ISIS Fighter: U.S. Airstrikes in Syria Aren't Stopping Us



Last week the U.S. began conducting airstrikes in Syria as part of its war against the Islamic State (a.k.a. ISIS or ISIL). The Obama administration is deliberately hitting oil fields under ISIS control in order to hit them in the moneymaker. American military leaders were quick to say, "The strikes were successful."

An ISIS fighter under the pseudonym Abu Talha tells CNN that's a lot of hot air:

We've been ready for this for some time. … We know that our bases are known because they're tracking us with radars and satellites, so we had backup locations. …

We have revenues other than oil. We have other avenues, and our finances are not going to stop just because of oil losses. …

They thought they knew everything. But thank God, they don't know anything. And God willing, we will defeat the infidels.

They hit us in some areas, and we advance in other. … If we are pushed back in Iraq, we advance in northern Syria. These strikes cannot stop us, our support or our fighters

Can we take his word for it? If not, the former head of the U.K.'s military also says that airstrikes aren't going to work.

President Barack Obama acknowledged yesterday that his administration has "underestimated" the Islamic State.

America's bombing campaign could cost as much as $10 billion a year, according to Foreign Affairs.

Several foreign policy voices have said American airstrikes run the serious risk of bringing together ISIS with other anti-American jihadists while angering moderate rebels that have previously been pro-U.S.

Reuters reports today that "U.S.-led air strikes hit grain silos and other targets in Islamic State-controlled territory in northern and eastern Syria overnight, killing civilians and wounding militants."

As Reason's Peter Suderman highlights, despite Obama's insistence that he won't get America tangled up in a ground war, the vast majority of Americans believe the fight against ISIS will expand beyond airstrikes to include ground troops. 

NEXT: Afghanistan to Agree to 10,000 U.S. Troops in Country Past 2014

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  1. Is the US engaged in some kind of kinetic military action in the mideast or something?

    1. No, not at all. It’s a kinetic overseas contingency operation.

      1. Ah! Thanks for the clarification!

        I was confyooz for a minute.

      2. No no no no no, it’s a dynamic non-contiguous anti-terror activity.

        1. Ah, thanks, sometimes I get them confused.

        2. Are you sure it’s not another incident of workplace violence?

        3. It’s patriarchy, and I won’t stand for it.

  2. Is there anybody other than the President who would pretend to be surprised by this?

    1. Gomer Pyle, USMC?

      1. “I don’t like the name Barack, only sailors and faggots are named Barack! from now on, you’r Gomer Pyle!”

        1. It’s “faggots and sailors”. Get it right; these things matter.

  3. We’ve been bombing them in Iraq for almost two months now and they’re at the gates of Baghdad. Why would bombing them in Syria change anything?

    1. The bombing in Iraq has been attacking fighters and equipment, while the bombing in Syria has been attacking leaders and revenue sources.

  4. To be sure, even if we were nuking the entire region, acre by acre, we’d probably still be hearing some Black Knight talk from these guys.

    1. Tis but a scratch!

    2. Indeed. Does anyone think ISIS won’t miss those oil revenues?

      We already have ground forces. They’re the Kurds.

      1. They’re not Fremen.

        1. Mesopotamia, Iraq, desert shithole.

        2. “I may as well tell you, it’s my considered opinion and that of my staff that any time spent on the Bedouin will be time wasted.They’re a nation of sheep-stealers.”

        3. Baklava, it is a killing word.

      2. If you think the Kurds are going to step one foot out of their own territory you’re an idiot. This is a war of self-defense/possible independence for them, not a crusade.

        1. Their territory is a significant impediment to ISIS, especially in Syria.

          1. So what? The Kurds will defend their territory, but they’re not going to be our foot soldiers in an offensive war. That’s, well, idiotic.

