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25 November 2014


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Michelle Flournoy has taken herself out of the running for SecDef.


FB Ali

It seems that the reports are being hyped somewhat. IS has been attacking and killing members of Sunni tribes that have fought against them. There also have been assassinations of some tribal leaders - probably those whose loyalty was suspect. Yet many other Sunni tribes continue to live in the areas under IS control, presumably without any serious problem.

The report that IS appears to be attacking Ramadi without any tribal participation may only signify that they have enough troops and do not need to seek tribal support (as they did in the early stages of their Iraqi invasion). It also does not preclude the participation of individual tribal members (probably from the younger cohort) in their forces.

It is a fact that IS is the government of the area and provides its inhabitants with law and order and services. There was a recent report that the residents of Raqqa, the IS 'capital', were quite upset at US air attacks on their city because it disrupted IS governance (even though they were by no means enamoured of their rulers).

It is also a fact that IS is a ruthless organization that does not brook any disloyalty among the people living in its 'state', and deals harshly with any signs (or even suspicion) of that.

John Measor


I question the issue of using funds with such indiscretion - not in and of itself, such is the lubricant of most all conflict and many U.S. commanders invested the funds well - but, in how it was not made clear what it meant, nor that it would not be institutionalised. Once again the problem seems to have been at executive political level and not in the field.

I believe the 'surge' was two different things:

1) was the Anbar Awakening and the split that occurred within the Sunni Arab community - this was almost entirely of local origin and not conjured within some COINista seminar at Princeton or on K-Street. It started months ahead of the policy even being proposed in D.C., so much so that it was rejected by U.S. govt representatives before it was embraced heartily. It provided an opening for the new Iraqi regime and the U.S. and other occupation forces to quell the immense 2006-08 violence ... as well as a second kick at the can of formulating a stable constitutional arrangement for a post-Saddam Iraq - not a high probability for success, but there it is. Following the decision to remove the regime it was the best of a lot of bad options; and ...

2) was the way Petreaus and "the Surge" was sold in D.C. and to Americans as a 'victory' - it wasn't, it was the opportunity to see violence curtailed, U.S. forces to no longer face popular Sunni insurgents (the radicals will never be curtailed) and for political opportunities to emerge (as above). This was used by the Bush admin. to leave office without facing either the ongoing massive levels of violence of 2006-08 ... or worse an escalation; and by the Obama admin. to argue that there was no need for an ongoing overt presence and direct role in Iraq. Neither admin 'spin' had anything to do with things on the ground in Iraq.

Both sides of the Iraqi insurgency, largely identified by their sectarian identities, took different messages away: the Sunni Awakening felt that a compact had been reached between themselves and the U.S., that they could re-engage the new regime without fear of mass communal violence (as the U.S. would blunt such sectarian tendencies by al-Maliki et. al.); the Shi'i felt that this was a clear indication that the U.S. was withdrawing, therefore a decline in Shi'i militia activity also occurred, and that the U.S. was to withdraw on schedule leaving the new regime to its own devices (making the Iranians very happy).

In this sense the money was seen as a downpayment to 'buy off' the Sunni fighters and they were not informed that it was only to be paid as long as U.S. forces remained. No institutionalisation was forthcoming - and Shi'i politicians openly referred to the funds as American's paying into a Sunni 'protection racket' (not my reading, but it was common in Iraqi media at the time).

I would think that paying combatants not to fight will continue, it might even again in Anbar so soon after 'the Surge', but I also believe that the poor handling and understanding of those events will denude the potential impact this time around.



Flournoy out. Jack Reed out. Well then it will have to be Anne-Marie Slaughter or Jennifer Pritzker. pl

robt willmann

Earlier tonight I heard on the radio the wonderful news that a female being considered for Secretary of Defense had withdrawn herself from consideration. The report did not name her, but it had to be Michele Flournoy, and was--



You can also see in the Washington Post article how it smears people in a sneaky way, and promotes others, as in paragraph six when it remarks about Chuck Hagel: "Flournoy vaulted to the top of the list of most foreign policy watchers because she seemed to possess so many of the qualities that Hagel lacked and that hamstrung his ability to lead the Pentagon."

Ms. Flournoy is the "face" and "front person" at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), which she is said to have co-founded.


Does anyone really believe that she put up the money to start the so-called "think tank" and has paid all of these staff people out of her pocket?


The board of directors of CNAS gives the game away--


You can ignore Richard Armitage and Gen. Allen; they are window dressing. Look to the other board members, and to the boards of directors and large stockholders, as applicable, of the companies and organizations they work for and are associated with. Those are the people who would be giving directions to Ms. Flournoy if she became Secretary of Defense. On the CNAS board is none other than former Senator Joe Lieberman, a distasteful promoter of greater military action against Syria and, of course, of a military attack on Iran, along with this man, who is not on the board of CNAS because he is still in the U.S. Senate--



Hope is that Salughter was serious when she, after stepping down, was talking about 'being a mom' for a change.

Ideologically, there is certainty that she'll push for more R2P intervention and regime change in Syria.

There appears to be no self-reflection on her part regarding any shortcomings of that approach, let alone consequences.

