Caliphate / ISIS

Wikipedia on caliphates
Should the "Islamic State in Iraq and Syria" be dignified with the term "Caliphate"?
That is not a decision for me to make,
it can only be made by Muslims throughout the world.

In the meantime, here are some thoughts from various people about the 2014-declared "Caliphate".

U.S.-UK re-intervention in Iraq: Getting it lethally wrong twice
by Michael Scheuer
non-intervention.com, 2014-08-11

“A country without a memory is a country of madmen.”
George Santayana, 1906

[I could have placed this article in a number of posts;
it covers a lot of ground.
I reprint it in full here;
elsewhere I have reproduced some of Dr. Scheuer's 2008 thoughts on the situation in Iraq,
but have been wondering what his current thoughts are.
Here he gives a fairly extensive presentation of those, as of 2014-08-11.

As to my opinion,
I heartily concur with Scheuer that America's original error was
knocking Saddam Hussein off his throne back in 2003,
failing to realize that while
Saddam Hussein might not have been the ideal ruler for Iraq from a lot of viewpoints,
that there could be far worse,
and that America really lacked the power to impose as ruler of Iraq
a person of its liking.
But that error was made in 2003; the dice were cast.
America really has no good options that I can see;
only choosing a least bad one.]

The truly amazing thing about America’s interventionist elite is that
they never, ever learn from their always egregious errors and half-baked plans.
President Obama’s decision to re-intervene militarily in Iraq
to “protect” the Azidi and Christian minorities
will do nothing more than delay their doom.
Neither he nor the British prime minister —
old me-too Cameron, the U.S. lap dog —
have the slightest intention of defeating the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) and its allies,
which would require the aerial slaughter and boots-on-the ground demolishing of the mujahedin
and that portion of the population that supports them.
Both men are too sensitive, sophisticated, and well-educated
to engage in such blue-collar nonsense as “winning a war”
and so they will do a little military diddling
and make sure the now-doomed Azidis and Christians
go to their graves with full bellies.

What has not seemed to cross the mind of American and British interventionists is that
Iraq’s Azidis and Christians are in their present terminal fix
because the United States and the UK
started the unnecessary Western invasion of Iraq,
removed Saddam Hussain’s effective if brutal government,
and installed a Shia tyranny.
Under Saddam, the Azidis and the Christians had, to be sure, a tough row to hoe,
but Saddam’s security forces kept their torment to a moderate level.
We removed Saddam and all bets were off.
The Shias now merrily kill Sunnis, and vice versa,
and they both murder Iraq’s now unprotected —
thanks to President Bush and Prime Minister Blair —
religious minorities.

To a greater or lesser extent, the same thing is occurring in
Afghanistan (Targets: Shia and Sufis);
Pakistan (Targets: Shia, Sufis, and Christians);
Syria (Target: Christians) and
Egypt (Target: Coptic Christians).
In each of these countries the religious minorities
are suffering to a greater extent than previously
because of U.S.-led interventions which were undertaken
either without any intention of
utterly defeating the Sunni Islamist malefactors — as in Afghanistan —
or with what seems to be
a near-complete ignorance of the country’s internal political dynamics,
as in Syria, Pakistan, and Egypt.
As always, America’s bipartisan interventionists
proved to be military dilettantes and historically unlearned —
not knowing Mubarak did what he could to protect Egypt’s Copts —
thereby ensuring disaster for those they claimed to be helping.

In Iraq, Obama’s feckless intervention will do three things.
First, it may slow the advance of ISI forces
as they try to avoid exposing key assets to U.S. air strikes
and lie low until the U.S. and Britain again depart.
Second, it will increase the anti-minority rancor of the ISI fighters
due to the sharp but not crippling losses they will suffer from U.S. airstrikes.
When Obama and his fellow bipartisan interventionists call it quits —
say, if there are American casualties —
the mujahedin will conduct
a pretty thorough cleansing of the country’s minority sects.
Third, Obama and the interventionists are positioning the United States
to again appear to the Muslim world
as being militarily impotent and lacking in courage.
This will cause Muslims all over the planet to again reflect that
Allah must be genuinely pleased with
the work of the ISI, Al-Qaeda, and myriad other Sunni Islamist insurgent groups
if they can consistently defeat
the strongest and most technologically proficient Western militaries.
After all, Muslim believers are sure that victory in jihad can only come from Allah,
and no victory would come if He was not pleased with the Islamist combatants fighting in His name.

If this was not bad enough, there also is a chance for worse.
What if U.S.-UK military intervention barely slows the progress of the ISI fighters,
the minorities continue to get murdered at the same or higher pace,
and all of this is covered by the media for the public
in both countries and the rest of the world.
In such a situation, Obama’s action in Iraq will be seen for what it is:
another in a long-series of U.S.-led interventions in the Muslim world
that has given added strength and momentum to the Islamist movement —
remember Libya and U.S. support for the military coup in Egypt?
At that point, Obama, with mid-term elections 90 days off,
will recognize how foolish, inexperienced, and weak he looks
as a leader and for tactical political reasons —
don’t give the national security issue back to the Republicans —
and his own wounded ego may well decide
to expand rather than end his intervention in Iraq.

In danger politically and again exposed as an incompetent, Obama might well intensify the air bombardment and begin arming what he will tell Americans are the democracy-loving “good Iraqis,” the Kurds and Shia.
The increased air war would be a loser from the word go,
as the only time in history that air power won anything
was when two B-29s dropped nuclear bombs on Japan.
[My personal opinion is that that is not true.
The war of aerial terror that U.K. Bomber Command and U.S. Eighth Air Force
waged against Hitler's Germany,
vividly documented in The Fire: The Bombing of Germany, 1940-1945,
had a great effect on both the German civilian population
and German productive capacity.
It surely, in my opinion, had an effect.]

And the Kurds and Shia have no record of doing anything effective against the ISI
except whining for more and better U.S./Western weaponry
and then abandoning it to the enemy on the battlefield or in arsenals
as soon as contact is made with ISI units.
There is no reason to think this would not happen again,
only this time — if Obama arms them —
ISI will reap a harvest of much better weaponry
than it has previously picked up from the good Iraqis
as they flee battle.

Then what? Well, there are only two options.
In the first, Obama could deploy the U.S. ground forces he and Bush have wrecked
through over deployment and their refusal to win wars,
and which Obama has cut to the bone in terms of budget and manpower.
In such a move, Obama, his party, and the Republican interventionists
would again send U.S. soldiers and Marines to war as targets rather than killers;
we would soon hear from Obama and his pliant generals the claim that
“there is no military solution in Iraq”;
and shortly after that Obama would announce our re-departure from Iraq,
marking the third U.S. surrender to the Islamist movement in less than a decade.
This is the bipartisan interventionists’ much tried and always successful method of
bankrupting the United States, killing America’s soldier-children, and
growing the international Islamist movement to unprecedented size and geographical reach.

The second option is to immediately stop throwing young lives and good money after bad.
It is too bad that the Azidis and Christians in Iraq are going to be butchered,
but their approaching demise was set in motion by the unnecessary war
the Bush administration and the pro-Israel neoconservatives started in Iraq in 2003,
and by Obama’s decision to surrender to the Iraqi Islamists
by giving a date-certain for U.S. withdrawal-without-victory from Iraq.
Surely enough American lives, limbs, and money have been wasted in Iraq already.
Why waste more of each in a certain-to-fail re-intervention
designed to make the humiliated U.S. bipartisan interventionists
feel better about themselves for having tried to save the Iraqi minorities
they have so blithely consigned to death over the past decade?

Obama-vs-Islamic State:
Here comes more debt, more death, and another lost war

by Michael Scheuer
non-intervention.com, 2014-09-09

ISIS: Does President Obama Understand What He’s Getting Us Into?
By John Taylor
www.unz.com, 2014-09-19


Obama’s televised [2014-09-10] speech
outlining American “strategy” against the Islamic State
was not reassuring in the least

and ought to make us wonder whether the President understands
the scope of the struggle he is getting us into.
For Obama the Islamic State may be “a terrorist group, pure and simple,”
but it is clearly much more than that
having political as well as religious underpinnings.
How else could a few thousand fighters
control six or seven million people and vast swaths of Iraq and Syria?
Despite what the Administration would have us believe,
the Islamic State is an insurgency
with popular backing from the Sunni inhabitants of Syria and northern Iraq.

