Tag: Iraq

Fake News

 

Remarkable, isn’t it, that Donald Trump has made decrying “fake news” his calling card? Is the press hostile to him? Sure. Do they lie about him? For the most part, no. Then again, the truth is not everyone’s friend. As William Randolph Hearst once quipped: “If Mr. Hughes will stop telling lies about me, I’ll stop telling the truth about him.” Or, even better, William F. Buckley said of Gore Vidal: “Anyone who lies about him is doing him a favor.”

On his visit to Iraq, the president lied to the troops. How can you claim to honor people you are lying to? Lying signals contempt. “We are always going to protect you. And you just saw that, ’cause you just got one of the biggest pay raises you’ve ever received. … You haven’t gotten one in more than 10 years. More than 10 years. And we got you a big one. I got you a big one.”

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I invested nearly two decades of experience in the region into this show and we look at what forces are there, how we got involved, regional context, possible paths, consequences, ISIS, Congress and POTUS rolls, and much more. Curious on your takes? Please take the time to really listen to this episode, the media coverage […]

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Former CIA Operative Unloads on Brennan and Politicized IC

 

For this week’s Big Ideas with Ben Weingarten podcast, I had former CIA operative and leader of CIA’s Counter Terrorism Center’s WMD unit, author of the must-read and highly relevant 2009 book Beyond Repair: The Decline and Fall of the CIA and outspoken critic of the politicized leadership in America’s intelligence and national security apparatus, Charles Sam Faddis on to discuss among other things:

  • Why Faddis supports revoking John Brennan’s security clearance — and the bureaucratization and politicization of the leadership of the intelligence community versus the rank-and-file analysts and operatives in the field
  • Whether politics dominates over merit in the ranks of intelligence and the national security apparatus more broadly
  • What members of the national security establishment really mean when they talk about “protecting the institutions
  • Why President Trump has been deemed a threat to the power of the political leaders within the national security establishment in a qualitatively different way than any of his predecessors — and that’s a positive thing
  • What Faddis would do to reform intelligence
  • The poor state of America’s counterintelligence capabilities
  • The lessons of Iraq regarding U.S. intervention and the national interest
  • Whether America has the capability to use intelligence to engage in ideological warfare and bring down Iran’s Khomeinist regime
  • How China’s liquidation of our spy network reflects the problems plaguing America’s intelligence apparatus
  • The long-term dire ramifications of China’s OPM hack
  • The implications of China’s attempt to infiltrate Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office
  • The threat to the U.S. homeland of a collapsing Venezuela and Mexico, combined with drug cartels, organized crime groups and Hezbollah in our hemisphere
  • Faddis’ optimistic assessment of the Trump administration’s North Korea policy
  • Why China poses the greatest long-term threat to America of all, and our willful blindness towards it

You can find the episode on iTunes, everywhere else podcasts are found, and download the episode directly here.

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In light of the latest bout of protests in Iran, perhaps it is worth looking back at the “Arab Spring” generally. How does the Middle East look these days? What is the Arab Spring’s greatest success story? What is its worst failure?  More

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Can the Saudis Lead the Middle East into the Future?

 

Slowly but surely, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is trying to bring the Saudis into the 21st century. It is happening in fits and starts, and there are still many signs that the country has a long way to go, but I am cautiously optimistic.

Just last Tuesday, the Crown Prince talked about moderating Saudi Arabia’s practice of radical Sunni Islam at an economic forum in Riyadh:

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This week on Banter, Michael Rubin joined the show to discuss the recent Kurdish referendum on independence from Iraq, the Kirkuk crisis, and the implications of an independent Kurdistan for the Middle East as well as the US. Rubin is an AEI Resident Scholar and former Pentagon official whose research focuses on the Middle East, […]

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Raqqa Falls, ISIS Reels

 

Osama bin Laden famously said, “When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, they will naturally want to side with the strong horse.” These days, ISIS is looking more like a dead horse.

US-led forces have liberated Raqqa, the so-called capital of the terror group. Mop-up operations continue, but the city is swarmed with coalition fighters.

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America react to Bowe Bergdahl pleading guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, glad that justice is being done and not being swept under the rug in the case of the soldier who left his unit in Afghanistan and was returned by the Obama […]

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Fear and Loathing in Kirkuk

 

There’s trouble in the works in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk. However, before we can explain what happened there over the weekend, we need to provide some background.

Kirkuk is roughly a four-hour drive north of Baghdad, and closer than that to the Iranian border. It is a complex mix of ethnic groups, with the largest being Kurds, Turkmen, and Arabs. Plus Assyrians, Armenians, and a smattering of Jews.

