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20 February 2015


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alba etie

Would it not at this juncture be prudent to start moving toward the partition of Iraq into self contained Free Holds - first free hold to be al Anbar as long as that territory is cleansed of Daash /ISIL ?

Medicine Man

Off-topic, Col., but I've read in my local metro this morning that Debaltseve has fallen to the separatists in Ukraine. Government forces are said to be withdrawing under fire to Artimivsk. Is there any word from the committee as to the severity of the defeat (or the accuracy of this news, for that matter)?


Dear Colonel,

I read half that piece at FP, and then couldnt anymore. The authors' argument seems to be if only Obama could have forced Baghdad to be Stockholm, then all would be different - I guess the New American Project (with sweeping away of state oil companies benefitting of his former company, Exxon) for the mideast would have been a success - and we would have DC on the Potomac.

Evidence that human rights plays a role in the power struggles in Iraq? None.

The US winning strategy in Ukraine was to push Kiev into a lets-win quick extension (with overwhelming numbers) that turned into a meat grinder and defeat when exposed to the NovoRussian forces with an actual military strategy.

So the obvious US plan is to push the same strategy again. Unfortunately, the likely followup after the plan fails is large numbers of boots on the ground.


Not sure whether to go Shakespeare or Pottery Barn here, what a mess we have created. And the cries for the President to "do something."

Totally off topic, on a more enjoyable note. Virginia Military Institute – VMI Regimental Band, Lexington, Va. to march in the 2016 Rose Parade.



There is something funny about relationship between religion and poli sci: it is actually the hottest thing among academics at the moment, while policy makers supposedly trained in poli sci dismiss it contemptuously (I was just at a seminar on role of religious minorities in both violent and nonviolent political movements, whose participants would be fascinated (but not at all surprised) by goings on among Iraqi Christians. I want to repeat my observation that policymakers talking "poli sci" to justify their agenda typically are as ignorant of poli sci as they are of the reality.

Charles I

Why indeed? War over there against barbarians inures us to war in the other East against evil dictators and opportunists.



None of those who cheerlead our destabilization in West Asia will accept any failure as the destruction of the social fabric in Iraq & Syria would be considered a benefit by them. We Americans are condemned to more interventions around the world. Poor judgment and policy error have no negative consequences for those in power. The American voter will keep supporting the political duopoly. Hillary or Jeb. Dems or Repubs. It's all the same. We are on a downward slope self-destructing. It's only a matter of time for the rest of the world to openly challenge our illusions of being the indispensable exceptional nation. How will the elites respond then?


We couldn't train the Iraqi army in 8 years. What are we doing now that will suddenly make them functional? I guess I can see politicians believing this, and I guess I can see a lot of the public falling for this, but what exactly is our military telling people? What do they really believe?


FB Ali

Are you part of the Washington 'consensus'? I ask that because your question is typical of that lot.

Would it be too wrenching to realise that Iraq (or other such places) are not yours (ie, the US's) to partition or otherwise dispose of?

Bush Jr and his gang tried that, and you have the present mess. Are you advocating trying something similar again?

Ex-PFC Chuck

Accurate? Yes. Severe? Yes, by most reports.


I hated the idea (partition) at first, but it's starting to seem inevitable. And we (USA) don't have draw the map, or force anybody there to do anything in particular. We could just sit here & let it happen. I'd argue that we've been pretending that Iraq is "ours" to hold together, wasting money, lives, etc, in an attempt to prop up the obsolete State model in a place where cohesion is minimal.

The original "partition Iraq" plan was another neo-con wet dream (how many of those dreams would it take to make the desert bloom?), but "Washington consensus" (Bush & Obama) chose to prop up a rump government in Baghdad instead. That "government" has failed (suprise).

Iraq has already been partitioned. The Kurdistan is now effectively an independent state; IS controls the west, and Baghdad nominally controls the remainder. Should we pretend that Iraq still exists? I'm all for helping them (anyone) break IS, but see little evidence that the Shiites can govern the whole country.


Very Good and hopefully their position in the parade is last in line so we can anticipate our Love for America as they provide a very excellent rendition of. O'Shenandoah. Hopefully Rudy can tear himself away from all his lovers, cousins and his annual trek to visit family at Sing Sing to join us in something he has no clue about.....what a scumbag he is.

The Twisted Genius


This time we'll use a new, super-duper, enhanced, upgraded version of PowerPoint to make much better briefings about Iraqi Army readiness. If the PowerPoint slides say they're ready, it must be so. Golly gee whiz, if the YPG had PowerPoint and the U.S. trained PowerPoint Rangers to create 100+ slide briefings, they would have kicked IS out of Kobani in a weekend.

The Twisted Genius

For an Administration that is so paranoid about whistleblowers and leakers, these clowns have no problem detailing their military plans to the world. Obviously the boys and girls of the Chidren's Crusade don't have a clue what STFU means.

Ishmael Zechariah

Col. Lang,

As a rabid secular follower of Ataturk I fully support "Ninevah Plains Protection Units". I might remind folks here that Mustafa Kemal knew how to deal with Islamists. He was a soldier.

Ishmael Zechariah


Arguably, the intervention of Merkel and Hollande in the Ukraine situation suggests that our era as 'the indispensable nation' is winding down.


Col., something doesn't seem right about the BBC article. It only references an unnamed senior official which is probably military and who talked to multiple reporters. This could mean anything including a deception. ISIS is clearly preparing Mosul for siege if news reports are correct but that doesn't mean its going to happen.

Reports indicate it far more likely that the supply lines are being systematically cut to the city and the Kurds are saying that they do not plan to take Mosul. So that leaves the Iraqi government forces which if I read correctly may be able to field about 48K effective and those are needed along with the militias to hold Baghdad and terrorize the neighbors.

As to the moves by the locals to retake their farms and the rush to action, it might be that first wheat harvests occur in April and if one were going to get their confiscated farm back it might be good to do it before the harvest comes in. Just a conjecture but food for thought.

Speaking of food there have been reports in Reuters and elsewhere of food shortages in ISIL areas and particular concern about wheat production in Syria and now in Sunni Iraq despite favorable weather. It would be great if someone on the blog had access to local spot prices of food commodities.

Next, I can't seem to find any good data in the last 6 weeks regarding refined gasoline supplies and production in Iraq. Reports in late 2014 would have indicated growing shortages due to refinery disruptions. Odd that there is no news I can find.

Last media was reporting that ISIL was bringing in $150K per day in tolls on some of their supply routes. This is really a small sum and its surprising that the media just lets the number slide by. If it cost well over $1MM/yr. to put a US soldier in Iraq 5 years ago and it has got to be much more now, then that is about 55 men. One wonders why we just don't hire local bandits to raid the ISIL highways and plant IEDs; it would be cheaper and likely more effective.

Charles I

Whistling past the graveyard.


I just imagined General Patraeus pushing that MS 365 distro button and the Kinko's popup saying "Mosul printer not found"

My kingdom for a good Epson.


It is indeed "severe", which, viewed from a distance and irrespective of any ethical considerations, makes one wonder why the US always seem to bet on the most cretinous jerks in the place to achieve their geopolitical goals.


How can this be TAUGHT. It is too deep seated to comprehend. One has to be either a practicing or a lapsed whatever to get it.

Afterthought: possibly if approached in terms of dynamics of taboo and taboo violation.

Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

You seem to have answered your own questions. The Iraqi 'givernment' promises their American benefactors a big offensive 'in the fall' because quite possibly they see no gain in controlling restive and angry Sunni rural folk. The religious and ethnic minorities in the northern part of the British Mandatory Territory will live or die by their own collective effort and should not be expected to suborn their freedom to some notion of Iraqi sovereignty that died in aught three

Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

You'll be waiting a long time on that score

Peter C

To Steve. my gosh we need to send more Abrams and those big ass Howitzers on tracs, with all the spares, support tracked vehicles, fueling trucks, and expensive contractors to teach how to run and maintain, build big ole warehouses to store the parts and support items, build a new base to place the equipment, parts depot, fuel farms. Also the HVT (heavy vehicle transports) to move the big ole tanks long distances. And then bill the the U.S. Taxpayer about 10 zillion dollars for all this.

And then watch ISIS walk in and walk away with it all.


Questions for the Committee

What will be the result of a defeat of IS in Iraq?

In answering this question, it seems that a few assumptions can be taken as true;

That the Iraqi government has little, if any, real military force and the only forces available to fight IS on the ground are the Iranian Dominated Shia Militias ("IDSMs") (recall from the previous post see https://foreignpolicy.com/2015/02/19/irans-shiite-militias-are-running-amok-in-iraq/);

That the IDSMs are enemies of the US and the West and commit atrocities in a manner unacceptable to Western ethics and similar to those perpetrated by IS;

That on defeating IS, the IDSMs will ethnically cleanse the territories they conquer;

That as soon as IS is defeated, the IDSMs will turn on the Kurds and the Assyrians;

That the defeat of IS will greatly strengthen Iran as a regional power;

That the apocalyptic dream of the Caliphate will continue to fester;

That the West cannot control the ultimate outcome and Iran will dominate the areas liberated from IS through their influence over the IDSMs.


Are any of these assumptions true, and if not what other assumption should be adopted?

What does the United States gain by assisting the IDSMs?

Upon defeat of IS, what will be the situation on the ground?

My present view is we have chaos now and that, regardless of the extent of U.S. intervention, in the end chaos and despair will continue. It seems that the only result of U.S. intervention in the end will be that we have wasted our efforts for naught as we have for the last decade and a half. Little we do will improve the lot of the unfortunate souls stuck in Iraq. We should quit the festering region.

Do any members of the Committee have a more optimistic view of the outcome?

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