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This ISIS (ISIL) Video Isn’t Generating the Gravitas of the Foley Execution

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ISIS followers vowing allegiance to the group

COMMENT: Check out this video of followers pledging fealty to ISIS (also known as ISIL). At about 1:05 of the video, the acolytes engage in some very “un-Islamic” gesturing. It graphically illustrates a dynamic we have spoken of so often.

Central to an understanding of political conflicts throughout the 20th and 21st century is the concept of the Earth Island (also called “the World Island.”) This area is populated largely by Muslims, and political affiliation with, and/or control of, those population groups has long been seen as fundamental to domination of the Earth Island–that, in turn, is the geopolitical key to controlling the world.

Imperial Germany made good use of Islamists as proxy warriors during the First World War, and the Third Reich developed and used that strategy extensively, in both its above-ground and underground phases. Western intelligence–the CIA and derivative organizations such as the Safari Club–have made extensive use of this stratagem during the Cold War.

Evidence suggests that petroleum-related intelligence elements are continuing to use jihadists as proxy warriors, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood. The so-called “Arab Spring,” the Boston Marathon Bombing, the breakup of Yugoslavia and the Ukrainian conflict all appear to involve and/or overlap elements of “jihadis as proxy warriors.”


7 comments for “This ISIS (ISIL) Video Isn’t Generating the Gravitas of the Foley Execution”

  1. Here’s a grimly fascinating take on the challenges facing Obama’s attempt to form a coalition of Middle Eastern states against ISIS: the gulf monarchies that funded and fueled ISIS are still incredibly pissed about Obama only getting the Syrian chemical weapons destroyed without waging a full scale war to topple the Assad regime and backing the Syrian rebel groups like ISIS. It’s as if the gulf monarchies are mostly angry about the fact that ISIS doesn’t control ALL of Syria by now which, naturally, complicates the creation an anti-ISIS coalition:

    Christian Science Monitor
    Why Obama faces tough task leading regional coalition against Islamic State

    While some allies in the Middle East appear ready to support US airstrikes in Syria, their agendas differ from Washington’s. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Baghdad today.
    By Scott Peterson, Staff writer September 10, 2014

    Istanbul — As President Barack Obama unveils his strategy to “degrade and destroy” the self-declared Islamic State, he will hope to capitalize upon widespread disgust in the Middle East against the group’s brutal ways.

    But Mr. Obama also faces a daunting challenge in selling his plans for a regional coalition to leaders skeptical of White House readiness to follow through on his latest promises on Syria and Iraq.

    The president is reportedly ready to expand into Syria the US military airstrikes that since last month have helped stop the advance of Sunni militants in Iraq. But analysts say the US track record of lukewarm and mutable engagement in Syria’s civil war has unsettled allies like Turkey, Jordan, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, which all oppose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

    “When you speak to senior decision makers in Riyadh, in Amman, it is shocking how deep their mistrust and disillusionment of the Obama administration is,” says Prof. Toby Dodge, director of the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics.

    Moreover, these countries have favored, in various ways, the same anti-Assad rebels that Washington would like to prevail, but also the Islamists that spawned the Islamic State (IS) and other jihadi groups that are now beyond their control. That complicates any US-led coalition against radicalism.

    Regional players note how Obama declared President Assad “must go” but did little to make it happen, with on-and-off-again support for “moderate” anti-Assad rebels.

    And they point especially to August last year, when the US president failed to enforce his own explicit red line after Mr. Assad’s units used chemical weapons against civilians. Instead, a deal was brokered to remove and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, but at the expense – in the perceptions of Middle East capitals, at least – of US credibility.

    That makes Obama’s coalition-building challenge as tricky as any orchestrated by his predecessors in the past quarter-century, since President George H.W. Bush spent months lobbying regional leaders – even getting Syrian troops into the mix – to oust Saddam Hussein’s forces from Kuwait in 1990-1991.

    “Collectively the whole of the Arab Middle East is a region coming to terms and reacting to what they feel to be an absent hegemon,” says Prof. Dodge. “Now our friends in the White House and Democrats everywhere will leap forward and say, ‘No, no, we’re not absent. We’re just avoiding the mistakes of Bush II, we’ve got a war-weary population.’ But in all my years traveling to the region, I have not seen a series of supposed allies of Washington so uneasy.

    Diplomatic outreach

    While Obama is making his prime-time address tonight, the diplomatic outreach is already under way. US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived yesterday in Baghdad, where a new government was formed Monday night after the departure of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose Shiite-first policies did much to alienate Iraq’s Sunni tribes, who as a result partly backed the IS advance. IS was formerly known as ISIS; US officials often refer to ISIL, an alternative acronym.

