90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Iraq Unravels In Violent Civil Strife

Iraq, coming apart at the seams. And the whole map of the Middle East may be in play.  We’ll take a cold, hard look.

This image posted on a militant website on Saturday, June 14, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, appears to show militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) leading away captured Iraqi soldiers dressed in plain clothes after taking over a base in Tikrit, Iraq. (AP)

This image posted on a militant website on Saturday, June 14, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, appears to show militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) leading away captured Iraqi soldiers dressed in plain clothes after taking over a base in Tikrit, Iraq. (AP)

Days into the onslaught of black-clad fighters in Iraq, the news is still stunning.  The map of Iraq – where the US invaded, spent billions, trillions, lost 4000 lives – redrawn in less than a week. City after city lost to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a group more than dreaming now of an Islamic “caliphate” stretching from Aleppo to Iran, beyond.  A fantasy before the US invasion.  Now a region of turmoil you can draw on the map.  This hour On Point:  Iraq, coming apart right now at the seams.  America’s options.  The facts on the ground.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Ned Parker, Baghdad bureau chief for Reuters. (@nedmparker1)

Paul Pillar, professor at Georgetown University’s Security Studies Program. Form national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia.

Seth Jones, acting director of the RAND Corporation’s International Security and Defense Policy Center. (@SethGJones)

Borzou Daragahi, Middle East and North Africa correspondent for the Financial Times. (@borzou)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Wall Street Journal: Iraq Scrambles to Defend Baghdad — “Iraq’s government girded to protect the capital from advancing insurgents, as Iranian security officials said their forces had joined the battle on Baghdad’s side and the U.S. weighed military assistance, including airstrikes. Iraq edged closer to all-out sectarian conflict as Kurdish forces took control of a provincial capital in the oil-rich north on Thursday and Sunni militants threatened to march on two cities revered by Shiite Muslims and the capital.”

Reuters: Iraq’s top Shi’ite cleric issues call to fight jihadist rebels – “Iraq’s most senior Shi’ite Muslim cleric urged followers to take up arms against a full-blown Sunni militant insurgency to topple Shi’ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, escalating a conflict that threatens civil war and a possible break-up of the country.”

The Daily Beast: ISIS’s Secret Allies — “All eyes have been on ISIS as the jihadist group, in a matter of days, cut Iraq in half and declared its own state in the cities it captured. With fewer than 10,000 fighters ISIS forced the retreat of the better-armed Iraqi army forces many times its size. Their incredible success on the battlefield has fed into a growing lore about the group: the small band of fanatics that can take down a country. The truth is more basic and it’s something ISIS doesn’t want to admit—they weren’t acting alone.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Tim

    “The truth is more basic and it’s something ISIS doesn’t want to admit—they weren’t acting alone.”

    I’ve read news reports saying Baathists and tribal forces are also involved in the assault. If that’s the case, is it really correct to view this as a radical Islamist group’s assault on the Iraqi state, as opposed to a wider rebel uprising by a disenfranchised and terrorized Sunni minority?

    Make no mistake, ISIS holding more territory is not a good thing, but the Maliki government does not have clean hands either. Maliki has been acting as a sectarian dictator, purging non-Shia from the government and military. Google the “Wolf Brigade,” or check out Michael R. Gordon and Gen. Bernard E. Trainor’s excellent history of the Iraq War “Endgame.” The Iraqi police forces and army have been directly involved in the ethnic cleansing of Sunnis. This goes beyond discrimination in employment, or lack of representation in the government; these events involved the endemic use of torture and rape in prisons, as well as the Iraqi Army covering for Shia death squads as they pulled civilians with Sunni names off buses and carried out indiscriminate mass executions at checkpoints. I find it disturbing how little these abuses are cited in the run up to a US military intervention on behalf of this government.

    Maliki didn’t even win re-election in 2011. The secular Iraqiya List headed by Iyad Allawi won a plurality of seats in parliament. Allawi had a base of support including Sunnis and secular Shia and had the constitutional right to form a government before Maliki. Maliki ran roughshod over the constitution, banning many of Iraqiya’s candidates from taking their seats. When Maliki still couldn’t form a coalition government, Iran formed it for him. The current Iraqi government was literally formed in Iran, in a coalition negotiated by Iranian agents. Now, as Maliki’s government falls under it’s own corruption (the Sunni west is in revolt and the Kurdish north is a state onto itself) the Iranian army is moving in to save him: is it any wonder that his rule lacks legitimacy and he is seen as an Iranian puppet, especially by non-Shia?

    With Shia volunteer forces and the Iranian army stepping in to join the fray, I worry that any US action, no matter how well intentioned, will end up being less about stopping a small radical jihadi faction in its tracks, and more about giving the upper hand to one sectarian group over another in a conflict headed towards an all out war. I don’t know how this can be diffused from the air, but I also recognize that there is no stomach in the US or at the UN for deploying peacekeeping forces. That means things are likely to get worse before they get better. It seems to me that enforcing no fly zones to protect refugees and humanitarian aid shipments would be a better move than actively fighting for either side.

  • http://flustercucked.blogspot.com/ Frank TheUnderemployedProfessi

    I predicted that a civil war would eventually erupt once our troops left.

    • NrthOfTheBorder

      And so it will in Afghanistan.

  • Michiganjf

    SOOOOOO many people predicted region-wide chaos and civil war would be the ultimate result when neo-Conservative geniuses started this war back in 2003…

    Why the surprise now?

    After the fiasco of an invasion, many voices rose in criticism of Bush and crew’s purge of almost every Baathist within the Iranian government, knowing it would result in civil, inter-sectarian strife… but once again voices of reason were ignored.

    The neo-conservatives couldn’t have screwed up the middle-east in a worse way.
    Now, all the same idiots are pushing for war again.
    Gee, how about let’s give all these boneheads the microphone yet again.

    • Coastghost

      Based on highly ambiguous “evidence” concerning Iraq’s weapons programs, Bush & Co. initiated the invasion to topple Saddam’s regime, with its clear history of fomenting instability across the region.
      Based on clear and wholly unambiguous evidence, Obama could not bring himself to intervene to any effect in Syria against Assad’s regime (not even on Clinton/Power “humanitarian grounds”) and thereby gave ISIS ample opportunity to consolidate its forces prior to leading its insurgency into Iraq.

      • NrthOfTheBorder

        Just what are you saying here Coast?

        • Coastghost

          Several things well. (Personally, I prize the evocation of Obama’s decisive and consequential inaction, germane as it is to today’s proffered subject.)

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Thanks for clarifying …

          • jimino

            So “nothing” is the much more precise response.

  • X Y & Z
    • Human2013

      I’ll refer you to my post on the shameful incompetence and ignorance of President Bush.

      • Markus6

        I’ve never understand this type of response but I see it all the time. One person criticizes something, so someone chimes in that this other thing is awful.

        I think Obama is incompetent. I think Bush was incompetent. Why bring this up unless you make the point that we the voters aren’t very good at picking presidents? Either that, or we don’t think it’s important to have competent presidents.

        • Human2013

          Ummm….In case you missed it, “we the people” didn’t vote for President Bush. He didn’t win the electorate or the popular vote. “We the People” didn’t get a vote on SCOTUS for Citizens United and “we the people” are disgusted by our weakening power in this so-called “American Democracy.”

          • Coastghost

            If Bush didn’t “win the election”, neither was Gore permitted to steal it.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Greater portion of the popular vote is called winning the election.

          • Coastghost

            US Presidential contests commonly are determined by Electoral College outcomes, no?

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Not by SCOTUS, that’s for sure. Florida GOP officials messed with things, and the usual subterfuge to suppress the vote.

          • Human2013

            Unfortunatley

          • Coastghost

            I sympathize: had we a European-style parliamentary democracy, Obama could long since have been tossed out with a “no confidence” motion.

          • Human2013

            ..but not in this democracy….somehow the majority doesn’t win.

          • TFRX

            If you want to pretend the votes were counted and that ruling wasn’t the biggest dungheap ever, go right ahead.

        • TFRX

          Your particular beliefs are very needle-threaded and represent almost nobody else, statistically speaking.

          Out here, I was told that the administration of GWB was chockablock with experienced,savvy expert hands who could steer us through anything. And that same bunch got us to invade Iraq by screaming “traitor” at the likes of me and calling Vietnam veteran amputees like Max Clelland “squishy” on terrorism.

          After Inauguration Day 2009, it was like a switch was flipped, and courtly courtiers of Washington afforded President Obama very little of the same compulsory patriotism.

      • X Y & Z

        Obama and incompetence are essentially interchangeable terms.

    • NrthOfTheBorder

      Right. Blame it on Obama – of course, that is, if your’re linking the subject of today’s topic to the current President.

      Actually, XY, it’d be great to hear your reasoning – but I’m not convinced by what sounds reactionary and especially by a link.

      • Don_B1

        X Y & Z argues by declaring victory but without any evidence or logic.

        Any expectation of a logical argument based on facts in context, not some strawman or ad hominem argument is a fantasy that just will not occur.

  • andrewgarrett

    We broke it, we bought it. We screwed up hugely (I was opposed to the intervention from the beginning, not bragging, just saying) but now we can’t just shrug and say “Oh well.”

    • Tim

      I don’t think we can just abandon the situation either. First, there are the humanitarian reasons for trying to broker a peace. Second, if things spiral out of hand, the involvement of our allies, Saudi Arabia and/or Israel, might draw us in anyhow, but only after the situation has gotten more out of hand.

      Plus, it’s not good for US safety for groups with terrorist aspirations to have free reign to operate in these failed states. But for a faulty detonator we would have had an airliner explode over downtown Detroit not long ago, by a bomber recruited in Yemen.

      • Markus6

        All the above arguments, with one exception, were good arguments for going in initially; mistreating its own people, endangering Saudi Arabia or Israel, a haven for terrorists. I guess the oil argument is no longer valid.

        The initial argument, that we broke it, it is the same one I heard for staying in Viet Nam. I’m waiting for the argument now that it would dishonor all the brave soldiers who died in this war.

        The first set are good points, but they weren’t good enough for us to get involved in the first place and I think we’ve learned enough to know they’re worse now. The last argument, we broke it, is very strong. But we’ve already spent years, thousands of lives (I’m guessing), gazillions of dollars and lots of whatever good will we had trying to fix things. At some point, we have to be smart enough to know that we can’t.

        Can’t we just one time learn from our previous mistakes and from history?

