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Posted by on Aug 30, 2014 in At TMV, International, Military, Politics, Religion, Society, Terrorism, War | 24 comments

(Breaking Update) One Thousand Reasons to Let Others Deal with ISIS

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Update:

Here is one ally who is not subscribing to the one thousand reasons to let others deal with ISIS.

The Guardian reports today (Sunday in Australia) that Australia will help deliver military equipment, including arms and ammunition to Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq in an effort to counter the threat posed by Islamic State militants.

“Royal Australian Air Force C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster aircraft will join aircraft from other nations including Canada, Italy, France, the United Kingdom and the United States to conduct this important task,” the prime minister said in a statement on Sunday.

“Australia’s contribution will continue to be coordinated with the government of Iraq and regional countries.”

[..]

The Australian government is not providing weapons itself but will be delivering the equipment supplied by other nations.

[Prime Minister] Abbott said the decision, made by cabinet’s national security committee, followed Australia’s involvement in the successful international humanitarian relief effort that dropped supplies to the thousands of people stranded on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq.

“The situation in Iraq represents a humanitarian catastrophe,” he said.

Abbott said the decision, made by cabinet’s national security committee, followed Australia’s involvement in the successful international humanitarian relief effort that dropped supplies to the thousands of people stranded on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq.

“The situation in Iraq represents a humanitarian catastrophe,” he said.

[..]

The opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman, Tanya Plibersek, said the Peshmerga and others had been “the only effective fighting force” stopping Isis.

[..]

“Where you have an effective or reasonably effective fighting force on the ground being the only thing standing between [Isis] and civilian populations that are at risk of genocide or ethnic cleansing, then there is an international responsibility to assist those people to hold back [Isis],” The opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman, Tanya Plibersek told the [Australian Broadcasting Corporation] on Sunday.

Plibersek, who strongly opposed the 2003 Iraq war, drew a contrast between the circumstances then and the process now.

She said the 2003 invasion was “a disaster” and people would remember how “enthusiastic” the Bush, Blair and Howard administrations were.

“In 2003, the US and Australia and a few others went into Iraq without international support and without the support of the majority of the Iraqi population,” Plibersek said.

“The difference here is you’ve got the newly forming Iraqi government speaking with the international community. You’ve got an imminent humanitarian disaster. We have seen already that [Isis] are prepared to commit genocide if they can. So you do have a responsibility to protect from the international community and you’ve got a US administration that are taking a much more methodical and much more internationally inclusive approach.”

Read more here

DoD reports:

American military planes along with Australian, French and British aircraft airdropped humanitarian aid to the town of Amirli in Iraq, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement issued today.

U.S. aircraft also conducted airstrikes against nearby ISIL terrorists in order to support the humanitarian mission, Kirby said in his statement.

Kirby’s statement reads as follows:

“At the request of the Government of Iraq, the United States military today airdropped humanitarian aid to the town of Amirli, home to thousands of Shia Turkomen who have been cut off from receiving food, water, and medical supplies for two months by ISIL. The United States Air Force delivered this aid alongside aircraft from Australia, France and the United Kingdom who also dropped much needed supplies.

“In conjunction with this airdrop, U.S. aircraft conducted coordinated airstrikes against nearby ISIL terrorists in order to support this humanitarian assistance operation.

“These military operations were conducted under authorization from the Commander-in-Chief to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance and to prevent an ISIL attack on the civilians of Amirli. The operations will be limited in their scope and duration as necessary to address this emerging humanitarian crisis and protect the civilians trapped in Amirli.

Original post:

There are probably one thousand reasons for not getting involved in the genocide and other atrocities presently being perpetrated by a band of nihilistic, religious fanatics in the Middle East.

In a superb, well-researched, well-reasoned, logical and eloquent piece — and I do mean each and every one of these attributes — our Foreign Affairs correspondent Brij Khindaria discusses several of them.

Among the reasons for not “getting involved”:

• The centuries-old enmities among the various tribes and sects on the Arabian Peninsula and Levant will not, cannot, be resolved overnight.

• Our almost total lack of understanding of the roots of and the reasons for these enmities and conflicts.

• The superb military, political and pragmatic prowess, strategy and acumen of the wannabe Caliph of the world’s Sunni Muslims, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

• The exculpating factor that America is not even to blame for the “religious barbarity and sectarian bigotry of the Islamic State…It emerges from the peculiarities of Islamic doctrines practiced only in the Arabian Peninsula and Levant.” In other words, while some may argue that the rise of the Islamic State is a consequence of our blunders in Iraq and elsewhere, it really is “an outcome of authoritarian rule, sectarian obscurantism and civil strife among tribes, sheikdoms, factions and rulers from Syria to Iraq, including Saudi Arabia and the Emirates.” No guilt trip necessary and, thus, no need to meddle.

• There is hope that the more humane and peaceful Muslims — in fact the majority of Muslims — will in time, on their own, “bring the Islamic State to naught by causing it to collapse from within,” without our meddling.

• The fact that the West is facing an enemy that in effect has nothing to lose: “If they die, they are guaranteed praise in Islamic heaven; if they win, they purify Islam and Muslims attracted by Western style ‘decadence.’ All other people, including non-practicing Muslims are expendable.” So, why get involved and risk our blood and treasure.

• The consideration that Al-Baghdadi’s central motive is not the destabilization of the U.S. or Europe, albeit some Europeans are getting pretty nervous about the ensuing terrorist threat on their homelands.

Finally, Khindaria rightly points out the reluctance of some Middle East leaders — notwithstanding their own excellent military capabilities — to fight their own battles, to defend and protect their own cultures and religions. They would rather “outsource the sacrifice and opprobrium to Americans.” Another great reason not to get involved “over there.”

There are more reasons for the United States not to get involved in another Middle East “quagmire”: The proverbial “slippery slope;” the fact that we have our own serious problems at home; let others do it for a change; the proposition that ISIS poses no threat to the United States — although Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has warned that terrorism will soon spread to Europe and the United States” unless it is quickly dealt with in the Middle East. However, that could just be another Saudi ploy to let the U.S. do their dirty work.

Yes, there are a thousand valid, logical, intellectual reasons for letting the IS thugs have their way in the Middle East.

The only problem is the deep sense of compassion, humanity, altruism some Americans feel and have for those hundreds of thousands of human beings who are being slaughtered, raped, tortured, made homeless and turned into refugees by these “religious” men.

They understand the reasons for not doing anything — or very little — for these wretched people. They understand the risks involved and, yet, they cannot just let the humanitarian catastrophe happen.

They remember our nation’s legacy of compassion, generosity for the millions who have suffered the ravages of war, natural disasters and how we have protected them, rescued them from persecution, even from certain death.

But they also remember the few times when a distracted, reluctant, even fearful-of-the-risks-and-consequences America did nothing…

We said every time, “Never Again.”

And some Americans are reminding us of those solemn promises.

Let us not ridicule them, let us not ignore them, but let us listen to them and perhaps, despite the thousands of reasons for not doing anything — or very little — do what America has always done best: Help those who no one else will or can help.

And, yes, as Secretary of State John Kerry says, “Airstrikes alone won’t defeat this enemy. A much fuller response is demanded from the world.” (Please read his eloquent opinion piece here)

Have a great Labor Day weekend.

Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for the truth.
~ Benjamin Disraeli.

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  • slamfu

    Beautiful post I couldn’t agree with more.

  • dduck

    On thew same page as Kerry’s article (which I agree with as to content and to emphasis), there was an article by two Rep senators. Hold your nose and read it, it may contain some areas of agreement with Kerry.

  • rudi

    Larison at TAC links to a Paul Pillar piece on ISIS. The first paragraph is just a start.
    http://nationalinterest.org/blog/paul-pillar/isis-perspective-11150

    Americans, following a long tradition of finding monsters overseas to destroy, are now focusing their attention and their energy on a relatively new one: the group variously known as ISIS or ISIL or the Islamic State. The group has become a major disruptive factor in the already disrupted internal affairs of Iraq and Syria, and it is legitimately a significant object of concern for U.S. policy as far as instability and radicalism in the Middle East are concerned. The outsized role that this group has come to play in discourse about U.S. foreign policy, however—including hyperbolic statements by senior officials—risks a loss of perspective about what kind of threat it does or does not pose to U.S. interests, and with that a possible loss of care in assessing what U.S. actions in response would or would not be wise.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    Another “good” reason to let ISIS be ISIS, Rudi.

  • sheknows

    ” do what America has always done best: Help those who no one else will or can help.”

    Good article Dorian. I agree. Our problem is that we live in a world that won’t help.
    We have traditionally been the ones to stick our neck out and that’s is just fine with them. It means no lost troops, no great financial investment and no political quagmire to extricate from for them. It means they can offer limited assistance and then bug out early on, leaving the mess for us to clean up, often decades later.

    It is not that we care more than others. We just have an all powerful military and a whole bunch of sophisticated weaponry we really want to justify in our budget. We are all too happy to be the saviors of the world…but we are not consistent. We don’t crusade for every embattled people, just the ones who give the US some advantage.

    I hated to see the Syrians killed by chemical weapons..and over 250,000 dead and homeless today. The entire world stood there and did nothing!! even though it is universally outlawed to use such weapons.

    I think we should keep offering as much humanitarian assistance as possible,, but the world has already shown it is just a passive bystander, and we cannot count on anyone’s support to do more…maybe not even our own congress.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    Thanks, Sheknows.

  • dduck

    Whoops: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/30/opinion/john-mccain-and-lindsey-graham-confront-isis.html

    “The president clearly wants to move deliberately and consult with allies and Congress as he considers what to do about ISIS. No one disputes that goal.”

  • Chickenfarmer

    If Obama had listened to McCain and Graham we would be militarily involved in Syria, Nigeria, Ukraine, and now Iraq and a second involvement in Syria. I wonder how we would go about shifting from bombing Assad to bombing ISIS in Syria?

    Also, here we have the Saudi’s who share a border with Iraq telling us to get involved while they sit on their hands and do nothing. It’s particularly ironic that the Saudi’s who spent hundreds of millions of dollars to spread their ultra fundamentalist version of Islam and in turn helped radicalize groups like this now want us to come clean up the mess they helped create.

    We will have to do something about ISIS. But we will be wasting our time, lives, and resources if those on the front line are unwilling to defend themselves.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    @slamfu

    Sorry, forgot to thank you for your comments.

    Have a great weekend

  • BRIJ KHINDARIA, Foreign Affairs Columnist

    Thank you Dorian for your kind words. I do hope Obama will think very carefully before entering this hornet’s nest because American bombs dropped for the best humanitarian intentions have not, as far as I can see, achieved their well intentioned results. Collateral damage is as definite a death or injury as that of the intended targets.

    The humanitarian efforts, other than providing food, medicines etc., have contributed in some measure to the evolution of safe havens for terrorists into a totalitarian State owned by terrorists. As yet, it wants to bring the Gulf Sheikhdoms under its boot. Let them decide to fight first. Then, the US could provide maximum help.

    However, even that help could perpetuate the dictatorship of Sheikhs and authoritarians in the Arabian Peninsula, although IS-style barbarism would be stymied. So, careful thought deserves more space.

  • Marsman

    I certainly support humanitarian actions in this area; I have given money to Doctors without Borders for many years. However, I find it hard to see how military actions would further compassionate goals. The area that ISIS is operating in has long-term Sunni influence. Does it make a whole lot of difference, a difference worth spilling blood over, which Sunni group is running the show? The ideas that are the official position of these groups are not that different. If we shoot up Fallujah to get rid of ISIS, won’t the locals think that this is just the US confronting us with bombs as has happened several times before?
    Sometimes the tools one uses determine the job one does rather than letting the task determine the tools. The record of interventions in the last sixty years do not compel me to think that interventions have a good track record. The world did not do anything about Rwanda. The interventions in Yugoslavia did not prevent massacres. Somalia is a question mark. Our war against Saddam Hussein has had some undesired effects.
    War should be a last resort. My readings about the first world war has made me think that if the Czar or the König had been men of strength the war would have been avoided. I know that many will think that I am unrealistic, but what have realistic leaders given the world? War, blood, destruction. Bringing the immense power of America’s weapons to bear on a part of the world that we understand so poorly is unlike to yield the kind of results we want.

  • dduck

    I tend to agree with your over arching opinion, however, will it change if ISIS is able to pull off, or encourage, a 9/11, or even a smaller attack?

  • jdledell

    What needs to happen is for the US to assemble a coalition to fight ISIS like Bush 41 did with the first Gulf war against Iraq for the Kuwait invasion. We should tell the Saudis, Syria, Egypt, Turkey, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the Gulf States unless you join with us and put boots on the ground, the U.S. is going to do squat about ISIS. When they come after you, don’t come crying to us to save your butt because we forgot to pay our phone bill.

    Next we should tell the Iraqi government to get serious about carving out a Sunni and Kurd state from your territory. If you don’t we’ll let ISIS take Baghdad and let the Shia fight to maintain some truncated state in southern Iraq. This should get the attention of the parties involved. The only way the gains ISIS has made in territory can be reversed is boots on the ground supplemented with air power. There is no way the American people or their politicians are going to okay more American deaths in Iraq – no matter how much the neocon blowhards scream.

    ISIS is not a major threat to the U.S. Sure they can mount some terror attacks here but probably nothing like the World Trade Center. Suicide bombings, truck bombs etc will create civilian casualties but the US. can and will live through it. What we cannot afford to do is be the World’s policeman and let other countries free ride off of our lives and treasure. We can lead but others MUST participate. I would tell the Europeans the same thing. Either they get involved in help stopping the Russian advances into what is considered European territory or the EU can forget about saving the Ukraine for the West. Perhaps when the Russians start encroaching on Poland, the EU will finally wake up. We will help but we are no longer going to be Uncle Sucker.

  • rudi

    @JD
    ISIS/ISIL is a Sunnis group which has monetary support from US allies in the ME. While I doubt that the Sunnis in the ME will supply troops to fight what they helped to create, we can hope that Saudis intel will help us with the money that other ME countries send to ISIS.

  • JSpencer

    I understand and sympathize with the urge to help people who are suffering by responding militarily to their oppressors, but I’ve become increasingly skeptical over the decades of such “solutions” after seeing how often that’s made matters worse. I do support humanitarian missions and there are millions of people just waiting to have hearts and minds won by any who are willing to take up their plight. When it comes to war though, I agree with the commenters who believe others countries need to step up in meaningful ways for a change.

  • With the possible exception of Australia the US has less to fear from IS than than anyone in Europe or the ME. Rudi is right, the Sunnis in the ME have supported these extremists and have created a monster that threatens their own monarchies. This was all an attempt to thwart the Shiite Iran but in the process created something even worse. Let Saudi Arabia spend some of it’s blood and treasure to stop this monster.

  • Depending on where we live … Americans probably have less or more to fear from ISIS.

    Living in New York is a different risk than living in Montana.

    Living in San Diego/ Los Angeles, we probably have more to fear from ISIS than a forested area in the northwest and a bit less than New York.

    Looking back, it turns out that working in the twin towers was a real concern. Probably more than living in a log cabin on the White River in MT.

    Hindsight …

    In California we have been raised to consider being self sufficient in the event of a bad/horrible earthquake or forest fire. I imagine folks in hurricane and tornado areas have received the same message.

    I see the terrorism in a similar way. I don’t assume an event that requires some forward thinking will never happen to my family. Forward thinking meaning food, water and power.

    Choose wisely …

  • Shannon Lee

    Yes, lets just sit back and watch the world burn to the ground. It isnt like the US has ever stopped a genocide before… right? The leaders of the world have some major decision making ahead of them. How do we deal with ISIS and Putin.. and can we do it together?

  • Shannon Lee

    “food, water and power” … things we thought about when we were living in LA. I also had a shotgun.

  • dduck

    I disagree that ISIS, if they want to, could cause a lot of damage. Suicide bombs in crowds, subways, buses, bridges, chlorine gas in tunnels, hijacked trucks plowing into crowds and all coordinated for close to simultaneous occurrence. Biological suicide units with communicable diseases. Ricin, anthrax, etc. scattered at stadiums and other crowded places. Hackers attacks on electric grids. Water supply poisoning. And more if you have the money, which they do, to purchase all sorts of nasty stuff.
    All it takes is the will and a fanatical zeal. Does ISIS have it, we will see.

  • sheknows

    “And more if you have the money, which they do, to purchase all sorts of nasty stuff.
    All it takes is the will and a fanatical zeal. Does ISIS have it, we will see.”

    I’m sorry, but this type of needless fear mongering is exactly the type of thinking that leads the congress into stupid decisions and our military to foreign shores. I will be blunt. This is paranoia and pretty much touted by the right.
    It falsely colors the attitudes of American citizens and propels legislators to BAD decisions based on fear. Fear based thinking is the whole problem with our country in both foreign and domestic policy. Enough!

    .

  • dduck

    We will see.

  • JSpencer

    SK makes a valid point – one we should be well acquainted with by now. Fear mongering is no substitute for rational thinking. We’ve seen the effects of the former and it ain’t pretty.

  • dduck

    Perhaps SK/JS have a valid opinion. One man’s fear mongering is another man’s caution. Perhaps living in a previously attacked place like London or NYC colors ones point of view, I know it does mine.

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