Archive for the ‘US Foreign Policy’ Category

Blackwater founder Erik Prince made a statement recently that was roundly critical of Obama administration policies, calling Obama out for having destroyed his company that could otherwise have solved the ISIS “boots on the ground” issue.

“It’s a shame the [Obama] administration crushed my old business, because as a private organization, we could’ve solved the boots-on-the-ground issue, we could have had contracts from people that want to go there as contractors; you don’t have the argument of U.S. active duty going back in there,” Prince said in an on-stage discussion featuring retired four-star Gen. James Conway. “[They could have] gone in there and done it, and be done, and not have a long, protracted political mess that I predict will ensue.”

Pretty much.

The left already thinks of US troops as mercenaries (Washington Post writer Bill “American troops are baby-killing mercenary scum who need to shut up and do what I tell them” Arkin is infamous for it) and uses it as an epithet.  And they generally tend to hold Tim Robbin’s opinion on business (that aren’t their own) as well:

The solution to dealing with ISIS might actually be to just agree with the left and actually let corporations go in with mercenary forces to clean up the mess.

If corporations actually had fought a blood war for oil in Iraq (as per the leftist fantasy), then there would be corporate entities with an interest in the final outcome of the conflict.  If Exxon/Shell/BP/Texaco were all invested in the nation as part of their bottom line, they’d be interested in building the place up.

Historically, US companies have built infrastructure in other nations.  The first example that comes to mind is Creole Petroleum Corporation, which built up Venezuela’s oil business (which Venezuela took over by nationalization in 1976).  MST3K riffed one of their short films back in the mid-late 90s.

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I started writing this whole post a few days ago, then life got in the way, and now returning to it, I see it still holds quite true.  The world has started asking questions about this shaky coalition of the unwilling, Iraqi civilians who haven’t fled are left between the Scylla of American airstrikes with no ground support and the Charybdis of ISIS which still controls their lives.

President Obama has declared “war upon war so we can have peace upon peace” which sounds like Woodrow Wilson’s lying promises of noninterventionism coupled with his propaganda that dragged us into WWI now married to Neville Chamberlain’s naivete when it comes to dealing with aggressors.

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Ultimately, a mercenary force on the ground would solve the political quandary of putting American forces into active combat (even though we have troops on the ground… and they are wearing boots, no matter how many times the lie of “no boots on the ground” is repeated).  If Iraq as a nation were run by anyone who cared about the nation – whether decent Iraqis or foreign business interests, they’d have hired mercenaries on their own by now.  If Iraq’s war were privatized and subject to market forces, it would be won and stabilized already.

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The problems of the Iraq war, both under Bush and Obama, are representative of their respective ideologies.  Bush believed in spreading freedom and democracy to people whose capacity to immediately accept freedom and democracy even the Founders would’ve been skeptical of.  Bush’s domestic policy in the US ignored the US borders and ignored sovereignty for domestic business interests, so thinking of the border as something that should be sealed didn’t really occur to him or those around him – hence the foreign fighters who were swarming across in the 2004-2006 timeframe.  The HET team I got to work with briefly near Fallujah in 2005 explained that the entire problem in Iraq stemmed from foreign terrorists that the locals could clearly identify, but who kept coming in because borders were porous.  But Bush’s failures were contrasted with successes, though – the surges worked.  It was a fix to a problem that could’ve been prevented, but it still was a fix.

Obama’s ideology when it comes to problems is to talk about them just enough to say they aren’t important (or to blame Republican partisanship for them while claiming to be nonpartisan), and then handwaving them away.  His problem-solving methods are limited to rhetoric and using the bully pulpit to be dismissive of all criticism, and enjoying a press that willingly obliges his every whim.  His answer to Iraq is that it’s Bush’s fault because of the status-of-forces agreement of 2008, one which Obama did not seek to change with Iraq because he accepted the will of the Iraqi government as being every bit as important as America’s.  The US isn’t exceptional to him, and all countries are equal.

This led the US-Iraq relationship to become one that may as well have been a Maury Povich show with “out of control” children telling their parents off, and the parents sighing that they just can’t do anything about it.  Iraq needed to be leaned on until they accepted.  Obama was unwilling to lean on Iraq and tell them they had to accept in order to prevent a predictable result like ISIS, because Obama didn’t want to be involved.  He’s the absentee parent who doesn’t want the kid, so he lets the kid run wild – and/or blames the kid’s other parent for the problems while absolving himself of responsiblity and saying he never wanted kids in the first place.  None of that solves the problem and all of it contributes to it.

Nonetheless, he uses the 2008 status of forces agreement as an excuse.  When ISIS threatens everyone in the world, he responds with “I will not be intimidated” and some more words.  Now, pushed hard by his staff, he’s barely on board with half-measures that will accomplish little besides aiding Assad against ISIS and give ISIS a rallying cry for more terrorists to join them.  A declaration of “I will put no American boots on the ground” (technically already a lie, but the intent to avoid conflict is clear) is a declaration that thoroughly emboldens the enemy as much as a retreat date in Afghanistan did there, and that declaration of timidity reminds our other geopolitical foes like Russia that we aren’t going to do anything to save the Ukraine.

Years ago, Der Spiegel wrote about the Seven Phases of Al Qaeda’s plan as related to Jordanian journalist Fouad HusseinLong War Journal wrote about it as well.  Beyond the first few stages, it was expected to be the ramblings of madman terrorist Seif al-Adel.   It seemed the kind of plan that would easily be checked by intervention by the West, led by the US.

A short summary of the seven phases:

1. “The Awakening” - was supposed to have lasted from 2000 to 2003, or more precisely from the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in New York and Washington to the fall of Baghdad in 2003. The aim of the attacks of 9/11 was to provoke the US into declaring war on the Islamic world and thereby “awakening” Muslims.

2. “Opening Eyes” – 2003-2006 – the terrorists hope to make the western conspiracy aware of the “Islamic community.” Al Qaeda turns itself into a movement, recruiting and building an army in Iraq and bases in other Arab states.

3. “Arising and Standing Up” – 2007-2010 a focus on Syria with fighting units already built in Syria and Iraq.

4. Destabilization of the Middle East.  2010-2013.  Al Qaeda will bring about the collapse of Arab governments, and AQ will steadily grow in strength.

5, Islamic State/Caliphate declared.  2013-2016.  Weakened western influence will allow for an Islamic State to form.

6. “Total Confrontation” – 2016 on.  The Caliphate will instigate the fight between believers and non-believers.

7. “Definitive Victory” – completed by 2020 with a two-year war.  The rest of the world will be so beaten down by 1.5 billion Muslims that the Caliphate will succeed.

Phase 4 was completed by the “Arab Spring”.  And Phase 5 is now complete, as ISIS has declared an Islamic State.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) has reportedly declared the areas it occupies in Iraq and Syria as a new Islamic state, removing Iraq and the Levant from its name and ushering in “a new era of international jihad”.

According to Isis’s chief spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, the declaration of the “restoration of the caliphate” was made after a meeting of the group’s Shura Council. In recent weeks, Isis has captured large areas of western and northern Iraq and for two years has held parts of Syria, imposing a harsh interpretation of Islamic law and in many cases, killing large numbers of opposition Shia Muslims.

Adnani said all jihadist organisations must now offer up their support to Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who has been declared Caliph of the new state.

The Long War Journal in 2005 wrote this:

The United States will not allow another Islamic state to fall to al Qaeda’s ideologues. The lesson of September 11 serves as a reminder of what happened when Afghanistan became a sanctuary and de facto al Qaeda state.

The Fifth Phase This will be the point at which an Islamic state, or caliphate, can be declared. The plan is that by this time, between 2013 and 2016, Western influence in the Islamic world will be so reduced and Israel weakened so much, that resistance will not be feared. Al-Qaida hopes that by then the Islamic state will be able to bring about a new world order.

The Long War Journal wasn’t able to forsee Obama or Obama’s retreat from the Middle East.

The Caliphate had smaller plans:

ISIS envisioned boundaries 140611That are now getting bigger:

isis caliphate projection 20140629

And those “moderate” Muslim rebels Obama thinks will magically appear to stop the Caliphate?  They’re being crucified:

isis crucifixion 20140629_crucify

Meanwhile, some are saying that ISIS is a paper tiger that only accomplishes anything out of fear, and others are saying that ISIS only exists because of Manbearpig.

