Notes on the President’s Address from 9/10 on Operations in Syria/Iraq against ISIS/ISIL

DIALOGUE DURING THE SPEECH I THINK IS IMPORTANT

Operations in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq
Combat mission will end later this year in Afghanistan, because America is safer
Evil exists, and groups have the capacity to do harm, before and after 9/11.
Radical groups in Africa/Middle East are threats.
Yemen operations have gone poorly, We didn’t do many operations in Iraq until recently, Afghanistan is turning south on us, and Somalia was just a pirate expedition and a propping up of one Warlord as “President of Somalia.”

ISIL/ISIS is NOT Islamic. It has been targeting Muslims.
ISIL/ISIS is NOT a State. It is a former terrorist government.
It isn’t recognized by other states or by its own citizens.
Merciless killers and executors of children. Slavers and Rapers of Women.
Commit Genocide on populations and executed two American journalists.
Obama is stating that ISIS/ISIL is an illegitimate government, a terror to everyone, as instability in the Middle East will affect Europe, Africa, and Asia. This will in turn affect Economic, Financial, Corporate, and American interests abroad, but also at home.

Threat to all Middle East; can grow to greater threat internationally. (Actual intention of ISIS/ISIL)
Thousands of foreigners and Americans have joined ISIS/ISIL. They could return home to do harm domestically. Many Americans are considered by them.
What are we going to do about these citizens who will do harm to us, Mr. President? No mention of action against them…also, there is a horrifying map on the Internet of ISIS/ISIL desired Caliphate. Ten Regions under it, from Morocco to India, from Ethiopia all the way to Crimea, and also containing possibly Indonesia and Southeast Asia.

Promises to meet these with strength.
Air Strikes have been done as the only military operation to this point. Have saved lives, seems to be the predominant reason to use air strikes.
Cannot use our own military force, because the President doesn’t want to use Hard Military Power. Claiming to meet with Congress and Allies. Wants to use Arab allies to fight. “Broad Coalition”
No mention of coalition partners or allied states with us. Iran isn’t Arab, its Persian, completely different ethnic groups. Air Strikes without combined arms of infantry or cavalry isn’t strength, it’s a stall tactic. Its true however, that stalling ISIS/ISIL advances will save lives, and allow for greater amounts of refugees to live, but also creates larger costs on Iraqi population because ISIS/ISIL will harm someone while being stalled in expansion.

Systematic Campaign of Air Strikes with Cooperation with Iraqi Government.
Hunt down any and all terrorists, meaning operations in Syria and Iraq. “No Safe Haven”
Increase support for allied combating forces. 200 + 475, so 675 military advisors to Iraqis and Kurds.
Deliberate difference between Kurdish and Iraqi forces. Emphasis on helping Sunni Populations.
I point out the difference between Kurd and Iraqi, because a two-state solution seems to be in the President’s sights. So apparently this is where the red line is, when Americans get executed. Good to know, for future terrorists during the remainder of the Obama administration. Still coming off as a diplomatic recovery from the last blundering on Syria. Aren’t all or most of the good guy Syrians dead in Aleppo, cause you know, they were bombed into high-heaven by the Syrian Air Force? Also, where will the military forces come from, if not from America? If we are truly focused on rescuing Sunni Muslims, we wouldn’t be using Iran, would we?

Calls on Congress to give permission to aid forces. Will not use Assad, because he has lost his legitimacy/credibility in his state and the region.
Continue to use counter-terrorism to prevent ISIL/ISIS attacks. Cut funding, fight the ideology, and curb the rise of foreigner fighters in the region.
Humanitarian assistance for refugees and displaced populations. For Sunnis, Shias, and Christians.
“Joined by a broad coalition of partners”
“Sharing intelligence and billions of dollars in humanitarian aid”
“Helping Syrian rebels and the Iraqi government”
“American leadership: We stand for those who fight for their own freedom by rousing for a common humanity and common cause.”
“Strongest as a nation when Congress and President work together.” This means he is invoking the War Powers Act as a possible dodge.
Every President until Obama called the War Powers Act (enacted after Vietnam) unconstitutional. This is a first step as it is a willful dereliction of responsibility in terms of the military by the Commander-in-Chief. Its one thing to stipulate you need Congress’ approval for war, but for even the 90 day sanctioned missions? Seems more like hesitancy to actually operate rather than a “FIRM COMMITMENT.” Also, who is this coalition, I mean Bush ruined the surprise for us back in dealing with Iraq, but the suspense is killing me. Also American Leadership is no longer Alexander the Great/Caesar style where we ride with our soldiers and allies, but is now the German General Staff version, where we sit in musty rooms and plot strategy, without regard to the brutality of the front. (That was a terrible jab) I guess I always liked my military commanders being brazen and not fearing the enemy.

How it will be different from Gulf War II: No American troops; use air power to eliminate ISIL/ISIS and support coalition forces (like in Yemen, Libya, and Somalia).
So we recognize that OCCUPATION isn’t a choice; but we aren’t sure as to what we want yet, so will just bomb everything…in a place where everything is getting bombed. Seems like a reliable strategy.

