitably determining the quality of intelligence he receives. If the chief executive deliberately averts his eyes from the real world, then the fault rests neither with you nor the intelligence community. Presidents are accountable for the advice they take as well as what they choose to ignore, including ISIS. But if he won’t listen, then why should you stay?
My friendly suggestion is that you and the nation’s other top generals step away from this president, letting history decide his fate. A generation ago, your predecessors failed to confront their president over his leadership of the Vietnam War, thus sharing full responsibility with LBJ for every subsequent tragedy in that long debacle. The vital lesson from their example: Far better to resign with honor rather than to let down the American people who pay your salary." Allard
I don't believe I know Allard.
"Ramadi / NINA / A security source in Anbar operation command announced that the Islamic State (IS) controlled all surrounding areas of Hit district, west of Anbar.
The source told the reporter of the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / "The elements of the (IS) attacked, at dawn today, Hit district from three directions , the first is the military headquarters and checkpoints internal and external, the second direction is the main roads to cut off military supplies to the district, and the third attack is to targeting the checkpoints with 3 car bombs, which led to stagger the armed forces defending the district as a whole.
The source added, "The number of martyrs and wounded in the ranks of the security forces reached 74 in the primary outcome , including 42 martyrs and dozens missing, and the elements of the (IS) captured a battalion of tanks, the headquarters of the Infantry Regiment, the headquarters for the leadership of the border guards of the Fourth Region, the Police Department of Hit and 5 police stations in the district, stressing that the battles are going on between security forces and elements of the (IS) ." NINA
In the Iraqi "army" a battalion of tanks is what? 35 Russian made T-72s or older? 54 US made M1A1s? Presumably they captured the Heavy Equipment Transporters (HET) as well? It used to take me an hour or so to drive from the Rashid Hotel near the present US Embassy to the Club Med type resort on the NE shore of Lake Habbaniya. That distance was about 50 miles. Hit is not far from there to the NW on good, hard surfaced roads. That is probably another 50 miles. Saqlawiya Camp is closer to Baghdad than the Club Med place and it is in IS hands.
The method of these attacks is interesting. Supposedly, first they go for C&C objectives, then they cut the roads leading to the east and possible support, then they attack roadblocks with vehicular suicide bombers. It must be convenient for a commander to have a few human bombs available for jobs like this. The suicide attacks demoralize. On a humorous note one must wonder how they pick the suiciders. Perhaps they have a company formation and the first sergeant calls out "All those not wanting to be a rolling martyr bomb at Hit tomorrow take one step backward! Ah, not so fast Bilal!" That was a joke, people. pl
""BAGHDAD / NINA / Baghdad Operations Command announced the seizure of a number of improvised explosive devices, and materials involved in the manufacture of improvised explosive devices and the arrest of wanted persons in different parts of Baghdad during the past 24 hours.
The Command said in a statement today that "the security force seized, based on the confessions of one of the terrorists, sticky bombs, lighters bombing, and Mobile a number of Kalashnikovs, in Dora district, while another force seized an explosive device, seven mortar rounds , and materials involved in the manufacture of improvised explosive devices, in one of the bricks factory, south of Baghdad. "
The statement added that "the forces arrested a number of terrorists in different parts of Baghdad over the past 24 hours ." "
Needless to say, I have been anticipating something like this. IMO this is the Sunni 5th column making preparations for action in western Baghdad. pl
"While President Obama continues – at least for now – to resist redeploying large numbers of U.S. soldiers to fight the Islamic State on the ground, the military components of the anti-Islamic State strategy he has laid out effectively recommit the United States to its post-9/11 template for never-ending war in the Middle East. In the end, such an approach can only compound the damage that has already been done to America’s severely weakened strategic position in the Middle East by its previous post-9/11 military misadventures." Leveretts
That is an interesting picture. I am not quite sure who in the ME has flamethrower tanks built on an American chassis.
The Leveretts are correct in estimating that the US is embarked on a suicidal voyage in the Middle East but I have some doubt as to whether or not bin Laden conducted the 9/11 attacks for the specific purpose of luring the US into self-destructive wars in Islamdom. In the old movie "Fort Apache" Lt. Col. Owen Thursday responds to an assertion concerning his Indian opponent's cleverness with "and at which staff college did Cochise study?" Thursday learned that day that Cochise did not need to attend a staff college but bin Laden would have benefited from the experience. If bin Laden really did have that in mind, he and his colleagues and the Taliban have paid a very high price for his cleverness.
Be that as it may be, the main point of the article is certainly correct. The US will wreck itself if it continues to fight these ruinously expensive wars against the jihadis. IMO the IS wants to build a salafist state across the Middl East and South Asia. To that end they must achieve control of the assets now possessed by Saudi Arabia.
Would IS welcome a chance to inflict as many casualties on the US as possible? Certainly they would but that would be a means to an end and not the end itself. pl
"The prime minister’s body language was that of a man suffering intestinal discomfort. As soon as the cameras went on for the brief “pool spray” (a pre-meeting photo op with a small group of journalists), Netanyahu uncrossed his legs and tugged at his lapels. He placed his left palm on his left leg and appeared to drum the fingers of his right hand on the chair. Netanyahu nodded as Obama extolled the U.S.-Israel relationship, and an “mmm” of agreement was audible when Obama said Americans “should be very proud of the contributions that we made to the Iron Dome program to protect the lives of Israelis.”" Dana Milbank
"Through 2014 the United States has provided Israel with at least $115 billion in economic and military aid ($239 billion, adjusted for inflation). American financial, diplomatic, military and intelligence support for Israel is not only massive and unconditional, it has accelerated since the early 1970s. Some attribute that acceleration to Israel becoming a Cold War regional force. However 1970 was also a turning point for U.S. Department of Justice enforcement of the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The Justice Department abandoned all serious attempts at enforcing FARA on Israel ‐linked entities after losing large battles with charities lobbying for aid, including the Zionist Organization of America, the Jewish Agency's American Section (which now receives U.S. taxpayer funding) and the American Zionist Council (which transformed into the American Israel Public Affairs Committee six weeks after a 1962 FARA order).