The Sunnis there are going to resist
the re-imposition of non-Sunni rule from Damascus or Baghdad.
Is this a struggle we really want to be involved in?


In Syria the Sunni population supports the Islamic State because they have been excluded from political power since the 1920s. The French colonial administration, installed as the Mandatory power by the League of Nations, fearing the power of the Sunnis, who then as now constituting a majority of Syrians, recruited the Syrian army and police from Alawite and Druze minorities. Since the departure of the French, Alawite military officers have held the supreme power in Syria. In Iraq, the Sunnis were the ruling class until Uncle Sam removed Saddam in 2003 and elections brought a Shia government to power who have been determined to marginalize Iraq’s Sunni population.

It is more than a little ironic, therefore, that by supporting Sunni insurgents fighting the Assad regime in Syria and by bringing Shia rule to Iraq, American intervention has been instrumental in creating the Islamic State and the mess Obama now seeks to remediate.

The President’s strategy for mobilizing political and military support within the region to defeat the Islamic State is wholly unconvincing and completely unrealistic. Although the American trained Iraqi Army vastly outnumbers IS fighters, the army abandoned the Sunni areas in northern and central Iraq without a fight, threw away their arms and legged it south to Baghdad and beyond. Subsequent Iraqi Army attempts to recapture Tikrit, just up the Tigris from Baghdad, ended in complete failure. The record of Kurdish forces versus the Islamic State’s insurgents is little better. Without the insertion of American ground forces, whose deployment to Iraq looks politically unacceptable, at least for the moment, it is hard to imagine how the IS insurgency will be defeated.

Even more unrealistic are US plans to build up the Free Syrian Army (FSA) as a counter weight to the IS. The FSA is Sunni and has the same objective as the Islamic State, ousting the Assad regime in Damascus. Although the Assad government is determinedly secular, its senior officials are Alawites, an off shoot of Shia Islam, making the government in Damascus an important target of the Sunni insurgency. The FSA and the IS are actually allies. American aid to the FSA in the past has unquestionable contributed to the success of the Islamic State and continued aid will likely continue to do so.

The Assad regime is a natural US ally, not an adversary, in the battle with the IS. And of all the forces in the region resisting the IS only the Syrian army has had any success. Another natural American ally is Iran which is overwhelmingly Shia and closely allied with the governments in Baghdad and Damascus. Iran also has significant military capacity and a long border with the Islamic State in northeastern Iraq. Both Syria and Iran are enemies of Israel. As a result, because the United States has chosen to make Israel’s enemies America’s enemies, domestic political considerations make it impossible for the US to ally itself with either Iran or Syria, as useful and sensible as those alliances would be.

Perhaps the most unrealistic and bizarre of all are the Obama Administration’s plans to make Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Turkey allies in the fight against the IS. The Turks have supported the Sunni insurgency against the Assad regime from the beginning. Turkey is a Sunni nation, with a moderate Islamic government. Could the Turkish government be convinced to abandon the Sunni insurgency in Syria? Doubtful. There are reports that the Turkish government has already told Uncle Sam that Turkish airfields will not be available to attack IS forces.

As for the conservatives Sunni Arab states in the Arabian Peninsula, their inhabitants have provided private financial support to the nascent Islamic State, channeled through Kuwait, for years. Their governments, with encouragement from the United States, are hostile to Iran. How could the Obama Administration imagine that these nations, who citizens regard all Shias with distain at best and fear Iran, would suddenly reverse course and help save Iran’s most important ally, the Shia government in Baghdad, from a Sunni insurgency?

Given the US’s wretched track record in the Middle East, including support for Israel’s recent massacre of innocents in Gaza, why would anyone here or abroad imagine yet another American military intervention would succeed when pervious invasions, raids, bombing campaigns, occupations and economic sanctions have utterly failed?

The coming battle with Islamic State insurgents showcases American political immaturity, is emotionally driven and lacks a coherent political and military strategy. It is also unnecessary.

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