ISIS

Did John Kerry Forget Poland Again?

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John Kerry
State Dept.

Secretary of State John Kerry took to the op-ed pages to defend the U.S.-led war on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to a public "weary" of "US involvement" in the conflict.

In the Boston Globe:

Let's start by explaining what this fight is not. It is not a clash of civilizations. Muslim scholars are outraged about the Islamic State's brutality and perversion of Islam, calling its savagery deviant and heretical. Sunni and Shiite alike have joined forces against this outrage. The coalition represents a unified response, as evidenced by the remarkable and unprecedented participation of five Arab countries in the air strikes in Syria. And that's just the beginning. There is a role for every nation, from helping to dry up outside funding and stopping the flow of foreign fighters to taking direct military action and providing humanitarian assistance.

This is not the prelude to another US ground war in the Middle East. President Obama has said repeatedly that US ground troops will not engage in combat roles. He means it. I volunteered to serve and fought in a war I came to believe was a mistake. I take that lesson seriously. This will not be another one of those interventions.

President Obama may have said repeatedly that US ground troops won't engage in combat roles, but President Obama says a lot of things. He also repeatedly said he ended the war in Iraq until that was blamed for the growth of ISIS, at which point he said he had no idea where the idea he ended the war in Iraq came from.

More importantly, Gen. Martin Dempsey, the joint chiefs of staff chairman, has indicated U.S. combat troops would be necessary if coalition partners failed.

About that coalition: John Kerry claims "more than 60 countries" are part of the anti-ISIS coalition. He doesn't provide a list, and one has never been made easily available. I searched for some time for a list of the 40 countries who participated in the ISIS conference in Paris earlier this month but couldn't find one. Although the U.S. points to Arab participation in airstrikes in Syria, which countries participated wasn't initially disclosed by the U.S. but by an anonymous source to CNN.

The appeal to a broad coalition as justification for military intervention is just another rhetorical tool adopted by the Obama Administration from the Bush Administration, like the decision to stress that ISIS is evil. Back in 2004, when Kerry was running against President Bush, he ridiculed the president for appealing to his broad coalition as justification for the war in Iraq.

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  1. Although the U.S. points to Arab participation in airstrikes in Syria, which countries participated wasn’t initially disclosed by the U.S. but by an anonymous source to CNN.

    Arabs don’t want to lose their heads over this thing any more than the rest of us.

    1. Something. You did it there. And I saw it.

  2. …”He also repeatedly said he ended the war in Iraq until that was blamed for the growth of ISIS, at which point he said he had no idea where the idea he ended the war in Iraq came from.”…

    Well, Tony must know, since he’s been telling us Obo ended that war.

    1. “End the War in Iraq. Invest at Home”

      1. “End the War in Iraq. Piss money away at Home”

        FIFY

      2. End this Endless War.

    2. Honestly, i don’t think ending the war in Iraq resulted in the growth of ISIS. Obama’s support and aid to the FSA against Assad in Syria last year is. It’s not that ISIS is an indirect result of a strategic move made 3 years ago. It’s the direct result of a strategic move made less than a year ago.

  3. President Obama may have said repeatedly that US ground troops won’t engage in combat roles, but President Obama says a lot of things.

    If you like your plan…

  4. you go over the top first Senator. we’re right behind you.

  5. Here’s the best I’ve found (AP feed):

    “Denmark, meanwhile, announced Friday it would send seven F-16 fighter jets to take part in the airstrikes in Iraq, two days after the Netherlands did so. Britain and Belgium are also debating their involvement in the coalition Friday.”
    http://www.sfgate.com/news/wor…..782000.php

    Sort of leaves you wondering who is paying for what.

    1. Did the jet have Mohammed as the nose art?

      1. No. But the jet will drop bombs made out of Legos.

  6. The Obama Administration seemed to care very deeply about getting the support of the international community, and having the support of our allies is a good thing..

    The Obama Administration seems to be confident that it has the support of Congress, so confident, in fact, that he doesn’t even need their authorization.

    I doubt that the Obama Administration has the support of the American people to go after ISIS in Syria, right now, but, then, it doesn’t seem like Obama gives a crap about the American people’s support.

    It’s nice that we got an op-ed, and from the Secretary of State, no less. At least they haven’t forgotten about us completely! At this point in Obama’s presidency, I understand that the support of the international community probably is more important to Obama than the support of the American people from a purely pragmatic standpoint.

    Still, he is our president, not the international community’s, and it’s more than just a little unseemly to be treated by our president like he really doesn’t give a shit either way about the American people or what we want.

  7. Well, it’s not like Poland is one of the 57 states.

    1. You know what else has 57 varieties?

    2. Alabama
      Alaska
      Arizona
      Arkansas
      Bashful
      California
      Colorado
      Connecticut
      Delaware
      Doc
      Dopey
      Florida
      Georgia
      Grumpy
      Happy
      Hawaii
      Idaho
      Illinois
      Indiana
      Iowa
      Kansas
      Kentucky
      Louisiana
      Maine
      Maryland
      Massachusetts
      Michigan
      Minnesota
      Mississippi
      Missouri
      Montana
      Nebraska
      Nevada
      New Hampshire
      New Jersey
      New Mexico
      New York
      North Carolina
      North Dakota
      Ohio
      Oklahoma
      Oregon
      Pennsylvania
      Rhode Island
      Sleepy
      Sneezy
      South Carolina
      South Dakota
      Tennessee
      Texas
      Utah
      Vermont
      Virginia
      Washington
      West Virginia
      Wisconsin
      Wyoming

      1. What’s the capital of Sneezy?

  8. “More importantly, Gen. Martin Dempsey, the joint chiefs of staff chairman, has indicated U.S. combat troops would be necessary if coalition partners failed.”

