Obama’s New War: Dumb Dumb Dumb Dumb Dumb

President Obama Addresses The Nation To Outline Strategy On ISIS

As you are by all accounts aware, the US now faces its deadliest foe, its most terrifying enemy – the likes of which we have never seen – in the deserts of Iraq. If we do not send ground troops into that country again, we will all die at home, says Butters. 90 percent of the country think we are directly threatened by the new Caliphate. And far from calming the hysteria, our leaders have fanned it.

Very few people in political leadership have laid out what this group is actually capable of, what the limits of its potential are, or examined the contingent reasons behind its recent sudden advance. It has been framed as an abstract but vital fight against “pure evil” – a rubric the originator of the phrase “axis of evil” knows more about than most. Here’s a must-read on reality:

Despite its territorial gains and mastery of propaganda, the Islamic State’s fundamentals are weak, and it does not have a sustainable endgame. In short, we’re giving it too much credit.

Consider the fall of Mosul, which catapulted the impression that the group is a formidable force able to engage on multiple fronts simultaneously and overpower a U.S.-trained army that dwarfs its size. In reality, it was able to gain such vast territory because it faced an impotent opponent and had the help of the broader Sunni insurgency. The Iraqi army, lacking professionalism and insufficiently motivated to fight and die for Sunni-dominated Mosul, self-destructed and deserted. The militants can be credited with fearlessness and offensive mobility, but they can hardly be said to have defeated the Iraqi army in combat. At the time, Islamic State militants represented less than 10 percent of the overall Sunni insurgency. Many other Sunni groups helped to hold territory and fight off Iraq’s Shiite government and Iranian-backed militia forces …

The Islamic State’s capture of Sinjar in the northern province of Nineveh further added to perceptions of its dominance and helped precipitate Washington’s decision to carry out airstrikes in Iraq. But that episode was also misinterpreted. Kurdish forces were not only taken by surprise, but since they had only recently filled the vacuum in Sinjar left by Iraq’s fleeing army, they were stretched too thin and poorly equipped to sustain a battle outside their home territory. Lacking ammunition and other supplies, they conceded the territorial outpost and retreated within their borders in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Read the whole thing. IS is already over-stretched, and the regional powers who are actually threatened by it, have been slowly mobilizing against it. All of that was happening before Obama decided to Americanize the conflict. Immediately, there is less incentive for the regional actors to do the work themselves, and IS now has a global legitimacy – the US president is now its chief enemy! – it can leverage for further recruits.

Those Sunni recruits are likely to come from the region, especially if Shiite forces from Baghdad, Tehran and Damascus are its foes. But more importantly, this titanic global struggle will create and foster indigenous, Jihadist terror in the US in response to the war. The only terror attacks we have suffered since 9/11 have been these kinds of attacks. And we just incentivized them.

Let me be clear. I have no illusions about Jihadism or the evil of ISIS. I passionately oppose everything they stand for in every single respect. I abhor their brutality, their twisted version of religion, their pathetic neuroses disguised as faith, their inability to cope with the modern world, and their foul theocracy. But everywhere this kind of extremism has flourished in the Middle East – think of al Qaeda’s failed attempt to turn Jordan – has collapsed because the vast majority of Muslims – like anyone anywhere – do not want to be governed by these murderous loons. That’s why al Qaeda distanced itself. Zawahiri knows that the Caliphate’s path is self-defeating in the end.

So we had a chance to allow that process to take place, to see regional actors be forced to confront it, to allow natural alliances – temporary and durable – form in that region. But a couple of videos and we lost our shit. I am not a pacifist. I do not oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.

If that sounds familiar, you’re not wrong. But that was a different person at a different time. And we will all live with the consequences of his capitulation to panic.

(Photo: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a prime time address from the Cross Hall of the White House on September 10, 2014.  By Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images.)