Recent Comments

  • As Palmyra Falls, Who Supports Bashar al-Assad in Syria? (Charles Glass) (6)
  • Obama: Climate change deniers endanger national security (6)
  • Epileptic Girl moved to Denver for Medical Pot, Dramatically Improves (2)
  • ISIL beheaded Dozens in Palmyra, but how Strategic is the City? (7)
    • I have an extremely difficult time understanding how Daesh keeps in business. Evidently new boys and girls keep joining up along the way. Obviously, the game plan for Daesh is working, or they would have been vanquished a long time ago. A city of 140,000 would likely have some assets. Vacant residences from the fleeing refuges would have value for the new, excited boys and girls who want to join up for the campaign. Food in the pantries would be valuable. Stores can provide goods. A city that size must be good for obtaining capital that can be taxed, gouged, extorted or looted.
      A city this size can also help to conceal logistical operations.
      Last and not least, the whole world will be shown the destruction of the ancient iconic ruins. As much as it is appalling for us to see these ruins destroyed, it is intoxicating for others to take in the iconoclastic power of Dasesh.

  • Epileptic Girl moved to Denver for Medical Pot, Dramatically Improves (2)
  • Washington asks, "Who lost Ramadi?" But Washington never had Ramadi (19)
    • The drums for war are beating for the purpose of restarting the profiteering bonanza that Bush II created. Eisenhower's warning about the military-industrial complex is now superseded. It is the mercenary-military-support complex where the ridiculous money is.

      They want a war, any war, anywhere.

      The only way to end that is to make a constitutional amendment that prevents our military from subcontracting out any function related to support and logistics for any deployment of troops or warfighting material.

  • Why does the Iraqi Army Keep Running Away from ISIL? (48)
    • But any arrangement in Iraq has effects on the Shia-Sunni rivalry that has grown all over the Middle East. Iran needs Iraq as a bridge to protect Syria and Lebanon. Saudi Arabia clearly does not respect the rights of non-Sunnis to have any self-government anywhere. It previously tried to seize control of Lebanon by using a corrupt Sunni billionaire as a puppet. Hezbollah made it clear that the Shia would never accept this.

      So how do you get a regional settlement protecting EVERY Sunni and non-Sunni enclave from their limitless willingness to oppress each other?

    • Okay, so now let's apply our same blowback criteria to the Kurds. How do we know our weapons won't be used by the Kurds to create a greater Kurdistan by seizing territory in Syria, Turkey and Iran? We can't really trust anyone.

    • And what if Iran refuses to accept the partition of Iraq and gets its prime minister to accept a massive intervention? Saudi Arabia will retaliate, and Saudi Arabia owns our asses in several ways - as we've seen in Yemen. Breaking with Saudi Arabia to stay out of the war will affect everything from the value of the US dollar to the global flow of energy supplies. I mean, I'm ready for those effects, but our citizens have a right to know what's coming.

    • But what if the strategy of the puppetmasters behind ISIS is to EXPECT that only the most vicious, murderous Shia militiamen will be able to dislodge ISIS from each city in turn? They know those militiamen will destroy everything and commit atrocities.

      Maybe the purpose of ISIS is to be sacrificed as part of a strategy to make it impossible to ever put Iraq back together again. It has been pointed out by others here that Saudi Arabia wants to break the land bridge between Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, and Iran wants to maintain it. So ISIS ruining Iraq fits Saudi Arabia's goal. If Iran retaliates too dramatically, Saudi Arabia will go to all-out war and ISIS will quickly be forgotten.

  • As Palmyra Falls, Who Supports Bashar al-Assad in Syria? (Charles Glass) (6)
  • ISIL beheaded Dozens in Palmyra, but how Strategic is the City? (7)
    • If the media is using proper military terminology, always a questionable premise, there is a huge difference between "strikes"and "sorties". A sortie is one flight by one aircraft, and not necessarily an armed one--individual refuelers, observaton a/c, electronic warfare craft and even transports count as sorties. A strike is a discrete mission, which will in most cases consist of any number of sorties, both the aircraft carrying ordnance and all of the planes providing them with support. Most strikes contain far more support than ordnance delivery sorties.
      As a former grunt, I'm sure that some of the aforementioned terminology is inexact/incorrect, but the principles are valid. My guess is that most of the bloggers we read on this and other sites have no idea about the difference between a strike and a sortie, and are just parroting what they have been told by official spokespersons or anonymous informants. It would be helpful if the military would be clear in their press briefings, but for operational security reasons I don't expect that to happen anytime soon.

    • What you are looking for is "sorties" - which represents an individual flight. Not sure where that info is published, though...
      Also, we wouldn't want WW2 style massed bombing raids. Those flatten cities and cause thousands of civilian casualties.
      There is also a problem attacking ISIS elements that are adjacent to Assad elements. Syria still has a decent air defense system, and we wouldn't want US planes to be shot down by Assad.

  • Syrian Opposition, Caught between Assad & Extremists, Despair at World's Neglect (3)
    • so...who is there to support? And do Syrians want to work with the US anyway? Al Nusra says they are allied to Al Queda - no US support there. ISIS? Nope. Assad? Again, nope.
      Assad was not the ally of the United States. You can blame Russia for that.
      Aside from some assumption that the US is omnipotent, I don't see what the US is supposed to do. Not all fights are our fights...

  • ISIL beheaded Dozens in Palmyra, but how Strategic is the City? (7)
    • I think the exile option would have been offered years ago. The problem is that the Baath's constituency would still be stuck in Syria getting slaughtered. The anti-Baath Sunnis would still be stuck in Syria getting slaughtered. You can't stop the fighting unless each ethnic group has its safety guaranteed against even a few bloodthirsty adventurers from one of the other groups. There are no honest brokers left willing to provide the troops necessary to do this.

  • Washington asks, "Who lost Ramadi?" But Washington never had Ramadi (19)
    • Thanks for giving us your experiences in the Occupation. I don't think many of its administrators will ever be willing to talk so frankly.

  • ISIL beheaded Dozens in Palmyra, but how Strategic is the City? (7)
    • That maybe more of a symbolic victory, however, BBC is reporting that ISIL has seized a key Syria-Iraq border crossing too which sounds like a strategic victory.

      "Islamic State militants have seized the last Syrian government-controlled border crossing between Syria and Iraq, a Syria monitoring group says."

      "Government forces withdrew from al-Tanf - known as al-Waleed in Iraq - crossing as IS advanced, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said..."

      "The seizure of al-Tanf, in Syria's Homs province, enables IS to link up its positions in east-central Syria more directly with the ground they hold in Iraq's western Anbar province..."

      link to

  • Obama: Climate change deniers endanger national security (6)
    • Given that I have lost ALL trust in Mr Obama (having voted twice for him), I may be being a bit paranoid here, but classifying Climate Change as a matter of national security opens up the pandora's box of any protest against climate related activities to be potentially labelled as terrorism. Pretty soon the only tool in our toolbox will be under the guise of 'national security'

      IMHO, the progressives should be very careful in congratulating the administration.

    • O-bomb-er told West Coaster's that climate change endangers military readiness.

      What he should have said is that his militarism causes climate change.

  • Digital Militarism: Israel’s Occupation in the Social Media Age (1)
  • ISIL beheaded Dozens in Palmyra, but how Strategic is the City? (7)
    • There has been much counting of airstrikes without a definition of what an "airstrike" is. Perhaps you, or one of your readers can enlighten me. Is a "strike" one sortie by one plane? Or an attack on a target by multiple aircraft? A "strike" on Germany in 1944 would have consisted of 900 or so heavy bombers, plus 700 fighter escorts. Obviously, nothing like that goes on today. But it would be nice to have some idea of what the term means and how many aircraft are actually attacking. One would think that four or five planes a "strike" would be likely, and that counting planes would be a better measure of the effort than counting strikes or missions.

  • As Palmyra Falls, Who Supports Bashar al-Assad in Syria? (Charles Glass) (6)
    • A very informative video. According to Charles Glass, if Bashar al-Assad loses so do all the Alawites and the Wahhabi Sunnis in Daesh will massacre all of them, "every living human being." Doesn't Daesh see the Shia in Iraq just like they do the Alawites in Syria?

  • Obama: Climate change deniers endanger national security (6)
  • As Palmyra Falls, Who Supports Bashar al-Assad in Syria? (Charles Glass) (6)
  • ISIL beheaded Dozens in Palmyra, but how Strategic is the City? (7)
    • I agree that the fall of Palmyra is less significant than the creation and backing of the al-Qaeda infiltrated 'Conquest Army' by Saud Arabia and Turkey. Currently centered around Idlib it's been giving the regime a hammering in the north and is backed by two regional powers considerably stronger than Syria's rump state. That being said, driving Daesh back in Iraq is useless if it can seize more territory from a weak Syrian government. NATO learned this the hard way on the Af-Pak border with the Taliban. The question of what to do over Syria genuinely has me stumped. Perhaps we can offer the top Baathist leaders exile somewhere like Tehran or Russia so that someone less odious can take over the helm in Damascus? That's pretty much it as far as I can see.

  • Why does the Iraqi Army Keep Running Away from ISIL? (48)
    • Define "communist" and explain why that matters these days considering that Russia, China, Cuba and most of the other "communist" counties are not really "communist" anymore. Why should anyone care? Communism, socialism and all the other "isms" are just alternate ways to govern a country and no single way to govern is any better than any other (that is, all forms of governance have MAJOR flaws, especially the USA method of governance)

    • What makes you say that? Since the US saved them from Saddam they have been close allies of the US and they have opened up Kurdistan to private development.

