The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


Almost three years ago, Barack Obama had an opportunity to intercede in Syria when providing arms and assistance to non-Islamist groups opposing Syrian strongman Bashar al Assad actually would have made a difference. He dithered and then dithered some more. Then, when Assad used chemical weapons against his own people (at least, that was the claim), Obama defined a red line, then decided he didn't mean it. As a consequence, non-Islamist groups crumbled, al Qaeda affiliated groups prospered, and now the administration tells us there is nothing they can do in Syria.

But it gets worse. Now, the Islamists in Syria have moved into Iraq, destabilized the country to the extent that it may very well disintegrate. Why? Corrupt leadership in Iraq is part of the cause, but Obama's (purposeful, in my opinion) failure to establish a 'status of forces' agreement is a significant contributor.

Michael Totten comments:
l Qaeda splinter group ISIS has taken the Iraqi city of Tikrit and the Kurdish Peshmerga has taken the Iraqi city of Kirkuk. Iraq's army fled both and hardly fired a shot.

God only knows what happens next, but this much is clear—the Syrian war is no longer the Syrian war. It’s a regional war. It spilled into Lebanon at a low level some time ago. It sucked in Iran and Hezbollah some time ago. Now it is spreading with full force at blitzkrieg speed into Iraq and has even drawn in the Kurdistan Regional Government which managed to sit out the entire Iraq war.

This could easily suck in Turkey, Jordan, and Israel before it’s over.

Or maybe it won’t.

In the future we might see the events of the last few days as the beginning of the end of Iraq as a state, or at least the beginning of the end of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose American-trained army has proven utterly useless. Or maybe he’ll survive in an Iranian-backed rump state.
It can be argued that this president snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in Iraq. But then again, in the Arab world, there cannot be any victory because the culture is irreparably broken, massively corrupt, nursed on tribal hatred, misogyny and despair.

It just might be that Obama's feckless actions of late are right for the wrong reasons.

But that's also a fantasy. As Totten says
... it’s only a matter of time before we get sucked in [to Iraq] kicking and screaming one way or another. Because the Middle East isn’t Las Vegas. What happens there doesn’t stay there.

We're out for now, though. This is the time of festering.

Come to think of it, many of the poor decisions this president has made—Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, to name only a few—have consequences that are the equivalent of festering wounds. They're already infected, the infection is spreading, and the cure is almost as bad as the disease.

UPDATE (6/13/14):

The Independent (UK) provides one of the best descriptions of the upheaval in Iraq:
Iraq is breaking up. The Kurds have taken the northern oil city of Kirkuk that they have long claimed as their capital. Sunni fundamentalist fighters vow to capture Baghdad and the Shia holy cities further south.

Government rule over the Sunni Arab heartlands of north and central Iraq is evaporating as its 900,000-strong army disintegrates. Government aircraft have fired missiles at insurgent targets in Mosul, captured by Isis on Monday, but the Iraqi army has otherwise shown no sign of launching a counter-attack.

The nine-year Shia dominance over Iraq, established after the US, Britain and other allies overthrew Saddam Hussein, may be coming to an end. The Shia may continue to hold the capital and the Shia-majority provinces further south, but they will have great difficulty in re-establishing their authority over Sunni provinces from which their army has fled.
The age-old Muslim Sunni-Shia hatreds have resurfaced and the result is chaos, violence, and bloodshed. Just another day in the world of Islamists.

It looks like Saudi Arabia (Sunni) has had something to do with these events, and now Iran (Shia) is likely to get involved. Festering ... indeed.

UPDATE - II (6/13/14):

And this from Jonah Goldberg:
The Arab Spring is over. Welcome to the Jihadi Spring.

Across a huge swath of what, up until recently, had been known as Iraq and Syria, a transnational movement of Sunni Islamic extremists has taken control. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has conquered — without much effort — Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, along with most of the province of Nineveh. It’s also taken Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown. Along the way it has ransacked banks (to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars), pillaged weapon stockpiles (including the stuff we left behind for the Iraqi army), and recruited ever more fighters from Iraq, Syria, and abroad.

ISIS started out as an al-Qaeda franchise, but in 2011 it broke off to become an independent dealer of Islamist mayhem. If anything, it is more extreme than al-Qaeda — though that fine distinction probably means little to the Shiites and Christians it slaughters.
Those of us who believed early that the "Arab Spring" was a mirage, have been proven correct. The "Jihadi Spring" isn't a mirage, it's real. And that's problem for an Obama foreign policy that regularly trades in fantasy.