The problem at its core is not just a matter of security, but politics. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and its allies would not have had the opportunity to seize ground in the Sunni Arab-dominated provinces of Salaheddin, Nineveh and Anbar if there had been more inclusive and sincere political outreach to the mainstream Sunni Arab community.CATO fellow Benjamin H. Friedman:
In the end, the solution to the ISIS threat is a fundamental change in Iraq's political discourse, which has become dominated by one sect and one man, and the inclusion of mainstream Sunni Arabs and Kurds as full partners in the state.
If al-Maliki truly wishes to restore government control to the Sunni provinces, he must reach out to Sunni and Kurdish leaders and ask for their help, and he must re-enlist former Sons of Iraq leaders, purged military commanders and Kurdish Peshmerga to help regain the territory they once helped the Iraqi government defend.
But these are steps a-Maliki has shown himself unwilling and unlikely to take. At this point, al-Maliki does not have what it takes to address Iraq's problem -- because he is the problem.
The major reason using force to defend Iraq’s government is a bad idea is that it always was. Advocates of going into Iraq, like advocates of staying in Iraq in past years, tend to employ sunk costs logic, where the pursuit of a good idea before somehow makes it sensible now. Invocations of dead and wounded Americans’ sacrifice give such thinking added resonance but do not make it sensible.Left and right agree, sometimes.
Huffington Post on a well-known victim of past wars:
Actor George Takei begins his TEDx talk in Kyoto with a slight smile, introducing himself as a veteran and former helmsman of the starship Enterprise. "I soared through the galaxy, driving a huge starship with a crew made up of people from all over this world... all working together."
That '60s-envisioned version of a tolerant distant future would have sounded completely alien to Takei just a decade or so earlier. As a child, Takei was taken from his home by armed men and relocated to a barbed wire prison camp. All because he, as a five-year-old, "looked like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor."
His tone describing the Japanese American experience during those war years could almost be mistaken for one of resignation, but what it sounds most like is a quiet defiance.
Dexter Filkins with a long form Iraq explainer:
But Maliki had never known any Americans. His time in Iran and the Middle East set him apart from other exiles—people like Ahmed Chalabi and Ayad Allawi, members of the Iraqi aristocracy who fled to London or New York or Chicago, where they became fluent in English and conversant in Western culture. Some of those exiles, still vying with Maliki for power, refer to him disparagingly as a ma’adan: a kind of Iraqi redneck. “Saddam was a Sunni ma’adan—low class,” the associate told me. “Maliki is the ma’adan of the Shiites.” Maliki, who has a master’s degree in Arab literature from Baghdad University, is acutely sensitive to the slights, his friends say. “He has a big chip on his shoulder,” a senior Iraqi lawmaker told me.Robert Schlesinger:
And there’s a larger question which makes measuring the success of the tea party insurgency harder: Do actual wins and losses matter? I posed this question last month to Barney Keller, the Club for Growth’s spokesman, and his reply was instructive: “We’ve won races before and we’ve lost races before so this isn’t a new thing for us. We try to win every race but at the end of the day … our goal is to affect the behavior of members of Congress.” I should be clear that Club for Growth is not, strictly speaking, a tea party group – it long predates the movement and often has common cause with it, but stands on its own. But given the congruity of interests and tactics – specifically using primary challenges as a tool for moving the party ideologically – the quote is a great summation.Robert Costa:
And as I noted after McDaniel’s win over Cochran, even the so-called establishment candidates have a set of beliefs that wander far afield from the mainstream of American political thought. One way political parties maintain their duopoly on American political thought is by co-opting reform movements. If the tea party movement loses steam because it’s no longer angry at the GOP establishment – because the national party has co-opted it – that’s a win of a sort. So is the tea party dead? Is it alive? Has it won or lost?
Longtime conservative activist L. Brent Bozell called several reporters late Tuesday to boast about the tea party’s stunning upset of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia’s Republican primary. When asked what he would do next, Bozell laughed and said he was going to have some more lasagna with the conservative operatives who happened to be dining at his house.So this political ad for Providence, RI mayor is, well, a little different:
Across the Potomac River in his first-floor suite at the Capitol, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy started making calls, too — but not to the press. McCarthy (Calif.) instead began dialing fellow House Republicans, reassuring them that in spite of the shocking news, their caucus was not imploding. If they were worried about what happens next, he was happy to help.
Those precious first few hours of celebration — in Northern Virginia, on Fox News and across Capitol Hill — would come to haunt conservatives over the next two days, when their political machinery proved woefully unable to match their excitement. The only conservative who jumped into the race for majority leader is Rep. Raúl R. Labrador (Idaho), a long-shot candidate who waited until Friday afternoon to announce a bid.
Following [US District Judge Barbara] Crabb's ruling last week, county clerks began giving out marriage licenses to same-sex couples. During the Associated Press's latest count, 63 of 72 Wisconsin counties were giving out same-sex marriage licenses.Kelley Beaucar Vlahos writing in The American Conservative:
Crabb, however, later said she never intended her ruling to immediately allow same-sex marriages. Crabb instead hoped to give both sides of the case a couple weeks to argue whether the decision should be put on hold as it works through the appeals process, and only after she made that follow-up decision would it be clear whether same-sex marriages can begin.
But Crabb did not explicitly state in her ruling that same-sex marriages should not immediately start. Some county clerks saw the absence of clarity as an opening to immediately allow same-sex marriages.
The clerks' interpretation led Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, who's fighting to uphold the state's same-sex marriage ban in court, to condemn county officials. He told the Journal-Sentinel that district attorneys could prosecute county clerks for their actions following the ruling.
"That's going to be up to district attorneys, not me," Van Hollen said. "There are penalties within our marriage code, within our statutes, and hopefully they're acting with full awareness of what's contained therein."
It's unclear what, exactly, will happen with the same-sex couples in Wisconsin who got married between the initial ruling and the stay. Under similar circumstances in Utah, the state government is refusing to recognize same-sex marriages even as the federal government recognizes them.
Chuck Hagel, meanwhile, spent five hours Wednesday in hearings on Capitol Hill, largely defending the exchange. But toward the end, he admitted that “we didn’t handle some of this right,” including keeping Congress in the loop.
But as Fidell noted, this is “a battle for the narrative.” And the Republicans, by making Bergdahl a symbol of betrayal, and Obama a symbol of imperial power, so far seem to be winning—if the polls can be trusted. Veterans appear firmly on the side of letting Bergdahl hang out to dry, and the whole of America remains divided on the issue. Not surprisingly, only 39 percent said Obama should have traded the five Taliban, or “the worst of the worst,” for Bergdahl. In another poll, 56 percent of Americans (65 percent of vets) say Washington paid “too high a price” for Bergdahl.
Not surprisingly, that is, after seven straight days of political skullduggery and emotional button-pushing. “The politics of this entire episode are rather disheartening,” noted Stephen Vladeck, law professor at American University and writer at Lawfare.com. “I suspect we would have heard similarly excessive language from congressional Republicans if President Obama had not made this deal,” Vladeck shared with TAC in an email, “and had allowed an American POW to continue to languish, and potentially die, in enemy custody.”
Fortunately for Bowe Bergdahl’s sake, we’ll never know.