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Author Topic: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR  (Read 77210 times)
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #550 on: February 05, 2015, 11:40:46 PM »



http://uk.businessinsider.com/king-abduallh-of-jordan-is-a-total-badass-2015-2?r=US
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G M
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« Reply #551 on: February 06, 2015, 04:57:40 AM »


Who knew that by Obama's second term, we'd look at a King named Abdullah as a better option?
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #552 on: February 06, 2015, 06:23:24 PM »

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/02/06/isis-barbarians-face-their-own-internal-reign-of-terror.html
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #553 on: February 07, 2015, 03:18:38 AM »


http://www.nationalreview.com/article/398019/isiss-barbarism-has-logic-charles-krauthammer

Note his comments about Baraq choosing Iran over Turkey.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2015, 03:21:04 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
ccp
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« Reply #554 on: February 07, 2015, 11:00:51 AM »

"Obama eschews Turkey, our most formidable potential ally against both the Islamic State and Assad."

Yes but Turkey is also under leadership that makes threats Israel routinely.

"But even they are mortified by Obama’s blind pursuit of détente with Tehran, which would make the mullahs hegemonic over the Arab Middle East. Hence the Arabs, the Saudis especially, hold back from any major military commitment to us."

Does anyone blame them?  The US has proven time and again they will abandon allies for political expediency.

O has thrown Israel to the wolfs.  He boosts up Iran knowing full well it's existential threat to Israel all for his political agenda.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #555 on: February 09, 2015, 01:03:27 PM »

The Lebanese army received on Sunday a shipment of heavy weaponry and ammunition from the United States. According to a report in the An-Nahar Lebanese daily, a ship carrying more than 70 American-made heavy guns docked at the port of Beirut. The weapons are reportedly intended to help the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) fight Islamist organizations who are attempting to infiltrate Lebanese territory from Syria. There is little doubt that many of these weapons will eventually end up in the hands of Hezbollah, a terrorist organization threatening Israel with destruction. A separate report on the IHS Jane's news site said the LAF has already received a shipment of M109 155 mm/37 caliber howitzers, which would provide it with a significant boost to its artillery capabilities. "The Lebanese military received 72 M198 power supply (howitzers), and more than 25 million rounds of artillery, mortar and rifle ammunition," the official said on condition of anonymity. The LAF "received about a dozen M109s supplied by Jordan via a third party transfer," the US embassy in Beirut told IHS Jane's. The howitzers were delivered in late January. An AFP photographer at the Beirut port also saw several Humvees, howitzers, ammunition containers and other military vehicles arriving.

In a statement, the US embassy said the aid is worth $25 million, adding that the 26 million rounds of ammunition included small, medium and heavy artillery rounds. "Support for the (Lebanese military) remains a top priority for the United States. Recent attacks against Lebanon's army only strengthen America's resolve to stand in solidarity with the people of Lebanon to confront these threats," said the embassy. It added: "The United States is providing top of the line weapons to the (Lebanese army) to help Lebanon's brave soldiers in their confrontation with the terrorists." The deal comes as Beirut faces a growing jihadist threat on its border with Syria. More than a million refugees have fled the war in Syria by escaping to Lebanon, according to figures from the United Nations. In September, France and Saudi Arabia signed a $3 billion arms deal for Lebanon, the Elysee Palace said following talks between President Francois Hollande and the Saudi crown prince. "We have come together, Saudi Arabia and France, to help Lebanon on the condition that it also helps itself, for its own security," Hollande added, without commenting directly on the joint contract. The French weapons are scheduled to arrive in Lebanon in early April, the French foreign minister's office said.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #556 on: February 10, 2015, 10:54:41 AM »

Middle East: The United Arab Emirates restarted its air campaign against the Islamic State, launching airstrikes from a base in Jordan Tuesday morning. American officials said that the UAE -- one of the most prominent members of the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State -- had halted strikes in December. The successful resumption of strikes was announced by the Emirates' state news agency, though it did not specify whether the airstrikes occurred in Iraq or Syria.
 
The deployment of Emirati F-16s to Jordan was announced over the weekend, in a show of solidarity after the brutal execution of Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh. The UAE had suspended its air campaign after Kasasbeh's plane was shot down, though it continued to provide logistical support. American search-and-rescue aircraft have since been moved closer to the battlefield to alleviate allies concerns about the safety of their pilots.
 
The decision to send aircraft to Jordan was motivated by "deep belief in the need for Arab collective cooperation to eliminate terrorism," according to UAE state media. Jordan announced that it carried out 56 airstrikes against the Islamic State between Thursday and Sunday, as part of the "earth-shattering" response it vowed after the murder of Kasasbeh.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #557 on: February 14, 2015, 11:40:52 AM »

Spook note: This came to me from an outspoken supporter of Israel. With that said, it does portray the murdered Ms. Mueller in a role much different than that portrayed in the mainstream US media. What id the truth? Does anybody give a damn? I wonder...sad
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Before you shed too many tears for this latest victim of jihad, read this.
I guess we'll have to wait patiently for the inevitable stage play and motion picture about the "heroic Kayla Mueller"!

Subject: Kayla Mueller - Karma's a bitch for jihadi sympathizers
Kayla Mueller was a member of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) who spent at least two years working with that terrorist support group. She was involved in demonstrations against the Jews in Sheikh Jarrah (part of East Jerusalem) after a 20 year long court decision recognized the Jews' legal rights to homes they were chased from in earlier wars launched by the Arabs. She also participated in demonstrations to interfere with the IDF demolishing the homes of terrorists and suicide bombers after the courts okayed the demolitions.
 
Just as with Rachel Corrie, the press tries to paint Kayla as a selfless volunteer helping poor Arab refugees. She may have helped injured Arabs in "refugee" camps, but she was working to support the goals of Palestinian irredentists and to interfere with the IDF on behalf of terrorist groups.
 
As an ISM activist she was a tool for the worldwide jihad.
 
A letter she wrote which appears on the ISM’s website describes the usual ISM claims of atrocities that never occurred, but were fabrications worthy of Pallywood.
 
First, she lived and rioted with other ISM activists with an Arab family that refused to vacate a home they were squatting in after a legal case that took 20 years established it was stolen from the Jewish owners.
 
She wrote propaganda letters for the ISM website:
 
“Just the next year in 2009 Ashraf’s brother, Bassem Abu Rahma, was participating in the demonstration and was attempting to communicate with the IDF soldiers telling them to stop shooting the steel-coated rubber bullets as an Israeli activist had been shot in the leg and needed medical attention. Not soon after an Israeli soldier illegally used a tear gas canister as a bullet hitting Bassem in the chest, stopping his heart and killing him instantly,” she wrote.
 
Of course, the Arab propaganda rag Al Jazeera told the story that way. This really occurred during one of the weekly riots in Bi’ilin in the West Bank where the Arabs demonstrate “nonviolently” by throwing rocks at the IDF soldiers as well as incendiaries. Kayla was there with the ISM to participate. Kayla admitted to being present at the weekly riots.
 
She was also a human shield in support of terrorists. She wrote:
 
 “I could tell a few stories about sleeping in front of half demolished buildings waiting for the one night when the bulldozers come to finish them off; fearing sleep because you don’t know what could wake you. . . . I could tell a few stories about walking children home from school because settlers next door are keen to throw stones, threaten and curse at them. Seeing the honest fear in young boys eyes when heavily armed settlers arise from the outpost; pure fear, frozen from further steps, lip trembling.”
 
Most Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria are religious Jews. Many are professionals who wish to lead quiet family lives. They do not generally engage in violence, except for an aberrant few who sometimes engage in non-life threatening vandalism and are severely castigated by the rest. The ISM hit on a strategy of accusing the Jews in the 'West Bank' of what the Arabs do continually to Jews: throw stones, attack school children, destroy produce etc.
 
Another ISM strategy is to try and disable Israeli security tactics. One of the newer ones is to try and suggest that when the IDF uses tear gas to avoid lethality in controlling weekly Arab rioters, the gas is really deadly and must be stopped altogether. The real reason for this inversion about tear gas is the Palestinians and their ISM lackeys hope they can make it impossible for the IDF to control the weekly riots such as in Bi’ilin, riots Kayla was a part of.

“The smell and taste of tear gas has lodged itself in the pores of my throat and the skin around my nose, mouth and eyes,” she wrote. “It still burns when I close them. It still hangs in the air like invisible fire burning the oxygen I breathe. When I cry tears for this land, my eyes still sting. This land that is beautiful as the poetry of the mystics.
 
This land with the people who’s (sic) hearts are more expansive than any wall that any man could ever build. Yes, the wall will fall. The nature of impermanence is our greatest ally and soon the rules will change, the tide will turn and just as the moon waxes and wanes over this land so too the cycles of life here will continue. One day the cycle will once again return to freedom.”
 
Freedom? For whom? Another Arab dictatorship. Arabs who are Israeli citizens are free, but Kayla wanted the "free" Palestinian-state-to-be from the “river to the sea” as a good ISM activist. Her writings suggest the classical thought processes of pampered American student “radicals” and “revolutionaries” who can’t get enough of supporting dictatorships and terrorists overseas as liberation movements, the complete opposite of what they are.
 
“Oppression greets us from all angles”, she wrote. “Oppression wails from the soldiers radio and floats through tear gas clouds in the air. Oppression explodes with every sound bomb and sinks deeper into the heart of the mother who has lost her son. But resistance is nestled in the cracks in the wall, resistance flows from the minaret 5 times a day and resistance sits quietly in jail knowing its time will come again. Resistance lives in the grieving mother’s wails and resistance lives in the anger at the lies broadcasted across the globe. Though it is sometimes hard to see and even harder sometimes to harbor, resistance lives. Do not be fooled, resistance lives,”  Kayla concluded in her letter.
 
This certainly doesn’t sound like a tireless “aid worker”. Instead, it connotes a supporter of Palestinian Arab terrorist groups. Her praise of the muezzin calls and “resistance” suggests she’s on the side of the worldwide jihad, not viewing all human beings, even Jews, as having the same rights.
 
Kayla Meuller made it clear she was involved in the weekly riots in Bi’ilin. She wrote of Arabs who died at the hands of the IDF, due to non lethal tear gas usage as if that resulted in several members of the same family who she roomed with dying. Rachel Corrie did the same thing, creating a story for the ISM of protecting an Arab family from IDF bulldozers. One family daughter Kayla guested with died in her own home, not at a demonstration. The fact was the woman was very ill, with leukemia and other internal infections. As in good ISM tactics, her corpse then became another propaganda tool. But like any good ISM activist, Kayla Mueller didn’t let this stand in the way of her propaganda letter home:
 
“And now just today, the daughter of the Rahmah family, Jawaher, has been asphyxiated from tear gas inhalation. Jawaher was not even participating in the weekly demonstration but was in her home approximately 500 meters away from where the tear gas canisters were being fired (by wind the tear gas reaches the village and even the nearby illegal settlement often). There is currently little information as to how she suffocated but the doctor that attended her said a mixture of the tear gas from the IDF soldiers and phosphorus poisoned her lungs causing asphyxiation, the stopping of the heart and death this afternoon after fighting for her life last night in the hospital. The following is a clip from today showing hundreds of Palestinians, Israelis and international activist carrying her body to her families (sic) home where they said their final goodbyes.”
 
The IDF doesn’t use phosphorous in the West Bank. The ISM always claims it does. It’s good for propaganda.
“This family has a tragic story, but it is the story of life in Palestine. Thank you for reading. Ask me questions and ask yourself questions but most importantly, question the answers. Forever in solidarity, Kayla”, she concluded.
Kayla Mueller came from Prescott, Arizona where she once volunteered at a women’s shelter. Instead of continuing to help those who needed it in America, she chose to take the ISM’s revolutionary path and to embrace part of the worldwide jihad and she died for it, tragically. But she was no true altruist. She sought “freedom” working to support fascist groups that provide just the opposite for their people and she paid the ultimate price for that choice.
 
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #558 on: February 14, 2015, 03:46:43 PM »

second post

A major offensive by the Syrian army in its southern front, in cooperation with Hezbollah and Iranian elements, continued on Fridat, not far from Israel's Golan Heights border. Mere days after the start of the operation, the Syrian Armed Forces declared on Wednesday night that they had made significant achievements in the bloody land battles. So far, Assad's soldiers, aided by Hassan Nasrallah's Hezbollah fighters, successfully retook three towns in the strategic triangle that lies between the Damascus suburbs, Quneitra suburbs, and Daraa suburbs. These include the villages of Deir al-Adas, Al Dnaj, and Deir Makas, in addition to a number of strategic hills, as seen in the map. Media outlets associated with Assad and Nasrallah have been following events on the front very closely, broadcasting videos of land battles accompanied by heavy artillery, as well as the loot purportedly found in conquered areas. Hezbollah's Al Manar network claimed on Wednesday that they had found Ameriacn and Israeli equipment and weaponry alongside an Emirati aid package. Meanwhile, the media outlets have attempted to convey a sense of panic on the part of the rebels and local residents. Among other things, they reported attempts by rebels to reach an agreement with Assad's forces in the face of defeat. The rebels have tried to limit the damage, claiming that the areas taken by Assad's forces with the help of Hezbollah and Iran are insignificant. A look at the operation's targets reveals the army's hopes to drive the rebels and al-Nusra front further away from Damascus and its suburbs. They also seek to prevent the rebels in Quneitra and Daraa, who have over the last four years nearly become a united force, from linking up. The army further feels the need to regain control over the area adjacent to the Israeil border and the Quneitra crossing in particular.
Watch Here
The Asharq Alawsat newspaper reported on Thursday morning that a field commander quoted on Syrian national television said: "The military operation launched by the Syrian army in the south continues under the leadership of Syrian President Bashar Assad and in cooperation with the axis of resistance – Hezbollah and Iran." The Al Mayadeen network has begun referring to the "Syrian army and the resistance" as a single force when referring to the onslaught. Commentators linked to Hezbollah have also been openly admitting that the operation is by the "axis of resistance" and not just the Syrian army. The most senior is Ibrahim al-Amin, editor of the pro-Hezbollah daily Al Akhbar, who related on Wednesday that the so-called axis already decided to begin the operation to retake southern Syria before the airstrike attributed to Israel. "The decision to prevent southern Syria from falling into the hands of Israel's collaborators is more strategic than any other," he said, "and is equally as important as the decision to prevent Damascus from falling to these same collaborators. "The decision was made to allocate everything required to make this decision a reality, and everything required in case of escalation of any kind, direct or indirect, that could occur in the region, including the possibility Israel's involvement in further aggressive actions." Military expect and strategist Amin Hatit, known to be close to Hezbollah, told Asharq Alaswat Thursday morning that "the Golan front currently serves as an example of the first battlefront in which the three components of the axis of resistance (Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah) are operating. The axis is currently testing its capability for joint military action in the field, and it appears that the initial results surpass all expectations. Within 48 hours, goals were achieved for which ten days were allocated." Hatit explained that the operation has four strategic goals: "The first is to prevent the Israeli buffer zone protected by al-Nusra Front. The second is to consolidate the defense around Damascus. The third is directly related to the resistance in Lebanon, which is trying to prevent the opening of a southeastern front (near the Lebanese border), which would exhaust it and involve it in a war of attrition. The fourth goal is to block the American plan to open a war against Syria using the Jordanian option." Meanwhile, in light of the danger posed by the Islamic State group, the Lebanese army – together with Hezbollah – is expected to soon launch a wide-ranging security operation to prevent its advance.
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ccp
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« Reply #559 on: February 14, 2015, 08:40:06 PM »

"Karma's a bitch for jihadi sympathizers"

Interesting insight into the motives of this young girl.  One wonders what someone like her is doing in a war zone.   I mean really.  What could one young lady do that is going to help anyone?

There is some romantic allure of being a "revolutionary".   I noticed this when reading about Stalin and Lenin in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  They think of themselves as gallant like movie actors fighting evil.

God and earthly devils only know what became of her.  And near her own end she must have wished she stayed in Arizona.   

Perhaps I read too much into this but it is interesting that Obama would send a few ground troops in harms way after HER death and not previous ones.

Taking up the Palestinian chant that they are oppressed by Jews is something he clearly believes in as did she.
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G M
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« Reply #560 on: February 15, 2015, 10:43:24 AM »

I am reminded of the zen parable of the scorpion and the frog.
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ccp
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« Reply #561 on: February 15, 2015, 11:22:44 AM »

"I am reminded of the zen parable of the scorpion and the frog"

GM,

Would you explain?  I am not familiar with this.
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G M
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« Reply #562 on: February 15, 2015, 11:36:25 AM »

http://zen-story.blogspot.com/2010/10/frog-and-scorpion.html
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ccp
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« Reply #563 on: February 15, 2015, 12:11:35 PM »

Still one question.  Who is the scorpion?   The Jihadists or Obama?
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G M
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« Reply #564 on: February 15, 2015, 01:28:52 PM »

Still one question.  Who is the scorpion?   The Jihadists or Obama?

I think either applies.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #565 on: February 18, 2015, 09:14:40 AM »

http://news.yahoo.com/battle-kobane-us-crews-recount-heavy-bombing-075326579.html
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objectivist1
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« Reply #566 on: February 19, 2015, 06:49:34 AM »

Obama’s ISIS Strategy Is Even Worse Than You Think

Posted By Daniel Greenfield On February 19, 2015 @ frontpagemag.com

“We can not win this war by killing them,” Marie Harf said on MSNBC.

Reversing thousands of years of battlefield experience in which wars were won  by “killing them,” the State Department spokeswoman argued that you can’t defeat ISIS by killing its fighters.

“We can not kill our way out of this war,” she said. “We need in the medium and longer term to go after the root causes that lead people to join these groups, whether it is lack of opportunity for jobs.”

War is one of the few things in life we can reliably kill our way out of. The United States has had a great track record of killing our way out of wars. We killed our way out of WW1. We killed our way out of WW2. The problem began when we stopped trying to kill our way out of wars and started trying to hug our way out of wars instead. Progressive academics added war to economics, terrorism and the climate in the list of subjects they did not understand and wanted to make certain that no one else was allowed to understand. Because the solution to war is so obvious that no progressive could possibly think of it.

Harf’s argument is a familiar one. There was a time when progressive reformers had convinced politicians that we couldn’t arrest, shoot, imprison or execute our way out of crime.

We couldn’t stop crime by fighting crime. Instead the root causes of crime had to be addressed. The police became social workers and criminals overran entire cities. The public demanded action and a new wave of mayors got tough on crime. While the sociologists, social workers, activists and bleeding hearts wailed that it wouldn’t work, surprisingly locking up criminals did stop them from committing crimes.

It was a revelation almost as surprising as realizing that it does take a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun. Addressing root causes won’t stop a killing spree in progress. (That’s another one of those things we can and do kill our way out of.)

But bad ideas are harder to kill than bad people. And stupid ideas are the hardest ideas of all to kill.

The same plan that failed to stop street gangs and drug dealers has been deployed to defeat ISIS. Heading it up are progressives who don’t believe that killing the enemy wins wars.

General Patton told the Third Army, “The harder we push, the more Germans we kill. The more Germans we kill, the fewer of our men will be killed.” That kind of thinking is passé. General McChrystal, Obama’s favorite commander (before he had to be purged for insulting Obama) had a much better plan.

“We will not win based on the number of Taliban we kill,” he said. “We must avoid the trap of winning tactical victories—but suffering strategic defeats—by causing civilian casualties or excessive damage and thus alienating the people.”

Under Obama’s rotating shift of commanders, we avoided the trap of winning tactical victories. Instead of following Patton’s maxim, American casualties doubled. The Taliban struck closer to Kabul while US soldiers avoided engaging the enemy because they wouldn’t be given permission to attack unless the  Taliban announced themselves openly while avoiding mosques or civilian buildings.

“We will not win simply by killing insurgents,” McChrystal had insisted. “We will help the Afghan people win by securing them, by protecting them from intimidation, violence and abuse.”

But we couldn’t protect the Afghan people without killing the Taliban. Civilian casualties caused by the United States fell 28 percent, but the Taliban more than made up for it by increasing their killing of civilians by 40 percent. Not only did we avoid the trap of a tactical victory, but we also suffered a strategic defeat. American soldiers couldn’t kill insurgents, protect civilians or even protect themselves.

We’ve tried the McChrystal way and over 2,000 American soldiers came home in boxes from Afghanistan trying to win the hearts and minds of the Afghans. Many more returned missing arms and legs. The Taliban poll badly among Afghans, but instead of hiring a PR expert to improve their image, a Pentagon report expects them to be encircling key cities by 2017.

Unlike our leaders, the Taliban are not worried about falling into the trap of winning tactical victories. They are big believers in killing their way to popularity. As ISIS and Boko  Haram have demonstrated, winning by killing works better than trying to win by wars by winning polls.

Now the same whiz kids that looked for the root cause of the problem in Afghanistan by dumping money everywhere, including into companies linked to Al Qaeda and the Taliban, think that the way to beat ISIS is with unemployment centers and job training. Many of the ISIS Jihadists come from the social welfare paradises of Europe where there are more people employed to find the root causes of terrorism through welfare than there are people working to fight them. So far they haven’t had much luck either.

The Europeans were still searching for the root causes of Muslim terrorism back when Obama was smoking pot on a dirty couch. They’re still searching for them even while newspapers, cafes and synagogues are shot up. Meanwhile unarmed police officers lie on the ground and beg for their lives.

Obama’s real ISIS strategy is even worse than his Afghan strategy. He doesn’t have a plan for beating ISIS. He has a plan for preventing it from expanding while the sociologists try to figure out the root causes for its popularity. American air power isn’t there to crush ISIS. It’s there to stop it from launching any major advances and embarrassing him too much. Meanwhile hearts and minds will be won.

At least those minds that haven’t been beheaded and those hearts that haven’t been burned to ash.

We won’t be falling into the trap of winning victories. Instead we’ll be figuring out how to create jobs so that all the ISIS fighters go home to Copenhagen and Paris where they won’t be Obama’s problem.

But while it’s tempting to believe that stupid ideas like these are solely the realm of lefties like Obama, it was Mitt Romney who announced during the final debate that, “We can’t kill our way out of this mess.”

“We’re going to have to put in place a very comprehensive and robust strategy to help the world of Islam and other parts of the world, reject this radical violent extremism,” he insisted, calling for education and economic development.

“Killing our way out of this mess” has become an orphaned strategy. Neither Democrats nor Republicans want to take it home with them. But killing our way out of wars used to be a bipartisan strategy.

Truman believed in a plan to “kill as many as possible.” Eisenhower could casually write, “We should have killed more of them.”

But why listen to the leaders who oversaw America’s last great war when we can instead listen to the architects of the social strategy that turned our cities into war zones?

What did Eisenhower and Truman know that Obama doesn’t? They knew war.

Truman cheated his way into WW1, despite being an only son and half-blind. He took the initiative and took the war to the enemy. They don’t make Democrats like that anymore. They do make Democrats like Barack Obama, who use Marines as umbrella stands and whose strategy is not to offend the enemy.

In Afghanistan, the top brass considered a medal for “courageous restraint”. If we go on trying to not kill our way out of Iraq, that medal will go well with all the burned bodies and severed heads.
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"You have enemies?  Good.  That means that you have stood up for something, sometime in your life." - Winston Churchill.
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #567 on: February 20, 2015, 05:43:28 PM »


http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/09/16/world/middleeast/how-isis-works.html?_r=0
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ccp
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« Reply #568 on: February 20, 2015, 06:42:42 PM »

Tell me this doesn't remind us of liberals arguments during the Clinton years like "it's all about his private life",  or "what is is?" and the rest.  Liberal legaleze arguments without merit again.   Does it matter what we call our enemies?  Nazis were not Nazis they were guys who had no jobs or bad mothers.   Whatever:

http://news.yahoo.com/video/ask-experts-does-matter-call-205045955.html#/pentagon-laying-plans-battle-terror-113649291.html
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #569 on: February 21, 2015, 05:00:52 PM »

http://www.ijreview.com/2015/02/255150-isil-terrorist-fails/
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #570 on: February 21, 2015, 10:16:58 PM »




Taking Note - The Editorial Page Editor's Blog
Advocate for Syrian ‘Moderates’ Changes His Mind
By Carol Giacomo   
February 20, 2015 3:01 pm February 20, 2015 3:01 pm
POTH
   

Predictions that so-called “moderates” in Syria could ever prevail over President Bashar al-Assad were always a long shot. Few had military experience. And throughout the civil war, now going into its 5th year, they have been fractured and unable to coalesce under a unified command.

But the opposition had at least one influential American advocate, Robert Ford, the former ambassador to Syria, who pressed the wary Obama administration to arm a vetted group of moderates so they would be more capable of carrying on the fight.  When he left government last year, Mr. Ford went public with a blistering critique of American policy in Syria. Six months ago, he wrote an essay in Foreign Policy  which asserted that “the moderate rebels in Syria are not finished.”

Now, in a stunning turnabout, even Mr. Ford seems to have thrown in the towel. In recent weeks, Mr. Ford has dropped his call to arms the rebels and is now faulting them as “disjointed and untrustworthy because they collaborate with the jihadists,” according to Hannah Allam of McClatchy News Service .

In a report published on Friday, Ms. Allam said that Mr. Ford still considers American policy in Syria a “huge failure” but is now also blaming the rebels for “collaborating with the Nusra Front, the al Qaida affiliate in Syria that the U.S. declared a terrorist organization more than two years ago.”

He also believes that opposition infighting has worsened.

Mr. Ford’s devastating conclusions come as the administration has been beefing up efforts to train and equip a new, handpicked rebel force to fight Islamic State in Syria. Turkey and the United States just signed an agreement to collaborate on that, the State Department said Thursday.

But Mr. Ford believes that effort is doomed to fail. Ms. Allam quoted him as dismissing as insufficient the amount of money invested in the project and asking: “What are they going to do with 5,000 guys? Or even 10,000 in a year? What’s that going to do?”

Good question.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #571 on: February 25, 2015, 10:02:12 AM »

Kurdish forces cut off a supply route from Iraq on Wednesday as part of an offensive against Islamic State militants in northeastern Syria. The Kurdish forces, supported by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, are challenging Islamic State militants in Syria’s Hassakeh province, seizing more than 100 villages from the fighters and threatening to divide territory they control in Iraq and Syria. Amidst the Kurdish advances, Islamic State militants abducted dozens of Assyrian Christians from villages in the province. The Syriac National Council of Syria said 150 people were kidnapped, though estimates range, and some sources reported both civilians and fighters were seized. The violence forced hundreds of residents to flee to Hassakeh province’s two main cities. Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch released a report Tuesday saying Syrian government forces had dropped barrel bombs on at least 1,000 sites in Aleppo and 450 sites in and around Daraa in the past year, despite a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning their use.