            1. Kurdish positions are a serious problem for ISIS, that’s why they’re fighting and dying for Kobane so hard. If the Kurds keep killing them that’s a win for us. You’re right that Kurds won’t go outside their borders but I think the other Syrian rebels will fight and damage an ISIS weakened by airstrikes. Once ISIS just becomes another group of jerks in the Jerk Store that is modern Syria, it’s not a problem anymore.

        2. If you think the Kurds are going to step one foot out of their own territory you’re an idiot. This is a war of self-defense/possible independence for them, not a crusade.


          1. Mr. Mature shows up as usual.

  5. Look, we either bomb every country on earth that looks at us funny into oblivion, or embrace isolationism. As I understand it, there’s no middle ground.

    1. You don’t understand it.

    2. Curtis LeMay comes to mind.

      There are no innocent civilians. It is their government and you are fighting a people, you are not trying to fight an armed force anymore. So it doesn’t bother me so much to be killing the so-called innocent bystanders.

      Now think about that and reconcile that quote with this one.

      I’d like to see a more aggressive attitude on the part of the United States. That doesn’t mean launching an immediate preventive war…

      Even LeMay wasn’t as war crazy as our current politicians.

      1. So it doesn’t bother me so much to be killing the so-called innocent bystanders.

        I have no idea who Curtis LeMay is, but may he die a thousand horrible deaths.

        1. He was important in defeating the Japanese. Have some respect.

          1. So was Mao Zedong. Stalin and the Soviets were pretty instrumental in defeating the Nazis. No, I’m not saying LeMay is that bad, but the point remains that his military accomplishments in WWII doesn’t mean he’s entitled to a pass on everything and deserves everyone’s eternal respect.

            1. I’m not saying he’s “entitled to a pass on everything,” just that “may he die a thousand horrible deaths” is far too harsh a judgment.

              Stalin loses his credit because he started the war allied with the Nazis, and killed more innocents than Hitler. Mao gets no credit because he was worse than the Japanese, and in fact was the greatest mass murderer in history.

              I only give credit for defeating evil when the victors are less evil than the defeated. LeMay was less evil than the Japanese, so he gets credit.

              1. “I’m not saying he’s ‘entitled to a pass on everything,’ just that ‘may he die a thousand horrible deaths’ is far too harsh a judgment.”

                You really don’t think kinnath was being intentionally hyperbolic? Taking that phrase literally to make your point is odd.

                I’m not really a big fan of Genocide Olympics. Body counts are due to a number of factors (for example, Hitler normally doesn’t get credited with all the deaths he caused by starting WWII that weren’t due to genocide, and both the Nazis and Japanese body counts were limited because they lost the war) and they’re all horrible people anyways. No, LeMay wasn’t as bad as the Japanese, but it’s still fair game to criticize him for that statement, which shows very callous disregard for human life.

                1. *No, LeMay wasn’t as bad as the Japanese, but it’s still fair game to criticize him for that statement, which shows very callous disregard for human life.*

                  Who gives a crap? Did you notice who WON that war? I wonder why we WON that war, but have LOST all since.


                  1. We’re always X number of people dead away from winning it seems. If we just would kill more people, we could win the pointless wars we’ve been engaging in since WWII. Awesome, and so libertarian too!

                2. LeMay was talking about the Japanese, who had distributed war manufacturing to private homes and were arming women and children with spears, to fight an invasion to the death. An invasion of Japan would have been catastrophic.

                  Plus, LeMay no doubt knew about earlier Japanese fanaticism and atrocities. His actions helped convince Japan to surrender, which saved many lives. In other words, he wasn’t simply being “callous.” It’s a lot more complex than that.

                  1. Maybe if that was the only thing LeMay had going against him. He also advocated bombing missile sites in Cuba and invading it after the Missile Crisis, and was a bit cavalier about the use of nuclear weapons. Oh, and he was George Wallace’s running mate in 1968.

        2. *I have no idea who Curtis LeMay is, but may he die a thousand horrible deaths.*

          Hey, who cares that you on the internet, where you could easily find an answer to your question in about .5 seconds…nope, let’s just wish already dead people would die some more.

