We have been told that there is no military solution to the Iraqi problem. Yet, we keep on trying to solve it through military means. The reality calls for Iraq to be divided into three countries since it was artificially created after World War I.
When you embed with a population, even during wartime, you become incredibly attached to the locals who reach out to help you. I got to know a lot of Iraqis who I feel close to even today - some were soldiers, some were civilians, but all were hopeful.
The US and its Allies have military superiority over ISIS, but using million dollar missiles to blow up hundred dollar tents represents a bad net-exchange.
The appeal of the Caliph's simple end times narrative forms the foundation of an Islamist movement which is driving men to commit unthinkable acts of murder, genocide and suicide attacks against strangers with different religious beliefs.
Ritualized IS beheadings tee-us-up for defeat to come. Suddenly confronted with the power and horror of sacral death -- which we are deeply receptive to and yet not equipped to understand -- we move, reflexively, like the monarchies of the 1790s, to simply destroy the bacillus.
As columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote: "They know that illiteracy, ignorance and oppression of women create the petri dish in which extremism can flourish." Not always. The young men are not just graduates of the infamous madrassas, some of which are in Syria, Pakistan, and Nigeria and teach a narrow version of the Koran and not much else. Still, the lack of educational opportunities around the world, where 58 million children are not in school and 10 million child brides are married off each year, contribute to the appeal of radicals. It is hard to oppose judicious airstrikes in the short-term. But helping refugees, particularly the three million Syrians in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, get proper schooling is vital. Otherwise the bombs will reign for decades.
As ISIS raced through Western Iraq, cutting through Kurdish villages and Sunni enclaves with rapid speed, the United States reacted with shock. How could the Iraqi Army give up resistance so rapidly? Why weren't locals fighting back?
Panetta doesn't spell out just exactly how big a U.S. military presence he says should have stayed in Iraq. That's the first question he leaves dangling. And there are others. What would they actually do once there? Namely who would they fight?
U.S. efforts to combat al-Qaeda have not diminished the threat from terrorism. Osama bin Laden's absence has not defeated terrorism. It has created a power vacuum that has been filled by groups more radicalized and more ruthless than al-Qaeda. America keeps playing the terrorist Whac-a-Mole. There is no grand strategy, only arbitrary lurches from crisis to crisis.
Investing in domestic water security has obvious benefits, from national security of critical infrastructure against terrorist attacks to mitigating the ongoing drought in California.
President Obama announced a new American war this month, but it didn't resonate in his polling much, if at all. Overall, his poll numbers dropped, but the net result was rather flat.
The American nightmare in Mesopotamia and the Levant, begun in 1990-1991 with Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, will continue into the indefinite future with no guarantee but its ultimate failure.
President Barack Obama's claim that he doesn't need congressional authorization for his current war in Iraq and Syria is troubling. However, Obama is not the first president to believe that he has the rather imperial authority for war by executive fiat.
When Ben Affleck differentiates the extremists from the overwhelming majority of peaceful Muslims, and when Harris and Maher claim that polls indicate the extreme are a larger part of the overall pie than we think, Affleck's argument is not only stronger, but correlates to the raison detre for both the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.
I consider this ideology to be the greatest danger that the world will face in the next decade. Its seeds are growing in Europe, the United States, Asia, and elsewhere. With its twisted religious overtones, this pre-packaged franchise of hate is available for any terrorist group to adopt. It carries the power to mobilize thousands of desperate, vindictive, or angry young people and use them to strike at the foundations of civilization.
Now it is for all concerned with children's rights to rise up and insist that the torture, rape and militarization of children be placed at the center of our demands for an International Criminal Court investigation that will aim for the prosecution of the guilty.