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Return Of Troops To Iraq Is Genuine Failure Of Leadership

Memo Pad Politics

Return Of Troops To Iraq Is Genuine Failure Of Leadership


You have to give the bloodthirsty jihadists of the Islamic State (also known as ISIL or ISIS) credit: They may be savages, but they know us well. They used well-produced, high-quality videos of their grisly murders of American journalists to provoke the United States into a bipartisan frenzy of retribution.

It worked too well. Not only have Democrats and Republicans alike insisted that Obama do something, anything, to stop ISIS, but surveys indicate that support for military action against the jihadists has soared among average voters since the beheadings of journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows that 47 percent of Americans believe the country is less safe than it was before the attacks that came 13 years ago, a post-9/11 high.

But if there is evidence that ISIS has the ability to attack us on American soil, President Obama failed to share that in his televised address to the nation last week. In fact, several foreign policy experts have voiced doubts that ISIS has that capacity.

Still, the president will go forward with a strategy that includes sending “advisors” back into Iraq — a troubled nation Obama once believed we should be done with — to “train” Iraqi forces to rout ISIS there. He also pledged airstrikes against their forces, in Iraq and Syria, too. This may not be a recipe for disaster, but several key ingredients for mission creep are mixed right in.

It seems that ISIS has adopted Osama bin Laden’s PR tactics, since he also understood how easily the U.S. could be inflamed. As bin Laden famously said in 2004: “(It is) easy for us to provoke and bait this administration. All that we have to do is to send two mujahedeen to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al Qaeda, in order to make the generals race there and cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses.”

Yes, yes, the jihadists of the Islamic State are dangerous. They represent a threat that might — might — eventually acquire the means to attack the homeland. But Obama could pursue them as he has pursued terrorists from Pakistan to Somalia to Yemen — with drone strikes aimed at key leaders.

By the way, let’s not forget that Obama’s drone war has become increasingly unpopular among civil libertarians, including, until quite recently, a Republican senator from Kentucky named Rand Paul. But now that Paul is ramping up for an apparent presidential bid, he has become more hawkish, reading the polls of GOP voters who want the U.S. to show its military might. It will be interesting to see whether Paul — indeed, Congress in general — has the political courage to authorize the president to take the military action that so many have insisted upon.

But U.S. airstrikes cannot kill off ISIS, which draws its strength from the chaos and sectarian oppression in Iraq and Syria. A committed group of Sunni fighters who view martyrdom as the path to eternal glory, ISIS has picked up reluctant support from Iraqi Sunnis who have been treated poorly by the government of former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shia.

While Maliki resigned under pressure from Obama, he has been replaced by Haider al-Abadi, a man with a similar political background who might not do much more than Maliki to incorporate Sunnis and Kurds into the government. If he doesn’t, he will face the same sectarian divisions from which ISIS draws strength.

Then there’s the matter of sending advisors into Iraq to train its military. Didn’t the U.S. just spend years and hundreds of millions of dollars doing just that? Yet, when Iraqi soldiers have faced the vastly outnumbered ISIS, they’ve shed their uniforms and beat a hasty retreat, leaving behind high-powered weapons, paid for with U.S. dollars, for ISIS to use. The terrorist group has also seized weapons from the same Syrian moderates that we will continue to arm.

Obama pledged that the U.S. will not be drawn into another ground war in the Middle East, but it’s now unlikely he will go down in history as the president who ended two wars. It’s a stain on his legacy — a genuine failure of leadership.

Cynthia Tucker won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2007. She can be reached at cynthia@cynthiatucker.com.

AFP Photo/Saul Loeb

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Cynthia Tucker Haynes

Cynthia Tucker Haynes, a veteran newspaper journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner, is a Visiting Professor of Journalism and Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at the University of Georgia. She is also a highly-regarded commentator on TV and radio news shows.

Haynes was editorial page editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper for 17 years, where she led the development of opinion policy. More recently, she was that newspaper’s Washington-based political columnist. She maintains a syndicated column through Universal Press Syndicate, which is published in dozens of newspapers around the country. Besides winning the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2007, Haynes has also received numerous other awards, including Journalist of the Year from the National Association of Black Journalists.

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  1. Dominick Vila September 13, 2014

    Cynthia, sending an additional 450 troops to complement the 1,600 troops that were still there does not constitute a resumption of the occupation of Iraq. The executions of two American journalists, and the brutal attacks against Shias and Kurds are, indeed, designed to draw us back in. The presence of “infidels” in the “Holy” lands, and our insistence on imposing our political system and values on people determined to live the way their ancestors did 500 years ago are, indeed, an essential element for organizations like ISIS and Al Qaeda to exist, recruit volunteers, get the financing they need, and operate with impunity, but let’s not confuse combing them with a massive occupation.
    What remains to be seen is how effective the bombing is going to be in curbing the cycle of violence and deterring the ambitions of ISIS. Time will tell.

