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Obama Organizes the Neighborhood
Focus on Fixing Iraq Obscures the Real Threat
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The President’s recent remarks make it obvious that he understands neither Iraq, nor the application of force or the nature of our position. His smorgasbord of half measures and postures is redolent of the sort of thing someone in a tight spot, under pressure to “Do Something” might say in order to appear in control. This is precisely what is happening.

Strongly implied in his statement is the promise of US air raids in support of Iraqi national defense. Also implied are aerial intelligence collection and the equivalent of US spotters/forward observers working with Iraqi air and artillery. He also promised advisors and trainers to stiffen Iraqi competence and resolve.

What will this achieve? And what will emerge even if it works? It is understandable that the prospect of a radically Jihadist mini-state emerging in Iraq would alarm governments with a stake in the Middle East. But it is difficult to see such a mini-state as a powerful or long lasting. Such radical Islam was already been repudiated by traditional Sunni populations in the same areas before. There is little beyond the desire to be rid of Shia corruption to account for ISIS’s success in those areas now.

Obama cannot bomb ISIS without also hitting local Sunni sheiks, their followers, and others who have either opportunistically or through compunction, cast their lot with ISIS. How can this not engender the usual blood feud reaction against those that sent the bombers? How does the President imagine this would advance separating them from ISIS?

For a man steeped in secular liberal thought, the idea that casualties would be seen as anything but atomized individuals (pun intended) rather than kinsmen and martyrs is outlandish. Yet this is exactly how they will be seen. If we kill Sunnis of whatever stripe in defense of the Maliki government, we go right back to square one, suppressing them in favor of the Shia government.

Stopping ISIS is not America’s job. The ISIS fighters lack the wherewithal and manpower to hold a vast city like Baghdad. However weak government forces are in the rest of the country, the Shia population, backed by their coreligionists across the border, will not allow a bloodbath within their own population centers.

The President’s commitment to diversity blinds him to his own role in making ISIS the power it is. It’s amazing that he doesn’t see how his aid to jihadists in Syria might just have something to do with the ISIS threat. His remarks mentioned training and organizing anti-Assad forces in Syria. He described how the anti-Assad forces were composed of pharmacists, and other bourgeoisie that needed to be trained and equipped. Yet it seems that the radical fighters are the ones with victories under their belts. The President seems unacquainted with the concept of morale. Highly motivated, troops who fight for unlimited objectives will almost always overwhelm opponents with limited, reasonable goals. When faced with bloodthirsty fanatics reasonable people flee. The President set the dance rolling in Syria without bouncers at the door to keep out the riff raff. Now the riff raff have gone next door to crash the Iraqi house party.

The President is being true to his lawyer/community organizer training. He continues to speak of the situation in Iraq as one in need of non-sectarian political reform. Even if that were once possible, it certainly isn’t now. Washington spent a decade and much treasure trying to get Iraqis to play nice with each other. If Obama were as intelligent as his isolators claim, he would see this.

It is not necessary to believe, as some do, that the President is motivated entirely by fear. Rather, he comes across as someone sincerely convinced by the liberal internationalist talking points and the cult of secular diversity. This is why he cannot understand people and societies not motivated by this ideal. To Obama, the Sunnis and Shias are just frightened people clinging to their Korans and their guns. It’s natural for him to see the problem in Iraq as a failure of Maliki to manage diversity. To him Maliki failed at the deal making and tokenism that elites managing diversity engage in in America. Obama can’t see that it is Iraq’s diversity that is the uncrackable kernel that defies all attempts to crush it into he political paste of say, Chicago. Of course, President Obama may choose not to see that the paste of Chicago’s diversity is oozing out of control there as well.

If Iraq were allowed to fragment, the Kurdish North would have to seek an accommodation with Turkey or Syria. The Shia East would become a military protectorate of Iran while retaining its independence. The Sunni rump state would soon fall into a civil war within itself as the ISIS fanatics overplay their hand. Eventually a Sunni state led by remnants of Baath cadres and local headmen would gain control. There would be some actual consensus among real players with the local legitimacy and authority to stabilize the situation.

Would these three separate entities coexist peacefully? Do Americans really have the moral authority to insist that they do? What, save for the flow of oil is at stake for the United States if they don’t?

This perfect storm of bad policies has produced the President’s final blunder. He, along with all points of the inside the beltway political compass assume that a Sunni state carved out of Iraq inevitably and directly threatens America’s security via terrorism using US born Jihadi warriors. This is only as true up to the point that Washington lets it happen. President Obama’s failure is that he can’t comprehend a society with a native population that might establish policies that exclude troublemakers. Such a state would not be cosmopolitan or mutlicultural, so the President speaks as though it cannot exist and instead encourages immigration policies that favor diversity.

It is a fact that Muslims who are citizens of a number of western countries, including Americans, have gone off to wage Jihad in Somalia, Syria and now in Iraq. But it is remarkable that the President speaks as if this rejection of American values had nothing to do with our self-destructive immigration policies and laws. Only an Ivy League trained mind could fail to see that encouraging large scale unassimilable immigration from Islamic societies would eventually present a problem.

If the President really cared about the safety of Americans, he would immediately take executive action to limit all Muslim immigration to the US while the issue is being reviewed for its security implications. By executive order he could block reentry to the United States and revoke the citizenship of all identified individuals who have abandoned their country to fight under the black flag of Jihad. The failure of this President, who was raised in Indonesia, to even mention this obvious step tells us all one really needs to know about him and liberal internationalism.

Thomas O. Meehan Is a free-lance writer and former government Senior Research Analyst and Inspector. A refugee from the People’s Republic of New Jersey, he now lives in Bucks County PA. He blogs from:

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Immigration, ISIS, Islam 
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  1. A decade of trying to get them to play nice? You ever been on a play ground where the bullies make the rules up. Usually the first rule is “my way or face first into the ground”.

  2. knobody says:

    That was actually quite sensible until the last few paragraphs.

  3. Thomas, you make a good point that I’ve not seen elsewhere in saying that Obama and his clueless co-conspirators truly believe in their own unscientific drivel about “secular diversity” and universality. They are the right hand washing the left hand of Bush’s preaching “freedom and democracy” to his Christian right-wing, freedom-fry-munching supporters. Each Party pitches its message to the wavelength their base’s antenna are attuned to, ultimately, to the same effect.

  4. TomB says:

    This is a really fine articulation of perspective from the great Thom Meehan. (Like many it seems, including Ron Unz who we should thank God for, a refugee from the paragon of disingenuousness The American Conservative.)

    And there’s no disputing Thom’s dead-on comments about the modern “Ivy League trained mind.”

    So as to provide a different perspective however I’d note a very good articulation that recently appeared in Tom Rick’s blog at the Foreign Policy website:


    There, Ricks’ guest writer posited that what we are seeing now with this ISIS business is something different than we’ve seen so far, or at least something that’s now got a head of steam to it which is a Holy War between Shia and Sunni that could last for decades and decades.

    While the future as Thom Meehan envisions is certainly possible and certainly is one in which U.S. vital interests are not hugely harmed (if at all), if indeed Rick’s guest writer is correct it’s not difficult to see the future there indeed putting any number of serious pinches on big U.S. interests. After all, while Thom questions their prospects for longevity, there’s absolutely no doubt that these ISIS Sunni extremists are never going to be anything but hostile to us. Greatly hostile. And one can imagine the “Arab Spring” phenomenon turning into a “Fundamentalist Sunni Summer” just as widespread, putting extremists in power from Cairo to Beirut to Damascus to Jordan to Saudi Arabia and the peninsula and on to Afghanistan and Pakistan. A Pakistan that’s already got nukes and yet seems about as stable as a sand-castle. I at least see no reason why they can’t solidify their hold on power and hold on long enough to harm us. Look at the Taliban’s history in Afghanistan.

    And then there’s the question too of our moral obligation. It can, after all, seem rather hypocritical for those of us (which I believe includes Thom) who warned against the hell that would be unleashed by taking out Saddam, and who said we had an obligation *not* to unleash that hell, to now be *viewing* that hell and yet saying we have no obligation to try to stanch it.

    Consequently, that guest columnist of Ricks’ (a guy with lots of real-world experience over there) is suggesting not some big U.S. “boots on the ground” help against ISIS but instead more a coordinating and materiel supplying effort, extended to help the moderate Sunnis, the Shia, Iran, the Saudis and etc. fight back against any such ISIS takeover, and that doesn’t seem all that immoderate an idea.

    I’m unsure of who has the better idea here, even despite my strong non-interventionist default beliefs. Much seems to come down to the question of whether indeed this ISIS development is indeed something new so maybe some waiting and seeing is in order. Plus there is the practical question of whether the “moderate Sunnis” (including the Saudis) can really withstand extremism themselves, and whether Iran will play for some long term stability instead of going for all the political and religious marbles.

    But in any event I note that fine article up at Ricks’ blog as a nice book-end of sorts to Thom’s fine article here.

    And, once again, thank God for Ron Unz for running an honest (i.e. open) website.

  5. KA says:

    Neighborhood engineering goes back at least to 1982 . It was forced in consciousness by the neocons in 2003

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