  • Who does Jerusalem belong To? (27)
    • Re Eilat Mazar's claims to have found the biblical temples, archeologist Aren Maier is dubious about the claims and the dating. Israel Finkelstein from Tel Aviv University is concerned that Mazar fits her finds to match the biblical texts almost as a leap of faith rather than as a scholarly archeological evaluation....a case of searching for evidence and stretching the conclusions to support existing dogma. This does not support your contention of extended historical domination by the Jews, neither is there any other archeological proof for the existence of the temples.
      Re 1945 Census my quick search found that in 1945 85% of the population of Old Jerusalem was Muslim Arab but due to a larger number of Jews in New Jerusalem, 60% of the population of all Jerusalem was Jewish. But this was artificial and recent, not the historical status quo. There had been high Jewish migration from Egypt in the 1920s, in 1919 movement internally from Safed after an earthquake, under European protection during the wars under the Mandate and predominantly large numbers in the previous 5 years after the start of WW2. Under the mandate, Zionist Jews came to dominate the Jerusalem municipal council promoting Jewish settlement and actively encouraging Arabs to leave. In 1945 the high percentage of Jews in All Jerusalem was recent, artificially created and did not match the fact that Jews were only 9% of the population of all Palestine and were an insignificant population in Old (historic) Jerusalem. This does not support a contention that Jews have a right to Jerusalem due to previous occupation.
      Re your assertion that Jewish leaders accepted the UN partition, Jewish historian Ilan Pappe points out in detail from Israeli official records that the disposition of Arabs from their villages and lands was started well before declaration of war by Arab States and largely completed before any Arab armies entered the territory. You say you don't lose a war a get what you were offered beforehand but refugees do have a right of return, a right that Israel has denied to the Palestinians for nearly 70 years, defying a raft of UN conventions. You may want to research the 1948 assassination on UN Mediator Folke Bernadotte ( on orders from future Israel leader Yitzak Shamir) to see what Jewish leaders thought of the UN plan.

  • Israel: Court Permits Discriminatory Evictions of Palestinian-Israeli Villagers (2)
    • It's hard to boycott when some government leaders have allowed the country of origin labelling NOT necessary anymore, as it's been happening in Canada for a few years already, making Canada ''Israel's best friend'', quoting Netanyahoo.

  • Who does Jerusalem belong To? (27)
    • a quick search found that in the 1945 census the population of Old Jerusalem was 85% Arab Muslim but with a larger Jewish population in New Jerusalem, 60% of all Jerusalem population was Jewish. BUT 60% of all Palestinian Jews lived in Jerusalem with much lower numbers in the rest of the country, many had immigrated relatively recently returning from Egypt in 1920s, after the earthquake in Safed, from Europe pre WW2 under and with the support of the Britsh Mandate and most significantly from 1939 on. Zionists had an active role in the Jerusalem municipal council to promote Jewish settlement and encourage Arabs to leave..
      That is, Jewish population dominance in Jerusalem was recent NOT historical, was artificial and planned and was unrepresentative of the demographics in 1945 throughout Palestine.... while 60% of Jerusalem, Jews were only 9% of the population of Palestine.

  • Washington asks, "Who lost Ramadi?" But Washington never had Ramadi (19)
    • "... that is the point of professor cole’s statement"

      If that was his point I am sure he'd make it himself and much more succinctly.

    • the only thing that might change is the name. just as it has before. republican guard. baath party. sad dam's fedayeen. al quaeda in iraq. now it is isis. but is the same thing just with different names. it can't be killed. it just morphs into something else. that is the point of professor cole's statement.

    • Robert, I agree with your thoughts and sentiments, but could you please quit pretending that any nation or people is responsible for the disaster Iraq has become other than the nation and people that perpetrated the whole fiasco, which is the United States through its illegal, amoral, deceitful, and unjustified invasion, occupation, and destruction of Iraq?

      And I think that given a vote, the people of Ramadi would rather have Daesh/IS/ISIL in power than the Shiite government in Baghdad, which has discriminated and persecuted Sunnis since its inception under American domination.

    • .
      I am the original author of the "Model Communities" Approach, from whence the "Surge / Anbar Awakening" was bastardized.

      I submitted a proposal to the Occupation Authority in May 2004 to stabilize a dozen or so cities, including ar-Ramadi,
      by supporting the indigenous authentic local leaders of communities to govern their cities and villages with the cooperation of the occupying force,
      but not under the bootheels of it.
      The key concept was the independent authority of these leaders to make the day-to-day decisions of local governance.
      GEN George Casey took a corrupted version my Approach to Amman in November 2005 and asked a council of former Sunni leaders of the country and of al-Anbar,
      and asked if they would agree to ruling Sunni territories with a US Army Commissar at their elbow to approve or disapprove every single decision. They declined the offer.
      The "Anbar Awakening" was P4 cramming that same unworkable plan down the throats of the leaders who stayed in-country. Famously, one tribal leader embraced the Approach, and the Resistance movement (probably an early version of ISIS) killed him.
      This abortion coincided with the ethnic cleansing of Sunni portions of Baghdad, which – after the initial bloodbath – resulted in fewer Iraqi civilian and US military deaths overall.
      Statistically, the “Surge” wasn't even a factor.

    • The war hawks smell blood in the water.

      From a Guardian article...Fred Kagan, Victoria Nuland's brother-in-law, called for 15-20,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. "Anything less than that is simply unserious."

      Jack Keane said it was time to begin "serious planning" for the reintroduction of U.S. combat brigades in Iraq. Keane said the U.S. needed to get over its "political psychosis on Iraq."

      The hawks are making their move. The Republicans tried the same thing in 1964, but this time they think their Barry Goldwater strategy will work.

    • SOS dispensed after Korea and Vietnam.
      "We were winning when I left _________"

    • Andy, I believe that allowing IS to continue without checkmating it would be an even greater error on the part of all those bystander nations that print reports and photos, then stand by and watch.

      No matter who has been at fault in this region, it is incumbent upon the nations, both neighbors and distant, to stand up for the general principles dictated by humanity itself and stop the barbarism of IS. That savage group/army/ideology is comprised of a majority Sunni persuasion, but so is Ramadi. At this crucial stage, the people of Ramadi and of Iraq in general must face up to the enemy in their midst, viz., the evil excesses of humanity. All persuasions, Sunni, Shiite, Kurds must either coalesce to degrade and destroy or they will become the authors of their own demise, and Iraq will become the beacon of distorted Islam.

