A Note On Tom’s Post: The Strategering of Mosul

I want to just add a strategic note to Tom’ post from earlier today. There are actually several very good strategic reasons to publicize the upcoming Mosul campaign even as the official start day is not announced. The first is to actually use the Information(al) element of National Power to pressure ISIL to abandon Mosul rather than suffer the types of battlefield defeat that it did in Ramadi and Fallujah in Iraq and in parts of Syria where the US led Coalition is attriting ISIL’s hold on actual territory. One of the first positive effects we’re trying to achieve is to get a team of engineers, under Coalition protection, on site to shore up at the Mosul Dam full time before the rainy season starts as we move into Autumn. The sooner, and the easier it is to get the engineers on site full time the better. If the Mosul Dam goes, there is going to be a tremendous complication added to the Coalition’s efforts in the region in terms of having to conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster management coupled with an increased flow of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) within Iraq and the impact on Iraqi agriculture, which is still not back to what it was prior to the 2003 invasion. This will be much easier if we don’t have to fight our way to the dam or if we don’t have to worry about ISIL blowing the damn to cover their retreat and complicate Coalition operations.

The second reason to use the publicity about an impending attack, to leverage Information Power, to achieve the theater strategic objective is to ramp up the PSYOPS component of the potential attack. ISIL’s leadership is not stupid – they know an attack is coming to dig them out of Mosul. As a result they have to get their fighters on site in position and ready to fight. Sitting, day in and day out, waiting for an attack to come that doesn’t occur that day, even when everyone knows that the attack is, eventually, going to happen, saps morale. You can only keep troops mentally focused for an upcoming fight for a limited amount of time before they start to loose their focus. Every day that we make clear that the fight is going to come, that the force applied will be overwhelming for the ISIL fighters trying to hold the city, and nothing happens that day, is a day that ISIL’s fighters have spent mental focus waiting for an attack that will, but has not yet, come.

It is also important to leverage this psychological pressure created by knowing the fight is coming, but not when, to try to avoid what has happened in the campaigns to liberate Fallujah and Ramadi: ISIL’s almost complete destruction of these cities, the creation of tens of thousands of new IDPs and refugees, and the humanitarian crises that result. There wasn’t a lot left of Ramadi after its liberation as one of the Iraqi Special Forces officers stated after ISIL had been pushed out:

“All they leave is rubble,” pronounced Maj. Mohammed Hussein, whose counterterrorism corps was one of a initial to pierce into Ramadi. “You can’t do anything with rubble.”

As a result of what we’ve learned from the campaigns to liberate Fallujah and Ramadi, the less actual fighting that has to take place to retake Mosul the better it will be for the city and its residents. So anything we can do to make it harder for ISIL to actually fight works to our advantage.

There are also two very important reasons rooted within Iraq’s socio-cultural context. The first is that by making it clear that Coalition backed and supported Iraqi regular and irregular forces are going to bring overwhelming force to liberate Mosul, we are also leveraging Information Power to keep our Iraqi allies focused on their upcoming task. A repeated problem that was encountered by US and Coalition Forces going back to 2004 was that it was often hard to get the Iraqis to show up, and if they did show up to actually fight. There were several reasons for this. For instance, in Anbar Province in 2005-2006 we had lined up Sunni tribal fighters to be trained to fight with Coalition Forces against al Qaeda in Iraq. However, there was a logistical delay getting these local forces to the training site. During that delay their villages had been hit by al Qaeda in Iraq and as a result our potential new local allies decided they had to go home and protect their kin. As a result we lost an opportunity to build a more cohesive, local irregular force to work with throughout the region.

At other times we’ve spent a lot of time and money working with and training Iraqi Security Forces who, while they did fine in practice, would balk when the time came for them to apply force for real. I watched this personally one week in 2008 when I was working with my brigade’s Military Training Team (MiTT). Reports came in the night we arrived to embed with the MiTT of an attack on some Iraqis. The MiTT leader tried to get the Iraqi Army battalion commander he was working with to respond, but he wouldn’t. The next morning, however, we quickly had to gear up and get on the road to follow this Iraqi Army battalion as they rushed from their base to the middle of nowhere to see what had happened – 14 hours after the attack was reported. What you’re seeing in the US led Coalition’s publicizing the upcoming campaign to liberate Mosul is an attempt to use the other edge of Information Power to keep our Iraqi allies focused and ensure that when the day comes to begin that offensive they are ready and able to do so. I can not emphasize enough the damage that Saddam Hussein’s tyrannical government did to Iraqi confidence in their ability to accomplish things as Iraqis, especially military operations. A great deal of our partnering, advising, training, and assisting has been not just teaching the how of soldiering or policing, but also the less tangible and harder to inculcate why to do so – including building morale and esprit de corps.

Finally, the last reason to publicize the upcoming campaign to liberate Mosul is related to the need to keep the Iraqi Security Forces and irregular forces on actually going through with the campaign. As you can see in the map images below, Mosul is very close to the areas that are currently part of the autonomous areas of Iraqi Kurdistan (the Kurdish Autonomous Area). And Mosul is an ethnically mixed city – it has both Sunni Arabs and (Sunni) Kurds living together in proximity. If you look at Map 1, you can see where the Iraqi Kurds were able to extend their lines by the end of 2013/beginning of 2014.


(Map 1: Areas Under Kurdish Control 2013)

As you can see in Map 1, by the late Winter of 2014 the Iraqi Kurds had extended their lines beyond Iraqi Kurdistan to the areas of Iraq that the Iraqi Kurds have claimed, and want added to Iraqi Kurdistan. Most important among these is the city and province of Kirkuk, but Mosul is also historically important for the Iraqi Kurds. Map 2, below, shows the distribution of Iraqi Kurds as an ethnic group in Northeastern Iraq and the boundaries of Iraqi Kurdistan.


(Map 2: Ethnic-Religious Map of Iraq)

Mosul and Tikrit are contested areas between Iraq’s Arabs and Kurds. In 2008 I was told repeatedly by both Sunni and Shi’a tribal and religious leaders (sheikhs and imams) across Central Iraq that the one thing that would definitely make Iraq’s Sunni and Shi’a Arabs cooperate was if the Iraqi Kurds took Kirkuk. Now this was in the 2008 context as opposed to the 2013-2014 context of the Iraqi Peshmerga fighting against ISIL and establishing their forward lines at the farthest points out from Iraqi Kurdistan that they could hold territory against ISIL. However, the Government of Iraq is dominated by Arabs not Kurds. As are the Iraqi Security Forces, though a significant portion of the Iraqi Army is made up of Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga. So here too we are trying to leverage Information Power to keep the pressure on the Government of Iraq and the Iraqi Security Forces to go and liberate a city that is ethnically mixed and that is contested between Iraqi Arabs and Kurds. The intention here is to ensure that Iraqi Arab regular and irregular forces show up and fight to liberate a city that may wind up under Kurdish control in the future. This is not necessarily an easy task, so leveraging Information Power to ensure the campaign actually happens is important.

