Thank You, Mr. President For Not Leading And Not Having A Strategery

Filed in International by on September 4, 2014

The right accuses President Obama of not “leading”, and horror upon horrors, not having a strategery,  err, strategy.  They are amplified by much of the mainstream media who, with the right, succumbed  to the same sky is falling bait fed by the right in 2003.

Au contraire,  Obama’s cool headed, analytical, non-knee jerk response to the multiple crises handed to him by forces out of the control of the former U.S. empire is exactly what leadership is and Americans should be grateful for his thoughtful guidance through these minefields.

It seems to me that if we had a military draft, these numb nuts calling for turning the middle east into glass and starting a hot war with Russia, they would be calling for the caution these crises require.  Except that they know that if we had a draft, the elite would once again know how to manipulate the system to exempt their kids.

It is not helpful, by the way, Joe Biden, whom I usually admire, that you refrain from inserting your very Catholic rhetoric about ….”gates of hell” out of the public discourse about these crazy ISIL barbarians.  This kind of speech is painfully close to the Bush gaffe laden reference to “crusades” which caused us so much pain in the middle east.  Stick with your area of expertise, Mr. Vice President, international affairs, not theology.

The imminent threat in the case of ISIL is to the existing order in the middle east.  The base of the solution must come from within that order, who we can likely provide armaments to; we, I’m sure,  are working like maniacs to pull together a coalition among them to take on their imminent threat.  Would it be dandy to have Russia as a partner in that endeavor?  And, just maybe Iran?

This is not a simplistic crisis solved by simplistic shock and awe strategies.  We should have learned several decades ago that you do not successfully bomb zealots out of existence.  Such solutions involve multiple levels of action which require an appreciation for both resolve and nuance, the latter being a strategy unfamiliar to the right and the chicken hawks.

Retaliation and getting even are not rational strategies.  They are irresponsible, irrational responses that real  leaders do not exert.

As for Russia and the Ukraine.  Let’s thank our lucky stars that the Ukraine is not a member of NATO, obligating us to engage militarily.  Again, the imminent threat is to much of Europe and they are well equipped to mount strategies to address Russia’s goals of some kind of semi-autonomous  eastern Ukraine.

If anything, we should be seriously rethinking our role with NATO in this era and its relevance to our security.  Look, if anything we bear some responsibility for creating the felt need for international ascendance by the Russian people; those Wharton dudes we shipped over there to help build their corrupt plutocracy when the Soviet State was put on the shelf has bred much of the dissatisfaction Putin is trying to address in the wrong way.

As Laurel and Hardy use to say, “we’ve got one fine mess here”.   And President Obama didn’t create this mess.  He inherited it.  Thank you Mr. President for not unleashing the bomb throwers and keeping a cool head.   And thank you for explaining to the American people that problems can be complex and often there are few good solutions.  In fact, more often than not,  there are bad solutions and less bad solutions and good minds have to sort these out.

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  1. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    At what point does President Obama stop inheriting?

    Despite all of Bush’s Iraqi blunders, Obama’s quick and reckless departure from Iraq let a void that is directly responsible for the rise of ISIS. Unlike Bush who wanted to maintain a credible Iraqi presence, Obama implemented a complete withdraw. That withdraw eviscerated US ability to exert hand-to-throat control over the Maliki government. al-Maliki proved to be exceptionally and, apparently, intentionally divisive. His divisiveness was, as are too many things in the Muslim world, predicted upon historical religious chasms. Not surprisingly, the Sunnis who were on al-Maliki’s shit list grew tired of the treatment and are now the core of ISIS.

    The kind of pressure that Kerry recently exerted over the Iraqi political body recently is a reflection of what should have been going on since the US pulled out. It did not and ISIS is the result.

  2. Let’s have a fact based discussion. While the President (and the rest of us in the U.S. wanted out of Iraq for sure), we’re out of Iraq because Maliki wouldn’t agree to our pre-conditions to stay on with a limited force.

    The Sunni’s were shortchanged because Iraq actually had a democracy pretty much arranged by us with our “winner take all” approach to governance and he and we are now paying the price due to Maliki’s stupid calculations. He’s the reason the Sunni’s are dissidents, not Obama and further fury inducing occupation.

  3. cassandra_m says:

    Obama’s quick and reckless departure from Iraq let a void that is directly responsible for the rise of ISIS. Unlike Bush who wanted to maintain a credible Iraqi presence, Obama implemented a complete withdraw.

    No.

    The US was in negotiations with Iraq to maintain some forces there. It was the Iraqis who struggled with the idea (and numbers) of residual forces AND who refused to grant those forces the usual immunity. Agreement did not happen, the Status of Forces Agreement signed by BushCo and meant to end in 2011 did end and troops came home.

    And while we’re on al-Maliki — you did notice that he is no longer PM of Iraq? The Obama Administration used the fact that they wanted some air support to push back ISIS to engineer his ouster.

  4. Dana says:

    The obvious question is: what do you think the United States should do, if anything? (Doing nothing at all is a legitimate response.)

  5. cassandra_m says:

    At what point does President Obama stop inheriting?

    Iraq wasn’t broken in any way that affected the US before BushCo invaded. Add to that the manufactured reasons and evidence to go, the expectations that this would be a cake walk and all of the other decision-making blunders, it is pretty easy to see that (at least for Iraq) we keep facing the results of all of these blunders. It would be a giant step if we could get to the point where we understand that the US cannot fix all of the worlds problems. And in Iraq, we continue to try to recover from the spectacular fuck up of GWB and Co in this business. More troops would never have resolved Iraq’s political issues.

  6. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    Check your history. Leading up to Obama’s election victory the Bush administration was forcing, yes forcing, conditions on Iraq that would have resulted in a continued US military presence under acceptable terms. Obama, the candidate, however, was happy to commit to a complete withdraw of the US from Iraq.

    You are absolutely right that the Iraqis wouldn’t agree to US pre-conditions. Where that point dissolves is with understanding why the Iraqis wouldn’t agree. They refused to grant immunity and other conditions because, with Bush’s departure, Obama had already declared, on the campaign stump, to withdraw from Iraq. Given that Bush is out of office no matter the US election outcome, and given that one of the candidates (the likely winner) had already declared his intent to withdraw, why would the Iraqi’s negotiate or offer concessions for something we know they didn’t want to do. Sit back and wait for the US election to conclude. They did. The US departure removed the only credible check against reckless Iraqi political retaliation.

    You don’t know enough about Iraqi politics. If you did you wouldn’t suggest that a winner take all democracy even existed let alone that was the Sunni’s problem. Two problems plagued the Sunnis: they’ve always been a minority and democracies always fumble their handling minorities; revenge was too sweet for the Kurds and the dominate Shites lead by an Iranian sponsored cleric. It didn’t help that al-Maliki had close ties to Iran. The Kurds and Shite, and to a lesser extent his own Dawa party have, as formerly oppressed people do, ganged up on the Sunni’s. al-Maliki was too happy oblige and the US wasn’t there to talk or beat sense into them.

    Now they have ISIS.

  7. Tom McKenney says:

    al-Maliki is part of Bush’s legacy. The Bush administration supported Chalibi and al-Malaki, both of whom have close ties with Iran.

    You are right about the problem with minorities, but even there the blame lies with the Bush administration. W said our strength was democracy, but I believe our real strength is protecting minority views from the tyranny of the majority.

  8. cassandra_m says:

    Leading up to Obama’s election victory the Bush administration was forcing, yes forcing, conditions on Iraq that would have resulted in a continued US military presence under acceptable terms.

    No they weren’t. And if it was true, you would have provided a (non-wingnut) link to evidence of this “forcing”.

    Even the NYT article I linked to noted that the SOFA was to end in 2011 as negotiated by Bush. There may have been an “understanding” to leave troops, but the Iraqis could not come to terms. And who “forces” a democratic country, anyway?

  9. cassandra_m says:

    You don’t know enough about Iraqi politics. If you did you wouldn’t suggest that a winner take all democracy even existed let alone that was the Sunni’s problem.

    My point is that Iraqi politics are not our problem. Bush and his friends made great hay out of bringing democracy to Iraq and we continue to suffer from the fact that they really didn’t. Bush supported a series of strongmen in Iraq, never paying attention to the nuances on the ground. We were bad at nation building and there isn’t any real reason to think that we are any better.

  10. SussexAnon says:

    “…but I believe our real strength is protecting minority views from the tyranny of the majority.” …..eventually.

    BushCo signs the Status of Forces Agreement and its still Obamas fault. Got it.

    And the debt/deficit is 100% Obamas fault too.

  11. Dorian Gray says:

    Obama won an election promising to withdraw from Iraq. So he did. That’s kinda how that works. Then, if you’ll recall, he won again… so.

    The problem is that there isn’t an answer. There is a ménage à trois going on in Syria (Assad, ISIS, sane people), so to fight ISIS there we are alligned with Assad. If we fight ISIS in Iraq we are aligned with the Kurds. The same Kurds in PKK who we assist Turkey in killing.

    Then there’s Iran… they’re Shi’a so are they on our side or no?

    Pakistan is having a mini coup now. Our “allies’ (frienemies) the House of Saud are despicable people. Afghanistan is a complete wild card… they can barely get their shit together after an election and the Taliban is still alive in eastern Afghanistan and Northwest Pakistan.

    Not to mention Israel just “annexed” another 1,000 acres in the West Bank near Hebron. Another land grab brought to you by… well, by you the US tax payer.

    What the US can do, push comes to shove, is annihilate ISIS, Dresden/Drone style. If we want to do that we could… but to what end?

    Seems to me the less we do the better. So… Unless you-all have a better idea I think we should cease with the partisan hackery about who’s to blame.

  12. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    And who “forces” a democratic country, anyway?

    The same country that just forced al-Maliki out. You’re way to smart to be asking elementary school questions.

    Agreed that the effort to cram democracy down on to the Iraqi people was a fools errand. Bush, however, is one of long line of US administrations that act and believe that democracy is a panacea for the world’s injustices and it is worth the spilling blood of our children to see it happen. It ain’t either.

    As for al-Maliki being Bush’s prodigal Iraqi son, it is true that the US supported him over other more compromised contenders. Pulling the best turd out of a bag of shit is more complicated than it sounds. It was Obama, however, that let al-Maliki off the leash.

    Two months ago I would have agreed with you that Iraq and ISIS weren’t our problem. Not so sure now. If we had reliable assurances – it’ll never happen – that ISIS wouldn’t attack the US, then the US should sit back and let them work it out or let them die trying. Otherwise, this group is too reckless, too rich and too well armed to ignore

  13. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    “BushCo signs the Status of Forces Agreement and its still Obamas fault. Got it.”

    And Obama couldn’t secure another. Got it.

    Try using both eyes for a change.

  14. Dorian Gray says:

    Yeah, keeping Maliki “on the leash” would have been a piece of cake. And securing another Status of Forces Agreement? He ran explicitly on doing the opposite.

    This is contrarian horse-shit. One says up. One say down. One say black. One says white.

    Monday morning quarterbacking from Captain Hindsight!

  15. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    Novel concept there DG – foreign policy anchored by the path of least resistance. About as useful as foreign policy driven by populist election year pandering.

    We agree that Obama ran on a promise to withdraw the US military from Iraq. It was a fundamental mistake to do so but yes he did it.

  16. SussexAnon says:

    “And Obama couldn’t secure another. Got it.”

    Iraq. wanted. Us. Gone.

    I suppose we could have stayed against the democratically elected gov’ts wishes as an occupying force to continue to win the hearts and minds of people we could shoot without legal repercussions. That certainly wouldn’t foment resentment at all.

  17. SussexAnon says:

    We should also agree that Bush negotiated the withdrawl, right?

  18. To put the political divide in perspective in Iraq, the Sunni’s won about 16% of the Parliamentary vote; even many Shia party loyalists (several such parties) thought al Maliki too authoritarian before he won weakly. But he appointed only about 10% of the executive ministries the executive controls to various Sunni party people; so these appointments started him off badly. His original defense minister, by the way, was a Sunni…..that might explain the abandonment that happened vs. ISIL.

  19. cassandra_m says:

    We agree that Obama ran on a promise to withdraw the US military from Iraq. It was a fundamental mistake to do so but yes he did it.

    He campaigned on it, and was well on a glidepath to break that campaign promise if the Iraqis could come to terms. They didn’t. So the 2011 agreed end happened, and Obama took his victory lap. Which was just fine with a majority of the American people. The problem with a Democratically-elected government is that you can’t just force them into something that their people do not want AND while you have absolutely no leverage. ISIS provided Obama with some leverage over al-Maliki (as did al-Maliki’s clearly weakened position).

  20. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    Obama lacked the resolve to force the Iraqi government to capitulate on extending US military presence. No doubt that if Obama wanted to remain in Iraq, he would have undoubtedly secured Iraq’s consent, willingly or not.

    Absolutely right that the American people wanted out of Iraq. The Iraq war was and will always be viewed as a monumental mistake not only from a foreign policy perspective but also as a reflection of how a democracy can be hijacked and driven the wrong way by a small, insular but powerful group of likeminded policy officials like the neo-cons. Getting out was very, very appealing. But getting out as Obama did gave rise to the conditions that spawned ISIS.

  21. cassandra_m says:

    ISIS (as Islamic State) has been active in Iraq since *2004*.

    Sheesh.

    But this backgrounder from the CFR says they came into being in 2006. Still — they are not a reaction to the US troops being withdrawn.

  22. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    So I take it that “coming into being” and “rising to power” mean the same thing?

    You’re missing an important point. It wasn’t just that the troops were gone. Their departure weakened the US’ ability to exert power over al-Maliki. Absent that al-Maliki ran a-mouk.

    Quoting from the article you cite:

    “Heavy-handed actions taken by Maliki to consolidate power in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal have alienated much of the Sunni minority, and ISIS has since exploited the “failed social contract,” said former CFR press fellow Ned Parker. Maliki’s Shiite-dominated government was reluctant to integrate Awakening militias into the national security forces, and critics say he has persecuted Sunni political rivals and stoked sectarian polarization for political gain.”

    Not my wing nut article.

  23. cassandra_m says:

    You’re missing an important point. It wasn’t just that the troops were gone. Their departure weakened the US’ ability to exert power over al-Maliki.

    And? al-Maliki was leading a country who was DONE with our occupation. How do you stay when they don’t want you — without becoming the occupier the Iraqis always thought you were? Seriously, this need for a US President to treat others in some authoritarian way is appalling. They did not want us and we were done. al-Maliki ended up destablizing himself — so that he was vulnerable to the choice of leaving office cleanly or getting air support from the US.

    The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), the transitional government established by the United States and its coalition partners, made two decisions early in the U.S.-led occupation that are often cited as having fed the insurgency. The CPA’s first order banned members of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath party from government positions (so-called “de-Baathification”); its second order disbanded the Iraqi army and security services, creating hundreds of thousands of new coalition enemies, many of them armed Sunnis.