To borrow from a speech by Lara Logan two years ago:

You’re not listening to what the people who are fighting you say about this fight.  In your arrogance, you think you write the script, but you don’t.

The Advance of ISIS

Posted: June 12, 2014 by ShortTimer in Iraq, Middle East, terrorism, US Foreign Policy

A few pictures can give some idea of the situation:

isis iraq syria us humvees

US humvees, now being used by ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq & Syria).  And this would be Georgian-Chechen ISIS commander Umar al Shishani who’s smiling at the capture of American humvees given to Iraq’s failing government.

isis iraq syria us humvees shishani

And one more photo via Jawa Report of US humvees now used by the emerging terrorist caliphate:

isis iraq syria us humvees 2

They’ve taken Tikrit and basically taken Mosul, and as the map (via Jawa Report again) shows, they are not “on the run”:

isis advance june 2014

Reports say 500,000 people have evacuated/are evacuating Mosul.  But pictures say plenty:

isis advance june 2014 mosul evacuation

And then, of course, there’s the fact that ISIS just made themselves the richest terrorist group in the world:

The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (Isis) has become the richest terror group ever after looting 500 billion Iraqi dinars – the equivalent of $429m (£256m) – from Mosul’s central bank, according to the regional governor.

Nineveh governor Atheel al-Nujaifi confirmed Kurdish televison reports that Isis militants had stolen millions from numerous banks across Mosul. A large quantity of gold bullion is also believed to have been stolen.

Following the siege of the country’s second city, the bounty collected by the group has left it richer than al-Qaeda itself and as wealthy as small nations such as Tonga, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands and the Falkland Islands.

But Bin Laden is dead and Al Qaeda is on the run, right?

One may disagree with the original decision to go in (and there’s plenty of disagreement to be had), but US departure from the region has left it open to terrorists and tyrants who are actively getting stronger due to the absence of any resistant or even stabilizing force.

Via Jawa Report:

syrian_hostage_baby

From Raymond Ibrahim via TROP:

According to Sham Times and other Arabic websites, jihadi social media networks posted the above picture of a child sitting on the ground while surrounded by armed men pointing their rifles at him. The caption appearing with the picture, purportedly posted by a supporter of the Free Syrian Army, is “Our youngest hostage from among the hostile sects of Kessab.”

Kessab is a predominantly Christian Armenian village in Syria near the Turkish border. Earlier it was invaded by jihadis, who terrorized, pillaged churches, and prompted some 2000 residents to flee. Initial reports had stated that about a dozen families remained as hostages.

Read the rest at The Jawa Report.

And keep in mind that the Free Syrian Army are the same people that many in the US government want to support and that the Obama administration’s CIA is arming.

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For contrast:

us soldier protects child 1

American Soldiers Protecting Vietnamese Children

Ambassador Chris Stevens is dead in part because there were MANPADS in Libya that were being shipped to Syrian rebels, at least that’s how some of the story goes, but we can’t confirm it because the CIA is hiding Benghazi survivors and changing their names.

But now the CIA is openly sending weapons to Syrian rebels… who also count Al Qaeda among their numbers.

The CIA has begun delivering weapons to rebels in Syria, ending months of delay in lethal aid that had been promised by the Obama administration, according to U.S. officials and Syrian figures. The shipments began streaming into the country over the past two weeks, along with separate deliveries by the State Department of vehicles and other gear — a flow of material that marks a major escalation of the U.S. role in Syria’s civil war.

The arms shipments, which are limited to light weapons and other munitions that can be tracked, began arriving in Syria at a moment of heightened tensions over threats by President Obama to order missile strikes to punish the regime of Bashar al-Assad for his alleged use of chemical weapons in a deadly attack near Damascus last month.

“Can be tracked?”

The Obama administration wouldn’t track weapons they send into Mexico that got hundreds of Mexicans and two US federal agents killed, and we’re supposed to believe they’ll do it in a war zone in Syria?

“When you finally have a free Syrian government, you will know them and they will know us,” Ward said. “We will have been working with them week after week, month after month. These won’t be strangers.”

That worked so well in Libya and Egypt.

Libya, Egypt, and Syria will be the Whitman, Price, and Haddad of the Middle East.

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Now Assad is demanding that in order to give up his chemical weapons, the US needs to stop arming the rebels.  Oh look, the meaningless accord that Obama reached when he kneeled before Putin has already been proven meaningless.  Good thing he’s got that extra flexibility he told Medvedev about.

I started this as a minor post a few days back, but in the span of a few days, the story has changed.

First Putin called Obama out:

“I would like to address Obama as a Nobel Peace Prize laureate: Before using force in Syria, it would be good to think about future casualties,” Putin told Russian news agencies in Vladivostok during a tour of the country’s flood-stricken Far East.  …

Putin said he was sure the attack was the work of rebels trying to provoke international — and especially American — involvement in the Syrian conflict. The government of Bashar al-Assad, he said, would have had no reason to use chemical weapons at a time when it had gained the upper hand in the fighting.

Doing so, he said, would have been “utter nonsense’’ – with the clear implication that that is how he would characterize the American allegations.

On top of that, he said, the Obama administration’s “claims that proof exists, but is classified and cannot be presented to anybody, are below criticism. This is plain disrespect for their partners.”

Putin’s comments were soon underlined by a stern statement from the Foreign Ministry. After U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul had finished a meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on Saturday, the ministry declared, “Russia has expressed its conviction that any forceful action against Syria that the U.S. could carry out in circumvention of the U.N. Security Council would be an act of aggression and a gross violation of international law.”

Pretty harsh, and some biting digs there at Obama, using Obama’s own words and line of attack against Bush against him.  Putin even used Obama’s own hatred of American exceptionalism against him in his NYT op-ed:

And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy.

Remember that Obama has the same opinion that Putin states there.

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Mark Steyn summed up the accidental war brewing here:

(the US)… is going to war because Obama wandered off prompter and accidentally made a threat. So he has to make good on it, or America will lose its credibility. But he only wants to make good on it in a perfunctory and ineffectual way. So America will lose its credibility anyway.

While he was expecting a military response in the bare minimum as the quote by an unnamed official went: “just muscular enough not to get mocked”, what’s happened was an even weaker response – empty posturing and nothingness.

The president has backed away from a military strike in Syria. But he can’t acknowledge this or act as if it is true. He is acting and talking as if he’s coolly, analytically, even warily contemplating the Russian proposal and the Syrian response. The proposal, he must know, is absurd. Bashar Assad isn’t going to give up all his hidden weapons in wartime, in the middle of a conflict so bitter and severe that his forces this morning reportedly bombed parts of Damascus, the city in which he lives. In such conditions his weapons could not be fully accounted for, packed up, transported or relinquished, even if he wanted to. But it will take time—weeks, months—for the absurdity to become obvious. And it is time the president wants. Because with time, with a series of statements, negotiations, ultimatums, promises and proposals, the Syria crisis can pass. It can dissipate into the air, like gas.

The president will keep the possibility of force on the table, but really he’s lunging for a lifeline he was lucky to be thrown.  …

All this, if it is roughly correct, is going to make the president’s speech tonight quite remarkable. It will be a White House address in which a president argues for an endeavor he is abandoning. It will be a president appealing for public support for an action he intends not to take.

And that’s exactly what the speech was.

What happened was Vladimir Putin proved, as has been stated across a million blogs and talk radio shows now, that the Russians are playing chess, while Obama is playing tiddly winks.  Maybe we should’ve expected that.

putin vs obamaPutin won.

Lee Smith at Weekly Standard makes the case solidly.

The Syrian government has accepted the proposal because they understand it is an empty formalism.  As everyone knows, as even all but the most obtuse White House officials must also understand, Assad will not give up his unconventional arsenal because he cannot.  …  …. plan B is to withdraw from Damascus and head to the coastal mountains that make up the historical Alawite homeland. The question for Assad then is, how to ensure the safety of that retreat? Further, once there how are the Alawites to defend their redoubt from a Sunni community galvanized by a shared vendetta against Assad and his community? From Assad’s perspective, without chemical weapons the Alawites might fall off the face of the earth.

Who knows what the Russians told Assad? For God’s sake, just say it’s your chemical weapons arsenal you’re turning over for safekeeping. Send them canisters of perfume, or cat urine. The Americans just want a deal, the president thinks he’s saving face. If the Americans are smart, they’ll let the whole thing drop and call it a win, but knowing them they’ll come back later and complain that you’re not keeping your end of the bargain. No problem. We’ll stall them. And then every time Obama whines it will remind your adversaries and U.S. allies around the world that the Americans are empty suits, a bunch of legalistic bureaucrats who are incapable of standing with their friends.

But Putin showed shrewdness and defeated Obama handily by appealing to Obama’s weakness.  He can’t let himself look bad.  The only “credibility” question was a corner Obama painted himself into that he expected to paint his way out of at the cost of US military power, Syrian lives, and a war that would escalate.

The president’s supporters and publicists in the press know how to package Obama’s weakness. The fear that everyone else in the world smells emanating from him like a wounded animal is really just humility and modesty—fitting attributes for the leader of a superpower that needs to make amends for having meddled so long in the affairs of others. And besides, this talk of strength and weakness is juvenile—the world is not a schoolyard. And so Obama ignored Putin’s slights and held his head high. This revealed to Putin Obama’s real liability, his vanity. Obama always needs to look good. He will embrace defeat so long as he can still imagine himself a handsome princeling. After pushing Obama around for five years, now Putin escorts him out of the Middle East. Here, friend, take my hand. Let me help you to the sidelines.

As David Samuels wrote last week, Putin’s goal is to replace the United States as the regional power broker. Sure, Russia is less a state than a criminal enterprise with lots of energy to sell, while the United States drives the global economy, but so what? What good are American aircraft carriers if you don’t have the will to use them? Putin will use anything he has to win, while Obama is looking for a reason not to fire a few cruise missiles into the Syrian desert. There is absolutely no chance Obama would risk a shooting war with Iran.

Part of the reason for a Western European demand for action is because Russian Gazprom controls the heat in Europe in the winter, and a pipeline through Syria could be built if the Assad regime (backed by Russia) goes away.  Russian Gazprom wouldn’t be controlling Europe’s thermostat, and with it would go a lot of economic and political power.  So losing Syria would could also harm Russian interests in the future.

And the reason Britain might’ve been interested in getting into Syria?  Britain sent Syria a lot of components for chemical weapons, and they may want to go clean up the mess they helped make.

The Russian proposal not only saves Obama from having to do something about Syria, it also, and much more important, shows the way forward with Iran. From the White House’s point of view, its credible threat of force made Syria buckle and will similarly bring Iran to the negotiating table. Putin has shown his bona fides as a credible interlocutor with Damascus and will do the same with Iran. Obama can relax now and imagine that he has finally earned his Nobel Peace Prize and that that sound he hears is the tide of war receding.

In fact, it is the sound of American allies around the world—the Poles and Czechs, the Japanese and the South Koreans, the Saudis, Jordanians and Israelis, among others—gnashing their teeth. They now see that they are on their own, and that  the word of the United States means nothing.

There’s all that talk of credibility, and all it proves is that Obama won’t stand up to anyone on the global stage except US allies.  It’s marvelously consistent with Dinesh D’souza’s theory that Obama’s anti-colonialist roots drive him to harm the US and its allies at every turn and weaken the power of both.

The only thing credible was Obama’s threat to take unilateral military action over the orders of Congress and his triangulating to blame Congress for failure if he went to war or if he didn’t.

Putin just gave him a more convenient exit, and took another step towards his own expansion of power, and at American expense.

putin glasses flag

John Kerry says Obama can attack Syria with or without congressional approval, and may do so anyway:

“Now. I can’t tell you what judgment the president will make if, in three weeks, Bashar Assad uses chemical weapons again. But the president reserves the right in the presidency to respond as appropriate to protect the security of our nation.”

Syria has less to do with our security than Iraq or Afghanistan by a long shot, and the rebels in Syria are Al Qaeda, our enemy in Iraq and Afghanistan for the last few decades.  So there is no case for this, but Obama might attack anyway, even if congress says no, because screw you.

Meanwhile, VP Joe said this: