Archive for War on Terror

Say, How’s That War on the (Non-Islamic) Islamic State Going?

So glad you asked:

On Wednesday, a reporter asked Pentagon press secretary John Kirby what seemed like a simple query: “What would you say about Senator McCain’s assessment that the Islamic State is winning, and the U.S.-led coalition is not?” What followed, however, was a case study in how not to handle a loaded question.

“Well, I’m not gonna, um,” the rear admiral began haltingly. “I would just tell you that — uh — we believe — that — let me put it this way. It’s going to be a long fight. It’s going to be difficult. There’s going to be setbacks. There’s going to be wins and there’s going to be losses. We’re mindful of the complicated nature of this.”

Kirby went on equivocating for another two minutes, claiming he’s “not going to qualify who’s winning and who’s losing today,” that “you can’t judge a strategy based on a day, or a week, or even several weeks,” that “we’ve only been doing air strikes since August 8,” and that the Islamic State is “not getting a win everywhere.”

“So it’s a mixed picture, Phil,” he admitted. “I don’t mean to ramble, but it’s a mixed picture.”

Not exactly “we will fight them on the beaches” material, but that was the Greatest Generation. Ours is somewhat lesser.

Comments

Amateur Hour

Have you heard the good news?

Turkey has agreed to allow the U.S.-led coalition to use its military bases for the fight against the Islamic State and to use Turkish territory as part of a training program for Syrian opposition fighters, Obama administration officials said Sunday.

“That’s a new commitment and one that we very much welcome,” Susan E. Rice, President Obama’s national security adviser, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Or we would…if it were true:

Turkey denied Monday that it has reached any “new agreement” with the United States to allow the use of Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey for attacks on the Islamic State militant group, despite suggestions from the Obama administration that a deal had been reached.

A statement issued by the office of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said talks are continuing between Ankara and Washington over whether to permit U.S. forces to use Incirlik in the fight against the Islamic State, a radical al-Qaeda offshoot that has captured parts of Syria and Iraq. However, “there is no new agreement on the Incirlik issue,” the statement said.

You can understand why the regime would send out Susan Rice of a Sunday morning to spread a false narrative. It worked so well last time.

I was just culling the list of categories we link to our posts. Who cares about Mohamed Morsi anymore? Gone. Same with Barney Frank, even Ted Kennedy. But I stumbled a category we created called Amateur Hour. I debated keeping it, but we use it so rarely…I deleted it. I am so sad now.

The rest of the world must be looking at us and thinking this administrated is peopled by humiliated rejects from American Idol. Is the “She Bangs” guy free for Secretary of State?

Comments

These Things Come in Threes

Say it ain’t so, Joe:

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has one more stop on what has become a Middle East apology tour in the wake of his impolitic answer to a Harvard student’s question: Saudi Arabia.

After apologizing to officials from Turkey and the United Arab Emirates over the weekend, Mr. Biden is trying to connect with Saudi leaders, a senior official said, to clarify that he did not mean to suggest that Saudi Arabia backed Al Qaeda or other extremist groups in Syria.

The vice president’s troubles began Thursday when he declared, in a question-and-answer session at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, that the biggest problem the United States faced in dealing with Syria and the rise of the Islamic State was America’s allies in the region.

Turkey, Mr. Biden said, has admitted allowing foreign fighters to cross into Syria, while Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia funneled weapons and other aid to Syrian rebels that ended up in the hands of Al Nusra, Al Qaeda and other extremist groups.

Stupid Joe: you don’t tell the truth in this administration. This is what happens if you do.

Comments (1)

No…Almost None…Few Some Civilians Were Harmed in the Prosecution of This War

But we’re progressives, so it’s okay:

The White House has acknowledged for the first time that strict standards President Obama imposed last year to prevent civilian deaths from U.S. drone strikes will not apply to U.S. military operations in Syria and Iraq.

