Streetwise Professor

August 19, 2014

Heckuva JV There, Barry: The Consequences of an Alfred E. Neuman Foreign Policy

Filed under: History,Military,Politics — The Professor @ 7:50 pm

Back in January, on a TV interview, naturally, Obama denigrated ISIS as the junior varsity. Even after ISIS ran amok in Iraq and Syria in June, the administration (or I should say Obama, because we know from many sources that he often completely disregards the recommendations of the Pentagon, intelligence community, and State Department) decided to abjure from taking action against the terrorist group, apparently out of pique at Maliki and the dysfunctions of the Iraqi government. That’ll learn ’em, Barry apparently believed.

So here we are. ISIS has secured a foothold over an area the size of Jordan. What’s more, although its brutality (more on this below) is extreme, it has apparently enough sense and state building capacity to “combine the fighting capabilities of al Qaeda with the administrative capabilities of Hezbollah.” Thus, the hopes that its extreme brutality would lead to its overthrow are likely to be just another self-delusion by the Smart People in High Places.

Great. I hope they keep the varsity on the bench. Otherwise we’d really be screwed. (Or more accurately, everyone in Iraq, Syria, and bordering states would be truly screwed.)

Recall that the administration mulishly held to the position that it had correctly prioritized Islamist groups, and in particular held out Al Qaeda on the Arab Peninsula as far more of a threat to the US than ISIS. And actions spoke louder than words. Obama has been droning the crap out of AQAP for years, while he has held aloof from doing anything against ISIS.

Well wouldn’t you know, AQAP has come out and declared its solidarity with ISIS, and it seems the they are coordinating to a considerable degree.  Key quote:

Many observers note that AQAP and ISIL are using similar tactics and are exchanging strategy and advice.

Which would seem to totally smash to pieces Obama’s justification for drawing a distinction between the two groups.

As if to emphasize its bestiality and opposition to the US, today ISIS slaughtered an American reporter, James Foley. Per usual jihadi fashion, they filmed the heinous act, and distributed via social media along with a declaration that this was revenge for the US attacks on the group in Iraq.

This is the kind of evil bastards we are dealing with. The kind of evil bastards that our inattention permitted to flourish. Which makes it our responsibility to extirpate them.

Note that the voice on the video of Foley’s ritual killing has been identified as a Londoner. There are clearly many others in the group that hail from England and other western countries, including almost certainly Americans. The most serious fear since 9/12/2001 has been terrorists with western passports who can commit terrorism more readily than Middle Eastern natives.

But I am sure this is just the JV. So what, me worry?

To give some credit, Obama has loosened the leash on American airpower against ISIS. I deliberately didn’t say “unleashed”, because the air strikes have been extremely limited.

But even given the limited nature of the attacks, they have had an effect on the battlefield. So why not crank it up to 11? Moderation in war is idiocy, especially when fighting the extreme of the extreme, like ISIS. They have demonstrated that their ambitions are anything but regional, and that it is foolish (not to mention callous and amoral) to rely on their self-destruction and being thrown back by those whom they oppress.

The butchering of Foley should only demonstrate the folly of exquisitely calibrated (in Obama’s mind, anyways) use of force. They’ll kill for a ha’penny, never mind a pound. The price (in life, anyways) that Americans pay is unlikely to depend, in the slightest on the number of bombs we drop: nothing short of abject surrender will satisfy ISIS (and even that is unlikely to sate their blood lust). So since they’ve decided to go all medieval on us, and anyone less extreme than they, let’s go all modern on them and see how that works out for them.

ISIS is already whining about the unfairness of our air campaign. We should show them what unfair is really all about. Hit hard, hit fast, hit often (to quote Halsey), and get it over with quickly. I really cannot fathom why Obama would, at this juncture, consider any other alternative.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. There is only so many goat farms you can blow up before you run out of targets. Central Command will blow up every American piece of equipment that was transferred to the Iraqi Army and subsequently lost because of the total incompetence of all nominal US allies in the region and then what? If Israel cant stamp out Hamas then what hope even a George W shoot now, shoot later, shoot some more policy would accomplish? Obama is right, until the Shiites and the Kurds get their heads out of their asses and start fighting like the Ukrainians all that air strikes will do is temporarily drive ISIS underground. America has always picked the worst Middle Eastern Allies and it shows. ISIS even after it routed the Iraqi Army had basically Toyota Trucks with bolted on guns, some Humwees and some Soviet Era APCs and T-55s. On paper the Iraqi Army should have destroyed them utterly. Or even the Kurds. Instead both groups sit back and whine, preserving their true strength because they know the Americans will eventually be dragged into this mess again. Note how quickly the Kurds recaptured Mosul Dam, this is after Central Command explicitly listed the number of targets it destroyed: 5 towed artillery guns and 17 Toyota trucks. Thats it, that mighty force was that what was standing between Mosul and the Kurds or Iraqis.

    A better deal would be simple. US give arms to Ukrainian troops, and in return after liberating Eastern Ukraine the UA will move in and show the cowards and thieves of Middle East how adults fight.

