This is One Important Reason Why We are Still Militarily Engaged in Iraq

I keep meaning to do a post on what is going on with the ongoing operations in Iraq and Syria – honest, but so much is going on I keep getting sidetracked.

Regardless, I just saw this and I think it is important to highlight it:

We in the US bear an incredibly large amount of the moral responsibility for what is going on in Iraq and Syria. It was the failure of American strategy, and in some cases just the actual lack of American strategy, in the post invasion phases of Operation Iraqi Freedom that set the conditions for the rise of al Qaeda in Iraq and its ultimate transformation into ISIL. Right now the US led coalition is pursuing a by, with, and through strategy with our Iraqi partners to drive ISIL from Mosul, and ultimately Iraq. By, with, and through is one of the key operational concepts of the US Army’s Green Berets, which has been borrowed and adapted by Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve. The Iraqi soldier who is saving that young Iraqi boy’s life in the video above is at the tip of the spear in the fight against ISIL. The US and our coalition partners are in support. Some of that support is training. Some of it is logistics. Some of it is air support. And some of it is direct and indirect fires. But day in and day out the Iraqi regular and irregular forces are at the forefront of fixing a problem created by the strategic malpractice of the US over the past fourteen years.

If you ever wonder what we’re still doing over there, that video is your answer. We’re providing support to the Iraqis that are risking their lives to protect each other in order to clean up a mess of our making.

We’re doing penance.

73 replies
  1. 1

    Have we made any progress on letting e.g. the translators come over here?

  2. 2
    Mary G says:

    And some of it is direct and indirect fires.

    What do you mean by that?

  3. 3
    amk says:

    Well said, Adam. You broke it, you fix it.

  4. 4
    Lyrebird says:

    Yes… for anyone who knows what the “German Marshall Plan” is/was, I have been wishing we could move from war-style reparations to a, let’s see, “Pan-Iraqi Powell Plan” (he helped break it, he could help rebuild it)

    For now, though, yes these folks are directly at risk trying to stop the madness.

  5. 5
    Felonius Monk says:

    We’re doing penance.

    So 3 Hail Marys and an Our Father by our Neocon elites didn’t cut it?

  6. 6
    marcion says:

    in hindsight Obama’s decision to disengage completely from Iraq was a mistake. At least when Syria fell apart, we should have set up a containment strategy that would have stopped ISIS at the Syrian border.

  7. 7
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Felonius Monk:

    They also tried scourging and wearing a hair shirt to work but, strangely, that didn’t fix the problem either.

  8. 8
    NYCMT says:

    @marcion: 2008 Status of Forces Agreement. It wasn’t Obama’s decision. It was Maliki’s.

  9. 9
    jonas says:

    The last time Hitler left the chancellery bunker on April 20, it was to award medals to a group of 10-12 year-old Hitler Jugend boys who were preparing for the defense of Berlin. Not seven year-olds, I don’t think, but still a sign of a sick regime in its death throes.

  10. 10
    efgoldman says:

    We in the US bear an incredibly large amount of the moral responsibility for what is going on in Iraq and Syria.

    Well, SOME of us do. Klowns with (R) after their names, mostly.

  11. 11
    Kropadope says:

    @Felonius Monk:

    So 3 Hail Marys and an Our Father by our Neocon elites didn’t cut it?

    Like they ever felt guilty. If anything, their response was to turn up the bluster until they lied their way back into power.

  12. 12
    amk says:

    @marcion: google sofa.

  13. 13
    Temporarily Max McGee (Until Death!) says:

    We’re doing penance.

    We probably need to perform acts of perfect contrition.

    But what do I know- I became an atheist when I was 14- or 15-years old.

  14. 14
    jonas says:

    @marcion:

    Obama’s decision to disengage completely from Iraq was a mistake.

    Let’s at least be accurate here. Obama pledged to get out of Iraq, yes, but his hand was forced early when Al-Maliki’s government refused to sign a continuing status of forces agreement. At that point, Obama and his advisers weren’t going to keep US troops in a country where they could be in legal jeopardy, so they chose to leave. Staying at that point would have required ousting Al-Maliki by force and installing a US-friendly puppet regime which would have essentially wiped out what little we had accomplished since the invasion and just re-ignited furious resistance on all sides. Like in Libya a few years later, there simply were no good options and Obama chose the least-worst.

  15. 15
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mary G: Sorry, artillery terms of art. Direct fires are artillery that is being fired line of sight. Indirect fires are not.

