Sunday, April 24, 2016


The Iraq War continues.  Today, the US Defense Dept announced:

Strikes in Iraq
Bomber, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 24 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

-- Near Baghdadi, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL weapons caches, an ISIL recoilless rifle, an ISIL bomb factory, and suppressed an ISIL tactical unit.

-- Near Huwayjah, a strike destroyed an ISIL tunnel system and an ISIL generator.

-- Near Beiji, a strike destroyed three ISIL fighting positions.

-- Near Fallujah, five strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun, an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL fighting position, an ISIL bunker, and three ISIL trench systems.

-- Near Habbaniyah, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position, an ISIL weapons cache, and an ISIL trench system.

-- Near Hit, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL recoilless rifle.

-- Near Kisik, four strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL assembly areas, four ISIL improvised explosive devices, an ISIL observation camera and suppressed an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL mortar position.

-- Near Mosul, four strikes struck an ISIL modular refinery and an ISIL headquarters and destroyed an ISIL assembly area and two ISIL vehicles and damaged an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Ramadi, a strike struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.

-- Near Sinjar, a strike destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Sultan Abdallah, three strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units, an ISIL bomb and weapons facility and destroyed six ISIL assembly areas, an ISIL mortar system, and an ISIL supply cache.

Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target. Ground-based artillery fired in counterfire or in fire support to maneuver roles is not classified as a strike.

The same thing, day after day since August of 2014.

And slowly people are beginning to catch on.

Even Fred Kaplan, it appears.

From his latest piece for SLATE:

So, at least in theory, that meets one of Obama’s conditions for dropping his resistance to getting U.S. troops more involved in an offensive military action.
But he’s also cited another reason for restraint: There’s no point in throwing American troops into this conflict without a decent prospect for a political solution. Specifically, as long as Iraq’s Shiite-led government doesn’t share power with the Sunnis, ISIS (or jihadist organizations like ISIS) can’t be crushed. The Baghdad government’s oppressive policies and corrupt practices might not have caused the rise of ISIS, but they’ve helped sustain it and legitimized the grievances that ISIS has exploited, encouraging even many moderate Sunnis to tolerate—or at least not rebel against—the presence of ISIS as the lesser of two evils.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has more inclusive inclinations than his predecessor, Nouri al-Maliki. And the American commanders in Iraq have done much to reinforce these tendencies, for instance paying the Kurdish peshmerga and the anti-ISIS Sunni tribal fighters through the Baghdad treasury—and thus building a sense of loyalty to and from the government—rather than giving them cash directly, as was done during the tribal co-optations of 2007 (as had to be done, since Maliki wasn’t willing to be the conduit). Another hopeful sign: The U.S. commander leading this tribal coordination is Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, who, as a colonel back in 2006, organized the Anbar Awakening, the first (and, for a while, pivotal) campaign in which Sunni militias cooperated with U.S. troops to beat back al-Qaida. When it comes to melding tribal politics and military entities in western Iraq, MacFarland has no equal.

Nearly two years of bombings but also nearly two years of refusing to work on a political solution.  The US could have led on that.

They have not.

As for the claim that things are better under Haider al-Abadi?

There's no proof of that.

He's continued most of Nouri al-Maliki's policies that persecuted the Sunnis -- this includes the policy of bombing residential homes in the Sunni city of Falluja.

His proposed new Cabinet ushers in no great new Iraq -- not in his nominations.

Imagine if Barack had put the same focus he did on bombing into diplomacy?

Things might be better in Iraq.


Mohammed Tawfeeq and Tim Hume (CNN) report, "Twenty-two fighters have been killed in ongoing clashes between Kurdish Peshmerga and Shiite militia members in northern Iraq, local security officials say, a development that complicates the fight against ISIS in the region."

It's a real shame that time wasn't better used, that diplomacy was not utilized, that Secretary of State John Kerry was more interested in guns and bombs and in playing Secretary of Defense than in doing his job.

It's a real shame that time that could have been better utilized was instead used to drop bombs -- as if that would ever solve a damn thing.

 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] 4498 (plus 10 in Operation Inherent Resolve which includes at least 1 Iraq War fatality).

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