Back in Iraq

Back in Iraq

by digby

In case you were wondering:
The U.S. government has begun to funnel weapons directly to Kurdish forces fighting Islamist militants in northern Iraq, deepening U.S. involvement in a conflict that the Obama administration had long sought to avoid.

The arms pipeline, which one former U.S. military official described as a trickle, opened in recent days as the Kurds’ pesh merga fighters have struggled to stem advances by Islamic State forces that have swept across northern Iraq.

The weapons are being supplied by the CIA, according to two U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the Obama administration has not publicly acknowledged the spy agency’s involvement.
Clearly that's one of those "good leaks." Why they're leaking it instead of just coming out and admitting it, however, is just bizarre.  But then, that's the CIA for you. It used to be an intelligence service. Now it's a secret army.  But without all those unpleasant military rules.  And it operates with a secret budget. Very convenient.

BTW: to those complaining that I haven' written about Iraq, I have. Several times over the week-end.  In a nutshell, I think it's necessary to extend humanitarian aid to the Yazidis.  I think helping the Kurds at this point is worth doing --- they have been allies for a long time and treated badly by the west. I think the government genuinely wants to help them. But lets not kid ourselves that this would be happening if it weren't for the oil that's at stake. That's what tips this into action. (As Ann Coulter says, "why not go to war for oil?  We need oil.") It's embarrassing for everyone saying that this is all about humanitarianism to pretend that oil isn't in the equation.

Also too, beware of the sensational propaganda.  There's a long history of this, particularly in Iraq. ISIS is a bunch of bloodthirsty religious fanatics who are trying to create a new state in the middle east.  With oil. They are awful people.  But let's not lose our minds here and assume they are evil supermen who can breathe fire.  And especially don't fall prey to the fear that they are coming to kill us all in our beds next month.  I'm sure they would love to attack the west.  But at the moment they're very busy with their small army and a lot of American made weaponry, trying to kill people right there in the middle east. There's no need to get ahead of ourselves.

I think what astonishes me the most is how easily people slip into the hysteria of 9/11 again, even after all these years. We lost our heads then, and I guess I always understood that to some extent. It was scary and shocking. I honestly didn't think we would lose it again after such a long time and the terrible experience in Iraq. (Watching people on TV rending their garments and screeching that we have to "do something" because they're coming to get us, Oh my God,  is exasperating.)

Within that context, I think the president's so-called doctrine of "don't do stupid shit" makes sense. ISIS is a group of very bad actors but they aren't martians invading from outer space. Obama's more measured and mature response is the right way to handle this. These panic artists like Dianne Feinstein, waving her hands wildly and screaming statements like ""it takes an army to defeat an army" and "we must use our military strength and targeting expertise to the fullest extent possible" is fatuous nonsense. As is the idea that if we had only gone into Syria we could have stopped them in their tracks. Maybe. But  more likely we would have saved them some time and effort in getting our weapons from the hapless Iraqi army. We would have been handing them nice, shiny new ones directly.

Obviously, things could spin completely out of control. They usually do once the switch on the fighting machine is turned on.  But for now, Obama's keeping it together. We'll see what happens.