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

Monday, October 13, 2014

Stupid Stuff

In golf, instructors warn that as you are about to hit the ball, never, ever think: Don't hit it right, or Don't pull it left. With a smile, the instructor will always tell you that your brain pays no attention to the word Don't and as a consequence, whatever you tell yourself not to do, you will do. Turns out, they're very often correct.

In a pathetic attempt to enunciate a coherent governing principle for his administration, Barack Obama came up with "Don't do stupid stuff." Sadly, his administration, like most amateur golfers, pays no attention to the word Don't. As a consequence, it repeatedly does stupid stuff.

In recent months. stupid stuff has been exemplified by Obama's conduct of an effort to "destroy" the Islamic State (ISIS). After telling these Islamic barbarians that no U.S troops will enter the fray, Obama has done nothing to support the only true fighters in the region—fighters who can defeat ISIS, who are U.S allies (or at least were U.S allies), and who have boots on the ground.

U.S. Bureaucratic red tape and Iraqi government corruption have stopped much needed heavy arms from reaching the Kurds. Unlike the Free Syrian Army (who Obama tells us can be "boots on the ground" at some far distant date and who have unvetted Islamist elements, the Kurds are ready now, are bravely fighting ISIS now, and only need our military equipment. Obama has done nothing to eliminate the roadblocks, allowing the Kurds to twist slowly in the wind.

David Tafuri reports:
In a letter sent on Oct. 2 to U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that until now has not been made public, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Minister of Peshmerga Affairs Mustafa Sayid Qadir pleaded for help, saying that his forces still carry “outdated AK-47s, Soviet Dragunov rifles and other light arms.”

The letter, which I was given access to by the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs, tabulated the surprisingly small amount of equipment received from international allies. In addition to AK-47s, the U.S. has provided fewer than 100 mortars and just a few hundred rocket-propelled grenades, or RPGs. The Peshmerga haven’t received a single tank or armored vehicle from coalition countries. The problem is compounded by the fact that Iraqi security forces denied the Peshmerga access to the thousands of tanks and armored vehicles the U.S. left behind for Iraq when the military pulled out in 2011. Meanwhile, ISIS fighters have commandeered U.S.-provided tanks and Humvees abandoned by Iraqi forces fleeing from battle.
There is no reason for this—none! The Obama administration can strong-arm the Iraqis and send equipment directly to the Kurds. This should have been done months ago, and lacking that, it should be done today.

Tafuri suggests a workable approach:
The U.S. can change this situation by: (1) supplying the Kurds with heavier weapons and needed defensive equipment, in particular armored Humvees, tanks and anti-armor rockets; (2) refusing to let Baghdad delay or block such shipments; (3) changing State Department regulations to permit issuance of end-user certificates by the Kurdistan Regional Government; and, (4) transferring to the Kurds some excess U.S. military equipment (including armored vehicles) stored on U.S. bases in the region.

In his Sept. 16 testimony to Congress, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and U.S. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey suggested that American ground troops may eventually be needed to fight ISIS. His message was met with criticism by those who oppose sending U.S. troops into combat in Iraq again. To reduce the chances of Washington having to confront that choice, the U.S. should make good on its promises and ensure that the Peshmerga are no longer outgunned by ISIS.
Doing stupid stuff seems to be the hallmark of the Obama administration, and nothing is more stupid than not assisting the Kurds. You'd almost think that Obama doesn't want to win.