  16. 16
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @amk: Yep. Though I didn’t personally break it. I spent the better part of a year there trying to fix it. And I’ve offered several times to go back and help some more.

  17. 17
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Felonius Monk: Not so much.

  18. 18
    Thru the Looking Glass... says:

    We in the US bear an incredibly large amount of the moral responsibility for what is going on in Iraq and Syria.

    I would agree w/ this completely… us and the Brits… and French…

  19. 19
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @marcion: President Obama didn’t have a lot of options in regard to that disengagement. We didn’t have a SOFA agreement, we weren’t going to get one, and the Iraqi government made it clear we were to leave. As for containment – a fair amount of the early approach was intended to do just that. Part of the problem is that ISIL went from being a bit of a nuisance to a full on problem in a very short period of time.

  20. 20
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Thru the Looking Glass…: There is plenty of blame to go around.

  21. 21
    NobodySpecial says:

    We owe the Kurds an autonomous state, too.

  22. 22
    Thru the Looking Glass... says:

    @Adam L Silverman: No doubt about that…

  23. 23
    seaboogie says:

    A sad, sad image – and an indication of who and what we are dealing with. Putin is behind that, Syria, the destabilization of Europe with refugees, and upending our own government.

    Trump is not Hitler. He’s a mentally ill impetuous buffoon with no self-control who is seriously compromised. The dude with the plan is Putin, and Trump is one of his several puppets.

  24. 24
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Part of the problem is that ISIL went from being a bit of a nuisance to a full on problem in a very short period of time.

    wasn’t that because Maliki–him again– cut off the money to the Sunnis in the west of the country? basically undoing “the Surge”?

    My recollection is he wanted the US forces to stay, and Obama wanted them to stay, but NM was afraid a new SOFA would be the end of his power, if not his death warrant. Cutting of the Sunnis in Anbar province was just some old fashioned sectarian spite

  25. 25
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: Maliki’s coalition wanted us to leave so he could go after the Sunnis, and other Shi’a – the ones that were not affiliated with his coalition of exile Shi’a, he saw as a threat. The Sunnis were okay with this as they wanted to settle the same scores. We had to be out of the way for this to happen.

  26. 26
    seaboogie says:

    We’re doing penance.

    I wonder if Dubya is thinking this when he does his paintings. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he paints a lot of wounded warriors these days.

  27. 27
    Death Panel Truck says:

    We in the US bear an incredibly large amount of the moral responsibility for what is going on in Iraq and Syria.

    Who is this “we,” kemosabe? I didn’t vote for the monsters who caused this, nor did anyone close to me.

  28. 28
    Duke's Archives says:

    One question — Where are we? I mean it’s kind of phased into just “Afghanistan/Iraq/Libya and..” Where would your average civilian go to find out?

  29. 29
    Another Scott says:

    I agree with everything you say above, Adam, but some things continue to bother me:

    1) Why isn’t there a stronger regional effort to help stabilize the region? Pan Arabism was once a thing (for good and bad reasons). Now it seems like regional defense and cooperation don’t apply in the Middle East unless the Emirates or SA is paying for it. It seems like too many of the players in the region are more than happy to send money and young men off to fight in foreign lands (and keep them out of trouble at home), to teach those Evil Others a lesson…

    2) How long will we have to stay, and does our staying actually make things worse? Yes, we’ve been in Japan for 75 years. But there aren’t militants attacking us and the government we support for years on end…

    W and Cheney and Rumsfeld and all the rest made a huge mess in Iraq. It may be another 2 generations (or more) before some sort of stability is restored. I agree that we have a huge responsibility in trying to help the Iraqis get back on their feet as a reasonably peaceful society that doesn’t threaten its neighbors. Syria and Yemen and … just seem like a mess to me (Syria most of all). If there were a concerted regional effort by neighbors to demand that the world act and commit to supporting a negotiated resolution that results in a peaceful population with a representative government that respects minorities, I’d be all for us providing as much assistance as is necessary (even if that means sitting down with Hezbollah and Iran and Turkey and Russia and all the other neighbors). I don’t see much good coming of us taking towns here and there and driving Daesh out here and there (but having to stand back while Assad is protected by Russia, and stand back while Erdogan beats up on the Kurds and prevents them from having reasonable self-determination, etc., etc.) while alliances on the ground change names “and lines on the map / moved from side to side”.

    We can and should support reasonable governments that are trying to do right by their people, especially when we broke their society on false pretenses. We do have a responsibility there. But we (especially just our Army) can’t rebuild their societies, and we can’t protect them by ourselves when AK-47s are everywhere, when explosives are everywhere, and when there are too many young men who are too angry at the US and the secular world…

    What’s the solution? Dunno. Probably just more of what we’ve been doing – incremental progress in destroying al Qaeda/Daesh/etc. But I assume we’ll be fighting them (under different names) for years no matter how great our “victory” in any particular battles.

    My $0.02.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  30. 30
    Burnspbesq says:

    @Felonius Monk:

    So 3 Hail Marys and an Our Father by our Neocon elites didn’t cut it?

    Our sins in Iraq were a little more serious than trying to imagine what Sister Mary Catherine looks like with no clothes on.

  31. 31
    Davebo says:

    @Death Panel Truck: That’s the beauty of democracy. Vote as you will, but when it’s all over you own it.

  32. 32
    Davebo says:

    @Another Scott:

    I agree that we have a huge responsibility in trying to help the Iraqis get back on their feet as a reasonably peaceful society that doesn’t threaten its neighbors.

    We just elected Trump. How can we believe the mythical democratic Iraq installed by us won’t threaten it’s neighbors?

  33. 33
    Eric U. says:

    @Thru the Looking Glass…:

    I would agree w/ this completely… us and the Brits… and French…

    you forgot Poland

  34. 34
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Another Scott: Pan-Arabism always had more support by select Arab intellectuals and was used for top cover by select Arab leaders than it had widespread by in from all the different Arabs throughout the Middle East and the Maghreb. There are 73 dialects of Arabic. Some of those dialects are so far apart they might as well be distinct cognate languages, rather than dialects. Egypt has a very distinct culture with significant elements that are pre-Arab. So does (did?) Iraq. Saudi Arabia is a mishmash of desert (badawi) and city (hadari) forced together and held together by the House of Saud and the descendants of Ibn Wahhab. It’s late and I could spend a long time laying this all out, but Arab tends to get used the way white supremacists use European. As if just because you’re from the continent, there are no differences among the different people/societies of Europe. Same thing with Arabs. Technically anyone who is a native Arabic speaker is an Arab. But that obscures a lot more than it clarifies.

    As for staying there or being involved, that’s a long discussion. And a lot of it revolves around the concept of what has to be done to set the conditions to secure the peace and then what must be done to help our local partners to do so.

  35. 35
    Another Scott says:

    @Davebo: They haven’t so far. ;-)

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  36. 36
    Thru the Looking Glass... says:

    @Eric U.: Huh?

  37. 37
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Duke’s Archives: I’m not sure I understand the question.

  38. 38
    Another Scott says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Yup, all this stuff is complicated, and you’ve forgotten more than I’ll ever know about it. I appreciate your posts here.

    I know there’s no easy solution, but it would be nice if our leaders could lay out a sensible plan, and it would be even nicer if our fellow citizens could carefully consider it and not be led around by the nose by the likes of Fox and Breitbart and all the rest to respond with their lizard brains…

    (sigh)

    ‘night all.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  39. 39
    Chet Murthy says:

    @marcion: @NYCMT: Others have noted the 2008 SOFA. But it’s also worth pointing out that until Maliki understood he needed our help, and then was pushed out, the US couldn’t do much. Moreoever, one thing that Obama did, as he slowly inched us back in, is to make sure that Iraqis are the tip of the spear. I’m no IR/FP/whatever theorist. But from where I sit, this is “building alliances” and “only help people who help themselves”. Someday, maybe this’ll transition into “soft power”.

    I think it’s too easy to just say “we shoulda stayed in”. There’s no guarantee we could have even gotten the -Shiites- onside as we did, not to speak of what Sunni tribes are now onside with the Iraqi government. I fear it -required- letting the Iraqi govt learn the value of working with the US, and the -costs- of continuing to stomp on the Sunnis.

  40. 40
    Duke's Archives says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I meant that there’s so much about this group and that group. I read in the paper that we airlifted some group against the Syrian government or something. Where would somebody, *bigly* ignorant of the current conflict, go for the basics?

  41. 41
    Yarrow says:

    Any thoughts on how climate change will influence things in the Middle East? I know the drought was supposed to be one contributing factor to what happened in Syria. It seems like as a region they are at risk for quite high temperatures and not enough water. That’s going to be an ongoing and increasing problem, which could lead to more unrest.

  42. 42
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Yarrow: It will make things worse.

  43. 43
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Duke’s Archives: Okay, I’m tracking. If you can wait a day or so I’ll put together a post with some good links for figuring out who is who. How’s that?

  44. 44
    Mart says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I don’t know. Half of me says we broke the pottery so we have to pay for it, other half says how many more Friedman units, blood, and treasure before mission accomplished?

    If ISIS retreats primarily to Soviet backed Assad/Syria, and considering the Trump regime alliance with Russia; does the regime dump “friendly” militias and back Assad with Russia? Would that be too much for Saudi Arabia to stomach? It is all so upside down now. Intertubes talk about Russia having built out a large Syrian air base, positioned an aircraft carrier, and expanded naval presence. Do not see how this ends well.

  45. 45
    hugely says:

    @Thru the Looking Glass…: also if I am not mistaken the fact that we invaded Iraq doesn’t leave us much moral authority when we might chastise or sanction Russia when Putin pulls shit like invading Georgia, Crimea, Some-kinda-stan. And yes reading the kind of awful shit ISIS does makes me want send more boots back on the ground (or my own old fat fuck self) but that is probably what ISIS wants to be legitimized.

  46. 46
    Duke's Archives says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Please don’t make an effort on my account! It’s just that there are so many strands and tangled webs it can get a bit confusing!

  47. 47
    hugely says:

    @Death Panel Truck: yea but not sure the world or the families of the 100k’s of Iraqi dead see it that way. I didnt vote for those fucks but I am an American so I have to own the shit sandwich too

    OK @Davebo got there b4 i did

  48. 48
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mart: The Syrian portion is a wicked problem. I have spent a lot of time recently, and will spend more time over the next couple of weeks, burning grey matter on this question.

  49. 49
    Scamp Dog says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I thought direct fire was when the firing unit could see the target itself, while indirect fire had some other source telling the artillery where to fire.

  50. 50
    Thru the Looking Glass... says:

    @hugely:

    also if I am not mistaken the fact that we invaded Iraq doesn’t leave us much moral authority when we might chastise or sanction Russia when Putin pulls shit like invading Georgia, Crimea, Some-kinda-stan.

    That would put us behind the eight ball, so to speak, wouldn’t it?

    It’d be nice if we, the US, would stop doing some of the dumb shit we do because it does weaken our hand in places where we could do some good and also, dumb shit has this unpleasant way of coming back biting you on the ass…

    And yes reading the kind of awful shit ISIS does makes me want send more boots back on the ground (or my own old fat fuck self) but that is probably what ISIS wants to be legitimized.

    If I’m not mistaken, that is indeed a time honored way of boosting your own profile… pick a fight w/ the biggest guy in the room…

  51. 51
    Duke's Archives says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I’m sure many people are looking forward to your analysis (no pressure!)

  52. 52
    Joey Maloney says:

    @Death Panel Truck: “In a free society some are guilty, but all are responsible.” –Abraham Joshua Heschel

  53. 53
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Scamp Dog: You are correct. I am tired and apparently do not remember as much of my artillery doctrine and concepts as I thought I did. I will amend my response. Good catch. I was hoping Omnes would come along and double check, but appreciate you doing so.

  54. 54
    guachi says:

    This is my day job, supporting the Iraq mission. I’ll be glad when I finally – finally – don’t have to deal with Iraq any more.

  55. 55
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @guachi: Unless you’re either approaching retirement or terminally ill you’re going to be dealing with Iraq for a while.

  56. 56

    I keep remembering Robert X. Cringley’s description of his experience in Teheran in 1986 when he saw just one horrific battle in the eight-year-long Iran-Iraq War. He wrote this in 2004, just after Bush was reelected (sorry, no link — the PBS page where I originally got this has now disappeared):

    I…decided to go see the war since I had been in Beirut and Angola, but had never seen trench warfare, which is what I was told they had going in Iran. So I took a taxi to the front, introduced myself to the local commander, who had gone, as I recall, to Iowa State, and spent a couple days waiting for the impending human wave attack. That attack was to be conducted primarily with 11-and 12-year-old boys as troops, nearly all of them unarmed. There were several thousand kids and their job was to rise out of the trench, praising Allah, run across No Man’s Land, be killed by the Iraqi machine gunners, then go directly to Paradise, do not pass GO, do not collect 200 dinars. And that’s exactly what happened in a battle lasting less than 10 minutes. None of the kids fired a shot or made it all the way to the other side. And when I asked the purpose of this exercise, I was told it was to demoralize the cowardly Iraqi soldiers.
    It was the most horrific event I have ever seen, and I once covered a cholera epidemic in Bangladesh that killed 40,000 people.
    Waiting those two nights for the attack was surreal. Some kids acted as though nothing was wrong while others cried and puked. But when the time came to praise Allah and enter Paradise, not a single boy tried to stay behind.
    Now put this in a current context. What effective limit is there to the number of Islamic kids willing to blow themselves to bits? There is no limit, which means that a Bush Doctrine can’t really stand in that part of the world.

    It strikes me that this observation is likely still true.

  57. 57
    Thru the Looking Glass... says:

    @Cathie from Canada: Boy… ya know what’s really depressing, Cathie?

    Reading Adam’s last post…

    Unless you’re either approaching retirement or terminally ill you’re going to be dealing with Iraq for a while.

    And then reading yours…

    What sort of Hell on Earth have we helped create over there for those poor people?

  58. 58
    Mike in DC says:

    I’m still trying to figure out which people to follow on Twitter for natsec/counterintel/Russia stuff. Doesn’t help that half of them call the other half frauds.

  59. 59
    liberal says:

    @jonas: in Libya, Obama chose the least worst? Lol.

  60. 60
    liberal says:

    @hugely: poor, poor Georgia. It’s not like they did anything to provoke Russia.

    Oh, wait…

  61. 61
    Betty Cracker says:

    Some mistakes can’t be made right.

  62. 62
    TenguPhule says:

    We’re doing penance.

    What is this we bullshit? Not one of the fucking architects of the Iraq war is actually doing penance in Iraq.

    We’re saps that got stuck with the fucking bill.

    The real culprits are polluting the air with their breathing here in the USA.

  63. 63
    agorabum says:

    @NYCMT: That’s true that the SOFA called on the withdrawal. however, the Iraqi government asked for a force to stay. The administration said they wanted parliament to vote on it. Parliament would not approve it.

    But….they didn’t vote a new SOFA for the current ops. They got the same deal offered before by the Iraqis – that the administration would invite them in and they could handle some operations with coordination.

    Obama followed the withdrawal schedule, but he could have fudged it if he really wanted to. However, it was Maliki’s corruption after the US left that let ISIS just roll over the Iraqi army troops That failure did seem to jolt the Iraqi ‘establishment’ into realizing that there are consequences to not having an inclusive state that they try to run somewhat competently.

  64. 64
    debbie says:

    Absolute bullshit that anyone could do this to a child. Only cowards make other people do their work for them. Oh, sorry, I thought we were talking about conservatives.

    I still think wars would be ended if the generals were made to be at the front of the lines and literally lead the attacks.

  65. 65
    philadelphialawyer says:

    “We’re providing support to the Iraqis that are risking their lives to protect each other in order to clean up a mess of our making.”

    We’re providing “support,” ie weapons, spies, special forces, “air support” and “direct and indirect fire” (ie bombs, bombs that end up killing quite a few civilians, including little boys), and so on, to one set of Iraqi factions so they can stay in power as opposed to another set of Iraqi factions. True, we bear a great deal of responsibility for the mess that exists, but the notion that ISIS is so uniquely evil that we just “have” to stay in Iraq for moral reasons is absolute non sense. We are there for muddled, geo political reasons. To keep in power something that at least puts a fig leaf on our having toppled the Saddam regime. And to keep out of power forces that are opposed to us, and our endless meddling in the Middle East.

    Like the Albanian who kneeled to the Clintons in the last Foreign Policy by Dickensian Anecdote Episode you offered, this is rank and lurid sentimentalism. Something to convince children that the US war machine operates for good. That this kind of thing meets with pretty much uncritical acceptance on a left-liberal blog is indicative of just how far the cult of the military has infected our society.

  66. 66
    Another Scott says:

    @Cathie from Canada: DeLong seems to have the full article, but as you say, the original seems to have suffered link-rot.

    Thanks for posting it.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  67. 67
    D58826 says:

    @jonas: and to add to that – the SOFA that Obama was operating under was negotiated and signed by Bush (43). Remember the shoe throwing incident? That was the signing ceremony

  68. 68
    Another Scott says:

    @Mike in DC: https://twitter.com/juliaioffe seems to be pretty good, but I’m no expert. She also writes for TheAtlantic, so one doesn’t have to just try to figure out what the 140 character line noise means – one can read actual paragraphs and stuff!

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  69. 69
    low-tech cyclist says:

    IIRC, one of the non-negotiable conditions that Iraq put on a potential 2008 SOFA was the end to U.S. troops’ legal immunity for acts committed in Iraq. That of course was a non-starter from the American side.

    It was the failure of American strategy, and in some cases just the actual lack of American strategy, in the post invasion phases of Operation Iraqi Freedom that set the conditions for the rise of al Qaeda in Iraq and its ultimate transformation into ISIL.

    We knew even before the invasion that Bush had no plan for the postwar; it was reported in the papers in February 2003, but astonishingly, it was only a one-day story.

    But it’s hard for me to imagine any workable plan for the postwar. In Kuwait in 1991, we were restoring a pre-existing government whose authority was recognized and accepted. That wasn’t the case in Iraq, it wasn’t like we could have successfully installed Ahmed Chalabi (remember him?) in Saddam’s place (I think the Bushies wanted to do this, but thought better of it), and what good alternatives were available?

    AFAICT, the only right choice, having verified that Saddam didn’t have any WMDs in any of the places we expected to find them, was to not invade at all. Saddam held Iraq together by force and fear, but that was better for most Iraqis (and pretty much all Iraqi women, who lost all their freedom and autonomy post-invasion) than the chaos that followed.

    Yeah, we owe Iraq. Way more than we can ever pay back, it goes without saying. You can’t bring back the dead.

  70. 70
    Svensker says:

    It wasn’t the lack of planning that was the problem — although that was indefensibly bad. It was the fact that WE INVADED A COUNTRY THAT HADN’T DONE ANYTHING TO US for no FUCKING REASON IN HELL that was the problem. Since we haven’t figured out that that was the problem and haven’t reckoned with the ramifications of that mistake, we’re not going to be able to address the consequences. We are all going to be paying for that mistake and the refusal to recognize it for a very long time. That kid is paying for it right now. Maybe when our own kids start to pay that price we’ll start thinking about it. I doubt it. We’ll just try to kill more of those kids. Fucking assholes.

  71. 71
    sharl says:

    @NobodySpecial:

    We owe the Kurds an autonomous state, too.

    If that is in fact a debt owed by the U.S., it is highly doubtful we’re in a position to make good on it. The Turks would pull out all the stops to prevent it. That’s not just the position of an increasing autocratic and (IMO) megalomaniacal Turkish President Erdoğan, but by all evidence I’ve read is a popular opinion among most (non-Kurdish) Turks.

    Traditional Kurdish territories are all deeply landlocked, and lie either within Turkey’s boundaries or abut the Turkish border. We in the meantime are half a world away, such logistical considerations being yet another reason – beyond the unnecessary, massive death and destruction – our Glorious Iraq Adventure was so fucking stupid.

    The Kurds may be screwed in this situation, which sadly is the story of their history. At least for the Syrian Kurds, their best option (IMO) may be to stay with the just-concluded military cooperation agreement they made with Russia, who have bases in Syria and (at the moment) some shared goals with the Kurds, i.e., defeat of Daesh (aka ISIS, aka ISIL). [The barrel bombing and general massive killing by Russia and Assad’s forces of Syrian rebels and civilians caught in the cross-fire are another (awful) thing.]

    Even cynical and skeptical leftie veteran observers of war are favorably impressed with how the YPG (Syrian Kurdish militia) is conducting itself under such awful circumstances, e.g., protecting civilians as much as they can and not mistreating non-Kurds (apparently there are a lot of Arab volunteers in the YPG). And it has been gratifying to see the U.S. sticking with the YPG up to this point, though that’s not so much out of generosity but more a recognition that YPG has been a valuable partnering ground force in anti-Daesh operations. But if Turkey delivers an ultimatum to the U.S. that it’s either YPG or continued access to the Incirlik Airfield, I suspect (as does the YPG apparently) that the U.S. will choose the latter. Thus I think their deal with the Russians is probably their best bet, at least for now.

    The politics, attitude and large role of Turkey in this whole clusterfuck doesn’t get nearly the attention in Western media that it merits.

  72. 72
    Thru the Looking Glass... says:

    @low-tech cyclist:

    You can’t bring back the dead.

    Yeah, but Republicans keep trying w/ Reagan…

  73. 73
    Jado says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I would let you if I had ANY confidence in our leaders’ abilities to do it the right way. Or even effectively. As it is, I’d rather not waste your life and efforts on fuzzy, counter-productive, and self-contradictory operations in a hostile combat zone. Which is what the geniuses in charge would end up with, just like they did the last time.

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