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Escalation Nation: Another Unwinnable War, Expanded Air Attacks & Boots-on-the-ground-for-Hire


September 8, 2014
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

Analysis: Last week, President Obama admitted to not having a strategy for victory over ISIS. Now, at a NATO summit, he has laid out a strategy -- for ever-increasing escalation of the conflict. Even though US officials still don't really have an idea of how they will actually defeat ISIS, they do seem to at least agree that wiping the group out in both Iraq and Syria is going to take a very long time. The Pentagon apparently will be out-sourcing much of the ground battle to an army of for-profit contractors.

http://news.antiwar.com/2014/09/05/long-war-obamas-isis-strategy-will-mean-years-of-steady-escalation/

Long War: Obama's ISIS Strategy
Will Mean Years of Steady Escalation

Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

(September 5, 2014) -- Last week, President Obama admitted to not having a strategy for victory over ISIS, and that remains the case. Yet at today's NATO summit, he laid out what amounts to a strategy for ever-increasing escalation of the conflict. Today, Obama announced the acquisition of a number of NATO members as allies for that conflict, and aides indicated that there will be many more diplomatic efforts to secure more and more across the region.

The long-term diplomatic effort, along with the lack of any serious strategy that could conceivably "win" the war, means that the weeks of steady escalation we've already seen of the war are going to be continued over the very long term.

The plan to build a "moderate" rebel alternative to ISIS in Syria, which the US has been trying, and failing, to pull off for years, is going to be pushed on for years longer, while the US builds up its involvement in the war on the Iraqi side, and eventually gives up on the futile effort to manufacture a pro-US Syria faction and expands the war outright into Syria.

The goals of the war remain nebulous, though in recent days the president and other administration officials have talked up the outright destruction of ISIS as a key part of the conflict. So far, everything the US has done in the war has actually run contrary to that goal, as the US involvement and repeated escalations have simply added to ISIS' profile and allowed it to recruit in ways unimaginable before.

The lack of a cohesive strategy for the war itself, and the focus on a quasi-strategy of escalation, means not only many years of war, but likely myriad additional US missteps that are playing right into the ISIS leadership's hands.



US Officials:
New War on ISIS Will Take Years

Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

(September 7, 2014) -- Even though US officials still don't really have an idea of how they will actually defeat ISIS, they do seem to at least agree that wiping the group out in both Iraq and Syria is going to take a very long time. President Obama had qualified the war as not a question of "weeks" early on, though officials are now saying that it's going to be more like years, and likely not just a couple of those.

The Pentagon planners are envisioning a "minimum" commitment of 36 months, which in keeping with their usual grossly optimistic estimates, could mean far, far longer.

The war is going to involve going into Syria, at some point, though officials continue to insist the focus right now is on Iraq. That built-in plan to escalate into another nation, with an underlying plan for regime change there as well, makes this truly an open-ended war with no specific number of years really a credible estimate right now.


US Contractors Will Replace 'Boots on the Ground' in Iraq
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

(September 7, 2014) -- Keeping the size of the official military deployment into Iraq to a relative minimum appears to be a goal that the Pentagon has in mind, with the Obama Administration adding troops in small numbers but continuing to insist there isn't going to be a ground war, or that at the very least US troops won't be fighting in it.

Still, that doesn't mean the war itself is going to be heavily impacted, but rather means the Pentagon will be focusing on mustering an army of contractors for the ISIS conflict. During the last Iraq War, the US at times had over 100,000 military contractors on the ground there. The exact figures haven't always been easy to come by, but the message that contractors don't count as real troops on the ground in omnipresent.

The Pentagon is already sending out feelers for assembling this new unofficial army, posting a notice seeking contractors who are willing to work long-term in Iraq, with a minimum 12-month "initial" contract to be followed by extensions. The US continues to have over 100,000 contractors in Afghanistan, a number that officials say is likely to remain high even as the military presence there continues to draw down.

Exactly how many contractors were already in Iraq at the start of this latest war is unclear, but some estimates have put the figure above 10,000. That's likely a drop in the bucket, as America moves headlong into a new Iraq War in everything but name.

Though over 1,000 ground troops have already been sent to Iraq, the administration maintains they aren't to be engaged in "combat," and the primary focus of the US military operation in Iraq will be airstrikes, at least for now.

Those contractors, whose numbers and movements are rarely all that well reported on, could escalate the war in all sorts of ways without the administration having to worry about a public backlash in the lead-up to mid-term elections.


US Expands Air War Into Iraq's Anbar Province
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

(September 7, 2014) -- In mid-August, Anbar Province Governor Ahmed Khalaf al-Dulaimi announced a deal with the United States that would involve the US expanding its war on ISIS into that province. Today, the expansion began, with the first US airstrikes launched in the area around Haditha Dam, and Pentagon officials saying the strikes are aimed at assuring government control of the significant hydroelectric dam.

ISIS has seized most of Anbar Province since January, and has attacked the areas around Haditha Dam, without successfully taking the dam itself yet. The Iraqi military is launching a ground offensive to coincide with the US strikes. Iraq's largest province, Sunni-dominated Anbar's major cities were in more or less full revolt before ISIS even started amassing territory there, angered by the Maliki government's crackdowns.

Haditha dam is on the outskirts of Haditha, the city that was the site of the 2005 Haditha massacre, in which US Marines killed 24 Iraqi civilians. The governor's reports of a planned US return, both with airstrikes and eventually a potential ground operation, has needless to say been met with trepidation by locals.

The strikes in Anbar are the first time the US air war has focused on territory primarily sought by the Iraqi military, as previous strikes had centered on the Kurdish frontier, and territory sought primarily by Peshmerga fighters. Iraqi officials had pushed for this, claiming it was unfair that the US war had so far focused on the Kurds.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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