  • Why does the Iraqi Army Keep Running Away from ISIL? (48)
  • Israel: Court Permits Discriminatory Evictions of Palestinian-Israeli Villagers (2)
  • The National Security State gets Real: 9 Ways the US is becoming Bizarro World (3)
    • Easy predictions. I'm trying to figure out the dynamics of the lead-up to the inevitable revolution. This situation is absurdly unstable; the MIC has no solid support left, not even *within* the military; and so there will be a revolution in the US (possibly peaceful, possibly not) but I can't quite figure out how it will happen.

  • Why does the Iraqi Army Keep Running Away from ISIL? (48)
    • BUT . . . the situation is where it is, because one (minority) sect ruled Iraq for decades creating lots of anger.

      The Kurds and Shia were badly mistreated by the Sunni minority for decades, so we shouldn't be surprised by the current situation.

      Given that Iraq is an artificial "country," we should just do what Biden suggested many years ago, encourage the split up of Iraq into three countries: Kurdistan, a Sunni nation and a Shia nation.

      The Shia in Iraq are Arab not Persian so they will want to be separate from Iran, but allied with Iran.

      Once the borders are defined, then the non-ISIS Sunni in the new"country" will have to decide what to do about governance, which I suspect will lead to the end of ISIS.

  • Washington asks, "Who lost Ramadi?" But Washington never had Ramadi (19)
    • So it completely escapes me why John McCain, Lindsey Graham, John Boehner or Tom Cotton (who helped personally with the berlinization of Iraq) think that if only US troops had remained in country after 2011, the people of Ramadi would have been delirious with joy and avoided throwing in with radical anti-imperialist forces.

      Because what they say sustains their beliefs no matter how out of touch with reality they are.

    • Outstanding analysis.

  • Iraq: 25,000 Shiite Militiamen gather for Battle of Ramadi (10)
    • The neo-cons (the UK Guardian had a great article on this last winter) had envisioned federation to be a kurdish state in the north, the Shia in the south to align with Kuwait (this is the neo-cons' ill-informed idea) and the center of Iraq to align with Jordan. Just change the parts out the neo-cons thought each region of Iraq would appendage too, and you stiill have some kind of federation idea

      If things really keep going to hell in a handbasket, and ISIL pushes on and attacks Jordan, then it could be a scenario where Jordan aligns with the center of Iraq if ISIL attacks and say Jordan falls. That's hypothetical of course, but scary to consider

    • Isnt that what there is in effect? The Shia dominate the government in Baghdad and the Kurds in the north -- for now. The tribes in the center-ish might be replaced with ISIL. The Federation idea is going to fail too. Really, this problem is bigger than this issue

  • Washington asks, "Who lost Ramadi?" But Washington never had Ramadi (19)
    • It's amazingly depressing. Right up there, with previously there not being an Al Qaeda connection and Iraq to our war spurring such a relationship - the politically self-fulfilling prophesy.

      Today it's being reported Tadmur/Palmyra has fallen to ISIL, and that it means half of Syria is under their control. The question now is - what next -- how far is ISIL going to push on -- Baghdad is not far from Ramadi, an hour and a half. What is the state of things from the Jordanian and Lebanese perspectives?

    • Right virtually all cases the media marches to their own misguided tune

    • As a whole, the Republican candidates want the public to think Obama not only lost Ramadi, he is about to lose most of Iraq to ISIS. Criticizing Obama's foreign policy will be the key to their strategy for winning the White House in 2016. They are speaking in one voice. Yesterday, Jeb Bush said al-Queda in Iraq was defeated when his brother was president AND there was no ISIS. The Republicans will try and link Hillary to many of the current problems.

      If Obama backs away from defeating ISIS in Ramadi and Iraq it would be the best gift the Republican could possibly imagine in 2016.The American public was easily duped by war propaganda during the buildup to invading Iraq so the Republicans are basing their strategy on recent history.The Republicans really don't have anything else.

    • thank you prof cole for this history you have written up here. if the nytimes and others were on the up and up, this piece would be on the front page. it is clear to any sober person that isis is a locally backed entity and not a group of international terrorists. the citizens of sunni iraq did not want us in 2003, they don't want us now. they are willing to take on the most technologically advanced military on the planet. they have fought that military to a standstill and have suffered incredible hardship so as to defend their homeland from an invasion that george w. bushes brother has this past week admitted was a mistake. so why are we are we still bombing these people and destroying their cities still at this very moment? exactly who are the terrorists here? what a colossal waste of our treasury. what a stubborn refusal to accept our failure. what a horror to inflict on a people for no clearly stated reason. this really is vietnam all over again. maybe vietnam needs to be taught more accurately in our schools.maybe we need to fund history education rather than the pentagon. orwellian in 2003. orwellian in 2015. ignorance is truth.

    • A riveting article. But what about the surge - did that turn things around in Ramadi and Anbar Province until it was discontinued?

    • They don't call it Versailles On The Potomac for nothing.

    • Thanks for this informed reminder of reality . . . so needed by those of us who watch network news and read typical U.S. newspapers.

    • The disconnection between the psychologies and philosophies of the political elites, on one hand, and between 97% of the populations they supposedly represent on the other side, has long been a favorite theme in my writing.