          Utter nincompoopery.

  6. An ISIS fighter under the pseudonym Abu Talha tells CNN that’s a lot of hot air

    CNN?! What’s next – the Obama Family vs ISIS on Family Feud?

    1. I would watch that episode of Family Feud if Richard Dawson were still hosting…

      1. yeah, it would be unwatchable with Steve Harvey

  7. “The Obama administration is deliberately hitting oil fields under ISIS control in order to hit them in the moneymaker.”

    What happened to Global Warming? So in order to get Keystone pipeline approved, we need to start beheading people? Jeez.

  8. OT: Kevin Williamson goes “full polemic” as one commenter notes. Why, if you need Lena Dunham to tell you how to vote….you shouldn’t vote.…..williamson

    1. I wonder if he wants to hang Lena Dunham.

      1. “I wore fishnets and a little black dress to vote,” she writes, “then walked around with a spring in my slinky step.”

        I trust you meant “bang”.

        1. No, Williamson came out in support of the death penalty for any woman who had an abortion at any trimester the other day.

          Just because he sounds reasonable here, we should not forget he’s actually a lunatic.

          1. the death penalty for any woman who had an abortion at any trimester the other day.

            WTF? Really?

            1. Go 24 hours back in his twitter feed.


              1. All I get from that is that he’s anti-abortion. In general I find him an interesting and insightful writer.

          2. That’s a shame, but admittedly everything he writes here was better said by Mencken anyway.

            1. He also once tweeted that he thought women pee out of their butts.

              1. OK, now I’m going to register my own “WTF? Really?”

                Cite for lulz?

    2. Needs more ABORTION

    3. Mixed feelings. On one hand, I agree with Williamson that the fetishization of voting to the level that imbeciles are taking their cues from C-list celebrities can’t be much good for the long-run health of a constitutional republic. On the other hand, I was holding out hope that Ms. Dunham’s 15 minutes of fame were drawing to a close. And Williamson’s outburst only serves to raise her wholly undeserved profile. For God’s sake, Kevin, if we ignore her long enough, she’ll go away!

  9. I have no idea how effective these strikes are. But Jesus Tap Dancing Christ Reason, are you people fucking retarded? Maybe the “ISIS Fighter” isn’t exactly the most reliable source for damage estimates? How can you guys print this shit with a straight face?

    1. They’re getting more retarded on this issue. This worries me.

      1. I’m pretty sure I disagree with both of you re: war with ISIS but some reason editors and other libertarians willingness to accept anything, no matter the source, at face value as long as it contradicts the pro-war/bombing position is irritating.

        1. At least Reason is rejecting the Putin-apologist shit coming from Ron Paul and his fellow travellers.

        2. *libertarians willingness to accept anything, no matter the source, at face value as long as it contradicts the pro-war/bombing position is irritating.*

          See also “cop-hate” and “open border manacs”.

    2. Did you miss the part where the author asks “Can we take his word for it?”?

      1. Too little, and a stupid question by Zenon to boot. Of course we can’t take his word for it.

    3. Nick Gillespie is the editor of Reason. I like Nick, but his level of erudition in foreign affairs is, “lets not intervene anywhere for a bit and just see what happens”.

      Reason doesn’t take foreign events seriously and the people writing it are not experts of any kind. Ed Krayewski is a good example of this. He just simplistically filters stuff through his particular libertarian weltanschauung.

      Reason needs more serious people writing for it.

      1. Lyle|9.29.14 @ 1:55PM|#
        …’Reason needs more people WHO AGREE WITH LYLE writing for it.’…

        Right, Lyle?
        “[S]erious” has little to do with it.

      2. *Reason needs more serious people writing for it.*

        Not just serious people, but REASONable people.

        This place is just like a damn Code Pink/International ANSWER meeting lately.


