ISIS

US Now Bombing ISIS in Syria…Developing

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The United States military is bombing targets in Syria now according to ABC News:

American airstrikes against ISIS targets are underway in Syria, according to a Pentagon official.

"I can confirm that U.S. military and partner nation forces are undertaking military action against ISIL [ISIS] terrorists in Syria using a mix of fighter, bomber and Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles," Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said. "Given that these operations are ongoing, we are not in a position to provide additional details at this time. The decision to conduct theses strikes was made earlier today by the U.S. Central Command commander under authorization granted him by the commander in chief. We will provide more details later as operationally appropriate."

In a national address on Sept. 10, President Obama said the first part of his strategy to counter ISIS was to "conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists."

"Moreover, I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL [ISIS] in Syria as well as Iraq," Obama said. "This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven."

And so it begins. Who would have thought even a year ago that a) we would be bombing Syria and b) the target would not be the Assad regime?

From a Pentagon statement via USA Today:

"I can confirm that U.S. military and partner nation forces are undertaking military action against ISIL terrorists in Syria using a mix of fighter, bomber and Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles," said Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary. "Given that these operations are ongoing, we are not in a position to provide additional details at this time."

Worth remembering: Josh Rogin in The Daily Beast, on September 15, 2014:

The White House has an answer for critics who want to know how the Obama administration can justify striking ISIS inside Syria under international law: If and when we actually do it, we will come up with a legal justification then.

NEXT: Pentagon: U.S. Bombing Syria

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  1. Bomb them. Arm them. MAKE UP YOUR MINDS.

    1. Dessert topping or floor wax. Why choose when you can have both?

  2. But we are assured this is not a “war”. Nor does it cost any money, since only wars declared (with congressional approval) by GOPers cost money; Obo’s wars don’t cost anything.
    And you can be sure the weapons are only hitting the ISI(X) people; Obo is so good at finding the good guys.

  3. “Moreover, I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL [ISIS] in Syria as well as Iraq,”

    So it is okay to bomb Syria only if we claim to be bombing ISIL. Which is totally different than bombing Syria to teach that bucket headed Assad a lesson.

    Got it.

    I do so appreciate moral and legal clarity.

    1. Ooops. Sorry, Mr. Assad. That one got away from us. Friendly fire, and all that.

      Luv ya,

      Barack

  4. How do we know who we are bombing? Do ISIS/ISIL (whatever the fuck they are called one week from the next) have signs on top of their houses or something?

    1. Waffen Hans|9.22.14 @ 10:05PM|#
      “How do we know who we are bombing?”

      Same way we “know” what it costs. Same way we “know” how O-care is saving the world. Same way we “know” Bush is at fault.
      Uh, Obo will tell us…

    2. The figure it out with computers.

      1. The (very) old joke is the accountants work it out with a pencil…

    3. They’re using Assad’s military intelligence network to identify the ISIS locations.

    4. Same way we knew that our drone strikes weren’t killing innocent moms and kids.

  5. Various SLDs, but it doesn’t make sense to bomb IS(IS/IL) in Iraq but not Syria, unless we can get someone else to do it (has anybody been?).

  6. But which bombing thread are we to assemble in? /so confused.

  7. “And so it begins. Who would have thought even a year ago that a) we would be bombing Syria and b) the target would not be the Assad regime?”

    Well if Assad had beheaded a couple of journalists, I guess we’d be bombing him instead?

    Or maybe it’s the support of the establishment Republicans that’s crucial. I guess Obama takes orders from them now?

    Regardless, yes, it’s amazing that we’re bombing Assad’s enemies inside Syria. Incidentally, this is the reason our Arab allie “allies” in the region are participating reluctantly–if at all…

    It isn’t because they like ISIS. It’s because they don’t understand why they should fight this war, when the primary beneficiary will be Iran–their main rivals in the region.

    Actually, I don’t understand why we’re fighting against rebels in Syria, when the primary beneficiary of that will be Iran either.