      My latest article at my place is a long dive into this same topic again. Teaser quote: "Yet whether they inhabit either the decidedly-more-democratic nations, or the determinedly-more-dictatorial nations, ordinary citizens everywhere find it very difficult to believe that their day-to-day thoughts and actions will have any effect on their political structures. In all nations, political elites tend to have significantly different psychological experiences than average citizens ..."

  • Syrian Opposition, Caught between Assad & Extremists, Despair at World's Neglect (3)
    • "global media coverage has tended to ignore those voices"
      what an uninformed comment. au contraire, western global media including this site has romanticized and greatly exaggerated these "revolution" voices while completely ignoring the voices of the majority of syrians.

      regarding the amnesty international claims, see the point by point expose of the failings and bias of that report at
      link to
      ("8 problems with amnesty's report on aleppo, syria" )

    • An excellent analysis of one of the biggest foreign policy failures of the Obama administration that has left hundreds of thousands Syrians killed and millions displaced.

      Former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford has been a vocal and mordant critic of the position of the U.S. government toward Syria during the Obama administration:

      link to

  • Why does the Iraqi Army Keep Running Away from ISIL? (48)
    • Brian, I was thinking of Khlifawi/Bakr who apparently went through Camp Bucca and Abu Ghraib.

      link to

    • They will fight fiercely to protect Kurdistan. They have no reason to fight for the Shiite government in Baghdad.

    • We've had success in training the militaries in Central and South America. Unfortunately, that training has most often led to the slaughter of ethnic minorities and civilians in the name of fighting terrorists and/or giving impetus to top officers to overthrow civilian governments in coups. They get all this US training and they think it qualifies them to run a country. They very rarely are.

    • If one thing should be obvious since WWII, it is that even major powers are very limited in how they can control and/or change events in other countries. For every successful outcome, there are probably ten unsuccessful ones. One's attitude, wishes, or hopes cannot change that.

    • For a government to be successful, especially in a developing country, the government must be seen by the populace to be legitimate and effective. It is obvious that in Iraq large parts of the population don't see the government as being either one of those things. Most governments are overthrown not because the opposition is strong, but because the existing government is so weak and not popular.

    • Guerrilla forces cannot beat tanks. Traditional guerrilla forces are best used in areas with a lot of cover where only small arms can be employed. The only downside of a tank in an urban environment is if the streets are too narrow for the tanks to maneuver in. Also, guerrilla warfare is usually fought by small groups using ambushes. What ISIS is doing is not traditional guerrilla warfare. War In The Shadows by Robert Asprey is a two volume history of guerrilla warfare and it provides what are the necessary conditions for successful guerrilla warfare and what you need to defeat it.

    • "The Republicans would have a field day if Obama backed off and let Iran take the lead."

      The Saudis would also be very unhappy, which could easily spin completely out of control.

  • Iraq: 25,000 Shiite Militiamen gather for Battle of Ramadi (10)
    • If you look up the meaning of "cluster f&%K" in the dictionary, you'll see "the American invasion of Iraq" as the very first definition.

    • Fellow Traveller 05/20/2015 at 10:21 pm

      I'm amazed, and I hope for their great success.

    • some say "if we kew then what we know now", others say" but we knew then what we know now". i say" if we knew then why don't we know now?" . stop bombing these people. it is their home. it costs a lot of money and it is totally destructive with no purpose. these people will wait us out just like the vietnamese did in their tunnels. they have lived in this territory for many thousands of years. a decade means nothing to them. nobody an explain why we invaded iraq back then or now. so why are we still bombing ramadi 12 years after we started our unprovoked and inexplicable invasion? stop the madness!

    • The Bush regime undertook the direct “kinetic” reorganization of the Middle East under an assortment of necessarily mendacious pretexts (not even the U.S. will admit to the unambiguous war crime of gratuitous aggressive war). Having cracked the Iraq nut open using a strategy of an “accumulated evil of the whole”: fomented sectarian strife, Abu Ghraib, the devastation of Fallujah and other cities, destruction of all previously functioning public insitutions, etc., they shift under Obama, either contingently or per the original strategy, to a continuation of the strategy of “kinetic reorganization” this time by proxy, by the counter-dialectic of an “unforeseen” foil to the thus “comparatively good” American occupation: the ultra-barbarous ISIS occupation of Iraq. This dramatic shift in the direct cause of the “accumulated evil of the whole of the crimes” of occupation propagandistically lets the U.S. off the hook at least from that point on for the kinetic reorganization of Iraq, which continues apace/enters a new, more intense/accelerated stage, one in which U.S. guilt for the “supreme international crime,” the crime of aggressive war, recedes from public consciousness in the face of the unimaginable enormity of ISIS’s own crimes, which cause the U.S’s to be as nothing in comparison, when in reality the U.S. has superseded the “supreme international crime” by orchestrating a metastatic expansion of this crime, of the “accumulated evil of the whole” on an ever expanding scale via the invisible and unimplicatable proxy that is ISIS and other terrorist groups and their masters in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. Perhaps the dialectic will turn again under a potential Republican president, and the U.S. will directly kinetically return to Iraq to “save” what is left of Iraq fromthe hordes of ISIS and finally complete the reorganization of the irreversibly fragmented country, along with that of an irreversibly fragmented Syria.

  • The National Security State gets Real: 9 Ways the US is becoming Bizarro World (3)
    • The list is grimly hilarious ..and yes, extremely predictable to just about anyone/everyone outside of the US.
      The one consoling factor over years of US terror being that the USA will invariably 'reap what it sows' and /or Karma will come a knocking.
      So then noone outside the US I think is terribly surprised to see that your cops look and act like your army abroad, and very few outside the US will be surprised - or maybe overly sorry - when your army cum police start shooting up wedding parties on your own turf.- exceptional indeed.

  • Why does the Iraqi Army Keep Running Away from ISIL? (48)
    • Jack O'Rourke 05/20/2015 at 4:58 pm in reply to David Timm

      We talk about conventional forces in urban areas being unable to defeat irregular guerillas fighting for a cause on their own soil as if this is the new reality.
      Eisenhower's foreign policy was based on the fact that nuclear war was unthinkable and small wars unwinnable.
      Fifty years later we still don't get it.

    • A very convenient view now that the US inadvertently created the Daesh/IS barbarity.

      Not only do the Iraqis not even receive a US apology, no they also get US voyeurism of their plight.

      Frankly, this is a pretty despicable attitude.

    • maybe you meant to say Camp Bucca,
      where those who became the leaders of ISIL were incarcerated.

    • Bottom line: a multi-ethnic, multi-faith county like iraq cannot be ruled by a government dominated by one sect on the basis of the beliefs of that one sect.

  • Vatican recognition of saints symbolic victory for Palestinians (1)
    • I do not see these canonizations as totally a product of pro-Palestinian politics by the Vatican - but that the current political climate likely did not hurt the process.

      Mariam Bawardy had been "beatified" by the Catholic Church as an initial step in the canonization process in the early 1980s and was the first Palestinian at that time to receive such an official status from the church.

      The Jerusalem area has a long history of a Christian presence, primarily via the Orthodox Church, but a smaller Catholic flock exists and Quakers, Lutherans and even Seventh-Day Adventists have Arab adherents there. The Armenian Apostolic Church has members in Jerusalem as many Armenians came as refugees during the Armenian genocide in Turkey of 100 years ago.

  • Iraq: 25,000 Shiite Militiamen gather for Battle of Ramadi (10)
    • All this talk about re-taking a city that has been “taken” more than once before begs the continually unasked question “What if you win?”. What have you got then? A wrecked, nonfunctional city with few inhabitants, many of those displaced and traumatized, with hardly anyone of those ready to leave the family at home in a home needing vital repair to head off for a full productive day at work, with no viable management functions at the end of their commute, and sketchy security as far as the eye can see. The American debauchment of Fallujah is a stellar example of military shortsightedness and witless desire for another chance at a successful hammer on anvil op, though stellar is hardly the word for that rape.

      One could argue that the strange bedfellows of the current moment are better than the really really bad guys (and we all know who they are, don't we). But those good guys, if memory was at all operational, have at one time or another in the past been responsible for ethnic cleansing and widespread summary executions, as Bush's “surge” enabled as has aptly been described many times on these pages.

      The “what's next” of re-taking a damaged, depopulated city ignores the huge differences between set-piece/ground-held warfare and guerrilla warfare. How Americans can manage to lionize its Revolutionary War irregulars picking off British assets and ignore the modern situations where it repeatedly puts itself into the redcoats position is a study in cognitive dissonance. Technology keeps supplying new silver bullets that get tried one by one, but looking at Iraq today it's hard to find evidence that any of them were better used than left unused in the box.

      A non-functional city is more like a lesion of gangrene that if not immediately repaired with outside help simply and remorselessly expands. A “victory” or retaking is more like Stalingrad for the Germans than not, offering more places than before to hide.

    • Seems to me the only way that Iraq may survive as a nation would be as a loose federation.

    • That makes sense?...instead of joining the fight right away...and winning..the Shiites wait until the Iraq army runs leaving all that armament behind ...and then joins the

  • Why does the Iraqi Army Keep Running Away from ISIL? (48)
    • Enough of this awful, bogus charade already. It's time America and the rest of the world recognize the Kurds as an independent nation, arm them to the teeth and let them sort out the Daesh scum. The Kurds are the only ones who have the will and the ability to crush Daesh. They are tough, secular, they are our friends. Juan, can you please enlighten us as to why this is not happening?

