Another Update on Iraq

From guest poster Adam Silverman. Lengthy, and most will be below the fold:

Interests, Proxy War, and Iraq– Adam L. Silverman, PhD*

“Nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests.” – Henry Temple; Lord Palmerston

When trying to understand what is happening in Iraq, as well as other parts of the Levant, the Middle East, Central Asia, or anywhere else for that matter, it is important to keep in mind the question of interests. Specifically, what are the interests of the nation-states involved, or if not the entire nation-state, then at least that portion of it that is in charge. It is also important that interests are rooted in a society’s values, and in the case of much of the Levant, those societies are often divided by sect and sometimes, as is the case with the Kurds, by ethno-national and ethno-linguistic identities. Another important concept to consider is risk, specifically how much risk is a state, society, group within that society, organization, etc willing to assume.

The discussion of interests, especially of other states’ and societies’ interests, is usually what is missing in the coverage of foreign and security policy issues. Focusing on interests is important because it provides a window into what is going on not just in Iraq, but also in Syria. While we here in the US, and the US government on our behalf, do have interests in all parts of the Levant, we are not the only ones. Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinians have their own interests, but so do their neighbors. Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the other Gulf States all have their own interests in the region. Sometimes they overlap with each other’s, sometimes with ours, and sometimes not at all. What we have not paid much attention to is how these states, or specific groups within these states, act on their interests, including how much risk they are willing to assume while trying to secure their interests.

It has been clear for quite a while now that the Syrian Civil War has, at a deeper level, been a proxy dispute between several of the states and non-state actors in the region. Saudi Arabia and Iran have both been trying to secure their interests in the Levant, as well as the entire Middle East, and they have been doing so in Syria. And they are not the only ones. There have been accusations that the Qataris and the Turks have also been involved in manipulating events. According to Dexter Filkins September 2013 reporting in The New Yorker, the Iranians have gone so far as to dispatch the Quds Force Commander, Qasseim Suleimani, to take command of Syria’s military effort. Suleimani’s arrival in the Syrian theater seems to correspond to the turnaround in Syrian government efforts to first stabilize their areas of control and then expand out from them to retake areas under rebel control.

The interests at stake, and here is where Iraq is going to come back into play, are which state gets to be the regional power***. From the Iranian point of view they have both a near abroad and sphere of influence that extends from Iran, through Iraq and Syria into Lebanon. Iraq, like Iran, is majority Shi’a. Syria’s Alawite community was officially recognized as falling within Shi’ism** by Iranian religious authorities, specifically the Twelver Shi’ism that is practiced in Iran and Iraq. Lebanon has a sizeable Twelver Shi’a population. Though no one is sure what any of the Lebanese demographics really are as no census has been done in decades. Having the actual numbers would likely further destabilize Lebanon’s fragile inter-communal balance.
Iran’s interests in the Levant are based on both its geographic proximity to Iraq and Syria, its desire, if not need, for a land connection through Iraq and Syria into Lebanon, and its desire to demonstrate its ability to overcome the sanctions and diplomatic isolation imposed upon it. Iran wishes to both show that it has and can utilize its power within the region despite being a pariah state for thirty-five years.

It is important to remember that PM Maliki and his Dawa Party, as well as the Hakims, their ISCI Party and Badr Corps, were stood up and funded as Shi’a opposition to Saddam Hussein by exiles in Iran. To some extent they are still supported by Iran. It is also important to recognize that not all Iraqi Shi’a or Chaldean Christians opposed Saddam Hussein, just as there are many Sunni, as well as Syriac Christians, Druze, etc that support the Assads.

Saudi Arabia’s interest is in projecting its own (economic) power in order to influence the events of the region. It also wishes to check the Iranians and to some extent the Turks ability to leverage their own power. Some of this has to do with the normal geo-strategic issues of who is going to be the regional power. Some of it, however, has to do with Wahabbi Islam’s teachings about Shi’ism. From the Saudi perspective, in terms of power politics, their interests are in being the power directing the politics throughout the Middle East.