It is this strategic nuance of National Power (Diplomatic, Information, Military, and Economic/the DIME), and how to leverage it that neither Donald Trump nor his advisors seem to understand. Moreover, it demonstrates a lack of understand of the theater strategic contexts in which US and Coalition Forces are working in Iraq. We already have a real world/real time example of what happens when the strategic regional context is not taken into before a major operation is undertaken in the Levant: the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. While the element of surprise may be tactically important, the strategic ability to leverage Information Power to one’s advantage is also a very important tool that should be used whenever possible.

177 replies
  1. 1
    Smiling Mortician says:

    This is not a “quick note.”

    OK, OK. I’m gonna read it now.

  2. 2
    Baud says:

    Oh stop. Obama is weak and wants the terrorists to win.

  3. 3
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Smiling Mortician: Sorry, I took quick out of the first sentence and forgot to take it out of the title. I just fixed it.

  4. 4
    JMG says:

    Of course you’re right and then some, but the number of American voters, no, make that elected officials, who grasp all that is perishingly low. We’re Americans and what we want happens. That’s what we know, although my whole life has proved the exact opposite.

  5. 5
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Baud: Would you have actually read that post if I had written it?

  6. 6
    SiubhanDuinne, liberal mob enforcer bitch says:

    @Smiling Mortician:

    Agreed. I’ll read the whole thing, partly because Adam is such a damned good writer and partly because I am woefully ignorant and need to fix that — but would have appreciated a tl;dr executive summary.

    Okay, off I go to read the whole post now.

  7. 7
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    It is this strategic nuance of National Power (Diplomatic, Information, Military, and Economic/the DIME), and how to leverage it that Donald Trump nor his advisors seem to understand.

    Are you missing a “neither?” Feel free to delete this comment after checking.

  8. 8
    Smiling Mortician says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Not a complaint. Just an observation. I have learned much from your posts, and have shared them with colleagues who have also learned. Teaching: it’s a good thing.

    Thank you for taking the time to do this. It’s important.

  9. 9
    lollipopguild says:

    Adam, can you and Tom make secret visit to Trumpolini and slowly beat this information into his head with a baseball bat?

  10. 10
    Gertrude the Duck says:

    Cant help but be impressed by BJ’s analysis on this stuff and on health care.

  11. 11
    SiubhanDuinne, liberal mob enforcer bitch says:

    @Smiling Mortician:

    I don’t remember now, if I ever even knew, how John Cole found Adam, but it was a lucky day for us when he did, and when Adam agreed to FP here.

  12. 12

    Echo others in saying thank you for taking the time to write this. I need to finish up some work and then I’ll take the time to read it and sure I’ll learn a great deal.

  13. 13
    bluefish says:

    Thanks for taking the time to write this. The maps alone are amazing. Your points are spot on and as a fellow writer of so called quick notes, I feel your pain. Excellent writers & analysts such as yourself go into the zone and thank goodness for that.

    Trump, one imagines, is in love with The Bomb. And yuge surprises. So you for Prez most definitely.

  14. 14
    SiubhanDuinne, liberal mob enforcer bitch says:


    Why would you want to improve Trump’s odds of winning?

  15. 15
    Baud says:

    @SiubhanDuinne, liberal mob enforcer bitch:

    Right. Between him and Tom and Richard, we’re almost respectable.

  16. 16
    Felonius Monk says:

    Thanks, Adam. Very interesting post. I appreciate the insight.

  17. 17
    JMG says:

    PS: Adam, I second and third the appreciation for the maps.

  18. 18
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Good catch, thanks. Just fixed it.

  19. 19
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    In the spring of 1944, the Germans knew that a cross channel invasion of France was coming. They did not know exactly when, where, or how. Those questions occupied the minds of the German army from top to bottom until June 6th. No matter what else they were doing, those thoughts were always there. “Is it tomorrow?” “Will it be here?” And so on.

  20. 20
    lollipopguild says:

    @SiubhanDuinne, liberal mob enforcer bitch: It would be very hard for him to win if he is a bloody mess lying in a pool of his own blood. When I said beat it into his head I meant it. Have you ever seen the baseball bat scene in “The untouchables”?

  21. 21
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Proofreading one’s own work is difficult.

  22. 22

    @Baud: Who wants to be respectable, we want to be bawdy or should I say baudy.

  23. 23
    Hoodie says:

    Thanks for the interesting writeup, but it’s really simpler than that. Trump gets his notion of “element of surprise’ from Hollywood movies, e.g, he thinks it’s Gregory Peck wading ashore with corn cop pipe at Leyte Gulf or George C. Scott in jodhpurs and riding crop entering Paris. He’s an arrested adolescent who knows nothing about anything. His GOP brethren are just as infantile.

  24. 24
    Ken says:


    Adam, can you and Tom make secret visit to Trumpolini and slowly beat this information into his head with a baseball bat?

    ADAM: “There are actually several very good strategic reasons to publicize the upcoming Mosul…”

    TRUMP: “BORING! Just go and win! Why didn’t you think of that if you’re so smart?”

  25. 25

    @Omnes Omnibus: Trigger warning: Tom’s post has a creepy clown doll. The stuff nightmares are made of.

  26. 26
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: I saw it. He made my list.

  27. 27
    lollipopguild says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Even weeks after the Allies had invaded Hitler and some of his generals still thought there would be a second main invasion in the Calais area of France.

  28. 28

    @Baud: Damn it, we did not want to change the character of this place

  29. 29
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @SiubhanDuinne, liberal mob enforcer bitch: I found John. A post he did here, about a really bad WSJ article, tipped me that one of the Soldiers in my BCT’s armor battalion had been put in danger by the reporter and how he did the article. I was actually at the battalion HQ and after I’d gotten with the XO to get the Soldier’s safety addressed, and the folks back up at brigade, I sent John a note. That’s how he and I first became acquainted.

  30. 30
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Richard Mayhew: Just tell Baud to fuck off and it will restore the karmic balance.

  31. 31
    SiubhanDuinne, liberal mob enforcer bitch says:


    When I said beat it into his head I meant it.

    Ah. Serves me right for thinking metaphorically.


  32. 32
    lollipopguild says:

    @Ken: Have you ever seen the baseball bat scene in “The Untouchables”?

  33. 33
    Lyrebird says:

    Shana Tova (as appropriate) and thanks!

    And the changes made in Seattle haven’t reached far enough to prevent the Ferguson, Baton Rouge, or other misuses of force, but this story about changes in training of police officers seemed to echo some of your earlier points, A.S.

