“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The spectacular failure of the War on Terror, which actually succeeded in creating a transnational army of Islamic terrorists - Destroying a country naturally empowers extremists

....the critical event that precipitated ISIS’s rise: the destruction of Iraq’s political order, which caused untold civilian suffering and left one-fifth of the population — the Sunni, with their ties to Saddam’s “security-obsessed totalitarian regime” — suddenly disempowered and vulnerable. This was a recipe for violent resistance.


As the U.S. prepares to re-engage more deeply in the Iraq War, including the likely deployment of ground troops to help retake Mosul from Islamic State, we are being asked to recommit to an ideological view of our military campaigns in the Muslim world. Roger Cohen fixates on “Islam and the West at War”, denouncing the “empty talk” of Western leaders who eschew his clash-of-civilizations framing. David Brooks proposes a poorly-defined “nationalist solution”, arguing that only “a more compelling heroic vision” can counter the glorious spiritual ardor of radical Islam. And a splashy cover story in The Atlantic, “What ISIS Really Wants”, offers an intellectual foundation for the reenergized War on Terror, presenting full recognition of ISIS’s “very Islamic” nature as a matter of urgent strategic significance.

This push to name the enemy of the West as Islam is in fact a defense of our own side’s troubled ideology. The guiding principle of post-World War II foreign policy — that the course of world events should be influenced, wherever possible, by force — is imperiled by the spectacular failure of the War on Terror, which actually succeeded in creating a transnational army of Islamic terrorists. That Islamic State rose in Iraq, then spread to Syria and Libya, threatens to give war a very bad name: it’s starting to look like destroying a country naturally empowers extremists.

One way to avoid confronting this reality — which might cause us to ask painful, demoralizing questions about who we are and what we believe — is to focus on the decontextualized ideology these newly empowered extremists profess so vehemently. This is The Atlantic approach. Author Graeme Wood gestures towards the importance of other factors in the rise of ISIS, with one eye-popping omission:
In the past, Westerners who accused Muslims of blindly following ancient scriptures came to deserved grief from academics — notably the late Edward Said — who pointed out that calling Muslims “ancient” was usually just another way to denigrate them. Look instead, these scholars urged, to the conditions in which these ideologies arose — the bad governance, the shifting social mores, the humiliation of living in lands valued only for their oil.

Without acknowledgement of these factors, no explanation of the rise of the Islamic State could be complete. But focusing on them to the exclusion of ideology reflects another kind of Western bias: that if religious ideology doesn’t matter much in Washington or Berlin, surely it must be equally irrelevant in Raqqa or Mosul. When a masked executioner says Allahu akbar while beheading an apostate, sometimes he’s doing it for religious reasons.

Missing from Wood’s list of “conditions” is the critical event that precipitated ISIS’s rise: the destruction of Iraq’s political order, which caused untold civilian suffering and left one-fifth of the population — the Sunni, with their ties to Saddam’s “security-obsessed totalitarian regime” — suddenly disempowered and vulnerable. This was a recipe for violent resistance.

Ignoring Iraq

“Only a crisis — actual or perceived — produces real change,” observed Milton Friedman, who, whatever the merits of his economic theories, certainly understood practical politics. “When that occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around.” The U.S. occupation of Iraq, at once abusive and ineffectual, was an enormous crisis, especially from the perspective of the Sunni. And there happened to be a fighting ideology available to them, one that could draw from the strength of foreign fighters incensed by the spectacle of Muslim suffering at American hands: the Salafist jihadism of al Qaeda, which dreamed of a reconstituted caliphate but was in no position to make that happen as of 2003.

Although this ideology dates back decades, there was no jihadist movement in Iraq before the US invasion. Islam was not anathema to Saddam — after Gulf War I he launched a so-called Faith Campaign, to shore up support for his regime in the face of fundamentalist opposition and economic hardship — but religious extremism was his enemy. When Abu Musab al-Zarqawi entered Iraq in 2002, he found safe haven not in Saddam country but in semiautonomous Kurdistan, under the no-fly zone. It was the next year — when the Americans smashed the regime, disbanded the army, enacted de-Baathification, and created a Shia-dominated Governing Council — that al Qaeda operatives found an opening among Iraq’s Sunni tribes. 

As Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan recount in their new history ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror, “Disenfranchised Saddamists, who had melted back into their native cities and villages along the Euphrates River, were only too happy to accommodate the new arrivals, seeing them as agents for the Americans’ expulsion and their own restoration. The jihadists, however, had different ambitions for Iraq.”

At first, al Qaeda was just one among many factions fighting the Americans, who gave Iraqis plenty of reasons to hate them. But the dynamics of the occupation, which played out like Osama bin Laden’s wildest fantasy, favored the jihadists. Zarqawi’s ruthlessness — he was a violent criminal before he discovered Salafism — gave his group a natural advantage, bequeathing to the world the revolting propaganda triumph of the beheading video. The resulting US emphasis on al Qaeda as the source of resistance in Iraq raised its profile further. And the prisons of the occupation, which housed countless young men caught up in the American dragnet, facilitated proselytizing and networking. Among those locked up was the previously unremarkable Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi; according to an Islamic State commander who did time with the future self-proclaimed caliph at Camp Bucca, “If there was no American prison in Iraq, there would be no IS now. Bucca was a factory. It made us all. It built our ideology.”