    ISIS is nowhere near as big of a threat to American security as Iran. Iran has a nuclear program, and they’ve already used multistage rockets to launch satellites into space.

    Iran thinks keeping Assad in power is crucial to its own security, which is why Hezbollah is in Syria, why the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is in Syria, …

    Either Obama is a genius, and his plan to rid Assad and Iran of their enemies in Syria is too smart for smart people to understand–or Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing now any more than when he did all of the other stupid things he’s done.

    1. *ISIS is nowhere near as big of a threat to American security as Iran. Iran has a nuclear program, and they’ve already used multistage rockets to launch satellites into space.*

      But how can the Israelis take out the Iranian nuclear program if we don’t clear out the ISIS baddies from their flight path first?

  8. To what extent did the US’s destabilization of Iraq in the first place (by taking out Hussein) lead directly to ISIS/ISIL? It seems like the Obama administration has at least started to recognize that for all his faults, having someone like Assad in charge of things in Syria is preferable to having the whole region in control of an angry bloodthirsty mob. Hindsight is 20/20, but hopefully our brilliant leaders in DC will start to think about the idea that the devil you know may be much better than the devil you don’t. I mean, as long as the idea of “mind your own fucking business” is out of the question.

    1. to having the whole region in control of an angry bloodthirsty mob.

      But it isn’t a bloodthirsty mob. If it was it wouldn’t be the problem that it is. It’s an increasingly sophisticated and well financed organization directed by former Iraqi military leaders with bloodthirsty and fanatical soldiers, which is a who different kettle of fish.

      1. To what extent do those former Iraqi military dead-enders present a security threat to the United States?

        Didn’t those former Iraqi military leaders form the core of the insurgency that bloomed and flourished as a result of our last intervention?

        What assurance can the Obama Administration give us that intervening against them now won’t, likewise, increase ISIS’ support among the Iraqi and Syrian peoples?

        1. 1) I didn’t mention the US at all. 1a) They are absolutely a threat in the region. 2) “Dead-enders?” They have proven themselves quite capable, or at least, equal to their circumstances thus far so your ridicule seems.. odd. 3) I think you might be mistaking me for someone who thinks what we are doing is a good idea. I’m not.

          1. I was agreeing with you about the “dead enders” (which is what Rumsfeld famously called them). I was going for irony there. Yeah, Rummy called them “dead enders”, what, 11 years ago? What should we call them now? “Long-haulers”?

            I wasn’t thinking you support whatever the hell it is Obama thinks he’s doing, but I haven’t seen many other people connecting ISIS with the insurgency before–and I was riffing on that observation. Those are the questions I wish more people would think about.

            Didn’t we learn anything from out last experience in Iraq?

            …and that’s just a rhetorical question.

            If we started referring to ISIS as “insurgents”, like we used to, would that make people less likely to support whatever Obama’s want to do out of fear?

            1. For anyone who’s interested in a trip down memory lane, here’s this:

              “In those regions where pockets of dead-enders are trying to reconstitute, Gen. (Tommy) Franks and his team are rooting them out,” Rumsfeld said, referring to the U.S. commander in Iraq. “In short, the coalition is making good progress.”

              —-USA Today, June 18, 2003

              http://usatoday30.usatoday.com…..feld_x.htm

              We’ve been “making good progress” on those dead-enders now for 11 years–but for some reason, it seems like they keep getting stronger all the time. Now they call themselves “ISIS”, and I’m supposed to be scared they’re gonna come chop my head off.

              1. *Now they call themselves “ISIS”, and I’m supposed to be scared they’re gonna come chop my head off.*

                To be fair, ISIS is calling on their followers and sympathizes to attack any and all targets in the Western World, so it’s conceivable that one of them and a rusty scimitar might end up in your location, although fairly highly unlikely.

                1. Al Qaeda has been trying to kill as many Americans as they can for thirteen years now. …or do you honestly believe they’ve been holding back?

