Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com – 2014-09-10 01:01:29
Obama Lays Out Broad Strategy
For Years of War Against ISIS
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(September 9, 2014) — All of the specifics won’t be available until Wednesday night, but those who were given a “preview” of President Obama’s strategy for the ISIS war say he is laying out a massive undertaking to wipe out the militant group worldwide.
Brookings President Strobe Talbott says that the administration presented ISIS as a “unique danger, not just for the region, but for the world,” and one that the US could only respond to by exterminating it.
What started out as an “emergency” humanitarian campaign to save people trapped on Mount Sinjar, most of whom weren’t trapped there to begin with, has escalated in a matter of weeks into an open-ended war with ISIS that even the most optimistic Pentagon planners say is going to take years.
While he publicly hasn’t confirmed the plans yet, expanding the war from Iraq into neighboring Syria also seems a foregone conclusion at some point, as officials have been downplaying the idea that they could stop ISIS in one country without stopping them planet-wide.
A global war with no strategy for victory and no end in sight certainly wasn’t what the American public were presented with when the campaign began, but White House officials continue to deny that “mission creep” is occurring.
Mission creep has long been a very slow process of escalating the goals of a war, but the administration still hasn’t made it clear that what they’ve set out so far is the totality of the war’s goals, and perhaps more disconcertingly, it’s escalated at a pace far beyond any reasonable definition of “creep.”
The White House tried to pass off the expansion of the war into Anbar as protecting the Baghdad Airport, on the notion that if the Haditha Dam was destroyed it might conceivably threaten the airport, just under 200 miles downstream and not actually built along the shoreline.
But wiping out ISIS in multiple countries and putting something more pro-US in its place is a far broader goal than “keeping the embassy safe” or some other platitude about why the new war was launched, and the scariest part is we aren’t even sure that’s where it’ll finish off, with officials tacking new goals on seemingly every couple of days.
Obama’s Wednesday speech will in no way resemble his start of the war speech, and his speech a few weeks down the road will probably be starkly more bellicose, as the war keeps expanding.
US Air War Fueling Bloody Revenge
Attacks on Iraq’s Sunni Arabs
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(September 9, 2014) — The omnipresent sectarian civil war underpinning everything that goes on in Iraq was not unrelated to the ISIS expansion in the nation’s west. Indeed, ISIS took advantage of Sunni unrest, particularly in Anbar Province, to establish its foothold, and secure deals with local tribal factions.
The US never did get the hang of that problem back during the last Iraq occupation, and is quickly running up against it in this new war, as Kurdish fighters and Shi’ite militias alike are eagerly taking advantage of the US airstrikes to carry out revenge attacks on the Sunni Arabs in the areas.
In “liberating” the sieged Turkomen Shi’ite town of Amerli from ISIS, they also exposed myriad Sunni villages in the area to the Shi’ite militias, and as was feared, the militias have quickly started looting those towns, and chasing out the Sunnis.
They’re pretty public about it too, with one commander in an Amerli militia bragging of his faction razing the homes of Sunnis to the ground to ensure they’ll never be able to return to the area.
The villagers say they won’t return, either, even though most of them are basically stuck living inside ISIS territory for the time being. They say they would’ve remained if it was Iraq’s army, despite their notorious crackdowns on Sunnis. The Shi’ite militias have built sectarian reputation far worse, and living as a Sunni civilian under those militias is simply not an option.
That’s going to be a growing problem as the US war escalates across Iraq, aiming to secure Kurdish and Shi’ite rule over the ISIS-held territory which is overwhelming Sunni in nature.
Al-Shabaab Vows Attacks on US in Revenge for Leader’s Death
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(September 9, 2014) — The Pentagon touted their successful assassination of al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Godane as a “major symbolic loss” to the faction, but it isn’t clear how big of a difference it will actually make to their day to day operations. Godane’s successor, Ahmad Umar, is said to be a far more charismatic leader, who is a good public speaker. That’s a major shift from the reclusive Godane, whose communication was primary by radio.
The big change might be that the assassination moved the US quite a ways up the ladder of future targets, with the group promising to launch attacks inside the United States in retaliation for Godane’s killing. Al-Shabaab’s operations have been almost exclusively inside southern Somalia and northern Kenya, though they have on occasion launched attacks elsewhere, like the 2010 strike in Uganda, one of the nations involved in the AU operation in Somalia.
US officials have vowed more strikes on al-Shabaab, saying they threaten the US homeland. If they didn’t have such grand ambitions before, after these attacks they surely will.
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