        • Don_B1

          Any intervention now will be useless unless we can convince al Maliki to change his course of directing terror at the Sunnis to a more inclusive government. But since, as pointed out by Fareed Zacharia in his CNN program, GPS, yesterday [see my links in a comment to Tim at the beginning (oldest) post] al Maliki is a tool of Iran and was chosen the “leader” of the new Iraqi government by the George W. Bush administration, that might never happen and will be viewed with suspicion by all even if it does.

          Friday night’s The Charlie Rose Show had a reasonably good discussion of the Iraq problem also.

      • 65noname

        “Saudi Arabia and/or Israel” are not MY “allies”.

      • J__o__h__n

        We shouldn’t have invaded them, but we left them in a stable condition and their inability and unwillingness to live together is not our responsibility. With allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia, who needs enemies?

    • 65noname

      well then, what do “we” say?

  • HonestDebate1

    The premise the war was a bad choice that led us here is whacked.

    • NrthOfTheBorder

      Whacked? Our reason for going to war in Iraq in the first place was based on lies. Saddam’s support of terrorism and arsenal of WMD, primary pillars of our impetus, fiction.

      Now the whole north west corner of the country will be a terrorist encampment armed with discarded American weapons.

      Where there was no threat before, now we have plenty of reason to fear as potentially the whole region spins into chaos.

    • jefe68

      I guess that’s up there with your comment that British people talk funny.

    • jimino

      I can’t tell what you think with this gibberish. What is your point?

      • jefe68

        That British people talk funny…

      • HonestDebate1

        That concocting a fantasy where everything would have been peachy in Iraq if we hadn’t had liberated her, is stupid.

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          Is that how you define “liberate”?

          • HonestDebate1

            Giving the people a voice without ripping out their tongues if they dissent. Ending the rape rooms and torture chambers. Releasing money spent on palaces to the people for food. Getting the wood-chipper for prisoners out of the basement of Abu Graib…. the lucky ones went in head first.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            We supported Saddam Hussein during that time.

          • Don_B1

            Do you really think tongues aren’t “ripped out” now if an Iraqi dares to criticize someone?

          • jefe68

            GW Bush did not take the US into war with Iraq over his treatment of it’s citizens.
            It was about weapons of mass destruction and the threat of Sadam’s regime on the US. You’re just repeating the latest Fox talking points of the week and hope no one notices it.

          • TFRX

            You really slept through that whole decade, dintcha?

    • Charles

      In a limited sense, you are probably right; the region would likely have devolved into civil war regardless of our intervention.

      The folks (myself included) who regret the war and it’s ill-concieved beginnings would have preferred to avoid American casualties and billions of dollars of debt to wind up with the same product we had at the start: a failed state, squabbling among itself, which doesn’t seem inclined to Western representative democracy.

      • HonestDebate1

        I think the beginnings were not only well conceived but the slowest most deliberate march to war I can remember. We won’t agree there.

        We won the war but lost thepeace.

        • Don_B1

          Fareed Zacharia cites a quote from Thomas Ricks, military correspondent for the Wall Street Journal and later The Washington Post, on an NPR Frontline program:

          Having invaded Iraq with a small force — what the expert Tom Ricks called “the worst war plan in American history” — the administration needed to find local allies.

          That says it all, and totally refutes your “grenade” throwing BS.

          Go fly to Iraq with your family and straighten it all out since you are such an expert.

          No more than a final report in maybe 30 years will do.

    • J__o__h__n

      How else did we get here?

      • HonestDebate1

        We failed to negotiate the terms of the SOFA. We announced a date certain for withdrawal. We failed to act in Syria, we emboldened Iran. We let Al Qaeda take Fallujah, we showed Mubarek the door, we blamed a stupid video for the death of our Ambassador and apologized instead of killing the terrorists and blaming them, they walk free. We released 5 of the worst thereby replenishing enemy forces. The message we sent to ISIS is loud and clear.

        • Don_B1

          As Fareed Zacharia points out, al Maliki was indebted to Iran for his whole career and Iran wanted no American troops so there was no path to negotiating a satisfactory SOPA!

          But some heads are deliberately dense!

          • HonestDebate1

            I don’t buy the “we buckled to Iran theory”. We had influence on Maliki too.

    • Don_B1

      It didn’t take long for you to throw your first “hand-grenade” into the discussion.

      Sign up to go to Iraq to straighten it all out and report back in 30 to 50 years (if you are still alive) with the results of your experiment.

    • Ray in VT

      Bull. It was a bad idea, and it was entirely avoidable.

  • Human2013

    Bush didn’t know there was a difference between Sunni and Shiite Muslims

    “In the course of the conversation the Iraqis realized that the President was not aware that there was a difference between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. He looked at them and said, “You mean…they’re not, you know, there, there’s this difference. What is it about?”

    The former President and graduate of Yale and Harvard didn’t know about the fraction of Muslims that dates back to the founding of Islam.

    Can we please establish a new rule: The legislators that declare war on a country must first live on the ground in that country, establish a relationship with its people and learn about the complexities among that nation. And for my fellow Americans on the right, I ask, that you be willing to take your family out of their peaceful neighborhoods and supplant them in a city like Homs or Tal Afar before you urge our country to go to war. If you can’t do this, than you’re right to support a war is null and void.

    This is such a painful story to watch. I wish I could reach out to the Iraqi people, the women of Afghanistan with Acid scars on their faces, and the traumatized children and apologize to them. Apologize for our criminal negligence and our indignity toward them.

    • Coastghost

      Don’t neglect to thank Yale and Harvard copiously.

      • Don_B1

        It does put their “legacy admissions policy” in a real bad light, doesn’t it ! ? !

        • Coastghost

          Doesn’t say much for the quality of their academic programs, either.

    • 65noname

      “Apologize for our criminal negligence and our indignity toward them.” it wasn’t “our criminal negligence”. And it wasn’t simply “negligence”. It was the purposeful criminal actions of the government and individuals in the government.

    • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

      We have only been tamed of such barbarism by a century of prosperity coupled with hundreds of years of nation building our own country including a civil war, Indian genocide, fighting together against our common ‘enemies’ throughout the world. Take away the prosperity, or the hope for, add regligious opportunistic fear mongering politicians and we too will descend into a land of warlords and hatred run amok. That is what people who don’t understand the importance of the separation of church and state don’t get.

  • NrthOfTheBorder

    The developments in Iraq are all too much like of the end of our dismal misadventure in Vietnam.

    Sadly, there isn’t anything we have done in Afghanistan to
    make us think the outcome there will be any different.

    History it seems, keeps teaching us a lesson we can’t seem
    to learn.

    • Coastghost

      Memory fails me: remind me of that startling day in the 1950s or 1960s when some Viet Cong sympathisers (they must have been of Vietnamese descent) launched a lethal attack on a major US city and disrupted air travel in the country for days. (What city was that, by the way? How many hundreds or thousands of Americans died that day?)
      Credible claims of historical recurrence entail invocation of the apt metaphor. The present dispute we face worldwide features important dynamics entirely absent in the Vietnam era.

      • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

        Remind me of the connection between Iraq and September 11th?

        Hint: there is NO connection.

        • jefe68

          There is none. If one is to use 9/11 as an argument to invade any nations in the Middle East, we should have invaded Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

          • Human2013

            What, Saudi Arabia? We don’t attack the “big boys” just the frail ones.

            Just like the bully on the playground strategically searching for the weakest character. Searching for the character least likely to be able to stand up for himself and the absence of an alliance of “friends.”

            Maybe we can divert the anti-bully campaign from elementary schools to the DOD.

        • Coastghost

          Our response in Iraq was in no way our initial response to the 9/11 provocation: that was our attack on Osama & Co. in Afghanistan, which we knew to be their base of operations.
          The decision to take on Iraq was not arrived at for well over a year after we attacked the Taliban regime of Afghanistan. I always thought the strategic vision of placing US forces immediately east and west of Iran made abundant sense, in itself, since the historical dynamism of this era began plainly enough with the establishment of the (Shi’a) Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            No, the Bush administration was looking for an excuse to attack Iraq well before September 11th happened. They came up with lots of excuses, but none of ‘em were that we needed to push Iran.

            What we did *helped* Iran gain more power.

          • red_donn

            Then why, pray tell, did you ask about Viet Cong attacks on major American cities via air traffic, when the historical comparison was to Iraq? Historical free association?

      • NrthOfTheBorder

        The lesson we fail to learn is we have no business interfering with other countries’ problems.

        We, evidently, are not very good at it.

        Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan were wars of choice. Perhaps there was a little more reason to go to Afghanistan, but judge for yourself as to how well we managed.

    • 65noname

      you need to restudy “history” and learn new lessons.. whatever you might think of the viet nam government, it is infinitely better than the butchers that the US was attempting to impose on that country.

    • Human2013

      I’ll refer you to the continent of Africa. Africa’s civil wars are all the making of Western powers. We have always intentionally supported the less powerful group to dull the power, prestige and control of the popular party to secure our prominent position. The purpose of these wars is always to establish a “puppet state” so we may more effectively exert our power and control their natural resources.

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    War is not the answer.

    • http://www.google.com Big Brother

      No, watching the Germans kill all their Jews is the answer. And the Final Solution.

      • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

        We did not go into WWII to prevent the Holocaust – and it did not prevent it. WWI was about oil in the Middle East, in actuality, and without WWI, WWII would not have happened.

        • jefe68

          WW1 was about Imperialism,
          nationalism, Militarism, and the Mutual Defense Alliances that kicked in after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of the Austria-Hungary Empire.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Germany wanted to switch their Navy to oil, just like Britain. This is biggest reason for WWI.

          • jefe68

            Which is about Imperialism,Nationalism, and Militarism, no?

          • TFRX

            If you have a hole in your week that can be filled only with a non-fiction work of several hundred pages, I’ve just finished reading Danubia and recommend it as a background to “why did WWI happen”, among other things.

  • http://www.google.com Big Brother

    Lois Lerner’s emails disappeared. The IRS and the Obama administration targeted American so that he could win the White House. Where is the Mark Felt in the Obama Administration?

    • NrthOfTheBorder

      ??!

    • TFRX

      And,flagged.

      Tis a shame. You were soooo close to being on the topic.

    • Human2013

      Just try to stay on topic.

  • NrthOfTheBorder

    Nothing exposes the utter criminality of our war in Iraq than its result.

    • Coastghost

      I thought the “result” was the cheery one Biden was proclaiming contemporary to the US withdrawal of combat forces in 2011, someone posted the YouTube memorialization here just the other day . . . .

  • http://www.google.com Big Brother

    Another show that ends with, “It is George Bush’s fault.” Hilary Clinton voted for the war in Iraq.

    No Republican voted for the destruction of our Healthcare system.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      If the shoe fits …

      The healthcare system is slightly less bad than it was – but this is totally off topic.

      • http://www.google.com Big Brother

        the point is that George Bush’s policies got Democrat votes. Obama acts through Executive Orders and procedural changes in the Senate. Then, when he makes mistakes, the Left finds a way to link the mistake to Bush. on actions Bush made with support from the Left.

        • http://www.google.com Big Brother

          I should capitalize He when referring to Obama.

    • NrthOfTheBorder

      BB. It’s truly amazing to see how some stretch logic to implicate Obama in well, just about anything.

      And amazing in the same breath, to excuse Republicans in a sweeping, illogical and unconnected bromide.

      I don’t blame you – Republicans – or rather their way of thinking – have everything to do with the debacle that’s unfolding in Iraq.

      • hennorama

        NrthOfTheBorder –it ain’t “logic” that [Big Brother] is trying to stretch.

  • Human2013

    America is like a bad boyfriend; every time you let him back in, he screws you, literally and figuratively, and you never fully understand the aftermath of his return until he’s gone.

    • Coastghost

      You mean, when America is no hysterical knife-wielding slashing girlfriend disconcerted by interruptions to her Twitter account?

  • X Y & Z

    Chart Of The Day: All The President’s Golf Games

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-06-15/chart-day-all-presidents-golf-games

    Don’t blame Obama for the resurgence of al-Qaeda since 2009, or for the fact that the Middle East is erupting into war, Obama has been to busy golfing and hanging out with Jay-Z to concern himself with foreign policy or terrorism. Plus blaming Bush is so much easier than coming up with solutions to serious problems, or showing any kind of leadership.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      Is President Obama president of the entire world?

      • X Y & Z

        Obama’s incompetence is on topic, due to the fact that the Middle East was relatively calm until 2009, since Obama was elected, al-Qaeda is on the rise, and the Middle East is rife with war.

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          We are discussing the fallout of the Iraq war. Which illegally started by the Bush administration, based on numerous lies.

          Is President Obama omnipotent? How can he be held responsible for what has happened in Iraq under their elected government?

          • X Y & Z

            Obama was the one in a hurry to pull out of Iraq, just so he could keep a campaign promise.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            No, Bush signed the status of forces agreement.

          • X Y & Z

            Then perhaps Obama should have reassessed the situation before acting.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Over a decade of war didn’t solve anything – it made things much worse – so you think a few more years would be a good thing?

            We cannot go back on a agreement with a sovereign nation.

          • X Y & Z

            If Obama had not pulled the troops out, would we be having this discussion?

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            If Bush had not attacked Iraq under false pretenses, we would not have been at war there.

            What part of status of forces agreement don’t you understand?

          • X Y & Z

            Bottom line,
            Obama has got to start acting like a competent Commander in Chief, or the situation will only get worse.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Because Bush went into Iraq under false pretenses – they lied – there is no good options, and no way to leave Iraq “cleanly”. Any president would have the same issues.

            Iraq is now their own country, and more involvement by the US will only make things worse.

          • X Y & Z

            So you’d rather see a bunch of violent jihadists with ties to al-Qaeda take complete control of Iraq?

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            My preferences don’t enter into it.

            How do you propose we make Iraq into a safe stable country?

        • Roy-in-Boise

          XY&Z, please provide sources (both primary and secondary) for the statement: “The Middle East was relatively calm until 2009?”

        • J__o__h__n

          It wasn’t relatively calm.

          • X Y & Z

            Iraq wasn’t perfect, but there weren’t mass executions either, nor were groups linked to al-Qaeda on the verge of taking over the country.

          • J__o__h__n

            Kind of like before the invasion.

          • X Y & Z

            The invasion that John Kerry and Hillary Clinton voted for?

          • J__o__h__n

            Where did I defend their votes? Their bad judgement on that kept them from being presidents.

          • X Y & Z

            Thank God for that. Kerry is the most incompetent Secretary of State ever. I would hate to see what he would have done as President.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Not Condi “mushroom cloud” Rice?

          • X Y & Z

            If Obama let’s this crisis spiral out of control, you just may see some mushroom clouds over the Middle East.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Actually al-Qaeda had nothing to do with Iraq under Saddam.

    • Human2013

      Do I sense some racial undertones

      • X Y & Z

        You sound really desperate to make excuses for Obama’s many foreign policy failures.

    • hennorama

      X Y & Z — the first four letters of your link’s webite denote both the worth and relevance of your comment.

      As usual.

      • X Y & Z

        zerohedege.com is far more respected than you’ll ever hope to be.

        • hennorama

          X Y & Z — thank you for your response, and for once again demonstrating your cluelessness.

          Well done.

        • Ray in VT

          Feh. Allegations of the BLS “cooking the books” on jobs numbers and other such nonsense. Just another bunch of whackjobs favored by whackjobs.

    • TFRX

      “Now watch this drive.”

      You can be a loser all day, pal.

      • X Y & Z

        Due to the fact that On Point discourages bloggers on this site from “Feeding the Trolls”, I am thus precluded from responding to you.

        Goodbye Troll.

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          Are you a real live “blogger”?

        • TFRX

          Then in the immortal words of Yosemite Sam, “Shut up shuttin up”.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard
      • hennorama

        Neil Blanchard — TY for sharing this.

        The penultimate panel was the most incredible to me, and was something I was not aware of.

        Here’s a local report about the “No one has the guts to let them wither and die” inanity, from posttrib.suntimes.com (emphasis added):

        GOP House candidate defends Facebook comment about poor

        By Christin Nance Lazerus cnance@post-trib.com June 10, 2014 8:28PM

        Updated: June 11, 2014 2:01AM

        A Republican candidate is facing questions about a Facebook comment where, in a discussion about the poor, he stated, “No one has the guts to just let them wither and die.”

        Valparaiso resident John Johnston, who is challenging State Rep. Chuck Moseley, D-10th, said Tuesday that he was speaking in hyperbole, and he later clarified that no thoughtful society would let people go hungry.

        “I was not trying to hurt anybody’s feelings,” Johnston said. “I saw the opportunity to say something. I think a lot of the poor have no way out, and there’s no motivation to improve your position. It’s like training a child, either you enable them or force them out at some point.”

        The discussion thread appeared on the Mad Mac page, which pokes fun at Northwest Indiana politics.

        Johnston, a former instructor in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Portage High School, said he doesn’t advocate ending programs such as welfare or food stamps.

        “My main point is that the programs are used as political tools,” Johnston said. “Sometimes it hurts, but you might give them less to motivate someone to get a job.”

        Johnston’s Facebook comment in full was: “For almost three generations people, in some cases, have been given handouts. They have been ‘enabled’ so much that their paradigm in life is simply being given the stuff of life, however meager. What you see is a setting for a life of misery is life to them never-the-less. No one has the guts to just let them wither and die. No one who wants votes is willing to call a spade a spade. As long as the Dems can get their votes the enabling will continue. The Republicans need their votes and dare not cut the fiscal tether. It is really a political Catch-22. The voters are the ones in charge. however when only 10-11 percent show up to vote, not much will change. People simply are not hurting enough, or simply happy enough that they will do nothing. consequently the dole continues.”

        See:
        http://posttrib.suntimes.com/news/porter/28000445-418/gop-house-candidate-defends-facebook-comment-about-poor.html#.U58-o47n_MI

      • HonestDebate1

        Really?

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          Really. Totally real. As real as the day is long.

          • HonestDebate1

            No, it’s complete caricature, unconnected with reality.

          • Ray in VT

            It does not surprise me that you would consider it to be so, considering how many of your posts reflect or endorse the sorts of whacked out right wing positions, often very disconnected from reality, that that cartoon highlights.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Sorry to all of you with convenient memories blaming Obama for all of this but he didn’t invade Iraq to prove something to his pappy. Obama didnt sell us a fairy tale outcome based upon lies his team crafted for us all. That was W. and it was supposed to take weeks, not decades. And it was supposed to pay for itself. And… It was no where near stable when Dubya went back to Texas to go on vacation full time. Dubya broke Iraq and destabilized the entire Middle East in the process. He let the bang out of the firecracker. Now I just love all of the bobble heads criticizing the president for not having absolute control over the Middle East like any prior president could have snapped his fingers and poof make world peace materialize. The right wing wants us all to believe their latest marketing message that they would have never broken it this bad… Like we all slept through 911, 2002-2008, 5000 dead and 32000 wounded servicemen, or that epitome of irony: Dubya standing in front of that giant banner proclaiming Mission Accomplished. Yeah, they really know what their talking about… Good luck with that theory.

    • http://www.google.com Big Brother

      As I said earlier, another show of, “Why Obama’s mistake to pull out of Iraq after he declared it safe, is Dubya’s fault.”

      • J__o__h__n

        If we stayed for the duration of Obama’s presidency, soon after we pulled out, it would fall apart. Bush shouldn’t have created this mess. Obama’s only fault is that he didn’t listen to Biden and partition Iraq.

        • brettearle

          I agree.

          But I’m not sure that even the Partition would have ever worked, permanently, or at least indefinitely.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Yes, arbitrary lines drawn on a map by someone who has no idea of anything on the ground – never comes out well.

          • J__o__h__n

            They would be better drawn than the ones England drew that set up this mess.

          • brettearle

            Yes!

      • NrthOfTheBorder

        Mailiki wanted us out – an agreement forged in the Bush adm to immunize American troops from Iraqi justice failed. In the end Obama was left with no choice even if the American public wanted to stay – which they did not. Iraq (like Afghanistan) wanted, want, us gone.

        The truth of the matter remains, we should never have been there in the first place and have no power to do anything of consequence now.