“Time of Great Change; 13 years since 9/11; 6 years since Great Recession; America is better positioned to seize the future. (Claims of Academic Excellence, Business Growth, and Strong Capitalism)
“Broad American leadership is the one constant in a chaotic world. Mobilize the will against terrorism, against Russian aggression, and for Ukrainian self-determination. Can use our know-how to fight Ebola; our knowledge to eliminate the Syrian chemical weapon supply; fighting for opportunity, tolerance, and hope.”
“Welcome responsibility to lead. We stand for freedom, dignity, and justice. Guiding values since founding.” (Commander-in-Chief evocation, despite insisting on Congressional action to operate this mission.)
“Our Security is dependent on doing what it takes to protect the nation, and standing for our values, and opposing those who foment hate.”
Trying to use the Nationalist urge of 9/11 and the Great Recession. However, seems hilarious coming from a very non-Nationalist President. Once again, broad leadership from behind the frontlines will carry the day. Especially against Russia in Ukraine (WHAT?), against Ebola (WHAT?), against Syria and its Chemical Weapons (WHAT?). I say what, because Stone Cold Steve Austin would do it when he smelled a BS-line from another wrestler. Yes it’s a mocking of the President, but he hasn’t operated in much in Ukraine or Syria, and Ebola has been being mostly fought by doctors, not necessarily the American government. Also, those dirty Russians proposed the chemical weapons deal in Syria, and the ceasefire in Ukraine, meaning Obama didn’t seize the initiative on them. The Founder’s Line is true, we have those as national values, but also when taking the responsibility to lead, we plan strategies, develop tactics on the battlefield, and also fight the wars. Otherwise, it looks conceited of us to simply claim the ability and position to ONLY plan strategy and not have to contribute to the war or battlefield tactics. The last line about Security is interesting, because it seems more like a domestic jab than an international one. Maybe intentional.

OVERALL APPRAISAL/CRITIQUE OF SPEECH

Overall, he seemed energetic in this speech, or at least interested in the dilemma. It’s a nice counter to the man who didn’t want to interrupt his game of golf. However, I think two things could have sold the speech better. Giving the Speech from Baghdad, or in Cairo; second, using the phrase “Radical Islam” not just Radicals. Because the ISIS/ISIL are not subscribing to Hadiths like many others are, it puts them more in the camp of “Quran centered theology.” The use of Jizya, which was an accepted practice in the Golden Horde (Tatar Russia), Cordoba (Moorish Spain), and the Abbasid Caliphate (Middle East minus Turkey and Iran), allowed for a taxation on all non-Muslims for their continuous to be heathens, heretics, or infidels. Executions for converting or spreading those faiths were also practiced in all these former historically MUSLIM/ISLAMIC states.

My father speculated that an Iran option could be in the works, which would be equivalent in the American spectrum to a Ribbentrop-Molotov Agreement. While it could be a possibility, the lack of mention for the struggle of the Shia Majority in Iraq was interesting. Also, some mention of religious Minorities, a talking point to reference the Yazidi. I am really piqued by the delineation between Kurds and Iraqis. If all else fails, I guess he or the administration broadly could propose a two-state or three-state solution. The problem is, in any situation, will an independent Kurdistan (Kurdish secular state) be tolerated by its neighbors, or it will be the Armenia/Israel of the Muslim World. The last 1000 years haven’t been particularly great for Kurds under Turkish, Persian, or Arabic rule. Not much happened during the European rule by Brits in the 1900s either. Will the Kurds continue to get beat around?

Zero mention of Israel, which is a positive thing. Zero mention of Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, or Iran; meaning the Coalition with Arab “allies” isn’t concrete. That’ll slow down any operation at this point. Also, do any of these countries immediately benefit from fighting for America in the Iraq problem? And who will help the dwindling and outnumbered Syrian opposition forces?

For an interesting contrast, here is the Speech for the War on Terror, on 9/20/2001. I am not saying that Obama should sound like Bush; but I think Bush’s more critical refutation of Al-Qaeda could have been dropped on ISIS/ISIL, since that group was once associated with Al-Qaeda, but got too radical for Al-Qaeda.

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The Syrian Solution: Where Was the West 3 Years Ago

The Syrian Solution: Where Was the West 3 Years Ago

Syria: Why a Crackdown Must be Fierce for a Dictatorship to Survive

So protests have been occurring in Syria since 2011. It all began with the waves of peaceful protests induced by the “Jade Spring” or the “Arab Spring”. These wave of pro-political freedoms protests began in Hama in May 2011, and the initial reaction by Bashar al-Assad was to send in the military and crackdown slightly on the protesters. In that same time period, protests occurred in the cities of Homs and Baniyas. HOWEVER, violence had already begun in the battleground of the city of Deraa. In the period of the Siege of Deraa, at least 120 people were initially killed in the first days of battle and by the end of the battle, 4th Armored Corps of the Syrian Army had taken the city.

So what has happened since the beginning? On July 29, 2011, officers of the Syrian Army defected, forming the Free Syrian Army and began defending and taking grounds in the names of the protesters after weeks of participating in violent killings of the protesters in various cities. By October of 2012, the violence had finally reached Damascus and Aleppo, both significant cities of historical and governmental importance to the Syrian state. By April of 2013, rebels were bombarding Damascus, and due to the military leadership of the Free Syrian Army had seized several military bases, commandeering tanks, heavy weapons, and large supplies of munitions.

At the point when the rebels looked strongest, Islamist forces, Hezbollah, began offensives into Syria from the Lebanon border to aid the Syrian government. Through the training by Iranian military advisors and terrorist Hezbollah camps, the Syrian army started forming pro-government militias as they took towns back from the rebels. These militias would commit most of the human rights violations, as they would use knives to commit a massacre in the rebel-controlled town of Bayda, and leaving at least 100 dead.

Wikipedia has a live and updating map with the progress by government, Hezbollah and rebel forces here.

What should the United States do, if anything in Syria?

Opinion of Michael Tagan & Michael McKinney: Back in 2011, the first thing I thought we should do during the Arab Spring was advocate in each of these protests was 1 year, $5 billion deal for each state that would allow foreign observers and limiting voter intimidation in parliamentary elections. Many of the states had dictatorships or dynastic powers, but the establishment of some Upper and Lower House of legislative power would have been enough of a reform for most. Instead, Tunis is the only surviving democracy of the spring states. Algeria is murky, as it always has been; Libya is another quagmire; Egypt is better off with a military controlled interim government for enacting reforms to rebuild itself; Bahrain cracked down on its protests and kept power; Iranians did similar things; finally Assad also tried to crackdown. The problem was Bashar al-Assad is slightly incompetent on handling domestic issues.
Thus Assad was weak and exposed to a successful revolution, rather than the minor democratic reform I would typically offer. Protests formed, and violence began, but the minute those military officials switched sides, my America would have stepped in. We would have sent through the CIA heavy weapons and munitions for the Syrians to fight against the Assad tyranny. We would have been sending through the military into Turkey, Israel, and Jordan supplies to build adequate refugee camps and providing resources and aid to those states in order to keep order in those camps. We would have urged the United Nations to establish a peace-keeping zone in Damascus, where neutral location talks could occur between Free Syrian Army Forces and Assad supporting forces. And the minute that Hezbollah intervened, a terrorist group, I would have given carte blanche to Israel to strike out on an assault on Hezbollah along the Lebanon-Israeli border. That would have kept the extremist taint out of the conflict longer. And the minute Al-Qaeda showed up on the insurgency side, I would have established that military aid would end for the protesters if they didn’t purge the extremism as well.
But hey, I’m your American Imperialist, and I see that the stability of the Middle East hangs on Syria, as all of its neighbors but Israel are in poor positions themselves. I don’t want the dominos to fall the wrong way, and Syria and its neighbors to being back to proxies of Iran. I don’t personally care if the future governments distance themselves from America afterwards, I might even encourage it.
However, at this stage…there’s no possible American solution that can effectively seize the momentum back. It would be more like trying to fight the Korean War at this point. The best anyone could hope for is a permanent truce, much like the unofficial one between Syria and Israel. And after some time, perhaps party talks could be done to implement minor reforms to reintegrate Syria with its other half.
But what do we do at this point, Michael? We wait, that’s what we’ve done for 3 years and that’s all we can do. We as Americans and humans failed to act in good conscious when an evil man began to commit human rights violations upon his citizens. We failed in good conscious to ensure religious freedom in the region, when the protestors began to kill Christians and Jews located in the region. But if we admit these failures, there is something we can do. Start over, and establish a UN neutral zone where Opposition and Government forces can have peace talks. Establish a cease-fire, and in that time profile the opposition. To the forces that are still moderate, and secular in seeking democracy for Syria, we arm in that time and grant food, building materials, and munitions. And should the Russians do the same with the Syrians, as they are already doing, then the moderate forces will have a chance to fight back effectively in the region.

Results of the Polling: The Discussions to fall

Since we have a 5 way tie for topics, it’ll be left to me, your gracious writer on Civility to determine the order of topics.

So we’ll be going in this order.

Blog #1: Diplomacy of the Ukrainian Sanctions, what the EU, USA, and Canada might do now that the truce has been broken.

Blog #2: International Violence: What’s happening in Venezuela and Syria that you may or may not know.

Blog #3: Illinois Politics: What’s The Democrat Party Doing this week? (This may become a weekly mini blogging, noting that my home state is in fact a Democrat stronghold, though its policy-making is quite erratic these days.)

Blog #4: US Politics: So those no longer gonna be FCC monitoring, can they come back legally? Also Jimmy Fallon’s declaration of no politics on late night and what it means for late night comedy.

Blog #5: Economy: Why Girl Scout cookie sales and Tax revenues can sell marijuana in some states and not others, or why is “Illegal-Legalization Doing so Well.”