Monday, June 16, 2014

Forum: Should The U.S. intervene in Iraq?

Every week on Monday morning , the Council and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher's Forum, short takes on a major issue of the day, the culture, or daily living. This week's question
: Should The U.S. intervene in Iraq?

The Independent Sentinel: The U.S. must intervene in Iraq in a significant way. ISIS or ISIL will eventually attack the U.S. and they will attack Israel. Of that, there is no doubt.

United States intelligence intercepted a letter in 2005 written from Al-Zawahiri to the then-leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq. The letter outlined a four-stage plan to expand the war in Iraq: drive the Americans out, establish a caliphate in Bahgdad, use that base to attack other countries, and attack Israel –”because Israel was established only to challenge any new Islamic entity.”

Stage three is to attack us. The United States is in extreme and direct danger from ISIS.

They could have been stopped at the border if we had intervened in a timely manner or if we had a residual force in Iraq.

It's a very complicated matter. We are indirectly supporting these same people in Syria as they rampage through the country killing Christians - they are dispersed among the rebel forces and we are supplying them with arms and funds.

ISIS has joined up with moderate forces in Iraq. The moderates are people we would prefer not to alienate. They don't want Sharia law or an Islamic caliphate but they hate Maliki more. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

No matter what we do, we will be firing on people we claim to support, but the bottom line is that we can't let ISIS form an Islamic state.

Will President Obama do anything of any significance - unlikely. I hope I am proven wrong.

The Razor: Whenever a clear and present danger against our Republic materializes in that infernal sandpit, then yes we should intervene and crush it. But until that time arises, absolutely not.

 JoshuaPundit: No. Emphatically Hell No, with one possible exception.Send this guy:

Exactly what are we planning to accomplish there? The last time we got involved in Iraq, we took out a Sunni dictatorship that was the single counterpoint in the region to the Islamofacists in Iran and much to our allies in the region's dismay, we put in a Shi'ite dictatorship with major ties to Iran in its place. We allowed the wholesale ethnic cleansing of Iraq's Christians, sold out our only real allies in the region, the Kurds, and were finally able to extricate ourselves by bribing the Sunni chiefs in the Awakening Movement and lying to them about how Maliki was going to include them in his government as full and equal partners.

We lost over 4,400 U.S. troops there, spent at least a trillion dollars rebuilding their infrastructure, saved Iraq's oil wells for the Chinese and spent billions building them an army. We got absolutely nothing for it, not even simple gratitude. Anyone familiar with  the old saying about throwing good money after bad?

ISIS,whom President Obama and his team helped arm, fund and train is now facing off with Iranian forces. Are we now going to commit the U.S. military to fighting on the same side as Hezbollah, Iran's Revolutionary Guard, Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. the Badr Force and Basher Assad to keep an Iranian ally in power? And if we're going there, are we going to aid these same forces in Syria as well to help Assad out? Anyone care to explain that pretzel logic to me?

What's most likely going to happen here is a stalemate, now that the Iranians have come in. Baghdad will be the dividing line, and the Shi'ites will hold on to the Baghdad to Basra corridor and the southern oilfields while ISIS puts together its Sunni mini-caliphate in southern Syria and the rest of Iraq and the Kurds carve of the Kurdish areas of northeastern Iraq and eastern Syria just across the border as the independent Kurdistan they always should have had. In other words, an artificial country that never should have been one is dividing along its natural lines.

The bloodshed and horror will last for months, just as it has in Syria and there's absolutely no reason for us to get involved, although President Obama might be stupid enough to aid Iran and the Shi'ite bloc by doing so.It would be a huge  mistake, just as it was sheer idiocy for Obama to go into Libya to save al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood from Khaddaffi, to champion the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, to arm Islamists in Syria and to fund the terrorist alliance between Fatah and Hamas in 'Palestine'.

The last time the Sunnis and Shi'ites went to war in the Persian Gulf, there were a million casualties,  both sides were too busy to bother us and ended up substantially weakened.As the Dark Lord Dick Cheney wisely said, "it's a pity they can't both lose."

The majority of these countries are failed states, and most of them mean us no good. For that matter, there's a failed state just east of Afghanistan that we've bribed with billions of dollars. If the rationale is that we're going to knock off failed states with significant ties to Islamist terrorism just because, why not that one, which actually has an illegal nuclear weapons program already and has no love whatsoever for America? Obviously, playing that kind of  whack-a-mole is no strategy.

Our best bet (and hopefully this president will stumble into it through sheer incompetence) is to leave this strictly alone and let the two sides fight it out.

