Problem from Hell, Again

Like many Americans who recall watching in disbelief as the Bush administration cobbled together half-truths and wove a web of bizarro-world lies to con the US and its allies into the ruinous war in Iraq, my first impulse when I read reports of hideous atrocities or urgent security threats is to wonder who is being served by their publication.

Now there are these horror stories coming out of Iraq about ISIS fanatics placing heads on pikes, executing children and contemplating genocide, if you believe the reports, which seem pretty credible and come from diverse sources. Via the NYT:

WASHINGTON — President Obama is considering airstrikes or airdrops of food and medicine to address a humanitarian crisis among as many as 40,000 religious minorities in Iraq who have been dying of heat and thirst on a mountaintop after death threats from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, administration officials said on Thursday.

The president, in meetings with his national security team at the White House on Thursday morning, has been weighing a series of options ranging from dropping humanitarian supplies on Mount Sinjar to military strikes on the fighters from ISIS now at the base of the mountain, a senior administration official said.

“There could be a humanitarian catastrophe there,” a second administration official said, adding that a decision from Mr. Obama was expected “imminently — this could be a fast-moving train.”

Samantha Power rightly called the question of stopping genocide as “a problem from hell.” There really are evil motherfuckers in the world who travel in packs, and the decision on whether to intervene militarily when people are dying en masse should not be taken lightly. Obama certainly ain’t Bush; I don’t believe for a second he’s trying to trump up some bullshit reason to reinvade that country.

But I say let’s drop MREs instead of JDAMs (and hope ISIS isn’t able to shoot our cargo planes down with the US-made anti-aircraft guns they’ve captured from the fleeing Iraqi Army). If someone needs to go in and bomb what truly sounds like a horde of bloodthirsty barbarians, let it be those whom the brutes primarily threaten, i.e., the states in that region we’ve spent the last 70 or so years arming.

Is that unrealistic given the religious implications, i.e., Sunni vs Shia, extremists vs. moderates, etc.? Beats the fuck outta me. But while America not only broke the vase in the Mesopotamian Pottery Barn but leveled the whole goddamn building and set the rubble on fire 11 years ago, we don’t own it, not anymore.

How can we give anyone in that region so much as a firecracker at this point and not expect it to blow up in our faces? As horrifying as what’s happening now is, it just seems insane to me for us to start meddling again — at least militarily. What do you think?

153 replies
  1. 1
    some guy says:

    ISIS is a Saudi project, let them clean up their mess

  2. 2
    some guy says:

    “There are many problems in Iraq,” he said. “This one is a particularly acute one, because we’re seeing people persecuted because of their ethnic or religious identities.”

    as opposed to Gaza? fucking ass clown

  3. 3
    Davis X. Machina says:

    Does this count as an invasion? As per Libya?
    Or not count, because up until recently we were already in Iraq?

    I need to know, so I can keep track of how many times Obama has sold me out…

  4. 4
    Jane2 says:

    There’s always a crisis demanding intervention, and it’s always sad. And the intervention rarely works. Let them sort it out…..the meddling has to stop.

  5. 5
    MattF says:

    You’d think someone (someone, somewhere) in our government would be saying something like “Hey, what about possible unintended consequences?” Anyhow, it’s a good thing Congress is out of town– otherwise I’d be considering explosive decompression to lower my blood pressure.

  6. 6
    lol says:

    @some guy:

    That’s right. If we can’t intervene everywhere, we can’t intervene anywhere.

    Much like if we can’t provide health care for everyone, we can’t provide health care for anyone. (Fuck Medicare!)

  7. 7
    Elizabelle says:

    Obama handled Libya very well; hence the Benghazi scandal-mongering, to detract from that.

    It’s terrible to see a population dying of thirst. We’re not the world’s policemen, but maybe some targeted action, just to give those who have fled a chance and to rattle ISIS, could be helpful.

    I wonder if Obama and the administration are more likely to go it alone because they’ve realized the Republicans in Congress are so inert, they aren’t even going to pretend to consult any longer.

    And that’s a problem for the GOP Congress: you make yourself an intractable obstacle, don’t be surprised if someone avoids you entirely. And laughs at you, while doing it.

    I bet the soldiers and airmen involved in the strikes/drops approve.

  8. 8
    jharp says:

    I think those who opposed Bush invading Iraq were exactly right. And pretty much called exactly what ended up happening.

    Why Bush’s invasion wasn’t a scandal and somehow Benghazi is says a lot about our country.

    And it ain’t good.

  9. 9
    some guy says:

    @lol:

    oh we intervened plenty in Gaza. We provide the invaders munitions, we provided the invaders intelligence, we provided the invaders targeting coordinates, and most importantly, we provided the invaders political cover at the UN. if and when Bibi thew Babykiller and his minions ever get indicted for war crimes at the ICC we will provide the muscle to make sure the war criminals never ever ever stand trial

  10. 10
    Cassidy says:

    We created the mess.

  11. 11
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    the states in that region we’ve spent the last 70 or so years arming.

    Outside of Israel and Iran, those are the states that have been backing ISIS.

  12. 12
    BGinCHI says:

    Countdown until John McCain and the NRA demand that we “arm the rebels.”

    Honestly, I’m starting to have illiberal thoughts about what we ought to do to these ISIS fuckers. One of them has to do with bombing the shit out of them. The other is a Special Forces 80s-movie scenario.

    It stars Jan-Michael Vincent, so it’s badass.

  13. 13
    Betty Cracker says:

    @lol: I am definitely in favor of taking half a loaf if I can’t get the whole thing, but what are the half-measures here that make sense? I’m honestly seeking opinions.

    My initial impulse is we should stay the fuck out of it, but that’s not a comfortable thought either. It’s an awful dilemma.

  14. 14
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Davis X. Machina: 3,472.

  15. 15
    MattF says:

    @Betty Cracker: Considering, e.g., that sending aid will probably only motivate the ISIS fanatics.