    1. Mikey7a September 13, 2014

      After 9/11/2001, we all felt a need for swift, and mind bending retribution. This is how Bush and Cheney, tricked us into being all in for invading Iraq. We now know that removing Saddam Hussein from the region, was a terrible mistake. That said, I do not see President Obama having ANY hidden agenda over there. He is doing what a great U.S. President does. He is telling pure evil, that it will not stand, it will not prevail, and it will be crushed into oblivion. ALL without putting Troops on the ground. I honestly feel Ms. Tucker totally missed the mark on this article. In a perfect world, no one hates anyone, and we all learn to live, and let live. ISIS, Putin, and their ilk, show us that we are not even close.

      1. Dominick Vila September 13, 2014

        While it is true that most of us supported retribution after 9/11, the worst part of Bush’s strategy is that instead of going after the homeland of OBL, the Al Qaeda financiers, and 15 of the 18 terrorists that carried out the 9/11 attacks, he granted Saudi Arabia “Most Favored Nation Status” and went after Reagan’s old favorite thug for political and economic reasons.

        1. charleo1 September 13, 2014

          A very important point to make. As we undertake to degrade, and eventually destroy ISSL. There is a reason that 15 of the 18 hijackers on 9/11 hailed from Saudi Arabia. Home to Mecca, the birthplace of Osama Bin Laden, and populated by a lot of very wealthy adherents to a very hard core brand of Fundamental Islam. Who continue to underwrite extremist groups, and facilitate terrorist acts on an international scale. Uneasy rests the head that wears the Crown, have never been truer words, than for the ruling Fahd Dynasty. As plots to overthrow the family abound, for what is seen as their cooperation with the Western Infidels. Allowing Infidels on Saudi soil, was the blasphemy that reportedly set Bin Laden off on his religiously based, bloodletting. And exactly what the Saudis have offered to do, yet again, as their part of the coalition to confront ISSL. To allow the training of Syrian Rebels, by the U.S. in their Country. Which should give us Americans, a glimpse of the Herculean task confronting President Obama in getting these various Arab States to buy in. And, I also think we should remember, this is a task, We, The American People, by large majorities, ask this President to do. And in my opinion, he deserves our support in this matter. And if one’s support cannot be made available. A modicum of respect is in order. For if we can’t bring ourselves to present a united front, how can we possibly expect President Obama to create one abroad?

        2. sigrid28 September 14, 2014

          I watched “Zero xxxx Thirty” last night on cable. It was a bracing reminder of the sacrifices and heroism that were entailed in bringing him to justice. The film also creates the horrible image of what justice means in the context of retribution for Osama bin Laden’s crimes against humanity. On 9/ll I watched the broadcast of the events live. I was again surprised to hear the name of Osama bin Laden mentioned by news commentators often even on the day of the tragedy. How right you are about the wrong-headed directions our nation was taken in by the Bush administration.

  2. charleo1 September 13, 2014

    As Ms. Tucker’s opinion piece demonstrates, deadlines are sometimes hard to meet. But when they produce columns this shallow, on what is a hellishly complex situation. When they mostly just re-report what has been reported, some of it, weeks ago. When, as is this case here. The reader is no more informed after reading the article, than before. So, perhaps missed deadlines are preferable, than to waste everyone’s time. After all, so many fine opinion pieces, so little time. Then just to keep it edgy, she announces it’s unlikely Obama will go down as the President that ended two wars. Then, characterizes his obliging the will of the American people, by responding to a bloodthirsty terrorist organization, that threatens the entire region, “A stain on his, [Obama[ legacy, and, “A genuine failure of leadership.” The end. Well, that was enlightening. A vacuous, and gratuitous slap, without a hint of what she thinks would have been, “leadership.” How a, “genuine leader,” in her opinion, would have responded to save George Bush’s catastrophe in the Mid-East? First of all, by Ms.Tucker’s own evaluation, President Obama could have kept his legacy free of a horrible ugly stain, by doing nothing at all. As the specter of two fine young Americans being senselessly slaughtered, glared across our television screens. and the public rightly called for retribution. As this band of animals raced across Iraq, killing innocents, and capturing assets, that would finance their evil jihad for decades. He might have informed the public that he would take no action, as this might sully, “my legacy.” Plus, some might see any action I take as an admission of, “genuine leadership failings.” Yes, petty politics. If not now, when, Ms. Tucker? As the President attempts to gather a coalition of partners to confront this existential threat to our own security and that of our allies. Secretary of State Kerry is met with a consensus of opinion, that you broke it, and now, you fix it. As many of us warned, they remind him, warned, and yes, begged your President Bush to not undertake military action in Iraq. Now you want how many of my brave solders on the ground, they ask? What about that Iraqi Army, you trained, and equipped? The politics in Bagdad is our problem how? “A failure of Barack Obama’s leadership, Ms. Tucker? Shame on you, for you are a writer, a teller of truths, the bearer of journalistic responsibility. And you should really know better.

    1. Mikey7a September 13, 2014

      Thank you Charleo1. You have put my thoughts to paper, in a coherent, and heart felt fashion. Hell no, we Americans do not want to get into another ground war in The Middle East. We will always have a responsibility to fight against evil in the world! President Obama has been put in yet another untenable situation, and I for one, support his plan 100%.

      1. bckrd1 September 13, 2014

        as do I

    2. highpckts September 13, 2014

      Well said! It is a very complex situation! These armchair politicians have NOTHING to lose when they scream for more war!! Obama is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t!

      1. charleo1 September 13, 2014

        Damned if he does, and in this case, I think, double damned if he doesn’t. Cynthia Tucker was correct in pointing out ISSL is
        very good at using the media to illicit a response from us. And
        there is an upside for ISSL. Engaging the, “Great Satan,” will
        raise their profile, and improve recruitment. But as Bin Laden,
        and a too numerous to count, second in command, have
        learned the hard way, the downside of picking a fight with the
        American public, can completely spoil one’s day. Not to mention an Islamic Caliphate stretching across the Mid East. Now a lot remains to be seen. But, Obama is not exactly proposing a Normandy invasion here. A lot of unwanted attention from the U.S. Navy, Predator Drones, and Special Forces, as ISSL attempts to move around the treeless, flat as a pancake terrain? Wouldn’t be surprised. Also, logistical, and intel help to assist the Iraqi, and Kurdish Armies. Similar to the assists previously provided, to great success, in and around Mosel. Syria is much tougher. Much more complicated. Who are these moderate rebels? What does moderate mean in Syrian? Do we know? If not, who can we trust to tell us, that does know? Then, there is the regime the rebels are hoping to remove. And the man, Assad, of which our official policy calls for him to step down. He also has an air force, and a fairly sophisticated, missile defense system. Assad says he don’t mind if we bomb ISSL in his Country. But what happens to the moderate rebels we’re thinking of arming, when they use them to attack Assad’s forces? Very complicated stuff.

    3. FT66 September 13, 2014

      Are you wondering lack of knowledge of Ms. Tucker on this issue? Since when you have read any of her articles and say YES, this makes sense? The woman always cruises her way to call it a day.

    4. Dominick Vila September 14, 2014

      Unfortunately, instead of analyzing situations and trying to determine the root causes for the sectarian violence that has intensified in parts of the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, there are many who call for a sequel of the conditions that exacerbated the situation in the first place.
      The first thing we must do to minimize the probability of the barbaric beheading of Westerners is to evacuate all civilians, and perhaps our diplomats, from Iraq, Syria, Kuwait, and Lebanon.
      As dangerous as Al Qaeda is, ISIL may be even more so. Instead of focusing on terrorist acts, ISIL (or ISIS) has a well planned strategy focused on the establishment of a Caliphate that, as the last letter in the acronym indicates, is supposed to go a far as the Levant (what we know now as Lebanon and parts of Jordan). They already control a large territory in Iraq about the size of Belgium, including lots of oil fields and refineries that provide the with the financial supports they need to buy weapons in the black market and help with recruitment. Not that they need much to achieve the latter. One of the most disturbing revelations is the fact that thousands of people from countries such as the UK, France, Belgium, and even the USA are joining the Jihadists, and an unprecedented number of people are becoming Muslims. The fact that the beheading of innocent people serve as a tool to encourage so many to join that movement should tell us something about the radicalism, brutality, and the dangers we are facing.
      Providing more training to Shias who already got a decade worth of training is not going to do the trick. The problem with them is that their heart is not in the fight, and that the moment shots are heard they lay down their weapons and run. The opposite is true for ISIL, whose Sunni fighters include Saddam Hussein’s upper military echelon, and who have a bone to pick for what happened after the fall of Saddam, when they were removed from power and had to leave their country to survive. They are back, and they are determine to stay and expand their territory following the same medieval model and tactics their ancestors have used for centuries.
      Reliance on the new government of Iraq, and the anticipated inclusion of Sunnis and Kurds in government positions, is too little too late. ISIL is now determined to decide what kind of government is going to rule their Caliphate, and I would not be surprised if the Iraqi and Iranian Shias are not going to be a part of it. The justification given by the executioner before beheading the British peace corps volunteer, which blamed David Cameron for arming and training the Peshmerga (Kurdish armed forces) and the orange color outfits they make the victims wear before the beheading (which are reminiscent of the outfits worn by Gitmo prisoners), leave no doubt that an important element for their brutality is revenge.
      A new crusade will be a sequel to the first. Westerners are not going to gain the support of the indigenous population by invading their homeland and making socio-political changes that produce horrible consequences such as the ones we are currently seeing.
      Bombing ISIL targets, such as command and control, storage facilities, communication, and large concentrations of fighters would weaken the organization, but will not be enough to end a movement driven by intense hatred, a determination to preserve their ancient values and traditions, and the establishment of a medieval Caliphate. At best, it may allow the Kurds and Shias to regroup and strengthen their positions. At worst, if the bombing includes heavy bombing of ISIL positions in Syria, it will help strengthen the al-Assad regime, and will give breathing room to Al Qaeda backed groups in Syria.
      Regional consensus is critical, but it is unlikely to produce measurable results in terms of military effectiveness. Arab countries are terrified by the emergence of ISIL, its successes, and the scope of their territorial ambitions, but they don’t seem to be inclined to engage them on the battleground.
      The key is to address the grievances that resulted in the emergence of this terrorist organization. Unfortunately, we are too impatient to pursue such an approach, which only leaves one option: military “solutions”…with predictable results.

      1. charleo1 September 14, 2014

        Okay, now I’m really depressed. Because, as I read your comment, I kept hoping there was going to be a glimmer of sunshine in there somewhere. And also because, it seems certain, one way or another, we are going to be back in this mess up to our necks by the end of the month, if not sooner. As the politics and public opinion, are driving the decisions of Obama, and both Parties in Congress. It’s the beheadings. Last month ISIS, had taken over large swaths of the mostly Sunni populated areas. The Iraqi Army had fled the battlefield, leaving ISIS in control of several oil facilities, had beaten back the Kurds, captured the Mosul dam, and seemed to be getting ready to lay siege to Bagdad. And polls showed the American public could not have cared less. Polls were running 70 to 30, to stay out of it. Today, more than 30% are in favor of sending in the troops. And just wait until a jet goes down, and they capture the pilot, and behead him on U-Tube. That number favoring ground troops will probably double. And everything you said, sounds to me to be about right. Although I do have some hope, in some instances. As you pointed out, this ISSL incursion, and their success, or failure is mostly all about the Sunnis. As they demonstrated earlier, many of those tribal leaders in the Anbar region, had turned out the insurgent Al Qaeda fighters, because they didn’t agree with their brand of radical Islam. And this ISSL group is even more extreme. And if, and this is a big if, the new government in Bagdad can create a broader, more inclusive sharing of power. Then, they’ve got a real decision to make. Do we let these guys rule us, in a way we don’t particularly agree with? Or, has the central government managed to cut a deal we can buy into? Can they give the Kurds autonomy, which they have certainly earned. And, can they then become allies, and therefore present a more united Iraq, to deal with ISSL? Because it solves so many of our problems, on the ground in Iraq, as well as Syria, if the Iraqi Army, secures their own Country. In fact, I believe that is the only long term solution. And, our air campaign would have served it’s purpose of giving the Iraqis the breathing room to reach some kind of consensus.

        1. Dominick Vila September 14, 2014

          I don’t trust the polls any more than most. People often react to the news of the day, and after they have time to reflect on what happened, and become more familiar with the circumstances, they often opt for peaceful diplomatic solutions than invasions that, we know, only exacerbate the problems we are facing.
          I am willing to bet that DoD, CIA, NSA, and FBI officials are currently discussing the best course of action. Targets are being identified, problem areas are being identified, and the consequences of our actions are being determined. I expect surgical strikes similar to what we saw in Yemen and Somalia, but more intense and more frequent as a result of dealing with an enemy that holds territory the size of Belgium, and that has proven to have extensive military skills, state of the art weapons, discipline, and a level of brutality that makes organizations like Hezbollah look benign.
          I hope we don’t repeat the same mistake we made over a decade ago. The truth is that people in Muslim countries do not welcome our presence, our values, and despise our interests. The only thing our presence in countries like Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan does is serve as a recruiting tool for the terrorist groups we are fighting, who can gain popular support by reminding people that foreigners have violated their sovereignty, are interfering in their internal affairs, and are determined to deny them the values and traditions they wish to preserve.
          I don’t have any confidence in the new government of Iraq. They may reserve a few posts for token Kurds and Sunnis, but it will remain a Shia dominated government, sympathetic to Iran and determined to subjugate and terrorize the Sunni population, the same way Saddam and his Baathist party did to them. Their motto is a tooth for a tooth.
          I also believe that trying to reason with people that behead innocent civilians is futile. Monsters like those are unlikely to listen and negotiate with us or anyone else. I suspect that President Obama is well aware of that fact, which is why he is pursuing the only option left, besides an all out war.

          1. Independent1 September 14, 2014

            The only poll I put some modicum of faith in is the Rasmussen presidential poll. And so far this week, Obama’s favorable jobs rating has gone from 45% on Monday to 49% today. I’m not sure what other polls are claiming to show.

          2. Dominick Vila September 14, 2014

            Honestly, I don’t rely much on what the pollsters tell us, if nothing else because the methods used by some of them are flawed, and in part because the people polled tend to react to the latest news or circumstances. I am not surprised President Obama’s favorable record is going up. If the Gipper and W had done half of what he has accomplished their approval records would have been in the stratosphere.

          3. Independent1 September 14, 2014

            Thanks for your insights. I’m certainly not dismissing them. My main concern is whether or not the nations in the Syria/Iraq region that are part of the coalition that Obama has put together can field a “real army” that can give ISIL a real fight. My sense is if they’re confronted by a real army that many members of ISIL may rethink their determination to really fight. I’m guessing that many of the thugs in ISIL are like the Iraqi army and if they come up with some stiff resistance that they won’t abandon the fight just like the Iraqi soldiers did. It could be they’re getting a lot of recruits because they’ve made their take takeovers look so easy.

          4. Dominick Vila September 15, 2014

            I’ll be surprised if the Arab countries that comprise the “coalition” against ISIL will actually join the fight and send troops to defeat the terrorists. I would not be surprised if their collaboration is limited to promises of support and financial aid. In fact, most European countries feel the same way. The remember what happened in Iraq a decade ago, and they don’t want to be part of what, in their opinion, may be a sequel to that travesty.

          5. sigrid28 September 15, 2014

            Remember the sobriquet “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” referring to our would-be French allies? After living in France for five years and England for one, I don’t think their war-wary, war-weary, war-hardened general populations will tolerate for long a string of beheadings. There is already the precedent of European cooperation NATO. One NATO member, Turkey is, however, in an awful situation, with forty diplomats held hostage. I’m afraid that we have in this and our other Middle East allies a number of reluctant combatants. Perhaps they know, with thousands of years of experience in the region, how futile any military action is. There’s a happy thought. The governments of these countries are all run by the miniscule numbers of haves busy holding down the have-nots. Thinking if that, I, too, think all westerns might be well advised to leave the region altogether and force the haves to defend their turf, militarily and by uplifting the populations they have abandoned these many years. That might be fine, except for our friend Israel and our false-friend Pakistan, both of which have nuclear weapons, the use of which would make beheadings look quaint indeed. You list above quite eloquently the American, British, and Israeli intelligence forces on which our leaders THIS TIME will depend. We must all look to them for a way out of this that does not blow up in our faces.

          6. Dominick Vila September 15, 2014

            Yes, public opinion – and their willingness to support us – may change as the beheading of civilians continue, and that is precisely what the ISIS leaderships wants and needs to expand and succeed. I would not be surprised if the ISIL leadership is comprised of former Saddam Hussein generals, members of his top echelon, and officers with military experience gained during the Iran-Iraq war. It probably also include intelligence officers with the skills necessary to devise strategy and recruit volunteers. Their ability to acquire so much territory in Iraq, their ability to control oil fields and refineries, and their ability to convince so many people, including Westerners, to join their cause, suggest that we are dealing with highly skilled and experienced individuals who know what they want and who are convinced they can achieve their goals. It is up to us to put an end to their geo-political, economic, and religious goals, and we have the tools to get it done. So does Israel, by the way, who will not remain indifferent if ISIS “Levantin” aspirations are successful.

          7. sigrid28 September 15, 2014

            I have to correct myself–the Google News headline is that France is flying over ISIS already as part of the joint mission. I’ve never been so relieved to be wrong. Viva la France!

          8. Dominick Vila September 15, 2014

            The stood by our side in Libya, and they are doing it again. Do you remember all the derogatory comments made by the Bush administration when France was reluctant to be drain in into the Iraqi quagmire? The fact that politicianss

            in other countries are some times more pragmatic and objective than some of ours was not a consideration when the goal was to turn W into a war hero, and benefit financially from the mess we created in that country. The fact that the changes we made in Iraq removed the only obstacle to Iranian expansionism and that our actions destabilized the entire Persian Gulf region never bothered those who react to the latest news and those whose agenda does not include long term consequences.

          9. Independent1 September 14, 2014

            Admittedly, I have seen very little actual information on the successes of ISIL as I don’t have a TV and for the most part don’t watch many videos run by online news outlets. But it’s my sense that ISIL has been successful in capturing wide swaths of Syria and Iraq because they have virtually had little or no resistance to this point.

            In Syria, the rebels there were mainly focusing on fighting agains Assad’s regime, so I think many rebels there were taken by surprise when another faction presented itself, such that they too provided little resistance to ISIL’s advances. And in Iraq, what I have read gives me the impression that ISIL faced nothing more than rag-tag Iraqi soldiers who simply fled at ISIL’s attacks rather than standing up and fighting.

            So from my perspective ISIL is little more than a large group of thugs who for the most part run around in pickup trucks. If that’s the case, what’s really your sense on how well this group of thugs can really put up much of fight if the have to engage an actual army that is trained with the correct fighting equipment and motivation to defeat them? Assuming of course countries in the Syrian/Iraq region can in fact field such an army.

            Is my perspective on ISIL way off base?

          10. Dominick Vila September 14, 2014

            You are correct in pointing out that ISIL (or ISIS) is no match to a real military force, with an air force, NAVY, Marines and ARMY soldiers, but it is dangerous to dismiss their capabilities, ignore their objectives, and take them for granted. Time will tell whether or not USAF bombings and missiles do the job. I think we have to find out who their leaders are and go after them, if we want to succeed. I would not b surprised if the CIA, the Mossad, and other intelligence agencies are busy trying to infiltrate ISIL to figure out the most effective way to put them out of business.
            The most troubling part for me is the number of Westerners, including Americans, that are joining ISIL, and the fact that the beheading of unarmed civilians is an effective recruitment tool. What kind of people are impressed by atrocities like the ones we have seen in recent days?

          11. Independent1 September 15, 2014

            Dominick, take a run through of this communication from the White House and let me know what you think about maybe a better way to get the message out.


          12. Dominick Vila September 16, 2014

            Outstanding work! I loved the inter mixing of text and graphics, the easy to understand THEN and NOW approach, and the history lesson, based on factual information, that is easy to understand and an outstanding reminder of what we went through and where we are today. Hopefully the folks that put this together will continue to build on it and highlight issues such as the benefits of the ACA, the fight for equality, the benefits derived from investment in infrastructure, what we could have done at home with the money we wasted in Iraq, etc.
            Whomever did this work deserves kudos, not only from Democrats, but from all the Americans who have been subjected to a barrage of highly effective disinformation campaign during the last 5 years.

          13. Independent1 September 16, 2014

            I thought the information was presented very well too. It’s unfortunate that there isn’t a better way to get the info there out to more Americans. I’m going to see if I can get the website address out to more of my friends and family.

          14. Independent1 September 16, 2014

            Dominick, am I wrong or have you pointed out on a few occasions how Bush gave the Saudi’s favored nation status even though the majority of 9/11 terrorists came from there? If so, you may enjoy taking a look at this article from the Daily Kos:

            Saudis Lobbied John McCain & Lindsey Graham to sell War.

            An excerpt:

            At the Munich Security Conference in February 2014 Senator John McCain praised Prince Bandar again,

            JOHN McCAIN: “Thank God for the Saudis and Prince Bandar, and for our Qatari friends,”

            So, Saudi Arabia’s Prince Bandar enlisted Senator John McCain, Senator Lindsey Graham, and probably a host of other Senators, to goad America back into a middle east war so that Saudi Arabia can use the U.S. Military in securing Saudi Arabia’s ultimate goal, control of Damascus, Syria.


          15. Dominick Vila September 16, 2014

            I remember reading articles about the Saudi monarchy being alarmed with Saddam’s military advances in Kuwait and towards the Saudi border, and I remember them asking the U.S. to intervene. If the decision to intervene in Iraq was driven by Saudi demands, that makes our presence in that country nothing short of mercenary.

          16. charleo1 September 14, 2014

            You ask Dominick, But your perception sounds about right to me. The latest estimate of their numbers was said to be 20,000 to 30,000. And you’re right, I do not think they’ve encountered all that much resistance. After the Iraqi Army folded, it seems the Obama Administration was hoping the Kurdish forces in Northern Iraq could stop their advance. Then they also got routed, and it looked as if these barbarians were going to overrun the entire region. So I think it was at this point, the military brass informed President Obama that it was imperative we take action against ISSL, to protect our own, and our allies’ interests in the region. So you have no T.V.? No wonder you post such intelligent comments! T.V. will flat rot your brain.
            I should know, as it’s been rotting mine for years. But I’m pretty much addicted at this late date. And worse, there doesn’t seem to be a single rehab clinic anywhere to check into!

          17. Independent1 September 14, 2014

            Charle, thanks for your insights. I’m hoping that if the coalition nations that Obama has put together can field a ‘real army’ that will give the ISIL thugs a real battle, instead of caving like the Iraqi soldiers have done, that many of the thugs may be like the Iraqi soldiers and give up the fight. I’m guessing that a lot of thugs have joined ISIL because they’ve made taking over large swaths of Syria and Iraq look so easy.

          18. Independent1 September 15, 2014

            Charle, take a run through of this communication from the White House and let me know what you think about maybe a better way to get the message out.


          19. dpaano October 21, 2014

            I hate to say “I told you so,” but when Bush/Cheney decided to go into Iraq, I told everyone I knew that this was a BAD idea. You CANNOT expect countries who have been under caliphs, etc. to suddenly accept democracy….they don’t even know the meaning of the word! But, no one listened, so now we’re in a never-ending battle that will never lead to democracy in the Middle East!

          20. Dominick Vila October 21, 2014

            You are preaching to a choir. Most posters in the National Memo, including me, are well aware of the deceit used to invade Iraq, and the short and long term consequences of that decision.

          21. dpaano October 21, 2014

            Unfortunately, the Republicans don’t see it that way, and if you try to push this on their demigod, Bush, they blame the Democrats because so many voted for the war (because they were lied to)! Pretty sad state of affairs in my book! They don’t seem to see where they screwed up!

        2. dpaano October 21, 2014

          One thing we CAN do is have the media STOP showing these beheadings to everyone. If ISIS doesn’t get the publicity they want from their infidelities, they will perhaps stop. The ONLY reason they are televising the beheadings is to make the American people mad enough to come after them. This is what they actually want. I say that we cut this information from being shown on YouTube and other websites. With no publicity….they have nothing to further their program.

          1. charleo1 October 21, 2014

            While I totally appreciate your point, and the motivation of posting these atrocities is clear. There
            is the importance of a free press, and we simply could not impose the kind of web restrictions that would be necessary to block the videos existence from foreign sources, even if we were to decide such a course was proper. The argument would be made, and rightly so,
            I think, of the public’s Right to know. And press’ obligation to inform. As people who live in an open society, in a democracy, it is then our obligation to consider how we react to this barbarism.

      2. 1standlastword October 1, 2014

        When IS gets to the boarder of Israel the coalition will fall apart as I predict Arabs conjoined with Jews fighting against Arabs is a virtual impossibility.

        Israel will have to fight for Israel at some point, likely sooner than later.

        I predict that when this happens we will be all in with our boots on the ground.

        This is the New World Order in the making and its not an accident!

  3. charles king September 13, 2014

    Critical Thinking is needed in these times of un-rest in the Middle-East. I think the President Obama and his Admin. will find the necessary questions and answers to put things in order. The GOP will stop at nothing to keep some high-lights on the leadership of President Obama. The GOP, coming from the Plutocracy mentality has privatize our arm forces and now want to show the world how strong we are. The President Obama is trying to keep America Out of another war, Thank You Mr. President Obama for keeping America Democracy Alive! and Times heal all wounds. Thank You are the magic words in my book. I Love Ya All. Mr. C. E. KING

  4. Buford2k11 September 13, 2014

    Umm…Ms. Tucker…the “failure” of leadership happened before PBO…Was ya sleepin’?…Now, send me a check for helping your article…

    1. Independent1 September 14, 2014

      Is that why the Rasmussen presidential polls this week has his favorable jobs rating going from 45% on Monday to 49% today; because most Americans disagree with his recent actions on ISIL??? Sounds kine of funny to me!!!!!

      1. dpaano October 21, 2014

        You just can’t change stupid!!

  5. angelsinca September 13, 2014

    An Obama-critical article on the Memo? May as well pull the pin and count to 3.

  6. roberto September 13, 2014

    this is just exactly as the the old adage says ” this is the same old dog that we created and trained for the long last ten years, which now it has came back to haunt us again or bite us right on our own behind” Reality, there is not plausible solution to this situation, whichever solution we may anticipate or any action, we may take to try to resolve it, it will not make happy to the Obama’s administration political enemies and naysayers, nor will automatically destroy the ISIS threat. A coalition that include the Arabs Countries? A very difficult and delicate task, because we all know who are the ones providing monetary support to ISIS or at least we have an idea which Arab Nations are inclined to do so. But despite of all these pro and against this solution, I do not believe we have right a t this moment any other choice of having to go back to Irak, and put a front to Isis to sopt it and eventually reduce its threat, because if we are thinking in annihilating them, then we are posed to walk the wrong path, and we have not learned our lesson ot these past ten years

  7. sigrid28 September 13, 2014

    Making hard decisions IS leadership, I would remind Cynthia Tucker and former Governor Haley Barbour, who repeated over and over on the Bill Maher program last night the Republican mantra that the problem with President Obama is “the failure to lead.” I’m kind of sure Ms.Tucker does not mean exactly what he does when she accuses President Obama of “a genuine failure of leadership” at the end of her article. Yet she, too, looks at a fifteen minute speech for the explanation to an “operation” that is meant to end in the ultimate defeat of ISIS, brought about by forces from both sides of Islam, Shia and Sunni. In leading this “operation,” the Obama administration has to deal with the awful optics of “war” and doing the militaristic things necessary to bring together a coalition capable of doing better than we have been able to do over the last decade. But the limited involvement the president actually proposed in his address is just what is being done already, with carefully defined criteria for success, in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya and wherever else our sworn enemies have chosen to lay their heads. Finally, there is no hope of success in this or any other “operation” by whatever name it occurs if the president has to explain in detail every action we are about to take, in order for the media to hash it over before he acts. Secrecy is necessary to conquer any enemy.

    1. dpaano October 21, 2014

      In my opinion, the media is the WORSE teller of secrets than any traitor ever! There are things that we do NOT need to know about because if it’s in the paper, the enemy reads it.

      1. Independent1 October 21, 2014

        Absolutely!! And the sad part is that it’s not just the media; even some nitwit Legislators are guilty of wanting to give far too much information to the enemy.

        During his idiot witch hunt on the Benghazi attack, Issa kept demanding the White House release information to his witch hunt committee, which was a public affair, information that was classified secret. And there are many other examples of legislators, especially Republicans, who on CSpan or in televised interviews, reveal far too much of what America is doing, or should be doing; which gives terrorists and other countries not overly friendly to us, far too much information.

        The CIA has already noticed that terrorists are using much different communications protocols today than they were before the traitor Snowden revealed far too much to terrorists and other countries about how America gathered information on them and other people committing nefarious acts.

        1. dpaano October 21, 2014

          I’m all for transparency, but there are just SOME things that the public doesn’t need to know!! This is why Snowden really pissed me off….I think he should be jailed as a traitor! It amazes me that so many think he did a good thing…..apparently, they don’t think of the consequences of his actions on the world and the terrorists!

          1. Independent1 October 21, 2014

            I agree completely. He went far beyond what was needed to simply make our country realize that the NSA was keeping metadata; he had no business sitting in Russia releasing thousands of pieces of stolen data which did nothing but embarrass our country and make terrorists and our countries enemies even more aware of the extent to which we were maintaining that metadata. Snowden not only has some innate desire for notoriety, he did all this for some unknown nefarious reason which someone needs to figure out. As you say, his actions were far more damaging to America than those of Benedict Arnold ever were – and Snowden needs to at a minimum serve years in jail for his traitorous actions.

