Andrew Bacevich, a graduate of West Point and a Vietnam Veteran who later earned a Ph.D. in history at Princeton and taught at Boston University, has already written two critiques of American defense policy and strategy that have made the New York Times best seller list. This book seems likely to become a third. Its thesis is simple: the disparate theaters of American military engagement in the Greater Middle East, extending as far as Pakistan and Afghanistan in the East and toward Libya and beyond in the West, reveal a consistent pattern of strategic incoherence on the part of the…
(Self-appointed) Caliph: I have called you, the members of the IS National Security Council, together today in my bunker to discuss future strategy in light of the Orlando shooting in the US, the growth of right wing nationalist movements in Europe and the US, and our current situation on the ground in Iraq and Syria. Remember, our objectives are first to retain our state and second to expand it. Let’s start with the views of our military chief of staff. How are we doing?
Historians estimate that 1.5 million Armenian Christians, as well as hundreds of thousands of Syriac and Greek Christians, died in a genocide that the Ottoman Empire embarked on exactly a century ago. As we look back on the history of the Armenian Genocide—and, in particular, its religious roots—we see lessons for today.
Kayla Mueller's family has released the following letter that Kayla wrote to them while she was imprisoned by Islamic State terrorists: Everyone, If you are receiving this letter it means I am still detained but my cell mates (starting from 11/2/2014) have been released. I have asked them to contact you + send you this letter. It's hard to know what to say. Please know that I am in a safe location, completely unharmed + healthy (put on weight in fact); I have been treated w/ the utmost respect + kindness. I wanted to write you all a well thought out letter (but…
The last page of this brief but powerful book displays a portrait of its author, Patrick Cockburn. His world-weary demeanor speaks volumes about the gravity of the subject—the unexpectedly sudden, meteoric rise in Syria and Iraq of sundry Islamist terror groups, of which the most brutal went until recently by the acronym of ISIS. The so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria even more recently contracted its name to Islamic State so as to indicate that it has now become a global caliphate to which all Muslims should give their fealty. Cockburn, the Baghdad-based Middle East correspondent of the British newspaper…
Acting in the manner of sorcerers’ apprentices over several decades, the makers of U.S. foreign policy have contributed to turning many of the tensions among the world’s peoples into disasters. These American-caused disasters diminish the respect for America upon which our own peace depends. The trouble comes not from any errors of detail, but rather from disregarding the fundamentals of statecraft. The remedy lies in paying attention to them. Herewith, a glance at the U.S. government’s responsibility for the disasters now unfolding along the Islamic State’s bloody edges.
With the Islamic State’s invitation to sympathizers everywhere to join in murdering Americans, U.S. public opinion favors destroying this nefarious force. Accordingly, politicians of both parties—especially those up for election—are competing to see who can issue the most bellicose statements.
But popular sentiment notwithstanding, there is no reason to believe that our ruling class has learned anything new, that it is shedding the ways that have opened hunting season on Americans, or that it is setting about destroying America’s enemies.
Ruling class pundits make much of the fact that Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the Emirates, Bahrain, and Jordan have joined the Obama administration’s campaign of bombing the Islamic State. Also noted by the same talking heads is that some 5,000 so-called moderate Syrians are being trained to fight against Islamic State next year. Most admit the obvious: no one can imagine how these air strikes—few, against structures, mostly when these are unoccupied—can inconvenience the Islamic State seriously, never mind destroy. Yes, Sunni Arab counties have decided to take military action against the Sunni Arab Islamic State. But what is consequential about actions that have illusory consequences? What explains our government’s pretense that an alliance to accomplish un-consequential things is itself consequential?
President Obama told the nation that he, on his own presidential authority, has committed the American people to actions in the Middle East that common sense calls war. But he did not call it war. He directed those actions against persons who call themselves Islamic but who he said were not Islamic, who rule a state with the (often enthusiastic) consent of its people but who Obama said were not a state. He said that allies largely would carry this campaign’s weight. But the countries he mentioned have made clear that they will do no such thing. This makes no sense, and augurs further disasters abroad.