A White House statement to Yahoo News confirming the looser policy came in response to questions about reports that as many as a dozen civilians, including women and young children, were killed when a Tomahawk missile struck the village of Kafr Daryan in Syria’s Idlib province on the morning of Sept. 23.

The village has been described by Syrian rebel commanders as a reported stronghold of the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front where U.S officials believed members of the so-called Khorasan group were plotting attacks against international aircraft.

But at a briefing for members and staffers of the House Foreign Affairs Committee late last week, Syrian rebel commanders described women and children being hauled from the rubble after an errant cruise missile destroyed a home for displaced civilians. Images of badly injured children also appeared on YouTube, helping to fuel anti-U.S. protests in a number of Syrian villages last week.

“They were carrying bodies out of the rubble. … I saw seven or eight ambulances coming out of there,” said Abu Abdo Salabman, a political member of one of the Free Syria Army factions, who attended the briefing for Foreign Affairs Committee members and staff. “We believe this was a big mistake.”

You can say that again, Abu. One almost six years old, and we’re still paying for it. As are more than a few innocent Syrian women and children.

Caitlin Hayden, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, told Yahoo News that Pentagon officials “take all credible allegations seriously and will investigate” the reports.

At the same time, however, Hayden said that a much-publicized White House policy that President Obama announced last year barring U.S. drone strikes unless there is a “near certainty” there will be no civilian casualties — “the highest standard we can meet,” he said at the time — does not cover the current U.S. airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.

The “near certainty” standard was intended to apply “only when we take direct action ‘outside areas of active hostilities,’ as we noted at the time,” Hayden said in an email. “That description — outside areas of active hostilities — simply does not fit what we are seeing on the ground in Iraq and Syria right now.”

No, of course not. Furthest thing from our minds. I’m sure the seven or eight dead women and children understand (even though I don’t).

I won’t BS you: I know (and have repeatedly written) that when you go to war, you sign on for anything and everything, the very little good, the overwhelming bad, and the disgustingly ugly. War is hell, as the general said.

But will this pack of jackals similarly level with us? Does their “areas of active hostilities” make any sense? Doesn’t an area become hostile when you deem it so by firing a Hellfire missile at it?

Obama seems to believe in war by Marquis of Queensbury rules. No boots on the ground, no civilian deaths. And if some do occur, well, we never promised you a rose garden.

And about the “boots on the ground” promise…

PS: The howls of indignation from the Left will begin in 3…2…1…1…1…

PPS: Don’t hold your breath:

Dana Milbank, the liberal Washington Post columnist who can be tough on liberals, was at the White House for an antiwar demonstration in the wake of Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS in Syria. A grand total of 22 people showed up.

Here’s what he quoted lefty activist David Swanson as saying:

“If George W. Bush were launching wars with Congress out of town, oh, it would be flooded. They would be screaming.”

Obama, said Swanson, “can get away with some abuses and worse and be forgiven because he engages in wars more eloquently and reluctantly, but the people who die in the wars are just as dead and the people who suffer from the sabotaging of climate agreements have their climate just as destroyed.”

Global warming? Seriously?

Medea Benjamin of Code Pink was asked why so few on the left oppose Obama. “‘He’s totally defanged us,’ she said, citing his party, his affability — and his race. ‘The black community is traditionally the most antiwar community in this country. He’s defanged that sentiment within the black community, or certainly voicing that sentiment.’”

Blaming the brothers. Again.

Andrew Sullivan, a conservative who largely became an Obama booster, is equally incredulous:

“The way in which Obama supporters have lamely acquiesced to this reckless war fomented by a dangerous executive power-grab is more than a little depressing. It strikes me as uncomfortably close to pure partisanship. I can’t imagine them downplaying the folly of this if a Republican president were in charge.”

Some of us knew they were full of it a decade ago and more.

Comments

The 58.7% President

Illiterate or bullshi**er—we have our answer:

“Either the president doesn’t read the intelligence he’s getting or he’s bullshitting,” a former senior Pentagon official “who worked closely on the threat posed by Sunni jihadists in Syria and Iraq” told the Daily Beast.