President Obama will not be able to do this at this point because no one in the region trusts him, but we would be far better off resetting our relationships with our allies in the region like Israel, Jordan and Egypt and synching their intel more with our own to monitor the situation.

Especially valuable (and again, President Obama would not be able to pull this off but we might try for it in the future) would be an alliance with the Kurds, who loved America because we protected them from Saddam during the no-fly-zone days and actually wanted us to put bases in their country until Bush 43 betrayed them. A strong independent Kurdistan would be a major U.S. asset, provided we could get win their trust again.

But another undeclared war with fuzzy objectives? No.

Liberty's Spirit: Should the US intervene in Iraq? In a review of the situation in Iraq you cannot look at it without looking at the Middle East as a whole. The effects of inaction in one sphere of the Moslem world has reverberations throughout the region.

The rise of ISIS can be directly connected to the Cairo speech that Obama gave shortly after coming to office. When he gave succor to the Moslem Brotherhood, Obama paved the way for the legitimization of radical Islamist organizations. By Obama turning his back on the consistent American allies in the Arab world (granted they were mostly tyrants and oligarchs) he let it be known throughout the region that the US would not step in to help its allies and that they in fact would support Islamists in their attempt to take over Arab governments. Without a history of democracy in the Arab world, the naive western support for the Arab Spring, which overthrew the longtime American allies, paved the way for the control by Islamists in the region. In truth, the Obama administration sees these Islamist groups as the true voice of the Arab people and an outgrowth of western imperialism and colonialism. In righting what the Obama administration sees as western domination of a third world people the Obama administration has facilitated the rise of the Islamo-fascists. I predicted everything that is happening now in the Middle East years ago, as well as outlining the ineptness of the Obama foreign policy worldwide.

Obama has botched everything about Iraq from the day he came into office. When Obama took office, there was a modicum of organization and the beginnings of a new Iraqi nation. However, Obama was so intent on leaving Iraq that he pulled our troops out without securing the gains made by our soldiers. Obama abandoned the people of Iraq to the duplicitous Maliki government and the evil that is Iran. He basically paved the way for a Shiite-Iran alliance which alienated the Sunni population in the country.

Then Obama's red-line in Syria was more of his machinations and complete inadequate understanding of the region. He allowed the Russians, who also join with Iran on the side of Assad, to come in and take over the "the good guy" position and lead the search for chemical weapons. (Of course, it has been proven to no thinking person's surprise, that Assad has not destroyed his weapons of mass destruction) Now, by the time Obama actually thought to do anything on the side of the opposition, ISIS was the formidable opposition to the Assad-Iran regime. At that point there was no way that it made any sense for the US to take the side against Assad. Obama had his way and decided to just let the Syrian civil war play out on its own.

ISIS as it gained strength in Syria decided to branch out and saw an opening into Iraq. That this is an on-going battle between Sunni and Shiite Islam is true. But there is more at stake right now for the entire world. You have ISIS, which is backed by Qatar and Saudi Arabia, versus the Shiite government of Maliki, which is backed by Iran. It is a power play for the control of the Moslem world and in the end control of the vast oil reserves in that region. (Meanwhile, the Obama administrations refusal to support oil and energy independence for the US in a logical manner, adds to our frightening dependence on this volatile region of the world).

That the US is reaching out to Iran for help to stop ISIS is not unforeseen. The Obama administration has been trying to normalize Iran since they came to office. They see Iran as a true player in Middle Eastern politics despite their human rights abuses and support for world wide terrorism. The Obama administration sees Iran as a needed ingredient to be a hedge against the State of Israel, who they see as the real impediment to any stabilization in the Middle East. The question is what exactly is the Obama administration giving Iran for their help in Iraq? Iran has already won the race toward a nuclear bomb, the issue is how else has the Obama administration endangered the entire world through their ineptness and ignorance when dealing with the Messianic cult that is in charge of Iran?

Yes, in many ways Obama is between a rock and a hard place. But it is one of his own making. Unfortunately his lack of ability to engender respect will lead to loosing the entire Middle East to any idea of democracy and freedom. Islamo-fascists are on the march, not only in the Middle East but in Europe, Asia and South America. They are coming here to the US, if their terror cells are not here already. They have promised that they will come after the US and the west. When people threaten your existence it is wise to listen. History no doubt, shows that Jimmy Carter by losing Iran facilitated the beginnings of the rise of Islamo-fascism. Meanwhile, history will show that Obama and his politically correct minions, caused a World War in the end so that we can preserve our own liberty and freedom.

