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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

the war of the geriatric fantasists

Going to war with ISIS without even a discussion seems to be the order of the day.
Myself, let me play the crow and croak doom upon the whole business.
There were two news items recently that made me think that, once again, the war will be fought in such a way that it will be unwinnable. Not that IS might not collapse, but it will only give way to some similar organization.
The two news items are:
1.      The NYT story about IS oil that includes this graf:
Western intelligence officials say they can track the ISIS oil shipments as they move across Iraq and into Turkey’s southern border regions. Despite extensive discussions inside the Pentagon, American forces have so far not attacked the tanker trucks, though a senior administration official said Friday “that remains an option.” 

And the hearings today included this passage:      
2.    “It really comes down to building a coalition,” Dempsey replied [to senator Lindsey Graham], “so that what the Arab Muslim world see is them rejecting ISIS, not us…”
“They already reject ISIL,” Graham interjected. “Do you know any major Arab ally that embraces ISIL?”
“I know major Arab allies who fund them,” Dempsey replied
Yeah, but do they embrace them? They fund them because the Free Syrian Army couldn’t fight Assad. They were trying to beat Assad. I think they realized the folly of their ways. Let’s don’t taint the Mid East unfairly.”
I don’t think a lot of people have noticed the undercurrent in that exchange. They don’t just fund them because they were trying to beat Assad, they were urged on by Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator McCain to fund them. The tainting Graham doesn’t want is the tainting of his own hideous record. There was a nice article about it in the June Atlantic.

It will of course go down the memory hole that today’s hawks were yesterday’s material allies of ISIS. Today’s doves – myself for instance – will of course be lined up as avid supporters of our beheading friends when we point such things out, now that we have decided, in the typical American way, to declare war (except not a really really war so we can tiptoe around the constitution) against those terrorists.
The American way of war, both in D.C, and the press, is to look at it like a video game. And like a video game, the forces appear where they are when you turn it on. They are programmed into the game. Thus, there is no real history between the players.
And since they are programmed in, there is no need to ask questions about even the recent past. You would think, if we are at war against IS, that we would talk about their run of luck. After all, what we are proposing is that our allies come up with forces and throw them into battle against ISIS. Hmm, but what we are ignoring is… we already have trained allies and they have already thrown themselves into battle against ISIS and so far ISIS has destroyed them. I have not read all the transcript of the Senate hearing, but I can’t imagine that any senator spoke up and asked, let’s go over what happened in Mosul, when ISIS took it in June, and then proceeded to grab most of the Sunni heavy region of Iraq. Patrick Cockburn put the case very well back when that happened in the Independent, June 15, 2014:
“It is difficult to think of any examples in history when security forces almost a million strong, including 14 army divisions, have crumbled so immediately after attacks from an enemy force that has been estimated at between 3,000 and 5,000 strong.
But once again, this fact – that the US not only assembled an army but a huge army, armed it with the latest equipment, and trained it, and watched it fall to pieces against ISIS – is treated as an irrelevancy, a little something to be sucked down the memory hole and not bother an important general with. Because this time we are going to train an army, a huge army, from various moderate terrorist groups on our side – oops, I meant freedom fighters – and this army, which will have had no experience, is going to be vastly well equipped, and it wil just roll ISIS like a heavyweight KOing a featherweight. Now, that the recent past shows that this is an absolute fantasy doesn’t mean that we can’t turn off the video game and then turn it on again and start over. And besides, as I have read in many a news report, it is the “universal” conviction in DC that we have to stop the ISIS.

We’ve been at war for thirteen years. We’ve learned absolutely nothing, and we are still led by geriatric fantasists.

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