    1. Needz Moar “God Willing” and “Thank God”

      I think I shall remember Insh’allah and al hamdu ‘lillah long after I forget the rest of my Arabic vocabulary.

  11. Can we take his word for it?

    In short, “No.”

    However, the sad fact is that the ISIS spokesman is no less credible than the Obama Administration. It actually seems that ISIS is more inclined to tell the truth (as they see it) than Obama.

  12. I wouldn’t take anything ISIS says seriously, these people are obsessed with media control and presenting a pre-established narrative (then again, so is the Obama Administration, and I think most people know to take what they say with a grain of salt). That being said this airstrike policy is just the continuation of the ‘intellectual warfare’ Obama pushed with the drone campaigns in Yemen and Pakistan. I question the effectiveness of bombing as a means to achieve strategic victory.

    1. I wouldn’t take their word for it, but I also doubt that oil sales are a particularly big part of their revenue stream. They’ve got a few miserable oil wells in Syria, but they can run a lucrative kidnapping/theft ring across the entirety of their territory.

      They got a big cash infusion from looting Mosul, but I doubt they’ll be able to live off that loot for too long.

      1. If they seriously wanted to cut off ISIS’s funding the first thing they could do is get the Europeans to stop paying off ransoms, but that’s very unlikely to happen.

  13. Your Lunchtime Derp

    1. Some limey prog chastises Israeli spokesman on civilian deaths, then asks why Israel doesn’t try talking to their enemies.

    2. Locals getting tired of police presence in the Frein manhunt.

    The best part:

    “Many are beginning to suggest that the cops simply pull back and leave Frein to his own devices. He has, after all, expressed hostility to no one but law enforcement. Moreover, this is an area of Pennsylvania where families are well armed and know how to take care of themselves.”

    3. I had lunch with the local secular group. I met a grumpy, old atheist libertarian who was the embodiment of “this is why there are no libertarian women”. Another attendee complained that a church group was renting a public school on the weekend. He saw this as a violation of church and state and planned on complaining publicly. Later, he bemoaned the lack of atheist congress critters. I asked him if he ever thought that his plans to complain about the church group is an example of a reason why people don’t like atheists. Sparks flew.

    1. 1. If not for the limey part I thought that Weigel or Richman could have been the interviewer.

    2. As an atheist, I find anti-theists tend to be more annoying than religious nuts. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that they just as actively want to control people’s behaviour and ‘steer them away from religion’. That, and a lot of these anti-theists embrace statist concepts without question or the skepticism they came to have. Both of these factor into a severe case of smugness and moral superiority (not to mention some uncomfortably elitist beliefs about themselves).

      1. They’re rebelling against their religious parents. That’s all. They need to grow the fuck up.

      2. I have met a number of atheists who I can only describe as mediocre Bill Maher or George Carlin impersonators.

    3. To wash out the bad taste of the secular lunch, I went to Sunday school at a Baptist church. There, I learned about the only left-handed person in the Bible and heard a guy do a great impression of Morgan Freeman as he read the Bible.

  14. The Obama administration is deliberately hitting oil fields

    WAR CRIME! The EPA shall hear of this.

  15. I’ll repost this for those who hadn’t seen it:

    Jihadist threat not as big as you think

    The vast majority of the estimated 85,000 to 106,000 militants fighting with militant jihadist groups around the world are fighting for purely local reasons, for instance, trying to install Sharia law in northern Nigeria or trying to impose Taliban rule on Pakistan and Afghanistan, while only a small number of these militants are focused on attacking the West.

    By historical standards this is hardly a major threat. At the end of the Cold War, Soviet and other Warsaw Pact countries could muster around 6 million men to fight in a war against the West, a number that is some 60 times greater than the total number of militants estimated to be fighting for jihadist organizations today.

    1. No shit. The Soviets were an existential threat. The jihadis are nothing by comparison. Yet, we shit our pants everytime they chop a head off, because that’s so much worse than just shooting somebody.

