Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Baq to Iraq: Postscript

Keep Calm quilt.
It looks like the president would really prefer not to have everybody speculating. Via Foreign Policy blogger Gordon Lubold , from the Wall Street Journal:
President Barack Obama decided against immediate air strikes on marauding Sunni extremists in Iraq, opting instead to pursue strategies such as providing intelligence to the Iraqi military, addressing the country's political divisions and seeking support from regional allies. Mr. Obama will convene a White House meeting Wednesday with Republican and Democratic leaders from the House and Senate to brief them on what officials call this new comprehensive approach.

"The president wants to avoid airstrikes for now in part because U.S. military officials lack sufficient information to hit targets that would shift momentum on the battlefield. Officials say their approach also would help address underlying causes of the Sunni uprising and the collapse of Iraq's military forces.

"The White House and Pentagon now hold a more skeptical view of the possible effectiveness of speedy airstrikes...
Meanwhile, in the imaginary universe, the mongering goes on. Vixen tells us that Linsey-Woolsey Graham and his best friend ex-Lieutenant McCain are having a fight over whether we can be on Iran's side and against it at the same time (McCain doesn't seem to have a problem with that; when I predicted his head was going to explode I apparently overestimated the amount of reactive stuff the head contains). Cartoonist Matt Bors offers a strip deliberately conflating the 275 soldiers being sent to beef up security at the embassy in Baghdad with the 750 to 1500 advisers sent to Saigon between 1955 and 1960 (really, the official explanation is good enough: the embassy is the size of a small country—Vatican City, to be precise—and besides, BENGHAZI!!!). Calm down, Matt.

Update: Spencer Ackerman reports that Joint Chiefs chairman Martin Dempsey, in testimony before the Senate, confirms the administration and Pentagon do not want to do airstrikes. So it's not just leaks any more.
Shorter interview of Chas Freeman (George H.W. Bush's ambassador to Saudi Arabia) by Ezra Klein for Vox:
EK: Do you have any tough-sounding criticism of administration policy we could use for clickbait?
CF: The contradictions and incoherence of our strategy really beggar the imagination.  I think the reason is strategic incoherence and tunnel vision on our part. What we have not been able to come up with is a coherent overall strategy that helps us set priorities. So we have not been able to sort all this through into a coherent set of priorities.
EK: So what should we do instead?
CF:  I don't think there's a military solution. If we funnel in more weapons we're just likely to see more of them turned against us by the people we're trying to combat. The paradox of all this is that the the idea behind the invasion of Iraq by the neoconservatives was to show the invincibility of American power. Instead we have shown its weakness.
It's interesting that both Washington and Tehran have gone out of their respective ways to urge the government in Baghdad to address the problems of disdain and discrimination against the Sunni minority. There has to be political leadership in Iraq that can integrate Sunni Iraqis into the political structure rather than exclude them.
In other words, never mind.
Via Malia Litman.

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