Iraq

Tom Cotton on the Obama-Iran axis

Featured image Our friend Senator Tom Cotton has released a statement commenting on the Bloomberg story reported yesterday by Josh Rogin and Eli Lake here that we are now sharing a military base with Iranian forces in Iraq: When I was a soldier fighting in Iraq, Iran supplied the most advanced, most lethal roadside bombs used against coalition forces. Many American soldiers lost their lives to Iran’s proxies and Iranian-supplied bombs. Further, »

Right question, wrong answer

Featured image Our congressman is John Kline, a man who served 25 years in the Marine Corps before he retired at the rank of Colonel. He served as a helicopter pilot and was ultimately accorded the responsibility of flying Marine One. He also served as a personal military aide to Presidents Carter and Reagan. When Rep. Kline asks the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff a question bearing on our national »

Hillary and Jeb on Iraq: compare and contrast

Featured image Iraq figures to be a major issue in the presidential election, as it should be given the current disastrous situation. It’s less clear that Iraq as it was in 2003 should be an issue, but it’s fair to look back that far, and at subsequent inflection points, to see what positions (if any) various candidates have taken on Iraq. A reader sent me a comparison of Hillary Clinton and Jeb »

If we’re not going to put boots on the ground, how about a serious air campaign?

Featured image The conventional wisdom among hawkish conservatives is that ISIS cannot be defeated by U.S. air power unless we also put “boots on the ground.” This may well be true. But it’s also true that the U.S. air campaign against ISIS has not been serious. David Deptula, a retired air force general, provides the evidence: In the campaign against the Islamic State, we are averaging 12 strike sorties per day. During »

Score another one for Iran: Shiite militias fill void left by Obama

Featured image The Washington Post reports that Iraq’s Shiite militias have launched an offensive intended to put a stranglehold on ISIS fighters in Ramadi by cutting off ISIS supply lines and besieging the city. The Shiite militias in question are heavily influenced, if not dominated by Iran. The Badr Organization mentioned in the Post’s report, with its close ties to Iran’s elite Quds Force, is a good example. Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi »

The Iraqis’ “lack of will”. . .and Obama’s

Featured image Iraqi troops lack “the will to fight” ISIS, according to Ashton Carter, the Secretary of Defense. Carter is one of the few Obama administration officials whose statements on controversial matters should not be dismissed out of hand, and he may well be right about the Iraqi military. There’s a flip side to this story, though. The Obama administration lacks the will to help the Iraqis fight ISIS. This fact has »

Is ISIS crazy?

Featured image ISIS’s capture of Palmyra has aroused fears that the terrorists will smash the archaeological treasures of this ancient Semitic city. The fears are justified, given ISIS’s conduct in places like Nimrud, Khorsabad, and Mosul. But according to Nicolas Pelham, writing in the New York Review of Books, even as ISIS forces made a great show of destroying some antiquities on display in the museum in Mosul, the leadership was planning »

ISIS gains big in Iraq; Obama remains functionally indifferent

Featured image U.S. policy in Iraq is in a shambles — there can be no serious disagreement about that. Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province and a mere 70 miles from Baghdad, has been captured by ISIS. Mosul, Iran’s second largest city, remains in ISIS’s hands. As importantly, it’s now clear that military success against ISIS hinges on the use of Iranian-dominated militias, but that these forces will not be able to »

How Republican Candidates Should Answer Questions About Iraq

Featured image Lately reporters have been asking Republican presidential candidates to admit that the Iraq war was a mistake. The candidates have handled such questions with varying degrees of deftness. But so far, none has responded with: “You are asking whether I think Hillary Clinton made a mistake in voting for it?” After the necessary backing and filling by the interviewer, the candidate can proceed with this answer: “No. The mistake was »

ISIS loses a bigwig, gains Ramadi

Featured image There are two big stories about ISIS this weekend. U.S. forces have killed an ISIS leader in Syria and ISIS has taken control of Ramadi, just 80 miles from Baghdad. The first story seems to be getting most of the press; it’s the headline story in today’s Washington Post. But the second strikes me as more significant. In my view, the most notable thing about the killing of Abu Sayyaf, »

Jeb Bush on the invasion of Iraq

Featured image Jeb Bush is taking heat for his response to a question by Megyn Kelly about the Iraq war. Here is the exchange: Kelly: Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion? Bush: I would have, and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody, and so would have almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got. Kelly: You don’t think it was a mistake? »

Uncommon Knowledge with Tom Cotton

Featured image Senator Tom Cotton recently sat down with Peter Robinson in Washington to record an interview for Peter’s Uncommon Knowledge series (video below, 39 minutes). The interview focuses on questions of national security and offers cogent thoughts on the cause of the present discontents. The video is also posted here under the auspices of the Hoover Institution. I’m posting the interview this morning in the hope that readers can make time »

Baathists “pervade” ISIS; weren’t they supposed to be secularists?

Featured image According to the Washington Post, former members of Iraq’s Baathist army play a “pervasive role” in ISIS. This is true, says the Post’s Liz Sly, not only in Iraq but also in Syria. ISIS evolved from al Qaeda in Iraq. It was well known that Baathists played an important role in that outfit. Sly says that the former Baathist officers became even more prominent when ISIS rose from the ashes »

Iranian-backed militias accept Obama’s invitation to pull back from Tikrit

Featured image When President Obama decided to employ U.S. air power to support the effort to dislodge ISIS from Tikrit, he pushed for the Iranian-dominated Shiite militias to leave the battlefield. He did so even though these forces made up more than 80 percent of the attacking force. The Shiite militiamen didn’t need to be asked twice. According to the Washington Post, they have refused to continue fighting. One militia threatens to »

U.S. air power finally being used in the battle for Tikrit

Featured image Not long ago, it appeared that Shiite militias controlled by Iraq, with some assistance from the Iraqi army and Sunni tribesmen, would expel ISIS from Tikrit. The attacking forces, by all accounts, had significant numerical superiority over the ISIS defenders, and at one point reportedly had captured most of the town. After completing the job in Tikrit, it would be on the Mosul — a more difficult operation. The U.S. »

ISIS comes to town

Featured image Tonight 60 Minutes broadcast a segment on the persecution of Christians and Christianity by ISIS in Iraq (video below). The segment was reported by correspondent Lara Logan. CBS News has posted a transcript of the segment here. The emergence of ISIS in Iraq is attributed to the withdrawal of American forces by President Obama in 2011 by one of Logan’s eloquent Christian interlocutors at one point; she carefully attributes equal »

Victory in Tikrit, but should we rejoice?

Featured image Iraqi forces have swept into Tikrit and appear poised to push the Islamic State (ISIS) out of Saddam Hussein’s old hometown. Reportedly, the Iraqi forces have retaken nearly all of the city, though ISIS is still resisting in some areas. By “Iraqi forces,” I mean government troops, a small number of Sunni tribesman, and (above all) Shiite militias directed by Qassem Suleimani, head of the Iranian Quds Force, and bolstered »