    Mr. Kerry will be in Jordan today, and in Riyadh tomorrow will convene a regional security meeting aimed at marshaling coalition partners.

    While Washington’s Arab allies would likely welcome an expansion of the US bombing campaign to Syria, their agenda may be more about regime change in Damascus than disrupting the IS’s reign in the badlands of northeast Syria.

    If there is a sense that the fight against ISIS in Syria is being seen in isolation from the bigger need, or the equal need, to have change in Syria from Assad, then I think we will start to see this coalition really start to fray,” says Salman Shaikh, director of the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar.

    While that may be a secondary goal for the White House, many in any anti-IS coalition will want to see the US apply the same resolve to Syria’s regime that it has applied to Iraq and its fight against IS.

    “There is really a lot of residual anger towards the United States and its motivations in Syria over the last three years – first and foremost among Syrians on the ground,” says Mr. Shaikh. “There is a danger that if people are asked to choose, especially on the ground in Syria, they might decide, ‘Well, we’re not going to fight [IS] and leave Assad alone, we’d rather walk away.’”
    Risk of backlash

    As successive US presidents have discovered, military interventions in Arab lands, even on the back of regional coalitions, are fraught with political risks and can quickly generate violent reactions.

    That’s why certain players like Qatar and Saudi Arabia are likely to hedge their bets to see how the US manages the coalition and its own objectives. A division of labor could emerge such that Arab members provide logistical and other support, but stop far short of the active military roles some like Qatar played in Libya to bring down Qaddafi in 2011.

    Notice the sentiment “If there is a sense that the fight against ISIS in Syria is being seen in isolation from the bigger need, or the equal need, to have change in Syria from Assad, then I think we will start to see this coalition really start to fray.” In other words, it’s looking like the gulf monarchies are going to demand that the destruction of ISIS must include the toppling of Assad if their participating can be guaranteed. And this is possibly a multi-year long reengagement. And that which then raises the other obvious question: if a coalition of Sunni armies from around the region is being assembled as a key on-the-ground backup force for the Iraqi army once ISIS gets routed from a region, who’s going to be the occupier for the non-Sunni parts of Syria once Assad is toppled? Is it assumed that the Free Syrian Army will be “moderate” enough to occupy the Sunni regions after it defeats ISIS and Assad but not go a revenge spree against the Alawites and other minorities? Is Iraq’s army going to be the presence in the non-Sunni parts of Syria? Would Turkey be willing to protect the Syrian non-Sunnis? Iran? There’s a big power vacuum that the gulf monarchies are demanding, but in all the years of calling for the toppling of Assad there’s been almost no public discussion of what comes next if those demands are met. And yet post-Assad plans surely exist given the sustained and extreme desire on the part of the gulf monarchies and neocons to topple Assad. It’s a reminder that the full fledged war to destroy ISIS the US public and neocons are now demanding is likely to involve not one but two wars and two occupations. It’s not officially two wars but unofficially it doesn’t look like the partners Obama needs are going to accept anything less. While some will no doubt find an expanded war in Syria to be the best idea ever, hopefully the US public that is currently demanding the destruction of ISIS without boots on the ground will be a little understanding if the new ‘no boots mission impossible’ it’s demanding ends up requiring more boots on the ground just to avoid an even worse crisis than already exists. It’s not like it will be an unfamiliar situation at that point.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 10, 2014, 9:27 am
  2. Here’s a reminder that the “arm the moderate rebels” plan for dealing with ISIS is potentially going to require a “deal with the collapse of Syria“-phase before the “dealing with ISIS”-phase even begins. And the “deal with the collapse of Syria”-phase could be especially calamitous now that key moderate rebels have reportedly signed a truce with ISIS until the fall of the Assad regime which means there’s also going to be an “ISIS and other radical Islamists occupying non-Sunni communities”-phase:

    The Huffington Post
    ISIS Strikes Deal With Moderate Syrian Rebels: Reports
    Posted: 09/12/2014 9:49 pm EDT Updated: 09/13/2014 12:59 pm EDT

    Akbar Shahid Ahmed

    Ryan Grim

    As the United States begins to deepen ties with moderate Syrian rebels to combat the extremist group ISIS, also known as the Islamic State, a key component of its coalition appears to have struck a non-aggression pact with the group.

    According to Agence France-Presse, ISIS and a number of moderate and hard-line rebel groups have agreed not to fight each other so that they can focus on taking down the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Other sources say the signatories include a major U.S. ally linked to the Free Syrian Army. Moreover, the leader of the Free Syrian Army said Saturday that the group would not take part in U.S. plans for destroying the Islamic State until it got assurances on toppling Assad.

    The deal between ISIS and the moderate Syrian groups casts doubt over President Barack Obama’s freshly announced strategy to arm and train the groups against ISIS.

