Quote of the Day

An anonymous U. S. senior official, speaking about Israeli P. M. Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu and Iran’s nuclear program,  quoted by Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic:

“It’s too late for him to do anything. Two, three years ago, this was a possibility. But ultimately he couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger. It was a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic. Now it’s too late.”

Not to be confused with another senior U. S. official who called Bibi “a chickenshit.”

I would say it wasn’t just our pressure on Bibi, but also our assurances, which today look pretty hollow.

To me, the scariest thing right now is not Ebola or ISIS, but that we seem to be on the verge of doing a disastrous deal with Iran.

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Finally!

So we’re finally arming the Kurds.  At this point, it appears that the weapons are coming from the CIA, but plans are in the works for the Pentagon to supply them directly, rather than sending weapons to Baghdad that never ever get to the Kurds.

The Kurdish Peshmerga are as tough and determined as they come, but toughness and determination without weapons and ammo won’t win against ISIS and their captured state-of-the-art American weapons.

I’m tired of seeing this ISIS sweep falsely spun as an Iraqi civil war.  This is a multi-state terror movement that must be destroyed.  We need to go after ISIS full bore, not just to protect the Yazidis and Kurds and Baghdad, but on both sides of the Iraq-Syria border (such as it now is) and in Lebanon and Jordan.

The combination of intelligence failures about ISIS’ strength and a president who didn’t want to hear the news anyway have made the task much harder than it would have been if we’d nipped them in the bud.  Now it’s time to mow them down before they flower further.

It’s not up to the Iraqi Shiites to get their act together because they can’t and won’t.  It’s up to us to keep an enormous swath of the Middle East from falling to barbarians.

Not Getting the Message

Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki announced today that he won’t be stopped from seeking a third term.  So efforts to form a government will now go on forever….

Maliki’s short-sighted, non-inclusive rule — pro-Shiite and anti-Sunni — created the conditions for ISIS to grab much of northern and western Iraq.  His refusal to go makes it easier for ISIS to stay.

It’s easy to say we backed the wrong guy all these years, but really, people, they’re all the wrong guy.

Blame the British and French

As Iraq disintegrates, Dems are blaming Bush and Republicans are blaming Obama.  And the same arguments will take place when we finally leave Afghanistan and that God-forsaken place falls apart.

But as we apportion blame, let’s not forget the British and the French.

One of the huge problems we’ve had fighting in Afghanistan is that when we pursue the Taliban, they cross the border into Pakistan, where our ability to follow them is severely restricted.  The Afghans have a save haven there because the people are Pashtun on both sides of the border.  Rather than think of themselves as Afghans or Pakistanis, they think of themselves primarily as Pashtuns.  A sensible border would have all the Pashtuns living in the same country, but noooooo.  Back in 1893, a British colonial official created the Durand Line to separate British India from Afghanistan.  When that part of India became Pakistan in 1947, the absurd border remained, irrationally dividing the Pashtuns.

As for Iraq, the British and French arbitrarily drew the Sykes-Picot line in 1916 (and implemented it after WWI), which falsely divided Ottoman Empire territory into Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon, separating Sunni tribes with a purely artificial border.  The Iraq side was for the British, and the Syrian-Lebanese side was for the French, with no regard for the Sunnis who should have been assigned to the same country.  If ISIS weren’t welcomed and joined by Maliki-hating Sunnis as they come from Syria into Iraq, they wouldn’t have been able to make the swift conquest they have.

And don’t get me started on the Kurds, who have really gotten the short end of the stick.  They are a distinct people, Muslim, but not Arab.  They should have an independent Kurdistan (and maybe will when this mess get resolved) that unites the Kurds now divided among Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria.

Air Strikes Are Coming

From my reading on Iraq, it seems that the President isn’t thinking about air strikes, but has decided to do them, and is waiting for up-to-date intelligence and a better sense of the lay of the land.

It also seems pretty clear that those air strikes won’t just be in Iraq, but will be in Syria too.

We seem to be proceeding on two tracks — a military track using air power and a political track to get Maliki ousted.

Prez Leaves Door Open for Air Strikes in Iraq

President Obama announced that he will send up to 300 advisers/trainers to Iraq to help the government in its struggle against ISIS militants.

We will also have continued surveillance and intelligence gathering.  The President did not announce any air strikes at this point, but left the door open for such strikes in the future.

He said that he would continue to consult with Congress, but did not say that he would seek authorization if he decides to do air strikes.

He reiterated the need for the Iraqis to unite and form a more inclusive government, saying that the solution ultimately must be political, not military.