    • John_in_Amherst

      The original mess was created when the colonial powers partitioned the middle east into states that didn’t take tribal and ethnic groupings into account. The hubris of Bush II and the neocons that advised him did not help matters. Nor does any analysis that tries to equate the bloodthirsty maniacs who are scrambling to take control with Islam – they are zealots who use Islamic fervor to whip up the masses to commit atrocities like mass slaughter and suicide bombings.
      The west laments the bloody conflict between Islamic sects and professes to be baffled. The West is just fortunate that our culture went through insanities like the 100 years’ war, the War of the Roses, etc. before we acquired the sophisticated weapons of war that the “jihadis” now posess

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Let’s go to war and scratch that itch. Visuals are always far more important than actual results.* And quite frankly, we don’t know how to do anything else.
    –Barack H. Obama; George W. Bush; the rest of the D.C. “intelligentsia”

    * Just ask Mr. Blair, Mr. Brown, Mr. Cameron, founding partners, Toffs & Swells Management Consultants, LLC.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Our permanent enemy, nuclear-bound Iran, wants to engage in a brutal & crippling war against our permanent enemy, Sunni extremists. AND WE WANT TO GET IN THE WAY OF THAT?

    Is there anyone in Washington, D.C. who still has their head attached to their shoulders? No please, offer a name or two.

    • NrthOfTheBorder

      Well said. Lindsey Graham was calling for air strikes against the insurgents. So?

      And to your point: if this is the sum total of what we can do… of what we’re reduced to after expending billions of dollars and thousands of lives we have really, really lost.

  • http://www.google.com Big Brother

    If someone effectively argues against Obama, they are called racist.

    • brettearle

      Not true. Absolutely not true.

      It is your own Radical Bias that believes and declares this Ignrance

      • http://www.google.com Big Brother

        Name one mistake Obama has made.

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          Not closing Guantanamo. Which was illegally created by Bush.

          • http://www.google.com Big Brother

            Still Bush’s fault.

          • jefe68

            All presidents have to be held accountable for their actions. It’s part of the job.
            If you don’t believe in that idea, well that’s your problem. A presidents legacy is how they are remembered and judged.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Yes, I agree with you that the Iraq War and Guantanamo are Bush’s fault.

          • brettearle

            Neil,

            Congress prevented that, essentially.

            Or, maybe you’re being sarcastic.

          • TFRX

            I gotta go with Brett E on this one: Too many manlyman Congresscritters said “Leavenworth isn’t secure enough to hold these Gitmo folks”.

          • jimino

            Obama’s mistake was underestimating how effective the right-wing argument that Americans are too cowardly and incompetent to imprison the Guantanamo detainees on our soil would be.

            Although reading comments here from their right-wing/conservative supporters make’s it clear why they would believe that.

        • jimino

          Hired Larry Summers. Failed to prosecute those responsible for the financial meltdown. Failed to argue for single payer during health care debate, capitulating to the conservative position before the game even started. Failing to give tea party districts what they want by closing every federal facility located there and cutting off all federal spending in those districts that he possibly could. I could go on.

          What do you think they have been?

    • NrthOfTheBorder

      BB Please explain why Obama is central to this conversation.

      As for effective argument, be my guest.

    • jimino

      Do you have anyone in mind who intends to present such an argument? It’s painfully obvious you either can’t or won’t.

      • hennorama

        jimino — please pardon the attempt at comic relief, as we are already in the midst of tangents:

        Your last three words are an answer to the question, “Who will be the House Majority Leader this fall?”

    • hennorama

      Big Brother — with no due respect, that’s a bunch of malarkey.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    We should airdrop members of Congress into that slaughter — just to keep things interesting. Especially the chickenhawks who never managed to “find the time” to serve in the US military forces as AN ENLISTED MAN OR WOMAN.

    “Alright, private Cantor. Hit the ground running, don’t forget your stun grenades, and try not to surrender within the first two minutes.”

    • http://www.google.com Big Brother

      Like Hilary Clinton?

      • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

        We could change the name of the Dem & Rep parties to: Cheese Eating Surrender Monkeys. After paying licensing fees, of course. Hoober Doober

        • harverdphd

          Here’s a towel, crybaby. Just admit you couldn’t get the job done.

  • http://www.google.com Big Brother

    Obama is infallible. Any error is George Bush’s fault.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      If that’s what you think, that’s your opinion.

      • http://www.google.com Big Brother

        That is the whole point of NPR. Continual stories that support the narrative that Obama is flawless and all of our troubles shall be blamed on Bush and the Republicans.

        • jefe68

          You should get your ears checked, you’re not hearing very well.

        • TFRX

          I don’t say to many people, ‘NPR is over your head’, but…

      • brettearle

        Neil, he’s hopeless.

    • hennorama

      Big Brother — if you say so, pal.

  • Jon

    it’s the self-defined moral responsibility that doomed all empires – plus the responsibility of those oil fields secured from the last invasion

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Aide: Mr. President, Greater Muslimia is going to give us an opportunity to watch our enemies destroy each other. And it won’t cost us a dime!

    Obama: Oh, no. We’ve got to get involved. We’ve taxpayer money we haven’t spent this year. Besides I’ve been chosen to LEAD our people.

    Aide: Mr. President. It’s a No-Brainer. We just have to STAY OUT OF IT.

    Obama: I didn’t come to Washington to hide my infinite brains under a bushel basket.* And.. I’ve been anointed. By Destiny.

    America takes a collective sigh..

    * More like a bird’s nest now.

    • jimino

      From my perspective, Obama has been basically doing what you suggest: letting them kill each other, as well as way more civilians. The clamor for involvement has been from the right.

      Where and when has Obama intervened and proclaimed it his destiny to do so?

  • Michiganjf

    What makes your guest think we’re not ALREADY heavily involved in the “clandestine, intelligence side of this,” which is of course the right way to look at terrorism?

    In fact, most Americans have been worried (for a while now) that we’re TOO involved in intelligence gathering!!

  • M S

    ISIS needs to be smothered and blown in place, sorry guys, but that’s the only way.

    • brettearle

      It’s not politically correct, necessarily, to say that.

      But, ultimately, you could be right.

      But I can’t imagine any Western Leaders supporting that.

      Nor can I.

      • M S

        No one wants them around really. Yes, after Iraq II, everyone is skeptical and rightly so, but each threat has to be taken as it comes and this is a big one. The turning of the Sunnis into blood lust terrorists is ridiculous, but the leaders of ISIS have to go…and if you do it quickly, no one will notice.

        • brettearle

          Forget about the fact that I, personally, don’t support your idea.

          No Western Leader would ever support it–unless nuclear weapons were used or if Genocide was taking place.

          Genocide, unfortunately is regarded differently, by the International Community, than Blood Bath Combat.

          • M S

            A genocide will not occur, but an oppressive regime will have a footing..so, once again, no one wants them there. Show them the door and they are all in the same place…lots of targets.

            Oh, yeah, the Saudis are supporting these guys…they really need to knock it off.

          • NrthOfTheBorder

            “Show them the door” ? Right.

    • jimino

      How?

    • NrthOfTheBorder

      We won’t because we can’t, and we can’t because we won’t.

    • hennorama

      M S — perhaps, but how exactly would one go about such a thing? Tactical nuclear weapons? Neutron bombs?

      And how would one determine when ISIS was completely “smothered and blown in place,” with no survivors, acolytes, converts, followers etc.?

  • Roy-in-Boise

    Iraq will inevitably split into three parts. Without constant Western involvement the grip of Sykes-Picot cannot hold.

  • hennorama

    If the Iraqis themselves do not want peace and unity, what can anyone do to convince them otherwise, short of military invasion and endless occupation?

    • brettearle

      That is a central point, isn’t it?

      If it continues to be the 1000 years’ war, it’ll financially bankrupt us.

      Utterly.

      But because of OIL, at least currently, it’s an irreconcilable Collision Course.

      • hennorama

        brettearle — Thank you for your response.

        Access to oil supplies from Iraq is a significant issue, but one that becomes less of an issue as oil and other fossil fuel extraction increases in the US and elsewhere.

        But in the near term, access to Iraq’s oil reserves is very important. We have seen the Kurds move into Kirkuk, expanding their control of oil facilities, and simultaneously defending against possible ISIS incursions as the Iraqi “army” melted away.

        Kurdish territorial expansion also points to disunity within the artificial borders that are called “Iraq.”

        Whether there is a desire for peace and unity among the various religions, sects, and tribes within these artificial borders is an open question, but the recent evidence does not favor a positive answer.

    • HonestDebate1

      It’s nice of you to speak for the Iraqis but we had that country liberated. We didn’t follow through like we did in Germany, Japan and Korea.

      • jimino

        “We didn’t follow through . . ”

        By doing exactly what?

        • hennorama

          jimino — good luck trying to reason with the entity to which you replied. It seems to “think” (a term that is only loosely applicable here) that I “speak for the Iraqis,” and that I have made a statement rather than that having asked a question.

        • TFRX

          Taking those costs into account and presenting (before the invasion) something of a total which wasn’t a goddamned fantasy.

          But you’ll never pull that out of HD.

        • HonestDebate1

          Leaving a residual force, propping up Maliki while holding his feet to the fire, engaging the Arab League, making the case over and over that brutal oppression sucks.

          • jimino

            You mean we should have said “pretty please . . . with a cherry on top”

            What are the chances of leaving a residual force that would be of any value AGAINST the will of the country where they would be located? Iraq had the say, they said it. and they are and will live with the consequences.

          • HonestDebate1

            Alrighty then.

          • jimino

            Damn straight!

      • creaker

        We provided a path to middle class prosperity for Germany, Japan – not for anywhere else.

    • Coastghost

      Hard to say: the Iraqis certainly seem not to have found the moral suasion of sub-Messiah Obama compelling.

      • NrthOfTheBorder

        Stop it will you Coast! Everything, everything you say is a tirade against Obama. It’s tiresome, small-minded, lacking common sense, connection and decency. If you have an argument – make it!

        • Coastghost

          Not true: sometimes I launch unflattering tirades against feminist analytical affectivity.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Please define “feminist analytical affectivity”.

            Please define “science mafias”.

          • Coastghost

            My shelves hold three English language dictionaries, viz., a Thorndike-Barnhart, an American Heritage, and a Webster’s Collegiate. I recommend consulting any of these fine reference volumes.

          • jefe68

            Except for the issue that Feyerabend does not actually think science as tyrannical in and of itself. It is my understanding of what I’ve read about his book,(I’ve not read it) he has a lot of good things to say about science as a powerful force for good. It seems to me you’re cherry picking here to support your anti-science stance.

          • Coastghost

            I have read Feyerabend’s Tyranny of Science (granted, the title was provided by his publisher, not PF himself), with great relish.
            Permit me to cherry-pick from p. 55: ” . . . the people who say that it is science that determines the nature of reality assume that the sciences speak with a single voice. They think that there is this monster, SCIENCE, and when it speaks it utters and repeats and repeats and repeats again a single coherent message. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
            Feyerabend’s complimentary view of “the science-mafia” appears on the same page.

