Open Thread: The Underpants Gnomes versus ISIS


From the Bloomberg Business article, “Smashing Islamic State After Paris Attacks Poses Huge Challenges“:

… As leaders gathered in Turkey on Sunday for a Group-of-20 summit, they pledged to redouble efforts to sap the lifeblood of the terrorists by targeting their finances and recruitment. They will consider deeper intelligence sharing, tighter border controls and the creation of Syrian safe havens.

Some also speak of a much more aggressive military option. Experts say it would require 150,000 U.S. troops, could last decades and cost trillions. It is considered highly unlikely at this stage because it would need to be led by Sunni nations that have shown no appetite for the fight and would pose severe challenges regarding Russia and Syria. Nor would such an invasion address the underlying forces that have shaped Islamic State.

“At the heart of it is the failed and broken state system in the Arab world that has given IS space in Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Libya,” said Bruce Riedel, a CIA veteran at the Brookings Institution. “That problem is not fixable overnight or even in the next few years.”…

Yeah, but with enough resolve….

“These people are nihilists idiots, Donny!”

100 replies
  1. 1
    Corner Stone says:

    Not one mention of GWB in those interviews/segments/twitters?

  2. 2
    MazeDancer says:

    France bombed Raqqa. 20 bombs. 10 planes. They claim they took out a jihadi training camp and a weapons arsenal.

    It it was so easy to be so precise, wouldn’t this have been done before?

    Maybe IS getting their war after all.

  3. 3
    Corner Stone says:

    From the Bloomberg article:

    “This was no small plot,” said Patrick Skinner, a former CIA officer who directs special projects at the Soufan Group, a security consulting firm. “To be able to pull this off in a modern security state like France – which has really great intel and great security – it’s just worrisome.”

    They bought arms in Belgium and then attacked the softest of soft targets in France. The only complicated part was that all of them, as far as we know, kept their mouth shut.

  4. 4
    Corner Stone says:

    “For the Saudis, countering Iran is more important” than fighting Islamic State as evidenced by the war in Yemen, said Kamran Bokhari, a lecturer of national security at the University of Ottawa

    SA has no interest in fighting IS at this point. Evidenced by their continuing funding of same. Countering Iran is all they are considering until their necks are under the blade.

  5. 5
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    The reality is, this mess is the DIRECT RESULT of the deserting coward’s illegal war in Iraq, and the stupid, ideologically driven “reconstruction” of the state they destroyed with malice aforethought. Add in the drought and famine, and you’ve got perfect conditions for desperate people to resort to desperate measures.

  6. 6
    Baud says:

    We would be welcomed as re-liberators.

  7. 7
    Renie says:

    …….We Will, In Fact, Be Greeted As Liberators

    these guys never learn

  8. 8
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Oh and by the way, the “connection reset” problem continues.

  9. 9
    Baud says:

    Experts say it would require 150,000 U.S. troops, could last decades and cost trillions.

    Nah. It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.

  10. 10
    goblue72 says:

    So they blew up a couple of beat-up buildings likely long since abandoned. And maybe a couple of tents.

    Woo hoo!

  11. 11
    Ruckus says:

    Is it possible that conservatives take their world issue instructions from a bottle of shampoo? Apply, lather, rinse, REPEAT.
    Of course they do understand that if stupid didn’t work the first time it wasn’t because it was fucking stupid, it was because it wasn’t applied with enough force. Force is always the answer to any question in the conservative’s tiny little minds, it precludes any need for reasoned thought and the idea that others may/probably don’t agree with them.

  12. 12
    MattF says:

    @Baud: The same experts who make a living estimating the time, money, and manpower required for software projects. Easy-peasy.

  13. 13
    redshirt says:

    Maybe we need to shock and awe the middle east with peace and love?

  14. 14
    MattF says:

    @redshirt: We need to go back in time and kill baby Hitler.

  15. 15
  16. 16
    maya says:

    Lafayette, we are so there!

  17. 17
  18. 18
    Baud says:

    Ok guys. I’ll defeat ISIS during my lunch break tomorrow, but I need one of you to assemble a more stable, peace-living coalition. I got meetings in the afternoon I can’t move.

  19. 19
    redshirt says:

    I’d rather the US spend a trillion dollars on a time machine versus invading the Middle East, again.

