Saturday, August 23, 2014

From saving Yazidis to stopping New Hitler

It's disappointing but sadly not surprising. The humanitarian justification to save the Yazidi from impending genocide that the Obama Administration first used for his new military intervention in Iraq is apparently now "Mission Accomplished." But the Obama Escalation is just getting started.

Nancy Youssef and Anita Kumar report in U.S. declares Yazidi intervention a success, says rescue mission unneeded McClatchy/Sacramento Bee 08/14/2014:

Military advisers who earlier in the day visited the Sinjar mountains, where as many as 30,000 people were thought to still be trapped, said that they found “far fewer” Yazidis than expected and that those who were there were in better condition than anticipated. Food and water dropped in recent days have reached those who remain, the Pentagon statement said.

The Pentagon said the visit proved that the actions the United States had taken in recent days had succeeded in preventing the Islamic State from capturing and executing the Yazidis, members of a religious sect that Sunni extremists view as heretics. It said the assessment team encountered no hostile forces during its visit and “did not engage in combat operations.”

Brett McGurk, the State Department’s deputy assistant secretary for Near East Affairs, said the assessment team had spent 24 hours in the mountains. He declared via Twitter that the U.S. actions had “broken the siege,” a sentiment repeated by State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf: “President said we're going to break the siege of this mountain, and we broke that siege.”

This Reuters report (Islamic State message to America: 'we will drown all of you in blood' 08/18/2014) dials the threat to the Yazidi down to this:

U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq have helped Kurdish fighters take back some territory captured by Islamic State militants, who have threatened to march on Baghdad.

The latest advance by the Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot, sent tens of thousands of members of the Yazidi ethnic minority and Christians fleeing for their lives and alarmed the Baghdad government and its Western allies.
There are always humanitarian issues in war. And always political reasons that are rarely, if every in history, restricted to humanitarian issues.

Youssef Boudial also reports for Reuters, Kurdish militants train hundreds of Yazidis to fight Islamic State 08/18/2014:

Kurdish militants have trained hundreds of Yazidi volunteers at several camps inside Syria to fight Islamic State forces in Iraq, a member of the armed Kurdish YPG and a Reuters photographer who visited a training camp said on Sunday.

The photographer spend Saturday at the training camp at the Serimli military base in Qamishli, northeastern Syria on the border with Iraqi Kurdistan, where he saw 55 Yazidis being trained to fight the Islamic State.
Boudial sketches the events around the Obama Escalation this way:

Iraq has been plunged into its worst violence since the peak of a sectarian civil war in 2006-2007, with Sunni fighters led by the Islamic State overrunning large parts of the west and north, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee for their lives and threatening ethnic Kurds in their autonomous province.

Thousands of Yazidis have also been trapped in searing heat on the mountain near the Syrian border. They fled there this month to escape the Islamic State, who deem Yazidis "devil worshippers". Yazidis follow an ancient faith derived from Zoroastrianism.

So now we're in Iraq in direct military intervention against to stop the latest Hitler, this time in the form of ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State/Caliphate. Usually, when we start bombing New Hitler, we've at least got a more-or-less consistent name. The war propaganda operation may be slipping a tiny bit here.

Jim Lobe in Obama Mulling Broader Strikes Against ISIS? Inter Press Service 08/23/2014 explains:

While Obama himself has long resisted pressure from neo-conservatives and other hawks to intervene more directly in Syria’s civil war, senior administration officials suggested strongly in the wake of ISIS’s grisly execution of James Foley that expanding U.S. military intervention across the border was indeed on the table.

The most pointed remark in that regard came from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, who until now has been considered one of the strongest opponents of any expanded U.S. military role in the region, particularly in Syria where ISIS has emerged as the strongest among the rebel groups fighting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

“To your question, can they be defeated without addressing that part of their organisation which resides in Syria,” Dempsey said in answer to a reporter’s question, “the answer is no. That will have to be addressed on both sides of what is essentially at this point a non-existent border.”
And since ISIS/whatever is our current New Hitler, we can't make Syrian President Bashar al-Assad New Hitler. And, anyway, he looks like he's going to be part of the Free World (i.e., Our Side) for a while:

Thus, the primary battlefield beneficiary of U.S. strikes against ISIS in Syria is likely to be Assad, a prospect that cannot please Sunni-led allies, including Saudi Arabia and Turkey, which, despite their new concerns about the threat posed by ISIS, have invested heavily in the Syrian president’s ouster.

Nonetheless, the administration is likely to push hard on its allies to co-operate in weakening ISIS in Syria, as well as Iraq, mainly by cutting off private external funding of the group and sealing porous borders that have been used to infiltrate ISIS fighters and recruits into Syria.
I realize we always have to fight New Hitler. But, gee, I think Republican Defense Secretaryy Chuck Hagel needs to dial back the hysteria over ISIS by several notches: Clara Ritger, Chuck Hagel: ISIS Is 'Beyond Anything' the U.S. Has Seen National Journal 08/21/2014. Obama's second Republican Defense Secretary let loose in his 0821/2014 press conference:

[American journalist] Jim Foley's murder was another tragic demonstration of the ruthless, barbaric ideology of ISIL. ISIL militants continue to massacre and enslave innocent people and persecute Iraq's Sunni, Shia and Kurdish and minority populations. ...

ISIL is as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen. They're beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology, a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded.

Oh, this is beyond anything that we've seen. So we must prepare for everything. And the only way you do that is that you take a cold, steely, hard look at it and-- and -- and get ready. [my emphasis]

Also, of course: "9/11 ... 9/11 ... 9/11"

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey was at the same press conference reminding us all about the Long War:

So, in general, the conflict against those [jihadist] groups, most of which are local, some of which are regional, and some of which are global in nature, that's going to be a very long contest. It's ideological. It's not political. It's religious, in many cases. So, yes, it's going to be a very long contest.

But when you ask me if the American people should steel themselves for this long conflict, there will -- there will be required participation in the -- of the United States of America, and particularly in a leadership role, to build coalitions, to provide the unique capabilities that we provide, but not necessarily all the capabilities, to work through this thing ... [my emphasis]
How long before John Kerry is making a presentation to the UN saying, "I'm holding here a vial of powder that could bring the greatest horror the world has ever conceived to kill us in our beds and turn us all into space-alien vampires with snaky tentacles coming out of our mouths!"


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