“Yet Another U.S.-Backed Syrian Rebel Group Makes Peace with ISIS” – Patrick Poole over at PJ Media reports another vetted Syrian “moderate” rebel group turned on the US, by striking a ceasefire with ISIS. Poole reports the Syrian Revolutionaries Front (SRF) requested heavy weapons to include TOW anti-aircraft missiles from the US earlier this year. Upon receipt of these weapons and US training, the group’s leader switched sides to ISIS. Check out Mr. Poole’s links in the story, like this March 2014 Foreign Policy magazine glossy piece, “The Frontman vs. al Qaeda”,on SRF commander, Jamal Maarouf, then the State Department’s fully vetted moderate best hope…. Who on earth is vetting these Syrian moderates???
JK sent along this link to Obama’s outsourced
war-planning, “Instead of Boots on the Ground, US seeks Iraq Contractors” – military contractors to fill the need for US boots on the ground. Yes, of course, a civilian job plan for these active duty troops he’s cutting – hooray, he’s looking after veterans at the expense of sound operational planning, because I can assure you (watching the contractor reliance blossom) contractors take a lot of riffraff and aren’t nearly as selective or particular in their hiring or training as active duty commanders. Oh, and contractors can quit at any time, making them about as reliable as the “fully vetted Syrian moderates”. At least these American contractors should be able to speak English and be semi-literate, which is a big plus over dealing with indigenous rebel bands, I suppose.
The Obama foreign policy team consists of many Lee Hamilton acolytes (Ed Lasky covered in 2009 here and in 2010 here). Now, ever since Grenada, my confidence in the Pentagon map situation evaporated, but really we have the most technologically advanced geospatial capabilities in the world and yet we have “senior administration officials” without even a basic understanding of the geography of the region they’re discussing US military operations planning. These dunces aren’t competent enough, and yes that includes the 58 states CINC, for the grave responsibilities their offices require. Lasky reported yesterday, “Somebody get these guys in the White House a map”:
“They view it as an existential threat to them. Saudi Arabia has an extensive border with Syria. The Jordanians are experiencing a destabilizing impact of over a million refugees from the Syrian conflict, and are profoundly concerned that ISIL, who has stated that their ambitions are not confined to Iraq and Syria, but rather to expand to the broader region.”
In this story is a link to the original report by T. Becket Adams at the Washington Examiner,“In the best of hands: Senior Obama official makes terrible geography error”, providing a map of Syria and its next-door neighbors (hint, not Saudi Arabia). From heroics of bygone days like “Lawrence in Arabia” to America’s dumbed-down version, “lost in Arabia”……. Now, back to Lee Hamilton and his foreign policy influence in the Obama administration, kick up your feet, because I’m going to paste from the Hamilton/Baker 2006, “The Iraq Study Group Report”:
B. Consequences of Continued Decline in Iraq
“If the situation in Iraq continues to deteriorate, the consequences could be severe for Iraq, the United States, the region, and the world.(pg. 27)
Continuing violence could lead toward greater chaos, and inflict greater suffering upon the Iraqi people. A collapse of Iraq’s government and economy would further cripple a country already unable to meet its people’s needs. Iraq’s security forces could split along sectarian lines. A humanitarian catastrophe could follow as more refugees are forced to relocate across the country and the region. Ethnic cleansing could escalate. The Iraqi people could be subjected to another strongman who flexes the political and military muscle required to impose order amid anarchy. Freedoms could be lost.(pg. 28)
Other countries in the region fear significant violence crossing their borders. Chaos in Iraq could lead those countries to intervene to protect their own interests, thereby perhaps sparking a broader regional war. Turkey could send troops into northern Iraq to prevent Kurdistan from declaring independence. Iran could send in troops to restore stability in southern Iraq and perhaps gain control of oil fields. The regional influence of Iran could rise at a time when that country is on a path to producing nuclear weapons. (pg. 28)
Ambassadors from neighboring countries told us that they fear the distinct possibility of Sunni-Shia clashes across the Islamic world. Many expressed a fear of Shia insurrections— perhaps fomented by Iran—in Sunni-ruled states. Such a broader sectarian conflict could open a Pandora’s box of problems—including the radicalization of populations, mass movements of populations, and regime changes—that might take decades to play out. If the instability in Iraq spreads to the other Gulf States, a drop in oil production and exports could lead to a sharp increase in the price of oil and thus could harm the global economy. (pg.28)
Terrorism could grow. As one Iraqi official told us, “Al Qaeda is now a franchise in Iraq, like McDonald’s.” Left unchecked, al Qaeda in Iraq could continue to incite violence between Sunnis and Shia. A chaotic Iraq could provide a still stronger base of operations for terrorists who seek to act regionally or even globally. Al Qaeda will portray any failure by the United States in Iraq as a significant victory that will be featured prominently as they recruit for their cause in the region and around the world. Ayman al-Zawahiri, deputy to Osama bin Laden, has declared Iraq a focus for al Qaeda: they will seek to expel the Americans and then spread “the jihad wave to the secular countries neighboring Iraq.” A senior European official told us that failure in Iraq could incite terrorist attacks within his country. (pg. 28)
The global standing of the United States could suffer if Iraq descends further into chaos. Iraq is a major test of, and strain on, U.S. military, diplomatic, and financial capacities. Perceived failure there could diminish America’s credibility and influence in a region that is the center of the Islamic world and vital to the world’s energy supply. This loss would reduce America’s global influence at a time when pressing issues in North Korea, Iran, and elsewhere demand our full attention and strong U.S. leadership of international alliances. And the longer that U.S. political and military resources are tied down in Iraq, the more the chances for American failure in Afghanistan increase. (pg. 28)
Continued problems in Iraq could lead to greater polarization within the United States. Sixty-six percent of Americans disapprove of the government’s handling of the war, and more than 60 percent feel that there is no clear plan for moving forward. The November elections were largely viewed as a referendum on the progress in Iraq. Arguments about continuing to provide security and assistance to Iraq will fall on deaf ears if Americans become disillusioned with the government that the United States invested so much to create. U.S. foreign policy cannot be successfully sustained without the broad support of the American people. (pg. 28)
Continued problems in Iraq could also lead to greater Iraqi opposition to the United States. Recent polling indicates that only 36 percent of Iraqis feel their country is heading in the right direction, and 79 percent of Iraqis have a “mostly negative” view of the influence that the United States has in their country. Sixty-one percent of Iraqis approve of attacks on U.S.-led forces. If Iraqis continue to perceive Americans as representing an occupying force, the United States could become its own worst enemy in a land it liberated from tyranny. (pg. 29)
These and other predictions of dire consequences in Iraq and the region are by no means a certainty. Iraq has taken several positive steps since Saddam Hussein was overthrown: Iraqis restored full sovereignty, conducted open national elections, drafted a permanent constitution, ratified that constitution, and elected a new government pursuant to that constitution. Iraqis may become so sobered by the prospect of an unfolding civil war and intervention by their regional neighbors that they take the steps necessary to avert catastrophe. But at the moment, such a scenario seems implausible because the Iraqi people and their leaders have been slow to demonstrate the capacity or will to act. (pg. 29)”
Perhaps, Obama’s Hamiltonian foreign policy crew should go back and review their mentor’s full report.