Somewhat Good News In Iraq

I fully and completely support this:

U.S. President Barack Obama said Thursday that he’s authorized “targeted airstrikes” in Iraq to protect American personnel and help Iraqi forces.

“We do whatever is necessary to protect our people,” Obama said. “We support our allies when they’re in danger.”

A key concern for U.S. officials: American consular staff and military advisers working with the Iraqi military in Irbil, the largest city in Iraq’s Kurdish region.

Obama said Thursday he’d directed the military to take targeted strikes against Islamist militants “should they move towards the city.”

Rapid developments on the ground, where a humanitarian crisis is emerging with minority groups facing possible slaughter by Sunni Muslim extremists, have set the stage for an increasingly dire situation.

Thousands of families from the Yazidi minority are reportedly trapped in the mountains without food, water or medical care after fleeing the rampaging fighters of the Islamic State, also known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or ISIS.

Throngs of refugees, many of them Iraqi Christians, are on the run — their largest city now occupied by fighters who gave them an ultimatum, “Convert to Islam or die.”

Obama also said he’d authorized targeted airstrikes “if necessary” to help Iraqi forces protect civilians trapped on the mountain as brutal Islamist fighters advance.

“When we face a situation like we do on that mountain with innocent people facing the prospect of violence on a horrific scale, when we have a mandate to help, in this case a request from the Iraqi government, and when we have the unique capabilities to help avert a massacre, then I believe the United States of America cannot turn a blind eye,” Obama said. “We can act, carefully and responsibly to prevent a potential act of genocide.”

I don’t have any qualms with a massive airlift of humanitarian aid, and I have no problem with a much more aggressive air campaign against ISIS. This is, as far as I am concerned, an extremely easy call to make. I’d also probably be in favor of arming the Kurds to defend themselves against these monsters, but I’d have to know more about the extent to which we can trust them.

At any rate, I like the moral clarity with which President Obama spoke, and it was so refreshing to have someone come out and straight up call this what it is- genocide. How many times in the past have we heard world leaders struggle to come up with pained euphemisms like “ethnic cleansing” so we don’t have to seriously address what is clearly happening- genocide.

Not a day goes by that I regret my votes for this man. I’d crawl over broken glass to vote for a third term for him.

On another note, the phrase “targeted airstrikes” pains me- we may not always be accurate or know what we are shooting at, but I am reasonably sure every airstrike is targeted.

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137 replies
  1. 1
    The Dangerman says:

    Michelle ’16!

    …then I woke up

    ETA: Yes, as a matter of fact, I do own a cleanup company for exploded Winger heads.

  2. 2
    MoeLarryAndJesus says:

    What Cole said.

  3. 3
    Another Holocene Human (now with new computer) says:

    http://rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/070820142

    Looks as though Turkey is providing air support to Peshmerga (Kurdish) fighters in Northern Iraq.

  4. 4
    KG says:

    the phrase “targeted airstrikes” pains me- we may not always be accurate or know what we are shooting at, but I am reasonably sure every airstrike is targeted.

    Dresden might disagree with this assertion. But to the point of the post, yeah, this seems like a no brainer. I have this feeling that “Iraq” will not survive the decade. The same may be true of Syria. But if there is going to be an independent Kurdistan, we are going to have yo make sure that Turkey and Iran are on board.

  5. 5
    lamh36 says:

    @joshledermanAP
    Aides to Boehner, McConnell tell me the White House notified them of Obama’s decision before he announced it today

    ‏@markknoller
    SAO says a “good number” of members of Congress were notified today of the President’s decisions/actions in Iraq.

  6. 6
  7. 7
    lamh36 says:

    @samsteinhp 6m
    Again, administration officials stress that this is not a “sustained” campaign being launched. #nomissioncreep

    @markknoller
    And if air strikes take place, SAO says the Administration will notify Congress in accordance with the War Powers Resolution.

  8. 8
    Amir Khalid says:

    @lamh36:
    Is there word on whether the House will vote to sue Obama for usurping its war powers?

  9. 9
    Mandalay says:

    @KG:

    But if there is going to be an independent Kurdistan, we are going to have yo make sure that Turkey and Iran are on board.

    Ruh roh….

    Turkey has good relations with the semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq but would not support moves to push for independence from Baghdad, a Turkish government official said in response to questions from Reuters on Monday.

  10. 10
    John Cole +0 says:

    @KG: Hunh? Dresden *WAS* the target. And by all historical records, they managed to hit it quite well.

  11. 11
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Amir Khalid: I used to think they’d give him a pass if the genocide was averted. Now I think think they’ll impeach because a genocide was averted.

  12. 12
    Debbie says:

    It’s the right thing to do, but it’s very worrying.