Israel is now the largest cumulative post‐war recipient of U.S. foreign aid."
Rather than provide the Zionophile community an opportunity I will let you contemplate this without my editorial help. pl
The assumption that IS cannot move its forces because of coalition air action is widespread. IMO that is an over simplification. If that were true then why is it that IS continues to capture bypassed Iraqi garrisons in Anbar as well as continuing the siege of Kobane on the Turkish border? At Kobane IS artillery is active in shelling Kurdish defenses. Artillery pieces are easy to see from the air and IS are the only people using artillery in the Kobane area. Therefore ...
The truth appears to be that the amount of available coalition air is insufficient to "shut down" IS activity. Sortie rates, distances from launching air bases, availability of ordnance must all be factors. If the Turks decide to enter the war on the side of the coalition, this situation would improve greatly.
As things now stand I would agree with TTG that a well scheduled program of movement by infiltration would likely "swamp" the available air resources to such an extent that a lot of materiel would arrive at intended destinations. Combined with traditional Maskirovka activity the effect could be dramatic.
This brings into focus the defenses of Baghdad itself. IMO disruption of GoI activity has to be the most important intermediate objective for IS before they move on to SA. Anbar Province to the west of Baghdad is largely in the hands of IS. The Iraqi military have proven themselves incapable of correcting that situation. American military personnel are engaged in guarding the US embassy and presumably in providing some security at Baghdad International Airport west of the city proper. Most of the American soldiers on the ground are in staff jobs that do not directly contribute to the defense of the city/airfield. That defense rests on the shoulders of the much defeated Iraqi Army. Defeat is a habit that forms in the minds of the much defeated. Weapons do not fight. Soldiers fight. Would these Iraqi soldiers fight well this time or would they once again flee? pl
"Islamic State fighters seized two towns in western Iraq, after besieging hundreds of soldiers, according to a regional official.
The militant group has captured Albu Etha and al-Hamdhiya, Faleh al-Issawi, deputy head of Anbar provincial council, said by phone today. He said some Iraqi troops were killed and others deserted their posts, without giving details.
Earlier the head of the Anbar council, Sabah Karhout, had said that at least two battalions of the Iraqi army, or 260 men, were trapped near Albu Etha, and that efforts were being made to send reinforcements and enable them to break the siege.
The clashes are taking place in a region where U.S.-led airstrikes are seeking to roll back the insurgents’ advance. Karhout and al-Issawi said that Islamic State controls at least half of the city of Ramadi, the provincial capital, though they said that elsewhere in Anbar the airstrikes have enabled security forces to recapture territory." Bloomberg
These two garrisons were only fifty miles or so from the western side of Baghdad. Evidently the surrounded units made repeated attempts to obtain relief and reinforcements from the capital but to no avail. When they ran out of ammunition they fled. It is clear that the Iraqi government is no more able to deal with IS now than they were a few months ago. IS continues to clear its rear areas of pockets of government forces like these. Once they finish that they will have a freer hand to move on with whatever it is they intend to do next. pl
"Shells continued to fall on Kobane on Monday afternoon as the Islamic State sustained its attack, two days after the U.S-led coalition struck militant positions near the city in an attempt to weaken their offensive. Some of those shells fell in Turkish territory Monday, drawing attention to Turkey’s hands-off approach to the militants’ advance. Turkish authorities have prevented Turkish Kurds from entering Syria to fight alongside their brethren." Washpost
The Turks are letting Kurdish refugees from Kobane enter their country but are using water cannons and tear gas to prevent Kurdish reinforcements from farther east entering Kobane from the Turkish side of the border. In other words they are assisting IS in its efforts to take the town. At the same time they have moved armor to their side of the border in what seems to be a PR demonstration of resistance to any IS effort to pursue into Turkey. IMO this is merely a gesture because there is no infantry with these tanks. The soldiers here will tell you all that tanks do not operate alone if you expect to fight. Tanks alone are very vulnerable to infantry armed with things like RPGs. US air attacks on this IS force at Kobane does not seem to have had much effect. pl
"A senior source in the Kurdish Peshmerga said troops had entered the town of Rabia on the border with Syria, after seizing the villages of Al Saudiyah and Mahmudiyah.
“Ground troops are now fighting in the centre of Rabia,” which lies about 100kms northwest of Mosul.
He said Peshmerga forces, backed by artillery and warplanes, were also attacking Zumar, about 60kms northwest of the city, near the reservoir of Iraq’s largest dam, which has been a key battleground between the Kurds and the militants.