    The AFP report cited information from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K.-based group monitoring the Syrian civil war, which said parties to the agreement “promise not to attack each other because they consider the principal enemy to be the Nussayri regime.” The term Nussayri refers to the Alawite ethnic group that Assad and many of his supporters belong to. AFP said the agreement was signed in a suburb of the Syrian capital, where ISIS has a strong presence.

    Charles Lister, a fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center, cited a report from the anti-regime Orient Net website to suggest on Twitter that the signatories of the ceasefire include a U.S.-backed coalition called the Syrian Revolutionary Front. According to the U.K.-based outlet Middle East Eye, that same Orient Net report says the ceasefire between groups described in the U.S. as “moderate rebels” and the Islamic State was mediated by the al-Nusra Front, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria.

    As recently as March, the Syrian Revolutionary Front and its leader were described in Foreign Policy as “the West’s best fighting chance against Syria’s Islamist armies.” As of that report, the group controlled 25,000 fighters and its leader had close ties with the Western-friendly Syrian National Coalition.

    Its leader initially won Western favor by successfully fighting ISIS in northern Syria.

    “He proved his mettle in a sense and that’s what endeared him to the Americans,” said Joshua Landis, a prominent Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma. “The Americans are looking for people who can actually fight. That’s been their problem: they’ve gone with people who are moderate but they don’t know to fight. This guy appears to be both moderate and he knows how to fight.”

    The Orient Net report on the ceasefire identified the Syrian Revolutionary Front as part of the Free Syrian Army, the loose array of non-jihadist rebel brigades that the U.S. has directly supported since last year. Obama asked Congress to approve $500 million to train and equip “vetted” Syrian rebels this summer. He repeated his request in his address Wednesday about ISIS.

    Despite its reputation as a palatable ally, the U.S.-backed Syrian Revolutionary Front has previously said that its chief goal is not to stop the rise of extremists, but to topple Assad. In April, its leader told The Independent, “It’s clear that I’m not fighting against al-Qa’ida. This is a problem outside of Syria’s border, so it’s not our problem. I don’t have a problem with anyone who fights against the regime inside Syria.”

    The prospect of a group once supported by the U.S. now sitting down with ISIS raises fundamental questions about U.S. strategy in Syria. Why support Syrians who have a very different, clearly stated goal and who will act as they see fit to achieve it? What assurance does the administration have that fighters it trains and arms in Syria won’t ally with ISIS if it seems like the most effective anti-Assad force?

    The White House argues that its ability to spotlight and support reliable rebel groups has been heightened by improved and expanded intelligence. In an interview with The Huffington Post before news of the pact broke, deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes expressed confidence in U.S. allies in the region.

    “We have been working with the Syrian opposition now for a couple of years, providing them assistance, non-lethal at first but then we [now] provide them with some military assistance, so we know them better today than we did a year, two years ago,” Rhodes said. “There are people who have been vetted who we have relationships with, who we deliver assistance to, so we’re not starting from scratch.”

    Many of those groups, the administration acknowledges, have not passed a vetting process, which explains the delay in expanding assistance. But the news that the Syrian Revolutionary Front, a major player in the moderate coalition, has now chosen to stop fighting ISIS may inspire other groups, either already vetted or still waiting for aid, to determine that a deal with the extremist group is worthwhile. Given reports that Assad avoided fighting ISIS in order to crush the moderate rebels — his calculus being that the West would eventually combat the extremists, as it is now doing — potential U.S. partners may decide that instead of being prey to both extremists and the government, they should settle one battle.

    “These guys are all starved for arms,” Landis said. “They don’t want to go get themselves killed by fighting ISIS until they figure out where Obama is.”

    That turns a conflict that the White House hopes is three-sided — with radical Sunnis, moderate Sunnis and Assad all battling each other — into a sectarian, two-sided war of Sunnis against Assad. Reports already suggest that Syrians who entered the civil war opposing Assad are now turning to ISIS as their best bet for a different kind of government.

    Rhodes warned that a wrong move by the U.S. may lead to that precise perception and reality.

    “If we were to try to run a play with Assad, we would ensure that they” — all Sunni rebel groups — “were turned against us, and in fact we would be taking sides in a sectarian war against one side. We need a Sunni partner in these countries,” he said. “That’s why we need this inclusive government [in Iraq] and that’s why we need a Sunni opposition partner in Syria.”

    This news suggests that partners will be hard to find. Lister said the pact is a product of failed U.S.-led Western policy in Syria.

    The sentiment expressed by Charles Lister at that end that this situation “is a product of failed U.S.-led Western policy in Syria,” is something you often hear these days but really needs to be fleshed out because it seems to assume that there was a “successful” means of violently collapsing the Syrian state and replacing it with a Sunni-dominated government with absolutely no assurances that the Alawites and other minorities wouldn’t find themselves locked out of power and in the same situation that the Sunnis in Iraq currently find themselves. There also seems to be an assumption that the al Qaeda affiliates like Al Nusra and ISIS wouldn’t have been the prime beneficiaries of a joint US/gulf states/Turkish war on Syria that people were clamoring for in 2012. Would the gulf states that have been financing the Islamist rebels even been willing to accept a secular Sunni state or would they have continued backing the Islamists in the hopes that a civil war between the moderates and Islamists could turn Syria into another far right theocracy? The latter seems a lot more likely so shouldn’t there be aggressive talks about how to form a secular Sunni/Shia/Christian/whatever post-Assad government that doesn’t result in Islamist rule and doesn’t terrorize the non-Sunnis going on right now? Will the gulf monarchies be willing to accept a non-Islamist outcome for Syria? That’s very unclear.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 14, 2014, 6:30 pm
  3. The other (beheading) videos may betray an underground reich signature also. Until the US invaded Iraq, the sentence of beheading was generally carried out in a manner roughly analogous to the european 16th century: a burly fellow with a big blade swung it at the kneeling condemned’s neck. The new custom of throat-cutting theater that has arisen since the invasion has, as its most recent notable predecessor, the notorious contests held by the Ustashe in WW2. Perhaps it is actually something learned during the Yugoslav war by Arab fascist mercenaries.

    Posted by Ted Bagg | September 16, 2014, 7:12 am
  4. The broken record of the damaged soul makes for one helluva political din:

    Right Wing Watch
    Larry Klayman: Military Should Oust Obama Like In Egypt
    Submitted by Brian Tashman on Monday, 9/22/2014 2:40 pm

    Larry Klayman is once again calling for the military to remove President Obama from office, telling Tim Wildmon of the American Family Association in an interview today that military leaders should “rise up” and “go to the president and say, ‘Your time’s up,’ just like they did to Mohamed Morsi in Egypt, ‘Take a hike guy, you’re destroying the country.’”

    Klayman, who organized a White House rally last year that he hoped would lead to Obama’s ouster, insisted that the move would not be a coup d’état because Obama is “not a legitimate president” and is “having our people killed for no reason.”

    Klayman added that Obama is an observant Muslim who wears a “ring that says my only God is Allah,” while Wildmon said he believes the president “is a Muslim in his thinking.”

    His claim that Obama wears an Islamic ring is completely false and originated with a debunked WorldNetDaily article.

    At another point in the “Today’s Issues” interview, Klayman said Obama “protects his Muslim brothers at the expense of Christians and Jews.”

    “This president is anti-Christian, he’s anti-Semitic, he doesn’t like white people,” Klayman continued. “We’re taking strong legal action hopefully to get him removed from office as soon as possible before we go under for the count.”

    The right-wing activist went on to say that Obama is a “socialist, a black Muslim in the mold of Louis Farrakhan” who wants people to “pay back African Americans” by “deconstructing the country, trying to bring the country down, in effect like revenge.”

    And in case you’re curious about what Larry recommends for ISIS: nuke all ISIS-controlled cities:

    Right Wing Watch
    Larry Klayman: Obama Must Follow God’s Will And Nuke ISIS
    Submitted by Brian Tashman on Monday, 9/22/2014 10:50 am

    Larry Klayman believes President Obama secretly wants ISIS to expand throughout the Mideast, and suggests today that if Obama was serious about defeating ISIS or following “the divine grace and guidance of the Father and his Son,” then he would simply nuke cities controlled by ISIS and win the “religious war.”

    Klayman writes in a WorldNetDaily column titled, “Best ISIS Strategy: Nuke ’Em,” that the president refuses to take “strong action” against his “Muslim brothers” and is sabotaging U.S. troops by ordering “our brave servicemen not to fire on Muslims unless they were essentially fired upon first.”

    He concludes that since Obama doesn’t have the “stomach for killing his creed en masse” and is rooting for groups like ISIS in hopes of “destroying our Judeo-Christian heritage and way of life,” Americans should “use all legal and constitutional means to remove this profoundly unworthy and dangerous man from office before all is lost.”

    With near unanimity among experts in warfare, President Barack Hussein Obama’s “strategy” to defeat ISIS is a sham that is designed to lose. While the “Muslim in Chief’s” motivation to fail can be attributed in part to his Islamic heritage, Obama’s professed method of combat is strangely reminiscent of President George W. Bush’s initial strategy after Sept. 11, 2001.

