October 12, 2014 9:14 am -

Either we go in all the way or, if I had my way, we don’t go in at all. But what we’re doing appears not to be working.


America’s plans to fight Islamic State are in ruins as the militant group’s fighters come close to capturing Kobani and have inflicted a heavy defeat on the Iraqi army west of Baghdad.

The US-led air attacks launched against Islamic State (also known as Isis) on 8 August in Iraq and 23 September in Syria have not worked. President Obama’s plan to “degrade and destroy” Islamic State has not even begun to achieve success. In both Syria and Iraq, Isis is expanding its control rather than contracting…

In the face of a likely Isis victory at Kobani, senior US officials have been trying to explain away the failure to save the Syrian Kurds in the town, probably Isis’s toughest opponents in Syria. “Our focus in Syria is in degrading the capacity of [Isis] at its core to project power, to command itself, to sustain itself, to resource itself,” said US Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken, in a typical piece of waffle designed to mask defeat. “The tragic reality is that in the course of doing that there are going to be places like Kobani where we may or may not be able to fight effectively.”

Unfortunately for the US, Kobani isn’t the only place air strikes are failing to stop Isis. In an offensive in Iraq launched on 2 October but little reported in the outside world, Isis has captured almost all the cities and towns it did not already hold in Anbar province, a vast area in western Iraq that makes up a quarter of the country. It has captured Hit, Kubaisa and Ramadi, the provincial capital, which it had long fought for. Other cities, towns and bases on or close to the Euphrates River west of Baghdad fell in a few days, often after little resistance by the Iraqi Army which showed itself to be as dysfunctional as in the past, even when backed by US air strikes.[su_csky_ad]

D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

49 responses to U.S. ISIS Strategy In Tatters

  1. mea_mark October 12th, 2014 at 9:24 am

    Umm, Turkey is a disaster and Erdogan’s policies are threatening to undermine the coalition. It is time to put pressure on Turkey and their corrupt leader Erdogan. If Turkey won’t put up and do their part then it is time to kick them out of NATO and look at dividing the country up so the Kurds get fair humane representation instead of just being allowed to be slaughtered. Erdogan is complicit in what is happening in Kobani by not doing anything. Erdogan is supporting terrorism and Turkey should be considered a terroristic state as long as Erdogan is in charge.

    • tiredoftea October 12th, 2014 at 11:05 am

      I have a better idea. Let’s bomb them for not helping us to help them rid themselves of a group which they are finding useful to their own purposes!

      • mea_mark October 12th, 2014 at 11:15 am

        I am more for a political solution of exposing the corruption of Erdogan and forcing a resignation. That may need a lot of pressure to happen though.

        • tiredoftea October 12th, 2014 at 11:18 am

          It’s time for us to stop meddling in other country’s affairs. You’d think we learned that lesson with Iraq, or even most of the twentieth century where we used our military similarly with similarly disastrous results!

          • fahvel October 12th, 2014 at 11:32 am

            true – it’s been one loss after another for the usa. Stay home and encourage gardens.

          • mea_mark October 12th, 2014 at 11:34 am

            Gardens are good. We just can’t become isolationist and let evil take over the rest of the world and become a threat while we are busy gardening.

        • fahvel October 12th, 2014 at 11:31 am

          or, as you said earlier, smarter drones.

  2. Robert M. Snyder October 12th, 2014 at 9:59 am

    I agree with Alan. Either ALL IN or ALL OUT.
    Yoda said it best: “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

    • mea_mark October 12th, 2014 at 10:18 am

      First we have to get the neighboring countries in, or consider them the enemy.

      • Robert M. Snyder October 12th, 2014 at 10:47 am

        If we’re not sure which countries are our friends and which are our enemies, then what does that tell you?

        • mea_mark October 12th, 2014 at 11:02 am

          We shouldn’t put lots of troops on the ground in the region and just keep picking them off from the air. It will take a long time but our technology is moving ahead while theirs isn’t. Hopefully we will develop better drones that can be made cheaply so we won’t need lots of boots on the ground ever.

          • tiredoftea October 12th, 2014 at 11:05 am

            We also shouldn’t become the death by drone country.

          • mea_mark October 12th, 2014 at 11:12 am

            We need smaller smarter drones that can get in close and just remove the enemy. Accuracy is what is important. Eliminating as much collateral damage as possible needs to be an important goal. Drones aren’t bad, they are just an emerging technology that needs more development. It is the application of drones that should always be questioned.

          • tiredoftea October 12th, 2014 at 11:19 am

            We actually need to learn to mind our own business so that we don’t use drones, or any other piece of military equipment.

          • mea_mark October 12th, 2014 at 11:35 am

            Isolationism doesn’t work real well either.

          • tiredoftea October 12th, 2014 at 11:42 am

            It’ not one or the other. Understanding that everything in the world doesn’t have to concern us is a good first step towards having a more adult level of diplomacy.

          • mea_mark October 12th, 2014 at 11:55 am

            That is why we are here discussing it. It sure looks to me like we need some level of involvement though. The question is, how much, not if.

          • Robert M. Snyder October 12th, 2014 at 1:41 pm

            Some would say that ISIS is like an infectious disease outbreak. I do not know if that’s the correct analogy, so I am offering it as a hypothetical.

            Let’s SUPPOSE that ISIS is like an infectious disease outbreak. If left unchecked, it will spread and grow, and eventually take root in every country on earth (just like the flu). When faced with a really serious infectious disease, such as Ebola, we don’t wait for that to happen. Instead, we try to arrest the disease at the site of the outbreak.

            It seems that is what Obama is trying to do with ISIS. He said we need to “destroy” ISIS. If ISIS truly represents a grave threat to the USA, then why are we merely taking pot shots at them? OTOH, if they’re not a serious threat to the USA, then why are we in the region at all?

          • mea_mark October 12th, 2014 at 1:48 pm

            It is somewhere in the middle. That is exactly what is making it so complicated. It is more like an infectious disease that has a tendency to mutate easily and become extremely deadly but hasn’t yet.

          • tiredoftea October 12th, 2014 at 1:50 pm

            Yes, until we understand whether there is a threat to our country, we should be cautious. To continue your analogy, getting an antibiotic prescription for Ebola is a useless as bombing a group before we understand whether it poses a threat. We could very well only be aiding the spread of the disease.

            It’s possible that the region’s problems have less to do with us than it does with the power vacuum in Iraq, Syria and the uses Turkey has for them to advance its interests against Assad.

          • mea_mark October 12th, 2014 at 2:40 pm

            Especially since ebola is a virus and not a bacteria.

            The power vacuum is the biggest problem I see. Strong arm leadership seems to be what the people in the middle east understand the most. They seem to have a hard time with well thought out leadership doing the right thing.

          • fahvel October 12th, 2014 at 11:30 am

            and when the drones decide, because they are so smart, that they are being misused, what happens?

          • mea_mark October 12th, 2014 at 11:36 am

            That will be a problem to address as/when/if it occurs.

          • OldLefty October 12th, 2014 at 11:43 am

            We also shouldn’t become the death by drone country.


            Agreed, but the reality is that if it were not a drone, it would be a piloted bomber.

          • tiredoftea October 12th, 2014 at 11:44 am

            Sadly, too true.

          • Robert M. Snyder October 12th, 2014 at 1:32 pm

            What kinds of munitions we are using from the air? How many of them do we have left in our arsenal? How long does it take to replace them, and what is the cost? I am not suggesting that boots on the ground would be “cheaper” by any measure. instead, I am wondering whether the results we has thus far achieved are worth the price. The media tends to portray the Kurds as the good guys in the region. But I read an article yesterday which mentioned that the Kurds defending Kobani are aligned with the PKK, which according to the article is on the US list of terrorist organizations.

            I believe that careful observers of the Mideast region can probably identify which countries are on progressive trajectories, and which are on regressive trajectories. Shouldn’t we be supporting the ones who are moving in the more progressive direction? Would that include the Kurds? Most of us don’t have the kind of time that it would take to really understand what is happening in the region.

            Does the golf player in chief have a deep understanding of the region? Has he identified and forged stable alliances with more progressive elements? If so, who are they and how are we supporting them? Are the Kurds our allies? If so, why is Kobani teetering on the verge of collapse while the Pentagon fights with one hand tied behind its back?

          • mea_mark October 12th, 2014 at 1:52 pm

            The PKK is on that list, I think, more for political reasons than anything else. They oppose Erdogan.

            The Kurds don’t have a country and have been picked on by lots of different people for a long time. The Kurds would be our ally if they could be but the corruption and horrible leadership of Erdogan is causing problems.

          • Robert M. Snyder October 12th, 2014 at 2:18 pm

            Makes sense when you put it that way.

            Do you remember how the US enforced a no-fly zone over the Kurdish territory in Iraq to protect them while Saddam was in power? Do you remember the TV and newspaper ads the Kurds (or their supporters) were running shortly after Saddam was deposed? I recall seeing ads that encouraged Western businesses to consider investing in Kurdistan. I get the sense that the Kurds are much more aligned with Western values than most of their neighbors.

            Over the past few days, as I have read about Kobani, I have begun to feel a deep sense of dread and disgust. Having promised to “destroy” ISIS, I just can’t understand why Obama is not doing more to make good on that promise. A Reuters article said that ISIS is using civilian vehicles with Kurdish flags, so we can’t tell from the air who is friend or foe. I think Obama has really underestimated these guys.

          • mea_mark October 12th, 2014 at 2:32 pm

            Turkey and its leader Erdogan wants the Kurds to go away or at the least for their power to be diminished and has blocked the US from using our bases there to defend the Kurds or attack ISIL until just the last couple of days. There is some mis-estimating for sure, we thought Turkey would act like an ally and that we would have help on the ground. Instead it is more like being betrayed by Erdogan. It wouldn’t be hard to push back ISIL if Erdogan would do something. Turkey has tanks within a couple miles of the fighting, just sitting.

          • Robert M. Snyder October 12th, 2014 at 2:45 pm

            Military tanks require supply lines to provide fuel and ammunition. I have read that the Turkish tanks near Kobani have no supply line. Are they only there for show?

          • mea_mark October 12th, 2014 at 4:10 pm

            It seems it wouldn’t be hard to establish a supply line if they wanted one. Maybe there for show and who knows what else. I don’t trust Erdogan at all. For all I know he could be planning on giving them to ISIL if they will attack more Kurds in Turkey for him. Of course he wouldn’t really being giving them away they would just be incredibly easy for for ISIL to take them, you know just sitting there and all.

  3. OldLefty October 12th, 2014 at 10:12 am

    This guy has been saying he same thing for the last 10 years, (especially the predicting the rise of Muqtada al-Sadr.

    The time to predict success or in tatters is several years away.

    But if anyone of the Congressional persuasion really believes that the strategy is in tatters, hadn’t they better get back to DC and vote?

  4. uzza October 12th, 2014 at 10:40 am

    It’s way too early to say whether this has been a success or not. It will be weeks before we see any quarterly Profit & Loss statements.

  5. OldLefty October 12th, 2014 at 10:57 am

    Erdoğan: What does Kobani have to do with Turkey?

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks at a ceremony in Rize on Oct.. 11, 2014. (Photo: DHA)

    October 11, 2014, Saturday/ 15:19:49/ TODAYSZAMAN.COM / ISTANBUL

    “Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has lashed out at protesters asking the government to help Kurds in Syrian town of Kobani which is besieged by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), asking what Kobani has to do with Turkey.

    “Now, they are attacking peace, stability and environment of trust in Turkey by saying Kobani. What does Kobani have to do with Turkey? With İstanbul, with Ankara? What does Siirt have to do with Diyarbakır, with Bingöl?” Erdoğan asked while speaking during the inauguration ceremony of an imam-hatip school in his hometown of Rize on Saturday.

    Recalling that Turkey allowed 200,000 Kurds take refugee in Turkey from Kobani, Erdoğan said the Turkish state now “feeds” and “houses” those Kurds whom it embraced. “What do you want more?” he further asked.

    Protests triggered by the ISIL siege of the Kobani turned violent in Turkey and killed more than 32 people across the country. Two police officers were also killed and a provincial police chief was wounded in an attack in Turkey’s eastern province of Bingöl on Thursday night.”

    I am awaiting comments from Turkish readers.

    • mea_mark October 12th, 2014 at 11:05 am

      Erdogan is a callus, ignorant ass and is compromising world security, adding to the instability of the region.

      • OldLefty October 12th, 2014 at 11:29 am

        Apparently, a lot of Turks don’t agree with him, but then again, we really don’t know.

        I don’t know what the anti- Kurd sentiment is, do you?

        There was also a piece in the same newspaper that accuses them of helping ISIS;
        “Gov’t arms extremist groups including ISIL, AK Party founder says

        Dengir Mir Mehmet Fırat, one of the founders of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), has argued that the Turkish government has armed extremist groups in Syria, including the terrorist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

        Speaking with the Taraf daily on Saturday, Fırat evaluated recent developments regarding ISIL’s advance on the Turkish-Syrian border town of Kobani against Kurdish militia forces as well as the weeklong demonstrations occurring across Turkey in protest of both the Turkish government’s inaction on ISIL in Kobani and ISIL’s atrocities in the city.

        According to Fırat, the government has made substantial concessions to several extremist groups in an effort to hamper Kurds’ efforts to establish autonomy in Rojava — an area in the north of Syria densely populated by Kurds. Fırat said these concessions include arming and supplying financial assistance to these groups, adding, “All these miscalculated policies have brought Turkey to the point we are facing now.”

    • arc99 October 12th, 2014 at 11:28 am

      I think Mr. Erdogan will find out what more is wanted when ISIL starts fanning out from Kobani. Folks, take a look at a map. Kobani is not just near the border between Syria and Turkey, it is on the border.

      Imagine an all out war raging in Tijuana, Mexico with the American position being that it is none of our business. I cannot convince myself that Erdogan is that clueless. Maybe his public pronouncements are part of some disinformation campaign. I don’t presume to know.

      But published reports indicate that ISIS artillery shells are already hitting Turkish soil, so whether or not Erdogan publicly admits it or not, this war is already a Turkish problem.

      • OldLefty October 12th, 2014 at 11:40 am

        I think he just doesn’t want to empower the Kurds.

        • mea_mark October 12th, 2014 at 11:47 am

          The Kurds make up the majority of the opposing party that are trying to get rid of Erdogan’s corrupt ass. I don’t trust him to do the right thing one bit.

          • Nomad October 13th, 2014 at 1:07 pm

            Actually the Kurdish party ran as a third party and split the vote of the opposition allowing mr. e. to claim 51% of the vote. There was talk- which counts for a lot in the absence of information and a press that is 98% under government control- that there was some special deal negotiated between the Kurds and the ruling party. No confirmation of that, of course.

      • Nomad October 13th, 2014 at 10:47 am

        Mr. E. recently said that he saw no great difference between ISIS and the PKK except that ISIS only killed but didn’t torture. This is coming at a time when he is supposed to be in negotiations with the Kurdish representatives.
        If there is a problem, it is the West’s own fault (that includes Europe) for continually overlooking the obvious, namely the character of the Turkish leader. He has repeatedly demonstrated his autocratic attitude to his own people, his disdain for the rule of law, his hostility to all criticism and his inability to have a coherent dialog with anybody that opposes him. What did you expect?

  6. fahvel October 12th, 2014 at 11:26 am

    you cannot confront or fight what you refuse to understand.

  7. OldLefty October 12th, 2014 at 11:42 am

    Who constitutes the “USA”?

    • uzza October 12th, 2014 at 11:48 am

      Not me, I’m poor.

      • mea_mark October 12th, 2014 at 11:51 am

        Good answer.

  8. mea_mark October 12th, 2014 at 11:44 am

    For some recent developments Things may not be so bad. At least for the moment.

  9. Nomad October 13th, 2014 at 11:01 am

    Eventually it probably won’t make difference whether Turkey crosses the border or not. There are enough sleeper cells who pose as Syrian refugees spread across the country- they are not housed in one particular area. And the PKK also has enough operatives inside the country to make borders meaningless. This is the news today.