Putting the Blame on Islam

Almost none of this history appears in Wood’s essay, which purports to answer (among other key questions) where ISIS came from. Instead of attending closely to the circumstances of the group’s creation, which are still highly relevant to the state of play in Iraq, Wood spoke with people in the West who admire ISIS or claim to be experts. The picture that emerges seems at times close to fantasy:

According to Haykel, the ranks of the Islamic State are deeply infused with religious vigor. Koranic quotations are ubiquitous. “Even the foot soldiers spout this stuff constantly,” Haykel said. “They mug for the cameras and repeat their basic doctrines in formulaic fashion, and they do it all the time.”

If this characterization (by Princeton professor Bernard Haykel) sounds suspiciously sweeping and confident, there’s a reason: it does not match the reports of actual experts. Didier Fran├žois, a French journalist who spent 10 months in an ISIS prison, has said that among his captors,
“There was never really discussion about texts or — it was not a religious discussion. It was a political discussion. It was more hammering what they were believing than teaching us about the Quran. Because it has nothing to do with the Quran. We didn’t even have the Quran; they didn’t want even to give us a Quran.”

According to Weiss and Hassan, “Those who say they are adherents of ISIS as a strictly political project make up a weighty percentage of its lower cadres and support base.”

This isn’t to suggest there aren’t many intensely religious ISIS fighters, including Baghdadi, who has a doctorate in Islamic studies and reportedly used to preach. But beyond a tidbit or two — like the significance of Rome and Dabiq in ISIS propaganda — Wood has little of interest to say about the group’s religiosity. When he writes, “The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic,” he means simply that ISIS is fundamentalist — committed to literal interpretation of sacred texts and harsh enforcement of doctrinal laws — which comes as news to no one. But since cover stories are about getting attention, that familiar term appears not once in 10,000 words, nor does the related but less precise “extremist”. Instead, in keeping with The Atlantic’s editorial commitment to Islamophobia, there is an implicit claim that ISIS represents a more authentic version of Islam than does your garden-variety, non-bloodthirsty Muslim. Quoting Haykel, Wood informs us that these mainstream types “who call the Islamic State un-Islamic are typically…‘embarrassed and politically correct, with a cotton-candy view of their own religion’ that neglects what their religion has historically and legally required.’ Many denials of the Islamic State’s religious nature, he said, are rooted in an ‘interfaith-Christian-nonsense tradition.’” This is New Atheist-style churlishness, affording higher religious status to fundamentalism and thereby reproducing the position of ISIS itself.

It’s also philosophically incoherent. Wood goes on to quote an exasperated Haykel complaining that “People want to absolve Islam. It’s this ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ mantra. As if there is such as thing as ‘Islam’! It’s what Muslims do, and how they interpret their texts.” Neither Haykel nor Wood seems to recognize the blatant contradiction: if there is no such thing as “Islam”, no authoritative interpretation, then what is it that mainstream Muslims have “a cotton-candy view of”? What is it that “historically and legally requires” the atrocities of ISIS? If it’s true that Islam is “what Muslims do, and how they interpret their texts,” then given that the vast majority of Muslims don’t participate in ISIS-style barbarity, Islamic State must be “deviant” (as Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, the mentor of Zarqawi, has dubbed it), or un-Islamic.
Of course it isn’t, necessarily, because the world’s religions are all heterogeneous, defined by a core of characteristic beliefs but encompassing numerous sects, denominations, practices and styles. It’s very unlikely that the president doesn’t understand this; Obama is obviously practicing rhetoric, with an eye toward the very real intra-Islam struggle, when he says that ISIS isn’t made up of true Muslims. But for Wood, Obama’s public pronouncements “reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.” This is Wood’s justification of his inquiry, the claim that what he has to impart about Islamic State’s theology could make the difference between our strengthening the group or facilitating its self-destruction. And yet, despite his criticisms of Obama’s misunderstanding, Wood winds up endorsing the strategy the president has pursued so far: “Given everything we know about the Islamic State, continuing to slowly bleed it, through air strikes and proxy warfare, appears to be the best of bad military options.”

Give War a Chance

The case for escalation against ISIS based on Wood’s argument is obvious (he toys with it himself), and has been taken up by the usual suspects — Max Boot, for instance, writing for Commentary: “Wood is compelling in analyzing the ISIS threat — less so in suggesting a solution. His work points to the imperative for the US to do more to deny ISIS territorial control. That is why I have suggested the new [sic] for more than 10,000 US personnel to be deployed…”

Only a neocon could embrace the argument that heedlessness of the enemy’s Islamist ideology helped pave the way for ISIS. What about Gen. Stanley McChrystal, architect of the US killing machine in Iraq, who brought his counterinsurgency strategy to ISAF headquarters in Afghanistan? According to an army officer who was McChrystal’s roommate at West Point, “He was someone who saw this global ‘Caliphate’ as a tremendous enemy, and kept beating the drum for that.” The officer continued: “Boykin and Cambone and McChrystal were fellow travelers in the great crusade against Islam,” naming two Pentagon intelligence bigwigs in addition to the general. “They ran what was for all practical purposes an assassination campaign.” (See Jeremy Scahill, Dirty Wars, pp. 109-10.) And what did we gain by stacking up the corpses of al Qaeda commanders in Iraq? In a word, ISIS:

“Zarqawi was very smart. He was the best strategist that the Islamic State has had. Abu Omar [al-Baghdadi] was ruthless,” Abu Ahmed said, referring to Zarqawi’s successor, who was killed in a US-led raid in April 2010. “And Abu Bakr is the most bloodthirsty of all.

“After Zarqawi was killed, the people who liked killing even more than him became very important in the organisation. Their understanding of sharia and of humanity was very cheap. They don’t understand the Tawheed (the Qur’anic concept of God’s oneness) the way it was meant to be understood. The Tawheed should not have been forced by war.”