C…A…very good, sir, just one more letter.

A new Government Accountability Institute (GAI) report reveals that President Barack Obama has attended only 42.1% of his daily intelligence briefings (known officially as the Presidential Daily Brief, or PDB) in the 2,079 days of his presidency through September 29, 2014.

The GAI report also included a breakdown of Obama’s PDB attendance record between terms; he attended 42.4% of his PDBs in his first term and 41.3% in his second.

The GAI’s alarming findings come on the heels of Obama’s 60 Minutes comments on Sunday, wherein the president laid the blame for the Islamic State’s (ISIS) rapid rise squarely at the feet of his Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

“I think our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria,” said Obama.

“It’s pretty well-known that the president hasn’t taken in-person intelligence briefings with any regularity since the early days of 2009,” an Obama national security staffer told the Daily Mail on Monday. “He gets them in writing.”

The Obama security staffer said the president’s PDBs have contained detailed threat warnings about the Islamic State dating back to before the 2012 presidential election.

“Unless someone very senior has been shredding the president’s daily briefings and telling him that the dog ate them, highly accurate predictions about ISIL have been showing up in the Oval Office since before the 2012 election,” the Obama security staffer told the Daily Mail.

Comments (1)

Islamist Pranks

Those ISIS rogues, talk about punking someone!

Nearly two months on since the US began air strikes against Islamic State (IS) positions in northern Iraq, there are signs that the militants are adapting to the new reality.

Witnesses and tribal sources in IS-controlled areas have reported a drop in the number of militant checkpoints and fighters using mobile phones less, apparently to avoid being targeted by air raids.

Militants have also been seen to ditch conspicuous convoys of armoured vehicles in favour of motorcycles, and there are reports of them planting their black flags on civilian homes and facilities to try to confuse target-spotters.

Darn, that was going to be my Halloween trick! At least I can still wear this costume:

Too soon? Sorry.

Many of the buildings already struck by coalition bombers are reported to have been evacuated prior to the strikes.

A tribal sheikh from a village south of Kirkuk said IS fighters had “abandoned one of their biggest headquarters in the village” when they heard the air campaign was likely to target their area.

“They took all their furniture, vehicles and weapons. Then they planted roadside bombs and destroyed the headquarters,” said the sheikh, who declined to be identified.

“It’s a well-tried and tested formula,” said defence and security expert Paul Gibson, a retired British Army brigadier.

“Once [militants] start facing air strikes, the first thing they’ll do is to reduce the targets available to the coalition forces. They will disperse and reduce their communications by mobile and radio so their electronic signature is reduced.”

I hope Obama ordered a mega-shipment of Allen Edmonds loafers. I don’t see how he’s going to keep that “no boots on the ground” pledge.

Comments

As We Were Saying

Well, we were.

The rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air—all for show:

US-led airstrikes against the Islamic State terrorist group (IS or ISIS) in Syria continue Saturday night, but are failing to slow the jihadis’ advance on the Kurdish border town of Kobane.

Kurdish fighters from the People’s Protection Unit (YPG), backed by fighters from the Turkish Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), have been engaged in a fierce battle with ISIS, as the Islamists seek to seize control of the key town on the border with Turkey.

But though US airstrikes – which President Barack Obama pledged would “degrade and destroy” ISIS – have extended from Iraq to Syria to aid the defense of Kobane, local sources say the strikes have been largely ineffective.

“They struck empty buildings,” YPG’s chief of defense for Kobane, Ismat Sheikh Hassan, told The Independent. “ISIS fighters used to be there but they left, so they haven’t helped us. If anything, they are now fighting harder to push forward before there are more strikes.”

Maybe if Obama put the latte down when he saluted the men who serve at his command, he’d see how badass they are, and how a few of them might actually scare ISIS. Fireworks don’t seem to be doing the trick.

Comments

Is This Still Smart Power?

