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Belmont Club

The Raven

June 29th, 2014 - 7:56 pm

The New York Times reports that Russian advisers and jets have arrived in Iraq to help the Maliki government stave off the advances of ISIS.

BAGHDAD — Iraqi government officials said Sunday that Russian experts had arrived in Iraq to help the army get 12 new Russian warplanes into the fight against Sunni extremists, while the extremists declared their leader the caliph, or absolute ruler, of all jihadi organizations worldwide.

The Russian move was at least an implicit rebuke to the United States, which the Iraqis believe has been too slow to supply American F-16s and attack helicopters — although the United States is now in the process of providing both.

They will find American and Iranian special forces there to keep them company — a bizarre gathering, like a sort of Mos Eisely cantina along the Euphrates. “Last week, President Obama ordered 300 American military advisers into the country, and the Iranians have reportedly sent advisers from their Republican Guards’ Quds Force.”  The Business Insider called it a “bizarre alliance”.

But nothing is now too strange for the Administration’s foreign policy. Like Yogi Berra it has come to a crossroads and taken it, going both ways at once. Haaretz says that the “Iraq crisis pushing Obama toward alliance with Syria and Iran”.  But at the same time Obama has not neglected his alliance with their arch-enemy, Saudi Arabia.

Two days ago John Kerry met with Saudi Arabia “to help roll back the Islamic State of Iraq and al- Sham, an extremist group that controls wide swaths of territory in Syria and this month seized cities and towns across northern Iraq.” Saudi Arabia has a kind of schizophrenic relationship with ISIS.  On the one hand they are its principal target. But on the other, they are its principal enablers. You might almost say the same about the Obama administration.

Mr. Kerry’s visit comes a day after the Saudi monarch chaired a meeting of his national-security council on the threat of ISIS, which regards Saudi Arabia as an enemy because of the kingdom’s alliance with the U.S. and the rest of the West.

King Abdullah ordered Thursday that “all necessary measures” be taken to protect the kingdom from terror groups and other threats to its security. Saudi authorities have given no details of that order.

Saudi authorities declared ISIS a terrorist group in March. Two months later, they accused Saudi members of ISIS of trying to recruit local militants to plan attacks inside the kingdom.

Mos Eisley cantina lacks a few more customers yet. Once the Saudis, Isis and the Turks have arrived then it’ll be just like old times. ISIS’ spearheads have reached the border of Saudi Arabia, a country that is widely regarded as ISIS’ primary sponsor, and so too is Turkey, another American ally. Don’t try to understand Who’s On First, just accept as Michael Rubin maintains in Commentary, that Frankenstein’s monster is on the loose and tearing up the neighborhood and resign yourself to the inevitability that whoever wins, the Chinese will get the oil.

it is as important to recognize that Saudi Arabia and its promotion of radical Islam has historically been as poisonous as the Islamic Republic of Iran (if not more so). Saudi authorities have cracked down slightly after suffering their own blowback a decade ago, but many Saudi charities continue to fund extremism and hate.

Turkey, meanwhile, has become a state sponsor of terrorism in all but official U.S. designation. … Since the current ISIS/Baathist uprising in Iraq started, Turkey’s behavior has been absolutely reprehensible. There have been photographs circulated in Turkey of an ISIS commander recovering at a Turkish hospital in Hatay. While Turkey claims medical treatment for ISIS terrorists wounded in Syria (or Iraq) is a humanitarian act, the same Turkish government prosecutes doctors who treat protestors wounded in demonstrations against the Turkish government’s authoritarianism in Istanbul.

Turkey’s motives were simple. They were determined that the Kurds would not have their way. What better way than to back ISIS?

Saudi Arabia’s hatreds were equally compelling. They hated the Shi’ite Maliki and all infidels.  What better way to rev up ISIS?

Obama had the desire to lead the Middle East from behind while keeping the peace in it. What better way than to hire proxies.

Was it  his fault that as it turned out, some of those proxies were ISIS under other aliases?

This leaves Obama in the dicey position of possibly being the first US president to actually be at war with himself on two sides of Syrian/Iraq border. On one side Obama supports the Syrian rebels, for whom he has requested $500 million in aid from Congress. On the other side he is committed to fight them to the death — with the help of the Spetsnaz and the Qods. What a deal.  The New York Times explains how the Syrian rebels will be “vetted” before being “helped”.

WASHINGTON — President Obama requested $500 million from Congress on Thursday to train and equip what the White House is calling “appropriately vetted” members of the Syrian opposition, reflecting increased worry about the spillover of the Syrian conflict into Iraq.

The training program would be a significant step for a president who has consistently resisted providing military aid to the rebels in the conflict in Syria, and has warned of the dangers of American intervention. But military and State Department officials indicated that there were not yet any specific programs to arm and train the rebels that the money would fund, nor could administration officials specify which moderate Syrian opposition members they intended to train and support, or where they would be trained.

As Michael Totten notes, the administration has achieved the almost unbelievable feat of turning a civil war into a regional war. “The Syrian civil war is no longer the Syrian civil war. It’s a regional war that started in Syria, has expanded into Lebanon and Iraq, and has drawn in the Iranians and to a lesser extent the Kurds and the Israelis.”

The only way to properly describe the results of Obama’s “smart diplomacy” is to invoke Hollywood imagery. He’s actually started the real world equivalent of a Western bar room brawl. It’s everyone against everyone, and everyone for everyone. Chairs are broken over people’s heads, bottles smashed on unsuspecting victims, fists hammered into the nearest convenient face while assailants from both parties swing from the light fixtures. John Kerry performs the office of the squeezebox player, mindlessly pounding out a tune for as long as the instrument survives being reduced to matchwood or he too is smacked on the head with the remnants of a table.

How do you say yee-ha in Arabic?

Somewhere in the midst of this uproar ISIS has declared the foundation of the Caliphate. The New York Times informs its readers that a “caliphate is a Muslim empire that in theory encompasses all Muslims worldwide, and is a term used to describe empires like that of the Ottomans in Turkey in the 15th to 20th centuries, as well as those that did rule much of the civilized world in the early days of Islam.”

It’s back. Radical Muslims have been trying unsuccessfully to revive the Caliphate. They had failed despite all their efforts for nearly a hundred years. Then they had six years under Obama. Yee-ha.

The NYT tells its readers that the leader of the Caliphate has announced his true name. “The ISIS announcement also revealed Mr. Baghdadi’s alleged real name — Ibrahim Ibn Awwad Ibn Ibrahim Ali Ibn Muhammad al-Badri al-Hashimi al-Husayni al-Qurashi — and said he would be known as Caliph Ibrahim for short.” Maybe al-Qurashi introduced himself as “Honest Al” when meeting with State Department screeners on the other side of the Syrian border.

The Washington Post caught the unreality of the cultural transpositions in Glenn Kessler’s lastest article. Obama actually said  Syrian oppositionists are ‘former farmers or teachers or pharmacists’.

“Oftentimes, the challenge is if you have former farmers or teachers or pharmacists who now are taking up opposition against a battle-hardened regime, with support from external actors that have a lot at stake, how quickly can you get them trained; how effective are you able to mobilize them.” –President Obama, news conference, June 19, 2014

“When you talk about the moderate opposition, many of these people were farmers or dentists or maybe some radio reporters who didn’t have a lot of experience fighting.” –Obama, interview with National Public Radio, May 29

There is a distressing tendency in the Administration to regard everyone in the world — no matter the background — as simply Americans with funny names. As Nancy Pelosi described the Mexican border: “We are all Americans — north and south in this hemisphere  …  this is a community, with a border going through it.”  Sure. This characterization works in Syria and Iraq too apparently. The ISIS and Shi’ite militias are just dentists and pharmacists just raring to get home and play baseball.

But Iraqis, however, have very definite ideas about identity. Identity is why they are killing each other in Obama’s borderless world. They have made fun of the administration’s slow response, contrasting it with the alacrity of the Russians and the Iranians — who to them are not simply Americans with exotic names. The Telegraph captured the stately pace of presidential decision making in its headline “Obama ponders as Iran sends troops to Iraq”.

Ponders. Ponders.

The word is suggestively ridiculous, conjuring up images of Obama as Edgar Allen Poe’s luckless narrator pondering the messages of woe brought to him by the Raven, perched on a $9.99 Churchill bust in the Oval Office purchased from S-Mart to replace the one Obama sent back to Britain. It’s a ridiculous image, but then so is the situation, so tragic that it’s almost comical.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of State Department lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of NSA come gently hacking, wiretapping at my chamber door.
`’Tis the Qods,’ I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak September,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; – the re-election that I hoped to borrow
And from Candy begged surcease of sorrow – sorrow for the renewed core -
For the sudden and Islamic rising, fighters who attacked by score and more -
Nameless here for evermore.

`Prophet!’ said I, `thing of evil! – referring to polls, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us – by Allah we both adore -
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
They shall hew my statue on the mountain that they name Rushmore -
Carve a rare and radiant likeness, whom the LIVs shall then adore?’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the S-Mart Churchill bust above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And the polls from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted – nevermore!

In truth Obama’s can do nothing more than ponder. He’s painted himself into a corner, destroyed his presidency with terminal stupidity. Will his foreign policy recover?

Awk! Nevermore!

Awk! Nevermore!


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Top Rated Comments   
You are a patriot and a most reasonable person; a basically (or more than basically) good person (let us assume). And sensible.

And you are, to say the least, puzzled.

And naturally so.

But don't be. 'Cuz you've never met anything like Obama. (And no, you're not alone.)

"Like it or not we are in a clash of civilizations and must act accordingly."

Indeed, except that for Obama, the US (and Israel) are the enemies of civilization.

"Iranian nukes are the single most significant threat"

Indeed, but they are threats to Israel (and, ultimately, the US); which is precisely the reason why Iran must be allowed to produce them.

"Saudi Arabia and the gulf arabs must choose - ISIS or USA."

They know that. Certainly they do. (No one knows it better!) But why would anyone (or any country) in his or her (or its) right mind choose to rely on Obama's USA?

This is once again, part of Obama's strategy---to destroy American credibility---in the field of foreign relations; and within the US, to destroy the US economy (starting with the destruction of its middle class), to destroy the idea of US citizenship, to destroy the country's social fabric (which may well be expected to unravel once the economy tanks). Etc. All going according to plan. (And Obama's masterful M.O. is that all of this is happening because of his stalwart attempts---so often stymied by evil Republicans and other opponents (the tea partiers, the Israel Lobby, the Likud, etc.)---to help improve things, to make the US a better place, to ameliorate the lives of the people, etc., etc.)

so who are the Gulf Arabs gonna choose? (Turkey's already made its choice, heh)---to be sure, all of these jokers (yes, all of them, including our best friends in Ankara) enjoy the great game of playing all ends against the middle. All sides against everyone else. Maliki? See VDH's latest exemplary article about him... And remember Kuwait. Talk about gratitude, eh?

(Gratitude? We're all barking up the wrong tree, I'm afraid.)

"I wish there was a better way..."

Once again, you seem to believe that it's only because of Obama's fecklessness and incompetence that all of this is happening ("What is to be done?").

Um, no sir. I'm afraid not. Everything is proceeding to plan. Well, "plan"---so to speak. Obama's plan. Alinsky's plan. Cloward's and Piven's plan.

Mayhem, savagery, brutality, death and destruction; economic collapse, the encouragement of tyrannical capriciousness, and worst of all---a major cause of it all---the epidemic of lying and dishonesty that underlays all of this evil.

And if the US becomes weakened, all the better. (That, after all, is the plan, since it goes without saying that the evil US of A deserves to be weakened.)

And if Israel gets caught up in the whirlwind; if Israel gets bloodied a bit (or more than a bit) amidst the maelstrom, or even destroyed (since that's what Israel, alas, deserves---you see, we tried to save Israel from itself, but it refused to listen to us), then, once again, all the better.

Yes, all the better. And all the "unpleasantness" in the Middle East (and everywhere else) would have been worth it. A small price to pay for the destruction of the world's leading enemy of peace....

The US weakened. Israel reduced to rubble. A two-fer. Who could ask for anything more? Who could ask for anything more?...

And a huge achievement for the man in the White House and his hard-working, pathetic underlings.

Yes, a huge and singular victory, should it occur.

But really, there should be no surprise here.

After all, Obama didn't spend 20 years NOT listening to the good Reverend Wright for nothing(!).
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
The final poem should go viral. Could we get Eastwood or Sinise to read it for a Youtube?

Women just don't understand why a healthy sane gentle man would want to get into a good bar fight, except for the broken glass. Has to do with the Stooges gene.

Does “appropriately vetted” in this context mean "dewormed?"

For what possible reason would anyone send Maliki F-16s? If we wanted to then a couple of squadrons of A-10s with American pilots based in Turkey and KSA could do the job. We can't do that because we had that capability in place and the National Brain Surgeon threw it away, and left a mess on the welcome mat on his way out.

Are Russian pilots now operating in Iraq? They used to have a hierarchy of fronts. Russians flew in Korea and Vietnam and Egypt, Norks and Egyptians flew in Libya, Libyans flew in Chad, and Chadians talked with their hands. Israelis said that the Syrians thought that if they squeezed the trigger harder the bullets flew faster.