  8. howa4x September 13, 2014

    Let’s get real for once and admit this is all about who controls Iraq’s vast oil reserves and not about he brutality of ISISL. Saudi Arabia beheads people and treats women like they live in a mid evil land, where they are not even allowed to drive a car. They fund ISIS make no mistake about it but do it through ultra rich sheiks. The Wahabbists, the religious order that rules the kingdom beats people who don’t go to prayers and they fund radical madrassa in Pakistan, that turn out future Taliban fighters. What separates them from ISIS is that they are part of OPEC and the upstart radical groups is not. We are in Iraq to protect the investment of our oil companies that came there after the fall of Saddam. It is always about oil and now that ISIS has it’s hands on oil wells it has to be chased out of there. The bad news for ISIS is that we can inflict more damage on them with drones than they ever had happen prior.
    We will do just enough to makes the oil companies happy and get the locals to form a government and defend themselves, then we will find the head of the snake and kill him and leave.

    1. JPHALL September 14, 2014

      Let us hope that’s the plan. It would be real easy to fall back into the Bush / Cheney mentality that we can do “nation building” in the Middle East.

    2. dpaano October 21, 2014

      And the Saudi’s were the ones who caused 9/11, but no one seems to understand that because the Bush/Cheney administration blamed the wrong individual!

      1. howa4x October 21, 2014

        So true 1 hijackers /11 were Saudi’s

        1. dpaano October 21, 2014

          Yet, after the bombing, we saw our wonderful president holding hands with a Saudi bigwig on his ranch and flying them home in private planes…..makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

  9. Whatmeworry September 13, 2014

    No question we have the right man in the WH. As a recognized military strategist he has over ruled 2 DOD/CIA efforts to minimize ISIS and has developed his own plan for the troops.
    No question our troops causalities will be 5 times higher but mooooslim lives will be saved

  10. bckrd1 September 13, 2014

    Well the difference this time is that the Arab neighbors will now be expected to do their part whereas before, the Republicans allowed them to do nothing but sit back and let our blood get spilled and our treasure spent protecting them from their own frankenstein.

  11. Jane nelson September 13, 2014

    First it was the communists, we should all be afraid. Then Saddam Huissain, he has weapons of mass destruction, be very afraid, then Al Queda and now Isis. The American people are being fed a steady stream of fear and they are responding by screaming for war, bombs, get them before they get us! Thank goodness we have a president who keeps his cool and makes decisions on facts and does not just react with a six-gun.

    1. dpaano October 21, 2014

      I just finished a book by John Dean “Conservatives without Conscience.” In his book, he tells about how Conservatives use fear and scare tactics to get the American public on their side. This is just another scare tactic they are using to disenfranchise our president and what he is trying to do. Do you really think most Americans want to send our young men and women back into a war that shouldn’t have been started to begin with? I sincerely doubt they would if they stopped listening to the conservatives and started looking at facts!

  12. Elliot J. Stamler September 13, 2014

    Typical quasi-liberal leftish baloney. As usual the neo-pacifists like Ms. Tucker tell us nothing about what we should do because they want us to do nothing. Cynthia Tucker—this years winner of the Neville Chamberlain Prize of Foreign and Security Policy.

  13. Stuart September 14, 2014

    My goodness, Cynthia, this is all just election theater. Brave noises must be made. Real policy won’t happen until after the election. I thought you were more knowledgeable than that.

    So, let me rewrite the 6th graph, with my words in caps: “Yes, yes, the jihadists of the Islamic State are dangerous. AND ALL THIS MAY BE JUST ELECTION THEATER, SO THAT OBAMA DOESN’T SEEM TO BE SOFT ON TERRORISM.”

  14. Firey Hooks September 15, 2014

    The decision to invade Iraq? The worst in US history.

  15. Grover Syck September 27, 2014

    That we ever went into Iraq was a TOTAL failure of leadership on the part of Baby Bush and Dirty Dick Cheney. They lied and cooked the evidence. By going into Iraq, they created the power vacuum that made the likes of ISAL possible.

    So put the blame where it belongs; squarely on the shoulders of George and Dick.

  16. 1standlastword September 30, 2014

    Oh welcome to the making of The New World Order.

    This is precisely what the Neocons and the Conservative Israeli Jews want.

    The only way to go now is “all in” (yes I hate it but who the “F” cares what peace loving Americans think when there is money to be exchanged and that is the only purpose of globalism as I see it…to enrich the rich)

    Bush and Cheney rang the bell and the Jihadists are answering it.

    The hens have finally come home to roust. Nobody want to loose and we can’t loose because we are “exceptional”

    1. dpaano October 21, 2014

      By the way, it’s not “loose,” it’s “lose.” Just saying….look up the difference in your local dictionary!

      1. 1standlastword October 21, 2014

        Oh cripes…is that the best you can do?!!!

        1. dpaano October 21, 2014

          No, I can do more….it just gets obnoxious when you see so-called “intelligent” people make comments but they can’t spell or tell the difference between some words. Sorry, I’m anal about spelling! Deal with it!

          1. 1standlastword October 21, 2014

            Ok professor. I’m going to hold you honest to that self characterization…[doing that fingers to eyes thing….I’m watching you!] LOL!!!

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