    The harsh reality is that Muslims cannot be counted on to forcefully fight other Muslims, and thus Obama’s similar plan to have a coalition of primarily Arabs do the dirty work in killing ISIS is doomed for failure. But of course, that is what our so-called president wants. How dare we Christians and Jews think of and advocate wiping out his fellow Muslims bent on destroying our way of life? Obama simply has no stomach for killing his creed en masse, under any circumstances, even when the circumstances present an existential threat to the United States, the fraudulent Muslim usurper’s “adopted” home.

    Let us finally face it and stop pussyfooting around. We are in a religious war! In the end, it is either them or us. If we intend to have any chance of survival, it is also time that we face reality. Either we kill these radical Muslim ISIS cockroaches – all of them – before they spread like cancer and infest the globe, or in time they will kill all of us. It is survival time, boys and girls. No time for the weak at heart. God understood this when he sent a plague to kill the Egyptians, allowing Moses to flee with his enslaved people for the Promised Land. God acted similarly when he destroyed the Roman Empire and the Jewish high priests after they conspired to crucify his Son. How can we humans, with the divine grace and guidance of the Father and his Son, act differently under these dire circumstances?

    Notwithstanding the Muslim president’s traitorous acts furthering the planned Islamic caliphate over the last six years, Bush and company sowed the seeds that Obama then exploited to further the insidious plans of his Middle Eastern Muslim brothers to again enslave Jews and now Christians to a world where Shariah law rules the school under the devilish hand of their god, Allah.

    So the time has come to return to the strategy of President Truman and face reality. If we really want to destroy ISIS and set an example for other radical Muslims and the Putins of the world to fear us and leave us in peace, we must use the tools that can do this. Put simply, we should employ tactical nuclear weapons to wipe out the enemy. We cannot worry that Islamic civilians will be killed in the process. In the end this strategy, as was true of the Japanese in World War II, saves not just American but Muslim lives as well.

    Yes, these are the times that try men’s souls. No more “sunshine patriots”! The time to fight back with overwhelming force is now before it is too late. Let the Islamic terrorists be destroyed totally with our strongest weapons – giving them an early burial in hell replete with 72 virgins for each one.

    As for the president, let us now also have the guts and wisdom to use all legal and constitutional means to remove this profoundly unworthy and dangerous man from office before all is lost.

    That’s going to require a lot of nukes. Still, Larry does have a talent for generating catchy far right memes. Could a push for nuking cities across Iraq and Syria become the next phase in the Great American ISIS Freak Out?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 22, 2014, 5:13 pm
  5. With 62% of Republican voters backing some form of ground troops (even the folks at HotAir had a “wow” reaction to that one), the push for an expanded US ground presence in Iraq and Syria is only going to increase as the US midterms get closer. And that probably means more alternative ideas for how to get those troops on the ground are on the way too. Ideas like using an army of disposable soldiers:

    The Daily Banter
    Bill O’Reilly’s Outlandish Proposal For a Mercenary Army of 25,000 Privateers to Fight ISIS

    Bob Cesca on September 24, 2014

    Bill O’Reilly figured out the solution to the Middle East’s ISIS problem, and it doesn’t involve American troops on the ground or in the skies above Iraq and Syria. O’Reilly’s solution might as well be the A-Team — bayonet-charging into Raqqa aboard a herd of screeching velociraptors, it’s just that ridiculous. Briefly put, Bill O’Reilly wants to hire and train 25,000 elite mercenaries to scare the piss out of ISIS, and he’s not only absolutely positive this will work, but he’s certain that this is exactly what will happen.

    “It’s going to happen. This anti-terror army is going to happen,” he said Tuesday morning on CBS, just 12 hours or so after pitching the far-fetched concept during the opening segment of his Monday night edition of The O’Reilly Factor. Here’s his scheme:

    We need ground forces. However, the American people, perhaps rightly so, don’t want to send any more of our troops into these chaotic countries. What about a mercenary army, elite fighters well paid, well trained to defeat terrorists all over the world? Here’s how it will work. Fighters recruited by America and trained in the U.S.A. by our Special Forces. U.S. Army rules of engagement would be followed, strict discipline formed by the Geneva Convention. America would be selecting who makes the cut and how they are deployed with an eye on a 25,000 person force. American and NATO officers would lead the mercenary army and the U.S.A. would also provide logistical support, each soldier would sign a contract, three year commitment and again they would be highly paid.

    Not only is this proposal absurd to anyone with a functioning intellect, but as my liberal (small “l”) interventionist friend Professor Tom Nichols, Ph.D. from the Naval War College told O’Reilly to his face during the segment, it’s highly immoral, “Well, Bill, I understand your frustration. I really do. But this is a terrible idea, a terrible idea not just as a practical matter but a moral matter. It’s a morally corrosive idea to try to outsource our national security. This is something Americans are going to have to deal for themselves. We’re not going to solve this problem by creating an army of Marvel Avengers or the Guardians of the Galaxy.

    Exactly right.