  13. 13
    Soonergrunt says:

    I sure hope there’s somebody sitting at the table and constantly asking the question that Rumsfeld wouldn’t allow to be asked prior to the beginning of our last excellent adventure in Iraq.
    “And then what?”
    Because the failure to ask that question got some of my friends killed and some of them maimed.

    And where is the rest of the world acting in the face of this genocide?

  14. 14
    Anne Laurie says:

    I’d also probably be in favor of arming the Kurds to defend themselves against these monsters, but I’d have to know more about the extent to which we can trust them.

    Any U.S. support for the Kurds will set Turkey screaming so loudly you’ll hear it in West Virginia. Do they hate the Kurds more than they fear ISIS?

    @Another Holocene Human (now with new computer): The way I read your link, Turkish fighters are “monitoring” the Peshmerga. It’s not clear to me whether they’d support the Kurds or attack them, depending on what they believe they can get away with…

    Maybe I’m misjudging the pure humanitarian goals of the Turkish government, but I grew up with Armenian neighbors. If a newly “devolved” Scotland was attacked by Irish guerillas, which side would the British armed forces be expected to support?

    (But I am in favor of American supply drops, and even air strikes, if there’s an honest argument such strikes would be more effective at damaging ISIS than destroying Kurdish areas.)

  15. 15
    Culture of Truth says:

    I tentatively approve, but why are we still “training” Iraqis how to shoot a gun. Guns, which, I might add, apparently “just go off,” all the time.

  16. 16
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    Cole, how do you see this as different than Libya or Syria? You were vehemently opposed to those and said so in rather vicious terms.

  17. 17
    Mandalay says:

    @John Cole +0:

    Hunh? Dresden *WAS* the target. And by all historical records, they managed to hit it quite well.

    I think the poster’s point may have been that they hit it far better than they needed to, and without much discrimination about what they were hitting.

  18. 18
    KG says:

    @Mandalay: yeah, this

  19. 19
    lamh36 says:

    @ABC 42s
    Defense Sec. Hagel: US military ready to conduct airstrikes to protect besieged Iraqis and American personnel in Erbil – @dana_hughes

  20. 20
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): regime change isn’t the goal for one thing.

  21. 21
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Mandalay: @KG: Weaponry has become a bit more precise in the past 70 years.

    And no, I am not suggesting that it is perfectly precise.

  22. 22
    lamh36 says:

    @AriMelber · 7m
    New McCain-Graham:
    Because of the President’s hands-off approach, the threats in the region have grown & now directly threaten the US.

  23. 23
    Peter says:

    @Suffern ACE: not seeing much difference between “keep the bastards out” and “kick the bastards out”.

  24. 24
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    And where is the rest of the world acting in the face of this genocide?

    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). It will take place at 5.30pm local time. [ed. this afternoon]

  25. 25
    Anonymous At Work says:

    So far, the Kurds of Iraq have proven to be the most reliable, dependable, and even-keeled group by far, and I would think they are trustable even in *objective* terms (I mean, being the most dependable in Iraq is a pretty low bar).
    The issue with arming the Kurds, as in all-out arming by just giving them full modern equipment, is political. Turkey has a sizable population and Kurds on both sides of an imaginary line drawn by the British (aka the “border”) want to re-draw the lines.

  26. 26
    Suffern ACE says:

    @lamh36: oh Lordy. Weeee arrrrrrreeennnnnt saaaaaafffffe enoufffffffff yyyyyyyet.

  27. 27
    different-church-lady says:

    MEH, HE’S JUST TRYING TO EARN HIS PEACE PRIZE…

  28. 28
    Betty Cracker says:

    @lamh36: Wildly O/T, but I think you were the one who recommended “Luther” to me ages ago, and you were right; good show!

  29. 29
    KG says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): sure, no disagreement, and that’s one of the reasons air strikes are targeted,rather than fire bombing somewhat indiscriminately.

  30. 30
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    OT: this anti-Nazi movie on TCM is hackneyed and overacted. I believe it is time to check out Black Jesus.

  31. 31
    J.D. Rhoades says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Is there word on whether the House will vote to sue Obama for usurping its war powers?

    Bring. It. On. It’s time we had this fight.

  32. 32
    KG says:

    @Anonymous At Work: don’t forget there are Kurds in Iran too. We have a history with the Iraqi Kurds going back to the first gulf war. But everything that’s happened in the last 20 years has been based on the idea that those imaginary lines won’t get redrawn. Which makes sense on some levels. Redrawing maps usually leads to regions being destabilized and given the cluster fuck that is the current Mideast, more shit being thrown in the fan seems like a bad idea

  33. 33
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Peter: ok. I’m having a difficult time imagining a world where ISIS leads a new revolutionary Sunni state is somehow as desireable as your regular middle eastern corrupt military tyrant, but I guess they aren’t that different. Who knows? Maybe ISIS will offer socialized healthcare so it will be a wash.