  16. 16
    jeffreyw says:

    But I say let’s drop MREs instead of JDAMs (and hope ISIS isn’t able to shoot our cargo planes down with the US-made anti-aircraft guns they’ve captured from the fleeing Iraqi Army).

    Drop them MREs from orbit, only way to be sure.

  17. 17
    askew says:

    They are doing the right thing here by bombing ISIS and dropping food and water. Just like with Libya, people freaked out about mission creep and said this was the wrong thing to do. In the end, we saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. It was the right thing to do. It’s the right thing to do now.

    If I remember correctly, Betty was one of the people who swore that we were doing the wrong thing in Libya and wanted us to do nothing.

  18. 18
    Elizabelle says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    It is an awful dilemna. Excellent blogpost reference and issue.

    And I wonder if having watched Western Africa struggle with Ebola deaths, and be so helpless, the President and administration decided to open up some consequences on human actors trying to destroy another peaceful civilian population. ISIS is cruel and dangerous.

    We can do something quickly about this one, in a targeted way.

    I don’t see the appeal of mission creep here.

  19. 19
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Elizabelle: I understand the rationale behind the Libyan intervention, but it was hardly an unqualified success, was it? I mean, there have been some really shitty outcomes, leaving Benghazi aside.

  20. 20
    Cervantes says:

    Betty Cracker:

    How can we give anyone in that region so much as a firecracker at this point and not expect it to blow up in our faces? As horrifying as what’s happening now is, it just seems insane to me for us to start meddling again — at least militarily. What do you think?

    What do I think?

    I’m thinking, there I was in my corner, sulking that you’d never be my Amy Goodman.

    Little did I know!

  21. 21
    Mr. Prosser says:

    @Elizabelle: Why would you think the soldiers/airmen would approve. ISIS has SAMs by now for sure since running off the Kurds and Iraqi Shiites. Airdrops on mountain tops are relatively low level if they are to be accurate, that means downed aircraft and soldiers and airmen’s heads on pikes. Forget it.

  22. 22
    Betty Cracker says:

    @askew: I can usually be counted on to oppose military entanglements and support humanitarian aid. It’s how I roll, and I’m not ashamed to own it.

  23. 23
    askew says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    It did exactly what it was supposed to do, which was stop the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people. That happened. Our goal was never to turn Libya into a democracy.

  24. 24
    drkrick says:

    @Cassidy:

    We created the mess.

    We certainly haven’t helped, but in a lot of cases we’ve been working with the leadership the internal processes in these countries came up with on their own. The idea of western powers as the great omnipotent white fathers working their will on the helpless Middle Easterners is just a little infantilizing, isn’t it?

  25. 25
    Gravenstone says:

    @BGinCHI:

    It stars Jan-Michael Vincent, so it’s badass.

    Does he use Airwolf?

  26. 26
    askew says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    That is incredibly simplistic. The intervention in Libya and now in Iraq is humanitarian in nature. It is stopping slaughter of tons of people. The idea that we should just ignore the deaths of all these innocent people because of some imaginary mission creep or because military is bad is asinine. That simplistic thinking is what let Rwanda happen.

  27. 27
    Gravenstone says:

    @jeffreyw: Ya know, a case of MREs landing at ballistic velocities are likely to pack quite the punch.

  28. 28
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Betty Cracker: Actually, the Saudis might be the best candidate to take some form of action. I am a bit shocked that I agree with some guy.

  29. 29
    BGinCHI says:

    @Gravenstone: Does Ann Coulter shit in the woods and on Christianity?

  30. 30
    Violet says:

    @Cassidy: Which “we” are you referring to? The US in the most recent war in Iraq? Or the one before that? The British rule perhaps, so the “we” is Western powers in general since France had something to do with it? Are you suggesting that “we” are part of the Ottoman Empire that ran things there before the British? Did Saddam Hussein have anything to do with any of the mess at any time?

  31. 31
    Gravenstone says:

    @BGinCHI: I prefer not to think about Ann Coulter’s bodily functions, or about Ann Coulter in general, thanks.

  32. 32
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I’m fine with humanitarian aid — food, water, medicine. But if anything ‘splody needs to be dropped, it needs to be by an international force, not by the US acting alone.

  33. 33
    SatanicPanic says:

    I got nothing. That whole area looks hopeless

  34. 34
    Cervantes says:

    @askew:

    The idea that we should just ignore the deaths of all these innocent people because of some imaginary mission creep or because military is bad is asinine.

    That’s right!

    I’m glad you’re shaming the person who said “we should just ignore the deaths of all these innocent people.”

    Thanks!

  35. 35
    Mnemosyne says:

    @askew:

    Not speaking for Betty, but I was fine with the intervention in Libya because it was a NATO operation, not the US acting on its own (and, in fact, it was led by France with the US in a supporting role, which got the conservatives screaming real good). After the Bush years, I am allergic to unilateral action by the US.

  36. 36
    Karen in GA says:

    @MattF:

    You’d think someone (someone, somewhere) in our government would be saying something like “Hey, what about possible unintended consequences?”

    Yeah, I’m thinking any US involvement can’t end well. Willing to hear arguments to the contrary, though.

  37. 37
    jeffreyw says:

    @Gravenstone: Next pass they get C-rat ham and motherfuckers.

  38. 38
    gbear says:

    @Elizabelle: We drop ebola on ISIS?

    (ps: I’m not really suggesting this)

  39. 39
    some guy says:

    @askew:
    Humanitarian aerial bombardment is the new black.

  40. 40
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Betty Cracker: Just pointing out to all, it’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. There are no good answers, there are always unintended consequences. Those who think we can go in and do just what we want and have it all be rosie are being as naive as those who think if we just stay out of it, nothing bad will happen for us.

    Just remember, no matter what we do, no matter the good or the bad of it, it will be all our fault. Sad thing is, in all likelihood they will be right. Days like this that make me wonder why any one would want to be President.

  41. 41
    Karen in GA says:

    New comment rather than editing my first one, because FYWP:

    I could see a UN or other multi-national relief effort, if it’s not a “coalition of the willing”-type mess.

