2014 June 30 Monday
Islamic Caliphate Vows To Free Palestine

Hey neoconservatives, your dedication to the overthrow of the Assad regime is unwise. The Islamic Caliphate (formerly branded as ISIS or ISIF) has been on quite the tear thru Iraq (good maps at that link). Wouldn't it be great to be able to be totally indifferent to all this?

The United States should shift its attention away from formulating more mistaken Middle Eastern foreign policy and shift toward building cushions for our economy and society against what happens in the Middle East. The cushions should include more policies to reduce our dependence on oil and also tighter immigration policy to keep out those who are relatively more likely to be unfriendly.

By Randall Parker 2014 June 30 09:46 PM 
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High Unanimous Supreme Court Counts Against Obama

Not a big respecter of constitutional limits to his power.

In the more than five years that Mr. Obama has been in office, the court has rejected the government’s argument with a 9-0 decision 20 times. During the eight years each in the administrations of George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, the government lost on unanimous votes 15 times and 23 times, respectively.

Bill is going to get passed up by Barack.

By Randall Parker 2014 June 30 09:39 PM 
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We Sure Are Lucky: What We Have Going For Us In Iraq

Has it occurred to anyone that America has great luck? Take the situation in Iraq as an example. A casual observer might think our support of the Shia Iraqis has been incompetent and foolish. Sure. But does it matter? Not if we have great luck.

Sure 'nuff, in Iraq we have great luck. Look at our allies: Iran, Russia, and Syria. These are countries we've been hostile to for years, decades even. But they want to help the Shia Iraqis more than Obama does. Plus, they've got the right experience and skill set to do it.

America's outwardly friendly allies in Persian Gulf Sunni regimes have supported the Sunnis in Syria. The US government has sided against Syria, Iran, and Russia for decades. Yet in spite of all this we are so lucky that our enemies want to be our allies against the Sunni Islamic Caliphate. That's big time luck. Think about it. We've done the exact opposite of what we'd need to do to curry favor with the only countries that want to help the Shias in Iraq. Yet those countries want to help us anyway.

While Obama and Congress are being all sorts of tentative about jet and Apache attack helicopter sales this is not a problem. Russia is rushing into the gap with fighters and choppers. Lucky us. Heck, even Belarus is helping out. Iran is sending in their military advisers to make up for the small number of special forces send in by Obama. Russia has sent in military advisers too. Bashir al-Assad is sending in air strikes while Obama decides whether to do airstrikes. We can be pretty lame and tentative and get away with it. That's pretty cool.

It is important to take note of all the skills and experience our allies bring to the great game. Syria has provided the training ground for Russia and Iran to figure out how to keep a minority regime in power against a hostile Sunni majority an against money from Persian Gulf oil states. This is great. We've got allies who were dealt a worse hand in Syria than we have in Iraq and yet they played that hand skillfully and brought an almost failed regime back from the brink of destruction. Surely they can help turn the tide of battle in Iraq. We sure are lucky.

I see America as a declining empire. But maybe I'm being too pessimistic. Maybe we have such great luck that things won't get nearly as worse as they would in any other country faced with the same problems. Given all the things going wrong I certainly hope so.

By Randall Parker 2014 June 30 08:37 PM 
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2014 June 29 Sunday
Yet Another Middle East Peace Process Fails

In perpetual re-runs: The US-run so-called Middle East peace process (after decades this phrasing gets old) has collapsed yet again. Supposedly the Obama Administration "invested enormous amounts of time and political capital in the peace process". Really?

Who takes seriously the idea of a Mid East peace process aimed at getting Israelis and their Arab Muslim neighbors to like each other and be glad they have each other as neighbors? Who cares? Who takes it seriously? Who thinks it has a snow ball's' chance in hell?

The Middle East peace process is one of those perennial delusions in US political culture. Why do we have to pretend there is such a thing as a real Middle East peace process? What there really is: The US tells the Arab countries that we aren't going to let them destroy Israel. The Israelis build more settlements. The Palestinians get squeeze and demand to be given back the land in Israel. This all happens while the Palestinians make more babies in a war of the womb fought against the most orthodox Jews in Israel who stay home and also make lots of babies. The US taxpayers fund the buying of influence in Jordan and Egypt to prevent a new war. Whoever is US president pretends to be pursuing a peace process.

By Randall Parker 2014 June 29 10:24 PM 
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ISIS: Self-Funding Like A Mafia

ISIS is run like a business, albeit a business with heavily motivated religious jihadi employees. Read this full McClatchy piece if you want to understand why ISIS is so resilient after years of US efforts to destroy it.

In accordance with the Islamic State’s business model, Johnston said, cells were required to send up to 20 percent of their income from local enterprises _ such as kidnapping ransoms and extortion rackets _ to the next level of leadership. Higher-ranking commanders would examine the revenues and redistribute the funds to provincial or local subsidiaries that were in dire straits or needed additional money to conduct attacks.

ISIS went on the offensive once its businesses and captured assets got large enough to let it pursue more ambitious goals. The corporate expansion is risky though because it has drawn so much attention to itself. But as some pretty cool maps from Al Jazeera show the offensive is almost entirely within Sunni-majority areas.

When the US had large numbers of soldiers and intelligence agents on the ground it failed to wipe out this operation. What are the odds A few hundred American special forces stationed in Baghdad can do it now? I do not see the elites in Washington DC having the persistence and will to win this one.

Contrast ISIS/ISIL fighter performance with the Iraqi military which the US spent $25 to create.

Built and trained by the U.S. at a cost of some $25 billion, the Iraqi Army quickly collapsed in the last few weeks against well-equipped rebel fighters. For the Americans tasked with helping to create the country’s security force, it’s a disturbing, though not unexpected, blow.

Maybe the Iraqi units would perform well if offered cash prizes for each town they recapture?

By Randall Parker 2014 June 29 09:04 PM 
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Jihadists Leaving Germany For Islamic Caliphate

ISIL/ISIS has rebranded itself as an Islamic Caliphate now to be called The Islamic State. Hey, I like clear branding. Makes it easier to understand a product. Meanwhile, the German government wants to prevent Jihadists in Germany from traveling to Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. I think that's a mistake. The flow in the opposite direction is what should be stopped.

Jihadists in Europe are a sign of a very broken immigration system. But the EU, like America, wants to be inclusive and celebrate diversity. They need to recognize that their values are not universal and not guaranteed to survive in their own countries.

Retired 4 star US Navy Admiral James Stavridis lays out a bizarre argument for why NATO (really) should get involved in the fighting in Iraq and Syria: It’s time for NATO to get involved in Syria and Iraq, perhaps even putting limited Special Forces troops on the ground.

As ISIS consolidates its position across the Syrian and Iraqi divide, NATO must realize that it is only a matter of time before a wave of EU-passport-bearing jihadists will be headed back home to wreak havoc.

EU-passport-bearing jihadists! Hey, modest proposal: deport them and revoke their citizenship.

I am opposed to the decay of civilization. This puts me at odds with elites who think we can take civilization for granted and exploit it for profit, power, and moral preening.

By Randall Parker 2014 June 29 08:18 PM 
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2014 June 28 Saturday
Our Russian Allies Deliver Jets To Iraqi Shiite Government

Belarus and Russia show themselves good members of our alliance by quickly delivering Sukhoi Su-24 fighters to our beleaguered allies, the Iraqi Shiites.

Russian Mi-35 and Mi-28 attack helicopters are bound for the Shiite state as well. I bet The Iraqi Shiites will use their weapons in Syria as well to fight ISIF forces on both sides of the Iraq-Syria border. After Bashar al-Assad sent his fighters to attack ISIF forces in Iraq I'm sure the Shiites in Iraq will want to return the favor.

We are helping in Iraq with armed drones and some special forces. But we haven't been able to get it together to deliver F-16 fighters. Apparently America must have fallen on hard times. But that is why we have friends in Russia and Belarus to help out when we can't do the job.

What I am still waiting to see: Delivery of jet fighters and attack helicopters to our Kurdish allies. Someone call up Vladimir Putin and ask him to help out.

By Randall Parker 2014 June 28 09:32 PM 
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2014 June 27 Friday
Shiites Rights Matter Less To US Government Compared To Sunnis

Why US policy on Iraq and Syria can not make sense: The Middle East has far more Sunnis than Shiites. The US government wants to maintain friendly relations with the various Sunni-ruled governments. So the US will always favor Sunni interests over Shiite interests, all else equal.

The Obama Administration wants to replace Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki with a more Sunni-friendly PM as part of a hopeless quest to placate the Sunnis. By contrast, you can count on the US government to say little against the Sunni minority that rules Bahrain or about how Shiites in Saudi Arabia (who are a majority where the Saudis have oil) are totally excluded from power .John Kerry and Barack Obama want to get more Sunnis into the Iraqi government. But Shiites living under Sunni governments aren't recognized as having legitimate grievances.

Christians in the Middle East are in worse shape. The formerly Christian countries of Europe and North America do not give a damn about Middle Eastern Christians.

Since minorities in the Middle East are going to be so shabbily treated I am in favor of their seceding from the dominant peoples and forming their own countries.

By Randall Parker 2014 June 27 08:51 PM 
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Discount Maids For Sale In Singapore

Singapore has lots of imported low wage domestic workers that must have America's elites salivating: Buy a discount maid at Singapore's malls.

Go to the Bukit Timah Shopping Centre, a 1970s mall in central Singapore, and you will find five levels of brightly lit rooms and galleries called "Homekeeper" and "Budget Maid". Inside these rooms, dozens of women sit in a listless, artificial silence. They nod respectfully as you enter, and some watch closely as you speak to staff. You might take one home with you - for two years, or longer.

Hey Barack, want to score points with America's upper class and really get them in your court? Stop letting people walk across the border. Instead install recruiters in all US embassies to do screening of domestic worker applicants for etiquette, demure manner, and willingness to work 80 hours per week as servants. Then American shopping malls will experience a revival when all these domestic workers flood in to pose just as they do in Singapore.

By Randall Parker 2014 June 27 07:37 PM 
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Kurd President: Kirkuk Issue Solved, No Going Back

Massoud Barzani says the Kurds are keeping Kirkuk.

The Iraqi Army abandoned the city without a fight and ISIS would have captured it if the Kurds hadn't.