It’s no surprise that that most self-celebrating of social media, Twitter, is this regime’s go-to method of foreign policy.

There was Michelle:

Then Jen Psaki:

Of course, Barack’s selfie:

With such a record of success, it’s no wonder they brought the hashtag to bear in the war on terror:

The State Department social media initiative designed to engage with ISIS terrorists and jihadist sympathizers is “embarrassing,” “ineffective” and “distressing,” the head of a prominent intelligence group wrote Tuesday in a scathing editorial.

The “Think Again Turn Away” campaign and Twitter account, launched by the State Department in December, in part, to dissuade on-the-fence jihadists from joining the fight against the West is actually serving to embolden and legitimize the social media presence of bloodthirsty terrorists already on the ground, Rita Katz, the director of the SITE Intelligence Group, wrote in a Time magazine article published online Tuesday.

The State Department’s “English-language outreach program is not only ineffective, but also provides jihadists with a stage to voice their arguments,” Katz claimed, calling the initiative’s Twitter account a “gaffe machine that “walks dangerous ethical lines.”

“Thirteen years into the war on terror, it is distressing to see certain ways the U.S. government is combating domestic radicalization by groups like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State,” Katz wrote. The account regularly (engages) in petty disputes with fighters and supporters of groups like IS (also known as ISIS), Al Qaeda and Al Shabaab, and (argues) over who has killed more people while exchanging sarcastic quips.”

“In order to counter a problem, one must first study it before adopting a solution. Had the people behind Think Again Turn Away understood jihadists’ mindsets and reasons for their behavior, they would have known that their project of counter messaging would not only be a waste of taxpayer money, but ultimately be counterproductive,” she wrote. “I would much rather see the State Department’s online ventures involved in projects that explain the great things American policies have achieved — not arguing with jihadi fighters on who killed more innocent Muslims.”

I don’t think they’re getting any smarter:

The U.S. State Department ratcheted up the online propaganda war on Wednesday, tweeting a photo composite showing four dead ISIS jihadis who it suggested were killed in overnight airstrikes in Syria.

The ‘Think Again Turn Away’ program’s Twitter account blasted out the image to nearly 8,000 followers. The initiative’s goal is to dissuade would-be jihadis, including so-called ‘foreign fighters,’ from joining up with ISIS.

One ISIS-linked Twitter account with nearly 10,000 followers claimed Tuesday night that the ‘first victims of air strikes by US on Syria’ were ‘children and women.’

Another tweeted news stories from dubious sources claiming French fighter jets mistakenly bombed Kurdish allies, killing 75 fighters in a friendly-fire cockup.

Separately, a weeks-long Twitter campaign centered around the hashtag #AMessageFromISIStoUS spread a series of chest-puffing boasts, including direct threats against the U.S. homeland.

We rightly condemn ISIS for broadcasting their executions of innocents hostages. But posting pictures of dead terrorists? In a Twitter account? By our government? Not only is it juvenile, it’s unseemly. Kill ‘em, kill ‘em all. Just don’t act like them.

Comments

Read His Lips

Let him be clear:

Speaking at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, after visiting U.S. Central Command, Obama told troops: “I will not commit you and the rest of our Armed Forces to fighting another ground war in Iraq.”

-ish:

But shortly afterward, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest clarified that Dempsey was talking about the possible need to put U.S. troops already in Iraq into “forward-deployed positions with Iraqi troops.”

Earnest said that step has not yet been necessary, but if Dempsey asks to “forward deploy” American advisers, “the president said he would consider it on a case-by-case basis.”

He said, in that scenario, U.S. troops “would be providing tactical advice to Iraqi security forces” or be in position to call in airstrikes.

“They would not have a combat role. They would not be personally or directly engaging the enemy,” Earnest stressed.

Uh-huh. And if the enemy engages them? What then?

The Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing Sept. 16 about the U.S. policy to combat the Islamic State featuring testimony from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey. Here is Dempsey’s statement.