Now as for what the US should do now? Whatever Obama does, it is too little too late. Bombing ISIS will only help the Iranian regime, but leaving ISIS will embolden Islamists. Arm twisting the Qataris and Saudis to pull their support for ISIS will not work. They have no fear of Obama and are terrified of Iran. Sadly, no matter who controls this region in the end it does not bode well for the future for anyone.

 The Glittering Eye: It's a tough call and I'm of mixed minds on it. Emotionally, I think we should since I think that under the circumstances which include invading their country and removing its government and not following through on post-withdrawal commitments we have a debt of honor. Rationally, I think we shouldn't if for no other reason than that I am predisposed against intervention.

What I really think should happen is a public discussion about our actual interests in Iraq and in the region with the intention of quantifying those interests as a method of producing a cost-benefit analysis.

As it is I think people are producing tactics without a strategy or objectives. Let's decide on the objectives first and then identify the tactics best-suited for accomplishing them.

GrEaT sAtAn"S gIrLfRiEnD:1st off, this ISIS gang is the Artist formerly known As al Qaeda. That alone is reason enough to rain destruction on them and any enablers, actualizers or sympathizers - the hurt feelings of Sunnis be danged.

44 says he's thinking it over

"The U.S. is not simply going to involve itself in a military action in the absence of a political plan by the Iraqis."

A political plan for Iraq is vital. Everything the administration has said about the sectarianism and mis-governance of Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki is true. Assistance to Iraq must include strong conditions to press Maliki to change his approach - or leave office.

Yet the Iraqis need vigorous and intelligent American involvement right now to prevent a stalemate that will leave ISIS in control of much of northern Iraq. That is an unacceptable outcome

We face a simple choice: We can either rejoin our demoralized Iraqi partners in the fight against ISIS or we can watch as this Al Qaeda franchise solidifies its control over several million Iraqis and Syrians, completes its plundering of military bases and continues to build up, train and equip an honest-to-goodness military.

Rejoining the fight means immediately sending air support; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets; air transportation; Special Operations forces; training teams; and more military equipment back into Iraq. It does not mean re-invading Iraq.

Immediately sending air support and Special Forces to Mosul might shock ISIS and embolden the population enough to rout the jihadis from the city. But if it does not, the Iraqi Security Forces may well prove unable to regain Mosul on their own.

In that case, a small contingent of U.S. ground forces would be required.

Friday 44 ruled out putting boots on the ground. He has consistently dismissed critics of his foreign policy as adventurers who want to invade everywhere Al Qaeda operates.

Cautiousness and deliberation are certainly warranted when contemplating re-entering a war, but delay risks allowing a key nation in the Middle East, one in which we've poured billions of dollars and thousands of lives, fall to violent Islamists.

The President no doubt has public opinion strongly on his side - especially since he has been leading the public to that side since before he first took office.

What are we to do as a country in which we have clear interests - preventing Al Qaeda from establishing a massive and wealthy safe-haven, stopping the evolution of a regional ethno-sectarian war, keeping Iran from establishing permanent forward military bases in Iraq - looks to be on the brink of falling to radical Islamists?

If the Iraqis cannot find a political solution quickly,is it better for the U.S. to allow all of this to happen? And are the odds of a political solution in Iraq increased or decreased by American inaction?

When America is passive in such cases, others fill the vacuum.

As we speak, the Iranians are trying to help the Iraqi Shi'a resist the ISIS advance. Reports indicate the deployment of hundreds of Qods Force troops to Iraq, and Tehran has threatened to conduct its own airstrikes in Iraq if militants come close to its border.

That advance will halt in any event once it reaches the Shi'a-dominated areas in and south of Baghdad.

Shi'a groups, including Moqtada al Sadr's militias, are already reforming in preparation for the full-scale sectarian war that is on its way.

Some may argue that we should align ourselves with Iran - that our interests and Tehran's coincide in Iraq. This is folly. The U.S. and Iran share a common concern about Al Qaeda, but our approaches to dealing with the problem are antithetical.

Turning the problem over to Iran is absolutely incompatible with the conditions for involving the U.S. at all that the President announced Friday. If we back Iran in Iraq, we're taking Iran's side against our Arab allies and aligning with the Shi'a against the Sunni. We should not be taking sides, particularly since Iran's approach is certain to lead to an expansion of sectarian war, providing a perennial recruiting masterpiece for Al Qaeda.