    We already have an elite force of well-trained, English-speaking soldiers known as the U.S. military. O’Reilly’s would-be mercenaries would be attached to just as many loved-ones as our soldiers are, and if the mercenaries are killed under an American flag, their deaths will be just as mourned and just as tragic. O’Reilly said, “I have seen too many guys come back with arms and legs blown off from corrupt people in Afghanistan and Iraq,” to which Tom replied, “We don’t solve that problem by hiring an army of mercenaries claiming we really don’t own them.”

    Sure, presumably many of these mercenaries will have homes and kids and mortgages, that is unless O’Reilly’s priavteers would be made up of Terminator style T-1000 liquid metal dreadnauts carrying phased plasma rifles with a 20-watt range.

    While I don’t support sending more ground troops into the fracas, I don’t see why we couldn’t make sure our existing soldiers are “well paid” and equipped with whatever gear and arms this mercenary army would possess. Instead of doing that — the logical solution — it sounds like O’Reilly is proposing that we should just replace the American military, which is operated under the umbrella of the federal government, with a corp of private, out-sourced soldiers-for-hire likely at triple or quadruple the cost. Again, we have a standing army with an established and well-tested chain of command. Why does Bill O’Reilly think they couldn’t, if deployed, do the job?

    He clearly thinks his mercenary army can achieve something that our actual non-science-fiction soldiers are incapable of, emphasizing that, “This force…would strike fear into every terrorist in the world because they never know when the knock on the door is coming.” Um, why? And how would O’Reilly’s flying monkeys achieve this above and beyond the ability of the most powerful military in the history of civilization? Would they wear scary masks? Would they blare Gwar music? He didn’t say. He just made a fist into the camera. Well, in that case.

    During the Iraq War, the Bush administration experimented with using private contractors as soldiers, and as we’ve read in the horror-stories wrought by Blackwater (now “Xe”) and others, it was a failed experiment. And now O’Reilly wants to try the same thing but on a larger scale. Eliminating a government-operated military in lieu of a private, for-profit band of mercenaries adds an entirely new layer of awfulness and the very real potential for long-term tragedies the likes of which we can scarcely predict.

    Well, there’s probably going to be at least one big fan of this proposal. And given the American public’s general lack of a desire to pay the full costs of war, there’s certainly going to be some appeal to sending soldiers into the battle field on a one-way ticket. As Bill pointed out:

    O’Reilly said, “I have seen too many guys come back with arms and legs blown off from corrupt people in Afghanistan and Iraq,” to which Tom replied, “We don’t solve that problem by hiring an army of mercenaries claiming we really don’t own them.”

    So apparently we’re just going to leave the mercenaries there after they get their limbs blown off. Will this plan catch on? Maybe?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 24, 2014, 2:32 pm
  6. “The War Nerd” Gary Brecher has a new piece on rise of ISIS that important make an important point: is everyone overestimating ISIS as a military force? Not their awfulness or their incredible success at wage psychological warfare through beheadings and other terrorizing acts designed to create an aura of brutal invicibility. That psy-op capability doesn’t appear to have been overestimated. But are ISIS’s on-the-ground military capabilities really as fearsome as is assumed? As Brecher points out, that’s not backed up by the evidence since most of ISIS’s major gains in territory happened without a fight:

    Pando Daily
    The War Nerd: Let’s put Islamic State’s menacing advance into perspective by… looking at a map

    By Gary Brecher
    On September 28, 2014

    For a week now, we’ve been getting nonstop scare stories about Islamic State’s menacing advance on the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani. And as far as it goes, the stories are true: Islamic State (IS) did come within 14 km of Kobani, attacking from the South, West, and East, before US air strikes and reinforcements from the Turkish-Kurdish PKK militia stopped them.

    And yes, the fall of Kobani would be a bad thing. A very bad thing, because IS is something unusual: A demonized group that really is as demonic as the mainstream media makes it out to be. Not as powerful, not as important, but every bit as demonic. Islamic State—latest in a long string of names for what was once “Al Qaeda Iraq”—is a collection of the worst survivors of various Sunni Iraqi militias, spiced with a few over-hyped European misogynist converts. A rotten group, whose idea of godly fun is killing heroic, uppity women like Samira Al-Nuaimi and raping captured Yazidi children, and I hope they all suffer miserable deaths, the sooner the better.

    But IS is not performing the great military feats these scare stories give them credit for. And making them out to be such great conquerors only inflates the ridiculous vanity of the sadistic ham-actors who flock to IS.

    Take this alleged push toward Kobani. To see how little it really means, you need certain skills, like… oh, I dunno, being able to read a map. So start by finding Kobani on a map—which isn’t always easy, because Kobani is the Kurdish name, and many sites, including Google Maps, list it by the competing Arab one, “Ayn al-Arab,” though a search for “Kobani” will direct you to the right place, under the name “Ayn al-Arab.” OK, now, you’ve found Kobani/Ayn al-Arab, right? Yeah, little town on the Syria-Turkey border—which, by the way, is the key to everything that’s going on there. Now, let your finger drift westward along that border about 25 km. You’ll come to another little border town called Jarabulus.

    So what? Well, the point is that Jarabulus, a dusty little nowhere town of about 12,000 people, happens to be the location of one of the first “Emirates” declared by Islamic State in Syria.

    Assad’s Syrian Arab Army (SAA) never made a serious attempt to hold the border crossing at Jarabulus, so it came under Sunni rebel control as early as the summer of 2012. At that time, the resistance was an ad hoc group organized on clan lines, like many spontaneous Sunni neighborhood insurgent groups in the early stages of the war. This one, according to the excellent Syria analyst Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, was called “The Family of Jadir,” after its leader, Yusuf Al-Jadir. This group controlled the little town of Jarabulus—without calling it an “emirate”—until IS (which was still calling itself “I.S.I.S.,” or “The Islamic State of Al-Shams [Syria]”) took Jarabulus by force, in June of 2013.

    Keep this timeline in mind when you’re trying to assess the significance of IS’s big push toward Kobani: IS(IS) took Jarabulus, only 25 km west of Kobani, more than 15 months ago. If it really were anything like the powerful, mobile force it’s being made out to be, it could and should have swarmed east to take the next significant border town, Kobani/Ayn al-Arab, immediately afterward.

    But that didn’t happen. Instead, IS did what it always did: Publicity. It declared this nowhere little town of Jarabulus an “emirate.” You could have heard the Syrians laughing even over the celebratory AK fire. “Emirate”? Jarabulus? Those two words just don’t go together in Syrian Arabic. It would be like Bakersfield declaring itself an “Empire.” No, even that doesn’t catch the absurdity of “Emirate of Jarabulus,” because Bakersfield is a fairly big town. More like “The Empire of Turlock.” (Sorry, Turlock, but I got a ticket once going through your lousy one-street burg and now you pay the price.)

    The next thing IS(IS) did when they took Jarabulus was to cut off water supplies to Kobani, hoping to use thirst to drive the Kurds out, a tactic they tried several times over the next few months.

    What they didn’t do was mount a serious frontal attack on Kobani, even though the town was defended only by lightly-armed YPG militia. It wasn’t until June, 2014—when IS had a big success on its Eastern (Iraqi) front, panicking the weak Shia-Arab “Iraqi Army” into abandoning all of Anbar Province without a fight—that IS was able to transfer some of its captured heavy weapons to the attack on Kobani, overrunning Kurdish town militias who were trying to stop tanks and artillery with nothing more than AKs and a few RPGs. With all this armor—paid for by you American taxpayers, so thank Mister Cheney the next time you see him—IS was able to take several dozen Kurdish villages in the enclave around Kobani.

    But stand back a second and squint at this supposedly significant advance. First of all, it came a whole year after IS declared its “Emirate” in Jarabulus, just 25 km west of Kobani. So the front lines barely moved in that year, even though the Kurdish forces were no more than neighborhood militias with nothing more than small arms. Second, it only happened when IS, using its one good move—shifting forces across the Iraq/Syria border, away from pressure and toward opportunity—gained a huge, though temporary, advantage in weaponry by bringing Iraqi armor against those village militias. And third—and most important: It failed. Even with that huge advantage in weaponry, IS has failed to take Kobani, after a year and a half of woofing, a massive bulk-up with captured Iraqi armor, and the covert help of the Turkish authorities, who have been doing everything to make life easier for Islamic State forces and harder for the Kurds opposing them.

    Even with all that overbalance of forces against them, the Kurds of Kobani have kept this supposedly unstoppable IS juggernaut at least 14 km from Kobani. That’s weakness, almost laughable weakness. And it puts a new light on Islamic State’s one significant victory, its rout of the so-called Iraqi Army from all of Anbar Province last June. That Army was huge and expensively fitted out with all the latest American gizmos, but it was also demoralized, corrupt, and stuffed with conscripts from the Shia of the South, who had been a subject people, terrorized by, and terrified of, their Sunni masters. It’s not that Iraqi Shia won’t fight; they will, and very fiercely—but only for their besieged neighborhoods, their hereditary imams, or—above all—any public insult to their religion. You find that pattern among subject peoples all over the world: They’ll die for the ’hood or the temple, but they can’t cold-bloodedly form up, march into the territory of their former slave-masters, and occupy that territory without quaking at the thought the old masters will reassert themselves.

    When Islamic State roared over the border, preceded by its beheading videos, the old terrors came back, and the Shia fled. There were no battles to speak of, so there was no real demonstration of IS’s combat power.

    The Kurds—even lightly armed villagers like the ones who held off IS for so long—don’t scare easy. They faced down Saddam’s army, and IS is no more than the dregs of that army, mangier but no meaner. So the Kurds stood and fought, even though they were badly outgunned. And what they demonstrated is that, faced with disciplined opposition, IS is such a weak combat force that it could not take a small town 25 km from its base of operations, even after bulking up and wasting 15 months probing its defenses.

    And now, any chance IS had of even holding onto its gains in the hills around Kobani is gone. You can’t conduct Toyota-blitzkrieg, the only form of warfare IS does well, under constant air attack. Now that the Kurds of Kobani are being reinforced by PKK units from Turkey (in spite of everything the Turks are doing to try to stop them), IS will fall back on Jarabulus—their ridiculous little “emirate”—and take it out on their usual victims, any woman who was born in the wrong cult, wears the wrong veil, or dares to talk back.

    So yeah, IS really is as bad as they’re made out to be, but we’re talking “bad” in both senses: They’re misogynistic swine, but they’re also really the most overrated, over-hyped bunch of hams this side of WWE. And when more people realize that, IS will lose their best weapon, their terror-propaganda. Without that, they show up as what they are: a mid-size Sunni militia with a knack for child-rape and no skills against anyone who doesn’t fall for their death-metal hype.

    While the world obviously needs to find some sort of long-term solution (a Marshall Plan for the Middle East?) for the Sunni populations that have been left so hopeless that ISIS started seeming like the best bet for a better life, overestimating ISIS’s military power and reach as part of a short-term rallying cry for building an anti-ISIS coalition doesn’t seem like appropriate way to go about this. Especially since ISIS’s major power grab came primarily through the moral collapse of the Iraq army as opposed to ISIS’s military might. As Brecher points out, giving ISIS credit where credit isn’t due only really helps one group of people: ISIS. Ok, maybe two groups.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 28, 2014, 7:50 pm
  7. ISIS is symptom, it is not the problem.


    Report: Islamic State to wage war on Iran for its nuclear secrets

    Sunday Times cites manifesto written by member of ISIS war council, proposing to offer Russia control of Anbar gas fields in return for Moscow cutting ties with Tehran and handing over its nuclear knowhow.

    Published: 10.05.14, 08:19 / Israel News

    The Islamic State is preparing to wage war on Iran in order to obtain the secrets of its nuclear program, according to a manifesto attributed to a member of the Islamic State war cabinet uncovered by the Sunday Times.

    The manifesto, believed to have been written by Abdullah Ahmed al-Meshedani, calls on ISIS militants to prepare for war against the Islamic Republic.

    The document, thought to be a policy manifesto prepared for senior members of the organization’s leadership, was found in the home of one of the ISIS commanders during a Iraqi special forces raid in March, the paper reported.

    Western security officials believe the document to be authentic.

    According to the document uncovered by the British newspaper, ISIS intends to obtain Iran’s nuclear secrets through Russia. The organization will offer Russia access to Iraqi gas fields it seized in the Anbar area in return for Moscow cutting its ties with Tehran and pass on Iran’s nuclear knowhow to ISIS.

    Moscow must also cut its ties with the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria, and move its support to Sunni Gulf states opposing the Shiite Ayatollah regime.

    Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant was built by Russian contractor Atomstroyexport as part of a contract signed between Tehran and the Russian Ministry for Atomic Energy in 1995. In September 2013, operational control of the power plant was transferred from Russia to the Islamic Republic.

    Al-Meshedani, responsible for recruitment of foreign fighters for ISIS, also calls for “Nazi-style eugenics” as well as the killing of shiite Iraqi officials, military leaders and members of Iranian-backed militias.

    According to the document, the Islamic State aims to strip Iran of “all its power,” by targeting Iranian diplomats and businessmen and profitable Iranian industries like its caviar and carpet industries.

    Iran has warned that it would attack Islamic State group jihadists inside Iraq if they advance near the border.

    “If the terrorist group (IS) come near our borders, we will attack deep into Iraqi territory and we will not allow it to approach our border,” the official IRNA news agency quoted ground forces commander General Ahmad Reza as saying last month.

    Iran is a close ally of the Shiite-led government in Iraq and has been unusually accepting of US military action in Iraq against the jihadists, but has criticised air strikes on Syria, saying they would not help restore stability in the region.

    It has provided support to both the Iraqi government and Iraqi Kurdish forces fighting the jihadists and has dispatched weapons and military advisers.

    Iran and the United States were said to be discussing possible cooperation against Islamic State in September, but both countries have since ruled it out.

    Posted by Vanfield | October 5, 2014, 10:57 am

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