Will US Secretary of State John Kerry demand that the Kurds give back Kirkuk as a demonstration of their commitment to national unity? Will the Shias, with US military drone missile help, be able to push ISIS away from the area around Kirkuk? How is Iraq going to play out?

By Randall Parker 2014 June 27 07:27 PM 
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Obama Wants Half Billion Dollars For Syria Moderate Oppositon

Obama is pretty funny. Not that he means to be.

Suppose Obama manages to get the money and finds some militias in Syria that aren't as radical as ISIS. Okay, suppose they damage the regime and the regime begins to totter. Will these "moderates" win? Or will this just give an opening for ISIS to take over along with more radical (i.e. more fervently Muslim) factions?

Assad's government is more secular and more tolerant of minority religious factions than any other group that might take over in Syria. Overthrow Bashar al-Assad and then the Alawites, Christians, Shiites and other minor factions get shafted. So why support Assad's overthrow? This is crazy.

America's elites do not make a serious case for why the overthrow of Assad

Obama thinks he can replace Assad with a multisectarian government. The US military could not accomplish that in Iraq. If Assad is overthrown in Syria then the Sunnis will rule and all other groups will get a bad deal.

Obama is welcoming in hoards of poor immigrants with poor prospects while he pursues a policy in the Middle East as deluded as that of George W. Bush. Differences between peoples are real and long lasting. When will our foolish elites get that thru the heads?

By Randall Parker 2014 June 27 07:12 PM 
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2014 June 26 Thursday
Can Kurds Hold On To Kirkuk?

McClatchy reporter Mitchell Prothero talked with Kurds in Kirkuk and Western military guys in the Kurdish zone about the capacity of the Peshmerga to hold onto Kirkuk.

“Look, these guys are good,” he said in Irbil, the Kurdish capital, where his company consults for the military. “They’re not like Iraqis, they fight for a nation they believe in and have training, experience, equipment and a good dose of discipline you rarely see in the Middle East. But they’re best fighting at home in their mountains. And they’re at their best fighting around and protecting the Kurds.”

Click thru and read all the comments. It sounds like the Kurds also can not do well in large military units due to clannishness just like the Arabs, but perhaps to a lesser extent. They feel more loyalty to Kurds as a whole than Arabs feel toward larger political units.

ISIS might be more willing to fight hard because some of them come from other countries. They have strong feelings about their cause. Though since the Kurds are Sunnis ISIS is less motivated to fight them.

Will the Kurds ethnically cleanse Kirkuk to make it easier to hold? Already they are only policing the Kurdish areas and this makes the non-Kurdish areas much more dangerous. I expect less ethnic cleansing in Kurdish regions than in Arab regions of Iraq.

The Kurds are in a tough spot with borders on Turkey, Iran, Arab Shiite-stan, and ISIS-stan. The Russian airplanes which Shiite-stan just bought from Russia and Belarus are going to arrive in a few days and could be used against Kurdish units which are guarding Kirkuk. Though that seems unlikely unless ISIS gets kicked way back and the Shiitte government in Baghdad decides it is time to take back Kirkuk.

By Randall Parker 2014 June 26 09:14 PM 
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2014 June 25 Wednesday
What Special Forces Can Do In Iraq

Jacob Siegel has an excellent piece in The Daily Beast with comments from former special forces about how much 300 US soldiers can accomplish in Baghdad.

Our special forces will try to find worthwhile targets for an air war with the bombs delivered by drones.

The drones will keep labor costs down and avoid burdening the Veterans Administration hospitals at a time when they are already way overburdened. The whole ISIS thing seems like a reason to accelerate the development of robots. No need for asabiyya in the men of military age if robots can do all the fighting. For an imperial nation in decline that is going to become more important.

By Randall Parker 2014 June 25 10:16 PM 
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Our Allies Rally To Support Iraqi Shiites

A coalition of the willing has come together to help the peace-loving anti-terrorists who rule southern Iraq. First, I am sure you will all be happy to know that Assad's government in Syria launched air strikes against ISIS positions in Northern Iraq. Since Russia is allied with Syria that means that Russia is allied with the United States. Hurray Russia!

Who else is fighting on our side? Our old enemies the Badr Army are fighting in Baquba against ISIS. So the Badr Army is also allied with the United States. Bless George W. Bush for having the foresight to set in motion a series of events that brought us on the same side as Shia militia who are far less likely to retreat than is the Iraqi Army.

The Badr Army is close to Iran, another of our new allies. Iran modernized and is flying drones in Iraq to help our allies.

Who is the unsung hero of the US-Russian-Alawite-Shia alliance against Sunni Jihadists? Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Quds force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Hurray commander! Baghdad might have fallen to the ISIF/ISIS years ago without his tireless work.

Since Iraqi soldiers have no loyalty to the state Iran has to step in and manage the return of Shia militias that have greater asabiyya.

“Iran is likely to be playing somewhat of an overarching command role within the central Iraqi military apparatus, with an emphasis on maintaining cohesiveness in Baghdad and the Shia south and managing the reconstitution of Shia militias,” said Charles Lister, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar.

Sadly I do not foresee Barack Obama thanking the Persians for reconstituting the Shia militias. As Quds works to put back together ethnically more cohesive and motivated fighting units they face ingratitude and indifference from American officials. Sorry Quds. I'll try to appeciate you guys even more to make up for the lack of appreciation in official circles in DC. Hey readers, take a moment out of your busy day to feel some gratitude toward Iranian Quds fighters trying to keep southern Iraq from being overrun,

Sadly, many people in Iran believe that the United States is a big ally of Sunni extremists. They see the US supporting the radical Wahhabi Muslim state of Saudi Arabia, once a big source of funds for Osama Bin Laden, and understandably think that supporters of the big funders of Wahhabi Islam must want Wahhabi Islam to spread.

Sadly the Iranians also figure that since the United States opposes Assad's government in Syria and since America's ally Saudi Arabia has supported Sunni warriors in Syria against Assad that surely the United States must want ISIS to spread.

Lucky for us our allies are willing to support the Shias in Iraq against ISIS holy warriors. So our unwillingness to attack ISIS in Syria or Iraq hasn't led to a collapse of the Shia Iraqi control in Baghdad. We should all be grateful to our allies for shouldering this burden while our infinitely wise leader in Washington DC takes the time to figure out a solution to this problem.

By Randall Parker 2014 June 25 09:00 PM 
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GOP Bigwigs, Democrats Unite To Defeat Tea Party In Mississippi

Republican Senator Thad Cochran defeated a Tea Party primary opponent by appealing to Democrats. Cochran sees his role as gettng money from productive people in the rest of America and reallocating it to Mississippi.

Cochran is best known in the Senate as a quiet “workhorse,” skilled at directing federal dollars to Mississippi, the poorest state in the nation.

The Republican elite decided to mobilize black Democrats to vote in a Republican primary. Republican voters need to understand that Republican elites have only a minor role sketched out for them that involves being obedient to elite wishes.

"It's disgraceful that self-described GOP leaders like Mitch McConnell, John McCain, the Chamber of Commerce, and the NRSC [National Republican Senatorial Committee] would champion a campaign platform of pork-barrel spending and insider dealmaking, while recruiting Democrats to show up at the polls,” said Matt Kibbe, president of the tea party group FreedomWorks.

Some Tea Party organizations are already tools for the elites. But the elites still need to neutralize others by any means necessary.

By Randall Parker 2014 June 25 07:38 PM 
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2014 June 21 Saturday
A Rule For Decoding Feminist Obfuscation

True that.

Sailer’s First Rule for Decoding Feminist Obfuscation is

- When feminists can blame men, they blame “men.”

- When feminists would have to blame women, they blame “society” or “our culture.”

We need more translations and decodings of the major forms of modern propaganda and their purveyors.

A talented observer could write a useful guide book on spotting and decoding propaganda. Who are the major factions which are generating modern propaganda? How do they structure their propaganda?

By Randall Parker 2014 June 21 09:15 PM 
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2014 June 19 Thursday
John Lukacs: Man Is Both Angel And Brute

We need to look at humans as they really are.

Schlesinger once quoted Pascal as saying that “man is neither angel nor brute,” which Lukacs calls a “safe, liberal, gray, centrist view of human nature. To the contrary: man is both angel and brute.”

The left-liberal model of human nature is wrong and its embrace by our elites is causing rising costs that threaten (only threaten?) to cause a decline in Western civilization.

Do you agree with his view of patriotism and nationalism?

One of his criticisms of American “conservatives”—he usually uses quotation marks—is that they often conflate patriotism with populist nationalism: “It may be enough to say that patriotism is defensive, while nationalism is aggressive; that patriotism means the love of a country, while nationalism is the cult of a people (and of the power of their state).”

I first came across Lukacs stating this view recently in his very interesting book The Duel: The Eighty-Day Struggle Between Churchill and Hitler. 1940 was one of those years where history could have branched in very different directions. One of the books I'm currently reading (mind you, I cycle between about 50 books at a time reading a few pages of each before switching) is Lukacs' The Legacy of the Second World War. I think that legacy is fading and we get into the declining empire phase of US history.

I am struck by how the the fading British Empire played such a valuable role in World War II. It got me thinking even more about the decline of empires and civilizations and caused me to shift my reading more heavily toward books on the subject.

Speaking of declining empires, among the books I am reading: Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations. Good stuff. Makes me think that soil erosion played a big role in the decline of the Roman Empire and of the Greek city states too. Ditto the Mayans.

I've also finally gotten around to start reading Joseph Tainter, a very reasonable scholar who has spent his life studying why civilizations fail. I'm in early pages of his 1988 book The Collapse of Complex Societies (New Studies in Archaeology). I also just read his essay in the collection The Way The Wind Blows where he looks at competing theories of why civilizations fail. That came out in 2000, before Montgomery's book on soil erosion. Tainter is popular among Peak Oil theorists (where I first heard about him) because he writes about civilizations that faced rising costs of resource extraction. However, Tainter does not hang his theorizing just on that. He sees rising complexity as sometimes a solution and sometimes a problem.

I am also reading Immoderate Greatness: Why Civilizations Fail by William Ophuls. This is where I came across Sir John Bagot Glubb (Glubb Pasha, who commanded the Jordanian Arab Legion for over 2 decades) and I keep linking to Glubb's essay The Fate Of Empires. Hits home. Every day America becomes more like the societies that Glubb describes.

By Randall Parker 2014 June 19 10:35 PM 
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Time For US Military Advisors In Iraq?

Persian advisors not good enough? Say it ain't so. Obama Weighs Sending Special Forces to Iraq as Advisers. Did you know that the US sent its first military advisors to South Vietnam in in 1950? That early! I did not know. It was known as he United States Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG), Vietnam. MAAG-V. Time for MAAG-I. Awesome! It is worth noting that US advisors were working in Iraq before the US withdrew.

A great battle is waging in Iraq: Fight for control of Iraq refinery continues as Obama is set to speak. Hey Barack, draw some inspiration from LBJ. Lyndon Baines Johnson famously said:

"...the eyes of the nation and the eyes of the entire world, the eyes of all of history itself, are on that little brave band of defenders who hold the pass at Khe Sanh..."

That little brave band of defenders had an awesome amount of firepower at their disposal. But they were famously fighting the wrong battle as the North Vietnamese geared up for the Tet Offensive.

Reading the news the last few days also reminded me of another important turn of events in the US war in Vietnam: The US support for a coup against South Vietnamese leader Ngo Dinh Diem.

Washington D.C., November 5, 2003 - A White House tape of President Kennedy and his advisers, published this week in a new book-and-CD collection and excerpted on the Web, confirms that top U.S. officials sought the November 1, 1963 coup against then-South Vietnamese leader Ngo Dinh Diem without apparently considering the physical consequences for Diem personally (he was murdered the following day). The taped meeting and related documents show that U.S. officials, including JFK, vastly overestimated their ability to control the South Vietnamese generals who ran the coup 40 years ago this week.

US Senators, neocon and liberal war columnists and assorted political appointees are clowns who are in way over their heads as they try to fit Iraq into their (really incomplete) models of human nature.

Iraqi Factions Jockey to Oust Maliki, Citing U.S. Support. David Ignatius says The plan for saving Iraq begins by ousting Maliki. A man with really bad judgment agrees: John McCain calls for US military intervention in Iraq, wants Maliki to resign. California Senator Dianne Feinstein, also one with bad judgment, calls for Maliki to go. Why are they saying this? They still think they can create a unified Iraqi state in the face of the tribal and religious bonds which can only be overcome with a strongman like Saddam Hussein.

Check out a couple of posts I wrote in 2006 and 2003 about consanguineous marriage and and Iraq: Failure To Understand Cousin Marriage Blinds Policy Makers On Iraq and John Tierney On Cousin Marriage As Reform Obstacle In Iraq.

Meanwhile, the Deep State Baathists left over from Saddam Hussein's regime are orchestrating the successes of ISIS. I think it is a bad idea to try to reconcile with these folks. Better to separate the Baathists into their own country and let the Shias go on without them.

By Randall Parker 2014 June 19 09:49 AM 
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Kurdish Peshmerga Still Clearing ISIS Out Of Some Kurd Areas

It will be telling if the Kurds manage to drive ISIS out of all the territory the Kurds consider to be Kurdish. The Kurds and ISIS Sunni Jihadists are still battling over territory that the Kurds consider part of their homeland.

“Fights are still ongoing in Hawija, Zab, Abasiya, and Rashad districts, which make up 3,000 square kilometers,” confirmed Awat Muhammed, a member of the Kirkuk Provincial Council.

The Kurds say they are not going to relinquish any of the territories they now control.

If the US government was serious about undermining the ISIS one way to do it would be to send the Kurds better weapons. The Kurds would use them and not crack under slight pressure.

By Randall Parker 2014 June 19 12:00 AM 
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2014 June 18 Wednesday
Britain, America Shift Positions On Iran Over Iraq Fears

Lots of fun headlines on the radical shift in US and British positions toward Iran thanks to the ISIS invasion of northern Iraq. The Brits are moving fastest: Britain Says It Is Ready to Reopen Iran Embassy. Iran doing what it can to help Iraq: Iran Offers Iraq ‘Everything it Needs’ to Fight ISIS. Some do not expect the romance to last: Iraq crisis may make bedfellows of the US and Iran, but don't expect romance. Others think Iran and America will get along great: Why Iran Is America’s Best New Partner in the Middle East. American officials are publicly shifting position in smaller steps than the Brits: Could U.S., Iran work together in Iraq? Maybe, officials say. Direct talks are in the offing: US weighs alliance with Iran to counter ISIS, boosts presence in Gulf.

These shifts are pretty fast for diplomats. I'd like to hear how much fear of oil production is driving the shift. High oil prices would bring on a recession quickly and this is an election year.

Britain's rulers are trying to help the British public to reorient itself to a more pro-Shiite stance: Latest developments and news from the Iraq crisis, where David Cameron has warned that Isis jihadists seeking to build an Islamic caliphate also plan to "attack us here at home in the United Kingdom". Has Cameron considered making visas to Britain from Sunni Arab countries much harder to get? (just joking)

Hey, if Israel wasn't in the Middle East I wonder if a nuclear-armed Iran would be seen in Washington DC as a deterrent force against Sunni states?

While Obama's administration debates what to do about Iraq the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force is going to war against ISIS.

Why all that is going on I bet the Kurds are going to accelerate the re-Kurdification of Kirkuk and surrounding environs. More Kurds will move back to Kurdistan from the Arab areas just to get to a safer place. Will the Kurds then settle for de facto independence while giving lip service to their membership in an Iraqi nation? Or the Sunni Arabs manage to stay independent of the Shias and therefore make it easier for the Kurds to break away too?

By Randall Parker 2014 June 18 08:11 PM 
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2014 June 16 Monday
Why Iraqi Army Had To Retreat

They were, um, outnumbered?

Thirty-thousand soldiers dropped their weapons and fled when confronted by an estimated 800 gunmen.

Those ISIS warriors were bad people! Super soldiers! Alien invaders? How about robots? They had extra pistols? How about megaphones that made them sound more scary? Or they were bullies who used to beat up the soldiers when they were in school? Or, hey, they might have been really good at yelling insults and making the 30,000 soldiers feel bad. 800 of them!

Key question that John Kerry needs to ask his counterpart in Teheran: Will 30,000 of Iran's Revolutionary Guard run away when confronted with 800 Sunni Jihadists? How many Rev Guard will they need to take down 800 Sunni Jihadists?

By Randall Parker 2014 June 16 10:31 PM 
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Cheers To Rev Guards Battling In Tikrit!

Our allies, the heroic Iranian Revolutionary Guards, are not afraid to take the battle to the Iraqi Sunni home turf of Tikrit.

Why are the Kurds and Iranians much more courageous and motivated fighters than the Iraqi Shias? Government corruption? Will the Shias fight more effectively militias in than as members if the Iraqi Army? Different rates of consanguineous marriage? Iraqi Shias conditioned to feel too submissive toward Iraqi Sunnis? What is going on with this? Shiites in the Sadr City district in Baghdad are cleaning their weapons and Iraqi Shia militia members fighting in Syria have rushed back home to fight in Iraq.

The Kurdish Peshmerga are grabbing more territory. The Sunni and Shia Arabs won't fight each other over that territory. The Kurds have The Right Stuff to carve a nation out of a piece of Iraq. Bully for them!

This surprises me: The Kurds have a quarter million Syrian refugees living in their proto nation-state.

“The KRG is currently a safe haven for approximately 250,000 Syrian refugees, as well as hundreds of thousands of internally-displaced people fleeing the violence in Mosul and elsewhere. We are doing our best to cope with this humanitarian emergency.”

What are the religious affiliations and ethnicities of these refugees? Also, can the Kurds in Syria carve a piece of Syria off to add to the state they have carved out of Iraq? A Kurdish state in parallel to an ISIS state?

By Randall Parker 2014 June 16 09:41 PM 
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US And Britain Rapprochement With Iran?

Think about how foolish John Kerry was to complain last year about Iran's support for Hafez el-Assad's government in Damascus Syria. The opposition to Assad had already become dominated by Sunni Jihadist groups which are nowhere near classical or modern liberals. Secularists in the Middle East (e.g. Assad) are our allies, not religious Jihadists. Now John Kerry is singing a more concilitatory tune about Iran.

Just months ago John Kerry's State Department was criticising Iran for support of Shia militias in Iraq which are clearly needed to stop ISIS. I bet the Shia militias show themselves far more willing to stand and fight as compared to the Iraqi Army.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague has signaled time for a joint response with Iran against ISIS.

The collapse of Iraq has led Britain and the United States towards a historic rapprochement with Iran which could end 35 years of hostility.

This is funny!

But what about the Kurds? The Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki thinks the Kurds made a deal with ISIS.

Many Shiite politicians are deeply uncomfortable with Mr. Maliki’s more indiscriminate condemnations. “To say the Kurds are supporting ISIS is not a useful narrative,” said a former member of Mr. Maliki’s government. “We need the Kurds. Even the Iranians are telling him that.”

Certainly the Kurds are gaining territory from ISIS's attacks. But that's because the Iraqi military folded so quickly and easily. Did the Kurds know the attacks were coming? I doubt that ISIS needed the Kurds. ISIS was going to attack anyway regardless of what the Kurds thought.

By Randall Parker 2014 June 16 09:03 PM 
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2014 June 15 Sunday
Tea Party Movement Captured By Usual Special Interests

Populist movements are frequently captured by elites for elite purposes. The Tea Party movement is no exception. Ann Coulter says the biggest national Tea Party groups have already been totally captured by the cheap labor lobby.

In fact, however, the tea party had nothing to do with Brat's victory. Only the small, local tea party groups stand for anything anymore, but they're as different from the media-recognized "tea party" as lay Catholics are from the Catholic bishops.

National tea party groups did not contribute dime one to Brat. Not Freedom Works, not Club for Growth, not the Tea Party Express, not Tea Party Patriots. They were too busy denouncing Sen. Mitch McConnell -- who has consistently voted against amnesty.

As I have been warning you, the big, national tea party groups are mostly shysters and con-men raising money for their own self-aggrandizement. (Today, they're blast-faxing "media availability" notices to television networks claiming credit for Brat's victory.)

Open Borders advocate spent $5 mil on his primary and got beat by Dave Brat with $150k. Big money versus popular outrage over immigration.

By Randall Parker 2014 June 15 08:46 PM 
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The Corrupt Iraqi Officer Corps Abandoned Their Soldiers

Fascinating article by McClatchy reporters about the performance of the Iraqi Army in Mosul. All the generals and colonels fled and left their lower ranks behind in Mosel. Read the whole thing.

Nasseri’s anger was fresh, and he couldn’t help but compare the performance of the Iraqi officers with that of the U.S. military leaders who trained him and the U.S. forces he fought alongside as part of a quick-response team in the insurgent flashpoint of Fallujah years ago. His account, detailed but impossible to independently confirm, painted a picture of a corrupt military leadership that shook down soldiers for cash, kept nonexistent service members on the payroll, and showed up to standard only on the rare occasion Baghdad sends an inspector.

This deserting soldier tells a very interesting tale of what he saw and heard. Kurdish intelligence apparently knew this invasion was about to happen. They were ready to grab some more territory of their own when it did.

ISIS did not have to be great fighters. They were only up against the corrupt and not terribly motivated Iraqi Army. Will Shiite militias do better against ISIS? I think so.

Hey, the Persians want to be our allies. Iran wants to join America in an alliance against terrorist groups. What a guy.

Iran would be willing to overlook contentious relations with the United States and work together in providing assistance in Iraq — if Washington vows to fight "terrorist groups in Iraq and elsewhere," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani pledged Saturday.

Ian Black in The Guardian: Iran and US face common foe in effort to stop Isis fighters in Iraq. Is it against US interests for a fundamentalist Sunni regime to be created from territory carved out of parts of Syria and Iraq? That might even be a solution. Let the other groups in Syria form another country or two. Then let the Kurds officially become a nation (they are one de facto anyway) and then southern Iraq will be a Shia Arab land.

I agree with Kurdish deputy prime minister Qubad Talabani: Iraq has already broken apart.

What are the odds that the Shia militias will recapture the Sunni Arab area of Iraq? Will they be that motivated? If they don't gear up for a big fight and reconquer the north then effectively ISIS has already accomplished their objective: creation of a new state that includes part of Syria.

What are you betting? Does Iraq stay broken up into 3 pieces? I'm guessing Yes.

By Randall Parker 2014 June 15 07:29 PM 
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2014 June 14 Saturday
Go Back To Iraq To Rescue Democracy?

John McTernan really said this in The Guardian.

The truth is that if we do not act now, we will surely act later. Having protected the freedom and autonomy of the Kurds since the Kuwait war, we cannot abandon them now, or leave them dependent on protection from Iran. We have to go back to Iraq to rescue democracy.

So lets send more guns and money to the Kurds and offer them big cash awards if they prevent ISIS from shelling Baghdad. For a small amount of money we can place limits on the advance of the ISIS and let Iraq break up into the 3 nations that it seems like it ought to become.

Hearing commentators go on about democracy and terrorism in the Middle East gets old. How about just balancing the power between factions so that any group posing a serious threat to Western interests can be slapped down by slipping some cash and weapons to another group? Stop using idealistic ideological language and just realize the limitations of the place the preferences of its peoples.

Writing in Foreign Policy Kori Schake says Obama pulled the United States out of Iraq without actually ending the war. And now we're paying for it. Pray tell, how was Barack Obama supposed to end the war? George W. Bush spent several years not able to "win" the war. Each generation will take up arms and fight again. She offers a litany of supposed woes:

Mosul overrun by terrorists more virulently dangerous than al Qaeda.

Really? Terrorists? If ISIS fighters want a very strict religious Sunni Islamic state with the women kept down and out of sight they are terrorists? Then time to overthrow the Saudis?

Iraqi security forces throwing off their uniforms and fleeing, leaving all their high-end hardware -- paid for by the American taxpayer -- in the hands of our enemies.

Why did the Iraqi Army soldiers throw off their uniforms while the Kurdish Peshmerga kept their uniforms on? What causes Iraqi Arabs to not feel strong allegiance to the government in Baghdad? Do Shia militias throw off their uniforms? If they fight harder then why?

Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces streaming into Najaf and Karbala to protect Shiite Muslim holy sites.

The IRG really stepped up to the plate quickly and did what their fellow Shias needed doing. The Iraqi Shias are lucky to have such allies in the face of so much animosity from the Sunnis in their own country and Sunni leaders in neighboring countries..

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki still incapable of building cross-sectarian cooperation even when ISIS is 60 miles outside of Baghdad.

Incapable? He's not talented enough? Or not motivated? Or is cross-sectarian cooperation impossible in Iraq? Also, if al-Maliki failed then does that mean democracy failed? Or do we just need to hold another snap election to bring in a government that will heal all the wounds and end the fighting and bring on a liberal democratic era in Iraqi society? (if anyone says yes to that one I've got this bridge I want to sell you)

Kurdish paramilitary forces stepping in to protect only Kurdish areas, setting the boundaries for a secession bid.

Great news about the Kurds. I'm happy for them. The Kurds have been screwed by other ethnicities for a long time. It is great they are getting a break. The Kurds are also, due to their precarious position, our most natural allies in the whole Middle East.