    You haven’t even read this article — these people have been fueling insurgencies well before we withdrew from Iraq.

  24. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    “Seriously, this need for a US President to treat others in some authoritarian way is appalling.”

    Whats appalling is the naivete.

    Funny that you suggest that I read the article.

    The two decisions that the article references, and which you seem to glom on to, were both made in 2003 (it says that in the article) – 8 years before the US departure from the country. Both the en mass dismantling of the Baath Party and dissolution of the army fed an insurgency; however, read the article closely. The insurgency they refer to is that which flared up in 2003-04 in Fallujah and Mosul and for which David Petraeus was canonized. It is not, however, the same insurgency that currently drives the gestation of ISIS (the article says that as well).

    Bush made a bag of shit. As president, Obama doesn’t get to walk away from it. He did.

  25. Liberal Elite says:

    @ATiAM “But getting out as Obama did gave rise to the conditions that spawned ISIS.”

    So what? Really?? So what?
    Why is this our problem? If ISIS is a threat to the PTB in the mideast, then why isn’t this their problem. Why do people like you think this is our problem, and that we have to spend money and lives getting deeper and deeper into this mess??

    The mideast lurches from one “crisis” to another. We’ve spent something like $2 trillion to try to make it better and we’ve gotten basically ziltch from our spending (unless you’re a military contractor who lobbied very hard for war).

    Do you think spending another $2 trillion will make it better? That maybe we didn’t spend enough, or something???

  26. Dana says:

    The debate on who is responsible for the rise of ISIS still doesn’t answer the real question: what, if anything, should the United States do about it?

    Is it George Bush’s fault? What difference does it make, because he can’t run for President again. Is it Barack Obama’s fault? He’s term limited as well, so it still doesn’t matter. What matters now is what decisions are going to be taken, for the future.

  27. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    LE

    While I disagree with you, I’ll concede your point is more than compelling. Why the US is carrying, once again, the laboring oar is beyond me. Our history in the region is like Newton’s Third Law – every action produces a reaction that itself requires another action.

    We need together off the Middle East rat wheel.

  28. Jason330 says:

    “The debate on who is responsible for the rise of ISIS …”

    Idiot,

    There is no debate. It was George W. Bush. Crack a book once in a while.

  29. Tom Kline says:

    Bush and Obama are interchangeable – 2 Losers…

  30. cassandra_m says:

    As president, Obama doesn’t get to walk away from it. He did.

    Yes he does, actually.

    Once the SOFA expired, we had no legal reason to be in Iraq. And you may be down with an authoritarian approach to this country, but you would be in a minority here.

    Everything we could do in Iraq, everything they wanted from our forces was done. Over. We spent stupid amounts of money training, arming and making sure these people could defend themselves. At some point, *they* need to be responsible, because we can’t afford to be their police force forever.

  31. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    JA330

    Try reading more than comic books. It’ll help you avoid saying dumb shit. Who knows you might even be able string a few coherent sentences into a sensible argument – for a change.

  32. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    Cassandra

    Agree with most everything that you say except . . . I thought the question was what caused/lead to the rise of ISIS. Hence, the point that Obama’s exit was the issue. I would love to leave the Middle East shit hole for those that live there. If this country would stop sucking for Arab oil, then maybe we could actually let them deal with it on their own. Having already gotten into bombings, we’re in and should expect ISI to retaliate against the US. The rat wheel just keeps spinning.

    As for advocating a power based exercise of foreign policy, name one US administration since the start of the 20th century that hasn’t imposed, by some means of force, US foreign policy objectives on foreign governments.

  33. stan merriman says:

    Ain’t, hopefully this will conclude your misguided assertion on the origins of ISIS:
    This from the Terrorism Research Consortium, recently also affirmed by Bobby Gosh, middle east expert, in Atlantic Magazine:

    The ISIS was preceded by the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), that was established during October 2006, and comprised of various insurgent groups, most significantly the original Al Qaeda Organization in the Land of the Two Rivers (AQI) organization, al-Qaeda in Mesopotami – led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Mujahedeen Shura Council in Iraq, and Jund al-Sahhaba (Soldiers of the Prophet’s Companions), which was integrated into the ISI. ISIS members’ allegiance was given to the ISI commander and not al-Qaeda central command. The organisation known as the ISIS was formed during April 2013 and has evolved in one of the main jihadist groups fighting government forces in Syria and Iraq. ISIS regards Baquba, Iraq, as its headquarters with its allegiance to Abu Omar al-Baghdadi as the group’s emir. Baghdadi’s real name is Hamed Dawood Mohammed Khalil al-Zawi.

  34. Bob says:

    Still not concerned ISIS/ISIL is the JV team! He said so.

  35. Geezer says:

    @Bob: You picked the wrong screen name. I think you wanted “Dick.”

  36. Geezer says:

    @Ain’t: So you think we should have occupied Iraq on an open-ended basis, just like South Korea, and that nothing would have gone wrong if we did?