“To be clear, if we reach the point where I believe our advisers should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific ISIL targets, I will recommend that to the President.”

Barack Obama thinks he’s a better general than his generals.

Comments (1)

All About the Benjamins

So now that ISIS and we are at w—…what is it again? A “very significant counter-terrorism operation [that's] going to go on for some period of time.” Yeah. Now that we’re doing that, how is the anti-w—…counter-terr—oh, eff it! How’s the antiwar crowd taking it?

Medea?

Medea, welcome to Democracy Now! Can you respond to President Obama’s speech and the fact that the vast majority of Americans polled support taking military action in Iraq and Syria?

MEDEA BENJAMIN: I think President Obama has been hounded by the media, by the war hawks in Congress, mostly from the Republican side but also from the Democrats, and is going into this insane not only bombing in Iraq, but also talking about going into Syria, at a time when just a couple of months ago the American people had made it very clear that we were very tired of war.

So, the most powerful man in the world, a man gifted with such intelligence, such articulateness, such cleanliness—and “no Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one”—has been “hounded” by the press and the Republicans into “insanity”.

That’s your story?

Oh, Medea, and we remember you when you had guts:

Literally.

Now, this is the best you can do:

MEDEA BENJAMIN: Well, the peace movement was really decimated when Obama came in, and has been trying to rebuild ever since. But I think now we have to think of all of us as the peace movement. Now is the time to say, if you’re an environmentalist, you better understand that war is the greatest environmental disaster and the U.S. military is the greatest polluter on the planet. If you care about having money for youth groups or for infrastructure or for green energy, you better understand that sucking money into the military—we’re now paying $7.5 million for just the bombing in Iraq.

Seven-and-a-half million to bomb Iraq? What a bargain! Screw the youth groups and “green” energy (algae?), hit the bid! At that price, it would be a waste of money not to bomb Iraq.

Cindy Sheehan, are you going sit idly by and take that?

Cindy Sheehan, peace activist
I believe the reason that the presidents of the US can continue to make such belligerent and jingoistic speeches and follow through with the continuation of endless wars is because the American people keep falling for the propaganda and the lie that either one of the two major political parties is better than the other when it comes to war for profit. I think last night’s speech by Obama was just a regurgitation of any speech by GWB and shame on anybody who is falling for this same tired, yet hostile, rhetoric. It would be funny if so many lives weren’t unnecessarily compromised because of US aggression.

Regular readers know that we check in on Cindy’s rantings from time to time. She may be mad as a hatter, but we share this: we’re consistent. She’s always against “time-limited, scope-limited military actions”; we’re usually for them. The only difference being we trusted George Bush and his people to get it right (eventually). We have no such faith in Obama.

But if bombing ISIS is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

Comments

On the War* With the Islamic** State***

*It’s not a war.

**It’s not Islamic.

***It’s not a state.

So, what is “it”, and what are we “doing” about it? Hey, we just told you what it’s not—why can’t that be enough? Next you’ll want the recipe to Michelle’s kale cupcakes.

Some in the Obama administration run from the w-word like the French fun from w itself (cheap shot). Others therein wrap themselves in the battle colors like a latter day Barbara Fritchie. But this is the same administration that blamed the Benghazi atrocity on a YouTube video—and then successfully dodged responsibility for doing so (for a time).

Speaking of Benghazi, remember that Libya was no war either.

Remember what it was?

It’s not a war, the White House says.

Instead, Libya is “a time-limited, scope-limited military action, in concert with our international partners, with the objective of protecting civilian life in Libya from Moammar Gadhafi and his forces,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

Pressed on the point by reporters, Carney said, “I’m not going to get into the terminology,” but Libya is not an “open-ended military action, the kind of which might otherwise be described as a war.”

“There’s no ground troops, as the president said,” Carney said. “There’s no land invasion.”

“A time-limited, scope-limited military action”: wonder why they didn’t bring back that gem from 18 months ago? Look at what it did for Libya. Oh wait…

Libya Closer To Failed-State Status, Ushering In Possible ISIS, Jihadist Haven

Well, that was from yesterday. Maybe things are better now.