  34. 34
    KG says:

    @Suffern ACE: corrupt tyrants can be bought, true believers typically can’t. If ISIS are true believers, that would make it worse

  35. 35
    Mandalay says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    And where is the rest of the world acting in the face of this genocide?

    Jesus Christ. Where was the United States two hours ago? And it’s the middle of the night in Europe FFS.

  36. 36
    Suffern ACE says:

    The other difference here is that there is a reasonable objective here. We aren’t actually trying to stop the fighting. We are trying to get refugees into camps. If they don’t escape, well the mission fails. But that is different from “let’s bomb Syria until the regime falls and our moderates take over”. Or “let’s bomb them until they learn to love one another.”

  37. 37
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    . But that is different from “let’s bomb Syria until the regime falls and our moderates take over”.

    When was that a stated policy of the US?

  38. 38
    Botsplainer says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name):

    Which movie is on TCM. I’m watching Black Jesus, it ain’t bad.

  39. 39
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Botsplainer: The Mortal Storm. I am over at Black Jesus as well.

  40. 40
    lamh36 says:

    @Betty Cracker: You are the 3rd person this week who has told me they finally gave Luther a chance.

    I had to convince my lil sister to give it another chance. She was like…it’s slow, but I told her they she needed to get through the first episode and it picks ups, by the end of the first season, you will be hooked. She agreed to give the first season a chance, and the next time I heard from her, she had already watched Season 2 and was finished up Season 3.

  41. 41
    Liquid says:

    Fuck it, let’s invade again. Third time’s a charm!

  42. 42
    SarahT says:

    @Botsplainer: I pretty much heart it so far.

  43. 43
    Peter says:

    @KG: the idea that the best we could hope for is tyrants that can be bought is deeply depressing.

  44. 44
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    Michael, Chandler, and Ross? Water polo lessons?

  45. 45
    eemom says:

    Thought it was an awesome speech. My baby (15) said so too, even though he’d rather have been watching something else.

  46. 46
    catclub says:

    @KG:

    I have this feeling that “Iraq” will not survive the decade.

    From the Grauniad:

    “Iraq is spiralling out of control,” said Ali Khedery, the former longest-serving US official in Baghdad. “The centrifugal forces are spinning so quickly. They are on one timeline and Washington is on another. I am beyond concerned.”

    Khedery, who reported to five US ambassadors and three US central command generals and is now chairman of the Dubai-based consultancy Dragoman Partners, said: “Everybody is retreating to their corners. And there is no credible international actor that I can see that is trying to bring it together again.

    “It definitely is an existential threat to the Iraqi government and I think it represents yet another manifestation of the disintegration of Iraq as we know it.

    “Iranian overreach, the genocide in Syria, [Nouri] al-Maliki’s consolidation of power in a very sectarian way, have all led to the disillusionment, the disenfranchisement of the Sunni Arabs, who have fatally, but perhaps understandably, chosen to consummate a deal with the devil. Now we are locked in a race to the bottom.

  47. 47
    Botsplainer says:

    “Me and pops, we come through all the time…”

  48. 48
    SarahT says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): Crying laughing at that line

  49. 49
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): ummm. What was cole’s objection to the red line? Back when we were threatening air strikes against Assad if chemical weapons were used? That never took place, but one could hardly blame the people who were concerned about that for thinking that that would be an outcome.

    How did we go from protecting civilians in Libya to helping allies track down and kill Qaddafi and sons?

  50. 50
    dww44 says:

    Did anyone watch The Last Word tonight and see the interview with 3 guest experts, one of whom was Marc Ginsberg, former Ambassador to Morocco? He seemed angry, with a real ax to grind. The other two guests were far more measured in their comments, even if they disagreed with Obama’s strategy and/or statements.

  51. 51
    Matt McIrvin says:

    By this point I am automatically skeptical of any and all United States military action, regardless of the plan or motive. I’ve been burned too many times.

    These ISIS/ISIL/IS guys seem incredibly frightening, something like human Daleks: nihilistic and all-destroying, propelled only by hate.

    But I also know that this is how enemies are usually described at the beginning of a war.

    I hope Obama knows what he is doing. I am not going to assume it.

  52. 52
    lamh36 says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): @Botsplainer:

    I just finished watching Black Jesus, and i can def say the church folks will be pissed, but it was actually funnier than I expected and it was as bad/crass as I expected either.

    I’m still more a fan of Black Dynamite type of “parody”, but this I didn’t hate

  53. 53
    lamh36 says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): When Black Jesus was shaking the hell out of that one white kid, I admit, I LMAO

  54. 54
    KG says:

    @Peter: oh, we can hope for some sort of liberal representative democracy to form in the Mideast, but I’m just looking at it realistically. It’s possible that an independent Kurdistan could be that. It’s possible that Iran could be that if the theocracy was overthrown. But the situation on the ground in most of the region doesn’t suggest it’s highly likely in the near term.