      2. I really shouldn’t pretend to know the details here, so I will defer to you on this. But my impression is that while you’re right about this in terms of the “top brass” and higher levels of organization, the recruitment (and perhaps in many cases, conscription) of young men into ISIL has increased exponentially over the last few weeks/months, from a few thousand to nearly 50k, and it seems difficult to believe that this can occur with the top brass remaining in charge of the moment-to-moment activities of the men walking around killing and beheading people with machetes and pickaxes all over the place. So at the moment, at the level of individual killers and victims, these are not military engagements. Effectively it’s a bloodthirsty mob, with support from a well-funded and perhaps “sophisticating” organization. Again, just my view from a distance…

        1. Actually from what I understand ISIS has 7 regional commanders who are authorized to launch attacks, train soldiers, etc. on their own authority, which is a wild divergence from the typical Arab military set up and grants them a level of strategic flexibility that is virtually unknown in the region. Barbarians can be organized. History has numerous examples of horrific crimes being committed by otherwise well disciplined and effective armies. The two traits are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

          1. Oh, I totally agree. I just don’t know where ISIL currently lands on that spectrum, which is why I ask as a question. This might technically be a “Godwin”, but perhaps not wrong: the Nazis behaved a lot like this in the early days before they learned that putting people in camps, and getting some forced labor out of them before killing them, was more efficient than killing people in their homes. Scary shit.

            1. “This might technically be a “Godwin”, but perhaps not wrong: the Nazis behaved a lot like this in the early days before they learned that putting people in camps, and getting some forced labor out of them before killing them, was more efficient than killing people in their homes. Scary shit.”

              For anyone trying to draw an analogy to WWII, keep in mind that Overy was *wrong*; It WAS about economics.
              So, no, the ISI(X) (as a military organization) isn’t gonna threaten anyone who isn’t there.

          2. History has numerous examples of horrific crimes being committed by otherwise well disciplined and effective armies. The two traits are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

            In AD&D terms, we’d call this alignment Lawful Evil.

                1. “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons”

                  Are you Unearthing Arcana for us?

                  1. I think Craig would be a gibbering mouther.

                    Josh a gelatinous cube.

                    Tony a hobgoblin.

                    American socialist would need to be something lawful evil.

    2. There probably wouldn’t be an ISIS if we hadn’t deposed Saddam, or if there were, it might have mostly been Saddam Hussein’s problem as it might have come if the Arab Spring had come to Iraq.

      Incidentally, has anyone gotten their heads around how much of a security threat ISIS is to American security anyway?

      More importantly, from an American security perspective, Iran wouldn’t be in the position it’s in now if we hadn’t toppled Saddam Hussein. That was one of the big reasons why Bush Sr. didn’t invade Iraq in 1991, and it was still an excellent reason to oppose the Iraq War in 2003, too.

      1. Ken Shultz|9.22.14 @ 10:30PM|#
        “Incidentally, has anyone gotten their heads around how much of a security threat ISIS is to American security anyway?”

        I’m not sure that takes a lot of effort: Zero, except for the US citizens who are there.
        And they should get the hell out.

        1. I suspect North Korea is a bigger security threat than ISIS.

          1. I’m sure there will be scare-stories about ‘hacking military secrets’ and assorted other hogwash, but I can see no threat to the US other than that.
            Yes, they are blood-thirsty bleevers, and they are smack-dab in the middle of a whole lot of other blood-thirsty bleevers.
            I’m not even gonna watch the news to find out which bleevers be-head more than the others.

        2. “Incidentally, has anyone gotten their heads around how much of a security threat ISIS is to American security anyway?”

          Several U.S. officials have publicly admitted that IS/ISIS/ISIL (hereafter “IS”) poses no real threat to the United States.