          • jefe68

            Is he not talking about specific individuals and science itself? My understanding from your comment and what I’ve been reading about the book is that seems to be one of his arguments. Which doe not mean science is bad, or wrong, or a religion.

          • Coastghost

            I don’t take Feyerabend to be proposing that we eliminate the sciences. I don’t advocate such action, either.
            While Feyerabend does discuss the sciences in relation to religion, I’ve not yet seen his readiness to interpret “science” as a religious phenomenon: I am prepared to advance such an argument, though, persuaded as I am that much evidence from the intellectual history of science permits just such a cogent view. (I mean, you DO know that Isaac Newton was a practicing alchemist, si? Newton seems to have ingested enough mercury to qualify as the model for Lewis Carroll’s Mad Hatter.)

          • jefe68

            The problem for me is that you seemed to be using Feyerabend’s comments to say that science is a religion. Which it clearly is not.

            Yes I know that Newton practiced alchemy. I think it’s better to understand Newton for the genus that he was. Newton discovered the laws of optics, proving that white light is actually made up of colors, the colors of the rainbow. He discovered the three laws of motion and the universal laws of gravitation. Newton also he invented differential and integral calculus to explain why planets orbit in an elliptical fashion. All of this was done before he was 26 years old.

            So you were saying?

          • Coastghost

            You say definitively that science cannot properly be construed as a religion. I say that a credible and cogent argument can be made that our sciences DO constitute a religious undertaking (Feyerabend has not made the claim himself, that I’ve yet seen, nor do I impute the claim to him). I myself have not made a sustained argument that meets the criteria of credibility and cogency that I claim is possible, but I’m still surveying the issue.
            Feyerabend was not strictly “anti-science” nor am I: Feyerabend was a critic of scientific styles of epistemology and does a great technical job identifying many of the resulting shortcomings of the scientific enterprise, not only in its own self-conceptions but somewhat more perniciously in the way science advertises itself to a credulous and uncritical public which most days is incapable of apprehending or comprehending what scientists are up to. (I am all for the public’s embrace of a sustained skepticism of the scientific enterprise [in at least some domains] and more especially I care that the public sustain a disdain for the uncritical acceptance of every techtoy that comes to market.)
            I bring my own concerns to these issues, and I intend to bring the works of intellectual history by Frances Yates and Pierre Duhem to my project, as I get to it, which will likely not be offered as a conventional scholarly monograph.
            Feyerabend is definitely worth the read, agree with his critiques or no.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    It’s not a civilization if the natives fight to the death over which hand to wipe with.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Cartoon from the Reagan days during Iraq-Iran war. Football coach USA on the sidelines with his two huge bruisers. His arm around each neck. One guy Iraq. One guy Iran.

    Here’s the caption:
    Now I want you two guys to go out there and KILL each other.

    It’s very rare when you can take a page from Ronnie the Napper.
    (USA was supplying advantages to both sides secretly until Iran Contra was exposed}

  • John_Hamilton

    It’s not too late to put the Bush gang on trial for treason and war crimes.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    John Kerry never wastes an opportunity to sound like a tired, drunken fog horn.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    We did Humpty Dumpty in Afghanistan when the Russkies occupied the place. We turned him into the mujahedeen.
    How did that work out for the west?

  • Ellen Fleischmann

    There seems to be little concern in this discussion about ALL Iraqis, or even consideration of the security concerns for IRAQIs, not just “us” (the U.S.). What about ordinary Iraqis – noncombatants — who, while they may be discontented with Maliki’s government, surely are terrified about the situation under ISIS and its allies? What about women, secular Iraqis, and others? There seems to be an assumption here that ISIS or USIL has deep rooted support on the ground. As usual, it is those with guns who dominate the story. There are millions of Iraqi affected by this crisis who are not fighters or politicians. Where are their stories and concerns in these analyses and coverage?

    • NrthOfTheBorder

      Good points. Unfortunately ordinary people “who are not fighters or politicians” become the nameless victims of civil unrest and war. At this point, and perhaps forever, their stories and concerns will be but a footnote of history.

      I often wonder if ordinary people took more interest in, knew better of what they believed in and fought for it by persuasion and rational argument when they could, there’d be less bloodshed.

      To that end while we can’t answer for others, we certainly can for ourselves. To think that somehow, by some exception of history, we are immune from civil strife or a catastrophic breakdown of common respect and decency is truly mistaken.

  • creaker

    The problem is nothing changed. We replaced one strong arm regime with another, spent a trillion dollars, got a lot of soldiers killed and wrecked the lives of millions – all without changing any of the underlying foundations of the region.

    • J__o__h__n

      Worse than that, we strengthened Iran and destabilized the region.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Muslim clerics are going to increase the benefits of “dying for the cause.” In addition to the current medals/decorations: 70 virgins; 70 virgins with grapes and raisins — they’re going to add the decoration: 70 virgins with oak leaves and swords. With cluster if the faithful guy dies more than once.*

    * Because “cluster” really describes Islam.

  • hennorama

    Train, advise, and assist?

    We spent years and years, and many, many billions of dollars in training, advising and assisting (and equipping) the Iraqi military and security forces, and when they were confronted, they dropped their arms, took off their uniforms, abandoned their vehicles, and disintegrated into the ether.

    • NrthOfTheBorder

      Right! If we could not make it work with all this (and lives sacrificed) who can make the argument that we can do anything now?

      Time for a real assessment of where we are as a country.

      First we need to drop any notion of empire…at which we are no good at by any measure. Persistence here will lead us quickly to ruin.

      Second, we need to pay attention to problems at home: Our culture is sick, our government dysfunctional, our economy titled dangerously in favor of a few; our infrastructure is crumbling and education uneven, inadequate and affordable.

      We have little or nothing to teach the world and much to learn from, and about, others.

      • hennorama

        NrthOfTheBorder — thank you for your response.

        I agree with much of it in spirit, but disagree with the first part of your concluding sentence, that “We have little or nothing to teach the world…”

        Regardless, thank you for adding to my list of Typos/Freudian Slips/Autocorrections That Make Me Smile:

        …our economy titled dangerously in favor of a few…

        (vs. “tilted”)

        Of course, one might argue the appropriateness of this phrasing:

        -”titled” as in “belonging to the highest social class,” and/or

        -”titled” as in “holding title to/having legal ownership of”

        Thank you for your generous contribution [and my apologies if your use of "titled" was intentional.]

  • AC

    i don’t think there is anything more pervasive or evil than religion……i feel sorry for all who won’t have the choice to leave….

    • HonestDebate1

      Religion is an awful big word.

      • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

        You are being awfully patronizing and condescending. AC’s point is a very good one.

        It is the *misuse* of religion to dictate the actions of others, that is the problem.

        • AC

          thanks. if nothing else, at least these isis crazies are blatant about how ‘holy and chosen by god they are’. because surely the idea of ‘god’ wants everyone who doesn’t agree executed…leaving all those healthy profitable assets to the true believers i should add…

          • HonestDebate1

            But should we blame the notion of religion at large for that? Can’t we just kill the bad guys?

          • AC

            you have a point. i’ve met self-righteous vegetarians too…

        • HonestDebate1

          Of course it’s a problem. That does not mean all religion is evil.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Did I say that?

          • HonestDebate1

            No, AC did and you endorsed the notion.

      • AC

        yes it is. i’ve even been insulted by a buddhist priest who didn’t want to ruin his ‘holiness’ by handing me something, he had one of his minions do it.
        i meant ALL religions

        • Coastghost

          INCLUDING self-aggrandizing scientism? (Holy Science, after all, has itself spawned nuclear weaponry and authored Technogenic Climate Change.)

          • jimino

            And don’t forget the wheel. Of course it took real religious conviction to turn this useful device into one of torture.

          • AC

            of course! though the concept of good science is knowing you might have to change your mind when presented with new information. this makes it almost allowable, but i have to give it to you – i’ve met more than my share with the ego of a narcissist. still, as a group, they do better than most. i wouldn’t call it a religion though either, but i looked up the literal definition and it includes “a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance” so i guess it could loosely be considered such…

          • jefe68

            Science is not a religion.

          • Coastghost

            Almost as many scientists are eager to pretend that it is as others are to conceal their crypto-religious ambitions.
            Not much imagination is required to see that research facilities qualify as secular “temples of learning” or that laboratories serve as secular “cathedrals of knowledge”.
            Scientists regularly invite us to subscribe uncritically and enthusiastically to their dogmatisms.
            Scientists have authored volume upon volume of liturgies and litanies of method, protocol, and procedure.
            Scientists seldom refrain from elaborating their arcane insights by resorting to hieroglyphics.
            Our sciences aspire to religious zeal and explanatory comprehensiveness all the time.

          • AC

            those procedures are for the purpose of all to be able to prove or discredit. don’t get too crazy here, you’re trying to make it something it strives enot to be

          • Coastghost

            Then let us all accept Feyerabend’s challenge to insist upon “separating science from state” as strictly and as rigorously as we have come to insist upon “separating church from state”.

          • AC

            i don’t think that will work, he’d be better off trying to disprove what he thinks needs it.

          • Coastghost

            Of course if won’t work: scientists and technologists of the present age would never consent to relinquishing their power and influence, to say nothing of their state funding.

          • AC

            i think you don’t understand – you’re point of all those procedures and methods? are for that purpose. prove what you need to, if you’re right, you’re right. you only need plausibility to get ‘funding’…

          • Coastghost

            And if you’re a working scientist, all you need for moral justification is the mere technical ability to accomplish your research ambitions.

          • AC

            what? what are you trying to say exactly? it sounds kind of pointless right now…

          • Coastghost

            I’m merely contributing to the thread you initiated.

          • AC

            no i meant your last statement above – ‘moral justification is the mere technical ability’ – why would anyone fund pointlessness?

          • Coastghost

            The practice of empiricism routinely entails pursuit of false leads, no? Scientists explore dead-ends all the time, their “methods” require it.

          • AC

            and so? do the same. i think you will have a hard time using this reasoning to delay say, research being done on cancer. it’s not a practical argument….find another.

          • Coastghost

            If science-authored Technogenic Climate Change doesn’t kill us all first.

          • AC

            i see. so even if it is not man-made, do you believe that it is not occurring?

          • Coastghost

            I have little doubt that Technogenic Climate Change is occurring to some degree.
            I have NO doubt that Holy Science, which foisted Technogenic Climate Change upon us all, failed utterly to predict the advent of Technogenic Climate Change.

          • jefe68

            That is nothing short of inane nonsense.

          • hdesignr

            A religion is an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence

          • jefe68

            Science is the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment. Merriam-Webster dictionary.

            From the same dictionary: Religion is the belief in a god or in a group of gods.

            : an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods.

            : an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group.

            If one cannot see the difference between the two, that says more about ones lack of education than anything else.

          • Don_B1

            Also there are those who want to blur that difference for the purpose of winning a strawman argument.

            The are “educated” but only in a technical sense, lacking any morality that they claim religion give them. I will take someone who tries to be ethical over someone who supports some religious “morality” which is founded on some dogma that can be biased and a source of discrimination against those who do not believe their specific dogma.

        • HonestDebate1

          Religion, to me, is just a way for us mortals to accept our immortality with grace and meaning. It’d be nice not to have to worry about that. I also think a whole lot of good will springs from those with faith. In the end, nobody knows squat. Some things are impossible to know so it requires faith in something even if it’s nothing.

    • warryer

      False religion*

      • AC

        that’s what they all say
        i meant ALL religions

        • warryer

          Without religion how do you determine what is good and what is evil?

          • AC

            ponder the consequences of my actions to avoid negative outcomes and who they may hurt? simply caring that i ‘do no harm’ – i think the answer is by having a conscience….
            no human should enforce pomp and circumstance into that simple rule. i think they just use it as an excuse to have power for themselves….

          • warryer

            Conscience. What does your conscience reference to determine right and wrong?

            Consciences are subject to the societal forces all around them. I think it is valid to say those “religious fanatics” are acting on their consciences.

            And then you have people who steal from other for greed. Would you say these people have consciences too? Something has to be motivating their actions to lead them to believe this is okay behavior.

            Or is it a certain kind of conscience that we should listen to? Who determines what that is?

          • AC

            no they’re not – they want to control assets and profits, the second point of theft you make comes into play here.
            & as you suggested, the ‘society’ determines it.
            if you rip away the false veil of ‘religion’ from this groups behaviors, i can’t think of any society/culture that approves of killing all those you can’t bend to your own personal wants/will….well, maybe back in caveman days, i really wish we would evolve out of this kind of thought by now…

          • warryer

            You didn’t address any of my questions which leads me to believe you are not interested in seeking the truth but, upholding your world view as truth.

          • AC

            the only thing i can think of that you asked i didn’t directly address is the motivation angle. i would answer we are still evolving and the motivation is the ‘might makes right’ mindset. in which case, we have a clear line here – those who commit the wrong via their chosen label and those who won’t be their slaves….their power seems large because of their aggression, it is up to us to say we don’t accept it…which puts us in the same position of using violence to control violence. still, it doesn’t make the use/abuse of ‘religion’ ok. not at all. i prefer to lose those labels, this will help peaceful people bond more – not less. we’d end up all celebrating the same ‘holy days’, and not think one is better or wiser than the other. wouldn’t that be better?

          • warryer

            What authority do you have to tell a person who believes in a power higher then man that your world view is better than his?

          • AC

            i don’t and i can’t. also, i’m agnostic. i don’t have enough evidence either way. part of that is because of the multiple labels people join attempting to define/die/kill for (or use as their excuse), do think they have that authority over me

          • warryer

            Some religions do believe so.

            Christianity on the other hand believes that we are all sinners on equal footing with one another. Christianity acknowledges that we are all flawed and neither of us can be expected to know right and wrong because we are tainted by sin.

          • AC

            yes, all the labels tell me and make good points as to why they are not false… that one too….

          • jimino

            I thought Christianity believed we were made in the image and likeness of a perfect entity.

          • warryer

            We were made in the image of God. And as such we were given free will. In order to have free will we needed to have the ability to choose between following the Law and not following the Law.

            We were tempted into not following the Law thereby ensnaring ourselves in sin. Under sin we do not see what is right. The altered eye alters all.

          • jefe68

            That they are entitled to their beliefs as long as they don’t impose them on others.

            We have Constitutional laws and a Bill of Rights for a reason. Kings thought that they were the embodiment of God. Some were so delusional as to think they were a God. Gaius Caligula comes to mind in this regard.

          • jimino

            Your comment is nonsensical.

            The conscience of a religious fanatic is formed in part by their belief in their religion.

            Or are you saying that religious devotees have no conscience?

          • warryer

            My question is from where does the conscience get its ‘knowledge’ or right and wrong?

            And then i go on to list examples of people’s behaviors to illustrate the different consciences are formed by their experience and as such are not a perfect means to determine what is right and what is wrong.

          • jimino

            You’re kidding, right? Or do you actually need someone to explain right from wrong for you?

          • warryer

            No i am not kidding. Consider this:

            Most people think rape is wrong. Yet there are still rapists. Which means not everybody thinks rape is wrong. How can you objectively say that rape is a wrongful act?

            The second part of your statement “do you actually need *someone* to explain right from wrong for you?”

            Who is this *someone* that you refer to?

            I ask do you know anybody out there who is perfect? That has perfect judgement and can determine right and wrong 100% of the time.

          • jimino

            “How can you objectively say that rape is a wrongful act?”

            Assault is wrong.
            Rape is an assault.
            Therefore, rape is wrong.

            See, it’s not that hard.

            And a lot of people do things they know are wrong, but do them anyway. I don’t see what it has to do with religion, although a lot of people do things that are obviously wrong because what they follow as their religion says they can, and sometimes even should, do.

          • warryer

            You can say assault is wrong.

            But then there is another person who says assault is okay.

            Which of the two is correct? And why?

          • jimino

            Who says it’s okay, other than for religious reasons (other than self-defense or other circumstances that our secular law addresses)?

          • warryer

            Exactly. You acknowledge that perfect knowledge of right and wrong is not within human reach.

          • jimino

            So your brilliant insight is that humans are not perfect?

            By the way, without a direct line to whatever god is at the center of one’s religion, how does one know what that god considers good or evil without some human acting as the communicator?

          • warryer

            It is not my insight however, it is quite profound. None of us are perfect. Which means none of us can be expected to know right and wrong on our own power.

            In Christianity we are given, to know all we need, the Bible. Which we believe to be the written word of God. Yes it was written by men but it was done so under the inspiration of God.

          • AC

            i assumed he was inferring that rape is a behavior innate in humans, so, then is it wrong? i mean in the middle of nowhere, even an indigenous tribe will have instances of rape/abuse/wrong.
            i would answer that that is where his own statement answers the question – their are cultural taboos and laws in every ‘society’ that determine that together. i can’t think of many that accept such actions, therefore, that is how one becomes aware rape is wrong. you don’t need someone in a robe or to slaughter a goat on the third moon of the month to figure it out… i don’t think….

          • brettearle

            Religion can certainly be important for many.

            But for you to suggest that we need Religion, to understand that Rape is wrong, is somewhat irrational.

          • warryer

            Objectively explain to me how rape is wrong.

          • brettearle

            i do not understand what you’re talking about.

            You’re making NO sense.

            PLENTY of Atheists DON’T rape.

          • warryer

            Based purely on the observation of the natural universe how can you tell me rape is wrong?

            Defining wrong and right requires a judgement. A judgement is not an observation.

            A true atheist bases their worldview on secular observation.

          • brettearle

            You are trying to suggest that Moral Codes
            aren’t wired.

            I would not agree.

            Moral codes can certainly be wired.

          • warryer

            Based on what observation do you say this?

          • brettearle

            Do you think that all experimental data, in the Psychology Labs of the World, point to no instincts of compassion and good deeds?

            Do you believe that all of History only point to genocide, rape, and power?

            You would be wrong, my friend.

            Your problem is that not only do you believe that you’re Right.

            But you believe that you’re right in a Morally self-righteous way.

            That means that no matter what anyone says to you, you will not see its reason, value, or logic–because of your prideful rectitude.

            You are already, preemptively, hopeless. You’re lathered in your own Delusion.

            Please go battle it out with Mother Theresa and Jesse Helms.

            They’ll listen to ya.

          • warryer

            No it does not point to instincts & good deeds. All we can say is those behaviors happened.

            And then you descend into insults. Do my words offend you? It is a person who cannot stand up to reason that attempts to bludgeon his foe.

          • brettearle

            There’s another kind of person who goes after a self-righteous zealot, other than someone who has simply redirected the discourse:

            A person who sees more of the Truth and knows that Pride goeth before the Fall with those who think they’ve either Won, or are Right, and who practice a disagrreable form of self-deception to arrive at either, or both, conclusions….

            Also, someone like you is desperate to have the Last Word.

            And I can prove it.

          • jefe68

            It’s an act of violence.
            It’s forcing someone to do something they do no want to do. That ice you’re skating on here is getting thin, you might want to quit before you fall in the deep end of the dumb a$$ pool.

          • warryer

            I am not the one making insults here.

            The natural world is made up of nothing but causes and effects. Can you by observation of the natural world define what is right and wrong?

            Determining right and wrong requires a judgement. How can a judgment be made from an observation?

            Next, how do we determine which imperfect individual’s sense of right and wrong to follow? To say your own version of right and wrong is the correct one is assert yourself above the rest of man-kind.

          • jefe68

            Again, your argument is flawed. It’s not my right or wrong that’s being argued. It’s how civilized societies exist and thrive do to what is a common good.

            If you remove laws and any idea of moral codes of conduct, then you have a from of anarchy. Even in such situations, were you have war lords ruling they make up laws and codes of conduct that they deem important to keep them in power.

            By the way the natural world is also made up of cooperation. Whales use it to hunt for fish as do Dolphins. Elephants use a structured social order in which males and females have very different lives. In short they have matriarchal society. A bee hive is not chaotic and has a social order.

            Your entire argument is based on the idea that the natural world is nothing but causes and effects. If you took the time to study the natural world you would see that it’s not as simple as that. I would start with termite colonies.

          • jefe68

            What? So in your mind without religion rape cannot be defined as a heinous act?
            You can’t be serious.

          • warryer

            It can be defined as anything though, that does not make it True.

    • OnPointComments

      I’m glad we made it all the way through the program without anyone referring to Islam as the “religion of peace.” Maybe we’ve finally put that tired old canard to rest.

      • AC

        the westboro baptists to christianity as these people are to islam.
        i meant ALL religions

        • OnPointComments

          Westboro Baptist Church is deplorable, but WBC hasn’t killed as many people in its lifetime as radical Islam killed in the last 10 minutes.

          • AC

            maybe, but i’m sure if they had the control they fantasize about, we’d all soon be attending witch burnings…..

    • brettearle

      It’s unfair to blindly indict Religion.

      Regardless of how you feel about Religion, that universal Institution has been a comfort to millions of people for thousands of years–even if Religion has also been the bane of human existence, resulting in millions of Deaths.

      Mankind might have been a GREAT deal worse without Religion.

      We DON’T know….

      Without Religion, it is possible that Human Beings might have discovered a lot more reasons to slaughter each other.

      • AC

        i can’t disagree with you as i have known very nice, peaceable people who were religious, individually.
        but, and it’s a huge but – more often than not, it does not work. most unfortunate, but it’s used as an excuse for those who are greedy and power-hungry…why the individuals can’t break away from the concept of having a leader of their group that is closer to some moral power confounds me, i guess the old expression ‘you do it to yourself, that why it really hurts’ kind of might explain this….

        • brettearle

          God might visit and rest with a certain religious venue [Church, Synagogue, Mosque, Ashram, etc.].

          But it is the PEOPLE who determine the venue’s fate–as far as moral outcome is concerned.

        • harverdphd

          You’re lost…just admit it.

    • hennorama

      AC — one might point to the various and sundry replies your comment has thus far engendered as an example of how the simple invocation of the words “evil” and “religion” in the same virtual breath can incite rather contentious argument.

      Imagine if the contentiousness were ramped up over many years, and the parties involved were given arms and put into close physical proximity, and you might picture what is now happening in Iraq, writ small.

      • AC

        no thanks – don’t want to picture that at all, lol

        • hennorama

          AC — TY for your response.

          Nor do I, but there you have it, virtually, below.

          • AC

            i feel bad throwing the whole discussion off course. this should be about all those poor people about to become seriously repressed…well, that was my original intention…..

          • hennorama

            AC — TYFYR.

            You certainly didn’t throw the whole discussion off, but merely nudged it into a modest detour.

            Perhaps next time you’ll avoid linking those two words so closely. That doesn’t necessarily mean that such a decoupling would result in a different outcome, however, as discussions frequently branch off into unintended and unrelated tangents.

            Best wishes.

      • harverdphd

        Huh?

        • hennorama

          harverdphd — thank you for your response.

          As previously stated, your evident eloquence suggests you should consider a career in communication.

    • twenty_niner

      Some seem to be worse than others:

      “Pregnant Pakistani woman stoned to death by her family”

      http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/05/27/pregnant-pakistani-woman-stoned-to-death/9628161/

      • Duras

        Don’t give us this garbage. Ever hear of the dark ages? The crusades? The Inquisition? Witch trials?

        Just because the West moved out of the Middle Ages and into the Age of Reason, science, philosophy, revolution, democracy–doesn’t mean all religions don’t have their devilish side. Even during modernism, we had slavery, the Nazis, Vietnam, and the Bush Crusades.

        There is only one religion, and when you see that, you will see brilliant human wisdom. When you look at religion in a literalist function, you see the differences even though you hate the people who see religion exactly like you.

        The way is back to the garden, beyond the knowledge of good and evil, black and white, Muslim and Christian–to not see the pairs of opposites, but to see the unity. If you look at all the atrocities that have happened, at their roots, there were just enough people who rather violently defend their differences than see their common humanity.

        • twenty_niner

          “Don’t give us this garbage. Ever hear of the dark ages? The crusades? The Inquisition? Witch trials?”

          Yes, in a history book, not the news.

          Interesting that you’re outraged by the posting of a link to a story about the stoning of a beautiful girl by her own father in the name of Islam but not the stoning itself, which by the way, didn’t happen 1500 years ago, but last month.

          • Duras

            What you suggest in the previous comment is that some religions are better than others. That’s a fascist impulse and wrong.

            We can go case study by case study of people doing bad things in the name of religion. In fact, I guess you forgot about that Andrea Yates….

            You also ignored my modern examples like slavery, the Nazis … how about colonialism…?

            “Some seem to be worse than others” is because of our jingoist media and the limited amount of images your brain receives.

            All religions are the same. There is only one religion. The violence in all religions stem from a literalist take of scripture.

    • harverdphd

      If religion is pervasive does that mean it’s evil? Or are you saying evil is pervasive, so religion must be also? Or are you just trying to sound smart?

    • Duras

      It’s not religion. It’s literalism. It’s egotism. And it’s poverty. With a handful of rich guys using the herd at their whim.

      • twenty_niner

        I can’t find even two words in this post that make sense.

        • Duras

          Have you ever noticed an atheist and an evangelical arguing? They both argue over a literalist translation. The second a Christian comes along and reads scripture as metaphor–the Christian who doesn’t believe in the miracles or a literal heaven or hell–the atheist tries to get the Christian to argue a literalist translation.

          Why?

          Calling religion the problem is dogmatic. Atheist need to get real. Religion is going nowhere. Exemplifying logical superiority over religious dogma is nothing but masturbation. It does nothing but self-gratify. And those types of non-believers are doing the same thing religious folk are doing: practicing dogmatism.

          That’s why, if you wean religious folk off of literalism, you are dissolving their fundamentalism. There is still the problem of egotism, which non-believers have as well.

      • The poster formerly known as t

        You’ve described every religion with that comment. Faith is self righteousness.

  • Potter

    “We can’t let this happen” “we can’t let that happen”- or else “terrorists terrorists terrorists”, “Al Qaeda”…. so drop bombs, send in the drones…Republicans, the foreign policy “experts” who like to claim they keep us safe, are panicking and blaming Obama. They should just shut up.

  • ThirdWayForward

    It would be worth hearing what Peter Galbraith thinks about these recent developments. In 2007 he was warning about the inherent instabilities in the current political arrangement and urging for partition on the basis of dominant ethnicity: autonomy for the Shias, for the Sunnis, and for the Kurds. Each would bear the task of defending itself and maintaining internal order, such that national allegiances would be aligned with ethnic-reliigious ones. Joe Biden has also long been advocating “soft partition” solutions for these political quandaries.

    Although these tribal societies have been fighting amongst themselves forever, the historically recent problem we face today goes back to the political boundaries that the British Empire laid down that included different ethnic groups that could be played off against each other. In the absence of an external occupying force, there is conflict to control the central state and accrue its benefits. Why are we trying to uphold these artificial boundaries?

    It is extremely difficult, as the British discovered, to construct functioning native armies composed of disparate ethnic groups.

    A similar argument can be made for division of Afghanistan along ethnic lines — it certainly looks like a civil war between the Pashtun/Pathans in the south (and in northwest Pakistan) and the Tajik and Uzbek tribes that made up the Northern Alliance that threw the Taliban out.

    Again the British drew their political boundaries to divide and conquer, thereby creating generations of power struggle — we should not replicate their mistakes, especially if our interest in Afghanistan is not to occupy and govern it forever.

    The Taliban are certainly terrible in their traditionalist-fundamentalist authoritarianism, but the ongoing civil war itself might be a worse hell than Taliban domination. Partition might be more clearly a good thing if there were some viable path toward a less extremist Pashtun nation.

    • brettearle

      Well thought out and well expressed.

      All good ideas.

      But, unfortunately, I think, only in Theory.

      How would you possibly see the Partition being successful–without violent Fundamentalism, on any side, being squelched?

      How’re ya gonna Stanch it?

      I doubt we’ve seen anything close to a strategy of stopping the Fundamentalist conflict–short of nuclear conflict or genocide.

      And either of those two strategies are worse.

      Why don’t we face it…..

      There is, likely, NO solution.

      It’s not politically correct to say that–but it ought to be seriously considered.

      • ThirdWayForward

        I agree, it’s likely that there is no solution, and that all outside attempts to stabilize these regions will fail. And yes, nobody wants to hear that.

        Of all the bad and unlikely alternatives, US conventional policy seems aimed at keeping these artifacts of the British Empire together, when the more stable arrangement would draw political boundaries that better reflect ethnic identities. We are not in a position to dictate these matters, and shouldn’t be — the
        people in these places have to recognize
        and want such solutions for themselves.

  • RubyQ

    The ONLY reason we get involved over there is oil. Energy independence has always been the solution.

    • brettearle

      That’s not going to happen for years.

      In the meantime, we’re facing,as you know, a disaster.

      Our Energy solutions may not arrive soon enough.

      • Don_B1

        The currently available sustainable energy sources are sufficient to supply our energy needs IF the fossil fuel supporters would stop hindering their adoption. Sure, they are not perfect, but just building them will lead to better more efficient implementations and even better technology will be available as further economic growth develops.

        As an example of what can be done, Germany recently generated on one day 74% of its electricity sustainably, mostly wind and bioenergy but with a significant PV component:

        http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/05/13/3436923/germany-energy-records/

        Certainly that is short of full-time 100% sourcing, but it is a lot closer than a lot of people think.

        • brettearle

          Thank you.

          But do you truly think that Fossil Fuel supporters is the only thing standing in the way?

          That sounds too cut-and-dried to me.

          [No pun intended.]

    • hennorama

      RubyQ — if you are correct, that “The ONLY reason we get involved over there is oil,” then there is a whole lotta pretending goin’ on, from the political leadership and the media punditry, many of whom contend that the US must “get involved over there” to counter what they describe generally as “the threat from radical Islam.”

      • RubyQ

        I really think the other reasons are all secondary. And yes, as a result, there is “a whole lotta pretending goin’ on.”

  • Coastghost

    Is the Obama-Kerry “willingness to work with Iran” to resolve the turmoil in Iraq an element of Obama’s long-standing strategic vision? or (groan) is this TODAY’s ad hoc response to the crisis that continues to emerge simultaneous to the Obama Administration’s decisive inaction?
    (Is this newly-announced initiative part-and-parcel of our strategic vision concerning the status of Iran’s domestic nuclear program?)

    • tbphkm33

      Oh, yes… crank up that right wing conspiracy mill.

  • dfg

    When describing his plan that would eventually be called the “surge”, I remember David Petreus saying emphatically that there WAS NO MILITARY SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEMS IN IRAQ. He went on to say that at least three things MUST be solved before there was any hope of success. In rough terms they were…

    1) How should the oil wealth in Iraq be distributed in the country.
    2) How should the central government share power with the regional governments (similar to our federal and state governments).
    3) What is to become of historically Kurdish lands whish were ‘purged’ of
    Kurds by Saddam and resettled by Sunnis back in the 80-s’90′s I think.

    But in order to create a period of stability and safety for the representatives of the various factions to deal with this, he would institute the military ‘surge’ in Baghdad. This military piece was never designed, or expected to fix anything. It created the period of peace as planned. But to this day, none… NONE of the major problems has been solved.

    IOW, it failed. But this should not be a surprise. Many of the countries in the middle east were designed to fail without a strong, imperial power holding the reigns. Back when the British were drawing lines in the sand some 100 years ago, creating the borders of many of the countries of the present day Middle East, they intentionally forced together groups where were historically, culturally and religiously at odds with each other. The idea there was that if they were fighting with each other, they would never band together to start a revolution to oust the British. The British would then create a local government, loyal to the crown, from one of the minority parties. They supported this ‘government’ with military aid, training… whatever it took to keep things together. This ‘favoritism’ created animosity with the other groups in the country (which was good because it kept them fighting with each other), PLUS, this minority party in power was now beholding to the British for their survival and couldn’t afford to be disloyal.

    What you ended up with was countries that were designed to fall apart if left to their own devices. Just look at Iraq. The Kurds in the north want nothing more in this world than an independent Kurdistan and wil fight anyone who resists that. They were a thorn in Saddam’s side the whole time he was calling the shots. He had to gas them to keep them under control. The Sunni minority is who the Brits gave the power to. They have been, and are still at odds with the Shiites in the south. And the Shiite majority in the south believes in ‘democracy’ (as we taught them) which means they should control everything (they are the majority after all). This doesn’t sit well with the Sunnis and Kurds. So everyone is fighting everyone else.
    Out of our political leaders, I heard and saw two that showed an understanding of this. The first was George H/ W. Bush who was smart enough to leave Saddam in place and *just* powerful enough to hold things together. The second was Joe Biden who said we should basically let Iraq fall apart into 3 countries. It’s heading there anyway.

    • hennorama

      dfg — but, but, but … a real he-man American President would be able to magically control everything, if only a few American military personnel had been left behind, with their collective fingers in the dikes.

      Or something.

      Are you enjoying the irony of the George H. W. Bush carrier group now heading in as a show of force?

      Well said.

  • Coastghost

    NPR’s Tom Bowman just reported (in the 3 pm ET top-of-hour newscast) how detached Secretary of State John Kerry is from the US national security apparatus. (We might begin to hope that Kerry is equally remote from the US diplomatic establishment.)

  • davecm

    Maybe we should learn from the Russians about this area of the world, wise people stay out and fools rush in!

  • marygrav

    The Iraqis were fighting a Civil War right under the noses of the US Military. We are in over our heads in the Middle East. This began when Paul Bremmer, the American Viceroy, disbaned the Iraqi Army and tried to use divide and conqeuor as a method of controlling the Iraqi peoples.

    The West, led by US, always wants to control history. This is impossible, but we never seem to learn. George W. Bush let the neocons talk him into believing that democracy was holding an election and that democracies are not warlike. All the successful democracies have democracy established in their history. But like all demogogs, Bush thought democracy was like making Kool-aid: Instant.

    Iraqi and the Middle East, as well as Central Europe are time bombs. Some will come to believe that the only way to control the Middle East is to reform it in the image of the Union of South Africa with a Western Suzerain at it head.

    • The poster formerly known as t

      Economic imperialism are the real motives for U.S. intervention in the affairs of other countries.

  • Duras

    We must transition to renewable energy. Environmental reasons aside–the exploitation of and reliance on foreign resources has always bred terrorists from the impoverished nations we are taking advantage of.

    It’s not just about clearing out extremists for good commerce. We can’t afford more taxpayer money dumped in the laps of CEOs from weapon manufactures and other government contractors.
    America will have credibility when we are on renewable energy. Then we can fight for human rights, instead of under its guise.

    And if you are an honest conservative who believes that we ought to be an innovative country, why would you be against new technologies…? The energy debate is many things, and it is also about how profit motives do not always galvanize innovation.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      See Thorium: Energy Cheaper than Coal

      This includes cheap, synthesized liquid transportation fuels enabled by the high temperature processing in the LFTR.

      http://engineering.dartmouth.edu/events/thorium-energy-cheaper-than-coal/

      Bye-bye world reliance on Russian or MiddleEast Oil.

      • Duras

        Why coal? Why not renewable? Germany is on renewables and it is working for them…. Why not breathe clean air and improve life expectancy? Why not lower health care costs? Why not create new technologies?
        It is a no-brainer. The only thing stopping innovation and clean air is corruption. Quit cheerleading for a political party and have some principles. Take a stand for innovation!

  • Cacimo

    I understand the reluctance to engage. The picture if we do not take action is even bleaker. The long term consequences will end up costing thousands more lives and billions more dollars than acting now.

    • hennorama

      Cacimo — what specific action(s) do you propose?

    • HonestDebate1

      In my opinion the same was true in 2003.

      • The poster formerly known as t

        Blood for oil, huh?

        • HonestDebate1

          Where’s our oil?

    • http://alchemicalreaction.blogspot.com/ Godzilla the Intellectual

      They threatened NYC!!!

      New York City????????

      NUKE THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • brettearle

        You, my friend, are not simply a Jerk.

        You are an UTTER jerk….

        • http://alchemicalreaction.blogspot.com/ Godzilla the Intellectual

          Listen Brett. Call me whatever. Doesn’t matter.

          I was IN New York on 9/11.

          ANYONE – A N Y O N E who threatens New York City!

          NUKE THEM!!!

          • Novinha

            Yes, let’s nuke anyone who threatens the U.S. And when other countries cry out in protest and try to prevent us from nuking our enemies, we can nuke them too. Especially the ones that have their own bombs – they’re an even bigger threat! Better take them all out quick before they start nuking us back.

            Hell, why don’t we just nuke the rest of the whole damn planet for good measure, lest anyone left behind wrongly perceive us as a threat to their own existence and preemptively try to attack us. Then there’ll be no one left but Americans, and we’ll never have to worry about threats to our peace or safety again. Sure there’ll be nuclear fallout and maybe nuclear winter for a while, but once that clears up in a few generations, we’ll have the whole rest of the planet to do what we want with.

        • Godzilla the Intellectual

          I had just heard about the threat that ISIS made and my comment was an emotional reaction. I tried to delete it to no avail.

          I think I am going to unplug for a while.

  • HonestDebate1

    What is our President’s strategery in the Middle East?

    • http://alchemicalreaction.blogspot.com/ Godzilla the Intellectual

      Ignore…

    • http://flustercucked.blogspot.com/ Frank TheUnderemployedProfessi

      The strategy is…that we don’t have a strategy, unless a plan for self-destruction counts as a strategy. Whatever strategy we have is running around the Middle East like a chicken with its head cut off.

  • http://alchemicalreaction.blogspot.com/ Godzilla the Intellectual

    I was in Manhattan, NYC on 9/11… In my humble opinion, A N Y O N E who threatens New York City, NUKE THEM.

    It’s much cheaper anyway.

    • tbphkm33

      WOW – its only Monday and we already have the idiotic statement of the week.

      I do believe the land of the “free” through its industrialized mechanism of death (i.e. the Pentagon) has already taken revenge to the count of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

      Some beacon of hope the United States has developed into.

      • Godzilla the Intellectual

        If you know you’re going to make the idiotic statement of the week, then why bother???

  • http://flustercucked.blogspot.com/ Frank TheUnderemployedProfessi

    Behold! The legacy of George W Bush.

  • KathleenKennettiel

    as Thelma
    explained I cannot believe that a stay at home mom can make $7420 in four weeks
    on the internet . more info here R­e­x­1­0­.­C­O­M­

  • Joe Mahma

    .
    Sounds to me like OUR democratic system of government in Iraq is unraveling. Which never ever stood a chance in the first place.
    .

    • The poster formerly known as t

      It wasn’t a democratic system…it was a colonial, federalized system that assumes that the Iraqi people want one Iraq state instead of several.

  • NewtonWhale

    and the Putrid Prize for Punditry goes to William Kristol:

    “On this issue of the Shia in Iraq, I think there’s been a certain amount of, frankly, a kind of pop sociology in America that, you know, somehow the Shia can’t get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There’s almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq’s always been very secular.”

    -Interview with Terry Gross, April 1, 2003

    http://www.salon.com/2006/12/18/kristol_time/

  • Guest

    Al qaeda has definitely become more resurgent under President Obama.

  • pete18

    A useful reminder as to where the democrats actually stood before the Iraq invasion.

  • X-Christian

    Religion continues to divide the middle east and generally ruin the world.

  • ExcellentNews

    I’m not sure how our “regime change” in Iraq is going to play out, but the regime change in America has been totally successful. Thanks to the likes of Bush, Cheney (and throngs of mindless shills), America is now governed by the global billionaire oligarchy for the global billionaire oligarchy.

ONPOINT
TODAY
Sep 17, 2014
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson watches from the sidelines against the Oakland Raiders during the second half of a preseason NFL football game at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Friday, Aug. 8, 2014. (AP/Ann Heisenfelt)

The NFL’s Adrian Peterson and the emotional debate underway about how far is too far to go when it comes to disciplining children.

Sep 17, 2014
Bob Dylan and Victor Maymudes at "The Castle" in LA before the 1965 world tour. Lisa Law/The Archive Agency)

A new take on the life and music of Bob Dylan, from way inside the Dylan story. “Another Side of Bob Dylan.”

RECENT
SHOWS
Sep 16, 2014
From "Rich Hill"

“Rich Hill,” a new documentary on growing up poor, now, in rural America. The dreams and the desperation.

 
Sep 16, 2014
Jasmin Torres helps classmate Brianna Rameles with a worksheet at the Diloreto Magnet School in New Britain, Conn., Wednesday Feb. 22, 2012. (AP/Charles Krupa)

More parents are “red-shirting” their children in kindergarten—holding them back for a year, hoping they’ll have an edge. Does it work? We look.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: September 12, 2014
Friday, Sep 12, 2014

In which you had varied reactions to the prospect of a robotic spouse.

More »
Comment
 
Beverly Gooden on #WhyIStayed
Friday, Sep 12, 2014

Beverly Gooden — who originated the #WhyIStayed hashtag that has taken off across Twitter — joined us today for our discussion on domestic violence.

More »
1 Comment
 
Tierney Sutton Plays LIVE For On Point
Friday, Sep 5, 2014

We break out Tierney Sutton’s three beautiful live tracks from our broadcast today for your listening pleasure.

More »
2 Comments