  55. 55
    Davis X. Machina says:

    “When we have the unique capabilities to help avert a massacre, then I believe the United States of America cannot turn a blind eye,…”

    We have to. It’s the only way we can begin to atone for all the massacres we’ve already caused.

    Sorry, Yazidis. Sorry, Chaldeans.

  56. 56
    Laertes says:

    Groovy. We’re intervening in a war in the Middle East. That’s always gone well for us in the past, and I’m excited about the prospects for this new intervention.

  57. 57
    Laertes says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    But I also know that this is how enemies are usually described at the beginning of a war.

    Remember the babies hauled out of incubators and thrown to the floor?

    Tonkin gulf?

    Mushroom cloud?

  58. 58
    Origuy says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name):

    When was that a stated policy of the US?

    Don’t you remember what President McCain said?

  59. 59
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    ummm. What was cole’s objection to the red line? Back when we were threatening air strikes against Assad if chemical weapons were used? That never took place, but one could hardly blame the people who were concerned about that for thinking that that would be an outcome.

    So “let’s bomb Syria until the regime falls and our moderates take over” was a fear not an actual policy. Libya was a NATO operation in which the US largely took a backseat. Also, our forces did exactly what Obama said they would do. If there was fear over mission creep that caused people to reject involvement out of hand in the past cases, why does that fear not come into play now?

  60. 60
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Laertes: Funny, I was thinking of exactly those things.

    Not to say that the stories are all false in this case. But at the very least, there’s something going on here that I don’t understand. Josh Marshall is also puzzled:

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/e.....doesnt-fit

    It’ll be interesting to see what responses he gets.

  61. 61
    John Cole +0 says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): Former two were civil wars, the latter is genocide.

  62. 62
    Peter says:

    @KG: no one really wants democracy, at least no one who matters. The people in Iraq who matter…i.e., the ones with guns…apparently don’t want democracy if it means sharing power with an “other”, and they all have “others”. The people outside Iraq who matter…i.e., the ones with money…wouldn’t object to democracy, but they’ll settle for a tyrant that can be bought.

    So the U.S. will bomb ISIS, hopefully the refugees will get off the mountain, and then Iraq will be in the same boat it was in six months ago before we all remembered that Sunni extremism was a thing. Then Iraq will either tear itself apart or else we’ll get another “useful” tyrant.

  63. 63
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @John Cole +0: Okay. I can see that reasoning.

  64. 64
    KG says:

    @John Cole +0: there’s also the added factor of the request for help from the Iraqi (more at least Kurdish) government.

  65. 65
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @KG: We were asked to help in Libya and we have treaty obligations that supported acting to prevent the use of chemical weapons. There were justifications to get involved in all three. Cole’s answer makes sense as to where he personally draws a line. I can respect that.

    ETA: I was very affected by the genocide in Bosnia in the early 90s when I was still serving. I would have been first in line to volunteer had we sent troops in to try to stop it. But we did not. And horrors resulted. Then Rwanda. It colors my views; if there is a reasonable chance that intervention can make things better, I am willing to look at it.

  66. 66
    Mandalay says:

    State Department official Brett McGurk appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last Thursday, and offered this insight:

    Brett McGurk: Thank you, Senator. I’ll say a couple of things. You know, of course, I address the ISIL threat in my opening statement and that is a very serious counterterrorism threat and that is, number one. But these are vital-vital US interests in Iraq. Number one, the counterterrorism, the al Qaeda threat. Number two, just the supply of energy resources to the global markets. Iraq through 2035 will-will account for 45% in all of the growth in energy exports. If Iraq were to collapse and a major civil war — sectarian war, the-the effects to our economy here at home would be — would be quite serious.

    So to the weary who post here that we should just leave them to it in Iraq, and stay away, bear in mind that there are consequences to America for our inaction as well as our action. If Iraq collapses it will be a BFD.

  67. 67
    The Pale Scot says:

    @lamh36:

    she needed to get through the first episode

    Really, I got my sister hooked 20 minutes in, all she said was Luther is too smart to be a cop.

  68. 68
    KG says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): in Libya were we asked by the government or by the existing regime? (I honestly forget). Because under international law, open support of rebels in a civil war is dicey. Same can be said of the situation in Syria, there’d be a question of whether our military actions would have been in response to the use of chemical weapons or in support of the rebels. Also, I’m not sure what the treaty obligations are with respect to the internal use of chemical weapons vs external, and whether only military action would satisfy our obligations.

    All that said, I think I agree with cole on this one.

  69. 69
    Soonergrunt says:

    @John Cole +0: There ain’t a hell of a lot of difference between those two phenomena, usually.

    Personally I’m conflicted. I don’t like the idea of genocide anymore than anyone else, but I don’t see that there’s a hell of a lot that we can do about it except in a very limited instance for a short period of time, and anything but the worst case scenario usually requires the other side to not continue to pursue whatever goals they’re pursuing.

