The attacks in Paris have the potential to be game changers. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls exclaimed, “nous sommes en guerre” (we are at war), and President Hollande told the world that “France will destroy IS.” President Obama announced that the U.S. stands together with France, and Secretary of State John Kerry announced meetings with his French counterpart to determine exactly what form the response will take. Talks of war are in the air, and it has been seized upon by many of the Republican hopefuls, and some Democrats have lent their voice to the jingoist chants. Whichever path of response that we choose, we would do well to make sure that we don’t repeat the disastrous invade-first and think-about-what-happens-next-later mode that produced the Iraqi mess and the resultant ISIS conundrum. ISIS has been successful in recruiting Western Muslims, in part, by framing it as a war between Islam and Christian Crusaders–a reminder of the humiliation, plundering, and rape that accompanied the Crusader’s conquering march to the holy land. Meanwhile, candidate Donald Trump, whose ten hour... Read More
Donald Trump’s insults plus his absurdly simple solutions–which fall totally apart under even the slightest close examination–to complex problems, keeps him the center of attention. And the joker in the deck is that apparently these kinds of policy statements appeal to at least a fifth of the Republican electorate. So far, at least. I wonder how well the Trump style will wear-It’s frightening to think about.
What a merry go-around. The Kurdish Peshmerga have proven to be the best Iraqi fighters against ISIS. The Kurds have been asking for weapons from us directly, i.e., not handed out piecemeal from the weak Shia dominated Iraqi government. Something we should do, right? But wait. The Turks don’t want us to do that. We have been trying to get Turkey, the biggest power in the immediate region and a member of N.A.T.O., to let us use a base in Turkey for our air strikes against ISIS. We have also been after Turkey to help directly in the fight against ISIS. This past week they finally entered the fray, in a limited way, after attacks by ISIS on a Turkish city that lies on their border with Syria. They also finally agreed to allow us to use the air base, in exchange for us trying to create a safe zone in Northern Syria. So why don’t they want us to provide heavy military supplies directly to the Kurds to... Read More
The news from Iraq is contradictory. The first and perhaps most significant bit of news is that Ramadi, the Capital of Anbar Governorate, has fallen to ISIS. At the same time we are assured by Secretary of State John Kerry that he is “absolutely confident in the days ahead that will be reversed.” We are also told that the U.S. is “expediting weapons shipments to the Iraqis because of Ramadi. The national government, meanwhile , claims that forces are already on the way to retake Ramadi. The president of Anbar Provincial Council reportedly claims that the national forces still control thirty percent of Ramadi. Despite U.S. claims to the contrary, Peter Mansoor, military analyst of CNN, stated that: “This is a huge setback to Iraqi forces and to the U.S. strategy to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIS.” CNN notes: “Soon, a predominantly Shiite militia dispatched by Iraq’s Prime Minister is expected to join the fight, further swelling the ranks of anti-ISIS ground forces but also threatening to inflame sectarian... Read More