    2. Damn it, man — The threat is *potentially* huge!

    3. Well, something doesn’t have to be an existential threat for bombing to be a good idea. A ‘local’ Taliban state incubated a global terror organization that killed thousands of Americans. But overall yes people do need more perspective we are much better off since the Cold War ended.

      1. When Iran has nukes how better off will we all be?

        1. When Iran has nukes how better off will we all be?

          Oddly, that may in fact, be the case. Nothing like a nuclear armed adversary to rein in the warhawks.

          1. Iran is behind ISIS in part. They’re using Sunni extremists to undermine the Gulf states. Iran wants to bring down the Saudi regime with its own religious brethren.

            Iran with nukes is not the Soviet Union with nukes. You’re understanding of what is going is too simplistic.

      2. Car accidents kill more americans each year than 9/11. Go fuck yourself.

        1. *Car accidents kill more americans each year than 9/11. Go fuck yourself.*

          Let’s hear it for the denizens of REASON everybody. Solid logic there, goober. Solid.

      3. When is bombing never a good idea?

    4. Not saying I disagree, but I think the straight numeric comparison is a bit wide of the mark. The Soviet threat was largely that of a stand-off. That is to say, no small part of their resource commitment was in response to their perceived threat from us. Moreover, the Soviet leadership wasn’t really out to start WWIII. They understood quite well that an attack would mean absolute devastation for them. That dynamic doesn’t come into play quite so much in this situation. There isn’t really a defined target to respond to.

    5. Ach, what nonsense. Of course the jihadis are less of a threat than the Soviet bloc at its height. The jihadis are just getting started. A better comparison might be with the USSR in 1919 or 1920.

      You don’t need an army of millions to inflict a great deal of death and destruction. And, of course, the number of jihadi fighters is dwarfed by the number of their non-combatant supporters. There are at least tens (if not scores or hundreds) of millions of Muslims around the world who support them.

      1. So what are you saying Papaya, we should start a war with everyone capable of inflicting death and destruction? You are jaded. You are the frog in the pot. 15 years ago, no one would even consider starting a war over this. 15 years ago, no one would tolerate a preemptive war.

        Bush opened Pandora’s box by invading Iraq. He made it okay to start a war, kill a hundred thousand people, spend a trillion dollars and waste several thousand American lives over a non-existent threat. NOW, 11 years later, you’ve talked yourself into thinking it’s the right thing to do because of the deaths of two journalists?

        You need to re-cage your gyros, my friend.

        1. No, I am not saying that. And we did not “start a war” with Islamic radicals: they have been fighting us for decades, and declared war on us about 20 years ago.

          It’s about more than the deaths of two journalists. It’s about massacres and sex slavery and destruction of historical monuments, and continued, explicit, threats against the US and its allies.

          I’m not claiming that Obama knows what he’s doing. I’m not saying the US couldn’t have done better in the past. But as I’ve said before, the threat of radical Islam is real, and ignoring it won’t make it go away. These are the same people who still have a grudge against Spain for Queen Isabella. We could turn in Switzerland overnight, and it would make no difference. You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.

  16. the vast majority of Americans believe the fight against ISIS will expand beyond airstrikes to include ground troops.

    Perhaps the fact that we are going to move an entire division into Iraq has something to do with this?

    1. Hey look over there! A baby wolf!

      1. we need more 1941 references!

        1. You won’t get shit out of me. I’ve been constipated all week!

  17. “Can we take his word for it?”

    Well, we know Obo’s a lying bastard. This guy isn’t yet proven to be.

    1. I count one strike against him for going on CNN…

  18. Jihadist threat not as big as you think

    That’s just defeatist surrender monkey talk. Go back to France, quitter.

  19. Yeah, let’s all believe today’s equivalent of Baghdad Bob, just because half of us libertarians are a bunch of pacifist nutcakes.

    Just get on with nuking everything from Tripoli to Teheran, already.

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