Form a talk I heard of her, introduced by a fawning former staffer, she regards Libya as her legacy. To Slaughter, Libya is a model for Syria - scary, since her 'successful' R2P campaign reduced Libya to a civil war ridden, ungovernmable mess.

Obviously the word success can be used in various ways and its meaning is relative to that. After all, in German criminal law, the 'success of the deed' in the crime of murder is the death of the victim. Some success.

In Syria, ISIS formed itself in the power vacuum of the civil war, largely because of the regime change efforts by R2P types and Middle Eastern states created said power vaccum.

Not to mention the obviously divergent interests of that odd coalition - Saudi Arabia & Qatar couldn't care less about human rights, and authoritarian Turkey's interests are similarily utterly unrelated to any desire to better the lot of the Syrians.

God help the Syrians, beyause the US won't.

If Slaughter becomes SecDef she will IMO doubtless push for the US attacking the Assad government out of sheer intellectual conceit. Not doing so would suggest that Libya was a mistake.

This must inevitably strain severely her relations with the, out of necessity, more reality based military, which will put Dempsey's job on the line. In the hunt for Dempsey, we will then see a rare display of bipartisanship with Bomber McCain joining the massacre.

Obama's girls and boys are every bit as full of it as the Bush's madmen were, both sharing a boundless enthusiasm for social engineering in foreign countries, the apparent motto being: "Yes we can regime change better!"

As actual as ever:

The biggest disappointment with Obama, for all his talk of hope and change, was the continuity with the worst aspects of the Bush years - civil rights and recourse against executive action, secrecy, surveillance, an expansive view of executive powers, readiness to use force in foreign policy, enthusiasm for regime change.



"Salughter was serious when she, after stepping down, was talking about 'being a mom' for a change." You can be sure that she was not. Jeh Johnson appears to be a possibility. He is a White House loyalist. pl


Name that appears to be currently at the top of the list is Robert Work, the current Deputy Secretary of Defense and Deputy Secretary of the Navy earlier under Obama. He is a big promoter of the new RMA produced by the Center for Strategy and Budgetary Analysis called the Third Offset Strategy. It calls for cancellation of the F-35 and moving towards stealth drone fighters, more emphasis on submarine warfare, longer range precision weapons, etc. to offset growing Chinese and Russian A2/AD advances.


That is why my previous observation still stands:

Think they (the Obama Admin.) might be looking for a Def. Secretary w/c they could control and mold from within. If that happens, then we will be in for 2 years of indecisiveness w/c has been the hallmark of the Obama Admin.

I cringe where ISIS will be after 2 years of this...


Wasn't Ramadi the residential home to a great many former Republic Guard? I wonder if they may not be drinking the IS Koo-laid. I would be interested if someone that knows more about Ramadi's demographics might comment?

The beaver

A bit OT:

From Matthew Lee from ICP reporting on the UN:

[quote]There have been rumblings, noted by Inner City Press, of DPA chief Jeffrey Feltman leaving -- and of the US perhaps trading Political Affairs for Peacekeeping. But that theory seems to have been that US State Department Number Three Wendy Sherman would move up to William Burns' deputy spot, opening her position for the return of Feltman.

Now that the Obama administration has put Tony Blinken into the State Department Deputy post, as one insider told ICP, “Feltman stays at the UN.” [eoquote]


This makes me think as to why this administration has backed away from what could have been a historic agreement with Iran over limiting its nuclear program.

Had Wendy Sherman become #2 at Foggy Bottom, Iran would have been in a worse position and together with Feltman, Israel would have dictated their wishes?

So can we blame only Israel or are the Saudis pulling the strings also? For sure they want the US to cut off the snake head as much as Bibi would like.

I don't know much about Blinken to weigh which way he will go wrt Iran during the next 7 months.


Speaking of Libya I wonder why no one in the
administration or it's supposed opposition in D.C.
has voiced any concerns over ISIS taking over Derna in western Libya, a mere 200 miles from the coast of Europe, especially as daily ships of refugees arrive on Europe's shores.

Charles I

TVO has been rebroadcasting the BBC's Secret Iraq and your first point was made in the episode last week.

Surge = 30,000. Awakening, Iraqis and Kurds = 200,000 fighters

Charles I

Its not continuity, its peddle to the metal.

Charles I

Wouldn't any agreement have to go through Congress in some form, a Congress rabidly pro Israel and rabidly anti- Iran?


Col., thank you for the download. I have spent most of the day skimming and reading it. I imagine there are several hundred of these current plus many past and wonder who on what staffs reads them and digests them for their superiors or those who might promote the authors or their careers. I am just an armchair philosopher and historian plus a sidewalk observer of the places I have ventured to.


Slaughter's most likely motive was from what I read that if she hadn't returned to Princeton, she'd hast lost her tenure. Her two years absence were up.



"I imagine there are several hundred of these current plus many past" You imagine incorrectly. The reason DIA commissioned such a study of the human terrain of Anbar was that such a study did not exist. This one was widely read. pl


Col., thank you for disabusing me regarding my ignorance. I find this news alarming, but then that explains a great deal about our US priorities.

For Thanksgiving I hope you and yours have much to give thanks for.



There have been talks between China and the Iraqi government concerning China assistance to Iraq in fighting Isis.

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