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name):

    ETA: I was very affected by the genocide in Bosnia in the early 90s when I was still serving. I would have been first in line to volunteer had we sent troops in to try to stop it. But we did not. And horrors resulted. Then Rwanda. It colors my views; if there is a reasonable chance that intervention can make things better, I am willing to look at it.

    I had many of the same experiences. I know where you’re coming from. I just don’t think there’s that reasonable chance that we can make things better.

  70. 70
    Donald says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): I don’t know what Cole’s reason is, but ISIS seems uniquely vicious. Assad is a brutal thug and guilty of massive war crimes, but his opponents, or the strongest of the armed groups anyway, are Sunni fanatics. So if you intervene on behalf of “moderate” rebels, you might ultimately be benefiting people worse than Assad. People like ISIS.

    I just saw that Cole answered.

    I’m sort of a kneejerk opponent of US intervention most times, but this seems like an exception. I might regret it.

  71. 71
    burnspbesq says:

    @Another Holocene Human (now with new computer):

    Looks as though Turkey is providing air support to Peshmerga (Kurdish) fighters in Northern Iraq.

    That’s surprising. Erdogan must have swallowed hard before signing off on that. Guess he figures that in the long run, he can manage his relationship with the Kurds, but ISIS is bumfuck craycray.

  72. 72
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @KG: In Libya, the request for a no fly zone came from their UN rep. Later the Arab League echoed the request. And there is a question over internal vs external use of chemical weapons as it might trigger treaty obligations. Nevertheless, legal arguments could be made for the actual intervention in Libya and the potential one in Syria.

  73. 73
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @burnspbesq: There are Turkmen villages and towns in the north of Iraq, too, places where the link to Turkey is closer, and a failure to act would look much worse in the metropolis.

  74. 74
    Mandalay says:

    @John Cole +0:

    Former two were civil wars, the latter is genocide.

    In Syria there is certainly a civil war. But it seems easy to make the case that there is also also genocide, (though I’m sure someone up to speed in the relevant law can argue otherwise).

  75. 75
    burnspbesq says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    And where is the rest of the world acting in the face of this genocide?

    Where they always are: Section 102, Row H, cheering us on, with a French baguette in one hand and a German beer in the other.

  76. 76
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    I just don’t think there’s that reasonable chance that we can make things better.

    That’s always the difficult thing.

  77. 77
    NotMax says:

    @burnspbesq

    Turkey has been providing intermittent air support to the Kurdish area for quite some weeks now, as well as accelerating both purchases of crude oil from northern Iraq and the shipping of refined fuel back to Iraqi Kurds.

  78. 78
    eemom says:

    dunno, there’s just something about children dying of thirst on a mountaintop surrounded by homicidal maniacs that makes me want to shove aside the calculuses and give them water.

    Unworthy of the foreign policy genius that permeates this blog from all directions, but there it is.

  79. 79
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @eemom: I don’t think anyone has objected to the humanitarian aid.

  80. 80
    burnspbesq says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    There are Turkmen villages and towns in the north of Iraq, too, places where the link to Turkey is closer, and a failure to act would look much worse in the metropolis.

    Agreed, now that you mention it. Those folks have aunts, uncles, and cousins who vote in Turkish elections. That means they matter a lot to Erdogan.

  81. 81
    Mandalay says:

    @Donald:

    ISIS seems uniquely vicious

    Well they certainly do seem to be big bad motherfuckers, but how are they actually any more vicious than (say) Al Qaeda, or the Taliban, or Chechen guerrillas?

    One thing that is distinctive about ISIS is that they seem just as eager as our media and government to publicize their ruthlessness.

  82. 82
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Davis X. Machina: Well, we could atone by putting the deserting coward and the Dark Lord on trial for war crimes, then executing them upon conviction.

    But not even so much as an investigation prior to an indictment is going to happen, so there’s no way to atone.

  83. 83
    NotMax says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name)

    Wait for it. Bound to be a few who rail against Obama providing “free stuff” to the “takers.”

  84. 84
    Mandalay says:

    @burnspbesq:

    That means they matter a lot to Erdogan.

    Not anymore. All he cares about now is scoring goals.

  85. 85
    NotMax says:

    @NotMax

    Also, there is a persistent myth among other sects of the Yazidis being ‘devil worshipers.’

    That smear will be thundered from a few less savory (non-Muslim) pulpits here as well, no doubt.

  86. 86
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): it was kind of a reasonable assumption that we had taken sides in the civil war. It’s not my fault the president said “Assad must go”. It was a rather reasonable to think that the policy was to remove Assad. Especially after we had forcefully removed Qaddafi a few months earlier.

    I don’t think it was unreasonable to think that. Erdogan and the President said that.

  87. 87
    Cervantes says:

    @dww44:

    Did anyone watch The Last Word tonight and see the interview with 3 guest experts, one of whom was Marc Ginsberg, former Ambassador to Morocco? He seemed angry, with a real ax to grind.

    Did not watch the show but I can tell you that Marc is a serious person. He grew up in the Middle East, has worked for several leading Democrats from Ted Kennedy to Al Gore, and is a committed worker for peace between Israel and Palestine (his personal sympathies leaning towards the latter slightly).

    What did he say that raised your eyebrow?

  88. 88
    eemom says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name):

    oh, ok. Somehow that nuance escaped me in all the “we need to stay the fuck out of it” comments.

  89. 89
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Suffern ACE: Given that we did not bomb Syria, I think the suggestion that our policy was “let’s bomb Syria until the regime falls and our moderates take over” might just be factually incorrect. Assad is still there. We still haven’t bombed. The threat of bombing was connected with chemical weapons and chemical weapons only.

  90. 90
    Cervantes says:

    I have no problem with a much more aggressive air campaign against ISIS. This is, as far as I am concerned, an extremely easy call to make.

    There are no “extremely easy” calls to be made here.

  91. 91

    Genocide is an actual thing, not ‘warmongers with guns do bad shit to innocents’ (which IIRC is what ‘war’ is).

    Sam Powers, who I’m betting all comers $100 wrote the good parts of that speech, also wrote a book about genocide called ‘The Problem From Hell’ before becoming our UN rep.

    Anyone who’s wondering why the US is taking this protective action on behalf of a population being killed because they don’t say Allah’s name correctly, or whatever it is the IS maniacs facially demand, should probably pick up a copy.

    Spoiler: If ‘never again’ is going to mean anything other than ‘never again will the Allies ignore Germany wiping out its minority populations in the 1940s’, it’s going to mean doing the small thumb-on-scales interventions that aren’t more concerned with how we get back out than who’s going to die, avoidably, tonight.

    In Cambodia, Rwanda and Bosnia we could have put a band-aid on the deaths of (total) millions, and the only advantage their countries’ futures would have gained by it is those people would be alive. Sometimes that’s enough.

  92. 92
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @PhoenixRising:

    Sam Powers, who I’m betting all comers $100 wrote the good parts of that speech, also wrote a book about genocide called ‘The Problem From Hell’ before becoming our UN rep.

    You’re lucky you didn’t disappear in a cloud of suplhurous smoke just for mentioning her name.

  93. 93
    Mike J says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name):

    I don’t think anyone has objected to the humanitarian aid.

    Without getting rid of the people surrounding them you might as well save your time.

  94. 94
    some guy says:

    According to the post Syrian Kurds and PKK members are helping Yazidi flee from the mountain and into Kurdish section of Syria.

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

    @Mike J: I tend to agree, but then I am one of those liberal interventionist types.

  96. 96
    Comrade Luke says:

    @PhoenixRising:

    On the other hand, maybe we should butt the fuck out and worry about our own issues.

    Seems like the only thing both sides can agree on is that we need to be in everyone’s business, usually with bombs at the ready.

  97. 97
    Cervantes says:

    @NotMax:

    Turkey has been providing intermittent air support to the Kurdish area for quite some weeks now.

    Until recently, and for more than quite some weeks, parts of the Turkish government were also providing covert support to ISIS — and it’s not difficult to see why.

    Largely because of the sheer number of parties involved, the conflicts in the region are … intricate.

  98. 98
    NotMax says:

    @Cervantes

    Absolutely so.

    Other than active troop movements, the question becomes “Bomb what?” It’s not as if there is a long established regime with extant and evident command and control facilities.

  99. 99

    @Mike J: Yep. That’s the logic under which we did nothing at all while 2 million Cambodians died–we can’t fix what we already fucked up, and our interference caused this whole mess, so we shouldn’t get involved.

    To which the ghosts replied, Fine time to start thinking about the endgame. Thanks.

    The only US Congressman who persisted in inquiring about WTF was going on in Cambodia after the fall of Phnom Penh was the son of Holocaust survivors.

  100. 100
    Cervantes says:

    @NotMax:

    Bomb nothing.

    Where is the American Gandhi?

  101. 101
    Cervantes says:

    @PhoenixRising:

    That’s the logic under which we did nothing at all while 2 million Cambodians died

    Nothing at all? That’s not entirely fair. It was our bombing of Cambodia [*] and the resulting chaos that helped put the Khmer Rouge in power to begin with.

    [*] Our secret bombing of Cambodia, I should add, meaning it was a secret kept from us; whereas the Cambodians managed to find out about it somehow.

  102. 102
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @PhoenixRising: There isn’t a lot we can do in Iraq that will any good after the way we fucked it up. But this might be something that can actually pull off.

  103. 103
    Mike J says:

    @Cervantes: Since we helped screw it up, it’s obvious we should stand by and watch genocide.