    How many troops do our coalition partners have on the ground?

    We had 165,000 on the ground at the height of the surge, and that wasn’t enough to keep the insurgency down–even with our technology.

    If they have fewer than 165,000 troops on the ground, then why should we think our coalition partners succeeded where we failed?

    1. And the Middle Eastern troops:US troops exchange rate is apparently pretty bad.

    2. How many hundreds of billions wasted over 8 years training Iraqi soldiers how to drop their weapons and shed their uniforms at the first sign of combat?

      1. ^this^
        Screw nation building.

      2. You’d think the French would be the go-to coalition partner for that kind of training.

        1. That’s an excellent observation!

          What does the United States know about fighting Muslim Arabs on the ground that the French don’t know?

          We should have asked that question a long time ago.

        2. You’d think the French would be the go-to coalition partner for that kind of training.

          Isn’t the British Empire originally responsible for many/most of these conflicts?

          Toss the potato back their way. Let them tax the Scots to pay for failed decades-to-centuries-old nation/empire building.

          1. You misspelled “Ottoman”

            1. Which one of Sykes / Picot was the Ottoman?

  9. Muslim scholars are outraged about the Islamic State’s brutality and perversion of Islam, calling its savagery deviant and heretical.

    Except perhaps the Muslim scholar who leads the movement and has declared himself Caliph. Or the many Muslim scholars who support him.

    Sunni and Shiite alike have joined forces against this outrage.

    Except the ones who haven’t.

    The coalition represents a unified response, as evidenced by the remarkable and unprecedented participation of five Arab countries in the air strikes in Syria.

    Unprecedented if you don’t look up the participation of Arab countries in Gulf War I.

    I still don’t see how air strikes alone dislodge ISIS from holding territory in Iraq/Syria.

    1. That whole “Muslim scholars” quote is pretty misleading, mostly by omission.

      At best, you might be able to say “most” Muslim scholars, although there’s no way to quantify and thus support that. Probably more accurate to say “some”, but that sort of defeats the whole purpose of the sentence, doesn’t it? And when accuracy defeats your purpose, you may have a bigger problem.

      The real question would be, after subtracting out the “Muslim scholars” who are members or supporters of regimes at war with ISIS, how many “Muslim scholars” are actually on record as condemning ISIS?

    2. “I still don’t see how air strikes alone dislodge ISIS from holding territory in Iraq/Syria.”

      It doesn’t. I was a Marine Artillery Officer. I specialized in fire support/air support. Air strikes give the guys on the ground a temporary advantage in a fight. That’s all. We may destroy some weapons caches and strongpoints. ISIS will just get more weapons and take over new strongpoints.

    3. In Los Angeles, I sat in a mosque and watched a big shot Imam from Iraq, of all places, explain to his Muslim congregation that not only was it alright for Muslims in the American military to fight against Saddam Hussein and the Taliban, they might even be obligated to fight against those who would pervert the message of Islam.

      He said it was especially okay for Muslims to do this in alliance with the American military, since the U.S. treats Muslims so well, and ended by pointing out to the congregation that Muslims in the United States enjoy more freedom to be Muslims than anywhere else in the world, and that they should all be grateful for that.

      We hear the same voices say the same things from so many different media sources, and there’s some kind of cognitive bias, maybe, that makes us think those voices are somehow representative of the whole. It’s mostly the same voice! We see Al Qaeda and ISIS covered in the news over and over again, but a big shot Imam saying the same kinds of things you’d hear down at the VFW lodge doesn’t drive viewership–and so doesn’t sell advertising–so we get the same terrorist voices in the media over and over again.

      1. Here are some “Muslim scholars” for you:

        1) al-Azhar University (al-Azhar Mosque).

        http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Ne…..z3B1ymBb5P

        A little about them:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Azhar_Mosque

      2. 2) Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Al al-Sheikh

        http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Ne…..z3ERAOB500

  10. Crystalline. Lackluster. Leadership.

    Am I mistaken in thinking that even Hitler, Mao, and Stalin weren’t as blatantly evil/bloodthirsty and advertised/televised executions like this?

    And we can’t even keep track of who’s on the ‘Coalition of the possibly willing to maybe disable’ list?

    Makes me feel sorry for the people dying from ebola.

  11. “Let’s start by explaining what this fight is not.”

    Which is an odd way to start anything. Because one can talk ‘endlessly’ about what something ‘is not’, yet only discretely about what something *is*

    “It is not a clash of civilizations…”

    Again, odd choice of phrase- particularly since that was a title of an early-90s book *predicting exactly these sorts of conflicts in the near future*

    And while that book certainly had some flaws…. there is far more there that is alarmingly-accurate to the current situation than otherwise.

    Also, and perhaps more importantly: what do ISIS call it?

    because you’d think it might be relevant.

    1. I had an IR Theory professor for a couple of classes who absolutely loved to trash Huntington. Seems like a lot of the criticism of “Clash” can be boiled down to either “it’s too simple”, or “it’s racist”, neither of which are particularly compelling retorts, especially considering how well his thesis seems to work as a predictor of conflict.

      1. This is not a clash of civilizations. It is a clash of religions.

        1. A clash of the titans. Titan against Titan!

  12. It all started when Churchill wouldn’t sell dreadnoughts to the Turks. Which lead the Turks to back the Germans, which enabled Churchill and hit buddies to chop up the Ottoman Empire.

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