Iraq

The Pentagon reported about $17.9 million worth of weapons, ammunition, and military supplies arrived in Iraq this week. The shipment came after the U.S. Central Command announced last week details of an operation to retake Mosul to be launched with U.S.-trained Iraqi and Kurdish forces, which could begin in April or May. Meanwhile, a series of explosions in and around the Iraqi capital Baghdad Tuesday killed 37 people, with the worst attack twin bombings in the southeastern Jisr Diyala district.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #572 on: February 26, 2015, 04:45:29 PM »

 A Risky U.S. Proxy Battle Against Islamic State
Analysis
February 26, 2015 | 10:09 GMT

Rebel Jaish al-Islam fighters during a training session in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta outside Damascus on Jan. 11. (ABD DOUMANY/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary

The United States and Turkey signed a deal Feb. 19 to train and equip a new force of Syrian rebels as part of a broader plan to develop ground forces in Syria necessary to defeat the Islamic State. The United States worked closely with Saudi Arabia and Jordan to develop the plan and recently included Qatar as a core member of the training program. Initial training camps will be set up in Turkey and Jordan, followed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In the absence of U.S. troops in Syria or a viable partner among the rebels, the United States has decided to create its own ground force. As with all U.S. options in Syria, however, the move carries significant risks.

Analysis

The U.S. plan envisions the eventual deployment of around 1,000 U.S. troops under the leadership of U.S. Maj. Gen. Michael Nagata into the region. This force would include several hundred trainers who will cooperate with counterparts in the intelligence and military services of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Qatar. Together, they will train the new Syrian rebel force in basic military tactics, firearms, communications and command and control. The United States also announced Feb. 18 that 1,200 Syrian rebels from moderate factions have already been screened and vetted for the program. The United States expects, however, to recruit the bulk of forces from the Syrian refugee population in Turkey and Jordan.

Training is set to begin this spring, with approximately 5,000 fighters trained each year. Turkey will train around 2,000 of these. A Wall Street Journal report Feb. 17 indicated that the United States also plans to provide the rebels trained under the program with additional firepower through specially equipped pickup trucks that they could use to call in U.S. airstrikes. The new training program will be one of the largest U.S. commitments in Syria to date, but there is a possibility that it could founder or backfire.

Past Rebel Support

This is not the first time that the United States has involved itself in the training of Syrian rebels. The United States and its regional allies have carried out smaller train and equip programs through the CIA. The results, however, have not lived up to expectations. The rise of Islamist militant group Jabhat al-Nusra in particular has made it extremely difficult for the United States to support the so-called moderate Syrian rebel forces. The United States has asked the rebels it supports to demonstrate that they have clearly broken with Jabhat al-Nusra to focus on fighting the Islamic State. But the moderate rebel factions find themselves eclipsed by the firepower of Bashar al Assad's forces and their only viable ally — one that has played a critical role in numerous battles — is Jabhat al-Nusra.

Moderate rebel factions that the United States has supported with weapons in the past claim that weapons shipments have been infrequent as well as inadequate and have not made their forces substantially stronger. What the weapons assistance has done, however, is caused other, more extreme rebel factions to brand moderates as U.S. collaborators and, by extension, collaborators with the al Assad government. The fact that the United States has avoided targeting al Assad's forces but has gone after Jabhat al-Nusra fighters as recently as Feb. 19 bolsters this claim, enhancing the vulnerability of moderate factions. Consequently, numerous powerful Islamist rebel militant groups close to both the Free Syrian Army and Jabhat al-Nusra, such as Ahrar al-Sham, have adopted Jabhat al-Nusra's view that Washington is as much an enemy as Damascus.

U.S.-equipped moderate rebel forces, particularly in northern Syria, have been unable to fend off attacks from Jabhat al-Nusra and its allies. Notable among these are the Syrian Revolutionary Front and Harakat Hazm. Fighters from Harakat Hazm and a number of other U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army groups have surrendered, disbanded, or even defected to Jabhat al-Nusra over the past few months. In the face of Jabhat al-Nusra's wrath, Harakat Hazm's core forces have had to seek protection from Jabhat al-Shamiya, a recently formed rebel coalition based in Aleppo province. Harakat Hazm has claimed, for instance, that its fighters had no choice given the disproportionate strength of Jabhat al-Nusra, but these events have understandably made Washington even more hesitant to increase support for the moderate rebels in Syria's north.

In southern Syria, however, the situation is considerably different. Here the Free Syrian Army units of the Southern Front have been far more effective in marshaling and organizing their forces. These units have benefited from increased support and direction from an operations command center in Jordan, in which the United States plays a key role. The continued support of the United States and U.S. allies has been a significant factor in the Southern Front's numerous victories over the past year. In spite of this success — and in spite of frequent official denials — even the Southern Front often works closely with Jabhat al-Nusra units. Jabhat al-Nusra forces, though outnumbered by the 30,000 Free Syrian Army fighters in the south, have proved useful in rebel offensives, often acting as shock troops spearheading attacks on strongly defended loyalist positions.

A New Effort

The United States cannot win its campaign against the Islamic State without ground forces, putting Washington in a difficult position. The political climate back home is against sending in U.S. ground troops. In Iraq, the United States can readily rely on local forces such as the Kurdish peshmerga and the Iraqi army, in spite of the shortcomings of these local forces. The rebel forces in Syria, however, have shown little desire to abandon their fight against Bashar al Assad in order to follow U.S. interests in taking down the Islamic State first. Even if the rebels could be persuaded, continued loyalist offensives on rebel strongholds would largely hamstring such efforts.

Syria's civil war is a contest of three forces, broadly defined as the rebels, the al Assad loyalists and the Islamic State. The United States hopes to bypass the fight between al Assad and the rebels in order to go directly after the Islamic State. One option to achieve this objective would be to increase support for the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG). During the battle for Kobani the United States provided direct air support to YPG forces. The Kurdish population in Syria, however, is a distinct minority largely unable to project a presence beyond the Kurdish-populated areas of northern Syria. Furthermore, the United States must include Turkey in tackling the Islamic State in Syria by virtue of Turkey's geographic, logistical and military position. However, Turkey is adamantly against strengthening the YPG beyond the measures already taken, fearing such policies will reignite its own domestic Kurdish militant movement.

The U.S. training program aims to circumvent the pitfalls of bolstering existing players by adding a new — and hopefully more reliable — force into the mix. Unlike the disparate rebel forces already on the ground, the new force can be drawn from refugee populations in Turkey and Jordan, making it easier for U.S. civilian and military officials to vet, monitor and advise troops with the help of regional intelligence agencies. The United States also plans to act as the key logistical power behind the force and to pay fighter salaries, shaping the force's actions.
Old Program and Allies Remain

Meanwhile, the United States and its allies will continue supporting Syrian rebel forces already on the battlefield. The United States has limited its support for rebel factions in the north, but Turkey has stepped in to play an enhanced role. The Jabhat al-Shamiya coalition created in December incorporated three of Ankara's favored rebel factions — Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki, the Mujahideen Army and the al-Tawhid Brigade — allowing Turkey to garner significant leverage. Turkey also provides the northern rebel factions with important supply lines that run from Turkey to Aleppo province, enhancing its leverage in potential negotiations with its partners on the future direction of Syria. It also allows Ankara to pressure the al Assad government as part of wider moves against the Islamic State.

In the south, Jordan is an increasingly willing key player. With the Islamic State's immolation of the captured Jordanian pilot, Amman has expressed desire to commit more resources to the fight against the extremist group. With the backing of the United States and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, Jordan is poised to support future allied strategies in Syria, especially given its strategic location. Indeed, the Jordanians have already been a significant factor in the success of the Southern Front rebels.
Risks and Limitations

Though the new training program is an attempt to avoid the complexities of supporting rebel factions, it still carries risks. Even at this early stage, Turkey is invoking the possibility that the new force could be used to target al Assad's forces. In spite of all the measures in place to direct the new group's efforts, there is no guarantee the United States could prevent it from eventually clashing with loyalist forces. Damascus has also said its forces will attack any foreign group that does not cooperate with the government, increasing the chance that the new force will have to contend with the same distraction as existing rebel groups.

Iran is also heavily invested in sustaining the al Assad regime. More direct U.S. interference in the Syrian conflict through this new force — especially if it clashes with loyalists — will threaten critical negotiations between Washington and Tehran. Iran has embedded Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps units with Syrian loyalist forces, raising the risk of direct clashes with the new U.S.-backed rebel force. The most critical risk, however, is that a schism between the Iranians and the United States over Syria could spill over into what the U.S. considers the more important theater: Iraq. Iranian-backed Shiite militias could pose a threat to U.S. forces stationed there if the United States comes into direct conflict with Iran in Syria.

On top of these substantial risks there is no guarantee that the new force will succeed in defeating the Islamic State. Only 5,000 fighters are scheduled to be trained annually, limiting the force's size. The new rebel army can succeed only if it becomes a nucleus for other moderate Syrian groups and initiates a unified rebel effort in line with U.S. interests. With the many complications that could derail this process, this outcome is highly unlikely. However, in order to defeat the Islamic State, the United States needs a ground force. With no other acceptable options, Washington has chosen the least bad out of many terrible options.
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