    Complain about the naivete of others after you’ve overcome your own.

  37. pandora says:

    Yep, I’m going with Cassandra, Dorian, Liberal Elite, Geezer and Jason.
    :-)

  38. Geezer says:

    @Bob: On a serious note, they are up to two (2) Americans killed, both of whom willingly put themselves in harm’s way as free-lance journalists (unlike Nick Berg, who sadly took it literally when GWB said Iraq was open for rebuilding). Two killed, neither of whom was a challenge to reach. Doesn’t sound like the varsity to me.

    If ISIS/ISIL were as scary as you claim, why do you want the president to acknowledge it in public? Don’t be foolish. Declaring them a grave threat would be a boon to these bozos. Try to think a couple of steps ahead, will you, before you let your fears loose for a romp?

    For a better understanding of the, um, naivete of the victims, here’s an illustrative story about the slaughter of Steven Sotloff:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/08/21/was-u-s-journalist-steven-sotloff-a-marked-man.html

  39. Truth Teller says:

    First of all lets get one thing straight it was Bush who set up the with draw from Iraq. Facts just because they are ignored doesn’t mean they don’t exist. the only person whom so far is correct on Iraq is Christopher Hitchens when Gramps McCain CHENEY and all the others were saying this war was only going to last 4 to six weeks Hitchens’s said 100 years so far he is leading the pack

  40. Jason330 says:

    ^like^

  41. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    As usual dumb-assery abounds:

    Geezee – where do you find open ended occupation of Iraq in anything I or anyone else of that matter said. Where? That’s what I thought.

    Stan: not following you? Some argued that ISIS was the product of an insurgency that arouse out of 2003 decisions to sweep the Iraqi government and military clean. If you take the view that everything is related to everything, then that argument might make sense. I disagree. The current ISIS evolved as a result an abusive Iraqi government that was facilitated by the absence of US oversight. Was the group an amalgam of other prior groups – undoubtedly. Those splitter groups were nothing compared to what ISIS has become.

    TT – you are absolutely correct Bush negotiated it. He had to. FACT – He was the president when the prior agreement it expired. Who else would have negotiated it? You’re accusing Santa Clause of delivering gifts on Christmas. Who else should have negotiated the agreement???? What your missing, however, is the candidate Obama compromised Bush’s negotiating position AND President Obama did nothing thereafter to extend the US presence. Those, my bleary eyed friend, are facts.

  42. SussexAnon says:

    …..and your answer is what ATINM? Your implication is that we should have stayed. Stay in Iraq without Iraqs approval? Cast a spell on Maliki to magically let us stay AND keep our forces from facing Iraqi justice? Seize Iraqi Parliament, declare martial law and force them to vote in favor of us staying? Stay just long enough to overthrow/depose Maliki and start the process all over again?

    Obama honored the agreement that Bush negotiated and signed. The Iraqis concept of “U.S. out of Iraq” started at the beginning of negotiations well before Obama even won the primary.

    At some point Iraq has a right to self determination. This isn’t about Obama failing to undo an agreement (that EVERYONE agreed to and American voters supported). This is about Maliki and the Iraqi gov’t failing on its first big test. And what about the chickenshit army that turned and ran when ISIS showed up? Was that the American Generals fault? Or did Obama magically untrain them on the campaign trail with is rhetoric in 2008?

    ‘Memba when the neocons believed that democracy was exportable to muslim nations that have no history of it? That the war would be cheap, fast and easy? Yeah, I am sure that is unrelated to this whole clusterfuck.

  43. Geezer says:

    “where do you find open ended occupation of Iraq in anything I or anyone else of that matter said. Where? That’s what I thought.”

    We set terms for leaving, we met the terms for leaving. You wanted to stay past the time we had agreed to leave. You called for staying, didn’t you? That’s continued occupation, no departure date specified, isn’t it? How is that different from an “open-ended” occupation?

    No, you didn’t type the words. But that’s the clear implication of what you wrote. If I’m wrong, please show me where.

  44. cassandra_m says:

    If you are blaming the “rise” of ISIS on the fact that the President abided by agreements to withdraw troops and then you are accusing the people who are defending living with these contracts of naivete, then you are arguing for a persistent occupation of Iraq.

    And seriously, just because ISIS just showed up on your cable news chyrons this year doesn’t mean that they haven’t been a persistent problem in Iraq (under other names) AND a problem in Syria. They’ve been in Syria long enough for John McCain to advocate for arming them.

  45. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    Let me get this straight:

    The President of the most powerful nation in history was wholly incapable of entering into any kind of agreement with the Iraqis that would have maintained a US presence after 2011. Is that what you are saying?

    So even though the US and others could easily see the decay of Iraq’s political stability, and despite the facts that, yes, ISIS was rising on the horizon for several years (like since 2001 when we left), our President didn’t, couldn’t and wouldn’t do anything about addressing the problem. Is that what you are saying? Because the Iraqis didn’t want the US in the country, the President should have done nothing. We couldn’t negotiate anything whatsoever with the Iraqis? Nothing was possible – all hope lost.

    Even though Obama campaigned on withdrawing from Iraq, he’d never go back on a campaign promise?

    Instead, blame Bush and the neo-con idiots and comfortably walk away? How could it be Obama’s fault?

    That’s the argument here?

    So here the US sits. Relative to ISIS, the US’ interests are aligned with historical adversaries Iran and Syria and against our historical ally Saudi Arabia. Our ally Turkey is providing safe haven for ISIS. Now we have ISIS which is better funded than most armies of the world, has more weapons and a zealot’s drive to do harm. Diarrhea would have been a better result.

    What do you think international politics is about? Handing out cookies, cash and missile systems. Its about getting others to do things they do not want to do.

  46. Geezer says:

    “Because the Iraqis didn’t want the US in the country, the President should have done nothing. We couldn’t negotiate anything whatsoever with the Iraqis? Nothing was possible – all hope lost.”

    I’m sorry, I was asking for you to explain the difference between your position and open-ended occupation. You have not done so; you have instead constructed a straw-man argument that’s supposed to make anyone who disagrees with you sound unreasonable.

    We can “occupy” any country we would like to, once we defeat its armed forces. We have now occupied South Korea for 60-odd years, and can’t leave without the Chinese/North Koreans overrunning that country. We could have done the same thing with South Vietnam, but it was obvious early on that there was no geopolitical reason to do so. I think the same calculus applies here, but I could be wrong.

    If open-ended occupation is not what you think we should have done with Iraq, please explain what you DO mean we should have done.

    By the way, our “historical” relationship with Iran was friendly before the CIA got involved. Do you know what you’re talking about?

    “What do you think international politics is about? Handing out cookies, cash and missile systems. Its about getting others to do things they do not want to do.”

    An imperialist, eh? No, you clearly don’t know what you’re talking about.

  47. ben says:

    also, cass’s avatar is awesome.

  48. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    Focus Geezer, focus:

    What does the following passage say:

    “The President of the most powerful nation in history was wholly incapable of entering into any kind of agreement with the Iraqis that would have maintained a US presence after 2011.”

    Negotiate another AGREEMENT – that’s what it said. It doesn’t say occupy forever, it doesn’t say overrun their army, not stay forever, quash their sovereignty, overthrow their government. Would it help if someone typed out a form agreement for you cause it appears that concepts are too far to reach.

    The Iranian’s were our friends! That’s rich. They took over our embassy and held American hostages so they could share their hummus for 444 days. Maybe I was wrong, it isn’t cookies rather its hummus that we should be handing out.

    Imperialist – very nice knee jerk deflection.

    You give me too much credit to suggest that I might be trying to make you sound unreasonable . You’re doing fine job on your own.

  49. Geezer says:

    Distinctions without differences. What would this new “agreement” have said? What would the metrics of removing troops have been? What would prevent this same thing happening any time we left? None of the things you are describing were referenced by me. You, not I, are the one offering non-specific criticisms of what was done, without acknowledging that there would have been similar problems no matter what course we took. You, not I, are the one who looks foolish and unreasonable.

    “The Iranian’s were our friends! That’s rich.”

    Yes, moron, the Iranians — no apostrophe for a plural — were our friends.

    From wikipedia, because it’s concise:

    “Relations between the two nations began in the mid-to-late nineteenth century. Initially, while Iran was very wary of British and Russian colonial interests during the Great Game, the United States was seen as a more trustworthy Western power, and the Americans Arthur Millspaugh and Morgan Shuster were even appointed treasurers-general by the Shahs of the time. During World War II, Iran was invaded by the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union, both US allies, but relations continued to be positive after the war until the later years of the government of Mohammad Mossadeq, who was overthrown by a coup organized by MI6 and aided by the Central Intelligence Agency. This was followed by an era of very close alliance between Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s regime and the U.S. government, which was in turn followed by a dramatic reversal and disagreement between the two countries after the 1979 Iranian Revolution.”

    “Imperialist” is not a deflection. It’s a description of your world-view: It’s our world, the other countries only live in it.

    Now go back to whatever pre-school normally babysits you.

  50. cassandra_m says:

    Negotiate another AGREEMENT – that’s what it said.

    They *did* try to negotiate another agreement and the timeline on that was in one of the links I provided that you did not read.

    An AGREEMENT requires two parties to say YES and if one of them says No, GTF out, you get out. Or, as you seem to have wanted , that we completely ignore the wishes of that Democratically elected government and just occupy Iraq because We Want To.

  51. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    Easier to type shit than to concede the obvious that Obama owns this mess, that he did nothing to confront it and that he didn’t inherit it from Bush.

    The difference here is that Bush would have at least seen the ISIS problem coming. From there he would have overreacted and done more really dumb shit. Obama, on the other hand, either missed it or chose to ignore it. And one of these two is better than the other?

    You want specifics – right. Another rank deflection. Let’s get a conceptual discussion bogged down with speculative minutia in an inane attempt to draft up an agreement that Obama should have drafted. And really, would it have matter to you? Not likely cause no answer other than your own is ever going to good enough.