  104. 104
    Cervantes says:

    @Mike J: ?

  105. 105
    Cervantes says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): “This” meaning the three things the President mentioned or only the food-and-potable drops that have occurred and more of the same?

  106. 106
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Cervantes: The three things. Simple drops of food and water will only postpone the inevitable.

  107. 107
    KG says:

    @Cervantes: he was assassinated, April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee

  108. 108
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Cervantes: Turkey is really starting to confuse me. It’s the Lou Reed of Middle East countries. O.K. I get it. You want the world to know that a more conservative Islamist regime doesn’t mean chaos, but still it’s looking to the rest of us that it does lead that direction.

  109. 109
    sharl says:

    @Cervantes: OT, been meaning to ask if you are the same Cervantes who managed the old dailywarnews.blogspot.com site that yankeedoodle started years ago. If you are the same Cervantes, can you say anything about whatever happened to yankeedoodle? [The sense of betrayal that guy felt as a veteran of the original Iraq War was palpable, even from a great distance. He once said that, out of a sense of honor, he should track down the Iraqi officer who surrendered to him way back then, and return the guy’s sidearm, in light of the Great & Glorious Unnecessary Adventure of Iraq, Take 2.]

  110. 110
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Cervantes:

    Passive resistance only works when those opposing the passively resistant can be shamed into defeat. Passive resistance worked in India because the Brits could be shamed. It didn’t work fully here in the US. It wouldn’t have worked against the Nazis, and, IMO, it won’t work against ISIS- they’re fanatics.

  111. 111
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    The problem with the “we should stop genocide” meme is that it’s all well and good to state this, but the details are where you find the problems.

    This shit gets complicated very fast. Everything in war (and this would be war, please make no mistake), particularly the “simple” things, is hard. Even getting to where the genocide is taking place in the first place is complicated.

    Saying “we have do do something!” with a good quarter of the country determined to undermine anything Obama does, no matter what the consequence or cost, is folly.

  112. 112
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: That is why I add “if there is a reasonable chance that intervention can make things better” to any comments in favor. And, yes, there are military and logistical considerations. Can we get there in time with enough firepower, etc., to make a difference? If we can stop a genocide, I think we have an obligation to try to do so. It might be beyond our power. We could have done nothing about the Armenians. We could have done something about the Bosnians.

  113. 113
    Cervantes says:

    @Mandalay:

    Well [ISIS] certainly do seem to be big bad motherfuckers, but how are they actually any more vicious than (say) Al Qaeda, or the Taliban, or Chechen guerrillas?

    Until recently, ISIS and al-Qaeda co-operated. In fact, you may recall that “al-Qaeda in Iraq” was one of the several groups that came together to form ISIS in the first place. But towards the beginning of this year, al-Qaeda abandoned the relationship, explaining that ISIS was, among other things, simply too uncontrolled in its brutality.

    Which is not to say that the allegation is true, of course.

  114. 114
    Cervantes says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name):

    If we can stop a genocide, I think we have an obligation to try to do so.

    And as you know, that obligation has a name: the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948).

    Today’s — or rather, yesterday’s — use of the word “genocide” — both in DC and at the UN — was not accidental.

  115. 115
    Debbie(aussie) says:

    @Davis X. Machina:
    “When we have the unique capabilities to help avert a massacre, then I believe the United States of America cannot turn a blind eye,…” that blind eye was matched with deafness plus I’m not sure what when it came to Gaza. Sadly.

  116. 116
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Cervantes:

    Today’s use of the word “genocide” — both in DC and at the UN — was not accidental.

    Agreed.

  117. 117
    Cervantes says:

    @sharl: To answer your question: no.

  118. 118
    BruinKid says:

    I see the Ron Paul fans are responding with their usual whining.

    BREAKING: Obama just announced on TV that the US will bomb Iraq, again. The state of ISIS controls hundreds of thousands of square miles of territory and has a very strong military and a lot of money. The US is promising limited action, like it usually does at the beginning. The US is poking the bear in the nose, though, so expect blowback in the form of more terrorism, from all sides. Congress hasn’t approved this third installment of the Iraq trilogy. C’est la vie.

    So of course, again notice they never propose what the U.S. should do.

  119. 119
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @BruinKid: Well, I thought that it is obvious, from the perspective of the Paulistas, what the US should do.

    We should let the market decide!

  120. 120
    sharl says:

    @Cervantes: Thanks.

  121. 121
    David Koch says:

    I’m waiting for Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Alan Grayson to comment on this matter before making any judgement.

    Surely, they’ll take a position, one way or another – won’t they.

  122. 122
    eric says:

    Lol. ‘Ethnic cleansing’ was a term invented after WWII to describe the exporting of ‘non-native’ peoples from newly redrawn countries. For example, the moving of ‘ethnic Germans’ from Poland and vice versa. It never had anything to do with killing an ethnic group off entirely.

  123. 123
    Cervantes says:

    @eric: Yes, but even then it was a euphemism: nobody and no territory was literally being “cleansed.” And by the time of the break-up of Yugoslavia in the ’90s, the term was used to cover actions more bloody than simply moving people around.

  124. 124
    Cervantes says:

    @BruinKid: Quoting:

    BREAKING: Obama just announced on TV that the US will bomb Iraq, again

    And that’s not exactly what he announced.

  125. 125
    Suffern ACE says:

    @BruinKid: blowback. As long as we can point to blowback we know the action is a failure.

  126. 126
    Cacti says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name):

    Cole, how do you see this as different than Libya or Syria? You were vehemently opposed to those and said so in rather vicious terms.

    I wondered the same and found JC’s answer puzzling to say the least.

    In terms of moral imperative, Syrian government forces had launched a coordinated chemical weapons strike on primarily civilian targets, which violates just about every law of war or norm of international law in the post-WWII era.

    A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of something something I guess.

  127. 127
    drkrick says:

    @some guy:

    According to the post Syrian Kurds and PKK members are helping Yazidi flee from the mountain and into Kurdish section of Syria.

    You know you’re f*cked when fleeing into Syria looks like a good idea.

  128. 128
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Cacti: His answer did leave open the question of what happens when a civil war turns into genocide and how exactly one makes that decision. And a variety of other things. It did, however, show how he sees this as different.

  129. 129
    dmbeaster says:

    @John Cole +0:

    I am reasonably sure every airstrike is targeted.

    Use of the term “targeted” implies an intent to hit a particular finite thing, rather than just “Dresden.” But yeah, no one goes out and drops bombs randomly, or simply intends to target the ground.
    .

  130. 130
    Donald says:

    The difference between Assad and ISIS seems clear to me. It might be an illusion–it might be media propaganda. But anyway, as I understand it ISIS (and Assad’s most formidable opponents) intend to commit genocide if they win. They would kill or expel any group that doesn’t adhere to their fundamentalist Sunni beliefs. Assad is a brutal thug, but under his dictatorial regime women could walk around freely and the different religious groups weren’t trying to wipe each other out. He’s still a monster, but if we had intervened in Syria in effect we’d have been assisting people on the other side who would have been worse.

    ISIS is the other people who would have been worse. Now maybe this is exaggerated or something. And maybe our intervention will make things worse. But that’s the argument for bombing ISIS as opposed to Assad, or that’s the one I’d give at the moment. (And it feels weird. I really don’t trust America in a bombing mood, and at the moment that includes me.)

  131. 131
    Cervantes says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again): Just FYI: Gandhi did not think of his resistance as passive.

  132. 132
    dww44 says:

    @Cervantes: Sorry to be so late responding. I agree with the serious foreign policy creds of Ambassador Ginsburg. I’ve been looking for a link to that interview last night, but MSNBC videos don’t work well with my old computer. I did find this however:

    http://www.mediaite.com/tv/for.....ver-syria/

    Apparently Ginsburg was on MSNBC during the day and was showing his anger with the President’s statements.

    On Thursday’s The Cycle, MSNBC guest and former Ambassador to Morocco under President Bill Clinton, Marc Ginsberg, admonished President Barack Obama for putting “the United States’ credibility” on the line by declaring chemical weapons use in Syria represents a “red line.” Ginsberg said that, while he is reticent to support military operations in Syria, the United States is now obligated to act because of the president’s rhetorical commitment.

  133. 133
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Cervantes: My impression is that ISIS now claims to be the true Caliphate, which around there is basically a way of picking a fight with everybody. Might burn bridges when it comes to future alliances, but it also sends a strong those guys are crazy, they’ll do anything message.

    But, as I implied above, we’re in the stage where wild myths and rumors abound, and I’m at least half-disbelieving everything I hear.

  134. 134
    LT says:

    John – does this hold up with earlier positions on Libya and Syria? Sure, *seems like* an easy call – but what fucking next? We were at war in Iraq for

    Jesus. Really? Again? Cuz it’s an easy call? Fuck me.

  135. 135
    LT says:

    My God, I said the same things as omnes. Ow. @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name):

  136. 136
    LT says:

    @Donald: “ISIS seems uniquely vicious.”

    Americans really need to *absorb* themselves.

    The U.S. attacked Iraq, violently killing more than one hundred housand people, and causing the death of a toal of at least 400,000 people, many – very many – of them children, for no reason whatsoever, and based on lies.

    Americans really need to *absorb* themselves.

  137. 137
    SteveinSC says:

    Dear John Cole:

    Second time around for you. I had it right the first time and you have it right the second time.

    Fuck the sons-of-bitches and fuck ’em hard.

    Fraternal regards

    SteveinSC

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