So, our “strategy” against a non-Islamic non-state is to conduct a non-war, which is, rather, a non-Iraq, non-Afghanistan, quasi-Libyan-cum-Yemen “very significant counter-terrorism operation [that's] going to go on for some period of time.”

Got it?

Comments (1)

He Said It, Not Me

James Foley could not be reached for comment:

It’s too soon to say what steps the United States will take against ISIS in Syria, President Barack Obama said Thursday.

“I don’t want to put the cart before the horse,” Obama told reporters during a White House news briefing. “We don’t have a strategy yet.”

ISIS? What’s that?

The Islamic State group has a long history of expanding its power and preying on the weaknesses of its regional rivals, according to a new report that challenges the notion that the militant organization has only recently emerged as a threat.

Despite some assertions that the group only achieved prominence in June 2014 — about the time it began sweeping across Iraq in a violent offensive — the militants have steadily been gaining power in the region since 2010, the report by the West Point counterterrorism center concludes.

Over those four years, the report says the Islamic State patiently prepared operations that managed to dissolve some of Iraq’s security forces by targeting and demolishing the homes of its soldiers or, in some cases, assassinating troops.

Warning signs that the Islamic State was becoming increasingly dangerous became evident after leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi “rebooted” the organization in 2010, the report notes. As a result, the Islamic State has been able to develop a highly motivated infantry force since 2012, enabling its members to launch a wave of 20 multicity synchronized car bomb attacks that lasted until the end of 2013, the report states.

Can ya hurry it up with the strategy there, Mr. Prez?

President Obama will be in New York this weekend to attend the wedding of his personal chef and an MSNBC host.

The president and first lady Michelle Obama will be in attendance on Saturday when chef Sam Kass and journalist Alex Wagner tie the knot at the Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, Politico reported.

Kass is the personal chef of the First Family and also the executive director of Michelle Obama’s ‘Let’s Move,’ which aims to change eating and exercising habits among Americans. Wagner hosts the weekday MSNBC program ‘Now with Alex Wagner.’

They’ve has been described by Vogue as politics’ ‘It’ couple of the year.

Is that supposed to be some crack about Chef Kass’s chrome dome?

Go ahead and take the weekend off, sir. You’ve been working nonstop lately.

It will be a busy weekend for the Obamas.

On Friday, the president is expected at two fundraisers in Westchester and a third one in Rhode Island.

On Sunday, the Obamas will attend the US Open before heading out, according to Talk of the Sound, which first broke the news of the president’s visit to Westchester.

Oh, by the way. Remember that curious, unexplained trip back to the mainland that Obama took in the middle of his Vineyard vacation—at an additional cost of more than a million dollars when Air Force and Marine Ones are accounted for, along with the motorcade and other security protocols?

Can you say “bachelor party?”

Speculation for why Obama returned focused around the possibility of a secret foreign leader meeting or the rollout of a new administration initiative on immigration or corporate taxes.

But no such explanation materialized.

The most unusual deviation from a normal day at the White House was Obama’s dinner Monday night at Sam Kass’s home. The president, joined by deputy chief of staff Anita Breckenridge, spent nearly five hours at the White House chef’s Dupont Circle duplex apartment.

It’s possible that the party may have been a celebration of Kass’s impending nuptials to MSNBC host Alex Wagner. The couple announced their engagement last September. But the White House provided no details of the meal.

There better not have been cupcakes for dessert. Michelle would have been waiting by the door with a rolling pin.

In summary, while ISIS has been getting the caliphate band back together, Obama and his Merry Men (and underpaid women) have been gamboling in the sand and sea, downing lobster tails and vinagrette-d arugula, partying like Kennedys (though not driving like them), and generally behaving about as unseriously as a person could behave in the face of chaos and perfected evil.

No wonder “we don’t have a strategy yet.”

Comments (1)

« Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »