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Obama gets it right

I expect many afflicted with Obama Derangement Syndrome will be dismayed to see Obama praised for anything, but the actions in Iraq seem to be pretty much correct, at least so far.

My views on Iraq (and Afghanistan) are well know and can be summarised thus: it was right to go in and topple the governments, whereupon the US (and its allies should have) should have declared victory and got the hell out many many years ago, saying only “now that you have seen what will happen to any government who annoys us enough, keep that in mind when you sort it out amongst yourselves who will be your subsequent rulers. Our armies have gone home now but we own your sky any time we wish to, so you need to realise we will not tolerate any jihadi lunatics running the country.” No futile democratic nation building.

So Obama is right to not put any substantive forces on the ground beyond the barest advisers who are there now (and perhaps some forward air controllers). And he is right to strike this most deranged lunatic strain of jihadis yet seen from the air. If I have any criticism, it is that as the IS nutters are currently exposed targets out in the open, having transitioned from guerilla war to out-in-the-open war, the intensity of strikes should be increased rapidly whilst the opportunity presents itself. Kill as many of these islamo-fascist barbarians as possible as quickly as possible.

Just as Kabul was actually taken by the Northern Alliance with US air support, so too can people like the Peshmerga do the ground work with US assistance from the air.

But so far at least, well done Obama. That is the first time I have ever said that particular combination of words.

58 comments to Obama gets it right

  • Rob

    How did the Iraqi government annoy us up until 2003?

  • William the Conker

    That would be by invading its neighbours, Kuwait and Iran. I’ve never understood why some people act as if Saddam’s Iraq was a regional anchor of stability before “we messed things up”.

  • What William said, but actually it hardly matters at this point as you may have noticed Obama was not in the White House in 2003… the important things is (1) no preposterous ‘democratic nation building’ (2) use the more amenable less psychotic locals to do the ground work and just tip the balance in their favour, just like it originally was done in Afghanistan before the mission creep started running away with the whole thing.

  • Mr Ecks

    The Iran/Iraq war was very popular with the Feds and Sadam more or less asked the US if he could have a go at Kuwait and interpreted the ambiguous answer he got as what he wanted to hear. The Federal tyranny has messed up everything since (along with UK help). Obumbag is busy sending jets to strike the same shower that US (and our) money has been busy training and equipping in Syria. I agree the Caliphate crew need to be utterly slaughtered but I have no doubt the Feds will somehow make a mess of that as well.

  • Too little too late, but yes, agree with Perry.

  • I agree the Caliphate crew need to be utterly slaughtered but I have no doubt the Feds will somehow make a mess of that as well.

    But that is just another reason why it is best to keep US involvement to dropping things that go bang from the air and letting locals who actually have some idea how things work locally sort out the nasty details down on the ground. Let the people who really have the animosities against IS sort them out once US airpower has made it exceedingly risky for the jihadis to use heavy weapons.

  • AngryTory

    Iran and Afganistan were not the same.

    Afganistan was not quite the “UN war” like Korea, but it was the next best thing, the best we could do without Russia and China conveniently boycotting the security council like they did when the UN invaded Korea. Even Helen Clark, if you remember, went into Afganistan.

    And we didn’t “get the hell out”. Not at first. The US + NATO + NZ, Aus etc went in and won and stayed in. Schools opened, girls went back to schools, the taliban were f**ked.

    Then GW Bush decided to invade Iraq — withdrew the US troops, the UK pulled out too, and the whole place went to shit.

  • withdrew the US troops, the UK pulled out too, and the whole place went to shit.

    No the whole place was already shit. This should have been allowed to happen years ago rather than the demonstrably futile occupation. Iraq should have been allowed to fragment into sustainable sections capable of keeping out the jihadis. Instead we got years of occupation and zillions poured into training an Iraqi army that collapsed like a pricked balloon against its first serious threat.

    Likewise Afghanistan should have been allowed to fragment. Who cares if the Taliban own some hills? Provide air support if they threaten Kabul and just let the locals sort out the rest.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    While I would nominally agree with Perry on this one I do have one concern. That is, it’s not that Obama objects to lengthy post-war nation building on a philosophical level. Rather he simply lacks the balls to commit the US to a major conflict, so he never gets to the stage of having to make that decision. Thus, he tries to do everything to do with war by only dipping his little toe in the waters of conflict. We saw how well that went in Syria for example.

    The distinction between those opposed to nation building and being “President no-balls” becomes important the second things become the least bit difficult. The second Obama encounters the least bit of significant resistance from ISIS, the least bit of criticism at home, the least peep of complaint from the Arab world…. I think he’ll bottle it and the Yazidis will be well and truly screwed. Even if he doesn’t bottle it, I don’t think he’ll ever commit the level of air forces neccesary to pulverise ISIS. A few Predator drones here and there, but I wouldn’t expect rolling airstrikes from F-18s or sustained Minigun strafing from Spectre gunships. Obama see’s himself as a President who ends wars, not one who starts them. And he’s quite willing to let people die to maintain his self-image.

  • John B

    Except. That thing called reality intrudes.

    No military campaign can be won by an air war alone, it needs ‘boots on the ground’ to achieve sucess… being eradication of the enemy.

    Air wars are to gain air superiority, which in the absence of an opposing airforce, means taking out any RADAR and/or ground to air weapons capable of destroying aircraft, and also to eliminate as many weapons as possible such as artilary and rockets which would be a threat to ground forces.

    So-called precision bomb are useless against personel who are dispersed and/or sheltered.

    The British dropped more than a million tons of shells over four days on German front line in WWI , killed relatively few, degraded their fighting efficiency not at all, and as a consequences tens of thousands of British troops were killed attacking the ‘obliterated’ defences.

    If the object is to stop the IS forces, or save Iraqi religious minorities, or to allow Kurds, Iraqi Army to gain control, lobbing even a large tonnage of ordnance in the general direction of IS nut-cases (and without obliterating innocent passers-by) will not work.

  • No military campaign can be won by an air war alone, it needs ‘boots on the ground’ to achieve sucess… being eradication of the enemy.

    All true and all irrelevant. There are lots of boots on the ground. No need for them to be American ones.

    So-called precision bomb are useless against personel who are dispersed…

    Indeed, which is why when the IS forces are actually deployed out in the open taking objectives, they are extremely vulnerable.

    …and/or sheltered.

    Not so. Indeed that is where the ‘precision’ bit really makes a difference. And there is nothing so-called about them.

  • John B

    By the by. The US engaged in some very frantic Nation-building in post-war Germany and Japan precisely to ensure economic prosperity and that they could hand-off government to people schooled in democracy and how to govern to keep the nuts out either from home or abroad.

    In both cases the US garrisoned those Countries… still there 70 years on in Germany.

    The mistakes in Iraq was to assume democracy is a pre-cursor to economic progress and stability whereas in fact history shows the exact reverse, to understand that to have a democracy you need a demos and Iraq does not have that just a collection of antagonistic tribes and sects.

    Iraq should have been partitioned, Kurds, Shia and Sunni… placed under strict military rule, the rule of law established, infrastructure rebuilt, jobs created by attracting outside investment all until people chosen by the US and allies were considered fit to govern when the famous democracy could happen.

    But unfortunately, the West is run by galoots who do not understand democracy and can’t govern their own Nations properly and are en route to destroying them, so they are not best suited to ‘Nation-build’ in foreign parts.

  • JV, yes that is why I have said “so far”. This is the correct strategic thinking (leave the foot work to the locals, use air power to make enemy heavy weapons and vehicles suicidal to use) but it does need to be sustained, and that requires two very personal things that Obama may not have.

  • bloke in spain

    “…use air power to make enemy heavy weapons and vehicles suicidal to use”

    And get ready for the Western media crew/relief worker detachment strays into a free-fire zone & gets itself televisually plastered for the evening news. Another stick to beat the US with.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    My own rather sour take is that the US should engage in no foreign military actions that will take more than three weeks. After that, the media and the government will lose interest, internal criticism will mount, and the effort will wither in mid-fight.

  • And get ready for the Western media crew/relief worker detachment strays into a free-fire zone & gets itself televisually plastered for the evening news.

    For once I suspect it might actually prove hard to get all too many western TV crews into the Islamist controlled areas.

  • Mr Ed

    I see Mr Obama as simply carrying on where Mr GW Bush left off, whether it is wildly raising government spending or liabilities, foreign military involvement or anything else, except the Healthcare, and Mr Obama seems slightly embarrassed about doing anything military like this.

    A few days of A-10 Warthogs working over the nutters should provide a shift in the balance, but this will be a true test of what Mr Obama is prepared to do.

  • We have Kurdish fighters who are and are protecting reasonable people doing their best to build a functional state, who are being attacked by and are therefore fighting insane genocidal fanatics. I’m for giving them some air support, yes.

  • chuck

    Peshmerga do the ground work

    If only they were well armed and militarily competent…

  • chuck

    (fuck off. Banned)

  • They are militarily competent, they just need more heavy weapons. Indeed they are the only cohesive force facing the IS in Iraq.

  • Paul Marks

    I have long argued that that there is a fundamental contradiction involved in the left’s alliance with the Islamists.

    Marxism and Islam are (contrary to the claims of “Islamic Socialists”) are just incompatible – they really are incompatible.

    Yes there is “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” idea (with both the left and the Islamists being enemies of the West – and Mr Obama has allays fundamentally hated the West, the United States most of all) BUT in the in the end “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” is FALSE (utterly false).

    With his drone attacks against Islamists and so on it has long been clear that Mr Obama may (just possibly) “get” this.

    The “Obama is a Muslin” line is nonsense (he regards Islam with the same contempt he really has for Christianity and all other “supernatural” ideas and systems) – indeed his mother sent him away from Indonesia because she feared the “capitalist” influence of his Muslim step father (ironically the foster father was about the only non leftist man that Mr Obama had any contact with in his youth).

    The trouble is that Barack Obama regards all people who take religion seriously (rather than just pretending to believe it – as he does) as IDIOTS – and therefore not dangerous.

    Hence his mocking comparison of ISIS (nor IS) as like “JZ” only a few days before they overran northern Iraq.

    Even today Mr Obama still does not seem to understand how INTELLIGENT (as well as utterly vicious and bent on filling the world with fire-and-death so the “Hidden One” will return) the Iranian regime is.

    In Mr Obama’s mind either the Iranian regime really are “Hasteners” – in which case they are idiots (and are, therefore, not dangerous) or they are just pretending to be “Hasteners” (treating religion as he treated it in his 20 years at “Holy Trinity” in Chicago) in which case one can cooperate with the against IS in Iraq.

    Mr Obama is mistaken – for once just sincerely mistaken.

    It is quite possible to believe in “insane” doctrines (such as the need to spread fire and death over the world so that the Hidden One can return on his white horse….. rather like the Book of Revelations accept with the Anti Christ as hero) and be intelligent – very intelligent.

    And the Iranian regime are both very intelligent (and often softly spoken) – and committed to nuking XYZ (as soon as they can) to bring the return of the Hidden One.

    There is no contradiction.

    But to someone brought up in the Marxist tradition (where all supernatural beliefs are signs of stupidity) there is.

  • Laird

    I’m all in favor of the Kurdish fighters effectively resisting (by which I mean slaughtering in very large numbers) the ISIS “insurgents” (I’m not quite sure how to refer to them). But I’m rather conflicted by the idea of the US providing air support. Yes, it can be argued that this is all the result of the utter disaster we made of Iraq, in which case we have an obligation to clean up our own mess. But on the other hand, if we had originally done what Perry suggests and left Iraq immediately after toppling the Saddam Hussein regime (with which position I agree) there would likely have been precisely the same mess today (or, more likely, even sooner). In the end it’s really not our fight and the locals will have to sort it out for themselves. Should we really be spending on this a few more $ billions we don’t have?

  • Sorry Obama never gets anything right, crazy folk seldom do. Obama is currently insisting that we must preserve a unified Iraq and that all the parties must sit down together and arrive at a coalition government (in the midst of a war that one of the parties seems to be winning) and that the current head of the Iraqi government , who is an Iranian puppet , should leave (as if Iran will allow such a thing to happen). Consequently the Kurds who have the only relatively honest stable region in Iraq and have a capable army dont have modern weapons, an air force or sufficient ammunition(they have been forced to withdraw recently because of shortages of ammunition). The Kurds have been trying to buy military supplies and upgrades but Obama will only sell to the Iraqi central government which wont supply the Kurds. Obama is also interfering in the Kurds sale of oil produced in the northern fields. These include the oil fields that the Iraqi government abandoned. Aiding the Kurds might weaken the failed central Iraqi government, so we cant possibly do that. Better to let ISIS conquer Mosul and surrounds and kill a couple of tens of thousand more.

  • Sorry Obama never gets anything right

    Nope. That is pure Obama Derangement Syndrome. The things he has got right are… bomb the IS jihadis… don’t recommit a large number of US troops.

    Everything else you wrote… yes, I agree entirely. Iraq is over (and good riddance to it). The Kurds are the key to everything in the region, even if the dumb fucks in Baghdad and Pennsylvania Avenue cannot see that. You want a stable former-Iraq? Arm the Kurds until the earth shakes from the passing of their tanks. They are competent and willing and regard their ethnicity as more important than their religion.

  • Will

    Sorry, but Mr Burns is actually closer to the truth. Obama was warned as early as December 2013 about ISIL by the Iraqi government, his military and State Department professionals had warned him almost the same time the Iraqi government were clamoring for assistance. He did not do anything until now when things had significantly had gotten worse . The damn fucks in Baghdad saw the writing on the wall quite clearly and it would not matter one bit because the dumb fucks in Pennsylvania Avenue, Capitol Hill and the Foggy Bottom are fucking more interested in ideological and political games that will protect their interests and the investors of their policies rather than doing the intelligent thing which Mr burns and you had proposed. They will not arm the Kurds for fear of antagonizing Turkey as well as the anti war Left even if it means that the Chaldean Christians and Yazidis are wiped out from the face of the planet.
    Please do remember the Nato joke that made rounds during the eighties. Two Russian Generals ran to each other in Paris and one of them asked, Btw, who won the Air war? The same joke will apply here in Mesopotamia .

  • Laird

    Arming the Kurds is something I would wholeheartedly support (provided that we sell them the arms, not merely give them away). And that means supporting the Kurds’ utilizing the oil wells in their region. Which, as mr burns has pointed out, is something the Obama administration won’t countenance.

    Pure “Obama Derangement Syndrome”? Perhaps. It could be that those of us suffering under his maladministration are too close to the problem to be objective. But it seems to me that if Obama is “correct” in this matter (about which, as noted above, I’m not convinced) it’s an example of the “stopped clock” effect. Or, to put it another way, he could be taking the “correct” action for entirely the wrong reasons. That’s the most probable answer.

    Iraq is not a “nation” in any meaningful sense. The logical solution has to be the partition of that benighted region into at least three separate countries (Sunni, Shia, and Kurd). But that, of course, isn’t under consideration by anyone.

  • Sorry Will but you are making no sense at all based on what has been written. If you do not think Obama should have ordered these air strikes, and the Yazidis sould just be allowed to die and the Kurds should not be backed up at all, well fair enough but you are wrong. Ditto if you think sending in 30,000 US troops is a good idea.

  • But it seems to me that if Obama is “correct” in this matter (about which, as noted above, I’m not convinced) it’s an example of the “stopped clock” effect.

    Oh I am entirely prepared to believe that! And I agree, I have been arguing for the recognition of reality and the partition of Iraq since 2005.

  • Jacob

    The partition of Iraq isn’t as simple a matter as you state it. All the ethnic and religious groups are mixed up, geographically. You can’t partition them physically. It’s impossible…
    Letting them sort it out ? Well, they are doing it, all the time, killing one another. That is their way of “sorting it out”.

    Curious how we miss now Bashar Assad and his late papa. They used to kill now and then a few thousand of these nutters, but the world protested: “human rights violations!”. Barbarous as they were, they kept even worse barbarians at bay.

  • Jeremy

    Obama’s motivation doesn’t matter – air strikes are clearly the right thing in the circumstances since ISIS has minimal anti-air and the US can maintain a high strike rate from the 3 big carriers and Bastion. Longer term, a few hundred Reapers will grind them to pieces. I hope Obama stays the course.

  • The partition of Iraq isn’t as simple a matter as you state it.

    Where did I state it was ‘simple’?

    Letting them sort it out ? Well, they are doing it, all the time, killing one another. That is their way of “sorting it out”.

    Well yes, that was exactly what I expected. This is the Middle East we are talking about, not the Czechs and Slovaks!

    Curious how we miss now Bashar Assad and his late papa.

    Who is this ‘we’? I am on record hoping they continue to kill each other in Syria for as long as possible.

    I am all for arming the Kurds however.

  • I hope Obama stays the course.

    He will not. The bombing is a good idea, but as I said in the beginning: too little, too late, will end too early, the benefits thereof will be greatly diminished by all kinds of other, unnecessary and harmful steps, etc. ODS it is.

  • Sadly all that is possible… indeed rather likely.

  • lucklucky

    I disagree.

    Obama is just showing he is doing something.
    Nothing more than that. How Libya panned btw? And that was a much more intensive mission with hundred of aircrafts and dozen ships.

    How to dislodge Islamic State from Mosul a city of 1-2 million without ground troops and a siege?

    Obama seems like an unstable teenager that goes from voluntarist to withdrawal in a week.

    This will like the missiles that Clinton launched against Al Qaeda before 9/11. There is no sustainable objective, no doctrine.

    ———-
    For the memory:

    Obama words in 2011: ‘We’re Leaving Behind a Sovereign, Stable and Self-Reliant Iraq’

    Obama words about ISIL in January 2014: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/01/20/obama-dismisses-al-qaeda-resurgence-theyre-jv/

  • I disagree.

    So you do not think any military action is called for?

    Obama is just showing he is doing something.

    Which he is. Dropping bombs and not going in on the ground in any substantive way.

    How to dislodge Islamic State from Mosul a city of 1-2 million without ground troops and a siege?

    With ground troops and a siege. Arm and support the only cohesive local army, the Peshmerga, and give it air support like the Northern Alliance (remember them?) in Afghanistan. He is doing the air strikes bit (and as a result the Peshmerga recaptured some ground today). Remains to be seen if he has the balls or brains to follow the logic all the way (my guess is not but we will see).

    Obama words in 2011: ‘We’re Leaving Behind a Sovereign, Stable and Self-Reliant Iraq’

    Yeah that cracked me up too :-D So stable and self-reliant the Iraqi army collapsed the first time it came under serious pressure. But then I have been arguing for partition since 2005.

  • lucklucky

    I don’t think that US military action has chance to be successful with such small resources. The only advantage – i don’t despise that advantage – is moral. Might make some to not fell to ISIL so easy.

    “With ground troops and a siege. Arm and support the only cohesive local army, the Peshmerga, and give it air support like the Northern Alliance (remember them?) in Afghanistan. He is doing the air strikes bit (and as a result the Peshmerga recaptured some ground today). Remains to be seen if he has the balls or brains to follow the logic all the way (my guess is not but we will see).”

    There are many peshmerga and Kurd tribes collaborating with ISIL. I don’t think they are such a solid force to be able to do something at that level.

    Those that have a purposeful doctrine have always an advantage.

  • Will

    Perry
    It does not matter what Obama will do now because the fate of the Yazidis and the Chaldeans are already sealed for all intents and purposes. Those air drops won’t save those 40,000 Yazidis trapped with no food and water in that fucking mountain unless a fucking army with armor and air assets come in and rescue them and the only army available to rescue them does not have armor and air assets nor do they have the transportation assets to move them en masse to Kurdistan . Said army also could not be armed with heavy weapons in any case because Turkey has a dim view of a well armed Kurdish army with Western weapons that might someday threaten Turkey’s integrity in their way of forming a Kurdish state.

    Unlike the ISIL, the Yazidis and the Chaldeans are also limited in transportation since they were taken away by that islamic army and the survivors are mostly composed of the young, the women and the old with their most of their able bodied men either dead or fighting a hopeless real guard action to protect their people with small arms against a well trained and disciplined enemy with logistical support. You also have to understand that the avenues of escape for both of these groups are also getting smaller and smaller by the day as ISIL takes over large chunks of territory from the Iraqi government. Unless Obama authorize daily Arc Light bombing runs using B-52, B1 and B-2 bombers supported by tactical fighters to open a much a bigger avenue of escape to either Kurdistan or the Persian Gulf while transport planes drops relief goods along the way as well as vehicles and gas, they are good as dead.

    Second, the AO of ISIL spans two countries who are both experiencing civil wars . Bombing ISIL in Iraq won’t solve the problem unless somebody also attack ISIL held territory in Syria which the United States cannot do due to Russia and China’s support for the Assad regime.

    Obama had a lot of options from December 2013 up to the spring of this year, most does not involved massive boots on the ground and it will involved tactical aircraft and a few Special Ops fellows for target acquisition and confirmation. Now his options are so freaking limited unless the West decide to hire mercenaries to assist the Kurds and the beleaguered Iraqi government to defeat and end the ISIL movement.

    What you are proposing would had worked last winter or even last spring if Obama and his advisors showed initiative instead of dismissing the ISIL threat as a JV team that merits no consideration. Now, we are just hoping for a miracle.

  • joel

    I guess our blog host learned nothing from the aftermath of WW I.

    After the USA intervened and tipped the balance in favor of England and France, and therefore won the war, the US left just as quickly, changing the balance of forces yet again, this time in favor of Germany.

    Lesson learned. We (USA) still garrison Europe.

  • There are many peshmerga and Kurd tribes collaborating with ISIL.

    Provide some links with evidence for that please. I think Kurdish society does not quite work that way.

    Those that have a purposeful doctrine have always an advantage.

    Erbil clearly has a very definite game plan, always has.

  • It does not matter what Obama will do now because the fate of the Yazidis and the Chaldeans are already sealed for all intents and purposes.

    Actually quite a few have already been rescued apparently, but I would be surprised if a great many will not be. The situation is a mess but hopefully some more can still be got out as Peshmerga do seem to be getting through to them.

    What you are proposing would had worked last winter

    And what is it you think I am proposing?

  • Lesson learned. We (USA) still garrison Europe.

    Well not really ;-) 30,000 or so folks does not actually constitute ‘garrisoning’ Europe.

  • Laird

    I don’t want any US troops in Germany, either (a point I’ve made repeatedly), but to be fair the 30,000 or so now there are hardly “garrisoning” Europe, much less doing anything useful. It’s more like they’re on extended holiday.

  • Will

    Perry
    Tactical airstrikes and arming the Kurdish Peshmerga , the former will not stop the ISIL and the other is a diplomatic nightmare which Turkey hold all the cards. Care to guess what the Turkish government would demand from Barack Obama to sacrifice to start the negotiations for arming the Kurdish Peshmerga with tanks and artillery to stop the ISIL ? The withdrawal of all support and diplomatic recognition of the State of Israel. Failure to do so ends the negotiation. Telling Turkey to” Go to Hell” would push Turkey to Putin’s arms or worse, military action against the Kurds in Kurdistan and placing their full support to the ISIL movement .
    Also, the Iraqi government does not trust or like the Kurds so any military support given to the Kurds would end up as a diplomatic minefield with ISIL winning in the end.

  • Will

    Perry
    Forget what I had posted, with Maliki staging a successful coup, it had change the dynamics of the whole Iraqi civil war and I don’t think that it will end well globally.

  • Stopped clock.

    Sometimes it can be impossible to be wrong.

  • Mr Ed

    FWI(not)W, the British Army still has 19,500 troops in Germany, due to return in the main by 2015 and then totally by 2019, some 28 years after the collapse of the USSR, which will have been a presence for 76 years.

    Just remember when they say that there are shortages in the Army etc., that they have a very bureaucratic, cautious approach to redeployment.

  • because Turkey has a dim view of a well armed Kurdish army with Western weapons that might someday threaten Turkey’s integrity in their way of forming a Kurdish state.

    A chance to screw Turkey? I now like Perry’s plan even better.

  • The withdrawal of all support and diplomatic recognition of the State of Israel.

    Ah, but we are already effectively there, so nothing much to lose.

    Anyway, all that is wishful thinking on my part. Unfortunately, I find Will’s arguments very convincing. Combine that with my point about Obama, and you have quite a SNAFU of a situation. And that’s just Iraq. Look at the ME as whole, look at Eastern Europe. There are some increasingly interesting times ahead of us all.

  • Telling Turkey to” Go to Hell” would push Turkey to Putin’s arms or worse

    Er, really? Putin??? And what would be in that for either Turkey or Russia? You really think Russia (economy about the size of Italy but unlike Italy, which has a modern diversified economy, Russia has to pump its economy out of the ground) is looking for a meaningful piece of the action in the Middle East? Frankly they’d have to be nuts. And even if they did, so what? If I was in the Ukraine, Putin’s antics would keep me up at night, but in the Middle East? Not really.

    military action against the Kurds in Kurdistan

    Yes they did that for years without being able to crush Kurdish Nationalism… actually just to update you, the Kurds are now selling their oil directly to Turkey, much to Baghdad’s dismay. What does that tell you about the change in relationship? Now I grant you this being the Middle East, things change, but I don’t think the local dynamics are quite what you think.

    and placing their full support to the ISIL movement .

    Well in the event of that highly unlikely event, it might actually prompt the long overdue military coup d’etat in Turkey, whereupon we discover if the army purges have actually worked or not.

  • Stopped clock. Sometimes it can be impossible to be wrong.

    Oh that could well be true! As I mentioned, this is certainly the first time I have ever written the words:

    But so far at least, well done Obama. That is the first time I have ever said that particular combination of words.

    I think the man is a complete jackass, so I am quite prepared to put him making the right moves (kinda sorta) down to Brownian Motion.

    But I see the first glimmer of what might be another correct move being made today.

  • PeterT

    In terms of evaluating Obama we can ask ourselves what his alternatives are:

    - Do nothing (Ron Paul option)
    - Full scale invasion & renewed nation building (McCain option)

    (I don’t actually know what Ron’s and John’s opinions are on this matter but you get the idea)

    Doing nothing is an option, and I think you could make a strong argument for it, callous as that may sound. But to most people, myself included, I would find it hard to justify morally. From a political point of view the full scale invasion option is probably impossible. I think for Obama, or anybody, to be wrong on this issue is quite difficult, as long as they have a functioning moral compass as well as some political nous.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    I think for Obama, or anybody, to be wrong on this issue is quite difficult, as long as they have a functioning moral compass as well as some political nous.

    Left yourself a couple of outs, eh?

  • I think for Obama, or anybody, to be wrong on this issue is quite difficult, as long as they have a functioning moral compass as well as some political nous.

    Therefore as he appears to have neither, and yet seems to be heading in the right direction (kinda sorta) for once, this does indeed seem supportive of the ‘stopped clock’ or ‘Brownian Motion’ theory.

  • Mr Ed

    As a junior chess player, aged 10ish, I was at my grandmother’s house, and I was re-playing a chess game from a book on her chessboard. After White Bishop to b5, threatening the Black Knight on c6 and check, my grandmother’s white cat, Lulu, sitting on a chair next to the chess table, reached out a paw and tapped the black bishop on c8 to d7, the exact next move in the game I was analysing. I was completely astounded at this co-incidence. However, I did not attribute to Lulu any greater intelligence or skill than I had already noticed in it, with its penchant for egg nog. Efforts to engage Lulu in chess further proved negative. Sometimes the right thing happens for reasons we can never explain, no matter how delighted we are when they do.

  • I Am Not Kwame Nkrumah's Pet Cane Rat

    Samizdata says Obama arrives at a correct policy via Brownian Motion!

    But that is RAAAAAAAAAAACCCCCIST!!!!

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist :-P

  • Russ in TX

    Pretty much. Even a Chicago Democrat can find a nut. In this case the man’s instincts and our best political options align.

    We don’t want to swoop in and solve everything. Neither do we want to let the daeeshi idiots murder everybody. The Kurds are, more or less, friends, or as close as we usually get to it in the Middle East (much more so than Erdogan, whose regime would go belly-up if it weren’t for Saudi dollars propping it and its increasingly conservative, autocratic tone, up). So given that the Kurds are pretty much “good guys,” why NOT arm them to the teeth and let them sort it out while we “blow sh*t up?”

    Americans like blowing sh*t up. The Kurds like being independent from mooks like Maliki.
    Works for me.

  • Richard Thomas

    Gentlemen, ladies, this is all being made much harder than it needs to be. We already have a solution, a shining tower of concordance that absolutely erases and effaces any cultural, religious or political differences that are at the roots of any strife and enables everlasting peace.

    Have them joint the EU.

    *ducks*

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