Tag Archive for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria

Obama’s Much-Conflicted Syrian Policy

President Barack Obama in his weekly address on Sept. 13, 2014, vowing to degrade and ultimately defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. (White House Photo)

President Obama’s policy toward Syria is getting pulled in so many directions that it lacks any coherence, especially since the U.S.-backed Syrian “moderate” rebels are in a tacit alliance with al-Qaeda’s offshoots that are the target of the U.S. airstrikes, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar describes.

Forgetting Lessons of Terrorism

President George W. Bush announcing the start of his invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003.

Terror tactics have always been partly theater designed to elicit public reaction, whether to draw attention to a grievance or to draw the U.S. military into a conflict. Yet, American pols and pundits seem to have forgotten this reality and thus continue to get manipulated, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

Rushing to War in the Wrong Places

President Barack Obama meets with his National Security Staff to discuss the situation in Syria, in the Situation Room of the White House, Aug. 30, 2013. From left at the table: National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice; Attorney General Eric Holder; Secretary of State John Kerry; and Vice President Joe Biden. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Official Washington’s “group think” is that President Obama is “weak” because he doesn’t rush into wars with the abandon that talk-show favorite John McCain would like. But Obama may actually be “weak” because he gets pushed into conflicts that ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar says only make matters worse.

Eyes Finally Open to Syrian Realities

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

Exclusive: For the past three years, Official Washington has viewed the Syrian civil war as “white-hatted” rebels against “black-hatted” President Assad, but finally some of the “gray-hatted” reality is breaking through, though perhaps too late, Robert Parry reports.

Who’s to Blame for ISIS ‘Surprise’?

CIA seal in lobby of the spy agency's headquarters. (U.S. government photo)

For several years, Official Washington blinded itself to the growing radicalism of the Syrian opposition, all the better to portray the Assad regime as the “bad guys” and the rebels as the “good guys.” Now, everyone is pointing fingers about the ISIS “surprise,” as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.

Obama Does ‘Stupid Stuff’ in ISIS War

President Barack Obama meets with his national security advisors in the Situation Room of the White House, Aug. 7, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama famously counseled his foreign policy team “don’t do stupid stuff,” but he is now violating his own principle by plunging into an incoherent war policy in Iraq and Syria rather than challenging the stupid “group think” of Official Washington, as Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett explain.

Official Washington’s Syrian ‘Fantasy’

Washington Post columnist David Ignatius. (Photo credit: Aude)

Exclusive: It is perhaps not news that the U.S. government bases wars on illusions, such as the nonexistent WMD in Iraq, but it is rare when there is a broad consensus before the conflict begins that a war’s success rests on a “fantasy” like the chimera of “moderate” Syrian rebels, reports Robert Parry.

Ellsberg Sees Vietnam-Like Risks in ISIS War

Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.

Daniel Ellsberg, the former Defense Department official who leaked the Pentagon Papers exposing the Vietnam War lies, is alarmed at the many parallels between Vietnam and President Obama’s new military campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, as Barbara Koeppel reports.

Beheadings v. Drone Assassinations

A Predator drone firing a missile.

As gruesome as the Islamic Front’s videotaped beheadings are, there is ambiguity over whether the U.S. government’s death-by-drone is any less horrific, with some victims crawling about with severed limbs and others just collateral damage, a moral dilemma addressed by ex-FBI official Coleen Rowley.

Neocons’ Noses Into the Syrian Tent

Jackson Diehl, deputy editorial page editor of the Washington Post.

Exclusive: The neocons say the next step in President Obama’s bombing raids inside Syria must be to move from attacking the terrorist Islamic State to destroying Syria’s air force and air defenses, all the better to achieve the neocons’ long-sought “regime change,” reports Robert Parry.