          Why then is our government launching an open-ended and expensive counter-terrorism effort against IS?
          My early impression is that, following the beheading videos, the U.S. Congress wants to show us that they’re “doing something.” Additionally, the Obama administration and the planners at the Pentagon want to use the threat of IS to weaken President Assad’s administration/regime enough to allow the insurgency to topple the old guard. I’ve also thought of the possibility that during the military action against IS in Syria that a stray missile or bomb might “accidentally” kill President Assad.
          It seems possible to me that the U.S. government didn’t get the war that it wanted against Syria (despite poison gas being used against citizens) and now it can indirectly achieve regime chance using the threat of IS.

          Regards,

          Charles

      2. *There probably wouldn’t be an ISIS if we hadn’t deposed Saddam*

        Golly gee, I guess Saddam should not have invaded Kuwait, then.

  9. I could either bang my head against a brick wall or drink. I found a nice IPA by Lagunitas called Maximus. Should’ve bought more.

  10. “Incidentally, has anyone gotten their heads around how much of a security threat ISIS is to American security anyway?”

    If the question is modified by “right now”, I think the answer is easy. But it might be worth thinking about what’s likely to happen if the US does nothing.

    I should say that I am probably one of the most non-interventionist people I know. I’m less certain about the need for US intervention at this point than Rand Paul, as an example. But I think it does need to be considered whether leaving a “festering wound” in the ME, especially one that’s arguably a direct cause of previous US interventions, obligates us to at least think about what might come to be if there is not a US intervention to stop or slow down ISIS/ISIL. Not to Godwin the hell out of this thread, but I’m wondering whether we need to think about this as the kind of decision-making that needed to be done before US involvement in WWII. No extant threat, but if left unchecked, could be a huge problem down the road.

    1. Mendelism|9.22.14 @ 11:44PM|#
      “If the question is modified by “right now”, I think the answer is easy. But it might be worth thinking about what’s likely to happen if the US does nothing.”

      Yes, and the answer to that is: If and when there is some credible threat, we might consider doing something.
      There is NONE.

    2. “If the question is modified by “right now”, I think the answer is easy. But it might be worth thinking about what’s likely to happen if the US does nothing.”

      Doing something costly and inconsequential is worse than doing nothing.

      …and if our efforts were inconsequential in fighting the insurgency back when we had troops on the ground, I don’t see why we should expect a better outcome now.

      It’s important to remember that ISIS began with the insurgency in Iraq–which was created and became as big as it is as a result of us “doing something”.

      Doing something that is costly and consequently increases local support for ISIS is even worse than doing something inconsequential, isn’t it?

      1. Maybe. I don’t think we can know that in advance, which is why I’m asking.

        I don’t think what was done in the past was “inconsequential” at all. It has led to disastrous consequences, e.g., the strengthening of ISIL.

        1. Yeah, that’s my point…

          “Doing something” can be worse than “doing nothing” or doing something inconsequential–and if we were unable to destroy the insurgency before with all those resources we had on the ground “doing something”, why should we think “doing something” is going to destroy ISIS now?

          We’re probably not willing to do what it takes to destroy ISIS. It would have to look like what we did to Hamburg, Dresden, Hiroshima, Tokyo, or Nagasaki.

          1. And someone as bad or worse would fill the vacuum we created. Unless we occupy with millions of troops for decades. We are technically still in Germany and Japan.

      2. Incidentally, Hezbollah coalesced out of forces that came together to resist Israel’s occupation of Lebanon.

        ISIS coalesced out of forces that came together to resist the United States’ occupation of Iraq.

        I don’t think you get the same kind of reaction from a bombing campaign, but there’s a distinct pattern there.

        And, like I said, I don’t see a good reason to think that what we’re doing in the air is likely to destroy ISIS now–any more than what we did before in Iraq on the ground was likely to destroy the insurgency.

    3. It’s possible. It’s also not possible. It’s all speculation, and it’s all equally valid/invalid. No intervention may be necessary; it could do some good; it could make things even worse for everyone.

      Pretty thin reed to justify military intervention.

  11. I actually have never come to a clear decision about whether US involvement in WWII was necessary, but if I had to make a guess as to how things would have turned out for the American people if the US hadn’t intervened in that war, I would guess that it was worth (collectively) the cost in blood and treasure to prevent the Germans from taking over all of Europe. Much of my reservation about an opinion on WWII is based on conscription. Now that we have a strictly volunteer army, my reservations regarding NAP violations are lower when it comes to a decision to act in Iraq and/or Syria.

    1. Mendelism|9.22.14 @ 11:44PM|#
      “I actually have never come to a clear decision about whether US involvement in WWII was necessary, but if I had to make a guess as to how things would have turned out for the American people”…

      Nice try, but fail.
      See above; this has zero equivalence to WWII.

      1. I’m as generally sick of the tendency of people to compare every conflict in the making to WWII as you are, but I think Mendel’s point wasn’t that this is WWII, but narrowly focused on the notion of ISIS not being a credible threat in the near term, but growing and metastasizing to a credible threat in the long term, at which point the cost in blood and treasure will be higher than it presently is.

        Really, the worst possible thing from that region in terms of governments would be a conquest-oriented Islamic caliphate with full state control over the means of production, including weapons, and legions of young men ready to die as martyrs.

        That said, I don’t think ISIS rises to that level. The territories they control right now are pretty much just Sunni areas of Iraq and eastern Syria but they haven’t expanded further and will be met with a heaping fuckton of resistence the second they start marching on Basra or any Shia regions.

        1. “Really, the worst possible thing from that region in terms of governments would be a conquest-oriented Islamic caliphate with full state control over the means of production, including weapons, and legions of young men ready to die as martyrs.”

          I’m not sure that’s the worst thing that could happen–from an American security perspective.

          I think the worst thing that could happen in that region would be a nuclear Iran situation–especially since their ICBM capability is pretty close to go already.

          There is no reason to think a nuclear standoff with Iran would end the same way it did with the USSR, and, anyway, ISIS doesn’t represent anywhere near as big of a security threat as a nuclear Iran.

          …just like the security threat Al Qaeda posed to the United States was nothing compared to the security threat that was presented by the USSR.

        2. Sudden|9.23.14 @ 12:07AM|#
          “I’m as generally sick of the tendency of people to compare every conflict in the making to WWII as you are, but I think Mendel’s point wasn’t that this is WWII, but narrowly focused on the notion of ISIS not being a credible threat in the near term, but growing and metastasizing to a credible threat in the long term, at which point the cost in blood and treasure will be higher than it presently is.”

          Yes, I’m sure it will be more threatening and I’m more than happy to let those threatened do something about it.
          Again, see my comment re: Overy. Wars are about econ; they can be no other. ISI(X) will go nowhere in threatening the US. The Euros can chose to defend themselves or keep handing out free shit. I don’t care.

        3. Thanks Sudden, for clarifying my thoughts and for your input.

      2. Honestly not trolling, just trying to convince myself that the proper standard for US intervention right now is not met, which is my gut belief. But I’m also not drawing equivalence to WWII, just making an analogy. This is obviously a different situation and a different culture, with differences especially in the asymmetry of weapons of war. My only point was whether it’s worth thinking about what kind of threat ISIL might impose in the future, if there is no Western intervention in the near term. That’s all.

        1. I’ll take you at your word; do you have any credible argument that we (the US) should be at all concerned?
          I haven’t seen it.

          1. Honestly it’s mostly an emotional response, not an economic one, and it’s unusual for me to let the lizard brain take over, but I just don’t remember hearing about anything like the level of mass violence and rapid increase in recruitment of new soldiers by any group like this in my lifetime. And after the Arab Spring and the leadership of much of the ME in flux, it doesn’t seem unrealistic to me that these guys could gain control over a large amount of oil-rich land that also includes a lot of high-tech weaponry (including gifts from the US).