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America celebrate the liberation of Mosul from ISIS control and the tightening of the noose around ISIS in Syria as well. They also discuss reports that former FBI Director James Comey’s memos on conversations with President Trump contain classified information. And they lightheartedly critique Donald Trump Jr.’s […]

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Member Post

 

Next on Thinking It Through with Jerome Danner:  I invited a writer and thinker who is influencing me more and more after I heard him on the Eric Metaxas Show. Dr. John Zmirak is a writer for The Stream and he was a great guest to talk to about President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office. https://jeromedanner.net/2017/04/15/episode-32-jzmirak-of-streamdotorg-on-trumps-first-100-days-john-zmirak-of-the-stream/ More

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Member Post

 

It is common in my conversations with fellow Millienials to see sneer quotes applied whenever the term “American Dream” is brought up. Far from being limited to those on the Left, I have noticed this trend among disaffected conservatives as well, particularly during the Obama era. It was something noteworthy about the not so diametrically […]

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Member Post

 

I have been regrettably absent from Ricochet for much of the past year, save for a post or two. While I still stay abreast of the happenings back home, it’s been a nice sabbatical having removed myself from the current political discussions. Since Spring of 2016, I have been living and working in northern Iraq; initially […]

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2 Cheers for NGOs

 

Skipsul’s recent post on the nefarious role that Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) sometimes unwittingly play in the third world is an excellent read and echoes other recent articles critical of NGOs as a whole. (A Jerusalem Post piece called them the “new feudalism”). As an American expat working for an NGO in Iraq, I felt somewhat compelled to respond, not out of any desire to “defend the herd,” but simply to offer a little insight into their nature, both good and bad. I’ll restrict my commentary only to the areas I’ve worked in or observed personally. I would suspect some of what I say might not be relevant or applicable to NGO work outside of Iraq.

Important to note, NGO work is broadly divided into two often mutually exclusive parts; advocacy and humanitarian work. Most NGOs exist either to advocate and lobby for a particular issue or to provide a particular humanitarian service. You might assume they do both as a matter of course, but with rare exceptions, most NGOs stick to one or the other. The reasons for this are quite simple and each have their tradeoffs. Advocacy work is inherently political in nature. Either you’re lobbying for local/foreign governments do do something (give money, provide assistance, etc) or you’re lobbying for local/foreign governments to stop doing something (genocide, discrimination, neglect) Since local governments often bear some responsibility for the disaster being addressed in the first place (Iraq especially), advocacy NGOs can find themselves at loggerheads with local politicians. And believe me, you will never find a more petty and conniving politician than the ones this country produces. As such, advocacy groups are usually reluctant to delve into humanitarian work because these efforts would be hampered by their too-public profile.

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Drums In The Deep

 

War drums are rumbling in ways strangely reminiscent of the world a century past. Nations with chips on their shoulders and something to prove have engaged in foreign adventurism. Would a second Clinton presidency succeed in quelling those drums, or have eight years of flailing foreign policy made us stumble towards some greater conflagration?

The 9/11 Attacks happened on George W. Bush’s watch, but it is clear the attack was planned and orchestrated in the years prior, during the presidency of Bill Clinton. One of my own first thoughts upon seeing the burning remains of the World Trade Center on TV was “Well, it finally happened.” After eight years of Clinton’s hamfisted foreign interventions, poor responses to repeated violations by Iraq and attacks on US troops and facilities (the USS Cole being the most prominent in my memory), I was expecting (at least) a serious bloody nose in some form from the Middle East. We had endured eight years of weakness in victory with a president who was overeager to spend a “peace dividend” he did not earn, and we have paid for that since with 15 years of war and misery (and the poor souls who inhabit Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan are paying a still higher price). A strong response to Iraq or to Islamic terrorism in 1996, or a strong spine even in 1994 might have spared us much.

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The Battle for Mosul Begins

 

The offensive on Mosul is beginning. Over the weekend, US and French jets pounded ISIS positions east of Mosul and began shelling ISIS positions, paving the way for a ground offensive. This morning, Kurdish forces began advancing on villages east of the city.

Over the weekend, ISIS killed 53 people in three separate attacks in Iraq, including a suicide bombing in Baghdad. Conditions in Mosul are dire, and will no doubt get far worse; if Mosul is laid waste, another million and a half refugees will pour into the region and beyond. (It’s unclear what the population of Mosul is now; there were two million people there before it was captured by ISIS, but as many as a million have already fled.) 

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US Troop Level in Iraq Hits 5,000

 

In 2011, Obama shocked Pentagon leaders by pulling all US troops out of Iraq.

American military officials had said they wanted a “residual” force of as many as tens of thousands of American troops to remain in Iraq past 2011 as an insurance policy against any violence. Those numbers were scaled back, but the expectation was that at least about 3,000 to 5,000 American troops would remain…

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Kurdistan, Yezidis, and the Strange Consensus: A Report from an Iraq Correspondent

 

I received this report from a correspondent who asked for anonymity. “Given Ricochet’s educated readership,” he wrote, “perhaps they might enjoy this more detailed perspective” on Kurdistan and the KRG’s lobbyists in the West. I thought it was fascinating. If you have questions about it, I’ll be happy to post his replies.

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