  20. 20
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @MattF: I recall when I was G1 plans officer for an Army division that I was tasked to provide casualty estimates for various courses of action.

    What I had to go on was some old information from WWII, based on actual casualties experienced by units in the European theater. How this was relevant in the 1980’s, given the increased lethality of infantry weapons (not to mention tanks and artillery) since WWII was always a caveat it’d include in my estimates, and generals and colonels would nod sagely as I gave my briefing and mentioned that.

    This shit is not easy, especially when things are fluid. People who state with near-metaphysical certitude such estimates are setting themselves up for ridicule.

  21. 21
    MazeDancer says:

    Home of la Liberté is closing mosques that “preach hate”. Not clear who’s on the judging panel of what’s hate and what’s not.

    Wonder if that means US will dump First Amendment in solidarity and shutter all the Christianist churches preaching hate?

  22. 22
    Mike J says:

    Everyone wants to blame Saudi Arabia for financing IS, but where do you think those pallets of cash Bush sent over went?

  23. 23
    Corner Stone says:

    Michael O’Hanlon, a security analyst at Brookings, suggests giving up the vision of a united Syria. That would allow the coalition to work with the Kurds in certain areas, create no-fly zones and bolster moderate groups.

    NATO and allied forces could be sent in “to catalyze training and ensure humanitarian relief,” while the U.S. could send Iraq more trainers and Special Forces to conduct raids. O’Hanlon estimated this would require fewer than 10,000 troops in each country.

    Fuck Michael O’Hanlon. Fuck him up his stupid ass.

  24. 24
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Baud: and pay for itself, don’t forget it’s the war that pays for itself. They’ll give us all the Syrian oil as a thank you present. And a Whitmans’ Sampler.

  25. 25
    Corner Stone says:

    @Mike J:

    but where do you think those pallets of cash Bush sent over went?


  26. 26
    Keith G says:

    I do not know what the correct course should be and I think it is a very good thing to heap suspicion and derision upon those who throw out easy solutions. Included in this are:

    Proposals for easy use of military unicorn action

    Proposals for easy use of pacific unicorn action

    As the French see it, an international actor committed an act of war against it. There is a NATO process for dealing with this and I suppose (assuming the ISIS backing is verified) that process will be used – starting with Article 4. I suppose.

    Good intentions aside, Syria had been a cluster fuck for a while now and I bet that more than a few significant decision makers are getting to the opinion that while there are only bad choices, the worse choice is letting current conditions continue. I assume France among others will be in favor of finding some way to geographically isolate and then eliminate the ISIS core and it’s physical infrastructure. Then chasing down any parts that have dispersed as the US did with al Queda central.

    GW Bush’s war created the swamp from which ISIL sprang. Up til now, no leadership in the west seemed to have the motivation to emphatically deal with the mess.

    I am willing to bet that has changed.

  27. 27
    goblue72 says:

    @redshirt: Maybe we should drop some Freedom fries on them.

  28. 28
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Corner Stone: Good OPSEC is key to attaining surprise. The French knew SOMETHING was up, they had been increasing border checks the past week or so, but they didn’t know specifics, and the perps were smart enough NOT to use electronic communications, even encrypted, to coordinate their activities. This indicates well trained operatives who, as you said, kept their mouths shut.

  29. 29
    Renie says:

    Question for parents on the blog: my 21 yr old daughter is enrolled in a french immersion program for the month of January in Tours France which is 2 hours away from Paris.

    I’m trying to keep my anxiety to myself but really don’t want her to go. Am I over-reacting?

  30. 30
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    “then you build a coalition…”

    Ready… Shoot!… Aim!

    Though if Jeb! does find himself looking for a secular moderate he can trust, I hear Nouri al-Maliki has both time on his hands and references from some of the smartest guys Jeb! knows

  31. 31
    Patrick says:


    Does that mean that there will be no more Christians that will be harassing poor women that are on their way to the abortion clinic?

  32. 32
    Kathleen says:

    @MattF: Win.

  33. 33
    MattF says:

    @Keith G: A news article mentioned in passing that the Syrian civil war has been going for four years now. Anyone betting on negotiating with Assad should guess again.