            1. So you have no evidence of any threat to the US?

              1. Nope, no evidence of any current threat. I had hoped I was clear on that.

          2. Not that their ability to tap into oil to fund a military, or the ability to which they will be able to improve their weaponry in the near future, is knowable or especially, knowable to a degree that tells us how much a threat they may actually be in the future. But that’s sort of the point of my question. Should we be worried at all? Just let them do what they do until their military power and aggression toward the US crosses some threshold, or do something to end/limit that in the interim? It’s not as if the official ISIL spokespeople haven’t already declared war on the US themselves. I agree with what everyone else has said about not getting involved in other people’s business, and certainly there’s no reason for us to take a declaration of war from a weak enemy as a reason to commit US troops/lives to combat them. It may have been on another thread that I agreed whole-heartedly about all of that. I just wonder at what point a response is needed in the absence of a short-term credible threat. My gut tells me “never”, but I look at history and what might have happened if there weren’t any pre-emptive action. This is all I’m saying.

            1. Mendelism|9.23.14 @ 12:56AM|#
              “Not that their ability to tap into oil to fund a military, or the ability to which they will be able to improve their weaponry in the near future, is knowable or especially, knowable to a degree that tells us how much a threat they may actually be in the future.”

              Yes, it is. They either have the infrastructure to manufacture the weapons or the treasure to buy them. “Tapping into” a source of funds is quite visible.
              Uh, your dance is getting tired. Care to ‘come out’ with your war-boner or keep playing games?

              1. Hah! Wow! I know I haven’t been posting very often but I definitely do not have a “war-boner”. I have never made a single post in favor of US military action anywhere in the world. I’m a fucking dove. I was just asking a question about whether ISIS/ISIL represents the kind of threat that we should be worried about pre-emptively as opposed to after-the-fact. And I’ve stated explicitly multiple times that my inclination is to believe that US involvement at this time would be a mistake. WTF? Can we not have a conversation about when and where US military involvement is appropriate?

                1. When ISIL has a viable navy, air force, ICBMs and had just sacked Toronto then maybe they would be a credible threat.

    2. *but if I had to make a guess as to how things would have turned out for the American people if the US hadn’t intervened in that war,*

      The Soviets would have conquered ALL of Europe, rather than having to settle for half of it, had the Americans not physically intervened in the ETO.

  12. Does the word quagmire ring any bells?

    All those “lessons learned” from Vietnam…

    Never get involved unless you have clear, achievable objectives.

    ALWAYS have an exit strategy BEFORE the start of hostilities.

    Never get involved in someone else’s civil war…

    Does anyone, besides me, remember this shit?

    1. Yeah, I still talk about it all the time, but those were Republican ideas–and they were Republican ideas that were rejected by the Bush Administration and other establishment Republicans.

      Those establishment Republicans that rejected those ideas are still the Republicans leadership. So who, besides us, is going to argue them now?

      1. Anyone with any military training whatsoever should be screaming it from the rooftops. Bush should have known better. Obama should be listening to military advisors as he has zero military background. Military leaders should be falling on their swords in protesting this course of action.

        We swore never again and here we are repeating all the same mistakes. This is lunacy.

        1. “This is lunacy.”

          Lefty lunacy, so it’s all good. O-care? What?

        2. There are plenty of career hawks and advisors now part of the military industrial complex supporting the lunacy.

  13. Got to give credit where credit is due. Although we should have intervened years ago and a lack of intervention led to the rise of ISIS, I have to give credit to the President in building an Arab coalition in these strikes tonight. We got Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE, Qatar and Bahrain together in participating in tonight’s festivities. This will not be a war just America versus ISIS, the average Arab in the street will see that it is U.S. and Arab countries plus other coalition partners versus ISIS. This reduces the chance of this becoming further sectarian as fellow Sunnis have joined the fight against ISIS barbarians.

    1. Sassan31|9.23.14 @ 2:23AM|#
      …”I have to give credit to the President in building an Arab coalition in these strikes tonight.”…

      Sarc, right?

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