Both Rabia and Zumar were areas which the Peshmerga seized in the chaos that followed the militants’ capture of Mosul in a lightning offensive in early June." Gulfnews
Ah, some good news! I don't quite understand why the PM are re-taking Rabia if they captured it in June. The PM have never had much experience with tanks and artillery and are not yet trained to use these weapons. They have some captured equipment but not a lot in running condition. Where did they get this support and who is operating the equipment? The Iranians played a major role in re-taking the Mosul Dam, perhaps they are involved again. pl
Col. Lang, I spent my early years at a skeptical boarding school in New England. They taught us that faith was an artifact of a more primitive time. It was to be humored but never to be taken seriously. Man had moved on, or at least that culture in New England had moved on, to better things. These were modern men with modern answers. They no longer needed the prophets to guide their lives. I have to laugh, now, when I think of that. Obamas words are a testament to that culture and how my classmates thought. We were infused with purpose, and we were intent on redeeming the world. In our own right, as his language suggests, we were no less religious than the dour pilgrims before us. Our faith was a secular one, but it was no less dogmatic. We had lost our god, but we had not lost Winthrop's creed. We were so convinced of modernism though. Our answers, unlike those who came before, were both right and universal. Indeed, we believed that backward beliefs and the shackles of primitive religions were the only obstacles to our mission. We were missionaries, but we couldn't understand that. Obama suffers from that, as do many in his circle. They do not understand the peculiar nature of their values. They do not understand that their values are the product of their culture, and can hardly be considered universal truths. They do not understand that the primitive and backwards peoples of the world will resist them, and forcefully so. - Eliot
"America leads. We are the indispensable nation. We have capacity no one else has. Our military is the best in the history of the world. And when trouble comes up anywhere in the world, they don't call Beijing. They don't call Moscow. They call us. ... when there's a typhoon in the Philippines, take a look at who's helping the Philippines deal with that situation. When there's an earthquake in Haiti, take a look at who's leading the charge and making sure Haiti can rebuild. That's how we roll. And that's what makes this America." Obama
Oh for god's sake , could there be a clearer declaration of the neocon Jacobin creed? We are the indispensable nation? We are the world's gendarmerie? We are the world's first responders for natural disaster? If that is so, then the world needs to start paying us for our services, and as "protection money." The resentful and the marxists already believe that we are looting the world. If Obama's newfound creed is accepted by the American people "the world" will learn what real looting is like.
"As of Friday, the coalition had carried out more than 200 strikes in Iraq and 43 in Syria, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters. The United States had done the lion's share of the bombing, although Arab states have contributed significantly. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Jordan all participated in last week's strikes in Syria. France carried out an airstrike in Iraq earlier this month.
The American-led coalition fighting ISIS in Iraq grew by four on Friday -- including Belgium, Britain and Denmark.
The U.S. got a major boost when Prime Minster David Cameron of Britain won approval from Parliament, after describing the militants as "psychopathic terrorists who want to kill us."" CNN
The UAE, Jordan and Saudi Arabia have a lot of aircraft and a considerable number of "stick and rudder"capable pilots, but virtually no staff planning capability for planning missions, doing bomb damage assessments, campaign planning and the like. If supported by the US air planning center in Qatar they can be useful.
Thus far, the program of bombing raids against IS has been a nuisance to them but it shows no sign of progress against IS occupation of the lands.
Unfortunately, the GCC countries have no significant ground forces that could be engaged anywhere other than on their own soil In the military trade it would be said that they have no "power projection" capability. This is mainly a question of logistics. Jordan has small but capable ground forces but also needs to protect its homeland against both internal and external Islamist threats.
All of these princely or royal states are considered by IS and other Islamists to be abominations. In the opinion of salafist groups all these countries should be incorporated into a purely theocratic entity ruled by a Caliph whose authority is god given and based on their version of Islamic law.
Many of the inhabitants of the princely and royal states sympathize with that point of view. In many ways the princely states have nurtured such potentially disloyal "citizens." They have done this by funding and authorizing teaching institutions that preach salafism.
Saudi Arabia is the most extreme example of this but there are others.
The truth is that Turkey and the US are the only countries that can play a significant role against IS. The Turks show no sign of wishing to do so. Syrian Iran are potential partners for the anti-IS war but US policy precludes a meaninful role for either.
That leaves the US alone in the field. pl
The Reverend Al (Tawana) Sharpton is helping Obama choose a new AG. I expect that there will be a recess appointment that will carry through to the end of Obama's term. IMO the woman AG of Calfornia would be Obama's first choice. She is far enough to the left for his taste and that of Michele.
The Afghan government is dead flat broke. This is to be expected since the government has little in the way of "organic" home grown income. The huge armed forces and police are 90% funded by direct US government subventions. The Afghan government is yet another ghostly apparition masquerading as a real government. It will either disappear when the US stops funding it or find another sponsor, China, maybe?
At the same time the Afghan government is losing ground steadily to the Taliban in both eastern Afghanistan and SW of the capital. There are now fighters carrying IS's flag. They have beheaded quite a few captives to demonstrate their fealty to the Caliph Ibrahim. Tell me again what it is that we think we are doing in Afghanistan.
In Iraq there are no incumbents for the posts of Minister for Defense and Interior (police). Farid Zakariya had guts enough today to say that the meme recited by the Children's Crusade that there is now an inclusive government is simply a lie. He is correct. He should be careful. Someone is hunting his scalp in Washington and New York. pl
“I believe, as a general rule, Governments achieve the reverse of their stated objectives. I hesitate to call it a unique universal law and there may also be other formulations.” This masterly formulation by Walrus is by and large true, I think.
I kept thinking of familiar predicaments, the Iraq Invasion of 2003, the Vietnam War, the Great Depression of 1932, etc., but one figure and one country seem to be to embody the dictum of Walrus, and that would be Germany and its leader, Adolph Hitler.
The 1919 peace agreement at Versailles saddled Germany with the blame for the war, wrecked its economy, humiliated its citizens, and formed the festering resentment that for years sat in the national soul. The British maintained its economic blockade of Germany for a year after the armistice, causing the deaths of thousands of Germans by starvation. A more generous policy would have been the best course, but Germany’s foreign opponents were greedy, cruel, exploitative, and oppressive and enjoyed inflicting pain on their defeated enemy.
