FADED CELEBRITY BARRY O HAS BEEN SENDING U.S. TROOPS INTO IRAQ SINCE JUNE AND HAS BEEN BOMBING IRAQ SINCE AUGUST BUT HE STILL HASN'T GOTTEN AROUND TO GETTING CONGRESSIONAL APPROVAL FOR HIS ACTIONS.
REACHED FOR COMMENT BY THESE REPORTERS, BARRY O EXPLAINED HE HAD A LOT ON HIS PLATE, "THERE'S PHONE CALLS AND PHOTO POSING AND LIKE NAPS. SOMETIMES I JUST TAKE A NAP. CHRIS HILL SHOWED ME HOW TO JUST PUSH YOUR CHAIR AWAY FROM YOUR DESK AND YOU CAN HOP UNDER THERE AND GRAB A FEW ZZZS. OR MAYBE I WANT TO STREAM THE LATEST EPISODE OF 'NASHVILLE' ON MY PHONE AND I WANT TO WATCH THAT. OR LIKE I SEE JOE COMING -- YOU KNOW, JOE BIDEN? AND I'M LIKE, 'I DON'T WANT TO TALK TO HIM,' YOU KNOW? SO I GRAB MY PHONE AND I'M LIKE, 'YES, YES, HOW ARE YOU, PUTIN? UH-HUH. RIGHT. UKRAINE. YES. . . .' YOU KNOW JUST TO AVOID JOE. AND LIKE 1 TIME, I HAD TO DO THAT FOR 30 MINUTES BEFORE JOE FINALLY LEFT THE OVAL OFFICE. THAT WAS LIKE A HALF-HOUR OF MY DAY, YOU KNOW? SO STUFF LIKE KEEPS ME BUSY."
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Today, Chris Hayes (MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes) noted, "France's lower house of Parliament voted 488 to one to extend French airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq. 488 to one. I recognize those kinds of margins -- the sort of margin the PATRIOT Act passed by and the authorization for the use of military force to invade Afghanistan."
Chris Hayes was grouping fear based decisions (and argued in the program that the answer needed now is not more violence but more thought and examination). Of the fear, Al Jazeera America notes:
The vote came one week after the most deadly attacks on civilians in France in decades. On Jan. 8, Ahmed Coulibaly, a man claiming allegiance to ISIL, killed a policewoman and then took several hostages at a kosher grocery store near Paris. Coulibaly and four hostages were killed during a raid by police. That attack was linked to one conducted on Jan. 7 by Said and Cherif Kouachi, two brothers whom Coulibaly had known for years, who killed 12 people at a newspaper office and claimed that they were affiliated with Al-Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen.
Chris Hayes is far from the only one calling out blind fear. At Brookings, Daniel L. Byman and Jeremy Shapiro also try to slow the race to fear:
Despite these fears and the real danger that motivates them, the Syrian and Iraqi foreign fighter threat can easily be exaggerated. Previous cases and information emerging from Syria suggest several mitigating effects that may reduce—but hardly eliminate—the potential terrorist threat from foreign fighters who have gone to Syria. Those mitigating factors include:
• Many die, blowing themselves up in suicide attacks or perishing quickly in firefights with opposing forces.
• Many never return home, but continue fighting in the conflict zone or at the next battle for jihad.
• Many of the foreign fighters quickly become disillusioned, and a number even return to their home country without engaging in further violence.
• Others are arrested or disrupted by intelligence services. Indeed, becoming a foreign fighter—particularly with today’s heavy use of social media—makes a terrorist far more likely to come to the attention of security services.
The danger posed by returning foreign fighters is real, but American and European security services have tools that they can successfully deploy to mitigate the threat. These tools will have to be adapted to the new context in Syria and Iraq, but they will remain useful and effective.
If people were a little more level headed, maybe they'd question US President Barack Obama's so-called 'plan' for Iraq?
Al Arabiya News notes US Senator John McCain told CNN that the US needed to provide Iraq with "more boots on the ground" and "I mean intelligence. I mean forward air controllers. I mean trainers. I mean more air assets. I mean across the board an increase."
Well that's a thought. There should be others.
Like, before any other moves are made, how about looking at what's happening?