    Thanks for pointing out the typo. Helpful and insightful. Does it make you feel important pointing out other people’s obvious errors?

    I will take your advice an go back to my pre-school normally babysitter. She at least thinks first.

  52. pandora says:

    “The difference here is that Bush would have at least seen the ISIS problem coming.”

    Seen them coming the way he saw… Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US?

    Puhleeze.

  53. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    Cass:

    All hope was lost. Nothing, absolutely nothing could have been done. The Iraqis said no and that ends it. Thank goodness, at least, the President tried. Didn’t work, lets go home. Tell the American people that it should be okay – should be.

    You’d never let a republican off with this lame ass excuse.

    Instead we are now facing a threat from a group far more capable and far better funded than al Qaeda. What’s worse – seeing an imaginary demon where none exists (Bush) or ignoring one that does exist (Obama).

    Yeah I know – its Bush’s fault.

  54. cassandra_m says:

    You’d never let a republican off with this lame ass excuse.

    Yes I would. Except that a Republican would be doing what you are doing — fearmongering and pretending that the fearmongering itself provides a motivation to send in our army and air force to make you feel better at night.

    Because I don’t think that Americans *should* pretend that we should fix everything. Because I think that if we are supposed to be in the business of Democracy promotion, that means that we respect Democracies that are not our own. Because we were in Iraq in the first place as a result of a massive set of lies, then spent stupid amounts of money to train and arm an Iraqi army who should have stood up to fight for their own damned country against these people. Because we should NOT be doing foreign policy based upon how much fear and disinformation they absorb from their cable TV.

    It *is* Bush’s fault and as long as people like you are wringing their hands about not mopping up that mess, you can always be reminded of that fact.

  55. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    So your view is that ISIS is nothing for the US to be concerned with? I hope you are correct.

  56. SussexAnon says:

    There are still people out there that believe “if we had just stayed in Vietnam a little while longer we could have won that thing”, too.

  57. SussexAnon says:

    Not being concerned about ISIS and occupying a sovereign nation against their wishes/ agreement are two totally different things.

    I can’t speak for Cass, but I think running in like our pants are on fire and throwing a hissy fit because the new hotness in pissed off disaffected muslim terrorists is acting up is off the table.

  58. cassandra_m says:

    I’m with you, SA. The question in this thread wasn’t about being concerned, it was about continuing an occupation of Iraq because we still feel threatened. I don’t think the US is under threat yet. And if we are, I want Bush and his band of war mongers to be put on trial for war crimes. Because with all of the security we paid for (and still pay for), and with all of the power we handed over to the government via the Patriot Act all so that we can be “safer”, being at risk now from these people means that all of that was useless. And I want somebody to pay the price for *that*.

  59. Geezer says:

    “Easier to type shit than to concede the obvious that Obama owns this mess, that he did nothing to confront it and that he didn’t inherit it from Bush.”

    Huh? I’ve said nothing to defend Obama about this. I don’t care whose fault it is, if anybody’s. YOU’RE the one obsessed with assigning blame. And you still haven’t considered any of the ramifications of any of your suggestions — you just insist that we didn’t have to leave, and that it’s all Obama’s fault that we did.

    Yours is a naive and immature position to take, hence the insults, particularly since you claim that others are the ones being naive. Meanwhile, you don’t even know the history of this country’s relationship with Iran. Just because you don’t realize you sound like an ass doesn’t mean you don’t sound like an ass.

    Lots of problems don’t require “confronting.” I see no signs that Obama is failing to confront this — just that he isn’t confronting it the way you want him to. Yet you have no alternative other than some nebulous “negotiations” he should have engaged in.

    That’s some weak shit you brought in here. Be sure to clean it up when you leave.

  60. Dana says:

    Mr Geezer wrote:

    I see no signs that Obama is failing to confront this — just that he isn’t confronting it the way you want him to.

    Really? I see that he’s authorized some air strikes, but there’s really no (publicly) stated policy. Perhaps he has one, one that he’s keeping a secret, or perhaps he’s just reacting. If I had any confidence in the man, I’d suspect that perhaps the former is the case; I have no confidence in him at all, and think that it’s almost certainly the latter.

  61. Dana says:

    The stupidest man on the Delaware Liberal wrote:

    “The debate on who is responsible for the rise of ISIS …”

    Idiot,

    There is no debate. It was George W. Bush. Crack a book once in a while.

    Mr 330, that debate is happening right here, in this thread. You might try reading your own comment threads every once in a while.

  62. Geezer says:

    Better funded that al Qaida? Source for that? All I can find is Bernie Kerik, the disgraced former NYC police commissioner and self-styled “anti-terrorist expert,” which puts it in the “highly doubtful” category.

    Meanwhile, Tom Sanderson, a terrorism expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told CBS News “…they have a more diverse funding base… they have a greater localized funding base than al Qaeda.” That’s not the same thing as “better funded.”

  63. Geezer says:

    “I see that he’s authorized some air strikes,”

    Yes. This is what’s known as “confronting” an enemy.

    “but there’s really no (publicly) stated policy.”

    So what?

