Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Keeping Abreast of the ISIL/ISIS Threat...

by: Les Carpenter
Rational Nation USA Purveyor of Truth

Following the ISIL/ISIS threat... The three articles below, two from The New York Times and the third from The Guardian discuss the threat, the administrations current positions, and the possible military course the USA may find itself taking at some point to effectively "dismantle and destroy" ISIL/ISIS, to use the President's words.

WASHINGTON — Militants for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have traveled to Mexico and are just miles from the United States. They plan to cross over the porous border and will “imminently” launch car bomb attacks. And the threat is so real that federal law enforcement officers have been placed at a heightened state of alert, and an American military base near the border has increased its security.

As the Obama administration and the American public have focused their attention on ISIS in recent weeks, conservative groups and leading Republicans have issued stark warnings like those that ISIS and other extremists from Syria are planning to enter the country illegally from Mexico. But the Homeland Security Department, the F.B.I. and lawmakers who represent areas near the border say there is no truth to the warnings.

“There is no credible intelligence to suggest that there is an active plot by ISIL to attempt to cross the southern border,” Homeland Security officials said in a written statement, using an alternative acronym for the group.

Democrats say opponents of President Obama are simply playing on concerns about terrorism as part of their attempt to portray Mr. Obama as having failed to secure the border against illegal immigration.

“There’s a longstanding history in this country of projecting whatever fears we have onto the border,” said Representative Beto O’Rourke, Democrat of Texas, who represents El Paso and other areas near the border. “In the absence of understanding the border, they insert their fears. Before it was Iran and Al Qaeda. Now it’s ISIS. They just reach the conclusion that invasion is imminent, and it never is.”

At a congressional hearing last week, Representative Jeff Duncan, Republican of South Carolina, pushed back strongly against the testimony of Homeland Security Department officials and Mr. O’Rourke, saying they were ignoring a gathering threat.

“Wake up, America,” Mr. Duncan said before storming out of the hearing. “With a porous southern border, we have no idea who’s in our country.”

But counterterrorism officials say they are far more concerned that an ISIS militant will enter the United States the same way millions of people do each year: legally, on a commercial flight. Their efforts have focused on the more than 2,000 Europeans and 100 Americans who have traveled to Syria to fight alongside extremist groups, nearly all of them crossing over its unprotected borders. Without markings in their passports to show that they traveled to Syria, American border authorities have few ways of determining where they were and stopping them from entering the country.

WASHINGTON — Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress on Tuesday that he would recommend deploying United States combat forces against Islamic extremists in specific operations if the current strategy of airstrikes was not successful, offering a more expansive view of the American role in the ground war than that of President Obama.

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, he said that while he was confident in the ability of the coalition of American, European and Middle Eastern governments to stop the Islamic State, he could not completely close the door to eventually asking Mr. Obama to commit ground troops to fight the group, known as ISIS or ISIL.

“My view at this point is that this coalition is the appropriate way forward. I believe that will prove true,” he said. “But if it fails to be true, and if there are threats to the United States, then I of course would go back to the president and make a recommendation that may include the use of U.S. military ground forces.”

Any future commitment of American personnel on the ground could put Mr. Obama in a difficult position, as he has repeatedly insisted that no American troops would engage in the battlefield, and Gen. Dempsey sought to explain the apparent contradiction.

“His stated policy is that we will not have U.S. forces in ground combat,” General Dempsey said, adding, “He has told me as well to come back to him on a case-by-case basis.”

In his speech last week announcing the expanded campaign against Islamic State, Mr. Obama said the military advisers he was sending to Iraq would help Iraqi and Kurdish forces with training, intelligence, and equipment. But he emphatically ruled out front-line fighting.

“These American forces will not have a combat mission — we will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq,” he said.

But as General Dempsey made it clear, the reality of the battle might make such a hands-off approach insufficient. When Iraqi or Kurdish forces are trying to dislodge militants from urban areas like Mosul, airstrikes are less effective because they can cause civilian casualties.

In those cases, the general said, he might recommend to the president that the United States send Special Operations troops to provide what he called “close combat advising,” essentially working alongside Iraqi commanders in the field and helping them direct troops to targets.

The Pentagon leadership suggested to a Senate panel on Tuesday that US ground troops may directly join Iraqi forces in combat against the Islamic State (Isis), despite US president Barack Obama’s repeated public assurances against US ground combat in the latest Middle Eastern war.

A day after US warplanes expanded the war south-west of Baghdad, Army General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate armed services committee that he could see himself recommending the use of some US military forces now in Iraq to embed within Iraqi and Kurdish units to take territory away from Isis.

“If we reach the point where I believe our advisers should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific [Isis] targets, I will recommend that to the president,” Dempsey said, preferring the term “close combat advising”.

It was the most thorough public acknowledgement yet from Pentagon leaders that the roughly 1,600 US troops Obama has deployed to Iraq since June may in fact be used in a ground combat role, something Obama has directly ruled out, most recently in a televised speech last week.

Dempsey, who has for years warned about the “unintended consequences” of Americanizing the Syrian civil war that gave rise to Isis, said he envisioned “close combat advising” for operations on the order of taking Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, away from Isis.

He also opened the door to using US “advisers” to call in air strikes from the ground, something Dempsey said they have thus far not done but which the US Central Command leader, General Lloyd Austin, initially thought would be necessary when pushing Isis away from the Mosul Dam last month.

“He shares my view that there will be circumstances when we think that’ll be necessary, but we haven’t encountered one yet,” said Dempsey, himself a veteran of the last Iraq war.

Obama’s prohibition on ground forces in a combat role was less ironclad than the president has publicly stated, Dempsey suggested.

“At this point, his stated policy is we will not have US ground forces in direct combat,” Dempsey said, to include spotting for US air strikes. “But he has told me as well to come back to him on a case-by-case basis.”

All Via: Memeorandum

Monday, September 15, 2014

As the World Changes Views and Positions Follow...

by: Les Carpenter
Rational Nation USA
Purveyor of Truth

Sen. Rand Paul on Monday pushed back against heightened criticism that he has flip-flopped on foreign policy issues, saying he has stood firmly against the Obama administration’s policies in Syria.

Appearing on CBS “This Morning,” the Kentucky Republican conceded that he has shifted his views in some areas, including on what is an appropriate U.S. response to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. “As world events change, obviously you change your analysis. Five years ago, ISIS wasn’t a threat,” he said, using an alternate name for the terrorist group that has mobilized across much of northern and central Iraq.

Paul acknowledged that his thought process on ISIL has been “influenced” by ISIL’s recent beheadings of U.S. journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and British aid worker David Haines.

He had previously been publicly skeptical about potential airstrikes against ISIL, but just a few months after criticized the president for not acting more forcefully against the group.

The senator on Monday mainly stuck to his critiques of President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s policies in Syria, saying their plans to potentially arm the Syrian rebels and bomb Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime last summer would have emboldened ISIL.

“Had we bombed Syria — had the president actually got what he wanted and what Hillary Clinton wanted, to bomb the heck out of Assad — my guess is ISIS would now be in Damascus,” he said.

The above excerpt, taken from POLITICO, is illustrative of what a rational politician/leader will do as world events and conditions change. They change their position(s) to meet the realities of the present while remaining true to their core principals. Something Senator Paul has done.

Senator Paul's acknowledgement that President Obama's stated strategy with regard to ISIL/ISIS, and the administration's efforts to create a broad coalition to combat the regional and potentially global threat ISIL/ISI presents, shows political maturity and certainly makes him a more viable candidate for president in 2016.
Paul, a potential 2016 presidential contender, also accused the president of being the real flip-flopper, saying he had changed his views on war authorization. “I have always said that the president is required by the Constitution to come to Congress. … The president used to agree with me.

It’s actually the president who’s changed his position,” he said. Paul was referring to the president’s contention in his address to the nation last week that he does not need congressional approval for airstrikes against ISIL targets in Syria. In 2007, then-Sen. Obama said George W. Bush would have to come to Congress to receive authorization for military action against Iran.

Fair enough,  the President should go to Congress for authorization when he wishes to declare act of war. But then there is something called the War Powers Act , which says in part: the President is required to notify Congress within 48 hours of committing armed forces to military action and forbids armed forces from remaining for more than 60 days, with a further 30 day withdrawal period, without an authorization of the use of military force or a declaration of war.