Relying on the Iraqis, with Iranian support, to beat back ISIS would have a predictable, almost inevitable, outcome: a transposition of the Syria conflict into Iraq - with Maliki in the role of Assad and ISIS playing, well, ISIS.

Under this scenario, Iraq would once again become another magnet for international jihadis, and the black-and-white ISIS banner will become the symbol not merely of Al Qaeda's most impressive military victory in history, but also of an actual Al Qaeda state.

Some would dispute this characterization, pointing to the vehement disagreements between ISIS and Ayman al Zawahiri, the head of Al Qaeda. Zawahiri, after all, partially expelled ISIS from the Al Qaeda movement.
Key to that disagreement is the argument about whether Al Qaeda affiliates should attempt to set up Islamic states now (ISIS says yes) or focus instead on the global jihad (Zawahiri's insistence). In fact, we should not be surprised if we soon hear claims that it is actually better for us that ISIS prevail in this competition, since it is "locally-focused."

Let us dispense with such sophistries at once. For all intents and purposes, ISIS is the Artist Formerly Known as Al Qaeda in Iraq. Whatever disagreements may fester at the moment, it is and remains part of the global Al Qaeda movement. The group continues to draw would-be jihadis from around the world, including the U.S. and Canada, to fight and die in Syria and Iraq. And it is about to become the most powerful and successful Al Qaeda franchise ever.

There is no way that such a development will be anything but disastrous for the U.S., even leaving aside the calamity that will flow from the full-scale regional and sectarian war that may already be underway.

There is, in fact, no end in sight for this war now, especially if we allow Iraq to go down. A policy of retreat and abandonment remains as it has always been the fastest road to endless war.

Ask Marion: Absolutely… the United States must intervene in Iraq. Otherwise all our young men and women that fought their so honorably, were wounded there, and died there did so in vane. And let us not forget the trillions we invested there.

And there is also a much bigger price to come if we don’t. If we allow this all-slaughter to continue, regardless of what crazy Nancy Pelosi says, that is our fault because President Obama did not listen to his generals and experts on the ground about the withdrawal, the Islamic Caliphate will have begun there, and will spread throughout the Middle East, after which the attacks on Israel, the United States and any non-Muslim countries will be endless.

We need to be launching targeted drones and dropping missiles as well as giving what is left of their leadership guidance… but no boots on the ground!

And people in the know need to be calling the big-three media outlets… ABC, CBS and NBC and their local papers and demanding that this news be covered for the low-informed to see and understand.

Bookworm Room : I’m of many, many minds on this. Assuming that we want to end the bloodshed there, I would intervene only if we had a different (by which I really mean “better”) president. Things will not get better for America or for the Iraqis if we go in with an Obama led fighting force.

Obama doesn’t think in terms of victory or of the safety and well-being of American troops. He thinks in terms of political gamesmanship and the ugliness that is American military might. If he a new invasion, he’d piddle a few bombs here, order a few drones there, and watch a few hundred troops die somewhere else (then convening a panel to prove that the troops provoked their own demise). Then he’d declare we’d achieved some bean-counter’s goal and pull out.

Of course, if we had a better president, we wouldn’t be in this predicament in the first place. American wouldn’t be a paper tiger (or a paper clown). She’d be a world presence whose word meant something, and whose gravitas would keep at least some evil at bay.

And by better president, I do not mean another Dubya iteration. Dubya too never really understand that we’re fighting an enemy so evil it’s almost impossible to comprehend. Dubya thought in terms of a global calculus — bring democracy and we’ll have peace. It didn’t seem to occur to him that Islam and democracy do not coexist in the same temporal and spatial universe.

But really, should we intervene? Iran is now threatening to get involved, which takes me back to the glorious 1980s when Iran and Iraq were so busy killing each other, they had little time to kill anybody else.

Right now, Syria is an appalling blood bath. There are no good guys. Two armies of unspeakable evil are facing off against each other. The only innocents, and the only ones for whom I mourn, are the children and those helpless women — not the “black widows” or “martyred mamas” — who have been sucked into this morass through the sheer bad luck of being part of these toxic cultures.

The more the bad guys kill each other in Syria, the better for us. The same might hold true for Iraq. If it becomes another Shia/Sunni fight to the death, the only thing that I’ll mourn in addition to those poor women and children are the American troops who died, or who were wounded other otherwise suffered in a long war that might have been victorious if one president hadn’t done the “gentlemanly” thing and thrown it away to another president who did nothing at all.

  Well, there you have it.

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Anonymous said...

No. Keep out of it. Last time so many were killed for nothing. It will happen again and these people will just start up again the minute the troops pull out. It will be a vicious war of beheadings please don't send any soldiers over there to help, let them fight it out themselves.

B.Poster said...

Truly the best bet would to stay out of this one and allow two groups of bitter enemies to fight it out. Since Middle Eastern oil may not be as abundant, we are already beginning to see price increases, our top economic priority needs to be developing all of our own oil and gas supplies. The benefits to our national security by doing this would be so phenominal its hard to even know where to begin.

We were barely able to extricate ourselves from Iraq with a face defeat in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The first thought is why on earth would we want to go back in?

To use an analogy, a man and some of friends foolishly get into a bar room fight with stronger men who outnumber them. They manage to extricate themselves with a few bruises and a few broken bones that can be healed in time. After they've gotten out, one of the men discovers some money is missing from his wallet. It seems highly unlikely the men are going to go back into the bar at this point to try and retrieve the money. Instead they are going to thank whatever god or gods they believe in or their lucky stars or whatever that they escaped alive and without permanent injury!! The same analogy applies to America and Iraq. It'd be foolhardy in the extreme to go back in.

Additionally, since this America has continued to run its military into the ground with even more foolhardy and fruitless operations since it managed to extricate itself from Iraq, it risks permanent injury assuming injuries have not already been suffered. It's military is badly worn down to the breaking point right now. This is even more reason to say out of this.

Nevertheless there may be a situation within a VERY stringent set of circumstances that may warrant our military involvement. Time permitting I will post this later.

B.Poster said...

There may be a very stringent set of circumstances that might warrant a US intervention in the Iraqi Civil War or whatever one wishes to call it. Several steps would need to be taken. 1.)We would need to identify which side to support. Will it be ISIS or Iran? Since Iraq is a de facto colony of Iran, there is no Iraqi government per say. We've worked with disreputable nations and individuals before when we had a common problem. We could do so again.

Either ISIS or Iran are a greater threat to America than enemies of old such as Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan ever were or ever could have been. Which one is the greater threat? Is it ISIS the Al Qaeda off shoot who has threatened genocide against the American people or is it Iran who has also threatened genocide against the American people? Remember Al Qaeda attacked the US mainland. Iran has not yet.

For the sake of argument, assume it is decided ISIS is the greater threat. Can we trust the leadership to make the proper analysis? The answer to this is an emphatic no!! Therefore we stop right here. Intervention is a no go. If I'm in US leadership, I know that I can rely on NOTHING our intel services provide me with.

However, for the sake of argument, we can trust American leadership to make the right decisions and they do have access to good intelligence on this. Can we actually make a difference? The answer here is an emphatic no. ISIS has captured and held territory faster than the American military could have. Also, our military is badly depleted from continuing operations over the last almost thirteen years. Besides Iran counts as allies, Russia and China, the world's two most powerful militaries.

Again for the sake of argument, assuming we could make a difference can we prevent any weapons or training we might provide from being used against us in the future? The answer to this is an emphatic no.

Assuming we could prevent these weapons and training from being used against us will it actually make a difference? The weapons might help but not so much the training. ISIS has moved faster and captured territory faster than the US military could have. It seems obvious there is little we could provide in the way of training or leadership.

Assuming somehow all of these questions could be answered affirmatively, which not a single one of them can, we'd need to decide on an objective. If we are to attack ISIS, can we defeat it? With Iranian, Russian, and Chinese help we probably could. The goal in this operation should be to obliterate ISIS, it's leadership, and it's fighting ability so that it cannot rise again.

If we are to attack Iran, at this point, we probably cannot get past the Iranian air defenses to launch a successful attack. Even if we could, Russia and China will get involved, as they are not about to allow their Iranian ally to be overrun. In such an operation, the goal should be the elimination of Iran's war fighting capability to the point that it can never threaten us again or have any means to carry out its threat of genocide against us. To do so will require getting the Russians and the Chinese to say out of it. I have ideas on how this could be done but this beyond the scope of this topic.

In sum, military engagements should only be fought when the objective is the complete and total defeat of the enemy. To often we use them as a means to try and achieve a better position when it comes time to negotiate.

Essentially there is no American interest that can be served by getting involved in Iraq in the current situation. Smart actions would mean staying out of this. Unfortunately the US government is not smart right now. After all these are the people who foolishly bumbled their way into the Russia/Ukraine crisis. As a certain celebrity once said, "stupid is as stupid does." Perhaps, as you've said, they will figure this out and stay out of it by coming to the proper conclusion through sheer incompetence.