This account, given by an ISIS commander who goes by the nom de guerre Abu Ahmed to The Guardian’s Martin Chulav, encapsulates a lesson the U.S. refuses to learn: in a conflict like the so-called War on Terror, our violence is counterproductive. Smash al Qaeda, and you get something worse. Smash Islamic State, and God knows what will happen. Wood may resist the conclusion, but it follows from his argument — ISIS is an implacable, apocalyptically-minded enemy — that there is no remedy for our latest predicament except more killing. Follow this reasoning, and we can expect the situation to deteriorate further (hard as that is to imagine now).

Abu Ahmed’s story also demonstrates the folly of presenting the phenomenon of ISIS as essentially Islamic. His complaint about declining religious standards among the leadership is echoed in Weiss and Hassan’s account of “the internal story” told by “two disgruntled al-Qaeda members”, several years after Baghdadi occupied the top spot in 2010:

The reason they were disgruntled was that their perception of the rise of al-Baghdadi, whatever his level of education, represented the takeover of the Salafist-Jihadist movement within ISI of people without strong Salafist-Jihadist credentials — Baathists.

That’s another word you won’t hear from Wood, though it’s critical to understanding ISIS’s takeover of so much territory. Islamic State went from an urban guerrilla group to a full-fledged army not because of Western recruits without military experience, but because of a rapprochement with the Baathists, including Saddam’s former officers. These were not jihadis, though some of them took up Islam in the wake of the U.S. wrecking ball. “It was never clear that he would turn out like that,” the governor of Anbar province said of one such officer, a former student of his who joined al Qaeda and spent time in U.S. detention. “He was from a simple family, with high morals, but all his brothers went in that direction… all those guys got religious after 2003.” Weird coincidence. Another commander, formerly a major general in an elite unit, tried to rejoin the Iraqi Army but was turned down because of de-Baathification. After ISIS sacked Mosul, he telephoned the official who rejected him: “We will reach you soon, and I will chop you into pieces.” Not exactly a religious scholar with esoteric motivations.

We should dismiss the fanciful notion that countering ISIS is primarily a matter of understanding Islam. Wood quotes “confidential comments” by the U.S. special ops commander in the Middle East, “admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal: ‘We have not defeated the idea. We do not even understand the idea.’” As though the military would be capable of changing the personal convictions of foreigners, if only we could figure out out what those are. In fact, the appeal of ISIS is obvious enough (though no U.S. commander could admit this and continue to do his job): the grievances of Sunni in Iraq and Syria, and of their sympathizers worldwide, are not mysterious, and jihad is the recourse available to them. Even if every fighter were purely motivated by Islamic extremism, an ideology can’t be destroyed. Wood mentions Hitler and the appeal of fascism; decades after one of the most resounding political failures in world history, driven by crushing military defeat and incurring unparalleled disapprobation, there are still people who identify with Nazism. What we can do — or ought to be able to do, at least — is avoid creating or contributing to the crises that empower dangerous ideologues.
At present the U.S. seems poised to do the opposite. In Syria, bombing both ISIS and its wayward offshoot, Jabhat al-Nusra, seems like a policy designed to draw the two back together. In Iraq, pushing Baghdad to retake Mosul in a matter of months could well herald a return to the worst days of sectarian slaughter, given the record of the Shia militias. With characteristic grandiloquence, Wood mentions the prospect that ISIS will “self-immolate in its own excessive zeal,” but we seem determined to keep on fanning the flames in which extremist movements are hardened.

About Eamon MurphyEamon Murphy is a journalist in New York City. Follow him on Twitter @epmurph.

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  1. Bush and the Neocons own ISIS - listen to the last 45 second comment by Clark, made seven years ago.

  2. The only people that can secure Iraq and gain any resemblance of peace there, are Iraqis.
    The US cannot do that, NATO cannot do that. This reality has been well illustrated in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

    It was illustrated in Vietnam, even in Germany and Japan, after WWII.
    US ground troops are not the answer.

    We are not about to send American boys 9 or 10 thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.
    - Lyndon B. Johnson

    He was right, he should have listened to what he had said.

    1. There is no historical nation called "Iraq"

      The peoples of Iraq are various groups that have been slapped together by the Brits and the French after conquering the lands from the Turks and so on and so forth.

    2. Maybe it's time to undo the fake arab nations that litter the world.

      But America? should not be bombing men women and babies in Syria and Iraq that do not have any threat to the USA.

      There are 370 Million arabs and 1.3 BILLION moslems. Let them take care of their own societies. Only if those societies threaten the USA should the USA care.

    3. They really do not threaten the US, until the US tries to take their stuff, or impose the US economic model upon them.

  3. >>>The only people that can secure Iraq and gain any resemblance of peace there, are Iraqis.<<<


    Nope. Wrong again. They are divided into three factions and are themselves the problem they are supposed to solve.. They hate each others guts.

    The game was over when O'bozo took the troops out.

    We should support a Kurdish state. That's about the only feasible silver lining in the things I have read that I have suggested.

    1. They are not divided into 3 sections.

      They are 3 different peoples (actually more) that were artificially slapped together when Iraq and Jordan were GIVEN to the Hussein brothers after they were THROWN out of Arabia by the Saud clan (with the brits who wanted the oil)

      The 2 "kings" one of jordan and one of iraq placated by the brits after Arabia was hijacked..

    2. Yep, the Brits imposed unsustainable governing elites in Jordan, Iraq and ISrael.

    3. Arabia was hijacked by the Europeans, we do agree.

  4. Drunken Joe Biden had it right. We should have divided the place into three back in the days when we had the ability to do so.

    Which goes to show one can be a sloppy drunken oaf and woman fondler and make perfectly good geo-political sense.


    1. We should have backed the Kurds and told the syrians, iranians, iraqis and turks to get their paws off other folks lands...

      oh yeah who cares, it not the jews we are talking about.

    2. Miss T, Farmer Bob, Drunken Joe, three geo-political geniuses.


      Cheers !

      Have a great day......

    3. I have called out the issue of the Kurds since day one.

    4. You have been called out, that's true, "O"rdure.
      But you never answer the call.

    5. Jack is that an attempt at a slight?

      Oh, Might I suggest you go back to school and learn the term "slap down"

  5. It's too late for a genealogical study.

    Let's just go ahead and kill'em, now, and we'll figure out who their daddy is, later.

    1. 2000 American bombing runs on who knows who?

      Are you proud?

    2. Damned betcha. We're not like the Israelis; we know who we're bombing.

      That's why you don't see a lot of headlines coming out of Iraq about Americans killing women and children.

    3. I don't comment on your idiotic screeds. Keep your racist, America-hating Zionist bullshit off of my comments.

    4. You don't see headlines from behind ISIS lines as there are NO western reporters there.

    5. Israel's bombing of Hamas fighters in Gaza in fact was quite remarkable. the USA has a MUCH lower standard, wedding parties and civilians by the score have been blown apart by America. Just own it..

      I love America. But I am honest, killing bad guys does involve collateral damage, IE civilians. You are just an intellectual coward that you cannot admit that America DOES kill civilians.

    6. U.S. airstrike in Syria may have killed 50 civilians
      McClatchy Foreign StaffJanuary 11, 2015

      GAZIANTEP, TURKEY — A U.S.-led coalition airstrike killed at least 50 Syrian civilians late last month when it targeted a headquarters of Islamic State extremists in northern Syria, according to an eyewitness and a Syrian opposition human rights organization.

      The civilians were being held in a makeshift jail in the town of Al Bab, close to the Turkish border, when the aircraft struck on the evening of Dec. 28, the witnesses said. The building, called the Al Saraya, a government center, was leveled in the airstrike. It was days before civil defense workers could dig out the victims’ bodies.

      The U.S. Central Command, which had not previously announced the airstrike, confirmed the attack Saturday in response to repeated McClatchy inquiries. “Coalition aircraft did strike and destroy an ISIL headquarters building in Al Bab on Dec. 28,” Col. Patrick S. Ryder said in an email.

      Read more here:

    7. 41 men targeted but 1,147 people killed: US drone strikes – the facts on the ground
      New analysis of data conducted by human rights group Reprieve shared with the Guardian, raises questions about accuracy of intelligence guiding ‘precise’ strikes

      The drones came for Ayman Zawahiri on 13 January 2006, hovering over a village in Pakistan called Damadola. Ten months later, they came again for the man who would become al-Qaida’s leader, this time in Bajaur.

      Eight years later, Zawahiri is still alive. Seventy-six children and 29 adults, according to reports after the two strikes, are not.

      However many Americans know who Zawahiri is, far fewer are familiar with Qari Hussain. Hussain was a deputy commander of the Pakistani Taliban, a militant group aligned with al-Qaida that trained the would-be Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, before his unsuccessful 2010 attack. The drones first came for Hussain years before, on 29 January 2008. Then they came on 23 June 2009, 15 January 2010, 2 October 2010 and 7 October 2010.

      Finally, on 15 October 2010, Hellfire missiles fired from a Predator or Reaper drone killed Hussain, the Pakistani Taliban later confirmed. For the death of a man whom practically no American can name, the US killed 128 people, 13 of them children, none of whom it meant to harm.

      A new analysis of the data available to the public about drone strikes, conducted by the human-rights group Reprieve, indicates that even when operators target specific individuals – the most focused effort of what Barack Obama calls “targeted killing” – they kill vastly more people than their targets, often needing to strike multiple times. Attempts to kill 41 men resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,147 people, as of 24 November.

      Wow you don't say...

      41 head cutters killed out of 1047 killed...

      Yeah Rufus you are right, America aint no Israel.

      gaza war 2200 killed, 1100 head cutters out of 2200.....


    8. It is a remarkable 'war crime' what the ISraeli have don, the invasions they have instigated, the military failures they have spun as 'victories'.

      But that is secondary to the reality that ...

      ISsrael prefers al-Qeada

      And all the news' from the region and filtered by the MSM in the US is tainted to disguise that truth.

    9. ALL of our munitions are precision, guided rockets, and bombs, with a Video feed of every one.

      Again, we're not murdering, land-grabbing Zionist pricks. We kill Murderers. Period.

      You and Bob just hate it because we're winning, and looking good while we do it.

    10. Rufus IISat Feb 28, 10:31:00 AM EST
      I don't comment on your idiotic screeds. Keep your racist, America-hating Zionist bullshit off of my comments.

      Zionism is not anti-American. an overwhelming number of Americans are Zionists. and i'd say ALL Zionists are pro-American, but not pro-obama... :)

  6. World's LARGEST Arab nation NAMES Hamas a terrorist group

    CAIRO - An Egyptian court listed the Palestinian group Hamas as a terrorist organization, judicial sources said on Saturday, part of a sustained crackdown on Islamists in the most populous Arab state.

    In a separate case earlier in the day, a court sentenced the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood's top leader Mohamed Badie to life in prison while other members received the death penalty.

    Hamas is an offshoot of the Brotherhood, which the authorities have also declared a terrorist group in Egypt and have repressed systematically since the army ousted one of its leaders, Mohamed Mursi, from the presidency in 2013.

    While a court ruled in January that Hamas' armed wing was a terrorist organization, Saturday's broader ruling against the entire group has potentially greater consequences for the already strained relationship between Cairo and Hamas, which dominates the Gaza Strip on Egypt's border.

    "The Egyptian court's decision to list the Hamas movement as a terror organization is shocking and is dangerous, and it targets the Palestinian people and its factions of resistance," Hamas said in a statement after the ruling.

    "It will have no influence on the Hamas movement," Hamas said.

    After the January decision against Hamas' Qassem Brigades, a source close to the armed wing signaled the group would no longer accept Egypt as a broker between it and Israel.

    1. The US proxy is acting according to "Plan".

      There is no reason to expect any other course.
      The US has empowered the Egyptian Army and its leadership, has since Sadat.

    2. One has only look at the 1,400 M1 Abrams main battle tanks that the US has provided the Egyptian Army to see that reality, as it exists on the ground.

      The helicopters that were in the skies over Cairo, after the MB was empowered and then after it was deposed, all 'Made in the USA: The US and the Egyptian Army played the Muslim Brotherhood like a fiddle at a square dance.

      Only those that refuse to see are blind to it.

    3. You always have to show how you think you are right about everything, even when you are wrong.

      classic narcism here at the blog?

      get any phone calls? LOL

  7. Spring is on the way and it is time for the Aipac ditty to get the US Conga line up for their finest rendition of “Hava Nagila”

    A set piece of the annual gathering of one of the most powerful political lobbies in Washington is the “roll call” of support in Congress for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac).

    Members of Congress are invited to stand one by one to be acknowledged for their support for Israel, or for Aipac’s hawkish brand of it. It typically takes half an hour as the names of around two-thirds of representatives and senators are called. It is intended to demonstrate that on one issue at least, the Jewish state, there are no partisan differences. It is also a reminder of the lock Aipac has long had on Congress with a menacing suggestion of the political risks of going against the lobby group.

    But as Aipac’s convention opens, the carefully forged image of Democrats and Republicans at one on Israel has been battered by the furious reaction to Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s planned address to Congress on Tuesday, when he is expected to accuse Barack Obama of endangering the very existence of the Jewish state in negotiations with Iran over its nuclear programme.

    Nearly 30 members have said they will not attend Netanyahu’s speech in protest at the extraordinary spectacle of Republicans inviting a foreign leader to Washington to denounce the president. They have described Netanyahu’s decision to speak as “sabotage” and “extremely dangerous”.

    The dispute has also divided some of America’s most prominent Jewish organisations, with accusations flying of betrayal. But through it all Aipac has been all but silent as it struggles with the implications of the breach in the bipartisan wall as members of Congress with strong records of support for Israel challenge Netanyahu.

    1. Just like the old Soviet Politburo, the Zionists show the Conga Line how to hop smartly.

    2. America will, eventually, wake up, and see this vile, despicable bunch of land-stealing assholes for what they are.

      America-hating, Racist Murderers.

    3. Is Bibi ISrael, or is he just another corrupt politician?

      That is what the boys at AIPAC have to decide.
      Looks like Lester Crown has made his decision, Bibi should hit the road.
      Adelson disagrees, there is no unanimity amongst the foreign financial backers of the rival political factions in ISrael

    4. One by one, Rufus, it is happening.

      It has happened here at the Elephant Bar, it is happening within the Jewry of the US.
      The truth is becoming clear. So much so that even Jeff Jacoby recognizes it and has to publicly comment upon it.

      ISrael has lost the moral high ground in American politics

      Now, with each new poll confirming Democratic chilliness toward the Jewish state Democrats once loved, can it be anything but a precursor of worse to come?

      Blinded by his loyalty to ISrael, he denies the cause, but acknowledges the effect. Jacoby looks everywhere but ISrael for the cause of the effect. There are none so blind as those that refuse to see.

    5. But drip by drip the people of the United States are seeing the truth that ISrael is terribly flawed.
      It is, as the President of ISrael has said ...

      ... a sick society

    6. Rufus IISat Feb 28, 10:56:00 AM EST
      America will, eventually, wake up, and see this vile, despicable bunch of land-stealing assholes for what they are.

      America-hating, Racist Murderers.

      Wow, nice screed...

      "this vile, despicable bunch of land-stealing assholes for what they are. America-hating, Racist Murderers"

      Rufus, you are on planet denial....

      You now have entered the "israelis are murderers and land stealers" zone..

      Now talk about racist.

    7. As was South Africa when it was an apartheid state.

    8. South Africa was an apartheid state.

      To accuse Israel of being one? Distorts reality.

      But if you look to Syria? Iran ? Saudi Arabia? Iraq? try living in any of those nations, freely as a gay or a christians or yes, even a Jew!

    9. Searching for equivalency in all the wrong places

      As has always been your wont, "O"rdure.

  8. Like swallows returning to Capistrano, the Zionist masters in Israeli occupied DC lineup for their vig:

    AIPAC Reports: On Feb. 2, President Obama submitted his budget for fiscal year 2016, including $3.1 billion in security assistance for Israel. During a time of tremendous turmoil in the Middle East, American aid is a vital to ensure that the Jewish state maintains its qualitative military edge over its adversaries. Congress should continue to support crucial security assistance to Israel.

    1. If the Zionists were masters? Why would they have supported aid to the PA, Jordan, Egypt?

      You have lost all senses..

  9. .

    Interesting post as was the Wood article in the Atlantic. Taken separately, IMO, they add to the confusion. Taken together (along with other studies), they do at least point out some specific truths.

    - there is no doubt the Bush invasion of Iraq was the precipitating event leading to the explosion of the militants in Iraq and their eventual evolution into the IS of today.

    - Clark is right in saying their was no real planning for the Iraq war. Bush's statement that he 'doesn't remember' authorizing the breaking up of the Iraqi army is telling. The US spent 6 weeks planning for the invasion of Iraq with most of the time spent on winning the war not to do after it was won.

    - Wood is right in arguing the importance of Islam and specifically Wahhabism as a major contributing factor to the violent extremism we see among many of these Islamic militant groups today including IS. Murphy is right in arguing Wood probably goes too far with his Islamophobic meme. On the other hand, Murphy is wrong in just dismissing it altogether.

    A PEW poll taken in various ME and N. African countries showed that the vast majority of those polled had a negative outlook of various radical militant groups such as al Qaeda, Hezbollah, etc. Most were against jihad. Of the populations surveyed, as I recall, the Palestinians were the most open to these groups and their tactics.

    That being said, somewhere around 18% or 20% of those surveyed supported the idea of jihad. That is a distinct minority; however, when you take 20% of 1.5 billion you end up with 300 million people open to jihad, something that can't be dismissed.

    - I doubt Obama is stupid enough to actually believe he can 'defeat' ISIS. Why he said it I'm not sure, probably because saying I've pulled together a coalition of 60 countries to push IS back doesn't really create a Knute Rockne moment.

    - Obviously, Marie Harf's 'jobs as the solution' meme doesn't hold much water either given the middle to upper class status of much of the leadership of many of the leaders and recruits of these groups and the reports that many of the newer recruits are getting their inspiration from readings The Koran for Dummies.

    (continued below...)


    1. .


      - Murphy does make a couple of key points. They are worrisome to anyone who reads more than the daily activity reports put out by Centcom or the Syrian Observatory.

      The first has to do with Wood's suggestion that ISIS will “self-immolate in its own excessive zeal,” The Kurds have been the most effective ground force in Iraq so far; however, recent articles involving interviews with Kurdish leaders and fighters point out some of the issues that affect them. The articles need to be read within the context that the Kurds, peshmerga et al, are a diverse group politically made up of conflicting parts all hoping to gain advantage. Alsd, though their combined military force is estimated at anywhere up to 200,000, the number that are currently capable is much smaller than that. And finally, that they are still not getting the heavy arms they had been promised.

      Some articles point out the reality they face, that though they are large in number every death of one of theirs diminishes that number while ISIS recruitment continues. Also, there is the psychological toll that they are fighting an enemy who's main goal is to die fighting. And finally, though they fight they are kept in the dark as to the overall strategy in the war. Most of the decisions are made by the US and Baghdad.

      The second point raised by Murphy is lack of planning. There is little doubt that the US can degrade IS. There is little doubt that militarily if we are willing to put in the necessary assets we will take back Mosul. However, the question then becomes "What now?" Mosul is split along sectarian lines, Kurds, Sunni, Turkman, and Shia. Even once the main force of IS is driven out it will remain the perfect incubator for IS and other sectarian violence. Kirkuk is another town with the same type of sectarian split and may be even more important given its strategic location between Baghdad and Erbil and its importance due to oil.

      IMO, when the US finally 'declares victory and leaves', we will be leaving behind much the same disaster Bush created in 2003.


    2. The 'light arms, M16s and ammunition has only just been delivered to the Iraqis.
      The "heavy weapons", probably not even in the logistics pipeline, yet.

      That is one reason that the CAS, which requires communication and coordination between the ground forces and the aircraft is such a vital part of the campaign.

      By forcing the Iraqi to do the work on the ground themselves, it could well change the political atmosphere in Iraq.
      Or not.But the Kurds have become an integral part of the Iraqi power structure, that previously they fought.

      The Kurds had been allied with the Iranians against the Iraqi government, now the Kurds are allied with the Iraqi government.
      More incremental improvement in the fight against the organization that attacked the US on 11SEP2001, and the countries that supported it.

    3. The F16s that the US promised the Iraqi, still not shipped.
      Even though the pilots have been trained and the infrastructure to support them on the ground all is in place.

  10. Deuce ☂Sat Feb 28, 10:52:00 AM EST
    Spring is on the way and it is time for the Aipac ditty to get the US Conga line up for their finest rendition of “Hava Nagila”

    Nice jew hating post there Deuce, you have any clue how RACIST you sound? Do you care? I doubt it. But as you accused me of? I doubt you, in real life, say these things to your fellow Philadelphians who are Jews.

    I doubt you have the courage of your convictions in real life.

  11. Rufus IISat Feb 28, 10:48:00 AM EST
    ALL of our munitions are precision, guided rockets, and bombs, with a Video feed of every one.

    Again, we're not murdering, land-grabbing Zionist pricks. We kill Murderers. Period.

    You and Bob just hate it because we're winning, and looking good while we do it.


    tell that to the people of Pakistan, Vietnam, Yemen, Sudan, Panama, Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan....

    Rufus IISat Feb 28, 10:48:00 AM EST
    ALL of our munitions are precision, guided rockets, and bombs, with a Video feed of every one.

    Again, we're not murdering, land-grabbing Zionist pricks. We kill Murderers. Period.
    You and Bob just hate it because we're winning, and looking good while we do it.

    America was a land grab moron.... And I can admit it.

    Israel is 1/900th of the middle east.

    Answer this rufus, do jews not have the right to own land anywhere on the planet?

    Think hard before you make yourself look any dumber...

  12. Rufus IISat Feb 28, 10:48:00 AM EST
    ALL of our munitions are precision, guided rockets, and bombs, with a Video feed of every one.

    Again, we're not murdering, land-grabbing Zionist pricks. We kill Murderers. Period.

    You and Bob just hate it because we're winning, and looking good while we do it.

    Think has got to be a classic in terms of it's ignorance

    Hiroshima? Fallujah?

    Rufus, you are sinking to new lows of stupidity.

  13. 41 men targeted but 1,147 people killed: US drone strikes – the facts on the ground
    New analysis of data conducted by human rights group Reprieve shared with the Guardian, raises questions about accuracy of intelligence guiding ‘precise’ strikes

    Now that's precision

  14. ISIS is on its way out the door - feet first.

    Will there be another outfit after ISIS? Sure

    Will they be as bad? Probably not.

    Will we kill "them" if we have to? Yep.

    Will the oil flow? You betcha.

    The Main Thing is to always remember that the main thing is the main thing.

    Carry on boys, I'm going to take the 3 yr. old to the Library.

    The favorite part of my week. :)

  15. Again, we're not murdering, land-grabbing Zionist pricks. We kill Murderers. Period.

    How dare Israel have a nation. on 1/900th of the middle east.... 22 arab nations, 57 islamic nations.

    But only Israel are "murdering, land-grabbing Zionist pricks"


    1. ISrael is where the European Zionist invaders are, it is where they have been.
      It is the crux of the challenge, the most obvious vestige of British Colonialism in Arabia.

  16. 'What ISIS Really Wants': The Response
    A survey of reactions to The Atlantic's cover story—from think tanks to jihadist Twitter

    Graeme Wood

  17. .

    To downplay the death of innocents as a result of US bombing in Iraq/Syria is one thing. It's a sad fact of war.

    To deny they are happening is either propaganda or just felony ignorant.

    In Libya, the US denied there were 'any' civilian casualties resulting from NATO bombing for most of the war. When confronted with pictures of homes or public buildings destroyed and reports of people taken to hospitals they responded as follows.

    Those reports haven't been investigated and confirmed.

    Do you plan to investigate them?


    A few months after the war ended, the UN put out a report on the civilians killed. The NYT put out a report and the US finally admitted the collateral damage. The same will happen in Iraq/Syria.

    The Obama administration already admitted this cold hard fact when they quickly changed the ROE on the air attacks recognizing that collateral damage was inevitable.


    1. A few months after the war ended ...

      The NATO forces ceased to fly bombing missions, but who would argue that it signified the "End of the War"?

      Did the 'war' end just because NATO disengaged?
      That would certainly indicate a US/NATO centric view of the country, the region and the world.
      A view that just hums with hubris

      It looks like the 'war' just entered a different phase, much more so than that it ended..

    2. .

      The NATO forces ceased to fly bombing missions, but who would argue that it signified the "End of the War"?

      Wiki, I guess.

      Libyan Civil War (2011)

      From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

      Date 15 February 2011 – 23 October 2011
      (8 months, 1 week and 1 day)
      Location Libya
      Overthrow of Gaddafi government
      Assumption of interim control by National Transitional Council (NTC)
      Diplomatic recognition of NTC as sole governing authority for Libya by 105 countries, UN, EU, AL and AU...

      Military intervention in Libya

      The Libyan Civil War, also referred to as the Libyan Revolution,[31] was a 2011 armed conflict in the North African country of Libya, fought between forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and those seeking to oust his government.[32][33] The war was preceded by protests in Zawiya, 8 August 2009 and finally ignited by protests in Benghazi beginning on Tuesday, 15 February 2011, which led to clashes with security forces that fired on the crowd.[34] The protests escalated into a rebellion that spread across the country,[35] with the forces opposing Gaddafi establishing an interim governing body, the National Transitional Council.

      The United Nations Security Council passed an initial resolution on 26 February, freezing the assets of Gaddafi and his inner circle and restricting their travel, and referred the matter to the International Criminal Court for investigation.[36] In early March, Gaddafi's forces rallied, pushed eastwards and re-took several coastal cities before reaching Benghazi. A further UN resolution authorised member states to establish and enforce a no-fly zone over Libya, and to use "all necessary measures" to prevent attacks on civilians.[37] The Gaddafi government then announced a ceasefire, but failed to uphold it,[38] and accused rebels of violating the ceasefire when they continued to fight as well.[39] Throughout the conflict, rebels rejected government offers of a ceasefire and efforts by the African Union to end the fighting because the plans set forth did not include the removal of Gaddafi.[40]

      In August, rebel forces launched an offensive on the government-held coast of Libya, taking back territory lost months before and ultimately capturing the capital city of Tripoli,[41] while Gaddafi evaded capture and loyalists engaged in a rearguard campaign.[42] On 16 September 2011, the National Transitional Council was recognised by the United Nations as the legal representative of Libya, replacing the Gaddafi government. Muammar Gaddafi remained at large until 20 October 2011, when he was captured and killed attempting to escape from Sirte.[43] The National Transitional Council "declared the liberation of Libya" and the official end of the war on 23 October 2011.[44]

      In the aftermath of the civil war, a low-level insurgency by former Gaddafi loyalists continued...

    3. NATO/US centric view, the 'Civil War' in Libya rages on, it did not end of 23OCT2011
      Only thing that ended, on that date, NATO bombing missions.

      The National Transitional Council never had legitimacy in about half the country.
      Still does not

    4. .

      You'll pardon me, rat, but I hardly view you as a qualified spokesman for the NATO/US centric view whatever the hell that is. If there actually was a NATO/US centric view that could be proved, had it any validity at all, it would recognize that Libya is a failed state brought about primarily by NATO/US meddling.


    5. I make no claim to be spokesman for anyone, Legionnaire Q.
      Nor can you find any such claim bing made.

      The idea that the war in Libya ended, that is the NATO/US centric view, and is certainly not mine.
      You make claims against a strawman, this rat, but not about anything that was written here by this contributor at the Elephant Bar.

      If you scroll down, you will find more information about the situation in Libya, confirmation that the war has not ended, never had.

    6. Nor can you find any such claim being made.

      YOU claimed that the war in Libya was over, you have taken the US/NATO position, not me.

    7. Indeed, the only way the 'war' in Libya could be considered at an 'end', would be it was acknowledged that to only objective of the 'war' was to depose Colonel Q. That when his death was confirmed, the war ended.

      When I have made that claim, as to the 'real' objectives of US policy, rather than 'Nation Building', 'Ending the Genocide' or other psycho-babble, you would always demur, object and claim that we could take Mr Obama and his partners in England and France at their word.

      Now you echo their position that the 'War in Libya' is over, when it is quite evident that it is not.

    8. .

      To address the confusion:

      Once again, rat, you prove your struggles with the English language.

      You introduced the term 'NATO/US centric view' with the sentence,

      NATO/US centric view, the 'Civil War' in Libya rages on, it did not end of 23OCT2011

      In fact, you created the term NATO/US centric view. Had you meant to say I was expressing the NATO/US centric view, you should have followed the phrase with a period not a comma. Or, better yet, you could have been even more clear by stating 'You state the NATO/US centric view' or 'That is the NATO/US centric view'. However, by instead following the phrase with a comma, you imply that what follows are merely clarifying clauses for the term you brought up.

      To address the main issue:

      I was not expressing the NATO/US centric view (again whatever the heck that is). I was expressing what most people and history view as the end of the of the Libyan War. There is little doubt that the war began in February, 2011 when Gaddafi's troops began firing on civilians that were demonstrating against his regime or that it continued through the summer and fall with the institution of a UN authorized 'no fly zone' and continued fighting that eventually let to the capture and death of Gaddafi. History will also likely continue to recognize that the Libyan War of 2011 ended by the beginning of November, 2011 after the Gaddafi was captured and killed, NATO announced the end of combat operations, and the NTC declared victory.

      Everything that followed was just the expected detritus the US always leaves in its wake after indulging in one of these needless scuffles.


  18. Iran dismissed on Saturday efforts by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to garner support against a nuclear deal between world powers and Iran in his upcoming speech to the US Congress.

    "I believe this effort is fruitless and it should not be an impediment to an agreement," AFP quoted Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as saying on Saturday.

    During a press conference in Tehran with his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni, Zarif accused the Israeli premier of seeking to "utilize a fabricated crisis to cover up realities in the region."

    Zarif said Netanyahu was attempting to torpedo an emerging agreement between the so-called P5+1 powers and the Islamic Republic, in order to "prevent peace in the region" and avert attention from issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    "It is unfortunate that there is a group which sees its interests in tension and crisis," AFP quoted him as saying.

  19. The current and back story concerning the 'state of things in Libya.

    The Commander of the Local Forces that deposed Colonel Q, often referred to as Libya's al-Sisi.
    Was removed from command of the Libya security forces almost immediately after the fall of Colonel Q.
    The civilian leadership thinking he was going to assume political power.

    Khalifah Haftar - a new Al-Sisi in Libya - the back story from May of 2013.

    Now current sitrep ...
    Report: General known as 'Libya's Sisi' set to meet Israeli officials in Amman Dated 25FEB2015

    Libyan president proposed appointing army general Khalifa Haftar as top military commander; Libyan PM criticizes US, UK and EU for failing to supply weapons.

    Former Libyan army general Khalifa Haftar, who has set himself up as a warrior against Islamist terrorism and who some see as their savior, has plans to meet with Israeli officials on a visit in Amman, an Arab newspaper reported.

    The London-based daily Alquds Alarabi reported on Tuesday that informed sources said that Haftar secretly visited Egypt twice last week and received 400 various weapons for his forces in Libya.

    Meanwhile, the president of Libya’s elected parliament has proposed appointing Haftar as top military commander, parliament’s spokesman said on Wednesday.

    “Mr. Aguila Saleh has proposed to appoint Haftar,” spokesman Farraj Hashem told Reuters. “The House of Representatives supports this.”

    He said the decree still needed to be signed by Saleh.

    Critics say Haftar sees himself as Libya’s version of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a former military man.

    Certainly, Haftar misses no opportunity to praise Sisi. His war planes joined Egyptian jets bombing suspected Islamic State targets in Libya after the jihadist group released a video showing the beheading of Egyptian Coptic Christians.

    Libya’s official Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni on Tuesday criticized the United States, Britain and European Union for failing to supply arms to his forces as they battle those of a rival government.

    The tough comments come a day after Libya’s elected parliament, allied to Thinni, suspended its participation in UN-sponsored talks to try to end the power struggle between the two rival administrations and assemblies.

    Read More if you're a mind

    1. Thinni has been facing pressure from Haftar who has merged his forces with army troops in the east to fight Islamist groups. While the alliance has managed to win back some territory in Benghazi, Haftar has drawn criticism for calling in air strikes on civilian airports and seaports.

      Frustrated with hardships in the east, where the conflict has made gas, electricity and medicines scarce, protesters have demanded Thinni quit and hand power to a military council headed by Haftar.

      Haftar, who has spent his time in exile in the United States, no one seems to know what he was doing, while in the US, or with whom he was doing it. Obviously he was not busing tables or washing dishes at the local Libyan fare restaurant in Washington DC.

  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. See above:
      Jack Hawkins Sat Feb 28, 04:34:00 PM EST

  21. What a wonderful day it was today, not a cloud in the sky, the water sooooo blue....