Yet once again the parties continue to play political football and jockey for position rather than uniting behind a common cause while following the letter of the law as it presently exits. For the complete article continue reading BELOW THE FOLD.

Via: Memeorandum

Friday, September 12, 2014

Republicans and Democrats Differ On Importance Of Issues...

by: Les Carpenter
Rational Nation USA
Purveyor of Truth

Do democrats and republicans exist in different realities? Sometimes I wonder.

The complete Pew Research Center for the People & the Press report.

Via: Memeorandum

Arab Nations Give Soft Support For American Strategy to Defeat ISIL/ISIS...

by: Les Carpenter
Rational Nation USA
Purveyor of Truth

This just in from The New York Times. With many key Arab states only expressing lukewarm support for President Obama's enunciated strategy to dismantle and destroy ISIL/ISIS how successful will the plan be?

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Many Arab governments grumbled quietly in 2011 as the United States left Iraq, fearful it might fall deeper into chaos or Iranian influence. Now, the United States is back and getting a less than enthusiastic welcome, with leading allies like Egypt, Jordan and Turkey all finding ways on Thursday to avoid specific commitments to President Obama’s expanded military campaign against Sunni extremists.

As the prospect of the first American strikes inside Syria crackled through the region, the mixed reactions underscored the challenges of a new military intervention in the Middle East, where 13 years of chaos, from Sept. 11 through the Arab Spring revolts, have deepened political and sectarian divisions and increased mistrust of the United States on all sides.

U.S. Pins Hope on Syrian Rebels With Loyalties All Over the MapSEPT. 11, 2014
President Obama and his wife, Michelle, on Thursday at a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House marking the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.On a Day Devoted to Past Events, Focus on New Terror LinkSEPT. 11, 2014
“It’s important to give the president what he asked for,” Speaker John A. Boehner said.The House, in Rare Unity With Obama, Will Leave the Trail for an ISIS VoteSEPT. 11, 2014
Open Source: Mocking ISIS in BeirutSEPT. 10, 2014
“As a student of terrorism for the last 30 years, I am afraid of that formula of ‘supporting the American effort,’ ” said Diaa Rashwan, a scholar at the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, a government-funded policy organization in Cairo. “It is very dangerous.”

The tepid support could further complicate the already complex task Mr. Obama has laid out for himself in fighting the extremist Islamic State in Iraq and Syria: He must try to confront the group without aiding Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, or appearing to side with Mr. Assad’s Shiite allies, Iran and the militant group Hezbollah, against discontented Sunnis across the Arab world.

While Arab nations allied with the United States vowed on Thursday to “do their share” to fight ISIS and issued a joint communiqué supporting a broad strategy, the underlying tone was one of reluctance. The government perhaps most eager to join a coalition against ISIS was that of Syria, which Mr. Obama had already ruled out as a partner for what he described as terrorizing its citizens.

Syria’s deputy foreign minister, Fayssal Mekdad, told NBC News that Syria and the United States were “fighting the same enemy,” terrorism, and that his government had “no reservations” about airstrikes as long as the United States coordinated with it. He added, “We are ready to talk.”


In Jordan, the state news agency reported that in a meeting about the extremists on Wednesday, King Abdullah II had told Secretary of State John Kerry “that the Palestinian cause remains the core of the conflict in the region” and that Jordan was focusing on the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.

Turkey, which Mr. Kerry will visit on Friday, is concerned about attacks across its long border with ISIS-controlled Syria, and also about 49 Turkish government employees captured by the group in Iraq. Speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, an official advised not to expect public support for the American effort.


Even in Baghdad and across Syria, where the threat from ISIS is immediate, reactions were mixed. Members of Iraq’s Shiite majority cheered the prospect of American help. But many Sunni Muslims were cynical about battling an organization that evolved from jihadist groups fighting American occupation.

“This is all a play,” said Abu Amer, 38, a government employee, who withheld his family name for his safety. “It is applying American political plans.”

One thing is fairly certain, to achieve success in defeating and destroying ISIL/ISIS, will require the support and resolve of the Arab nations and their people.


Via: Memeorandum


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