Barack said back in June that the crises in Iraq required a political solution.
But the White House has done damn little to encourage any political solutions.
They have allowed Iraq to grow ever closer to Iran. What does that mean?
Scott Peterson (Christian Science Monitor) explains one meaning:
The Iranian strategy has resurrected Iraq's Shiite militias and deployed them effectively against IS on some front lines, those same militia contributed to tens of thousands of deaths at the peak of Iraq’s sectarian battles from 2006-2008.
Officials of Iraq’s Sunni minority say human rights abuses by the Shiite militias are as rampant now as they were 5 years ago. And they grate at the number of banners strung up with Iranian revolutionary slogans – against Israel, for example, or to support religious pilgrims – along with images of Iran’s previous and current supreme leaders, Ayatollahs Ruhollah Khomeini and Ali Khamenei.
This picks up on the report Amnesty International issued in November:
Shi’a militias, supported and armed by the government of Iraq, have abducted and killed scores of Sunni civilians in recent months and enjoy total impunity for these war crimes, said Amnesty International in a new briefing published today.
Absolute Impunity: Militia Rule in Iraq provides harrowing details of sectarian attacks carried out by increasingly powerful Shi’a militias in Baghdad, Samarra and Kirkuk, apparently in revenge for attacks by the armed group that calls itself the Islamic State (IS). Scores of unidentified bodies have been discovered across the country handcuffed and with gunshot wounds to the head, indicating a pattern of deliberate execution-style killings.
“By granting its blessing to militias who routinely commit such abhorrent abuses, the Iraqi government is sanctioning war crimes and fuelling a dangerous cycle of sectarian violence that is tearing the country apart. Iraqi government support for militia rule must end now,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser.
The fate of many of those abducted by Shi'a militias weeks and months ago remains unknown. Some captives were killed even after their families had paid ransoms of $80,000 and more to secure their release.
That same month, Human Rights Watch's Tirana Hassan reported on the Shi'ite militias for Foreign Policy:
The Khorasani Brigade is a relatively recent addition to the network of Shiite militias in Iraq -- and despite a similar sounding name, has no connection to the Khorasan Group, the alleged al Qaeda-affiliated organization that was the target of U.S. airstrikes in Syria in September. The Khorasani Brigade is just one of dozens of similar militias that are essentially running their own show in parts of the country. These Shiite militias are supplied with weapons and equipment from the central government in Baghdad, which is now being assisted by a U.S.-led military alliance in its fight against the Islamic State.
These militias' actions will only exacerbate Iraq's existing sectarian tensions. The country is no stranger to sectarian violence: Its Shiite population suffered for decades under the oppressive rule of Saddam Hussein, and after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 the country spiraled into a cycle of revenge violence, culminating in a bloody civil war in 2006 and 2007. Many accused the largely autocratic rule of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of fueling sectarian flames.
While the Iraqi central government has virtually no formal authority over the militias, who act as a law unto themselves, some key politicians in Baghdad have strong alliances to individual militias. In October, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi appointed Mohammed Salem al-Ghabban -- a prominent member of the Badr Organization, a Shiite political group that controls one of the largest and most infamous militias -- as interior minister.
Despite being almost completely unaccountable to any official ministry, the Shiite militias have been tasked by the government with a key role in the war against the Islamic State. Yet what we saw in Yengija laid bare the costs of relying on these groups. Beyond the main road, an entire neighborhood of two-story homes was razed and flattened, with concrete slab roofs heaped atop piles of rubble. Personal belongings, children's toys, and furniture peeked out from under the debris, a poignant reminder of the Sunni Arab families who, until recently, had lived there. All these families had fled in August when the militia started battling the Islamic State fighters in the surrounding area.
So Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Christian Science Monitor know the current government run by new prime minister Haider al-Abadi is allowing Shi'ites to target and kill Sunnis but the White House doesn't?
The White House is just completely unaware of what's going on?
There are people being injured and being killed, targeted, and the White House just keeps backing Haider al-Abadi and looking the other way.
Seems to me Barack did that before, didn't he?
Oh, yeah, with Nouri al-Maliki.
He looked the other way repeatedly.
How'd that work out again?
It took Iraq to the precipice.
Where's the political solution?
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