Though I have to say that the Persians ought to be considered for rehabilitation. Since are both an ethnic and religious minority in the Middle East they have limits to their power and they've got enemies that often work against our interests.

Militias forming to protect communities where the state has failed.

Yes, but why does the state, at least by Western standards, fail? I searched the article's text for "consanguineous" or "cousin" and found no mention. She wants us to think the battle in Iraq is between terrorists and non-terrorists even though it looks like a battle between Sunnis and Shias with tribal elements. The terrorism trope is getting old. How about discussing the real world?

By Randall Parker 2014 June 14 01:28 PM 
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2014 June 13 Friday
Iran Paramilitary In Glorious Battles In Iraq Against Sunnis

The enemy our our enemy is our friend. Long live the Persian people! Iran is America's newest ally!

Reports that Iran has sent its paramilitary Quds Force to help the struggling Iraqi Army battle the militant group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, raised the awkward possibility that the United States could find itself allied with Iran in shoring up an unpopular Shiite government in Baghdad.

Allies once again. The Persians have been much faster than the sluggish Obama Administration in responding to the fast ISIS advance down the Tigris River. I say we get more bang for the buck by giving the heirs of the Seleucid, the Parthian, and Achaemenid Empires the weapons they need to stop the Sunni Jihadists.

Hurray for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, fighting our enemies for us. Hurray for the heirs of the Seleucid, the Parthian, and Achaemenid Empires! May you crush your enemies mercilessly!

Seriously: We can't restore the secular Iraq of Saddam Hussein. Our choices are between Sunni Jihadists on one hand and an Iranian backed Shia government plus a Kurdish government in the north. Which are most hostile to us? The Sunni Jihadists? Which the friendliest? The Kurds. I say we give the Kurds and the Persians the weapons they need to box up the Sunnis north of Baghdad and let Iraq break into 3 nations.

We should make our aid to Iran and the Kurds contingent upon the creation of a safe district for Iraq's Christians. Mind you, Barack Obama cares even less about Iraq's Christians than George W. Bush did. But I'm just talking about what should be, not what is likely to be.

By Randall Parker 2014 June 13 07:07 PM 
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2014 June 12 Thursday
Barack Obama Does Not Want Jihadists In Iraq Or Syria

The whole northern province of Ninevah in Iraq has fallen to Sunni forces called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) (or ISIS with Syria as the second S) including the city of Mosul. How many Americans died fighting in Mosul? For what? Meanwhile the Kurds took this opportunity to capture Kirkuk, which they've long seen as their capital. The Kurds claim to have moved into areas to take control when the Iraqi Army fled from the Sunni fighters.

So what do America's leaders think of these events? Obama does not want Sunni Jihadists getting control of a piece of territory.

We do have a stake in making sure these Jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold in either Iraq or Syria for that matter.

Well, good luck with that Barack. The Shias in charge in Baghdad do not have the Right Stuff to keep down the Sunnis. By contrast, the Kurdish Peshmerga seem less likely to crack under fighting pressure. The funny thing here is that the Shias are the largest population block. Can the Shias maintain control of Baghdad? Will Shia militias show the level of spine that is missing from the Iraqi Army?

The Kurds are the winners in all this. The government in Baghdad is going to want help from Kurdish Peshmerga fighters against the Sunni Arab fighters. The Kurds seem like more effective fighters. The Kurds want to control towns where Kurds live in substantial numbers.

Will the Shia solders in the Iraqi Army fight more effectively in Shia-majority areas?

Are we witnessing the emergence of 3 states out of Iraq? Will the Shia state call itself Iraq while the Kurds proclaim their territory as Kurdistan?

By Randall Parker 2014 June 12 10:45 PM 
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2014 June 05 Thursday
Asabiyya And Group Solidarity

The greatest irony of our era: The Left is most keen on asabiyya (approximately: sufficient group solidarity to pursue collective societal goals) because they want to achieve group goals. Yet the Left vigorously supports policies (e.g. immigration of other ethnic groups, a welfare state that undermines community bonds) that destroy it.

What they and we will get instead.

I've been coming across asabiya/asabiyyah/asabiyya (one of those Arab words with no consensus way to spell in our alphabet) in books I've been reading about the collapse of civilizations. What strikes me about it is that the concept predates the Arabs and its importance in maintaining a civilization's health and the elements needed to create it were more obvious to past thinkers than to intellectuals in our own era.

Today multi-cultists vigorously support policies and ways of thinking that undermine feelings of loyalty and trust. They seem to think they can just train everyone to have loyalties to the whole nation. But people naturally feel greater trust for those genetically closest to them.

By Randall Parker 2014 June 05 11:09 PM 
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2014 June 03 Tuesday
Bowe Bergdahl Deserted, Soldiers Died In Search For Him

Worth 5 Taliban? You decide. Amazing. His unit is angry with him. Bergdahl wanted to talk to Taliban. Did they not give him as warm a welcome as they expected? Will he face a firing squad?

What was Obama's motive for the trade? How about this: If someone deserts but the enemy treats him as their enemy we should, after a few years, treat him once again as one of our side.

What should we make of this before moving on to the next episode? Its all part of life's rich pageant, you know?

By Randall Parker 2014 June 03 08:29 PM 
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