Sunday, November 29, 2015


Mission creep isn't good enough for John McCain and Lindsay Graham as the two made clear today on CBS' FACE THE NATION.

The two US senators (and Graham is vying for the GOP's 2016 presidential nomination as well) want 10,000 US troops in Iraq now -- up from Barack Obama's approximately 3,400 currently (that estimate does not include US special operation forces).

From the transcript, here's the section briefly touching on Iraq:

GRAHAM: I think it will require more than that, but the good news, 90 percent will come from the condition.
The kind of force that John and I are talking about is that 10 percent of the force will come from Western powers. The force that we're talking about will come from regional armies. There are large regional armies, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey. They have regional armies. They would go into the fight if you put Assad on the table.
So, most of the fighting would be done by the region. They will pay for this war. But one thing I can tell you about Iraq, the next president of the United States is going to be dealing with ISIL in Iraq, because what we have in place here is small, it's limited in focus, and it will get limited results.
General MacFarland is doing a very good job with limited capability. We don't have enough American troops inside of Iraq to destroy ISIL any time soon.

MCCAIN: I believe we will take Ramadi back, which is very important, within a relatively short period of time. But that's just the beginning.
There is Fallujah, there is Mosul, and others. We need a more robust presence. And, John, again, as all of our candidates bloviate about refugees, we see Bashar Assad is a major cause of the refugees which are now flooding Europe and causing such consternation in the United States.
A no-fly zone will provide a refuge at least for some of these refugees.

GRAHAM: The one thing I would say, John, there is no ground force, there is no ground force being formed in Syria. And if you don't look at Iraq and Syria as one battle space, you are making a huge mistake.

DICKERSON: So, Senator Graham, the president says, because there is no ground force, military advisers tell him that it would require an occupational U.S. force. And that is a recipe for lots and lots of forces for a long period of time. What is your response to that?

GRAHAM: I haven't been told that by anybody.
The holding force would be the region. We're talking about regional armies being -- coming together with a Western component, 90 percent them, 10 percent us. The holding will be done by Sunni Arab states. We will turn to Assad and say, you must go. Russia and Iran will be on the outside looking in to an entire regional army, including Turkey, with Western elements. They will fold like a cheap suit.
Inside of Iraq, if we had 10,000 American forces, with some Western coalitions helping us, I think we could get them out of Mosul a lot quicker.
I cannot stress to you how urgent it is that we destroy ISIL. Every day that goes by that they hold millions of people under their sway is a bad day for us, because they're going to hit us at home if we don't put them on the run.

McCain believes "we will take Ramadi back . . . within a relatively short period of time."


Second, the battle to retake Ramadi is now in its sixth month.  A short period of time is an option that vanished some time ago.

As for Graham's getting the Islamic State out of Mosul a lot quicker -- quicker than what?

They're not out of Mosul.

They've occupied Mosul since June -- of 2014.

A lot quicker than what?

It's a real shame John McCain's mouth doesn't seem to connect with his brain in the interview -- and I've worded that as kindly as I can because I'm not trying to be funny and toss off a bitchy one liner.

What I'm trying to point out is that in those long Senate Armed Services Committee hearings, when John McCain, as Chair, can go on as long as he wants -- and he can get very talky -- he will make the point that there are leadership issues in Iraq -- he will talk of failed promises of inclusion, for example.

I do not support more US troops in Iraq, I don't support the ongoing occupation or the US-installed government in Iraq.

But were I trying to sell that, I would put a time limit on it, I would put conditions on it and I would not make it open-ended.

War is McCain's default position -- one reason I said I'd never vote for him.  (It's also Hillary's default position.)  But he's not usually as ridiculous as he was on the chat and chew today.

By the way, Glenn Greenwald has a critique of FACE THE NATION here.  It really doesn't go far enough.

The US government shows no such restraint when bombing Iraq.  Today, the US Defense Dept announced:

Strikes in Iraq
Bomber, fighter, attack, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 19 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

-- Near Huwayjah, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and wounded an ISIL fighter.

-- Near Qaim, two strikes struck two ISIL bomb-making facilities.

-- Near Fallujah, one strike destroyed an ISIL rocket rail.

-- Near Habbaniyah, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL sniper position, and an ISIL building.

-- Near Hit, one strike destroyed an ISIL-used bridge.

-- Near Kisik, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Mosul, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL fighting position.

-- Near Qayyarah, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions.

-- Near Ramadi, seven strikes struck two ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun position, two ISIL buildings, two ISIL weapons caches, wounded an ISIL fighter, and denied ISIL access to terrain.

-- Near Sinjar, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.

-- Near Sultan Abdallah, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.

-- Near Tal Afar, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

McCain and Graham pretended on FACE THE NATION today that they were selling something different than Barack.

They aren't.

It's the same useless plan but on a grander scale.

It will fail as Barack's has -- not due to limited military forces but due to a refusal to place demands on the Iraqi government to actually be inclusive.

I'm traveling in some vehicle
I'm sitting in some cafe
A defector from the petty wars
That shell shock love away
-- "Hejira," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her album of the same name

The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4497 (plus 10 in Operation Inherent Resolve which includes at least 1 Iraq War fatality).

The following community sites -- plus NPR Music and Jody Watley --  updated:


    Kat's "Kat's Korner: Tracy Chapman collects the best" went up earlier today.  Isaiah's latest goes up after this.

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