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Middle East Mess
A Tactical Success, A Strategic Failure
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  • Ellen

    Thank you Professor Mead, for another great expose of the stunning stupidity of Obama’s MidEast foreign policy, and the not surprising unwillingness of the commentariat – most of whom voted for him twice (unlike you, who only voted for him once, as you once told us) – are unable to tell the truth about his delusional policies and where they are leading.

    The reality is, Obama and his version of Kissinger – none other than Ben Rhodes armed with his Masters of Fiction Writing degree from NYU – have made a losing bet. It’s already a loser and they haven’t even signed the June 30 capitulation to Iran. The Obamoids bet that Iran would come out on top in all of its regional conflicts – the Lebanese take over by Hezbollah, the Syrian Civil war, the Iraqi Civil war, and now the Yemenite civil war. In Yemen they may end up with a victory of sorts, meaning total chaos on the border of Saudi Arabia. For Iran that counts as a victory, regardless of the humanitarian cost.

    However, everywhere else they seem to be losing in a rather humiliating way. In Lebanon, Hezbollah is widely viewed as a sinking ship, and Nasrallah may be on the way to his own demise for health reasons. In Syria, the Assad/Shiite cabal is clearly on the losing end of a war of attrition, even if it takes a while longer for the outcome to emerge. As you say, Nusra taking over Damascus backed by the Turks and Saudis, and even the Israelis(!!) may be the end result. What a disaster for Obama given his policies and stated reasons for nonintervention (because intervention would encourage the rise of al Queda). Well, nonintervention has produced the same result. Brilliant. And in Iraq, intervention seems to be producing an ever worse result – a takeover of much of the country by ISIS.

    What blunders could he possibly commit next?

  • f1b0nacc1

    This is a wonderful illustration of the cupidity of the Left. War is about breaking things and hurting people….as ugly as that is, there is very little alternative to prosecuting it that way. The fantasy that one can fight a war with a few ‘targeted’ air strikes (are these like the ‘targeted’ tax breaks that the Dems are always telling us about?) and the odd commando raid, particularly against an enemy that is determined to fight back, is nothing more than an excuse by those that don’t want to fight that war in the first place to pretend that they aren’t simply cutting and running.
    Look, there are often excellent reasons NOT to fight (I myself oppose any intervention in Syria and most of the rest of the Middle East with some important exceptions), but pretending that this disinclination is some sort of superior policy FOR intervention is both dishonest and silly. If you want to fight, do so in such a way that strikes terror into your opponents now and the future. If not, don’t waste resources and credibility pretending otherwise.

    • Pete

      ‘If you want to fight, do so in such a way that strikes terror into your opponents now and the future. If not, don’t waste resources and credibility pretending otherwise.’

      You got it right, brother.

      If a man with Curtis La May’s mentality had control of today’s U.S. air power, ISIS would be nothing but a burnt cinder. Of course there would be collateral damage but that’s war.

      • f1b0nacc1

        Appreciate your comment.
        One very minor caveat….if Gen LeMay were with us and in charge of things, ISIS would either be incinerated, or it would be utterly left alone. The point is not to simply destroy everything, but to understand when and where to pick one’s fights. Once the fight begins, however, make sure that your enemy is utterly destroyed. This tends to ensure that you won’t have to do it very often…

        • Section 9

          Bear one thing in mind: the LeMay Way of doing things should have been practiced by the Administration back in 2003. The whole point of warfare, and winning same, has been lost by successive American Administrations since Eisenhower left office.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Actually we agree….there are times that ‘kill them all, the Lord will know his own’ is an entirely acceptable (even desirable) policy, and I believe that we both agree that 2003 was one of those moments. I should point out however, that this is much easier to see in hindsight, and that the sheer destructiveness of such a policy might be more than a bit ‘offputting’ to the modern vox populi….

      • Johnathan Swift Jr.

        The one thing I would change would be the word “collateral damage.” This term is a modern “new military” weasel phrase, really Orwellian. They are and will forever be civilian casualties. When we go to war, then we have to own up to the fact that civilians will be killed in the process. Unfortunately, even in France, we had to kill a lot of civilians to root out the Nazis.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Obama is the worst President in American History, and he has demonstrated that he wouldn’t know a sound strategy if it jumped up and bit him.

    • Johnathan Swift Jr.

      Well, I suspect that he does has a plan, which is to do as little as possible, minimizing American casualties, while he lets what happens happen. I think he plans to tread water until his term is over, then turn over the mess of a terrorist Sunni super state with oil reserves on one hand and a Shia terrorist super state on the other to the next President. He was handed a relatively stable Iraq – no matter what our take is on Bush, everyone felt with a continued American presence it could be a functional state – and chose to disengage entirely. The next President will be faced with a terror state that made Taliban Afghanistan mild by comparison, a terrorist state with thousands of westerners eager to come back home and blow their countrymen up!

      • John Morris

        I’d disagree. He has done everything possible to achieve chaos and the rise of Iran as a major world power from that chaos. What more could he do and not be impeached with a majority of Democrats voting Aye to save their seats?

        Not incompetent, not lazy, not stupid. Evil.

      • Rick Caird

        I agree that Obama is determined to avoid doing anything in Iraq or Syria. He does not want to seem to have made a mistake no matter how obvious it is to the country.

    • CrassyKnoll

      Obama couldn’t wait to get out because he wanted failure, failure he could try to pin on his only true enemies – the American people and the Republican party.

    • ubik

      Worst in American history?
      I don’t know, depends on whether American history is over. If so, yeah, he’s the worst. If we survive, he will be in the pre Civil War failure range, men who were not up to the challenge and the next president has greatness in him and America goes on as a free nation.

      Me, I am betting on him being the worst. His reelection reflects a choice by America to be losers. So, thanks Obama!, screw you his voters.

  • Arbuthnaught

    Another article speculated that some of the big fish got away before the raid. If indeed that was the case, time was lost while Obama was “briefed” at the White House with the “unanimous recommendation of his national security team.” Translation, the military professionals had to beg Valerie Jarrett for permission to conduct this raid. A competent Commander-in-Chief would have delegated the conduct of raids of this sort to the theater commander after issuing general guidelines.

  • ejochs

    You have to believe this raid occurred to call it a “tactical success”. I don’t.

  • mhjhnsn

    A bad strategy, no matter how well executed, leads to failure. Obama commands what is still the finest military in the world, but his “strategy” consists of moonbeams and unicorns. No matter how many tactical operations are well executed (and, as Sayaff wasn’t captured, this was at best only a partial success), they just delay the inevitable.
    We need a realistic strategy; lacking that we’re just delaying things, which may serve Obama’s political purpose but for the USA is a nullity.

  • Moneyrunner

    Comparing the raid to capture Abu Sayyaf to the loss of Ramadi is like comparing jaywalking got murder. Yes, they are both against the law, but that is where the comparison ends. When I read reports of American Special Operations successes in the war on Islamic radicals I am reminded of Otto Skorzeny.

    For those who are not amateur historians, Skorzeny was in the Waffen SS during World War 2. He participated in a number of high visibility raids including rescuing Mussolini from his captors at Gran Sasso. But the important thing to remember is that despite some brilliant raids by men like Skorzeny, Germany lost the war. They lost because they lost ground and were finally overwhelmed.

    I have no doubt that the German press gave lots of coverage to the isolated successes of people like Skorzeny even as the Allies were
    over-running the Third Reich. It may even have fooled some Germans into thinking they could win. But it was just a sideshow and had no effect on the war.

    The idea that an ideological/religious movement like ISIS and its offshoots can be defeated by killing the occasional leader here and “important person” there is delusional. The Islamist movement is not a nation with a capital that can be captured … or a leader that can be killed. Bin-Laden is dead but the ideology is more alive than ever and its adherents are slaughtering Christians by the seashore for the edification of its followers. It’s not a movement of poor people that can be bought off with “things.” It is creating chaos far beyond its immediate area of operations. See the flight of thousands of refugees arriving not just to less war-tron parts of the Middle East but in Europe.

    So what’s more frightening: That Team Obama believes what they’re doing is effective? Or that he does not?

    • CosmotKat

      Interesting post and you have made a valid point. The ignorance and arrogance about the ignorance that dogs the Obama administration is truly alarming. thanks for the anecdote, but you could have done without “For those who are not amateur historians,”………seems condescending and unnecessary. Just saying.

      • Moneyrunner

        I understand. But as the WW2 generation dies off, few people know who some of the more colorful characters were so I threw it in there. Think of it as a explanation to those who live in Rio Linda.

  • sgtdad

    Speak falsely and carry a big schtick is a recipe for slavery.

  • CosmotKat

    I note Mead, while nominally still a pro-Obama democrat, is continuing to see the problems with this administrations policies. We are not safer, the dysfunction and resulting chaos in this region is not Bush’s fault, but Obama’s and that point needs to be driven home and this failure bleeds over into the domestic arena as well. Any suggestion that receding from the world stage provided more opportunity to get domestic politics right would be wrong. Obama’s policies have been just as destructive at home as they have been abroad. More division, more hate, and more dysfunction is what we are currently trying to muddle through. Who has been hurt the most? The middle class. The people Obama and the democrats pretend to care about.

  • jeburke

    I think we’re very close to ISIS siezing part of Baghdad and/or the ISIS-Nusra forces taking Damascus. We’re well past the point where embedded US special forces and air force controllers to enlarge the air campaign — a few thousand more engaged troops — could make more than a tactical difference here or there. We’re at a point where significantly driving back ISIS will take a minimum of three infantry brigades, plus attack helicopters, those special ops and air sorties raised ten fold, as well as the logistics and headquarters operations for such a force — something on the order of 20-25,000. And that’s assuming some decent part of the Iraq Army can fight and there is a way tk work with the Shia militias

    By way of a measurestick, in the bloody 2004 battle of Falluja, 13,350 US, Iraqi and British troops took six weeks to drive more of less the same outfit as ISIS — a combination of Al Qaeda in Iraq and former Baathist soldiers — out of that city.

    Those of us who favor a US military role have to stop pretending that only a few more or this or that is needed.

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