    What specifically would they do? Beats me.

  42. 42
    SatanicPanic says:

    @gbear: drop Ann Coulter on ISIS

  43. 43
    Betty Cracker says:

    @askew: Dropping ordnance is now considered humanitarian relief? Oookay.

    The point is, in Iraq today, as in Libya in 2011, military intervention, especially from the US, can have unintended consequences, even if we briskly wash our hands of it, pat ourselves on the back about saving lives and bugger off. Libya is a huge fucking mess.

  44. 44
    MattF says:

    @SatanicPanic: That, I could support.

  45. 45
    askew says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Not speaking for Betty, but I was fine with the intervention in Libya because it was a NATO operation, not the US acting on its own (and, in fact, it was led by France with the US in a supporting role, which got the conservatives screaming real good). After the Bush years, I am allergic to unilateral action by the US.

    I remember our blog owner and Betty saying over and over again that there would be mission creep in Libya and pushing all sorts of nonsense that had no basis in fact. And never admitting they were wrong after the fact. And I can see it starting here again already.

  46. 46
    Cervantes says:

    @SatanicPanic: Come now. War is hell and all that, sure, but there are still rules.

  47. 47
    Suffern ACE says:

    At some point, there will be a credible push back against ISIS. I’m not sure from where.

    There can’t be peacekeeping until sides agree they want peace.

    It is not going well in Nigeria. My guess is it will be the same in Iraq. I guess it’s a matter of determining how much bloodshed you can accept after the intervention.

  48. 48
    askew says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    And hundred of thousands of people are alive today in Libya because of our intervention but that doesn’t matter because Libya isn’t a democratic paradise.

    What would Libya look like today if we had done nothing?

  49. 49
    gbear says:

    @Cervantes: Well he didn’t suggest a soft landing…

  50. 50
    Mnemosyne says:

    @gbear:

    I dunno, it sounds like a plan to me.
    /dark humor

  51. 51
    jayjaybear says:

    @SatanicPanic: The US has enough war crimes in its docket, thank you.

  52. 52
    Cervantes says:

    @gbear: What soft landing? It’s not Coulter I’m worried about!

  53. 53
    Mnemosyne says:

    @askew:

    I actually don’t remember Betty getting freaked out over Libya. I remember a Syria freakout, but not a Libya one.

  54. 54
    MomSense says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I have a dear friend who is a humanitarian worker. She is always in the absolute worst places. I think a lot of people would be surprised to hear what humanitarian workers want for support. They often want military, special op, even drone support because they are not equipped to deal with al Shabaab or ISIS, etc. I’m with you in that I generally prefer humanitarian support to military action but I have learned by listening to what she reports that we are often completely unaware in the US of just how horrific the situations can be.

  55. 55
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Cervantes: you’re right, chucking toxic humans in their direction is certainly a violation of norms against both biological and chemical warfare, and I’m sure there are other war crimes that you could call it

  56. 56
    Emma says:

    Can we wait and see what the President will do before we start running around in panic about it? Up to now, he has managed international conflict very well indeed, considering what he’s had to work with. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt for a while longer, maybe?

  57. 57
    some guy says:

    @askewhundreds of thousands? Why not millions, or billions? This kind of unsubstantiated assertion is why we don’t trust liberal interventionists. You need babies thrown out of incubators or heads placed on pikes to really sell it

  58. 58
    Betty Cracker says:

    @askew: Got links? Should be pretty easy to find if I was really as big of a chicken little as you claim. I’m generally queasy about military interventions, but IIRC, I was conflicted about that one and didn’t fit your present caricature.

  59. 59
    MomSense says:

    @askew:

    Given that in the history of the US it took a long time between the Revolutionary War and anything remotely resembling democracy I don’t see Libya as being outside the timeline for successful post revolution. I mean the Trail of Tears wasn’t exactly a success for my ancestors and that was about 50 years after the revolution.

  60. 60
    Suffern ACE says:

    So what do we do? I guess we could allow the Kurds to sell their oil instead of floating the oil in the tanker. We could follow Russia’s lead and start easing sanctions on Iran so that they have more cash to mount what will probably be a very expensive intervention. Are we going to agree to take in the Chaldean Christians and Yazidis? Because my guess is that they won’t be going back. Until someone is willing to go on the offensive against ISIS, there is no point in thinking little defensive volleys are going to drive them out.

  61. 61
    some guy says:

    http://mobile.reuters.com/arti.....4?irpc=932

    It appears barrel bombs are A OK when used by our allies. When used by Not Allies they are clearly evil.

  62. 62
    Linnaeus says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I’m generally queasy about military interventions

    Given our history, you should be.

  63. 63
    HR Progressive says:

    If we’re weighing the unintended consequences of:

    Bombing the shit out of some particularly vile terrorist extremists

    or

    Letting particularly vile terrorist extremists run rampant over the wreck of a country we left

    I’d rather try the former, over the latter, all things considered.

    Lots of ink can be spilled about what we should have done, what we shouldn’t have done, etc. Should we be The World’s Police, or should we retreat into isolationist mode and let everyone fend for themselves?

    I remember the warnings of mission creep (not necessarily on this blog) in Libya. Although the Benghazi tragedy may have been a result of that, even tangentially, we did not go invading Libya and setting up shop to spread democracy, did we?

    For the civilians who have to deal with what the U.S. left in its wake after invading and all of that noise, I think the least we can do is attempt to mitigate the nasty threat that is ISIS.

    Should we be re-invading? No. But if we can launch a few sorties, take out a bunch of ’em, and say “Get your shit together”, would that really be so bad?

    Probably not, I’d gather.

  64. 64
    MomSense says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    There was definitely a Libya kerfuffle if not a freak out but I don’t think Betty was involved.

  65. 65
    coin operated says:

    IIRC, we were asked to leave at the end of the last SOFA agreement. We were the spine behind that notoriously corrupt al-Maliki government. Now that we’re gone, they have to deal with it themselves.

    There’s a part of me that would like me to see all Israeli support dropped too. They keep acting like the obnoxious little kid that has a big brother to protect him. Time for big brother to go off to college…maybe the brat we helped foster will start behaving like an adult in the region. A 35-to-1 civilian kill ratio is obscene.

  66. 66
    Elizabelle says:

    @askew:

    The idea that we should just ignore the deaths of all these innocent people because of some imaginary mission creep or because military is bad is asinine. That simplistic thinking is what let Rwanda happen.

    That’s what I think too. Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright have a lot to answer for in Rwanda.

    Plus, the killings really started once the Hutus killed a few politicians and elite and realized the international peacekeepers were not going to stop them. The US, you’ll recall, was already sick at the loss of — what? 18 military personnel in Somalia. So hundreds of thousands of murders, by machete, commenced.

    We have a well-trained military, and a compelling human need. We blew Iraq to bits and left the vacuum.

    It might not be a bad thing to engage in a targeted action, or series of actions, with the intention of preventing the murder of civilians in peril AND sticking it to ISIS. Period. No mission creep.

    It might be cool to do this and teach folks we don’t always have to end up in a quagmire. It’s just giving the civilians some temporary cover. Proceed with NATO discussions and negotiations. But stop the immediate peril to civilians in harm’s way.

  67. 67
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    Apparently ISIS considers these people heretics. At what point in human history do we tell organized religion to go fuck itself because it has been the cause of untold death and misery for thousands of years. I cannot fathom how a God, any God, of whatever stripe could sit up there and condone the killing of humans in his name acceptable. At some point he (if he exists) has got to start throwing down some lightening bolts on these mother fuckers.

  68. 68
    askew says:

    @Emma:

    Can we wait and see what the President will do before we start running around in panic about it? Up to now, he has managed international conflict very well indeed, considering what he’s had to work with. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt for a while longer, maybe?

    He did the right thing in Libya by stopping the slaughter of hundreds of thousands, he got Syria to turn over all of their chemical weapons and resisted the push to arm rebels and put boots on the ground, etc. Yet, over and over again the same people who have been dead wrong on all of these international situations know that they are right and he’s wrong. It gets old.

  69. 69
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name):
    I have to disagree. The Saudis have been reckless and indiscriminate in supporting fellow Sunnis with guns, even against other Muslims like Shias, because Jihad. They’re overrated as a force for stability in the Middle East, and I wouldn’t trust them to be an honest broker here.

  70. 70
    MattF says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Well, there’s your mission creep.

  71. 71
    askew says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I’m not going to dig through this blog looking for them, but yes you freaked out over Libya. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as your freak out over Syria though. I just remember you being dead wrong and you never admitting it. And here you are again.

  72. 72
    Elizabelle says:

    @Emma:

    Can we wait and see what the President will do before we start running around in panic about it? Up to now, he has managed international conflict very well indeed, considering what he’s had to work with. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt for a while longer, maybe?

    Hear, hear.

    I don’t see a reckless president with a legacy to build. I see a man who wants to do the right thing, in a terrible situation.

    PS: I am ignorant about what is so terrible now in Libya, as I am ignorant on many world issues.

  73. 73
    Emma says:

    @askew: And he has kicked Putin’s behind very diplomatically.

  74. 74
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Elizabelle: we did not leave a vacuum. The Iraqis were very capable of creating a vacuum all by themselves.

    If we are going to plan interventions without the Iraqi government in mind, we might as well go back in and put ourselves in charge.

  75. 75
    Elizabelle says:

    I sleep well with President Obama in office.

    Also, wouldn’t you have found it interesting to be a fly on the wall and have heard what some of those African leaders said?

  76. 76
    askew says:

    @Elizabelle:

    That’s what I think too. Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright have a lot to answer for in Rwanda.

    Plus, the killings really started once the Hutus killed a few politicians and elite and realized the international peacekeepers were not going to stop them. The US, you’ll recall, was already sick at the loss of — what? 18 military personnel in Somalia. So hundreds of thousands of murders, by machete, commenced.

    We have a well-trained military, and a compelling human need. We blew Iraq to bits and left the vacuum.

    It might not be a bad thing to engage in a targeted action, or series of actions, with the intention of preventing the murder of civilians in peril AND sticking it to ISIS. Period. No mission creep.

    It might be cool to do this and teach folks we don’t always have to end up in a quagmire. It’s just giving the civilians some temporary cover. Proceed with NATO discussions and negotiations. But stop the immediate peril to civilians in harm’s way.

    Bill, as usual, put his own political fortunes over doing the right thing in Rwanda. He was burned after Somalia and was too scared of the media pushback to do the right thing in Rwanda. To his credit, he claims that is biggest mistake of his time in office. It won’t bring back all the dead, but at least he knows he was wrong.

    Obama has been incredibly consistent in getting involved in small ways with minimal US risk to help stop genocides. I think his biggest foreign policy mistake was the surge in Afghanistan. But, the biggest mistake of his presidency so far is his failure to act on immigration. He could and should have issued an executive order years ago to stop the deportation of people here. And he should not be working to speed the process of sending those child refugees back to their countries .

  77. 77
    Roger Moore says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    My initial impulse is we should stay the fuck out of it, but that’s not a comfortable thought either.

    I don’t know that we need to stay out, but we sure as hell shouldn’t be dealing with it on our own. I could definitely see us lending air power to back up other people who want to take ISIS on, but there needs to be somebody willing to hang around indefinitely to keep the fanatics down. Otherwise, they’ll just go into hiding and pop up again once we decide it’s time to get back out.

  78. 78
    Keith G says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    My initial impulse is we should stay the fuck out of it, but that’s not a comfortable thought either. It’s an awful dilemma.

    Staying the fuck out of it right now is not a bad idea as this specific catastrophe has no point of entry for the type of help we can offer.

    But…

    We need to get our act together an develop a framework for how to deal with 1) A Middle East that is becoming more and more violent in general, and 2) The metastasizing religious conflicts spawn by radical Islam.

    This shit isn’t going away and it is not going to play nice with our longtime friends in the region. I easily can see this conflict growing to a point to where we have no choice but to respond – hopefully with much help. I think that the biggest favor Obama can do for us is to start now laying the diplomatic and military ground work for how we will react to the chaos and cascading violence as the Middle East has what some are calling it’s own version of Europe’s Thirty Years War.


    Obligatory statement of intended pacifism: I think such military planning as mentioned above is necessary to avoid being stupidly pressured by unplanned-for events to engage in some ad hoc adventurism.

  79. 79
    El Caganer says:

    @askew: Bullshit. Double bullshit. Triple bullshit. You have absolutely no way of knowing that “hundreds of thousands of lives” were saved. Libya is a fucking basket case, a fucking disaster.

  80. 80
    PaulW says:

    I’m seeing on twitter that relief planes are en route, protected by fighter planes (A-10s I would think), to try and relieve the people trapped on that mountain.

    I’m sorry, I know we shouldn’t go charging back into Iraq, but dammit these ISIS psychos are a serious threat. The way I’m reading the situation, these guys are operating in broad daylight. Let’s send in special forces units to secure the key cities, target the ISIS leadership, just focus on that and clear out once we’re certain we’ve eliminated their forces. And this time, let’s tax the shit out of Cheney’s corporations to pay for it.

  81. 81
    Anoniminous says:

    ISIS is where they are, doing what they are doing, because the Iraqi Army ran away. If Iraqis aren’t going to stand, fight, and defend their country I see no reason for the US to get involved.

  82. 82
    Elizabelle says:

    @PaulW:

    I like your thinking!

    @Anoniminous: True dat re Iraqi army. But it would be worse to think “not my problem, let them die” than “I am going to make it a tad harder for the ISIS psychopaths to destroy non-threatening civilians.”

    Who’s to say there are not talks with our allies going on behind the scenes? Obama is not that much of a lone ranger.

  83. 83
    Jeffro says:

    Libya, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Israel, Gaza, Egypt…is there anything over there that isn’t a 4-alarm fire at the moment?

  84. 84
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Anoniminous:

    Let’s send in special forces units to secure the key cities, target the ISIS leadership, just focus on that and clear out once we’re certain we’ve eliminated their forces.

    No, no, no. This amounts to attempting the US military solution Josh Earnest just said doesn’t exist.

  85. 85
    seabe says:

    @askew: uh, dunno about Betty, but the fear wasn’t mission creep, per se. It was turning Libya into what it has been turned in to.

  86. 86
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Jeffro: yep. You left out Pakistan. Algeria and morocco seem to be ok.

  87. 87
    some guy says:

    Kurdish officials said the bombings had initially targeted ISIS fighters who had seized two towns, Gwer and Mahmour, near the main Kurdish city of Erbil. A top Iraqi official in Baghdad close to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq said that the Americans had consulted with the Iraqi government Thursday night about starting the campaign, the government had agreed and the bombing had begun.

    so this is already a thing.

    I am, as always, completely unsurprised that the same people yelling the loudest for “humanitarian interventions” to save the Yazidi today were thunderous in their silence during our War against Gaza the last 3 weeks.

  88. 88
    Mnemosyne says:

    @MomSense:

    I remember the Libya kerfuffle and the various Chicken Littles, but I’m pretty sure Betty wasn’t one of them.

  89. 89
    Dog On Porch says:

    What would I do? What difference does that make?

    As recently as a few days ago, Obama insulted both my moral and political sensibilities with his “good people made bad decisions”, shrug of the shoulders pronouncement about American torturers. In short, he said good people were JUST FOLLOWING ORDERS. A couple of years ago, he pinned a medal on GW Bush. “Look forward, not back”.

    Biden, Kerry, Clinton, and Gephart (et.al.) all supported the Bush/Cheney stampede to war. None have begged the forgiveness of the American people. Quite the contrary.

    As long as the democratic rank-and-file remains in thrall to those individuals who proved instrumental in leading the country into this calamity, and/or those who help perpetuate Bush/Cheney doctrines, we are all fucked.

  90. 90
    GHayduke (formerly lojasmo) says:

    @some guy:

    Uh, the state of Israel was created by the UN three generations ago or so. They are residents, dumb-ass.

    ETA, as little as I like defending the Israili occupation, your idiocy makes it easy.

  91. 91
    Anoniminous says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    ?

  92. 92
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Amir Khalid: I wasn’t really looking for an honest broker. I was thinking that the Saudis, as sponsors of ISIS, could pull back on the reins a bit. You may be right that they are too invested in Sunni partisanship to be willing or able to do it. I don’t want to see mass killings, and I have doubts that the US can do something directly without making things worse.

  93. 93
    Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937 says:

    Van you air drop stuff without hurting people below? Would it be possible to drive stuff there via Turkey?

  94. 94
    wilfred says:

    Great. We just stood by and did nothing as who knows how many Palestinian Muslim women and children were killed with bombs we paid for and now that the Xian women are in danger it’s off to the barricades.

    Instead of legging it in the direction of the Kurds, who are also running, maybe the Xians should put up a fucking fight and maybe die in the cause of something they believe in. Better yet, we could do a 1936 and send off a Brigade of Xians to fight the big bad Muslims the way we went to fight the fascists.

    We could call it the Billy Graham Brigade. Onward Christian Soldiers.

  95. 95
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937: Air drops of supplies are not a problem as far as I know. The problem is that slow moving cargo planes are targets for surface to air fire. What do we do if our planes get shot down? Should we hit suspected SAM sites first to knock them out of action? And so on.

  96. 96
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937: my understanding is that the people we would be saving are refugees surrounded on a mountain. If supplies could be driven to them, they could leave the mountain as there would be a road that wasn’t controlled by Isis.

  97. 97
    gene108 says:

    But while America not only broke the vase in the Mesopotamian Pottery Barn but leveled the whole goddamn building and set the rubble on fire 11 years ago, we don’t own it, not anymore.

    As much as I’d love to blame Bush & Co. for the current mess, it would over simplify things.

    If you look at the Lebanese civil war, I think the last serious civil war in the area, which lasted 10+ years, and compare it to the Syrian civil war, the primary difference is back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, Israel and Syria had strong enough governments to keep the conflict from spreading through other parts of the region. EDIT: Despite outside groups funding various factions that kept the war going for as long as it did.

    The problem with the Syrian civil war is it has spilled over into Iraq, which does not have a strong government and apparently a not very dedicated military, as currently constituted that did not put up a fight, when ISIS rolled into town from their war making in Syria.

    I do not propose to know all or many of the ins-and-outs of what is going on there, but I believe a big chunk of the problem is coming from others in the region, who are funding ISIS (bullets ain’t free you know) for whatever reason and got them to go into Iraq, rather than stick to fighting it out in Syria.

    There are regional players, who seem to be wanting to escalate the issue and at this point, after the Arab Spring, there’s no guarantee Saddam’s Iraq would have held itself together, given what has happened in Syria over the past 3 years.

    Bush & Co. did not help matters, they made things worse, but there are other bad buys in the region making things ever more terrible.

  98. 98
    Cassidy says:

    @drkrick: Not even remotely close to be the same thing.

  99. 99
    askew says:

    @seabe:

    Nope. There were lots of people on the left that were sure we would put boots on the ground in Libya. Sure of it. And when they were wrong they didn’t learn from it. They just went on to Syria sure that Obama would fuck it up. And then the next and the next. Same people always wrong and never willing to learn from it.

  100. 100
    Cassidy says:

    @Violet: “We” as in we destabilized a functioning country by dropping bombs on it.

  101. 101
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): I don’t think Isis has SAM. I don’t know why they would. Yeah, they captured a lot of weapons in Mosul, but it was an arsenal meant to defend against an enemy that didn’t have planes or helicopters.

  102. 102
    Cassidy says:

    There were lots of people on the left that were sure we would put boots on the ground in Libya. Sure of it. And when they were wrong they didn’t learn from it.

    cough cough Balloon Juice Front Pagers cough cough

  103. 103
    Roger Moore says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Libya is a huge fucking mess.

    Libya may be a huge fucking mess today, but that’s an upgrade from where it was when we got involved.

  104. 104
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Suffern ACE: This article seems to indicate otherwise. They seem to have access to MANPADS and AA guns.

  105. 105
    Mandalay says:

    @askew:

    They just went on to Syria sure that Obama would fuck it up.

    Heh. You have a bad memory. Obama was indeed on the verge of massively fucking it up in Syria until Putin saved him.

  106. 106
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Anoniminous:
    Sorry. Reply intended for PaulW.

  107. 107
    gene108 says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    The Saudi’s and other oil-rich Arab states – UAE, Qatar, etc. – are really nasty pieces of work, in my opinion. The ruling class wants to keep power and they do not value people. They spend their oil to keep the citizens “rich” enough to not have an outright revolt, but do not do enough to actually uplift their own people, like investing in universities and technical schools.

    The one thing that does not get reported about Muslims, in the U.S., is most are not Arabs. Most Muslims live in South Asia and Indonesia.

    Hopefully all this fighting in the Middle East will be seen as something that does not apply to the rest of the Asian Muslim world, though with what you said about Saudi’s funding their version of Islam, it may not stay as isolated as it should.

  108. 108
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Mandalay: Your interpretation. Not that of everyone. The facts seem to indicate that the US was threatening military force on one hand and pursuing diplomatic option on the other. This type of tactic has been used by governments in the past. If you choose to see Obama’s foreign policy as belligerent blundering from which Putin suddenly saved us, feel free but don’t expect others to follow you down that path.

  109. 109
    Dog On Porch says:

    @Roger Moore: “Libya may be a huge fucking mess today, but that’s an upgrade from where it was when we got involved”.

    In your opinion, in whose views has it proved to be an upgrade?

    Disclaimer: I know fuck-all about Libya.

  110. 110
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Mandalay:
    You’re giving Vladimir Putin too much credit for good intentions. He would not save the US from error, if he could help it.

  111. 111
    Cassidy says:

    @Mandalay: Only in the minds of those gleefully hoping he would fail.

  112. 112
    Emma says:

    @Amir Khalid: Mandalay always sides with the other. His America always falls short. He’s a Romantic Leftist.

  113. 113
    Mandalay says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    I don’t think Isis has SAM. I don’t know why they would.

    I expect they would buy SAMs because they are a very rich outfit.

    They get rich by kidnapping. They get rich by seizing assets (including banks) of places they take control of. They get rich through funding by wealthy people and organizations. Capturing other people’s weapons is just the cherry on their ice cream sundae.

    They are the wealthiest armed organization in the world.

  114. 114
    heckblazer says:

    @Elizabelle:

    Plus, the killings really started once the Hutus killed a few politicians and elite and realized the international peacekeepers were not going to stop them. The US, you’ll recall, was already sick at the loss of — what? 18 military personnel in Somalia. So hundreds of thousands of murders, by machete, commenced.

    That wasn’t the last of it either. After the Tutsis pushed the genocidaires out of power the latter fled over the border into Zaire. They then used the refugee camps as bases to strike back at the new Rwanda government. This in turn lead to Rwanda invading Zaire to stop the attacks, which sparked the First and Second Congo Wars. The latter was the deadliest war since WWII, killing an estimated 5.4 million people as over twenty armed groups from nine different countries fought each other.

  115. 115
    Mandalay says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    You’re giving Vladimir Putin too much credit for good intentions.

    Not at all; I didn’t give Putin any credit for good intentions. Putin wanted to protect the Assad regime, the Russian naval base in Tartus, and to make himself look good, and he succeeded on all those counts.

    Saving Obama from a reckless intervention in Syria was a by-product of the whole exercise, but Putin still saved him.

  116. 116
    Davis X. Machina says:

    Kurdish media repeat reports in Turkish newspapers that Turkish aircraft are “monitoring the situation” over Makhmour.

    ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Deputy head of Turkey’s ruling party, Huseyin Celik vowed that Ankara would do all it could for the Kurdistan Region, the same day a newspaper reported that Turkish jets were over Iraqi Kurdistan.

    “As a strategic neighbor the stability and security of the Kurdistan Region is important to Turkey and to keep that stability Turkey will do whatever falls on its shoulders,” Celik vowed on Thursday.

    “The Kurds and Turkmen of Iraq are our relatives and now that they are facing difficulties we will not stay silent,” said Celik, a senior member of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and advisor to the prime minister…..

    A statement from the French President’s office said Paris “was available to support forces engaged in this battle”. It followed a telephone call between Francois Hollande and Massoud Barzani, head of the Kurdistan Regional Government.

    France requested a meeting of the UN Security Council in New York, in which members will be briefed on the ongoing Islamic State’s offensive against the Peshmerga forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

  117. 117
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Mandalay: You are, of course, ignoring the months of behind the scenes negotiations between the State Department and the Russian Foreign Ministry, but that’s okay I am sure they weren’t talking about anything consequential or being used to make sure that the major powers knew in advance what public statements would be made so that responses could be carefully crafted. Nope, that would never happen.

  118. 118
    Mandalay says:

    @Emma:

    Mandalay always sides with the other. His America always falls short. He’s a Romantic Leftist.

    Your memory is very short as well, and I was hardly in the minority. My view was also that of the great majority of Americans, who opposed Obama dragging us into Syria. Events since then have shown that we really dodged a bullet when Putin gave us a face saving excuse to back down.

    Do you understand anything about the position the Administration took over Syria? Your post suggests you are clueless.

  119. 119
    Cassidy says:

    @Mandalay: And you’re a mendacious sack of shit.

  120. 120
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Mandalay:

    Do you understand anything about the position the Administration took over Syria. Your post suggests you are clueless

    And yours suggests that you acknowledge only what you read in the news as the events were unfolding but none of the information that came out afterwards about events behind the scenes. It suggests that you locked onto your narrative and are still running with it.

  121. 121
    Emma says:

    @Mandalay: The majority of Americans? Really?

    And insulting me won’t work. Sorry. My reasoning ability still works. I’m not the one who’s fixated.

  122. 122
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Mandalay:

    My view was also that of the great majority of Americans, who opposed Obama dragging us into Syria. Events since then have shown that we really dodged a bullet when Putin gave us a face saving excuse to back down.

    Yes, the calm, rational Vladimir Putin saved the reckless, short-tempered Obama from acting impulsively.

    You really have no idea how ridiculous you sound, do you?

  123. 123
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Mnemosyne: IIRC from the time but I can’t be arsed to look, Mandalay was one of those who thought Kerry had lost his marbles. Instead, it turned out that Kerry was the designated bad cop for the purposes of pressuring Assad.

  124. 124
    Mandalay says:

    @Emma:

    The majority of Americans? Really?

    Yes, really, the majority of Americans. Could you even describe what the Administration’s position was about intervening in Syria without looking it up? Thought not.

  125. 125
    Emma says:

    @Mandalay: Nice try. Really. But in order to do “superior intellect” you need to have something to back it up. Either facts or attitude. You don’t have the facts and you’re too whiny for attitude.

  126. 126
    chopper says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Yes, the calm, rational Vladimir Putin saved the reckless, short-tempered Obama from acting impulsively.

    Good enough for Fox & Friends.

  127. 127
    Anoniminous says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    No biggie.

  128. 128
    Suffern ACE says:

    @askew: I’m sorry, but what genocides have we actually prevented in small ways? Yeah, the chemical weapons are gone in Syria. But that was 50,000 corpses ago.

  129. 129
    Dog On Porch says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): The only thing I know or care about Secretary of State Kerry is that he took counsel of his presidential ambition when he endorsed the Bush/Cheney War.

    Of course, so did Hillary Clinton.

    Both egregiously fucked up to the tune of many thousands dead (and for what?), with trillions of U.S. tax payer treasure as good as having been flushed down a toilet. Like Bush and Cheney, they are shameless. And neither one should have ever been allowed within miles of shaping the foreign policy of the United States.

  130. 130
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Dog On Porch: Okay, but that does not mean that Kerry (and his State Department) handled the Syria situation poorly.

  131. 131
    askew says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    Libya and Syria would have been much worse with chemical weapons. And it sounds like we will be intervening in Iraq as well.

  132. 132
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @askew: Actually, with Libya, the pro-intervention side (one which I fell btw) is in the position of proving a negative. It seemed as though thousands of people were about to be slaughtered. We intervened. The expected slaughter did not happen. Was it actually do to the intervention? Can anyone say for certain?

    In Syria, the threatened intervention and accompanying diplomatic moves had a tangible result. The chemical weapons agreement and subsequent dismantlement thereof.

  133. 133
    Roger Moore says:

    @gene108:

    The one thing that does not get reported about Muslims, in the U.S., is most are not Arabs. Most Muslims live in South Asia and Indonesia.

    Heck, a lot of the Muslims in the Middle East aren’t Arabs. Iran and Turkey aren’t Arab, which is a good sized chunk of the population of the whole region.

  134. 134
    WereBear says:

    Providing humanitarian support is something we should do. Trying to shape events is how they got messed up in the first place.

  135. 135
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @WereBear: Yeah, I am in favor of humanitarian aid, but I do wonder what the rules of engagement are to protect the planes going in and making the drops.

  136. 136
    Betty Cracker says:

    @askew: In other words: You’re fucking wrong as shit, and you sort of get that? Okay.

  137. 137
    Another Holocene Human (now with new computer) says:

    @Emma: We can never trust Obama to do the right thing with his finger on the red button. Some reason. I’ll get back to you on what that reason is when I think of it.

  138. 138
    askew says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    No, this is the same bullshit you’ve pulled multiple times in the past. Overreact to a foreign policy crisis sure that this means Obama is going to sell you out and we’ll have boots on the ground and it is a disaster, blah, blah, blah. Then, you are wrong and you do the same thing with the next crisis. Now, I could be wrong and mixed up your freak out over Syria with your freak out over Libya. It’s hard to keep track because you do this so often and never learn from it.

  139. 139
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @askew: Actually, if we are going on pure memory, I recall that BC was horrified by the idea of Assad having chemical weapons but didn’t think that lobbing a few bombs into Syria would accomplish anything. But let’s not let reality fuck up a blog fight.

  140. 140
    jayboat says:

    Looks like we are going in. The clusterfuck continues.

  141. 141
    Betty Cracker says:

    @askew: And yet no links about the Libya thing you first got so puffed up about? It’s almost as if you were totally full of crap or something!

  142. 142
    seabe says:

    @askew: I mean I agree Obama fucked it up in Libya. Not everyone comes down to the same conclusions as you (“hundreds of thousands”). However, most of what I read was “it’s going to destabilize shit even worse than it already is”. Sure enough…

  143. 143
    seabe says:

    @askew: I mean I agree Obama fucked it up in Libya. Not everyone comes down to the same conclusions as you (“hundreds of thousands”). However, most of what I read was “it’s going to destabilize shit even worse than it already is”. Sure enough…

  144. 144
    Chris says:

    @BGinCHI:

    I would totally watch that movie. Heck, make ISIS the bad guys in the opening sequence of the Expendables that’s coming out this month.

    I’d like to think our policymakers don’t make policy based on eighties action movies, though. But I’ve heard Jack Bauer cited in court, so I know that’s not true. Ugh.

    @Gravenstone:

    Ah, more good television. Season 1 of Airwolf might be my favorite espionage series of all time. Pity the rest of the show wasn’t like it.

  145. 145
    Chris says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    I have to disagree. The Saudis have been reckless and indiscriminate in supporting fellow Sunnis with guns, even against other Muslims like Shias, because Jihad. They’re overrated as a force for stability in the Middle East, and I wouldn’t trust them to be an honest broker here.

    Quoted for truth. Saudi money is the mother’s milk of the more crazy, vicious theocratic movements that’ve been popping up around the Muslim world in the last few decades. Post-revolutionary Iran are pikers compared to them. Nobody Riyadh supports is going to be good for anyone other than extreme-conservative Sunni supremacists (see also Afghanistan, 1990s).

  146. 146
    Chris says:

    @gene108:

    Hopefully all this fighting in the Middle East will be seen as something that does not apply to the rest of the Asian Muslim world, though with what you said about Saudi’s funding their version of Islam, it may not stay as isolated as it should.

    Rich Saudi religious nut billionaires are the Muslim world’s equivalent of our fundiegelical groups – obsessed not so much with converting the world to Islam/Christianity as with converting the rest of Islam/Christianity to their vision of it. No matter where you are in the Muslim world and no matter how out of the mainstream you may be, if your views align with the Saudi theocrats’, you can count on them lavishing you with money. Call it astroturfing for Muslims.

    IIRC, Saudi-style fundamentalism wasn’t unknown in Afghanistan before the eighties, but it wasn’t dominant either. Saudi money and Pakistani intelligence gave the psychos a huge boost, and were a big reason why the Taliban ended up ruling the country for half a decade.

  147. 147
    brantl says:

    But while America not only broke the vase in the Mesopotamian Pottery Barn but leveled the whole goddamn building and set the rubble on fire 11 years ago, we don’t own it, not anymore.

    The US has to own this, who else does (except our allies, who also went in and did the same shit as us). Obama doesn’t “own” responsibility for this, but the US does, for believing Darth Cheney’s bullshit, and acting on it. I don’t get your assertion that this isn’t our problem. We plaid bloody hackey-sack with a 2 whole countries, that had shit governments (inarguably) and made the people of those countries suffer devastating loss, based on deliberate misinformation; do we get off with an “Oops! My bad!”? I don’t think so.

  148. 148
    brantl says:

    @drkrick: No, we have interfered for so long and so often (in ways we wouldn’t own up to, including bombing the shit out of Iraq’s roads, on the way outin the first Iraq war, that we really do own this.

  149. 149
    brantl says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt:

    At some point he (if he exists) has got to start throwing down some lightening bolts on these mother fuckers.

    My best reason for not believing there is one. -Non-consistent behavior in the face of clear provocation.

  150. 150
    brantl says:

    @GHayduke (formerly lojasmo):

    Uh, the state of Israel was created by the UN three generations ago or so. They are residents, dumb-ass.

    They are squatters, given land that did not belong to them.

  151. 151
    Betty Cracker says:

    @brantl: But it wasn’t just an “oops, my bad” — after the colossal Bush-Cheney fuck-up that got us in under false pretenses, we poured hundreds of billions of dollars into “stabilizing” the country, patrolled it at the cost of hundreds of American lives to stop sectarian violence, sponsored elections, supported a new government, trained a military force, etc. Then, after nearly nine years, we wisely packed our bags and got the fuck out, thanks to President Obama.

    Every ill that befalls Iraq for the next 100 years will likely be traceable in some degree to Bush’s fuck-up. At what point does our responsibility end?

    But even leaving the question of moral responsibility aside, I’m not convinced military intervention will do any good in the long term. Those evil ISIS fucks need to be confronted and decisively defeated — by the people they’re attempting to subjugate.

    I think you can make a credible case for military intervention to stop a looming slaughter, but wouldn’t it be better for the regional governments to address it rather than the US? They have the most at stake in the outcome.

  152. 152
    Jim says:

    Whatta I think? I think that if you’re serious about dropping MREs on ISIS, you’re hopelessly full of shit.

  153. 153
    Elizabelle says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Morning Betty.

    My concern is that the regional governments wouldn’t address it until you’d had significant die-off. Those trapped need relief NOW, and we can do something about it.

    Your concerns are valid, and I love your firecracker analogy in the last paragraph.

Comments are closed.