  34. 34

    I am watching the Great War*, You Tube channel as recommended by Gin and Tonic. I have reached early 1916 and the British Indian Army is getting its ass kicked in the Mesopotamia.
    *covers the Great War week by week as it happened 100 years ago.

  35. 35
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Smiling Mortician: You are quite welcome. I’ve been meaning to do a post on the Russian/Syrian government maneuvering and hope to have that out sometime this week.

  36. 36
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Gertrude the Duck: @TaMara (HFG): @bluefish: @Felonius Monk: You all are very welcome.

  37. 37
    p.a. says:

    Breaking. Trump’s ISIS plan: “…if we build a giant badger…”

  38. 38
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @SiubhanDuinne, liberal mob enforcer bitch: tl;dr executive summary:

    Iraq is FUBAR

  39. 39
    Mike J says:

    Adam, any write up on the plutonium deal Russia withdrew from today?

  40. 40
    Baud says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: He can’t do it. Too civilized.

  41. 41
    Steve in the ATL says:

    Where is the Bundy trial thread?

    LAO and Bella Q are dying to know what happened today.

  42. 42
    SiubhanDuinne, liberal mob enforcer bitch says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Thank you, Adam. Great story, and how terrific that you picked up on John’s sharp intellect/compassion/bullshit detector, no matter how he attempts to hide it. From the start you’ve been one of the most valuable commenters/FPs here, and I thank you for your thoughtful contributions.

  43. 43
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @bluefish: What really drives me nuts is that I know of some of LTG (ret) Flynn’s work. He is not a stupid man. He was a very good Intel officer. And he understands the importance of ensuring that local context/local socio-cultural (broadly defined) inputs are made into the strategy developing, policy formation, planning, and operational decision making processes. I don’t know whether he just can’t get Trump to understand it or he’s realized he shouldn’t try. I intend to put this up as a post on its own, but if you want to understand LTG Flynn better, watch this interview done by Mehdi Hasan of al Jazeera:

  44. 44
    lamh36 says:

    Just saw that clip of VP Biden’s response to Trump’s ignorant comment on PTSD and wartime stress…

    Almost never saw VP Biden so mad…and rightly so…

    WATCH: Angry Joe Biden brutally blisters Trump over veteran PTSD insult — ‘Where the hell is he from?’

  45. 45
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Always at one’s post, always ready, always waiting…
    Eats up a lot of mental and emotional energy.

  46. 46

    @Adam L Silverman: Mehdi Hasan, the famous gazhal singer?

  47. 47
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: It is, especially if you’re not going to let it sit and come back to it a day later.

  48. 48
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @efgoldman: I hadn’t planned on doing anything until tomorrow night or Wednesday, but this was bugging me and I wanted it out of my head. So.

    And thanks. And a Happy Jew Year to you and everyone else here celebrating it.

  49. 49
    Baud says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Agreed. Sometimes, when a thread gets long and I’m anxiously awaiting a fresh post and there is a delay cuz Anne Laurie is AWOL, I get really frustrated and mentally exhausted.

  50. 50
    Felonius Monk says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I saw it. He made my list.

    All your anti-Clown rhetoric to the contrary, I’m beginning to believe that you are a closet Juggalo. :-)

  51. 51
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Richard Mayhew: I was thinking some checkered table cloths, maybe some throw pillows and curtains. A few pet beds. Classy, very classy!

  52. 52
    Mobile RoonieRoo says:

    Thank you for this write up. I love these types of posts.

  53. 53
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Lyrebird: Your link didn’t make it. There’s nothing to click on.

  54. 54
  55. 55
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Far to unfocused on, as is the Korean War. If you want a shorter, but related documentary watch Digging the Trenches.

  56. 56

    @Adam L Silverman: It would by Yuuge — get some ferns and potted plants — maybe some gold tinsel for the windows…

  57. 57
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Felonius Monk: I think you are already on my list, but, if not, you are now.

  58. 58
    Miss Bianca says:

    Adam sez:

    I can not emphasize enough the damage that Saddam Hussein’s tyrannical government did to Iraqi confidence in their ability to accomplish things as Iraqis, especially military operations.

    I find myself wondering, however, whether the situation on the ground in Iraq right now would be better, worse, or just differently bad if the US hadn’t insisted on purging the military and the civilian government of the Ba’athists after “Operation Iraqi Freedom”. (has to be the most grotesquely misnamed military operation ever – or at least one of the contenders).

  59. 59

    @Adam L Silverman: It is a bit scattered, but I think it is giving me a good overview. I know very little about WWI, the centenary has piqued my interest. I jjust finished reading, The Guns of August.

  60. 60
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mike J: Not yet. From what I understand, this is more signaling than anything else. They’ve already stated they’re still going to continue to dispose of this spare radiological material. I think its part of a larger pattern that we’re observing. This includes the attempt to get one last shot in before the ceasefire went into effect in Syria, then quickly ignoring it – either directly or through Syrian government proxy, including preventing and/or attacking humanitarian supplies getting in. I think Putin figured out he got jobbed by the US on this. We knew he wasn’t going to hold up his end of the agreement, but we went ahead anyway because of the strategic importance to our overall efforts – in the Levant, in Europe, in Asia-Pacific – of being able to leverage Russia’s failure to do what they say they will do as a form of Information Operations. The maskirovka is slipping and Putin needed to try to change the narrative.

  61. 61

    @Richard Mayhew: Silverman doesn’t do gold.

  62. 62

    @Adam L Silverman: Thanks for the recommendation, I will look it up.

  63. 63
    raven says:


    Happy New Year

  64. 64
    raven says:

    @Adam L Silverman: And then read The Coldest Winter

  65. 65
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Steve in the ATL: I am awaiting a write up from someone who actually attended part of the trial today. As soon as I get it, I’ll post it (unless I’ve gone to sleep).

  66. 66
    Mary G says:

    Add me to the thankful, Adam. You have a remarkable talent to explain something complex in simple terms. I especially liked the maps.

  67. 67
    Feathers says:

    One of the most frustrating kind of bozo jerkoffs to deal with is the fool who thinks the only reason anything ever fails is because the people involved were stupid. AKA Trump.

  68. 68
    SiubhanDuinne, liberal mob enforcer bitch says:


    Thank you for that link. I love Joe Biden, but because of my worshipful Obama-love, I often forget to say how much I admire the VP.

    Indeed, arguably one of the smartest things Obama has done in his entire time on the public stage is to choose Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. as his running mate, Vice President, partner, and friend.

    I adore Joe when he’s righteous. He’s also very funny, and about the most human person of any human persons around.

    I will look forward with great interest to what he and Dr. Jill Biden do with their post-VEEP/SLOTUS years. Nothing short of extraordinary, I’m guessing.

  69. 69
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @SiubhanDuinne, liberal mob enforcer bitch: Considering that my higher headquarters had pushed for us to take the reporter as an embed, that I’d gotten the Civil Affairs guys to jump through their grommets to lay on some extra medical relief operations because that’s part of what he wanted to see, and what he was really doing was leveraging his connection to one of the leaders at my higher HQ to get a media embed to then chase whatever, and that’s what he did – he abandoned what we’d set up to do something else – and that’s what led to the Soldier being put at risk by his reporting. So I took it as a professional and a personal affront.

  70. 70
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @lamh36: I just saw it as well. He is furious! And rightly so.

  71. 71
    philadelphialawyer says:

    It goes without saying that Trump has no clue what he is talking about.

    Still, perhaps we could do without bullshit phrases like “leveraging Information Power [bullshit capitalization in original].”

    The point about the dam makes no sense. Advertising to IS that we are coming to shore it up makes IS less likely to blow up the dam because….? Uh, no, it doesn’t. Also, if shoring up the dam requires action before the rainy season starts, then doesn’t that kinda contradict your overall notion about keeping IS guessing on timing?

    And that point about timing uncertainty is dubious too. As it presumes that IS gives a damn about the morale of its troops and will for some reason just abandon the city as it is, rather than reduce it to rubble and then abandon it. And it also dubiously presumes that somehow the stress of the IS troops waiting for the advertised attack will make the IS leadership abandon the city in the first place.

    Nor can we make the Iraqi forces any better than they are, or any more committed to the fight against IS than they are, even if we try to shame them into it by announcing beforehand that they (and us, and our “Coalition”) are going to take back Mosul from IS.

    We can’t make IS do what we want through some overly clever notion that by telling then where we are coming next they would rather just retreat and hand the city and the dam back intact than suffer “battlefield losses.” It was not exactly a mystery to them that we were going to re-take Fallujah and Ramadi either, and yet, as you say, IS reduced them to rubble after taking those losses. Nor does advertising the offensive make the Iraqi forces any better, objectively or subjectively.

    The bottom line is, duh, IS already knows we are coming for Mosul, for all of the reasons stated. And because it is the next logical target. So, sure, Trump is blowing it out his ass by worrying about “spoiler alerts.” But let’s not pretend that there is some sort of genius level “psyops” or “leveraging” or whatever going on here either. Mosul is next. We know it. IS knows it. The “Coalition” knows it. The Iraqis know it. As do the Russians, the Turks, the Kurds, and the rest of the world. There is no point in keeping it a secret, but it is equally redundant and obvious to announce it too. The announcement itself is a nothing burger. Neither a blunder nor a second Austerlitz.

  72. 72
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: I have no knowledge of that.

  73. 73
    raven says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Have you watched “Generation Kill”?

  74. 74
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Felonius Monk: I will likely be dead to O2 after opining this, but I did not find the bearded Punch in that painting to be all that scary or creepy. On the other hand, when I was the age of the children in the picture, I undoubtedly would have.

  75. 75
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Baud: We’re setting up a hotline for commenters like you…

  76. 76
    SiubhanDuinne, liberal mob enforcer bitch says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Happy Jew Year


  77. 77
    Schlemazel says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:
    I have been following that series for a couple years now, on & off because I find the host annoying but it is great history in bite-size chunks. Well worth the time.

  78. 78
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Miss Bianca: I think it would be significantly better. All the hard won lessons of planning during WW II for what to do with Germany, France, Belgium, etc in Europe and Japan after WW II to secure the peace were completely ignored or conveniently forgotten in the planning for the invasion of Iraq. Buried under ideological arrogance and a completely ahistorical understanding of history. Hundreds of thousands put out of work, sent home with no income, with their personal honor effected resulting in a loss of face. All of that has contributed to and been a primary driver of the instability and insurrection in Iraq for the past 12 years.

  79. 79
    Punchy says:

    This is really great news for John McCain.

  80. 80
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: You’ll enjoy it. Basically they excavated a bunch of the trenches near Mons, Belgium. So it partially focuses on what they’ve found and partially focuses on retelling the history of how the artifacts got into those trenches.

  81. 81
    JGabriel says:


    From Thomas Jefferson:

    When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

    To Donald Trump:

    And whenever they ask me the question about “What are you going to do about ISIS?” I say, you know, I have a real chance of winning — I don’t wanna tell you. I have very strong ideas and I’ll be dealing with the people in this room and other folks that are, you know, very good at this. But the last thing you wanna do is give notice to the enemy.

    I guess King Genius Trump thinks Thomas Jefferson is really dumb too.

  82. 82
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @raven: Yep, that’s an excellent read.

  83. 83
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mary G: I’m a big believer of leaving no one else’s graphics behind!

  84. 84
    raven says:

    @Adam L Silverman: How about the HBO miniseries? There are a couple of guys from 1st Recon in it and, at the roundtable on the DVD, they say they sometimes forgot if it was a dramatization or a documentary.

    Also, I’m sure you read One Bullet Away.

  85. 85
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @raven: No. I’ll add it to the list.

  86. 86
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @srv: Excellent suggestion, I’ll tell Alain.

  87. 87
    Felonius Monk says:

    @Miss Bianca: I agree. I don’t find Punch characters scary at all.

  88. 88
    amk says:

    Has anyone gamed out the aftermath of liberating these cities/towns what with the conflicting interests of Kurds wanting them for their own nation and Iraqis wanting them for theirs? WWII, while successful for the west, also brought in the iron curtain and the cold war.

  89. 89

    @Adam L Silverman: The newscaster’s namesake was a famous Pakistani singer, who died in 2012.

  90. 90
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @raven: Haven’t seen it.

  91. 91
    raven says:

    @Adam L Silverman: It’s written by David Simon and Ed Burns (25th ID).

  92. 92
    raven says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I think you will really appreciate it. The officers are fucking dopes!

  93. 93
    NobodySpecial says:

    @philadelphialawyer: There’s nothing quite as demoralizing to someone as telling them to their face what you’re going to do and then doing it in spite of their best efforts. Loser Stink also affects recruiting – No one wants to be seen backing a loser.

  94. 94
    Steve in the ATL says:


    Just asking for a friend, are you?

    Exactly. I’m totally not addicted, but they are.

  95. 95
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @efgoldman: I can sleep in the living room.

  96. 96
    SgrAstar says:

    Adam, thank you so much for your incredibly illuminating posts. I hope you can keep on sharing your experience and deeply researched insights.

  97. 97
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Adam L Silverman: l’shana tovah. And my annual reminder: apples and honey are good anytime, but I seem never to get my fill until the head of the year.