    “Perhaps he has one, one that he’s keeping a secret, or perhaps he’s just reacting. If I had any confidence in the man, I’d suspect that perhaps the former is the case; I have no confidence in him at all, and think that it’s almost certainly the latter.”

    And how would you know or tell the difference? You don’t like him. Again, so what?

    Assholes like you and Ain’t disagreeing with reality doesn’t make it a “debate.”

  64. Jason330 says:

    There is no debate. If someone here wants to entertain your idiocy, that’s their problem.

  65. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    My sincerest apology. I read the introduction to this thread:

    “And President Obama didn’t create this mess. He inherited it.”

    Sorry to have devoted and wasted time your addressing the issue presented. In my confusion I happened to asked, “At what point does President Obama stop inheriting?” My bad – I stuck to the topic.

    Do any of you ever get tired of blowing smoke up each other’s ass?

  66. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    SA

    “I can’t speak for Cass, but I think running in like our pants are on fire and throwing a hissy fit because the new hotness in pissed off disaffected muslim terrorists is acting up is off the table.”

    Not sure what counts for a hissy fit in your book but isn’t that we’re doing now. We are in the midst of a hissy fit – dropping bombs, trying to airlift 50K refugees who aren’t, planting more US troops/advisors, planning for a larger involvement with some new international coalition. We had a chance to avoid this and didn’t. Instead were heading back to Iraq.

  67. cassandra_m says:

    Not sure what counts for a hissy fit in your book but isn’t that we’re doing now.

    What we are doing right now is cover for humanitarian assistance and helping the Iraq army that is trying to get back in to hold territory, mainly, via air strikes. That looks very different than what we would be doing if we were still occupying Iraq — which would be American soldiers at the tip of the spear in fighting back against ISIS. Can you *really* not see that? We don’t need to re-occupy Iraq to stop the bedwetting and it is beginning to look like we are trying to create a coalition to deal with this, which (if it is a real coalition) is a better strategy than us re-occupying Iraq.

  68. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    Time will tell.

  69. stan merriman says:

    I think Cassandra’s intelligent, on topic post should pretty well end the flame war going on with these posts. I think the blame game is pretty well exhausted in the posts as well.

    If there are some new observations on how President Obama is leading on this issue or disclosing strategies to deal with ISIS (upcoming with Wednesday’s news conference), let’s hear them.

  70. Geezer says:

    @Ain’t: You said Iran was our “historical” enemy. Wrong word. Take responsibility for it.

    Thanks for the links about ISIS and how rich it is. Lots of interesting information — and interesting that it doesn’t all jibe. But you probably already knew that.

    Interesting, too, that you don’t question how much of that information is anonymously sourced. Guess the yellowcake nonsense didn’t teach you much about believing what nameless government sources say about scary, scary terrorists.

    Considering that some stories say ISIS is actually governing the areas it controls, I’m not sure what your point is about how rich they are. Will they bomb us with dollars?

  71. Dorian Gray says:

    I read this last night and thought it was relevant.

    “Do not try to do too much with your own hands. Better the Arabs do it tolerably than that you do it perfectly. It is their war, and you are to help them, not to win it for them. Actually, also, under the very odd conditions of Arabia, your practical work will not be as good as, perhaps, you think it is.” T E Lawrence

    http://www.pbs.org/lawrenceofarabia/revolt/warfare4.html

  72. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    Geezer:

    Learned long ago not to get into the mud with pigs – after a while its hard to distinguish the pig. You’ve played the swine role too easily and too well. The only appropriate response to you, at this point, is to question your shocking lack of capacity to think or see beyond the itch on your ass. I’ll defer the insult for someone else to write.

    Done here. Best wishes to all.

  73. Geezer says:

    You, not I, have been slinging the mud. And you, not I, have taken the poorly considered position.

    You want to claim ISIS is a greater danger than other terrorist groups. Given the ramshackle nature of the information about the group — read all those links you gave me and tell me how long ISIS has existed, since the claims range from three years to five years to “they used to be al Qaeda in Iraq,” which makes them over a decade old — and explain why we should rush to judgment here BUT should not rush to judgment over what happened in Ferguson.

    I don’t think you’ve ever learned much of anything. If you had, you’d show more signs of it.

  74. Dorian Gray says:

    Hey, Aint’s. You’ve signed off with something similar before but back you come nearly ever day. You fucking love it. It’s obvious… so spare us all the diva victim shit. You just troll and then wallow in it. Let’s hope you are a person of your word and fuck off.

  75. Liberal Elite says:

    @G “Interesting, too, that you don’t question how much of that information is anonymously sourced. Guess the yellowcake nonsense didn’t teach you much about believing what nameless government sources say about scary, scary terrorists.”

    It really does sound like just another boy who cried wolf story.

    Boy == US Military Industrial Complex
    Wolf == ISIS

    As they say… Just follow the money.

  76. liberalgeek says:

    If nothing else, we should be afraid of ISIS because they have learned to play the American right-wing like a fiddle.

  77. Geezer says:

    He signs off like that when he gets tired of defending indefensible positions.