  34. 34
    Redshift says:

    The initial stage would cost more than $1 trillion over several years, he estimates, and 150,000 troops.

    Considering the costs of the one they were sure would take a few months and be paid for with Iraqi oil, I shudder to think what the actual costs of this “plan” would turn out to be, and I hope we never find out.

    Based on the old software scheduling rule of thumb of “double it and increase the units a level,” a rough guess would be $20T over many decades and three million troops.

    And of course, based on the track record of these clowns, it would also completely fail to achieve its objectives and make the situation much worse.

  35. 35
    redshirt says:

    @Renie: Yes. Odds of being involved in a terrorist act are less than getting struck by lightning. Are you overly concerned about lightning?

  36. 36
    Mike J says:

    @Renie: More people have been killed by cops in America than by terrorists in France.

  37. 37
    Keith G says:

    @MattF: The West will be negotiating with Putin not Assad, I imagine.


  38. 38
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mike J: They were found in Lebanon about a year ago.

  39. 39
    Baud says:

    @Mike J:

    Well, now I’m anxious about not going to France.

  40. 40
    Patrick says:


    More people have been killed by guns in the US than by terrorists in France.

  41. 41
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Corner Stone: O’Hanlon was an actuarial/financial analyst at the Agency. Then he got a PhD and turned himself into whatever it is he is. He has no operational experience and, to be blunt, no actual experience with anything. And his paymaster is Haim Saban, who funds the center named for him at Brookings. The same Haim Saban that admitted a couple of years ago he was a not for cover Israeli asset for most of his career doing children’s cartoons.

  42. 42
    Redshift says:

    @redshirt: Baby W is more directly related to this situation. Though Baby Cheney and Baby Rove would probably be more effective.

  43. 43
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: Whitman’s running too? I can’t keep these GOP primary candidates straight…

  44. 44
    Matt McIrvin says:

    Monty Python taught us how to do it decades ago!

  45. 45
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: My guess is that if they did come back to Belgium and France from Syria, that they were trained by the Chechens that have gone to fight for ISIS. They are the real pros at this stuff.

  46. 46
    Keith G says:

    @Renie: Over reacting, but it’s what parents are allowed to do.

    If the USDS is not issuing advisories, then she is as safe there as she is driving to class in a US city.

    Easy for me to type…..

  47. 47
    redshirt says:

    @Redshift: There was a cartoon that aired briefly on Cartoon Network called “Lil’ Bush” and it was hilarious. It had Lil’ Cheney and Lil’ Condi, of course.

    Mrermermem “Cleansing fire”

  48. 48
    Zinsky says:

    One thing most Americans never did after 9-11, was to actually read the words from Osama bin Laden’s speeches. They are quite instructive. And you know what – he didn’t attack us because he “hates our freedom”, as Bush and the neocons like to spin it! Here is a chance to read his words for yourself:

    He said, “Americans have repeatedly humiliated Muslims with a foreign policy which has propped up corrupt governments in the Middle East and perpetuated conflict in the region. Until you prevail upon your government to stop, we will attack you”. I suspect the leader of ISIS would say the same thing. Do you think anything has changed?

  49. 49
    Adam L Silverman says:

    I actually wrote a draft concept (the draft concept – I have no idea if anyone else wrote one, but I would expect someone did) for societally reconciling the Iraqis. I was asked to do so as a side project in 2008 by my brigade’s DCO and he pushed it up to Division. In early 2009, after I’d redeployed home, I was asked to be one of the two primary briefers at a LeapEx (basically a set of military briefings to provide background) for the Commander of I Corps, his senior staff – the Command Sergeant Major, Deputy Corps Commander (2 star) , his outgoing (Canadian brigadier heading to Afghanistan because of Canada’s caveats on where their people would go) and incoming (US brigadier) J9/Chief of Civil Military Operations, the incoming director of the Office of Provincial Affairs/OPA (a US ambassador who oversaw all the PRTs in Iraq), the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, his Special Assistant for Irregular and Asymmetric Warfare, and his senior military aide (now a SOF 2 star). I was able to pass off the concept to the incoming OPA Director, the Corps Commander, and the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army. Unfortunately nothing could be done with it!

    Why you might ask? Because the Coalition Provisional Authority had determined that societal reconciliation was an Iraqi concern and the US and its coalition partners would NOT pressure them to make progress on it. And the Iraqis, specifically the Maliki government, made it clear that they would not be pleased if we did pressure them to make progress on it. So basically we tried to reconstruct a country without trying to reconcile its societal components. Genius!

    And what’s always stuck with me was the OPA Director’s remark that we needed to try something like this five years prior.

  50. 50
    Renie says:

    i know on some level i’m over-reacting – every day she commutes into NYC to college and i bet there are people who avoid NYC but the world is definitely getting scarier….

  51. 51
    Mike in NC says:

    JEBzzz crack foreign policy advisory team includes his idiot brother Dubya, Poppy, Dandy Don Rumsfeld, Dick and Liz Cheney, Paul Bremer, Michael Brown, and the late Amhed Chalabi.

    AKA the Coalition of Assholes…

  52. 52
    RSA says:

    @Renie: I’m not a parent, but here’s an analogy: If you’d had a college-aged kid in 2001, would you have let her spend November in Philadelphia, about two hours away from NYC, two months after 9/11? I don’t know if that’s helpful, but just in case.

  53. 53
    Corner Stone says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I actually wrote a draft concept (the draft concept – I have no idea if anyone else wrote one, but I would expect someone did) for societally reconciling the Iraqis. I was asked to do so as a side project in 2008 by my brigade’s DCO and he pushed it up to Division.

    Anyplace a civvie can read a high level summary? Or maybe enumerate the top 5 or 10 bullet points for an interested party in an OP?

  54. 54
    bystander says:

    Finally, huffpo led me to a great online portrait of Trump.

    So fitting, so evocative.

  55. 55
    Pogonip says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I’d bet a good many of these geniuses didn’t even understand the societal components.

  56. 56
    Corner Stone says:

    @Mike in NC:

    and the late Amhed Chalabi.

    So obviously Nancy Reagan would also need to be involved here…

  57. 57
    J R in WV says:


    Yes, but! I’ll never forget this time I worked really hard estimating a small project, my first solo team lead. After a week of studying the system we would be rebuilding to use DB2, I took my careful estimate to my boss, who said, that’s too long, cut it back some. So I did.

    Then 18 months later, the artificial deadline came and went, project not quite done.

    I got moved to another project after the artificial deadline, which was the reason for the artificial deadline, the rest of the team continued to completion, within a couple of days of my original real estimate. So I was right, even if I was wrong.

  58. 58
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Corner Stone: Most likely not, but I’ll look to see if I have a copy of it. I basically did it as an operational planning concept laying out end states and milestones to be reached with initial/preliminary suggestions on how to get them there. Let me poke around a bit after I have some dinner.

  59. 59
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @J R in WV:

    Very much O/T, but how was the symphony concert last night? Save your answer for a more appropriate thread if you wish — I’ve no desire to hijack the discussion.

  60. 60
    BlueNC says:

    @Renie: You are overreacting, as any normal parent would. You’ll need to let her go, and then worry for the entire semester. She will be fine.

  61. 61
    Keith G says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    So basically we tried to reconstruct a country without trying to reconcile its societal components. Genius!

    On the other hand, some one was saved the pleasure of attending to a labor exponentially more difficult than the Augean Stables, and with a lot more blood involved.

    But seriously, what’s with Belgium? Wasn’t the guy on the train (who was disarmed by the Americans) traveling from Belgium? And as I recall, there was some action in Belgium after the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

  62. 62
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: I agree. But I’m seeing the argument seriously advanced that Arab Spring and therefore ISIS (therefore–huh?) would have happened anyway. I think that is complete and utter bullshit, ignoring both how fucking dementedly awful the US was as invader and occupier and the role a wing-clipped Saddam Hussein played in security in the region.

  63. 63
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @goblue72: Your cynicism seems right on target to me.

    IMHO cynicism is called for when evaluating statements by the French military.

  64. 64
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Pogonip: Those were all very sharp folks. I did follow on support work for most of them of one type or another. The problem is that even if they wanted to whole heartedly embrace the concept, they were prohibited from doing so by the CPA’s rules/US policy.

    The thing everyone forgets is that even the most senior general officers/flag officers, ambassadors/foreign service executives, senior executive service folks can only do what they are authorized to do and what they are funded to do. Some will, if they’re sharp and really good – and most of them are, use “unless otherwise directed” (UNODIR) or “better to beg forgiveness than to ask permission” when they really feel something has to be done. But you can only do it so often and you better be damn sure of an optimum outcome. And even when taking that risk, there still has to be funding. Without funding you’re not doing anything.

  65. 65
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Ruckus: Brilliant. I’m stealing that.

  66. 66
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Renie: Yes.

    *I assume you live in the US. Have you seen the murder rates there?

  67. 67
    Another Holocene Human says:

    How quickly we forget. Puerto Ricans were bombing the shit out of New York, including an attack on Wall St, I believe, back in the 50s. And a Puerto Rican attempted to assassinate President Harry S Truman in the 1940s.

    The original terror anchor babies. Think about that when you get cut off by a late model Japanese car with BORICUA stickers in the windows during your Orlando/Kissimmee vacation. Shit your pants, honky.

  68. 68
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Zinsky: What you really want is Bin Laden’s letter to America, which is basically his manifesto/declaration of war:

    You’ll notice that a lot of what he wanted, he actually got. And we gave it to him.

  69. 69
    jl says:

    Big reaction of GOP to last night’s debate seems to be over playing their version of PC word games.

    Conservatives React With Outrage As Dems Avoid The Term ‘Radical Islam’

    ” Conservatives gleefully called on voters to wake up after the Democratic presidential candidates declined during Saturday night’s debate to say the U.S. is at war with “radical Islam” in the wake of the Paris attacks. ”

  70. 70
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Keith G: Well, Belgium’s societal components haven’t been reconciled either, have they?

  71. 71
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    I was wondering who would be the first right wing pol/pundit to hold up the French airstrikes as an example that the p*ssy in the White House doesn’t have the guts to follow! My money was on Hannity, cause I have a working theory that he’s really dumb. In my defense, I had forgotten Monica Crowley… forgive me… DR Monica Crowley existed

    Monica Crowley
    Leading from the front.

    Not sure if Eric Ericsson beat her to the punch with the exact same dimwitted snark. The internet is on it

    Andrew Kaczynski ‏@ BuzzFeedAndrew 30m30 minutes ago
    Andrew Kaczynski Retweeted Erick Erickson
    2,658 Syria strikes by the U.S.
    146 by rest of coalition (4 by France before today)

    for your right wing uncle/sister-in-law/high school frenemy on Facebook

  72. 72
    jl says:

    Meanwhile in the world of real things in the real world, Kurdish forces with Coalition forces help, took Sinjar and isolated Mosul from IS supply lines. Unless I misunderstand the significance of that, I am disappointed none of the Democratic candidates mentioned that.

    But Dickerson thought it was very important to play reactionary GOP semantic framing games.

    Kurdish fighters take control of Iraq’s Sinjar

  73. 73
    Keith G says:

    @Matt McIrvin: I was just wondering that considering the long sweep of history there has to a number of the French thinking, “Another attack coming from Belgium? Mon Dieu.”

  74. 74
    Ruckus says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    The Bushes are nothing if not protective of family. And I mean that in the Sicilian mob meaning of family, not just biological family.

  75. 75
    debbie says:

    Listening to these Republicans, I’m thinking there’s a secret contest to see who can start the longest war.

  76. 76
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Another Holocene Human: I looked this up and immediately regretted it, because the first things that came up included a lot of wingnut articles about Hillary Clinton’s terrorist connections (apparently Bill pardoned some FALN people back in the Nineties).

  77. 77
    debbie says:

    @Mike J:


  78. 78
    debbie says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    the Coalition Provisional Authority had determined that societal reconciliation was an Iraqi concern and the US and its coalition partners would NOT pressure them to make progress on it.

    It is appalling that the CPA wouldn’t push this, despite more than 5 years of this quagmire dragging along.

  79. 79
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @debbie: You have to remember that the Pentagon guys wanted to apply their expertise in civil-military relations to the Iraq situation, and plan for the occupation, and they were told they could not do that, by von Rumsfailed. They could not plan for the occupation. To a staff officer, this is absolutely unthinkable. The deserting coward malassminstration wanted to wing the occupation.

  80. 80
    Mike in NC says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: As mobs looted supermarkets, appliance stores, and museums across Baghdad, Rummy smirked and said that free people are free to make mistakes, etc. I recall the only security he was concerned with was for the oil ministry.

  81. 81
    Tazj says:

    @jl: Yes, it disappointed me also that none of the Democratic candidates brought that up either. Andrea Mitchell seemed to imply that President Obama was lying when he said that there was some progress being made against ISIS. I remember her saying yesterday morning that there was “nothing, nothing happening on the ground that indicated that this was true.”

  82. 82
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Corner Stone: I found it!!!! This was originally done up just for my brigades operating environment.

    So here are the end states that I delineated:
    1) Transition of Sons of Iraq, Reconciliation of Insurgents and Offenders
    2) Reconciliation of competing tribal and religious factions, and resolution of Internally Displaced Persons’ issues to Government of Iraq control and procedures

    To achieve these the following things would need to be done:
    1) Establish reconciliation program to be coordinated between Coalition Forces, Iraqi Security Forces, and the Government of Iraq
    2) Establishment of a process for resolving/reconciling Internally Displaced Persons’ issues
    3) Development of Civil Society institutions (political parties, social organizations, etc) within Iraq
    4) Insurgents and criminals entered into the reconciliation process
    5) Property disputes being resolved through the judiciary
    6) Internally Displaced Persons returning home

    Hope this answers your question. Again, this was preliminary and conceptual and was really just the end states and conditions to be met.

  83. 83
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @debbie: The CPA had two actual purposes. The first was to provide an opportunity for people who knew people and other cronies to earn as much money as possible in jobs/positions they weren’t really qualified to do – even if, sometimes, they had the right qualifications on paper. That’s how you got Bernard Kerik in Baghdad as one of the coordinators for Iraqi Law Enforcement. Its how you get Larry Diamond, who has a legit PhD and is a legit Africanist, but who’s work on development in Africa, like everyone else’s, has never actually amounted to any actual development/sustained development, brought in as head of development in Iraq. A state and society he knew nothing about. Its how a bunch of Heritage Foundation interns wound up in Iraq in the summer of 2003 trying to establish an Iraqi Stock Exchange. I think they were going to trade rubble futures…

    The second purpose of the CPA’s work was to use Iraq as a laboratory for every one of movement conservatism’s crackpot and ideologically driven ideas on how to structure and run a government, economy, and society. Privatized electrical generation and distribution? Yep. Flat tax of 15% (or was it 10, I can never remember) for both individuals and corporations/businesses? Yep. Complete deregulation of markets and the economy? Yep.

    And you have to remember that the hiring process for the CPA jobs was bizarre. I had a student, when I was doing my post-doc at UF and working for a retired ambassador who was a dean there at the time, come back and tell both of us that instead of being asked in the interview if he’d had classes on the Middle East or terrorism, he was asked who he voted for in the last election and whether abortion was morally wrong at all times. There’s a reason Grover Norquist and Bernard Kerik and other equally incompatible folks wound up in Iraq for stints with the CPA.

  84. 84
    EZSmirkzz says:

    Overheard on the cluetrain – .

    Just sayin’

  85. 85
    sharl says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Ayup, as if the dumb-ass invasion wasn’t horrible enough by itself, what those neocons and social conservatives did afterward just added further insult and injury to Iraq.

    The story of the daughter of long-time neocon Michael Ledeen is just one example. The last time I looked, Simone Ledeen had burrowed in at the Treasury Dept. as an employee. Like a malaria infection, they’re the gift that keeps on giving. Though hopefully Simone is doing a good job, I just wonder whether she would face any consequences for poor performance. Mein Gott, I hope she won’t be some kind of human time bomb, e.g., a future GS-15 Linda Tripp.

  86. 86
    JMG says:

    @Renie: My daughter is in business school in Bordeaux. She’s as safe as she would be in the States, no, make that safer. Your daughter will be OK, too.

  87. 87
    redshirt says:

    I weep for America. We could be so much better.

  88. 88
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Mike in NC: von Rumsfailed wasn’t concerned about the security of ammo dumps, either. They were plundered for the raw material for IEDs, later used against the occupying army.

    Thousands of American soldiers paid for von Rumsfailed’s insouciance with their lives and limbs.