This is important in regard to Iraq because, like in Syria, there are multiple conflicts going on at multiple levels. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the al Qaeda aligned group in the Levant, may have been able to galvanize Iraqi opposition to the Maliki government, but it is not a self funding organization. ISIL’s funding has come, at different times, from donors in Jordan, Syria, Saudi, and even Iran during the US occupation of Iraq. Regardless of the current funding situation, as ISIL is being squeezed by the renewed competence of the forces loyal to the Assad government, it has moved back across the border and into Iraq. This has provided it the opportunity to try to attack a new target, given that it has not been having recent success in Syria.

Along the way ISIL seems to have served as a catalyst for those Iraqis who feel like they are on the losing end of the Maliki government to once again take up arms. This is related to the ISIL/Maliki government fight, and ISIL will likely try to coopt the non-ISIL Iraqi fighters, at least in terms of strategic communication, but it is not exactly the same fight. Some of this can be seen in the actual tactical details of the conflict; the non-ISIL forces seem to be more competent than the ISIL ones.

While it is likely that the majority of the Iraqi anti-Maliki forces are Sunni, among the more rural and more tribal Iraqis, this may also mean some Shi’a who are not partial to the former exiles. Many of the Iraqi tribes are mixed, having both Sunni and Shi’a members depending on location and who has married whom****. The bulk of the grievances, however, seem to be along the old sectarian fault lines. And as I wrote the other night, scores will be settled. This does not mean, however, that these Sunnis want to see ISIL establish a caliphate in Iraq. The two groups are right now fellow travelers; they share the same immediate interest of overthrowing the Maliki government and the Iraqi order that we helped to establish several years ago. Once that immediate goal is met, it is likely that they will have little in common in terms of how Iraq, or the parts they control, should be ordered, structured, and governed. And here too we see a similarity to events in Syria. The only interest that the various opposition and rebel groups have in common there is the removal of the Assads, beyond that there is no agreement on what Syria should be going forward.

What we are observing in the Levant, whether in Syria or in Iraq, are attempts to maintain, consolidate, or overthrow the existing order. This is partially driven by the interests of Syrians and Iraqis, both those that are currently part of the existing orders and those who have lost out because of them. At the same time the other regional players are seeking to maximize their own interests, as well as minimize their own risks. From our perspective the actions of these different actors may seem irrational, but the truth is they are rational in a bounded way. They make sense within the context of the actors. The key for American policy makers and strategists is to not lose sight of the different actors’ interests, and their contexts, while trying to determine how best to protect our own.

* Adam L. Silverman is the Cultural Advisor at the US Army War College. The views expressed here are his alone and do not necessarily reflect those of the US Army War College and/or the US Army.

** A fuller discussion of Shi’ism, its different variants, how the Alawites fit into Shi’ism, let alone what makes the Alawite religion different, is outside the scope of this post as it is a (future?) post in itself.

*** While Israel has the ability to project military power, because it is neither an Arab or Muslim state and society, it can never really compete for the role of regional hegemon. The real players competing for that distinction are the Saudis, the Turks, and the Iranians.

**** I met a number of Iraqis who indicated that everyone in their tribe in our operating environment were, for instance, Sunni. Their kin in Basra, however, were Shi’a, because most Iraqis in Basra were Shi’a. Or my teammates and I heard the reverse – they were Shi’a in the northeastern portion of our operating environment, but their kin in Anbar were Sunni. We were also often told something along the following lines: “I’m Sunni, but my mother who is from this other tribe is Shi’a” or “I’m Shi’a, but my sister in law is Sunni because she’s originally a member of this other tribe.” Finally, the Iraqis do have one completely jumbled tribe – the Shamoris. The Shamoris have both Sunni and Shi’a, often in the same areas. There are also branches of the Shamoris in Syria, and if I’m recalling correctly, Saudi Arabia.