  98. 98
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @raven: Okay, I’ll check it out. @raven: Sounds like fun.

  99. 99
    sukabi says:

    OT, NRA has anti Hillary, she’s coming for your gunz ad up… running in WA state…

  100. 100

    @Omnes Omnibus: Or you can open a Dropbox account.

  101. 101
    Tripod says:


    Max Hastings The Korean War is worth a read.

    Also the documentary Chosin.

  102. 102
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Excellent idea. Is that where you keep your list?

  103. 103
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Tripod: Most of Max Hastings’s stuff is good.

  104. 104
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Thing Three: The dam was built on top of an unstable substrate – a gypsum formation I think. The Iraqis were continually shoring it up, but when ISIL occupied Mosul they diverted the equipment in order to use them for other things. Since then the dam has had intermittent maintenance, but the concern is that the foundation has been so neglected for so long that it needs more work than can be done by the Iraqi themselves right now. Also, its important to realize that a large amount of Iraq’s professionals fled the country between 2004 and now because they had the education and skills that could get them work and provide for their families in exile. Finally, there is a disagreement between the Iraqis and the US Army Corps of Engineers over exactly what needs to be done and what’s the best way to do it.

  105. 105
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Tom Levenson: This is true. I made a caramel apple pie for dessert yesterday. And L’Shana Tova to you as well.

    As an aside, I always thought that L’Shana Tova would be a great name for a Jewish stripper or adult entertainer.

  106. 106

    @Omnes Omnibus: My list is in my head, Dropbox is for backup.

  107. 107
    philadelphialawyer says:

    @NobodySpecial: Yeah, no. Again, IS already knows that we are coming for Mosul next. Whether we tell them so or not. Which is why Trump’s claim is so stupid. That being the case, the announcement means nothing either. Moreover, IS is already aware that when the US, its “Coalition,” and the Iraqi forces concentrate on retaking a fixed objective like a city, there is little it can do to prevent them. All IS can do is fight it out, lose, and then blow what’s left of the place up as they leave. To repeat, this is already what has happened in Fallujah and Ramadi.

    “Demoralization” is simply not the issue. The Viet Minh and the NVA were not going to hold Hue in 1968. They knew it, and so did we. Whether we “announced” that we were going to take it back or not. The announcement, or not, means nothing. The insurgents in these situations know that they are going to be attacked, and lose, but fight it out anyway, for reasons that have nothing to do with the notion of “in your face disgrace” that you putting put forth here.

    As for “Loser Stink” and its effect on recruiting, I don’t think IS is hurt by being beaten by the US and its proxies in fixed battle. Just the opposite, I would think. By fighting and dying for “liberated” Fallujah, Ramadi, and Mosul, IS gains prestige. If it runs away because it is scared of the US and its “announcements,” IS does not. Again, like the insurgents in Hue, or, if you prefer, George Washington in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

    The latter, by the way, “knew” well in advance that the British were going to retake both places, and that he did not have sufficient forces to stop them. Still, he fought both battles anyway, and damn near lost his whole army, because giving them up without a fight was seen as worse, by him and the political leadership.

  108. 108
    Lyrebird says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Sorry – we try again:
    Here is some text to cover the link to the “Empathetic Police Academy” article …hoping it works this time. The story was maybe sponsored by Starbucks??? but still might be of interest.

    ETA: seems to work…

  109. 109
    debbie says:

    @Tom Levenson:

    Does apple crisp count?

  110. 110
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Lyrebird: Thanks!

  111. 111
    debbie says:


    That ad’s been running in Ohio for a few weeks. I love how quickly the disclaimers are read at the end.

  112. 112
    Felonius Monk says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    As an aside, I always thought that L’Shana Tova would be a great name for a Jewish stripper

    Could not find her, but I did find JARA for your viewing pleasure. What better way to celebrate the New Year.

  113. 113
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Felonius Monk: That’s just wrong.

  114. 114
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Felonius Monk: No. Ain’t going.

  115. 115
    Felonius Monk says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Here’s an interesting story about a jewish stripper:

    All but one of Red Tova Halem’s mementos from her days as a burlesque striptease artist got lost somewhere in Nazi Germany.

    The one that remains is a photograph of Halem smoking a cigarette at the Howdy Club in Greenwich Village. Bob Hope is sitting next to her and Jackie Gleason is signing an autograph nearby.

    Looking at the picture a few days ago made Halem pause in the midst of preparations for her 80th birthday celebration, which includes a bat mitzvah at Petaluma’s Congregation B’nai Israel, to reminisce about her teen years in the ’30s.


  116. 116
    Yutsano says:

    The first is to actually use the Information(al) element of National Power to pressure ISIL to abandon Mosul rather than suffer the types of battlefield defeat that it did in Ramadi and Fallujah in Iraq and in parts of Syria where the US led Coalition is attriting ISIL’s hold on actual territory.

    The Mongols tried this. It unfortunately led to the sack of Baghdad.

  117. 117
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Thing Three: I’m not an engineer, so I’m sure I’ve got some of the terminology hosed up. It has a water soluble gypsum foundation according to the reporting about it.
    Here’s some links to some of the reporting on the Mosul Dam:

    The Mosul dam was first conceived in the 1950s, but its construction was postponed because of the problematic geology of that section of the Tigris, where much of the bedrock is water-soluble. It was finally built by Saddam Hussein’s regime and seen at the time as a prestige project. At the time, Ansari was a scientific consultant at the irrigation ministry.

    Nobody knows when it will fail. It could be a year from now. It could be tomorrow.
    Nasrat Adamo, the dam’s former chief engineer
    “I went to visit the site and saw what kind of stone there was there. A lot of gypsum and anhydrite, which are very soluble. I was really concerned; I told the director general. He said: ‘Don’t worry. This is all being taken care of.’”

    In the preceding years, successive foreign consultants had pointed out the weaknesses in the rock formations but all assured the Iraqi government the problem could be solved by grouting. The decision to go ahead was pushed through by one of the regime’s vice-presidents, Taha Yassin Ramadan.

    The dam was designed by a Swiss firm of consultants and built by a German-Italian consortium in 1984. Water began seeping through in 1986, when it became apparent that the geological issues were worse than the consultants had predicted. From then on it required constant maintenance to fill the caverns being hollowed out by water running through the soluble bedrock. A total of 95,000 tonnes of grout of different types were used over the dam’s lifetime.

    “All you are doing with grouting is prolonging the life of the dam. There is no permanent solution except building another dam,” Ansari said. A second structure, the Badush dam, was started 20km downstream, to prevent a catastrophe in the event of the Mosul dam’s failure. But work on Badush halted in the 1990s because of the pressure of sanctions, leaving it only 40% complete.


    The dam, Iraq’s largest has suffered from structural flaws since its completion in 1984, with the water constantly eating away at the soluble gypsum base on which it is built.
    To counter the erosion, engineers need to drill holes in the gypsum and fill them with a cement grout mixture six days a week.

  118. 118
    Ken says:

    @lollipopguild: Juan Pujol Garcia deserves a lot of credit for that delay. Fascinating story.

  119. 119
    JR in WV says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    So John, savior of Walter and anonymous soldiers in the combat ‘stans. Wonderful!

    Thanks for letting it slide after all these years. Months… whatever. However long you’re been here… a great story~!

  120. 120
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Thing Three: The amount of pain, suffering, death, destruction and then all the follow on negative effects from them that will occur if this dam fails is exceedingly large. If Iraq was a stable, functioning state and society and the dam failed we would be leading the humanitarian assistance and disaster management response to help them. That the current threat to the dam is the result of the rise of ISIL, which is a negative follow on effect from our 2003 invasion, we have an obligation to deal with this. And failing to do so will only make our lives more difficult later.

  121. 121
    Coin operated says:

    @Thing Three: I can think of a couple reasons. Ensure we don’t have 1M displaced Iraqis complicating the efforts to drive out ISIL. Continued good-will mission after the colossal FUBAR of invading the region. We, as a nation, have spent foreign aide in a lot dumber ways…I’m not seeing a problem helping out with this dam.

    Edited to add…Adam is quick on the keyboard tonight

  122. 122
    KS in MA says:

    @Lyrebird: What a concept … to train cops to do what good cops do. More, please.

  123. 123
    philadelphialawyer says:

    @Adam L Silverman: And, according to your sources, the 1990’s sanctions regime which the US would not let end has a lot to do with the problem too.

    But which was does that cut? Our continued interference in Iraq, now over two and a half decades long (including fifteen years under Democratic Administrations), doesn’t seem to be making things any better, does it? We have “liberated” Fallujah three times now, haven’t we?

    Perhaps if we started minding our own business, and let the Iraqis mind theirs, these issues would be resolved.

    Without our propping it up, for example, perhaps the Shi’a regime in Baghdad would cut a deal with the more reasonable Sunnis, who would then run their part of Iraq as the Kurds do theirs, and IS would have less appeal. And then no one would be threatening the dam, or to turn the cities into rubble.

    For all of our brilliant “leveraging” of all of our overwhelming “DIME” powers, things don’t seem to be going all that well.

    Sure, IS can be defeated. But then what about the next iteration of Sunni revanchism? When it takes Fallujah, will we be retaking it for a fourth time?

  124. 124
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @philadelphialawyer: What if we walk away and everything gets worse?

  125. 125
    philadelphialawyer says:

    @efgoldman: Jeez, do I have to be a military genius to disagree with a FP’er here?

    Adam knows quite a bit. But, in my view, is missing the forest for the trees. And is overly fond, IMO, of acronyms and fake terms like “leverage.”

    As for Clinton, I think she is too much of an interventionist, as is Obama, and as was her husband. Of course, all of them are better than W, never mind Trump.

    And I don’t see how I am breaking some sort of rule by saying so.

  126. 126
    philadelphialawyer says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Isn’t that what Bush said? And LBJ?

  127. 127
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @philadelphialawyer: To be very blunt, if we simply pull out, the Iraqi Shi’a and Sunnis will simply inflict as much pain on each other as they can. As I’ve written here, and elsewhere, before, the closest historical analogue we’re looking at for what is going on in Syria and Iraq is the Thirty Years War. Its not perfect or precise, but its similar enough to get some perspective. And what we’re watching is the very violent process of state and societal formation. We can either try to manage or mitigate it or we can get out of the way, allow Syria and Iraq to become failed states and societies, and then have to deal with the instability that causes.

    Do I think we’ve often made stuff worse? Without a doubt. Do I think coming in with overwhelming force and resolving this for the Iraqis or the Syrians would work? I do not, as soon as we pull back from that it would just restart. Do I think what we’re currently trying to do by managing and mitigating by, with, and through Iraqi and Syrian partners has a better chance than what we had been doing and the other options? Yes, but there are no guarantees.

    The question, when push comes to shove, is always “how much risk are you willing to accept?”

  128. 128
    Beautiful Plumage says:

    I don’t comment very often, so some unrelated remarks concerning recent posts:
    Adding my voice to the thanks for the knowledgeable front pages here;
    IMO Punch Looks less like a clown and more like a member of the Spanish Inquisition ala Monty Python;
    Am I the only one who thinks Donald’s hair during the debate looked really blurry, like the weasel on his head was in the Victim Protection program?

  129. 129
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @philadelphialawyer: If you are talking about military strategy, some knowledge of it helps. Same as in the legal world.

    @philadelphialawyer: As long as oil is important, we will have interests in Middle East.

  130. 130
    philadelphialawyer says:

    @Adam L Silverman: The Thirty Years War, if I remember correctly, was not made any better by the intervention of the French or the Swedes.

    I think our belief in our powers to “mitigate,” never mind “manage,” things is grossly overrated.

    And, as I have mentioned before, if left alone, societies tend to resolve their internal disagreements, even if the process is a violent one. What are we doing but prolonging the problems?

    And, of course, we are to blame for much of the “failed” nature of both societies. We, for bad reasons, chose to destabilize and/or destroy both of the existing Arab Nationalist regimes in Iraq and Syria, which, whatever their faults, were better than what followed them.

    I don’t see the question as one of “risk acceptance,” but rather of ending immoral, often illegal, and always costly and counterproductive intervention in the affairs of other States. The US should, in my view, act only through the UNSC, and then only when there is a clear moral case to be made. We should not be making and breaking regimes in the ME or anywhere else.

    I think we need to fundamentally rethink the patronizing and neo colonialist notion that it is somehow the role and the right of the US to “manage” other people’s civil wars. And to end the cycle of “you broke it, you fix it.”

  131. 131
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Thing Three: If you go to the Guardian article, it provides some important background as to why the dam was built, for lack of a better term, wrong. The proposed solution is a damn a few miles down river from the Mosul Dam that was never finalized and/or built. Until a new dam is built, the only solution is to do six day a week proactive maintenance on the existing dam. Failure to do so is simply establishing the conditions for an enormous humanitarian disaster that could otherwise be averted.

  132. 132
    philadelphialawyer says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I think I have “some” knowledge of military strategy. I don’t claim expertise. But that is not required to comment here, I believe.

    As for oil, that is a canard. Oil is less and less important every year. And we have plenty of it here, and tons of alternative fuels too. The US imports almost zero ME oil. In any event, whoever controls the oil producing regions has no choice but to sell it. Moreover, having an “interest” in the region is not the same thing as having military force constantly deployed there over the course of decade after decade.

  133. 133
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @philadelphialawyer: Do you want to accomplish this by just pulling US forces out?

  134. 134
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @philadelphialawyer: Please describe how and why it is feasible, acceptable, and suitable to simply pull back and withdraw from the global system and our role in it since the end of World War II? Please describe what the new global system that would have to be developed to reflect this new reality would like like, how we would transition to it, how you would get all the other actors in the global system to agree to do so, and why it is actually better for the US and the world to make such a transition? Please describe how this system will be more equitable and more stable for everyone? Please describe how this system will not increase risk within the global system, but would, instead, reduce risk?

    I get the frustration – I really do, I’m not being patronizing. I get and applaud the passion as well. But until you or anyone else can answer those questions above we have to work within the system we have. Do you really think its better, regardless of how we got there (and I’ve never denied US culpability in the mess that exists), to leave ISIL in place? To leave Russia a free hand in the Levant?

  135. 135
    philadelphialawyer says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: If you are asking me, I would say yes. The US should begin a controlled program of military disengagement.

    I also wonder what the import of your question is. I favor non intervention. So, yeah, the way to “accomplish” that is by ending intervention.

  136. 136
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I had that feeling myself – that it was suicidally stupid to treat them that way, and it was asking for huge amounts of trouble, all to serve a dubious ideology. But strangely, the Bush Administration never bothered to consult me about it – or, it would seem, anyone else who actually had the street cred to say such a thing.

  137. 137
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @philadelphialawyer: A controlled program? How fast? What should we do and not do in the interim?

  138. 138
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Thing Three:

    But if God had meant for these people to have a dam in the first place, why did he not implant within them the ability to plan and build their own damn dam?


  139. 139
    amk says:


    I think our belief in our powers to “mitigate,” never mind “manage,” things is grossly overrated.


  140. 140
    El Caganer says:

    @Thing Three: I think the US invasion could be considered a war of aggression, which was determined to be a war crime at Nuremberg. Pretty sure you’re not supposed to get a ROI on war crimes.

  141. 141
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Thing Three: Had the Iraqis used their own engineers it might have gone better. Regardless of how it happened and who screwed up, it did. The issue now is how to deal with that reality. We can do nothing and eventually there will be tremendous death and destruction that could have been prevented. Doesn’t say much for our ideals if we allow that to happen.

    As for spending a lot of money with little to show in return? No argument there. But I’m not sure that past strategic malpractice is a good argument for new strategic malpractice.

  142. 142
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @amk: Okay, Bush created something horrible. How do we respond? Do we try to help fix it? Since we broke it and shit? Or do we walk away?

  143. 143
    philadelphialawyer says:

    @Adam L Silverman: That’s a big ask.

    But I would start by saying that “the global system” in place does not need to be scrapped.

    Quite the contrary. The UNSC (where we and our allies control three of the five permanent memberships and vetoes) is perfectly adequate to do the job. I don’t actually believe that Russia has the ability or even desire to control “the Levant.” Nor is China the threat that it is made out to be.

    Bluntly, it is the US which has undermined the very system it established. Again and again, it has used military force without UNSC authorization and laughably dressed up as self defense or humanitarianism. It pushed NATO right up to Russia’s borders. I have no love for Putin, but let’s not pretend that the US has behaved itself well since the end of the Cold War.

    As for the transition, it does have to be gradual. I would first renounce any US military actions in Central Asia and Africa. From there, I would seek to end US involvement in the Persian Gulf and ME. I would explicitly state that the US will no longer use its economic, military and diplomatic muscle to enable Israel. Over time, I would restrict US defense commitments to our actual treaty allies, and seek to reduce the number of those. We should seek to have a neutral buffer between NATO and Russia. We should stop harassing China in its near abroad.

    On the immediate question of IS, I really don’t see the big problem. IS is a threat to the regimes in Iraq and Syria, neither of which are particularly friendly to the US nor virtuous in their own rights. Nor are the non IS insurgents in Syria any great shakes either. My feeling is that IS does not have the capacity to rule either country, and would soon by overthrown if they managed to take power. But, more importantly, it is simply not our responsibility or right to determine for the Iraqis or Syrians who should rule their country.

  144. 144
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @El Caganer: No, the US invasion was covered under UN Resolution from the late 1990s, which were based on accurate (for the time) information during the Clinton Administration and the newer UN Resolution based on inaccurate information (for any time) from the Bush 43 Administration. So even if you want to argue the UN Resolution during the Bush 43 Administration should be considered bogus, the one from the Clinton Administration was still in effect and was based on legitimate information and concerns. This does not mean that invading in 2003 was a good idea – it wasn’t. And doing so without a plan for securing the post war peace was a good idea – it also wasn’t.

  145. 145
  146. 146
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @philadelphialawyer: I’m not trying to put you on the spot here, now (ever). But those are the kinds of things that have to be worked through as a result of what you’re arguing for. I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to answer them. But there’s a lot of thought and work that has to happen before we can just do what you think we should do. These are not problems that are resolvable easily – if they were we would do so. There are a lot systemic, structural, and institutional issues, concerns, and constraints that cause complications.

    In principle what you are arguing for both sounds good and easy. In reality it is never that simple. I’m not arguing efforts shouldn’t be made, but the US should just pull out isn’t a feasible, acceptable, and/or suitable answer given the nature of the system and the problem.

  147. 147
    philadelphialawyer says:

    @Adam L Silverman: That’s a bit categorical. There were quite a few international legal scholars who thought the 2003 invasion of Iraq was illegal.

  148. 148
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Thing Three: Your racist undertones are showing.

  149. 149
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Adam L Silverman: PL has ignored all of my questions about how. Just saying.

  150. 150
    philadelphialawyer says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I don’t disagree that it is not easy or simple.

    But I don’t think continuing to dig in deeper is the answer either. To continually try to refine our interventions and “manage” things rather than admitting we lost the plot.

    And while I agree that on the big picture level the US can’t just close up shop and retreat from the world, I don’t agree that incremental change is not possible. Nor that IS isn’t a good place to start.

  151. 151
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Thing Three: 1) a lot of them are in exile, 2) the equipment has been stolen, 3) the dam is in the middle of an active war zone, 4) the Government of Iraq, after considering various solutions, decided the best solution for them was to contract out to an Italian firm that specializes in this problem. Now before this solution can be put in place the following has to happen: 1) Mosul has to be turned from a war zone – a non permissive environment – into a permissive environment by clearing ISIL from the area, 2) the equipment has to be recovered and restored or replaced, 3) the Italian engineers have to be brought into country and secured so they can conduct their work, 4) Iraqi engineers need to be partnered with the Italian team in order to learn the best practices to do this for themselves, and 5) the new dam needs to be built down river, brought online, and then the Mosul dam can be dismantled.

  152. 152
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @philadelphialawyer: I think is was illegal. That is also why I think we need to be involved in trying to fix it. If we walk away, it could well go kaboom!

  153. 153
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @philadelphialawyer: Based on the UN Resolutions that the Bush 43 Administration pursued, I would agree with them. But there is one from the Clinton Administration that covers what we did (not that it was a good idea to do it), but the Bush 43 Admin folks wanted their own because the older one was tainted by Clinton cooties or something.

  154. 154
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Tracking. I’m getting ready to rack out. I have a long morning of ushering ahead of me tomorrow (I am the synagogue’s second line of defense against something or other…).

  155. 155
    philadelphialawyer says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: It is going kaboom right now, no? Otherwise, what is all this talk re the coming Battle of Mosul about? And when will it all be “fixed?” When the government in Baghdad’s writ runs through out the whole of Iraq, AND the Sunnis just love that? When Syria is ruled by a nice, social democratic, secular regime? The Twelfth of Never?

  156. 156
    philadelphialawyer says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Again, that is not the view of many international legal scholars. Their take was that NONE of the UNSC resolutions covered a second war.

  157. 157
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Go defend! And Happy New Year to you.

  158. 158
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @philadelphialawyer: Shall we ignore other regions until they explode? Or should our diplomats, military analysts, and intel folk look at things?

  159. 159
    Lizzy L says:

    L’Shana Tovah, y’all.

  160. 160
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I’m glad they’re security conscious. I did a physical security assessment for them years ago. But there’s sufficient level of paranoia and overly sufficient level of paranoia.

  161. 161
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Lizzy L: And to you. From this Protestant Agnositc.

  162. 162
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @philadelphialawyer: I understand. They may well be right. But at the end of the day it doesn’t matter. We have the problem set and reality we have. The only questions that remain are how to best deal with them.

    And with that I bid you a good night.

  163. 163
    Steeplejack (tablet) says:


    Eh, I thought he made some good points.

  164. 164
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I’m a Taoist meself.

  165. 165
    philadelphialawyer says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Dude, please take your straw men somewhere else, OK? I never said our “intel” (another fake, jargony, term, by the way) folk or analysts or diplomats can’t “look at things.” How about not blowing them up ourselves, though?

  166. 166
    Aleta says:

    The Military Times has also reported on the politics of the Mosul Dam, and on a contract Iraq signed last spring with an Italian group, Trevi, to try to keep it going a little longer.

  167. 167
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Then have a happy New Year. Have some Calvados.

  168. 168
    philadelphialawyer says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Actually, I think legality does matter. It matters in terms of the very global system that you want to maintain. By not going rogue, we help to preserve that system. By going rogue, we undermine it, and enable things like Putin’s grab in the Ukraine.

    But good night (and Happy New Year!) to you too. You are always a good interlocutor….

  169. 169
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @philadelphialawyer: Hi, concern troll.

  170. 170
    JR in WV says:

    @Thing Three:

    Pretty sure the issue is that the gypsum is somewhat water soluble, and soft enough for the water to scour under the dam, so the earth the dam is built upon is indeed failing to hold the dam up.

    So millions of yards of concrete have been pumped into the ground under the dam, a somewhat liquid mix called grout that can be pumped under great pressure into voids under the dam.

    If it fails, the flood will run all the way to Bagdad. So I have read. I have not visited the site myself and so cannot testify to any of this, except that I know gypsum is not stable under water. Look at sheet rock after a flood – wall gone.

  171. 171
    Steeplejack (tablet) says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I think you’re being a bit harsh. PL makes some good points, and I don’t think he has to have a complete program mapped out in order to raise questions about the status quo.

    And with Calvados you reminded me that I got a bottle of Rémy 1738 today. Will pour a splash and toast your health.

    P.S. Spidey sense. Still tingling. You know what I mean.

  172. 172
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Thing Three: OMG…please tell me you’re not going to follow up this line of “reasoning” with, “If God had meant man to fly, He would have given him wings.”

  173. 173
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Thing Three: Yeah. You’re funny. And if God really thought Iraqis ought to drown, He wouldn’t have implanted in us any sense of compassion, or obligation to try to make things right when we fuck other people’s shit up. Maybe He’d just create a race of assholes who say, “sorry…your shit’s broken, but that’s not my problem.”

    Oh, wait…

  174. 174
    worn says:

    As I got on my plane earlier this evening in Newark, commenters were putting up the Adam Silverman bat signal re: Tom’s post. I get off the plane some five hours later here in Stumptown to find he responded to the call.

    If I weren’t so tired I’d attempt a more eloquent expression, but we are so incredibly lucky to have you contributing here Adam. This post was just great in helping some of us have a much better understanding of the nuances and cultural/tribal currents of the region.

    +3 & soon off to bed…

  175. 175
    worn says:

    @Thing Three: God Almighty this is just dumb. Under the prepared upgrade lies the substrate, which is gypsum. This dissolves when in contact with water (under pressure). The engineering errors that are baked into Mosul Dam are well known among those who know these kinds of things, as well as the danger a collapse would pose to the millions living downstream. You would have known this if you had done a modicum of basic research before popping off.

  176. 176
    daveNYC says:

    You think the Information War stuff has a chance to work on ISIS? Any call for them to abandon the city sounds remarkably like, “How about you guys come out into the open so we can kill the shit out of you without worrying about collateral damage.”

    And given their martyrtastic sales pitch and the crap they’ve gotten up to, I can’t see surrender being in the cards.

  177. 177
    bluefish says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Late in saying thank you for the reply and the link. Much appreciated. Good to see the LTG giving measured and thoughtful responses. Can only imagine the frustration that would lead someone who is clearly intelligent, experienced, and informed to align himself in ANY way with Donald on matters of such importance to the entire world. Like a river trying to flow into a plastic backyard pool. Unfortunate, for all of us, that Trump doesn’t do sophisticated analysis and nuance because his target audience has zero interest in such things and because he, himself, doesn’t have what it takes. (Unless, of course, when dealing with the matter of his unusual financials and his efforts to squiggle on through and live another day.)

    I’ve been studying Napoleon in Egypt, just for the fun of it, so your comments and your maps are most welcome. Trump seems to intimate that he’d be more interested in play acting Napoleon in Russia, with shattered, failed states subbing for Putin’s playground. We can only pray that he be escorted to his own private, gold-plated Elba and leave the mop up to the adults in the room.

    At any rate, many thanks. I do wish that military history, going back centuries, was better taught or taught at all in American high schools. One learns a lot, and much of what one takes away can actually be put to good use in dealing with simple, household disputes, among other things. It’s all right there.

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