Whenever some event breaks through the DC echo chamber, there’s a stampede of uninformed, sadly misinformed, or totally clueless nincompoop politicians, who rush to the nearest microphone to blather on with their “sources within the Pentagon state” or “intelligence reports state” or even, “our group has done research on this”, on and on and on. Mixed in the herd you’ll hear a bunch of braying asses, from various think tanks, former government flunkies and retired generals.
We’re back to a retread of the old Syrian “moderates” mantra, except this time the same crew (General Jack Keane and his ISW, John McCain, Lindsay Graham) selling this strategy want us to arm these “moderates” to defeat IS, instead of Assad. General Keane was on FOX News assuring us that they have been vetting these “moderates” and I can only wonder who has vetted them??? John McCain is for and against the various ME leaders, with more frequent changes of heart than John Kerry. Lindsay Graham just follows blindly along, wherever John McCain leads. Here’s a link from The Last Refuge blog with photos, of John McCain on his “fact-finding” trip to Syria last year. He was hosted by the Syrian Emergency Task Force, whose political director, Elizabeth O’Bagy, was the ISW”s Syria expert – lobbying for US aid to arm Syrian rebels. One of McCain’s friendly hosts on that trip morphed into ISIS’s press officer, Abu Mosa, and he’s standing right next to McCain in the picture. Mosa was recently killed in an airstrike. One can only wonder who vetted McCain’s chaperones, the ISW or O’Bagy’s Syrian Emergency Task Force? And just as a reminder, when O’Bagy ended up fired from the ISW for lying about possessing a doctorate degree, none other than John McCain rushed to her rescue and hired her as a staffer. Why does anyone take these people’s advice seriously and why does the media rush to use John McCain as the voice of the GOP?
When it comes to President Obama’s failures as President, the glaring truth hits you that this man, unlike his adoring followers believed, does not walk on water. Hell, he doesn’t even tread water very well. Let’s state the truth, without his teleprompter and prepared speeches to read it’s obvious he was way oversold as an intellectual and beyond an easy familiarity with hot-button domestic partisan political issues, he doesn’t understand foreign affairs and assuredly ranks as a total dunce on history nor has he shown any inclination to study intelligence reports or seek to expand his knowledge. He consistently chooses a side to back in ME power struggles, whose politics run counter to American values and whose aims harm our only democratic ally in the region, Israel. In the current flashpoint with IS, he must face some tough choices if we are to destroy IS.
The endless fear-mongering about the danger IS poses to the region, the US and the whole world escalates and the drumbeat for military action beats faster, but no one has articulated a big picture strategy or any sort of multilateral consensus on long-term strategic objectives nor even short-range objectives, beyond “IS must be eliminated!”. So far there are mumblings about the Iraqi government needs to come together and hopes the Iraqi military, per Obama State Department spokeswoman, Marie Harf, “but the Iraqis also have to stand up, they have to pull themselves together”. Beyond these vague hoped for changes, the Obama administration doesn’t, as the President stated, “we don’t have a strategy yet”.
Let’s kill two birds with one stone, both Bush and Obama have made huge strategic blunders in the the Muslim world. Both have followed bad advice from “experts”, chosen many less-than reliable partners to work with and generally left us more disliked and viewed as part of the problem than the solution. American influence, rather than being a force for good, now carries a taint of foreboding, even among our allies. Rather than argue which had the worst policies, let’s face up to the fact that in the eyes of the world, they aren’t dissecting between Republican and Democrat, but Americans and therein lies the single most destructive force in America.
We can’t formulate an American policy to deal with the massive instability in the ME until we lay out some objectives and above all else we should assess potential partners in the fight against IS and the awful Islamist ideology on first determining if they are rational actors or batshit crazy Islamist-friendly ideologues. Some former British officials suggest we must work with Assad, but Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s Deputy National Security adviser has discounted that suggestion. Why? To act militarily in Syria will require dealing with air assets and loyal Assad forces still operating on the ground. Assad may be a despot, but we and the British possess plenty of conduits to open secret talks with Assad and form some sort of understanding on an international military operation in Syria to destroy IS. This must be done to successfully confront IS. McCain and Graham hit the NY Times editorial page with their “moderates” plea again and they state:
“Such a plan would seek to strengthen partners who are already resisting ISIS: the Kurdish pesh merga, Sunni tribes, moderate forces in Syria, and effective units of Iraq’s security forces. Our partners are the boots on the ground, and the United States should provide them directly with arms, intelligence and other military assistance. This does not, however, mean supporting Iranian military forces, whose presence only exacerbates sectarian tensions that empower ISIS.”
and further state
“Whether or not Mr. Obama listens to us, he should listen to leaders with a record of success in combating groups like ISIS, especially John R. Allen, Ryan C. Crocker, Jack Keane and David H. Petraeus, among others. He should consult with military and diplomatic experts like these, just as President George W. Bush did when rethinking the war in Iraq.”
Rather than ramble on about this list of luminaries in our wonderful desert adventures thus far, let me just state, perhaps we need to expand our vision and options, both in strategic-thinking and seeking “expert” advice. Instead of buying into a hard sell on retreading this arm the “moderates” plan, which would mean we’d also be fighting Assad forces too, maybe, we need to think a bit more, seek out more intelligence, talk to more allies in the region and even talk to some of our adversaries in the region. And yes, we need to talk to Iran too.
Of course, the Obama White House should read Henry Kissenger’s excellent WSJ piece for a fuller understanding of the big picture stakes in our disastrously short-sighted strategic vision and answer the questions:
“To play a responsible role in the evolution of a 21st-century world order, the U.S. must be prepared to answer a number of questions for itself: What do we seek to prevent, no matter how it happens, and if necessary alone? What do we seek to achieve, even if not supported by any multilateral effort? What do we seek to achieve, or prevent, only if supported by an alliance? What should we not engage in, even if urged on by a multilateral group or an alliance? What is the nature of the values that we seek to advance? And how much does the application of these values depend on circumstance?”
Personally, I wonder what an honest intelligence assessment can tell us about the “Syrian moderates”, who vetted them, and the brutality of all players in the Syrian civil war, because ruling out Assad in favor of listening to John McCain (vet his chaperones for his Syria fact-finding trip, please) or Keane’s ISW’s track record on Syria (foisting the fraud, Elizabeth O’Bagy on the American public to sell us a pack lies) leaves me feeling like we’re being sold a lemon at a used car lot. I’d like to hear more from the former British Army chief. Surely, there are more “experts” we can consult than the ones who played such a crucial role in getting us where we’re at presently.