Thanks again, Adam.

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76 replies
  1. 1
    Kropadope says:

    I don’t suppose we can let them all hash it out among themselves and draw some new lines on the map? Umm, lots of lines, probably.

  2. 2
    redshirt says:

    Shit Happens

    – Bumper Sticker

  3. 3
    D58826 says:

    In a different article I read that the best way to think of Iraq, Syria, Somalia, etic is not as a failed state but as non-state. These are political entities whose citizens give their primary loyalty to the tribe or clan and not the nation-state. To think that we can force these people to act like a nation-state is absurd. Ryan Crocker in an interview with Fareed Zacharris said that when he was ambassador the Iraqi’s were unable to compromise and arrive at a power-sharing agreement. He had 100k troops at his disposal so why anyone thinks a residual force of 10k would make any difference is dreaming. Which doesn’t stop Grahamcracker from demanding that Obama replace the Iraqi government. Graham obviously doesn’t understand that for all its faults Iraq is still a sovereign state and we just can’t up and change the government. I realize that we have tried to do so in other places in the past and the results have not been good..

  4. 4
    jl says:

    Thanks for another very informative post.

    I’ve been looking around for people who saw early signs of this. Only thing I have found is from Juan Cole on Informed Consent: If what Juan Cole says is true, then maybe the Sunni forces decided to be proactive?

    Top 5 Wars on Religious Extremism in Today’s Muslim World
    By Juan Cole | May. 22, 2014

    3. If Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki manages to return to power as prime minister, he may well launch a campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which holds entire neighborhoods of major Sunni cities like Falluja and Ramadi. Al-Maliki was persuaded to hold off by local tribal elders, but the latter have not delivered. Without an election hanging over his head, and given the political weakness of the Sunni opposition, he might decide to try to crush the al-Qaeda affiliate.

    http://www.juancole.com/2014/0.....odays.html
    .

  5. 5
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    As a shorter: Don’t look at International as though they only affect the US. Other countries have interests too.

  6. 6
    srv says:

    The key for American policy makers and strategists is to not lose sight of the different actors’ interests, and their contexts, while trying to determine how best to protect our own.

    Clearly, our policy makers have figured out the Syrian situation after 3 years.

    Cheney should have collected a mint from the Iranians for his good work. I hope Obama’s NSC is at least smart enough to shakedown KSA for their winning efforts.

  7. 7
    NotMax says:

    Rarely mentioned is the part the 1% of Kuwait play as a conduit of funding to ISIS.

  8. 8
    catclub says:

    @D58826:

    Which doesn’t stop Grahamcracker from demanding that Obama replace the Iraqi government.

    and who picked out Maliki to be prime Minister? Why, twas the US ambassador/CIA station chief who vouched for him. Oy. They had a pretty good idea he was a hardass. They are not sure how much of a terrorist he was during his days as an outlaw during the Saddam Hussein years.

  9. 9
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @srv: Just wondering, do you ever offer a positive idea instead of sniping from the sidelines?

  10. 10
    The Dangerman says:

    Too long to read tonight (too many beers for ballgames, apparently); in my drunken haze, I vaguely remember how, back in the day, during times of International Crises, politics ended at the water’s edge (aka, fuck Mssrs. McCain, Graham, and Boehner in their reflexive responses to shit on Obama).

  11. 11
    Suffern ACE says:

    @D58826: yes. They most certainly do not understand that the US can’t just send in Delta this and Seal team that to remove leaders until we find a satisfactory one. Carl Levin and Hilary Clinton (as a Senator) were wary of Maliki in 2007. But it’s not like we can hold elections and annul them. That would have meant starting over. It would also have meant another aggrieved party who we would have needed to fight. How many aggrieved parties do we plan on having.

  12. 12
    srv says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): I’ve always wondered what realistic, constructive and measureable suggestions you made for W’s foreign policy.

    Maybe you shouldn’t judge so much.

    I’m on the record that Iraq as we know it is doomed w/o US boots on the ground. Let’s see how the all-options-on-the-table strategery except a bunch of them works out.

  13. 13
    David Koch says:

    Here’s another good read on the subject from John Cassidy at The New Yorker

    http://www.newyorker.com/onlin.....erved.html

  14. 14
    Corner Stone says:

    @srv:

    I’ve always wondered what realistic, constructive and measureable suggestions you made for W’s foreign policy.

    What you have to understand about Omnes is

  15. 15
    Amir Khalid says:

    @srv:
    “Iraq as we know it” was probably not set up to survive in the long term.. As I mentioned yesterday, it was one of many nations that were botched together by western powers from the bits and pieces of the collapsed Ottoman Empire. It might be wiser to let it fail so that more viable entities can be built by the people who live there from what’s left

    Foreign interference caused this mess, and more foreign interference is not likely to resolve it. What do you expect foreign military forces to contribute to any resolution?

  16. 16
    GregB says:

    The Guardian has a piece about Abdulrhaman al-Bilawi and his death near Mosul(at the hands of the Iraqi government) and the reported treasure trove on information that was found on thumb drives.

    This Guardian piece also takes pains to distance any state or non state actors from funding ISIS. This sounds like propaganda trying to distance our dear friends in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates from funding the worst elements on the planet. Something we all know they have been doing for decades.

    The article says that the ISIS crew were just great criminals and extortionists and were able to amass money that way. Nope, not a penny was given by the usual suspects.

    With Pakistan launching fixed wing air raids on their tribal enemies and Assad pushing back hard too, perhaps this was a gambit to widen the war in hopes of reaping benefits from chaos?

  17. 17
    srv says:

    @Amir Khalid: Shorter: Obama cannot fail because there is no try.

    What do you expect foreign military forces to contribute to any resolution?

    Help obliterate an extremely tiny, but effective terrorist force that has a decent chance to destabalize the Iraqi (and Syrian) state?

  18. 18
    Mandalay says:

    This cut and run is surely good news for John McCain:
    The American Embassy in Baghdad plans to evacuate a substantial number of its personnel this week in the face of a militant advance that rapidly swept from the north toward the capital, the State Department announced on Sunday.

  19. 19
    GregB says:

    Also Al-Jazeera has a post up about the possibility of a new deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

  20. 20
    Amir Khalid says:

    @srv:
    It’s up to Iraq and Syria to decide if they need or want that help. And here’s the point I was making: in the middle to long term, they may not be stable enough in themselves to benefit from it.

  21. 21
    Culture of Truth says:

    Good piece. Now we ask, what, if any, interests Americans from their various states have; and what, if anything, they can do to further those interests, effectively; and if they even should, if they can.

    (Bearing in mind… any Democratic President not killing someone right now is automatically WEAK and also FOUR Dead Americans!!)

  22. 22
    srv says:

    @GregB: Well, if the Saudi’s are afraid of their own monster, then maybe I should rethink this. Let’s just let the surrender monkeys win, give up Iraq to a civil war and hope ISIL/ISIS goes all the way to Mecca & Riyadh.

    THAT would be awesome. What color would a KSA Revolution be? Red?

  23. 23
    srv says:

    @Amir Khalid: Clearly, if we let them fail, we can expect more moderate voices to prevail.

  24. 24
    Culture of Truth says:

    @Mandalay: Benghazi.

  25. 25
    GregB says:

    @srv:

    Gold, black gold.

  26. 26
    David Koch says:

    @Mandalay: McCain was for complete troop withdrawal from Iraq before he was against it.

  27. 27
    Amir Khalid says:

    @srv:
    Or you could be sparing yourselves (a) the futile effort of saving from collapse nations that should never have been put together, and (b) needlessly making new enemies for America.

  28. 28
    Suffern ACE says:

    @GregB: n.

    Of course, this is speculation, but it is not idle speculation.

    Yeah. It pretty much is. I don’t think Wallerstein is the type of academic who Iranians and Saudis share their thinking with.

  29. 29
    Cacti says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Or you could be sparing yourselves (a) the futile effort of saving from collapse nations that should never have been put together, and (b) needlessly making new enemies for America

    Surely a third US invasion of Iraq in 25 years would bomb it into peace, prosperity, and stability.

  30. 30
    Suffern ACE says:

    @David Koch: I don’t care if we’re there 100 more years!

  31. 31
    David Koch says:

    @Suffern ACE: If Obama had supported a 100 year occupation, McCain would grown long hair and started wearing a peace symbol and singing, “All we are saying, is give withdrawal a chance”.

    anything to be contradictory.

  32. 32
    sharl says:

    This sounds like a job for that adorable scamp Ahmed Chalabi, friend to our brilliant neocon brain trust, asset of Iranian intelligence, and – apparently – Laura Bush’s bestie (GWB doesn’t seem to remember him).

    If we go forward with playing with the Iranians, this charming rascal brings a lot of relevant experience to the table, given his past extensive dealings with Tehran. Fun, fun, for everyone!

  33. 33
    amk says:

    The kenyan muslin usurper is now seeking the help of the ultimate axis of evil, Iran.

    Has mcangry exploded yet?

  34. 34
    AxelFoley says:

    @The Dangerman:

    Too long to read tonight (too many beers for ballgames, apparently); in my drunken haze, I vaguely remember how, back in the day, during times of International Crises, politics ended at the water’s edge (aka, fuck Mssrs. McCain, Graham, and Boehner in their reflexive responses to shit on Obama).

    That ended January 20, 2009.

  35. 35
    Xenos says:

    @Amir Khalid: designed to fail was a feature, not a bug, for colonial powers. Example 1 is Lebanon, where the French drew the borders in such a way as to include enough of the hinterland so there would never be more than 40% of either Christian, Shia, or Sunni. The idea was to ensure sectarian differences would make anti-colonial campaigns impossible. Overlay that on top of Turkish colonial policies of promoting many small villages of pure ethnic types in close proximity and you have a perfect recipe for instability.

    Imagine establishing a German nation-state without 200 years of recovering from the 30 years’ war. Hopeless.

  36. 36
    Cpl Cam says:

    @srv: Ok, but is there an Iraqi state that the Iraqi army will fight for? Let’s let that be the “Iraqi” state…

  37. 37
    Cpl Cam says:

    @srv: Ok, but is there an Iraqi state that the Iraqi army will fight for? Let’s let that be the “Iraqi” state. I mean how many trillions should we spend to prevent it…

  38. 38
    Cpl Cam says:

    Goddammit.

  39. 39
    Jay C says:

    While Adam Silverman may be quite entire right in his analysis of the current situation in Iraq, he does (probably inadvertently) point out one huge flaw in the argument in his second paragraph:

    The discussion of interests, especially of other states’ and societies’ interests, is usually what is missing in the coverage of foreign and security policy issues.

    110% correct, of course, but given the pathetic state of the “mainstream” media in this country, the “coverage” he cites is truly unlikely to ever develop: First, because any consideration of “other states’ and societies’ interests” has rarely, if ever, meant a good goddamn to American policymakers. Second, because most mass media in this country is hapless wedded to a simpleminded Good Guys/Bad Guys/Us vs. Them/win/lose dichotomous mindset when it comes to FP and/or security issues (plus its equally pathetic corollary, probably a strain of Vietnam Syndrome, which absolutely keeps anyone in the “serious” media from EVER questioning US use of military force anywhere). And thirdly, the US public generally cares even less about other countries’ “interests” than the policymakers, and usually only pays attention to foreign policy when it involves jingoistic cheerleading for military ass-kicking. A trait which American “Media” is only too happy to cater to.

    Analyses like Silverman’s are good, and most likely correct, but, sadly, probably won’t get anywhere near the distribution of the imbecilic soundbites farted out by the likes of John McCain or Lindsay Graham.

  40. 40
    Chris says:

    @srv:

    I’ve always wondered what realistic, constructive and measureable suggestions you made for W’s foreign policy.

    1) Don’t invade Iraq.
    2) Raise the taxes you need to pay for your wars instead of putting them on the national credit card when you’ve already pissed away the nineties surplus.
    3) Don’t try to fight the Arab Nationalists (Iraq), the Shi’a Islamists (Iran), and the Sunni Islamists (al-Qaeda/Taliban) all at the same time. (Oh God, he actually tried to fit North Korea in too, didn’t he?)
    4) Actually fucking consider the consequences of your actions and plan for the aftermath. Don’t just say “oh yeah, we’ll be gone in less than a year,” “oh yeah, we can totally do this with this amount of troops” and fire, smear or blacklist anyone who says otherwise.

    All of which you could simply to actually HAVING a foreign policy with any purpose at all other than “campaign commercial” and “jobs program for the defense industry.”

  41. 41
    Thymezone says:

    There is nothing as elevating as a good old BJ marshmallow roast with plenty of Middle East policy to talk about.

    I say this in as sarcastic and disgusted a way possible. All available evidence points to the likelihood that nobody in America has the slightest clue how to navigate the twisty road to perdition that is the Arab world. We have failed the test on an epic and tragic scale … refusing to learn the lessons of the British adventures there a hundred years ago, and trotting off to that wasteland full of vinegar and piss and sure that we were on the right track, and then, straight into the shitter. The dirty little secret is that if there were no oil there, nobody here would give a rat’s buttcrack what happens over there, for the most part. Which is hilarious, considering that our last War For Oil in the area led to a 3-4 fold increase in the price of oil until the Bush recession knocked it down a notch after 2008. Mission accomplished, and all that. Yay.

  42. 42
    Chris says:

    @Xenos:

    designed to fail was a feature, not a bug, for colonial powers.

    DING DING DING DING

    Divide and conquer. The British were masters at it.

  43. 43
    J R in WV says:

    @Chris:

    This! FSM, THIS!

    If only he had been able to foment a war with North Korea, all that Mid-east colonial stuff would have blown over, peace would have been declared, and his brother Jeb would have been elected in place of the Muslim President. Victory would have been his!

  44. 44
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Chris: the only reason he stopped at North Korea is that they only wanted three countries in their Axis. Venezuela, Cuba and Russia were in their sites, too. Long Live Greater Georgia! Long live Chechnya Freedom Fighters!

  45. 45
    Ken says:

    @srv:

    I’ve always wondered what realistic, constructive and measureable suggestions you made for W’s foreign policy.

    “Stay out of Iraq” is constructive and measurable, and was only unrealistic because of the mentalities in charge of the US government.

  46. 46
    Ken says:

    @sharl:

    This sounds like a job for that adorable scamp Ahmed Chalabi,

    And he’s so easy to hire. Just shrink-wrap palettes of $100 bills and parachute them into remote areas of a war zone, no receipt required.

    (I said easy, not cheap.)

  47. 47
    Cassidy says:

    One friend wrote me back a couple days ago and says they’re safe, but they are in Baghdad. Obviously, the rebels are heading in that direction so he doesn’t know how long things are “safe”. The other hasn’t written me back yet; he’s in the army. So we’ll see.

  48. 48
    D58826 says:

    I think it’s time to dust off that fall out shelter. Over at the daily beast they are reporting that Obama can order airstrikes within hours but we don’t know who to bomb. Seems we can’t tell the difference between the really really bad guys and the not so bad guys. In the meantime the citizens of Mosul are greeting the ISIS fighters as liberators. And Lindsey Graham has joined Rudy with his noun, verb 9/11 style of rhetoric. I wonder if Obama regrets ever running for president?

  49. 49
    Suffern ACE says:

    @GregB: it is possible that they are self funding. And it is also possible that the most likely prior funders that are being covered up is us, not the Saudis.

  50. 50
    Cervantes says:

    Nation-states do not have interests. Competing factions within do.

  51. 51
    gnomedad says:

    @Thymezone:

    All available evidence points to the likelihood that nobody in America has the slightest clue how to navigate the twisty road to perdition that is the Arab world.

    Which seems like an excellent reason not to start a multi-trillion dollar war while lacking said clue.

  52. 52
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @srv: From the past: Actually go after OBL in A-stan and then spend the time, effort, and money needed to help the country recover and modernize. Don’t fucking go into Iraq.

    As far as today goes, is anyone in Iraq looking for our boots on the ground? I think we tossed away our ability to be a positive force in that county when we disregarded my advice above.

  53. 53
    Chris says:

    @Cervantes:

    Nation-states do not have interests. Competing factions within do.

    Truth.

    This is what basic Realist theory gets wrong.

  54. 54
    C.V. Danes says:

    It has been clear for quite a while now that the Syrian Civil War has, at a deeper level, been a proxy dispute between several of the states and non-state actors in the region.

    The Syrian Civil War is a dispute between people who are hungry and those who are not. It is driven by a large portion of the population who were forced to relocate from their farms to the cities because Syria is experiencing the worst drought in decades. It is driven by a large portion of young people who have no faith that the future in Syria has a place for them other than abject poverty and servitude. It is driven by a large portion of Syrian citizens who no longer have faith or respect for their government and its autocrats.

    If there are other “proxy disputes,” they are merely being engineered by those trying to opportunistically take advantage of the mayhem, including us.

  55. 55
    Cervantes says:

    @srv:

    I’ve always wondered what realistic, constructive and measureable suggestions you made for W’s foreign policy. Maybe you shouldn’t judge so much.

    This is some sort of attempt at a joke, yes?

  56. 56
    rikyrah says:

    it’s none of our business. never was. we’ve done our time there, and no more going back.

  57. 57
    Someguy says:

    Great sociology take on Iraq. It sort of misses the political and military point of ISIS being the single biggest home for foreign fighters in Syria, and that this move into Iraq is perhaps a strategic pivot on their part. If you pay attention to what our government has been saying about Americans going to Syria to fight, this is who they are talking about, along with the Al Nusrah front.

    With Iraq’s American-made weapons at their disposal and a new pool of recruits from all the grudge-bearing Sunnis in Iraq, Damascus should fall pretty quickly unless the Iranians move decisively to prop up Assad. The degenerate apostates in Kuwait and Saudi will be next. Based on the ISIS twitter feed (very impressive photos of thousands of dead Iraqi Shiites being stuffed in mass graves) they have some follow through and really are intent on what was probably a rhetorical point for bin Laden, a new pan-Arab Caliphate.

    I wouldn’t worry about them being a threat to the U.S. We are at least third or fourth down on their big list of grievances.

  58. 58
    MNFreeze says:

    The only way to keep a country like Iraq “peaceful” and cohesive is to have a strongman like Saddam Hussein in power.

    Oh wait……..

  59. 59
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Chris: It’s so much easier, though, to assume otherwise. Sort of like how the vermin of the Village phone in their “reporting” by acting as stenographers.

  60. 60
    The Pale Scot says:

    @Ken: Just shrink-wrap palettes of $100 bills and parachute them into remote areas of a war zone,

    I was thinking of ‘chuting Chalabi and all of his cohorts such as Abrams, Wolfowitz and Feith behind the the line instead of money. I’m sure they could bullshit their way into positions of influence.

    Hell, send Friedman, Krautmyer and Krystal too

  61. 61
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Cervantes: Well, it’s pretty much a joke in the same sense that the entire deserting coward malasstration was a joke. A very bad and tragic joke for this country, on multiple levels.

  62. 62
    MNFreeze says:

    If Obama re-engages in Iraq, then I agree with the Republicans…he should be impeached. That would be a gross dereliction of duty, and anathema to the very reason most of us voted for him.

    Please Mr. President, don’t listen to McCain and the other fools! Keep our asses out of that hell hole!

  63. 63
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @rikyrah: I disagree. What made it our business was that our oil is sitting under the ground that these people live on.

    That’s what this is all about. If it wasn’t for that, we’d give precisely the same rat’s ass we give about what is going on in Sudan or the Congo.

  64. 64
    dmbeaster says:

    @srv:
    Clearly if we intervene with your imaginary Captain America special forces, we are sure to stabilize things. As opposed to destabilizing things which for some funny reason has always been the outcome of such strategy.

  65. 65
    Sherparick says:

    1. Both the Iranians and Hezbollah are moving and will move to decisively uphold Assad in Syria and Maliki in Iraq.

    2. The funding for ISIS is probably coming from our Sunni friends in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain, either through their intelligence agencies or through wealthy donors who share the Wahabi doctrine.

    3. Apparently James Clapper, John Brennan, General Alexander, and Admiral Rodgers and the rest of our so called “intelligence” agencies were so focused on Edward Snowden the last year that they 1) did not notice ISIS growing operational capacity and willingness act; 2) that the Iraq Army, particularly the Sunni part, was rotting away and growing estranged from its Government; 3) nor was this the “only” intelligence failure in the last year. The U.S. and Europe were all very surprised at Russian reaction when the regime friendly to it was overthrown in the Ukraine and how they took advantage of the disorder to grab Crimea and threaten to annex Eastern Ukraine. Again, why we spending all this money on pan-opticon state, and surrendering our liberties? Is it to suppress the Occupy Movement (which apparently was the focus of law enforcement the last 3 years)? If I was the President I would be a bit pissed.

  66. 66
    LAC says:

    @Corner Stone: that he is thoughtful and not a raging douchenuts?

  67. 67
    Larv says:

    @Cacti:

    Surely a third US invasion of Iraq in 25 years would bomb it into peace, prosperity, and stability.

    But the third time’s a charm! I think that’s like, Sun Tzu or something.

  68. 68
    LAC says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: how did it become our oil?

  69. 69
    LAC says:

    @D58826: I do not know – we have been here before with the hysterics on the right and left doing their chicken little shitshow dance. I doubt the president gives a rats ass what Senator Huckleberry McClosetcase thinks or says. And being ready to do something is not the same as doing it. There are American citizens there and we do have an interest in protecting them.

  70. 70
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @LAC: By fiat. We said it was ours. Cadillac, Lincoln, and Chrysler proclaimed it.

    Those hadjiis think it is theirs. They’re wrong. It’s ours. Well, more accurately, the Dark Lord’s awl bidness cronies. After all, the first thing US forces did, before actually defeating Saddam’s army and disarming it, was to take the Oil Ministry in Baghdad. Priorities. Weapons depots went unguarded, but the Oil Ministry had to be secured.

  71. 71
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @LAC: Walnuts and Huckleberry are playing to the Noisemax target audience of drooling racist fucks. As they are expected to.

  72. 72
    LAC says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: I think they are also playing to the idiot cable newsfucks that are dying to reopen that vault of retired old white army generals to flood airwaves while some idiot on CNN can stand on a superimposed map and play war games. Or we get the added treat of Wolf Blitzer in an army fatigued suit pretending that he really isn’t just 5 feet tall.

  73. 73
    LAC says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: I don’t know. China has been very interested too. :)

  74. 74
    Cervantes says:

    @LAC: By axiom.

  75. 75
    Suffern ACE says:

    @LAC: Yep. Remember the freak out over 4 US State/CIA State Department personnel. Since ISIS kidnapped every Turkish diplomat they could find, I have little doubt they would do the same for other embassy staff.

  76. 76
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Larv: Yes. I believe the entire of Chapter 2 lists all of the countries that have prospered through long, constant, wars.

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