    Comment by d — August 19, 2014 @ 10:02 pm

  2. If Israel cant stamp out Hamas…

    Israel CAN INDEED stamp out HAMAS if it had free reign and no fear that her allies in the West would economically isolate her.
    Israel can do the job but the “Global Community” must PREVENT Israel from “WINNING”.
    If the West REALLY understood what is at stake here, they would let Israel finish off the HAMAS even at the cost of 5,000 Paleostinians and 200 IDF casualties…

    Comment by Talons of Judah — August 19, 2014 @ 11:59 pm

  3. SWP,Rather than hitting hard, Obama could take a play from Reagan’s reaction after the Beirut bombing. Pull out all troops in middle east. It is a hopeless place for rule of law. Don’t show American weakness (Obama’s specialty), but instead American strength to focus only on a small number of vital interests. Hopefully Obama could focus his eyes on Putin, and let the muslims slug it out.

    Comment by scott — August 20, 2014 @ 4:24 am

  4. The premise of almost all the ISIS and AQAP types is that the west is week, that 7th century gnostic drivellings are the future and that since god is on ones side one CANNOT lose. We will never be rid of this – HOWEVER – the way to control this is to kill them – as many a you can find – and punish their enablers on a regular basis. Do it consistently and brutally.

    A little history: Arabs raided the English coast as late as the early 18th century. Until the Napoleonic invasion of Egypt most in the Middle east had no idea how backward they were (the Turks knew but kept it to themselves). This was a shock, the reverberations of which we live with today. Arab socialism, (Nasser) Ba’athist (Nazi) and the Communist parties were all a reaction to the “failure” of political Islam. In a way they were the substitution of one brand of magical thinking for another, while the oil fueled wealth gave the fundamentalists a whole new source of propaganda, both as to the weakness of the west and its brutal viscous Crusading in Iraq. Inconsistencies like this are not a problem in religious/political movements.

    Remember it was the Islamists view that they alone had defeated the Soviet Union, and that one attack would destroy the US. hence 911. Any pullout is a retreat where they have won and defeated the weakened enemy: any loss is justification that the enemy must be destroyed.

    The only way to combat this is to destroy them whenever they raise their heads, while giving them an out -so called peaceful Islam, say a form of Sufi. the critical part is Cutter and SA – cut their funding sources by making a series of subtle but existential threats to them. As to the International community, well……….

    The insistence of the so called International community to refuse to see the struggle from the enemies’ perspective, that is imposing their own ideological preferences of multiculturalism “popular” movements and the rights of “Peoples” (as Nazi a sentiment as can ever be found), does little more than encourage resistance and weaken our response. The main battle to be fought is thus not with Islamists but with the muddleheaded racist “Progressives” who impose their own ideology on everyone else.

    Ironically, this is probably the most racist or at least intolerant thinking since the demise of south Africa and the CCCP.

    Comment by Sotos — August 20, 2014 @ 7:13 am

  5. Vice News Embeds With the Islamic State
    19 August 2014 Michael J Totten

    I’ve just returned from a very brief summer vacation in a remote part of the Pacific Northwest without cell phone coverage or Internet access, so I’m a bit behind on what’s happening in the world. While I’m catching up, take a look at Vice magazine’s five-part documentary on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
    I don’t know how they did it, but they somehow got permission to embed a team of reporters with IS in both Syria and Iraq. There is no chance I would ever trust these people with my life and my safety, but the team got in and out okay and what they came back with is extraordinary.

    The Islamic State is a deadly serious army with delusional global ambitions. Someone will have to defeat it with force, and it won’t be one of the local armed forces. Not any time soon. I’m sorry to say this, but if you watch Vice magazine’s documentary I doubt you’ll come to any other conclusion.

    Comment by Peter M Todebush — August 20, 2014 @ 7:52 am

  6. @ Peter – The nature of fanatics is to be deadly serious. That is why we should make them dead.

    Comment by Sotos — August 20, 2014 @ 8:22 am

  7. Slightly off topic (but possibly on topic)…why did Obama leave his Martha Vineyard 15-day vacation extravaganza to return to Washington? I don’t think there has been enough attention to this. His long-established MO is to vacation, party/fundraiser (they are parties)/golf. Rinse, repeat. Now he breaks off a 15-day vacation? He left for a fundraiser while Benghazi was still smoking. This little trip should raise eyebrows. Doesn’t the power of the President travel with him? Why does he have to travel back to DC? Of course, taking his daughter with him is a cover in case there are any questions, which was never likely given the groveling palace guard-obsequious press. Now I understand that Cameron has returned early from a vacation. What is this all about?

    Comment by Richard Whitney — August 20, 2014 @ 9:17 am

  8. @Peter-welcome back to civilization. Maybe it’s not so welcoming 😛

    I’ve seen the Vice series. I agree with you 100 percent.

    The disturbing thing is that people with far better information about ISIS than Vice have rationalized that it is not a deadly serious army with delusional global ambitions, as you put it so well, and that it does not have to be defeated, least of all by the US.

    I thought Obama could do nothing to shock me, but I was wrong. His mail-it-in statement about the butchering of Foley, followed by a trip to the links, astounded even me. It’s like he did it deliberately, just to show that he will not do anything that might validate the criticisms of his abdication of his responsibilities. The mind boggles.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — August 20, 2014 @ 4:15 pm

  9. What was Obama’s score on the links? Gotta be better than his score in the desert.

    Comment by scott — August 21, 2014 @ 4:17 am

  10. “This is the kind of evil bastards we are dealing with. The kind of evil bastards that Saddam kept out of Iraq, that Qadaffi kept jailed in Libya, and the Assad family repeatedly crushed in Syria, until warmongering neocons/neolibs, a bipartisan affliction in the USA, decided to turn loose by attacking those who were keeping them down.”

    There, fixed that for you.

    You’re welcome.

    Comment by PailiP — August 23, 2014 @ 11:11 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress