Free Markets, Free People

A formula for failure

Or, the “strategy” to “manage” ISIS, if you prefer.  The Washington Post today, calls whatever the administration is trying to put together to confront ISIS “underpowered”.  I think they’re being kind about it because they still want access to their administration sources.  If what they report is true, it’s a failure before it is even attempted.

For instance:

In Paris on Monday, two dozen governments pledged to help fight the extremists “by any means necessary, including military assistance.” But only a handful — not yet including Britain — have so far agreed to participate in air combat missions in Iraq, and none has yet signed on to support prospective U.S. air strikes in Syria. Nor is any sending combat troops.

The attenuated support reflects in part the complicated politics of the fight against the Islamic State, which controls a New England-size swath of territory across Iraq and Syria and commands tens of thousands of militants. Neighbors such as Turkey and Jordan are reluctant to openly join the fight, for fear of becoming targets of the terrorists. Sunni rulers are loath to fight on the same side as the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad or Iran — which, for its part, loudly declared Monday that it had rejected a U.S. cooperation proposal.

Note the emerging strategy – air combat missions.  War from 20,000 feet.  Pin-pricks whose effectiveness depends on good intel and timely intervention.  And this administration is going to coordinate that?  The administration that couldn’t even build a website?  Note also that the missions are only agreed too for Iraq.  None of these erstwhile allies has agreed to any in Syria.  Result?  ISIS has a safehaven.  Yeah, we’ve never, ever seen that before have we?

So why are they reluctant?  Lack of leadership by the US, plain and simple:

In large part, however, the restraint has been fostered by President Obama himself. As The Post’s Rajiv Chandrasekaran reported, Mr. Obama rejected the recommendation of his top military commanders that U.S. Special Operations forces be deployed to assist Iraqi army units in fighting the rebels, and Secretary of State John F. Kerry said the administration has turned aside troop offers by other nations. “There are some who have offered to do so, but we are not looking for that, at this moment anyway,”he told CBS News’s Bob Schieffer.

ISIS has to only guard against airstrikes?  A group who butchers people on a daily basis would never consider human shields or setting up in schools or hospitals would they?  And in Syria … they don’t even have to worry about it, do they?  ISIS has cowed the Iraqi armed forces, the Kurds are playing defense, they’re free to roam Syria and we don’t need any troops on the ground at all?  Yeah, because, you know, all we need are airstrikes.

But this is what most amazed me about the “strategy”:

Mr. Kerry said Monday that defeating the Islamic State will depend in part on non-combat initiatives such as discrediting its ideology, stopping the flow of jihadist volunteers and providing political and material support to the new Iraq government.

Non-combat initiatives like discrediting their ideology?  Really?  Again, we’ve been so successful doing that in the past 20 years, haven’t we?  That’s why they’re such a small and declining group (wait, we were told that Al Qaida was kaput a while back weren’t we?).  Oh, and the rich part?  An administration that can’t even control its own southern border is going to stop the flow of jihadist volunteers … in the Middle East?  What a freakin’ laugh riot that talking point is.  Meanwhile, in a country that is under armed attack by a vicious army of murderers, Obama and the guys are going to provide “political and material support” to the new Iraqi government … but none that really helps stem the tide of the threatening jihadists controlling a large portion of their country … except of pinprick airstrikes to which ISIS will adapt (mark my words on that one).

This is going to end up being another of those half-assed attempts driven by polls (aka wag the dog) which, on its face, is simply a failure waiting to happen.  This administration has no idea of what is required to face down and destroy ISIS (or any enemy for that matter).  And it isn’t really going to attempt it. If anything it is going to attempt to talk ISIS to death.  But as a real-time strategy, if what above is any indication of the administration’s intent, it’s a bust.

But then, what would one expect from an administration that is going to send 3,000 troops to Africa to “battle ebola”, but won’t send any to battle a real, honest-to-goodness enemy in Iraq?


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43 Responses to A formula for failure

  • So per Dale’s post the other day, I’m still not sure we should be intervening – although I do feel strongly that these evil murdering animals must be stopped. It’s like how I feel about the death penalty – some people need killing; I just don’t think we can be correct enough to do it.

    But that said. IF one is going to get involved, one needs to GET INVOLVED. In fact, in a delicious, rich irony, what is likely needed here is disproportionate force. Too bad this country elected this gutless, no-morals, spineless, inexperienced academic wonder to do it.

    You know I used to wonder if the Romans knew their empire was ending as it ended, and if we would know it when America’s day was going. And I’m brokenhearted to realize that we probably do know it and the only question now seems to be time. Unless some miracle worker shows up in 2016…

  • Material support – that’s out way of saying the gear and cash we’re going to transfer to ISIS through the auspices of the Iraqi government when it finally collapses because the strategy sucked.
    and don’t get me started on what’s going to happen with Ebola.
    I suppose National Guard units will be over there keeping their home states safe in Sierra Leone fighting Ebola.
    Thrilling that so many of our dedicated men and women are going to get an opportunity to bring the virus back to the US.
    One foxtrotting Charlie Foxtrot after another brought to you by the man who can’t show up for his own press conferences on time.

  • And this is why I support leaving ISIS alone- because half assed efforts are worse than useless.

    The West is pathetic. Muslims know who the strong horse is and we sure ain’t it.

    Obama is a poor excuse for a human but he’s merely a symptom, not the pathology itself.

  • Seems like if you’re going to compare whose is bigger, ISIS wins. Their “coalition” is WAY the hell bigger than Barracula’s.

    Especially when I read the “membership” dues in one case is a commitment for 18,000 rounds of .50 ammo.


  • discrediting thr ideology requires an accessable information stream.
    the rest of the world has it. the places, and cultures we are talking about, do not.

    • Politely, nonsense. They have all they need to know, and they know how to access essentially everything any of us can. A lot of them ARE us.

      These guys are not a bunch of New Guinea cargo cultists. They are more at home with social media than I am.

  • These guys couldn’t organize a picnic

  • Ummm. The saudais?
    The leadership.
    maybe. (Im unconvinced, but lets go with that idea for the sake of discussion.)

    My focus is on the followers.. I dare to suppose the leaders, whoever they are, have no real power without the followers. I dare to suppose further, that while there is no way to change the minds of the leaders, there can be change if the ideology is discredited among the followers… but in case youve not noticed, the education levels among those affected by ISIS in southern syira and northern iraq are not nearly so well of, either money or education wise, and have in general, little ability in terms of media, or even in reading. theyre being swayed not by any media campaign, but by the blood in the streets and a call for religious fervor…. in a religion they dare not question lest they lose their heads.

    We swayed such folk by the millions, but when we withdrew, we lost that advantage. how to reach such people now? from a plane at 30,000 feet, dropping bombs?

    • Oh, I think the displacement of millions in the Levant is teaching some lessons, coupled with the fact that a lot of those people know where their food is coming from.

      But I’ll give you this: it took people in the middle like Luther and the folks who died to make the English translation of the Bible available to folks to make the changes in Europe. It was SOMETIMES the very well-off, too.

      • Sounds like you read the piece I posted in the other thread.

        • Nope. Sorry.

          • Well, then, that’s actually more interesting to me than if you *had* read it, because in it I suggest that Islam is waiting for its Luther, and that advancing beyond its current situation is impossible without such a person. And, further, that there are, what I will call for brevity, structural issues within Islam that prevent such a person from arriving, if you will.

            Interesting how we arrived on the same focal point, I think.

          • Great minds and all that…

            There were no “structural issues” for poor ol’ Martin…????

          • no structural problems for Martin?
            Oh, sure, I dont mean to overstate the case. But breifly, from the peice…

            If it does, then that path is going to be made somewhat more complex by the fact that there is no real hierarchy within the Muslim religious world as there is in say the various offshoots of Christianity. Even the various Christian sects are not nearly as disparate in their beliefs (and thereby the definition of being within the religion) as Muslims would seem to be. This presents some complications in terms of getting the “true Islam” message out; the various leaders themselves because there is no hierarchy, cannot seem to agree on what Islam IS… the tenants of the religion; Without the strong leadership model, the messages being sent on mixed at best. In a very real sense, there’s nobody to question as regards religious tenants.

            Think about this; when it came time in the Christian church for reform, Luther had the advantage of having Pope Leo to proverbially set on fire. A focal point, if you will, to aim at. I daresay that Luther would not been able to be nearly as effective had he needed to fight a decentralized authority.

            OTOH in the Islamic world, there is no such person, no such leader, no such group, even, to ask such questions of. Worse, still, the process of asking such questions can often be dangerous, if not fatal. That makes the process of questioning these radicalized versions of Islam all the harder, even assuming one isn’t going to get killed for asking the questions, or raising challenges.

            To whom does one go for an authority of view on what, specifically, Islam is? I have asked that question many times in the past and usually get referred to the Koran. That answer of course, is problematic, given the number of different slants on the meaning of the Koran that there are. Certainly there are a number of different slants as well on the Bible. However I would point out that there is still an authority structure in place there, which tends to narrow the Interpretations down by quite a bit.
            Without such a structure, all kinds of things pop up… The religion becomes whatever certain protagonists say it is… such as the Wahabi, for example… And there’s nobody of authority within the religion to say ’no’.

            More of a comparison; The Catholic church certainly had its bloody periods. And why did these stop? Someone sitting in authority, was there to challenge, and once that authority saw the reason in the challenge that somebody within the church said “stop”.

            Who is of the like in the Islamic world? Nobody that I can see.

          • also hence the incarnations of ‘Shariah law’ that can be found.
            your point about decentralization is cogent.
            Furthermore, it is that very decentralization that gives the current group of western defenders of peaceful Islam their foundation for argument.
            This decentralization is why they can claim there are moderate Islamists,. why ISIS is not Islam, etc. and yet there is no group of moderate Islamists they can reliably point to, or wrangle into helping them in de-legitimizing the ‘radicals’ and defeating them.
            With something like the Inquisition, the central figure of western Christianity could say “now hold on just a dang minute!”. When that happens in Islam, some mullah who favors the radicals declares the ‘moderate’ one to be apostate and marks him/them for death.

          • The difficulty with trying to parrallel Islam with other religions and trying to say they are just a transformational period away from becoming benign. Muhammad led a militaristic charge to convert cities. Its in the DNA of the nucleus. In Christianity it was a self-serving add-on by state entities.

            The other issue is, in General, the Reformation dealt with financial and cronyism type of corruptions and didn’t seem to care about the harsh approach to obtaining new converts. In fact, several centuries of war in Europe were spawned by Protestant/Catholic tensions. This would seem to imply its going to get worse before it gets better if it truly follows the formula.

  • But then, what would one expect from an administration that is going to send 3,000 troops to Africa to “battle ebola”, but won’t send any to battle a real, honest-to-goodness enemy in Iraq?

    about that… so, what is he trying to do, exactly?

    • I think the plan is to provide enough security so that the medicos can at least work.

      • As long as they give them bullets and guns and authority to use them.
        Which is more terrifying, Ebola or an unarmed American shouting at you in a foreign language to stop where you are.
        Under this dopey administration the potential for this to turn into an Islamist attack on our medical personnel seems outstanding. This will be handled with all the skill the State Department and White House can muster.
        Half measures, ineptitude, indecision and finally cover up.

      • I think its to help build facilities and maybe man some.

        I wonder if this is good experience for our teams or its totally insane…I go back and forth.

        My next question is how serious it is. Because I doubt any president would send 3,000 troops there unless someone told him it was way, way serious. Which worries me.

    • Bring back 3,000 Ebola vectors, of course…

  • the other thing that frosts my cheerios about the whole Ebola thing is ‘NOW’ they think it’s a problem.
    Right, because there was every reason to believe the local witch doctors and such were going to be able to deal with it, or something.
    Let’s not forget this epidemic is coming on a year old in December.
    but NOW! it’s a problem OMG!!!!! Obama do something!
    They, and by this I mean the set of busy bodies now finally engaged and excited about it, should have taken serious, honest to God, we need to stop this NOW action long about January of 2014, especially considering that it’s in a part of the world where it most likely WILL become an epidemic.
    The WHO should have been on it quicker, and frankly Washington should have intervened sooner because that could have prevented it from reaching urban centers before they had to get into panic mode. Your average video game playing 15 year old could have foreseen this. Virus + virus ignorant population + ease of travel = probable major problem.
    So, yes, I’m also hanging more blame on Obama because the smartest man in the room, and his staff, could have predicted this, if in fact they were the smartest.
    He could have gotten world kudo’s for taking action earlier and helping to nip this in the bud.
    As it is I think the usual round of dis-interest and indecision on the part of the administration has helped make this problem as big as it is. FORE!!!!!!!!
    We can bomb the crap out of hostile people with drones, but we can’t provide peaceful ones with the medical relief our tax dollars are probably already being taken for in foreign aid? Pull the other one.
    Oh, and how did that #bringbackourgirls hastag thingie ever work out? No huh?

    • And stay off my lawn!!!!!!!

    • I think the previous Ebola epidemics stayed very localized in villages.

      Not sure what happened in this case, but it reached the cities.

      I’m not going to blame the president for not catching that sooner.

      • No, his staff in this case. THAT’s why we spend boodles on all these Ivy League genii, and why they can get snotty about keeping it in the club when they hire and select.
        They’re the best, the brightest, just ask them. But 2 months ago when this vectored out of the bush into the cities they told u s we had nothing to worry about while stupidly ignoring that if it made inroads in populated centres in Africa then we would have something to worry about.
        So as usual they’re either not so sharp, or they lied. And as always I let people pick whichever of the two answers they like.
        I saw it as a possibility and if I saw it, they could.

  • This week, Washington Post editors noted that “Though derided by some as a ‘unilateral’ U.S. action, the 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq was supported by troops from 39 countries, nine of which deployed more than 1,000 soldiers.” The Post described Obama’s efforts, so far, as “meager” in comparison.

    Some might go as far as to call Obama’s efforts not just “meager” but ‘unilateral’.

  • Eric, valid points, BUT…

    There was a major schism in Christianity PRIOR to Luther, AND there were many “minor imams” all through Christendom during the Middle Ages. Even within the Church Of Rome, it was never a homogeneous monolith.

    Quite analogous to present-day Islam, seems to me.

    • Oh, certainly. Again, I don’t mean to overstate the case, here.

    • True, you still have Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches for example.
      And given the difficulties in command and control brought about strictly by distance you could see things like you see today in Islam – that regional influences and leaders of religious authority hold sway on a geographic basis. But that was when the fastest method of travel was by fast horse on land or swift ship by sea.
      And given how long it took to resolve a lot of the disjunctions…..
      I conclude –
      The “west” would never allow Islam to have a hundred years war to determine the winners.
      We’re always going to intervene on humanitarian grounds, if not for the economic concerns.
      In my view, in large measure, we prevent Islam from achieving a reformation by virtue of preventing the fight from ending with a victor,. I don’t believe it’s going to unite peacefully any more than Christianity did during it’s turmoils.
      That leads me to conclude it will not reform because we are not going to allow them to slaughter each other with abandon so that God can find his own.
      And that means we’ll end up slaughtering them, again and again, until one of our two sides tires of it enough to let the other have their way.

      • Is it too early for a drink?

      • I forgot conquest intervention in there, I realize that seems out there these days for ‘the west’, but conquest interventions account for numerous instances where the west stuck it’s nose into Islam dominated regions once the west lept forward technologically and “Islam” did not. Western colonies were unlikely to produce an Islamic reformation because the colonial government was more than likely to put down any such efforts as counter to good order rather than see a sudden religious fervor and change in structure cause the rise of “the Mahdi” which would have put an end to colonial rule.

  • They can’t send ground troops, they are gearing up to fight global warming.

  • I think that the Muslims have already had their “reformation.” It just went towards more fundamentalism. See the difference in Islamic culture in the 50’s and 60’s, with its progress towards moderation and compare it to today. Without a cultural bias of aristotelian examination of sources, in addition to the fact that if you “contradict” the Koran you will end up on a death list, there cannot be a “reform” towards moderation.