"Despite the valiant attempts by Barack Obama and David Cameron to insist that the lawless violence of Isis has nothing to do with Islam, many will disagree. They may also feel exasperated. In the west, we learned from bitter experience that the fanatical bigotry which religion seems always to unleash can only be contained by the creation of a liberal state that separates politics and religion. Never again, we believed, would these intolerant passions be allowed to intrude on political life. But why, oh why, have Muslims found it impossible to arrive at this logical solution to their current problems? Why do they cling with perverse obstinacy to the obviously bad idea of theocracy? Why, in short, have they been unable to enter the modern world? The answer must surely lie in their primitive and atavistic religion." Karen Armstrong
(originally published 2005)
"Gaza, a 25-mile-long, 6-mile-wide strip of land, was part of Mandatory Palestine, which was ruled by the British after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. It was never part of the Zionist state intended by the United Nations partition plan that led to the establishment of Israel in 1948. At that point, five Arab nations immediately attacked the new nation, but Gaza wasn't even part of the territory Israel got in signing truces in 1949. It became the home of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fleeing Israel, and Israel's armistice with Egypt in 1949 put it under Egyptian rule. In the 1967 Israeli-Arab war, Israel captured Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, along with the West Bank (from Jordan) and the Golan Heights (from Syria). Israel returned the Sinai to Egypt after making peace, but kept control of Gaza. A second agreement called for negotiating eventual Palestinian autonomy there.?" NY Times
What a miserable place the Holy Land is! The climate is wonderful, (something like Santa Barbara). There is a delightful quality to the countryside. The amber light shining on the city of Jerusalem in the afternoon is a sight never forgotten. People on both sides of the Palestinian/Israeli gap are often warm hearted and welcoming and the holiest places in the world are there, waiting for all. If a quiet life there were really possible I would be living at least part time in Jerusalem in what could easily be thought of as the Center of the World.
Alas... Not possible. The two nations contesting for the land between the Jordan and the sea see the contest essentially as a tribal struggle for control of scarce resources. These are land and water. Both groups are filled with the kind of exclusivist nationalism that regards all other groups as "the other," and sees its relationship to "the other" in terms of a zero sum game. I would recommend Elie Kheddourie's old book, "Nationalism" as a source for understanding the destructive potential of "Nationalism" as opposed to "Patriotism.' As Kheddourie would have it, Patriotism is love of your own group. Nationalism is love of your own group at the expense of someone else's group. In other words, in a Nationalist paradigm, if your group wins something then my group must have lost something. This is the traditional mindset in the ME. It probably became the normative pattern of thought over millennia under the influence of a scarcity of arable land as a result of the scarcity of dependable sources of water.
""The point is that Afghanistan has got to figure out how to get along as a nation, and there have been a lot of steps toward nation building," he said. "A lot of local warlord-type leaders have been marginalized - not all of them completely."
Mr. Boucher, who is assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, also attributed some of the chatter to political jockeying ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections in Afghanistan late next year.
"That's bringing out a little more these days - resentments and alliances between groups and talk about ethnic politics, but I think there is a stronger movement toward creating a sense of nation."
The Northern Alliance was founded by mostly Uzbek and Tajik warlords and took power after the Soviet pullout in 1989. The Taliban was formed later as a Pashtun resistance to the alliance and seized control of most of Afghanistan in 1996. The Bush administration relied on the Northern Alliance to capture northern Afghanistan in 2002. Washtimes
This kind of policy formulation is derived from an excessive exposure to political science (PS) professors at an impressionable age.
PS sells the idea that human society is evolving towards higher forms. The creed in this secular religion holds that human behavior is universal in nature in all important aspects and that apparent differences are fated to disappear as mankind and its societies develop toward higher and more general forms. The form sought by the more practical is that of national states. Some of the more visionary seek the emergence of a globalized world culture and state. PS is an idea system, that originated in the age of cultural, literary and scholarly romanticism of the 19th Century. European scholars like Durkheim and Weber reflected the same set of ideas that created romantic nationalism, marxism (a very romantic idea), belief in the "Golden Ages" of various peoples, Germans, Italians, Jews, etc. For minority group scholars like Durkheim and Weber, the notion of redefining societies within a new paradigm is always attractive. The Arab World was late to the European "Romantic Age" so the creation of paradigms like Baathism, Phalangism or the Syrian Social Party came along a bit later than the European copies of this phenomenon. For the minority member, a new paradigm that does not recognize the old one that considered you to be marginal is clearly a good thing.
These State Department types are soaked in PS. It permeates their thinking as much as it does that of the Jacobins. The Defense Department is also infested with this kind of thinking since so many military area specialists and civilian policy people have been sent to graduate school in PS and/or International Relations, a related disorder and delusion.
Implicit in the rhetoric concerning this new phase of anti-jihadi warfare is the notion that "jihadism" is a passing phenomenon that can be destroyed and which will disappear as irrelevant to "modern" life. It is also said that jihadism is "un-Islamic," a distortion and misrepresentation of a great religion. In fact, jihadism is inherent in some views of what Islam is.
Islam, as I have often said, is a religion of laymen. It has no hierarchy, no clergy, no sacraments. There are only groups of Muslims of varying size who agree on what Islam and most especially what Islamic religious law (sharia) is. This process of forming consensus (ijma') groups is endless and inevitable. Some will say that Shia Islam has a hierarchy. It does not. In fact, The howza ("college" of Shia scholars) is merely another expression of consensus, in this case of consensus among scholars "elected" by acclamation from among their fellows. The "authority" created by such acclamation is fleeting as each man's opinions are automatically disregarded after his death. Much the same thing is true of the great Ulema (scholars) of Sunni Islam.
Therefore, for one group of Muslims, however large, to say that the consensus of some other group of Muslims is invalid or "un-Islamic" is merely vanity on a grand scale. That is particularly true if the smaller, armed and violent jihad inclined group of Muslims are willing to fight, kill and die for their views. Perfumed and elegantly dressed Muslim ladies are frquently heard expressing such disapproval of jihadis. More vanity is expressed in this. More vanity.
The spokesmen for the various parts of the US governnment are now engaged in telling the world that this unfavored group or that unfavored group are un-Islamic or the like. More vanity.
The corpus of Islamic scripture contained in the Qur'an and the wildly varying collections of hadith (traditions of the early Muslims) is so vast that it contains ample justification for any sort of view desired.
We can kill our way to a state of relative quiet in which the jihadi impulse is suppressed for some time, perhaps a long time but that is all we can do. Until the Muslims taken as a whole themselves see the futility of the unending struggle against the kuffar (unbelievers) we will always face the prospect of more violent jihad. pl
A measure sponsored by Sen. Timothy M. Kaine (D-Va.) would repeal the 2002 Iraq authorization and approve action against the Islamic State for one year only, with limitations on ground troops and on applicability to any other so-called “associated forces.”
“Ultimately, this is about a precedent for the future,” Kaine said in a speech Tuesday at the Center for American Progress. “If Congress allows this president to begin this campaign against ISIL . . . we will have created a horrible precedent that future presidents will no doubt use.”
In the House, a bill introduced by Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) would repeal the Iraq AUMF. It would pass a new authorization narrowly allowing action against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and sunset that measure, along with the 2001 authorization, after 18 months." Washpost
What the president and his friends, people like TOLFSC, McCain, Peter King and the like, are asserting is that the constitutional right and power of the Congress to declare the country to be at war is a nullity and void of meaning. They assert this to be true because the president is also commander in chief of the armed forces and they believe he can order the armed forces to do whatever he pleases.
It was understood by the framers of the constitution that the the commander in chief power did not extend to taking the country to war without the consent of Congress. In his Federalist Papers writing on the subject (#25 et al) Hamilton writes at some length to justify the existence of a standing army and navy. It is clear from his thinking that those forces that might be maintained would be for the purpose of frontier defense and protection of maritime commerce in time of peace and that the assent of Congress would be needed for wartime expansion of those forces and mobilization of the state militia. What is claimed now is an unlimited power for the president to make war as he wishes.
At the same time there is interest in writing a new AUMF while letting the old ones lapse. The text of a new AUMF should be looked at very carefully. There are many parochial agendas in Washington. Not the least of these is the CIA desire to regain its lost powers through control of the DNI office and the "kneecapping" of defense intelligence. Those goals could be served in a new AUMF. pl
(This map is somewhat inaccurate. IS holds a lot more of Anbar Province than is shown as well as a group of towns SOUTH of Baghdad astride the roads to Kuwait)
- How much local "coalition air" actually participated in last night's well planned attacks in Syria? Which targets did Jordan, Qatar, UAE, Bahrein and Saudi Arabia attack and with what?
- Egypt obviously declined an invitation to participate. Why?
- France and Britain were absent from the night's festivities. Why?
- The Syrian government was informed in advance and the Director of Operations (J-3) of the Joint Staff described Syrian air defense radar as "passive," i.e., unresisting, during the operation. The Children's Crusade (NSC and State staffs) continues to insist that there was no coordination with the SAG. Well, boys and girls, what occurred is called "de-confliction" among the adults and that is undoubtedly coordination. Semantic BS does not change reality. It just makes you look childish.
- The J-3 showed pictures that demonstrated that multi-million dollar air weapons can put a missile or bomb into a pickle barrel if that is desired, but, to what effect? His pictures ahowed that very minimal damage had actually been inflicted in the effort to completely avoid civilian casualties. That is commendable but the truth is that weapons can become so accurate that they are not impressive to the enemy, especially to an enemy like IS who WANT TO DIE. IMO, IS will simply move on in adapting to the reality of US air attacks that seek to limit damage and casualties. They have already been doing that by hiding their black flags and dispersing their assets among the civilian population. Yes, I know, they are using "human shields." So what?
- Turkey remains an enormous problem for the Children's Crusade. They declined an invitation to participate in air attacks against IS. They continue to deny the US their air bases, but they are also blocking Turkish Kurds from entering the fight against IS and are complicit in marketing IS oil.
- Christiane Amanpour served up the Assad/IS alliance meme on CNN today. This is absurd. IS, Nusra Front and all the other opposition groups are the SAG's deadly enemies. Buying the enemy's goods across the lines does not make you their ally. In the American War Between the States, the Union Government authorized the purchase of the Confederacy's cotton across the lines under license from the US Government. Why? The North needed the cotton to make uniforms and tents for the Union Army. Similarly Syria needs that oil to have a functioning economy. That is quite different from Turkey's role in helping IS market its oil at home and abroad. Turkey also continues to facilitate the flow of IS people in and out of Syria.
- An IO campaign is being waged against the American people. The major media are complicit in this. My sources in the CT community tell me that the Khorassan group is not a new phenomenon at all. Its existence has been well known. The targets have been long designated, but now at the moment in which the president's authority to wage unrestricted war is questioned this fear generating meme of imminent attacks in the United States is trundled out so that the media can whip up more war fever.
- The Iraqi Army and its Shia militia allies have been defeated once again. In Anbar Province west of Baghdad the Iraqi Army lost over a hundred men killed or captured yesterday as well as an army fortified position. In this process of defeat yet more American made equipment was captured by IS. An army spokesman whined on in Baghdad about the poor training provided by the US. Pathetic.
If we Americans don't start learning to deal with realities rather than childish dreams we are going to have a very rought time in this war against IS, the Nusra Front, and eventuall against the thoroughly Islamist infiltrated FSA. Grow up Obama and recognize the simple truth that the SAG is a de facto co-belligerent. pl
At the same time Turkish police have shown up at the border north of the city of Kobane which is under IS attack for the purpose of preventing Turkish Kurds from crossimg the border to fight alongside their ethnic kinsmen. Many of those who want to cross are Turkish Army and Jandarma veterans who are well trained.
Erdogan's police are using water cannons and tear gas to prevent their crossing. Why wuould Erdogan do that?
IMO, Erdogan, who has always supported IS has made a deal in which he will continue to deny NATO the use of facilities and will continue to support IS sub rosa (sort of). In this case he is helping IS cut its way to the Turkish border where logistical and other support will be easier to provide. At the same time this allows IS to clear up yet another space in its rear area before moving on to other matters.
In short, Turkey is now both a member of NATO (lapsed) and part of the Sunni salafi coalition headed by IS. Turkey should be required to choose which role it wants for itself and should be held to that choice. pl
(I decided to revert to this picture on advice of the committee.)
“What we didn’t do was predict the will to fight. That’s always a problem. We didn’t do it in Vietnam. We underestimated the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese and overestimated the will of the South Vietnamese. In this case, we underestimated ISIL [the Islamic State] and overestimated the fighting capability of the Iraqi army. . . .I didn’t see the collapse of the Iraqi security force in the north coming. I didn’t see that. It boils down to predicting the will to fight, which is an imponderable.”
Intelligence officials haven’t publicly discussed the prospects for success of President Obama’s small-footprint strategy for combating the Islamic State through a coalition of nations, without directly committing U.S. combat troops. But some officials appear wary. Ignatius in the Washpost
The Afghans have a modismo (a saying) that runs something like "All that is necessary for true satisfaction is to sit by the side of the river until the body of your enemy floats by."
I have a long standing and personal problem with Jimmy Clapper, and I am still waiting for the "float by" of the body. The man perjured himself before the senate last year. Obama protected him from prosecution. Clapper still refuses to acknowledge his crime.
He has always been an incompetent intelligence officer. He really is a bureaucratic, scheming politician who happens to be embedded in the intelligence business.
Now he admits this disastrous failure on his watch. "We" did this and "We" did that? Did he listen to the analysts? Did he? Did he advocate their positions?
He seems puzzled that the US keeps overestimating the ability of "friendly" forces. In many years of participation in this process, I have always seen the same thing. We overestimate the friendlies because the policy people who are the masters of government punish those who insist on saying that "the friendlies" are a pile of crap. They do that because they feel that "the friendlies" are their guys, the existence of whom is the product of the policy peoples' wisdom and they therefore resent criticism of "the friendlies." Since Jimmy and those like him are walking masses of unrestrained ambition they are careful not to displease the mighty.
Why is the man not gone? pl
"... the question of England, specifically a political quandary known as the West Lothian Question that has long bedeviled Britain since Scotland, along with Wales and Northern Ireland, began going down a road of decentralization several decades ago. They established their own legislative assemblies and already enjoy varying control over a broad array of domestic policy, including education, transport and environmental matters.
In England however, Scottish, Welsh and Irish members of Parliament still have a say in how England is run, an arrangement that irks many conservatives.
“There's a public concern out there,” said Alan Trench, a constitutional researcher at University College London. “The English think they're being mistreated.” LA Times
A lot of people will find the idea of the English being mistreated to be ironically funny, But, as we say in "the land of the free and the home of the brave," that's history. Not many Americans know any history. That is why we mouth nonsensical, dismissive inanities of that kind. A recent poll indicated that many US citizens cannot name the three co-equal branches of the federal government. Many think that the president is absolutely in control and are therefore puzzled when he/she/it cannot make sweeping changes to reflect their own taste. I have been watching the Kenburnsian revision of history now being screened as "The Roosevelts, an Intimate History." It is an excellent production that reflects Burns' left wing convictions. The series implicitly argues for governance by a disinterested "progressive" elite "to the manor born." I doubt that the people who need to watch this not too subtle exposition do so. I may be wrong. Perhaps they contemplate such matters during the commercial messages broadcast during NFL games.
"Will the UK become a federated state?" It seems inevitable to me considering the renewal of "the '45," Welsh restlessness and the angst of the English, but, then, I know more history than is good for me. A better question might be, why should the UK not become a federated state? What would be lost in such an evolution of form of government? The monarchy would presumably be continued. The English could have regional parliaments somewhat like US state legislatures. In such a system the Scots, Welsh and Ulstermen might be content at least for a while. Perhaps a written constitution arrived at with the sovereign's consent might contain a Bill of Rights that forbade laws like the Official Secrets Act and the methods by which the press is blocked from publication of unpleasant things.
I say that while aware of the sad slide toward federal government supremacy happening in the US. Yesterday a madman climbed over the fence in front of the White House, rushed up to the front door and went in before apprehended. He was lucky that he was not shot before he reached the door. I applaud the restraint of the Secret Service uniformed branch, but today the media are criticising them for not having killed this man. Their adequacy for the job of presidential security is questioned. The thought that a prudent judgment about the threat actually posed by him was a good thing is absent from public commentary. Instead, the questions raised are all about further "hardening" the White House as bunker.
How would England be divided into regions? I do not know enough about the country to have an opinion. Literature, the "Hinterland" series on Welsh TV and an endless required exposure to UK TV at my house are not a sufficient basis for judgment, but I would like to learn what people here think of the question? pl
"What will Barack Obama do? This is the question posed by everyone. What will he do in Iraq? What will he do in Syria? How does he intend to address Russian-Iranian opposition? How will he wage a war that requires Sunnis in Iraq to be ground soldiers, when they are asking for clarity "before" and not "after" military action? How will he reassure his partners in the alliance that he is truly serious on Syria?
The US president may decide in the end that this is not his war, and that it is best to return to his country to fortify it against terrorism, and let ISIS unleash itself on everyone until it commits suicide or until it is slayed eventually. This is perhaps the course he might choose if it appears to him that all those who want him to fight their wars on their behalf will meet his war with ingratitude and petulance."
Esmat al-Sheikh, head of the Kurdish forces defending Kobani, said fierce clashes continued to the east, west and south of the city, which is bordered by Turkey to the north. IS fighters armed with rockets, artillery, tanks and armored vehicles seized from the Iraqi army in Mosul had advanced to within 20 km (12 miles) of Kobani, he told Reuters by telephone.
"The whole world is silent," he said. "Every day we hear there is going to be an attack on ISIS. But where is it? ... Will it come after everyone is already dead?"
The attack prompted a Kurdish militant call to the youth of Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast to join the fight against IS, whose offensive began on Tuesday after the U.S. military said Syrian moderates would probably need the Syrian Kurds’ help to defeat Islamic State, along with the help of Turkey and Jordan." Reuters
So much for those who have claimed recently that IS is a spent force that will disintegrate from internal contradictions, They are now on the offensive again
"Rockets, artillery, tanks, armored vehicles," I guess that answers the question of whether or not IS can use relatively modern weapons. If they capture or buy on the international markets some fairly effective AAA weapons they will truly be a menace to a modern force.
BTW, I was informed yesterday that in the Mosul Dam operation the principal ground forces on the "friendly side were Al-Quds Iranian troops not Pesh Merga and they had the benefit of adjusted US CAS. pl
"... an apparent call for attacks not only on the ruling family and Westerners in Saudi Arabia, but also on the kingdom's senior Muslim scholars who have denounced ISIS, Jazrawi said:
"It is time to say 'we will expel the disbelievers from the Arabian Peninsula'. The fire begins with a small spark. That spark will ignite an explosive fire directed at the Saud Family and to their rabbis and priests."
He called on self-declared Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to lead the advance on the birthplace of Islam.
Saudi Arabia's top religious council, the only body in the country authorized to issue fatwas or Islamic legal opinions, declared Wednesday that "terrorism is a heinous crime," in the most comprehensive attack the kingdom's conservative council have made so far on Islamic radicalism and ISIS.
As I wrote here before, SA with its large potential 5th Column is the only logical primary objective for IS. pl
Read more: http://dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2014/Sep-18/271099-isis-fighter-urges-jihad-in-saudi-arabia-site.ashx#ixzz3Dmjifffq
"Now's the time, and now's the hour" Robert Burns
The Langs of my family were a Jacobite sept of Macdonald of Glencoe. They left Scotland for Louth and Meath fifty years before Culloden after Killiecrankie and the Glencoe Massacre. They hoped to avoid taking the oath of Allegiance to King William.
[Note: I asked Pat for permission to do a post about this announcement this afternoon, I figured it was good to have an occasional reminder that we are actually in the 21st century, and not all news is depressing news. -- Jon Goff]
Today NASA announced that it would be awarding contracts to Boeing and SpaceX to complete development of vehicles for carrying astronauts to and from the International Space Station. These contracts (up to $4.2B in the case of Boeing, and up to $2.6B in the case of SpaceX) cover not only the remainder of development and certification tasks needed by both providers to enable the first manned demo flights of their respective to ISS in late 2017, but also covers up to 6 crew transfer flights to ISS after that. These awards were "firm fixed-price" FAR contracts, which means that the companies get paid the fixed amount they bid, broken up over a series of technical milestones--if they don't complete a given milestone, they don't get paid, and if things cost more than expected, the companies themselves eat the difference.
For those wondering why Boeing got more than SpaceX, it is simply that they proposed a higher price for completing the same milestones. NASA wanted to have two providers, to make sure that they don't get stuck in a situation where they cannot access their $100B space station in case one vendor has issues with their vehicle or the launcher that boosts it to orbit. There was a third developer, Sierra Nevada Corporation, who was not selected for contract award, presumably because NASA felt that their vehicle was either more risky, or more expensive than those proposed by SpaceX or Boeing.
(Sean Connery and what's his name in "The Man Who Would be King.)
Marty and Chuck were up on the Hill today before the Senate "Committee On The Conduct Of The War" (oops, wrong war) to explain the modalities of the US led coalition's coming degradation and then destruction of IS at the hands of the "Coalition of the Feeble Arabs." Their pleadings matched up well with my post of a few days ago entitled "Too Many Moving Parts, Too Many."
Chuck called him Marty on TV today, so I will also. Sorry, general. I thought you were the professional head of the US armed forces but your boss thinks you are "Marty." I suppose that his squadmates always called him Chuck.
What came through strongly to me in this day's work, was the unreality of the whole thing. It was largely an expression of various planning goals and hopes assembled by people who still do not understand the peoples of the region, Islam, etc. as well as the fact that those peoples have their own agendas which usually include the desired goal of making fools out of the ifranj, the poor, trusting ifranj. Someone reminded me recently that when I first briefed at the WH during Desert Storm, one of the leading lights there said to me, "you mean there are two kinds of Islam?" We have gotten a little past that but not much.
THE PLAN hinges on the willing cooperation of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the Gulflets, Egypt and a fleeting, ephemeral, will of the wisp group called the "Fake Syrian Army" (FSA). Oops! Make that the "Free Syrian Army."
Marty said a couple of times today that the situation in Syria is that all the Sunni Arabs are combined together against Assad's handful of Alawis and a few others.
Where did he get that idea? DIA is a competent organization and they work for him. With that notion in mind Marty expects that we will be able to recruit 5,400 previously untrained Syrians from refugee camps, send them to a year's military training in Saudi Arabia, organize them and maybe a few more contingents in later cohorts into "brigades" and then send them into Syria where they will defeat both IS and the SAG.
A major flaw in this scheme is the simple truth that many, many Sunni Arabs in Syria adhere to the Syrian government because they are in abject terror of IS, the Nusra Front and similar bands of medieval lunatics. The Syrian Army is now thought to be around 130,000 in number. 30% of that is Sunni Arabs. In addition there are 100,000 odd Shabiha pro-government militia. God knows how many IS there will be by then. Marty thinks they will have melted away, afeered of US air power.
McCain and his consort, the OLFSC, asked a few good questions today:
- Are we going to send this analog of the "Bay of Pigs Brigade" into combat against all there might be by then in Syria without benefit of air cover and CAS? The answer seemed to be yes in the expectaion that the people of Cuba, err, Syria will rise to strike down all malefactors. and thus eliminate the need to grasp uncomfortable nettles.
- What happens if the Brigadistas are defeated by the bad people? asked McCain. Ah, they won't be, seemed to be the answer from Marty.
- But what if they are, pressed the OLFSC? Numb silence at the thought ensued.
- What would you do if this PLAN failed asked McCain? Marty replied that all plans are based on assumptions (true) and that if the "Plateau of Sheep" PLAN fails, then his assumption (that it would succeed) would have been proven wrong and there would have to be ANOTHER PLAN. The atmosphere was then laden with the implication that ANOTHER PLAN would mean that the US would take over the war and fight it with its own forces.
Well, boys and girls, IMO that would mean several more years of COINista baloney in Syria AFTER we conquer the country, and then a long, long occupation by us.
I will not dwell at length on Turkey's feckless abandonment of NATO, Iraq's general fecklessness, Saudi Arabia's untrustworthiness and all the rest. Maybe we will do that some other time. pl
Right now, we are Brother Bear facing Brother Rabbit who is enticing us to jump into the briar patch. We have already been fully suckered by AQ, http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2013/11/download-part-i-understanding-syria.html We should not permit ourselves to be so suckered again.
In earlier discussions on this blog, I have taken the position that a new, true state is forming. Many of you disagreed with me. The recent rejection of Obama’s overtures throughout the region and the continuing trajectory of Turkey only reinforce my impression of a synthesizing state. Initially, I thought that the real founders of the new state, whatever its name ultimately turns out to be, were the Sunni tribes and their leaders in Iraq. My vision was too narrow. Instead, it appears there will be multiple competing threads seeking control and a charter membership, including some in Turkey, Syria, Jordan, and KSA. Every new competitor for a founder status just increases the likelihood that a Caliphate will soon emerge as a real state with all of the functional features of a “Westphalian” state except for agreed-upon borders because the Caliphate meme extends to a dream of worldwide Islamic domination.
The meme of the Caliphate is just too basic and fundamental within Islamic history, memory, and thought for it to be dismissed and to be “contained”, “degraded”, and “defeated” within the present historical context.
Current western policy expressed by Obama in his ISIS speech is simply wrong, historically and practically. Obama bases his policy upon these false assumptions:
“Now let's make two things clear: ISIL is not "Islamic." No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL's victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state. It was formerly al-Qaeda's affiliate in Iraq, and has taken advantage of sectarian strife and Syria's civil war to gain territory on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border. It is recognized by no government, nor the people it subjugates. ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way. when he preached,”
The statement that “No religion condones the killing of innocents,” is laughable. If history teaches any lesson, it is that one of the fundamental features of nearly all religions is that they repeatedly kill innocents. A very large swath of western history is the history of various religious sects killing innocents. Likewise, similar killings under the cloak of “religion” make up the history of most of the rest of the world.
The argument that ISIL is merely a terrorist organization and thus cannot be a state is equally fallacious. For now, but not perhaps later, ISIL is the standard bearing manifestation of the meme of the Sunni Islamic Caliphate over which there appear which many contenders for control. Even in the most recent history, Obama neglects to remember that Israel started as a terrorist movement and, in many ways, continues to be a terrorist state as it continues to use terrorism against its Palestinian and other opponents.
Increasingly, Turkey is on a trajectory to emerge as a province, if not the capitol, of the emerging state. The Caliphate is now formed, yet still emerging. Ultimately, in some form or another, it will probably encompass all of Turkey, Sunni Iraq, most of Syria, Jordan, and most likely at lease the regions containing Jidda and Mecca, if not all of the Sunni regions of the KSA.
No western policy or strategy will be able to stop this process because the idea has reached maturity within the mental genes of too many young Sunnis to be derailed. Western policy should be fashioned to treat the problem as a problem of balances of power between the competing regional powers and to reap whatever advantages that can be obtained by playing the competitors against each other, while staying out of the heart of the conflict as much as possible.
As I see it, the only policy that may be viewed 25 years hence as a wise and successful one will be a policy where the west stands back and lets the Islamic players slug it out among themselves. If the West continues its current R2P policies, when we look back from 2040 (if the human race survives that long) the current western policy will be seen simply as stupid and suicidal.
Somehow, the language of the western meme covering this thing needs to be modified to permit US to step back and watch the upcoming gory show without wading in too deep into the sucking quicksand.
How can we help US "get real" with the new meme and stop wanting to tear around in the briar patch only to be wounded with thousands of thorns?