Beyond Bombing Iraq: Obama Needs an ISIS Strategy

pix3_081114

Obama’s willingness to reengage in Iraq is admirable, but until he crafts a coherent strategy, he will be doing little more than using American pilots to kick the can down the road.

By Michael Rubin:

During his weekly radio address on August 9, President Barack Obama explained his decision to launch airstrikes on Iraq. First, he said, American airpower was necessary to keep the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) from sweeping into Erbil, where many American diplomats, officials and businessmen reside, and second, he declared force necessary to provide humanitarian relief for displaced Yezidi stranded and besieged on a mountaintop. Obama, however, cautioned that military power could not alone resolve the situation. “There’s no American military solution to the larger crisis there,” he said, urging “Iraqi communities to reconcile, come together and fight back against these terrorists.” Fine words, but they reveal more confusion than clarity in the White House about Iraq, ISIS and the nature of terrorism.

In 2005, Robert Pape published a seminal book, Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism, which argued against the backdrop of 9/11’s aftermath that it was grievance—specifically, occupation and the quartering of troops among resentful populations—and not religion that primarily motivated terrorism. Subsequent studies found Pape’s statistics massaged and questioned his conclusions, but Pape’s thesis remains popular among both diplomats and academics. After all, it is comforting to see terrorism as rooted in grievance because that means that diplomacy, incentive or compromise can resolve such conflicts. Unfortunately, however, ideology remains the key motivator for Islamist terrorism. Forget poverty or lack of education: most suicide bombers are educated and middle class. Nor can forcing concessions or seeking compromise work when uncompromising Islamist ideology is the problem: In an ideal world, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki might have been more magnanimous toward Sunni tribal leaders, but no matter how many concessions he might have given, it would not have changed the murderous ideology and outlook of ISIS.

It is an irony of Washington that those who consider themselves most sensitive to multiculturalism and diversity ignore the fact that different peoples think in different ways. Reconciliation may be a worthy goal, but it is important to recognize that many in the Middle East do not interpret reconciliation in the same manner as do Americans. While South Africa’s “Truth and Reconciliation” Commission is a model American diplomats may recommend, many in the Middle East associate reconciliation with Manichean notions of justice: Instead of “truth and reconciliation,” think “truth and execution.”

While Obama’s reengagement in Iraq is a welcome acknowledgement that the price of Iraq’s failure would undercut American security interests, cognitive dissonance also infuses Obama’s recent remarks. U.S. administrations often compartmentalize problems. They develop one Iran policy, another Iraq policy and a separate Syria policy, each independent of the other. There is no grand strategy. But when Al Qaeda and offshoots like ISIS operate in countries, they conduct not traditional insurrections, but rather transnational insurgencies. American strategy, however, remains constrained by borders. If the United States is to be effective, Obama should explain why he is taking action in Iraq, but not in Syria. After all, ISIS conducts the same atrocities in both countries. Nor is it clear why Obama would act to protect the Iraqi Kurdish capital of Erbil, but not Baghdad. Maliki and Iraqi Kurdish president Massoud Barzani are mirror images of each other: Both countenance corruption and seek to rule beyond their mandate. With tanks and pro-Maliki security forces taking up positions across Baghdad yesterday, diplomats may fret at Maliki’s decision to seek a third term, but they forget that Barzani addressed a constitutional two-term limit simply by extending his second term beyond its legal limit.

Read more at The National Interest

Michael Rubin (@mrubin1971) is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

Also see:

BREITBART EXCLUSIVE: EXPERT INTERVIEW: ‘WE CAN FORGET ABOUT IRAQ, BUT IRAQ ISN’T GOING TO FORGET ABOUT US”

 

Anthony Furey – Israel battles Hamas

Published on Jul 9, 2014 by AlohaSnackbar01

Anthony Furey and guest Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute discuss the Islamofascist attacks on Israel and the Left’s support for the former.

Dancing with the Devil

dancby :

Many books have been written about the cost of war. Far fewer have been written about the cost of diplomacy.

Diplomacy, diplomats assume, is always a good thing. There can be no harm in talking to an enemy. Talking, talking and then talking some more. It’s the myth that Obama has built his entire foreign policy around, broadcasting his eagerness for unconditional dialogue with totalitarian states, and it is a myth that Michael Rubin challenges with a combination of hard facts, historical accounts and bigger ideas in Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes.

Despite the presence of “Rogue Regimes” in the title, a favorite buzzword of the post-Cold War diplomatic establishment, Rubin analyzes and challenges the term “rogue” and many of the other comforting clichés of modern diplomacy whose real goal is to avoid coming to terms with reality.

The biggest of these clichés is that talking is a sign of progress. As Rubin demonstrates, enemy states use diplomacy to buy time or intimidate an opponent as summed up in the famous aphorism about diplomacy being the art of saying nice doggie while picking up a rock. Except we’re the doggie and the rock is radioactive.

In Dancing with the Devil, Rubin shows how totalitarian states like North Korea, Iraq and Iran used negotiations as levers for achieving their own goals without giving up anything in return. Totalitarian states have learned that a combination of diplomacy with aggressive threats leads to a rewards cycle as Western diplomats struggle to sustain diplomacy with more generous concessions of appeasement.

For Western diplomats, success means bringing an enemy to the negotiating table and keeping him there, but as Rubin’s book quotes Kissinger as saying in regard to negotiations with the USSR, “When talks become their own objective, they are at the mercy of the party most prepared to break them off.”

That is the phenomenon that we are seeing in the latest round of negotiations between Israel and PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas who has to be bribed with an escalating series of freebies just to stay at the negotiating table to negotiate the pre-negotiating process.

It was also the response of Obama to any talk of sanctions on Iran as the negotiations process became something that Iran offered as a reward to America in exchange for ‘good’ behavior… instead of the other way around.

Diplomats take the grievances of totalitarian states seriously and seek to appease them which only encourages them to cultivate further grievances. Rather than stabilizing the conflict, appeasement further escalates it as totalitarian states find more things to be angry about and more grievances to threaten war over.

Western diplomats, Rubin writes, are content to negotiate endlessly and to treat these serial negotiations as signs of success. Enemy diplomats however want instant benefits for their regime while offering worthless long term promises that they intend to break at the first opportunity having learned that this will only lead to more negotiations. They can’t lose and we can’t win.

Rogues continue to “go rogue” while negotiating with multilateralists. The multilateral diplomacy fetish perversely punishes fellow mulilateralists while rewarding rogues thereby incentivizing rogue behavior and disincentivizing membership in the multilateral club.

Western governments that commit to the diplomatic route become practiced at ignoring threats and aggressive activities as mere “provocations” so that Obama’s interlocutors dismiss Iran’s threats of war as a negotiating strategy rather than statements of intent.

Rubin documents how Russian espionage under Obama in 2010 was quickly resolved by releasing the spies to avoid disrupting the ephemeral “reset”. Bill Clinton ordered a cover up of the Khobar Towers bombing to avoid ruining diplomatic outreach to Iran. Arafat’s links to terrorism were likewise covered up to avoid the end of foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority and the end of the peace process.

By positioning war and diplomacy as opposites on a spectrum representing a range from hostility to peace, the false perception was maintained that any move toward negotiations was also a move away from war. Negotiations however are not the opposite of conflict. Sometimes they are an extension of it.

As Chinese Communist leader Zhou Enlai said, “All diplomacy is a continuation of war by other means.”

*****

The final cost of diplomacy may be military, but the first cost of diplomacy is moral as Western countries look the other way at the abuses and atrocities of the tyrannies they are engaging diplomatically.

Rubin points out that Iran actually began executing more people during Clinton and Obama’s bouts of outreach to the Islamist theocracy in its so-called moderate phases. Bill Clinton ignored Assad’s bloody track record in the hopes of getting him into a peace process with Israel.

Negotiations with totalitarian states don’t save lives. They cost lives. They cost honor. And they take away the peace that might have been possible and substitute for it a state of endless negotiated war.

Obama’s foreign policy has demonstrated once again the timeless truth that appeasement does not secure peace.

Read more at Front Page

Terror Tweets

Omar-Hammami-YouTube

Omar-Hammami-YouTube

BY:

Twitter and YouTube accounts claiming to be operated by a suspected al Qaeda terrorist who is listed on the FBI’s most wanted list have been disseminating jihadi propaganda, according to terrorism experts.

A user claiming to be Omar Hammami, an American citizen who joined forces with the al Qaeda-aligned al-Shabaab terror group in 2006, has been tweeting about “martyrdom” and U.S.-led operations against terror cells in Africa via his Twitter account, “abu m.”

The 102 users who follow the virtual Hammami, who is also known as Abu Mansoor al-Amriki, have access to an ongoing stream of unfiltered radical thoughts and possible tips about clandestine U.S. operations taking place in Somalia, where al-Shabaab is based.

Users are also directed to view a YouTube page, which features videos about jihad starring Hammami sitting before al-Shabaab’s black war flag and an automatic weapon.

Hammami’s purported social media presence has raised red flags among terrorism experts who cite both YouTube and Twitter for promoting such radical figures.

“It’s pretty outrageous that someone on the FBI’s most wanted list can communicate on a Twitter page and a YouTube account and no one has removed it,” said Steven Salinsky, executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

Twitter spokesman Jim Prosser told the Washington Free Beacon that the organization does not “comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons.”

He also cautioned “against reporting an account’s ownership with such certainty unless you’ve independently verified it with the supposed owner themselves or they have a Verified account,” meaning that Twitter has confirmed the user’s identity.

Critics of the social media sites said that even if the account in not operated by Hammami, the sites should proactively take steps to remove users who post terror-related material.

“If you look at the words, it’s singular voice of ‘I’ when referring to questions and he has a long history of being on these jihadi forums,” Salinsky said. “He definitely communicates and even if it’s not him, it’s pretending to be a terrorist. So are they afraid to remove the page of someone who says they’re a terrorist, who a few months ago was put on the FBI most wanted list?

“It says a lot about a company when they will close a user account for violating some vague notion of political correctness or criticizing the excesses of militant Islamism, but will open their floodgates to calls for genocide and incitement to mass murder,” said Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser who has written extensively on terrorists.

The Twitter user claiming to be Hammami routinely engages with a wide variety of Twitter users who reach out to him for insights or advice about al-Shabaab and its terrorist activities. He was placed on the FBI’s most wanted list in mid-November.

Al-Shabaab also has an official and highly active Twitter account.

As of Friday afternoon Hammami’s supposed account was still active, with his last tweet being sent out on Monday.

MEMRI has reported extensively on Hammami’s sophisticated social media use.

Twitter has long treaded a fine line between free speech and the promotion of terror-related activities.

Read more at Free Beacon