  • Who does Jerusalem belong To? (27)
    • It’s very disappointing to read an article like this from an esteemed professor from the University of Michigan. He has factual errors, blatant and important omissions and is generally very dismissive of the Jewish connection to the Land and Jerusalem itself.
      “Probably there were petty tribal chieftains named David and Solomon after 1000 BC, but Jerusalem appears not to have been populated 1000 to 900 BC. and so they didn’t have a palace there.” The prominent Archaeologist Eilat Mazar would beg to differ. She believes she found a foundation wall in Ir David that belongs to a Palace dated to this time period. Solomon is purported to have built his residence in the location of today’s temple mount so good luck trying to excavate there.
      Professor Cole could have mentioned that The Temple of Jewish people stood in Jerusalem from around 930 bc-586 when it was destroyed by the Babylonians. The Persians allowed the Jews to return and rebuild the Jewish Temple around 515 BC because they recognized the importance of the site to the Jewish people. It stood there until it was rebuilt by King Herod, who by the way Prof. Cole incorrectly states became a vassal of the Romans in 6AD, where it stood until the Year 70 AD. Or about 500 years before Mohammed was born. So for about 930 years, the most holy temple of the Jews stood in Jerusalem.
      “It was Jewish settlers in British Mandate Palestine who used violence to grab part of the city, disregarding international law and agreements. The city was mostly populated by Palestinians in any case, what with being a Palestinian city and all.” This is a bit of propagandizing on Prof. Cole’s part as well. The British census of 1945 shows that the the city of Jerusalem was 40% Jewish and 40% Arab Muslim.
      “Although propagandists for Israel are always going on about how they accepted the UN partition plan, they did not, of course. They conquered a lot of territory that the GA did not award them, including West Jerusalem”
      Of course the Jewish leadership accepted the partition plan. that’s a matter of fact. Professor Cole misleads with his next statement. Yes a war broke out and when it did, all bets were off. You don’t get to lose a war and then ask for what you were offered before hand. BTW, Jordan took parts of Jerusalem and they weren’t even considered in the partition plan at all. Ever think of how it went for the Palestinans under Jordanian leadership. And let’s not forget about the Jews who were forcibly removed from their East Jerusalem homes including the old city. Of course many Arabs were displaced. I don’t dispute that. However, Jews weren’t allowed to visit the Western Wall during the 19 years of Jordanian Occupation. When Israel conquered it in 1967, they allowed the Jordanians to administer the Temple Mount. For the commenters who mentioned massive tourism to Jerusalem, I would say come and see for yourselves. The holy sites are accessible to all. The one place that’s sort of difficult to visit is the Temple Mount. Jews are routinely harassed up there. why shouldn’t a Jew be allowed up there. It’s the holiest place in the world for Jews. Lastly Prof. Cole’s comment on extremists “invading Aqsa” from time to time is just flat out untrue. Yes there are extremist Jews that would love to see a third temple built up there but there are police and waqf authorities up there all the time and no Non-Muslims are allowed in the Dome of the Rock or The Al-Aqsa mosque. Ask yourself why?
      I expected more of a scholar like Juan Cole.

  • Why does the Iraqi Army Keep Running Away from ISIL? (48)
    • In the real world, where an 8 year old can be taught to "spray and pray" with an AK-47 in less than an hour, there is very little training actually needed. the smart ones avoid getting killed while killing lots of the other side. The dumb ones have always received the "Darwin Cannon Fodder Award."

      The whole USA training Iraqis thing was just stupid arrogance on the part of American politicians.

      BTW - American soldiers receive just 10 WEEKS of basic combat training and then 4 to 52 weeks of specialty training. In that ten weeks the USA soldiers learn how to stay alive long enough to kill some of their opponents and once they are getting shot at, they quickly figure out how to increase their own odds and decrease the lives of their opponents (and yes, I have been in combat)

      FYI - If you want to know much more about modern personal weapons, read CJ Chivers book, "The Gun."

      link to

      "Fun Fact" from "The Gun" - there are over 100 MILLION AK-47 and equivalent weapons on earth with thousands more being made each and every day of the year. That is, there is roughly one AK-47 for every 50 humans on earth. Have a peaceful day.

  • The National Security State gets Real: 9 Ways the US is becoming Bizarro World (3)
    • Nice list. Thanks. Regarding #5, the U.S. invasion, occupation, and destruction of Iraq under Bush-Cheney is the original sin of the present-day dilemma and strife. Bush-Cheney proved the U.S. could destroy but not build or protect, and that the U.S. had no intention or desire to actually do so. If it really desired to do so, then the Iraqi Army would not have been utterly disbanded and its governing state apparati and its technicians and other human infrastructure would not have been likewise uprooted so entirely. Bush-Cheney proved that the U.S. is NOT A FRIEND OF THE PEOPLES OF THE MIDDLE EAST NOR EVEN OF ITS ALLIES IN THE REGION. Bush-Cheney and the subsequent regional chaos proved to the indigenous leaders in the region that it needed to discount U.S. interests in order to survive and also to make a show of defiance of U.S. interests so that their own populations wouldn't rise up as one mass against the regional leaders. The U.S., thanks to Bush-Cheney, are the #1 enemy of the region now and will be far into the future, and the regional peoples know this reflexively and instinctually now. Their regional leaders know they ignore this at their own peril. So of course Obama or any U.S. leader's calls for anything will be ignored and shunned. So calling Obama apparently toothless, by itself, is a sop to American ignorance and its pretend exceptionalism, in other words, just as much of the victim of propaganda as any false WMD argument was. Come out of the propaganda more fully when you make your otherwise excellent arguments, please.

  • Why does the Iraqi Army Keep Running Away from ISIL? (48)
    • It is important to remember that "national" borders in the entire Middle East were drawn on a map by a small number of extremely arrogant British and French empire builders, NOT by the locals. There is absolutely no reason why the borders in the Mid East shouldn't be redrawn by the locals however they want. This is just part of the whole decolonization process where power gets restructured along locally logical patterns. The decolonization process is ALWAYS bloody and messy, but the more the USA meddles, the longer, messier and bloodier it will be.

      The BEST thing the USA could do is just grab a beer, wine or soda and some popcorn and watch the action on our HDTVs while making "gentlemen bets" on what the final result will be.

      NOTE: no matter what the USA does, the final result will be defined by the locals. All the USA can do is get beat up by all sides.

  • Iraq: 25,000 Shiite Militiamen gather for Battle of Ramadi (10)
    • I hope that our temporary convergence of objectives with Iran, i.e. take back Ramadi, does not weaken our resolve to punish Iran for not doing exactly as we say with regard to their nuclear programs. Sure, Daesh is the most immediate target of opportunity for US air power, but we have cultivated Iran's enemy status for so long that we can't slide back now just because we find significant mutual interests.

      Besides, assuming the Tikrit model, if Ramadi falls to the Shiite forces, the aftermath will just be another failure of our "bombing for egalitarian democracy" strategy. Getting attention back to Iran, the eternal peril, is important.

  • Who does Jerusalem belong To? (27)
  • Why does the Iraqi Army Keep Running Away from ISIL? (48)
    • Thanks for this. Yes, it's always been a bizarre thing. We've heard endlessly for decades about how the US is going to "train" troops in this country and that country. All over the world we "train" troops. That's supposed to be a good thing, to boost their fighting power.

      So now here we have an Iraqi army filled with troops who've been "trained" and supported and armed by the US completely helpless in the face of a terrorist guerilla band who has never been trained by the US -- except in the reverse sense of being battle-hardened by fighting AGAINST the US.

      I guess you could make the argument that ISIL is so powerful in part because they've been "supplied" arms by the US, but only inadvertently and through error and blowback.

      That an Iraqi army trained and armed by the US has lost a provincial capital to a terrorist group and then had their/our weapons taken by the victors is a spectacle almost too scary and tragic to mentally take in.

      Why is there this assumption that people in third world countries need to be "trained" by the US, and that that makes them better fighters?

  • Death Sentence for Morsi: Egypt's Junta takes another step toward being N. Korea (16)
  • Why does the Iraqi Army Keep Running Away from ISIL? (48)
    • quax, your posts are spot on, IMO. ISIL won't become a controlled state with oil revenue because that would lead to a much bigger Sunni-Shia war. Iran will stop them if the U.S. doesn't. The Republicans would have a field day if Obama backed off and let Iran take the lead.

  • Death Sentence for Morsi: Egypt's Junta takes another step toward being N. Korea (16)
    • I am not sure N. Korea is a good model here. I think Egypt is slowly moving toward an Algerian style of competitive/electoral authoritarianism. The only question is: Would the military in Egypt succeed in pulling this off as the military in Algeria did without having access to oil rent that Algeria has access to? In other words, without a the financial resources of Algeria, could the Egyptian military succeed?

  • Why does the Iraqi Army Keep Running Away from ISIL? (48)
    • When was it .... 2005 06 07 .. when Joe Biden proposed that Iraq should be three semi-autonomous regions; Shia, Sunni and Kurdish? Looks like ISIL is helping that along by consolidating a lot of territory for the Sunni peoples. People laughed at Joe Biden then but it might just come true unless Shiite officials realize they have to trust the Sunni tribes and arm them to combat ISIL.

    • "What motivation is greater than your home being invaded, women raped or sold into slavery, and you are summarily executed if you are defeated?"

      For all these reasons these soldiers, to the extent that they are from the Shia South, will fight if Daesh/IS actually advances on their home turf.

      It should be obvious that this "Iraqi" army only abandons the Sunni dominated territory.

      To cling to the notion of Iraq as an integrated nation is at this point either willful ignorance or wishful thinking.

    • I think it is better that we focus on the question Juan is asking and not go into tangential topics. Yes, we know US has spent billions of dollars, but that is not the question at hand. What we want to know is why Iraqi government forces flee in the face of ISIS assault.
      As I suggested above, there must be a total breakdown in Iraqi society when its men are not willing to fight. What motivation is greater than your home being invaded, women raped or sold into slavery, and you are summarily executed if you are defeated? We need to look at the social psychology of the Iraqi society. I don't have an answer.

    • An ISIL controlled state with oil revenue would quickly become a major security concern. My understanding is that the strategic goal is to prevent this from happening.

    • Sorry to be so blunt, but this sounds just like convenient US ethnocentrism. At this point this is no longer about the US, but rather long standing conflicts that have been arrested as long as Saddam ruled with an iron fist. Now the power vacuum, super-charged by the Arab spring uprising in Syria, turned into a free wheeling civil war of many actors.

      At this point the crumbling American empire doesn't factor prominently.

    • It's also well documented how the Daesh/IS leadership was forged from former Iraqi intelligence and Al Qaeda cadres in the US run Abu Graihb prison compound. This is indeed a threat entirely created by massive blow-back from Bush's ineptly conducted, criminal war.

    • How this capital WE applies to the Iraqi army somewhat escapes me.

    • They really don't want Daesh/IS there either, and this monstrous group only exists courtesy of the US under the wise leadership of Bush.

      The US broke it, and now owns it.

  • Sharia Law Comes To Walmart, According To Allen West (6)
    • Faux fury 05/19/2015 at 5:03 pm in reply to Brian

      Brian, threatening a suspected insurgent with a gun is literally the LEAST offensive thing Mr. West is known for.

  • Why does the Iraqi Army Keep Running Away from ISIL? (48)
    • How about performance reports? Does anyone have any idea of how many medals and citations for outstanding performance were issued to the trainers who appear to have achieved very little, if anything, to brag about?