  89. 89
    J R in WV says:


    It was great, saw old friends, the pianist was wonderful. I’ve heard “Rhapsody in Blue” a hundred times, but never saw it being played before. They also did a Ravel Piano Concerto, and Dvorak’s “From the New World” symphony, which again I have heard many times but never been present for it in concert.

    The house was full, too, which was wonderful. And I don’t know how two people can hijack a thread here!

  90. 90
    Elie says:

    — All the choices are bad now.
    Mr. Obama will be lucky to keep the lid on the pot while he is still in office. The push to commit more American resources will be intense. My fear is that all the aftercoming choices whether Hillary, Bernie or the Republican clowns, will have a huge wave of push to “do something” definitive — and that is just more trouble. There is no ‘fix” — now or ten years from now. It is too bad we couldn’t get a clean get away with a little space before things went to shit, but here we are. There is no plan. What would it BE? Destroy Isis — oh yeah… How about destroy the Saudis — since the Wahabis are funding them and supporting their goals. Not so easy though. Lebanon is the new possible hollowed out state to come… Its government has been spiraling down a while.. We have Iraq, Syria, Lybia, Yeman… How do we stabilize all this even if we wanted to???? It is not about bombing Isis into submission. We would have to take territory and HOLD it and for a damned long assed time. Anybody up for that? Anybody ready to do nothing else for their people while doing this? The Europeans are on their knees because of the weight of the immigrants and now this horror is added…

  91. 91
    Mike G says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    People who state with near-metaphysical certitude such estimates are setting themselves up for ridicule.

    People who state with near-metaphysical certitude such estimates are setting themselves up for promotion, status and bigger paychecks in idiot bureaucracies less interested in accuracy than on telling upper management what they want to hear.

  92. 92
    Debbie says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    That is all very dispiriting, but the Iraq hiring process makes Alberto Gonzales’s DOJ DA vetting look principled.

  93. 93
    Ruckus says:

    Well you know that Vietnam was such a hoot, conservatives want that and Iraq to be combined into one glorious new clusterfuck. Once again they only know more, faster, stronger, deadly works in foreign relations. Not that it works or that is can ever work but that’s all they know. Hell I could see conservatives working on the side of the shooters in Paris if they had much ability to actually think things through and thought that starting a war now or better yet President Obama not starting a war would win them the presidency.
    They want to destroy our government and replace it with rich people getting richer, conservatives are political terrorists.

  94. 94
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Mike G: You do have a point. Yes you do.

    Honest assessments only get you into trouble, especially around ideologues.

  95. 95
    Captain C says:

    @Mike J: My guess would be mostly into the pockets of the incompetent 20-something ideologues that Cheney sent to “run*” the place after the invasion.

    *for “run,” read: “loot”

  96. 96
    Kaleberg says:

    @Corner Stone: Belgium is a failed state in western Europe.

  97. 97
    mclaren says:

    Yeah, well, the big problem with shithole America is that everything is the “underpants gnome” business plan nowadays.

    1. Cut taxes for the rich
    2. ?????
    3. Profit!

    1. Force every American buy unaffordable private insurance whose premiums go up forever
    2. ?????
    3. Profit!

    1. Ship all U.S. jobs overseas or automate ’em out of existence
    2. ?????
    3. Profit!

    Going to go out on a limb here, and say this is a crap business plan.

  98. 98
    mclaren says:


    I’d rather the US spend a trillion dollars on a time machine versus invading the Middle East, again.

    The botched 2003 Iraq invasion wound up costing us 3 trillion, according to Joseph Stiglitz.

    Source: “The true cost of the Iraq war: $3 trillion and beyond,” The Washington Post, 5 September 2010.

  99. 99
    mclaren says:


    Force is always the answer to any question in the conservative’s tiny little minds, it precludes any need for reasoned thought and the idea that others may/probably don’t agree with them.

    “Hillary Clinton Promises A More Muscular Foreign Policy As President: From Iran to Syria to Ukraine, Clinton wants the U.S. to be more aggressive,” The Huffington Post, 9 September 2015.

    I think by “conservative,” you meant “American.”

  100. 100
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @EZSmirkzz: Excellent article. Thanks for the pointer.

    (Who hopes this doesn’t appear twice.)

Comments are closed.