In a real Western bar room brawl the smartest thing to do was to play the piano. That made it clear you were a noncombatant and made it less likely that you would get shot.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's an old line, hackneyed and overused. But the only thing that will sort this out is:

"Nuke Them From Orbit, It’s the Only Way to be Sure…"

Buraq Hussein has managed to arrange it so that no matter what happens, American interests lose. Can this be the proof settling the question of whether Obama is deliberately destroying the country, or is just an ambulatory football bat?

It took a LOT of work to screw things up this bad. This did not just happen. There isn't that much blind chance left before the heat death of the universe.

Subotai Bahadur
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (60)
All Comments   (60)
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Wretchard, OUTSTANDING! A wonderful essay.

It's too bad that it's true, but a great job!
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Orchestration syncopation demon-stration for the nations:

--in the run-up to D-Day triple invasion launch (Children's crusade, ISIS, Normandy Ceremony), the KSA crown prince and heir-apparent himself in person, had multiple face-to-face meetings in Sochi with Lavrov and one with Putin himself. This seems to've been ignored by USA MSM, tho it was appearing in Russian and KSA press.

--ISIS secures control of the Euphrates river by the start of Ramadan

--the Sukhois arrive on the first day of Ramadan. Only a few, but enough for the mcGuffin --the desert fighters know what ground-attack Jabos can do, and if there's only one, they'll imagine it overhead. Long-promised USA F-16s might as well be on Mars. What, do you think a strict Constitutionalist such as President Obama could send a few over without a joint resolution?

The Sukhoi Ramadan Truce --already arranged in those Putin/Lavrov/Crown Prince Sochi meetings, will ensue in the perfect month of Ramadam, with a Sunni KSA ISIS Euphrates to the Turkish border (for now) and a Shia Iran Sukhoi Tigris also to the Turkish border for now. The land between the rivers, south of the new border of Kurdistan somewhere north of Mosul-on-the-Tigris (which ISIS will trade away in the Truce deal) will be the admin zone of the open city of Baghdad.

This will happen under the auspices of Russia and KSA, and will be so slick and easy (the horror predicate having been carefully laid by the ISIS atrocity videos) that Russia and KSA (Caspian Axis & OPEC) will enjoy real gratitude to the point of authentic triumph the world over.

Betcha 5 dollars.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Current Drudge headlines:
ROBERTS REGRETS: CAN'T MAKE EMPLOYERS COVER CONTRACEPTION...
5-4: SUPREMES CHIP AWAY AT OBAMACARE
5-4: EMPLOYEES CAN'T BE REQUIRED TO CONTRIBUTE TO UNIONS...
BODIES OF THREE KIDNAPPED ISRAELI TEENS FOUND...
TOP DEM: Obama will 'borrow the power' to solve immigration crisis...
23 Shot Over Violent Weekend in NYC...

This box is the acid bath of reality:
ISIS Mocks OBAMA in Latest Video...
'Did You Prepare Enough Diapers For Your Soldiers?'...
CNN Host Compares Radical Shiite Militia in Iraq to American Tea Party...

This is only a sampling, with others making clear the dichotomy between what threatens and the priorities of those in charge. Sometimes you cannot improve on simply displaying what is. Like good photography it rises to the level of Art. It is.

Interesting that the title was changed from "The Craven" to "The Raven." Why?
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Frankenstein’s monster is on the loose and tearing up the neighborhood and resign yourself to the inevitability that whoever wins, the Chinese will get the oil.

I almost wouldn't mind the Chinese getting the oil, if they'd do it the old-fashioned way: annex the territories, expel the desert roaches with nothing but the clothes on their backs, and bring in their own people to work the oilfields and settle there. What the West should have done 100 years ago, instead of flattering the scum of the earth with their fakey "kings" and "princes" and pouring oceans of gold into their laps.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
oh la honte, the Russians are cleaninng the mess !!
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Where he comes from, you can't tell the difference.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
True, if you forget the Shining Path, which was short for the 'shining pathology'.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
With humble apologies to those who make verse look easy...

Walt foremost....


O'Presidente ponders the fate of the world from his Ponderosa.

Is the US the White Hatz? Oh my, I Tink(ers) so much No sah.

Fore they are to blame. This is ever(s) my claim.

I the great man feel intently

Shall bring peace to the Mid GreaseT ever Lightly

Yet I mournfully delay with a Hitch in mah giddyUp

Seams on my chaps are not pressed Wrightly.

Rave oN all you critics, I'd Rather Ayres on the side of chaos,

My thoughts are quite weighty. Perhaps I should Gulf.

MidEast Oil on the Water calms the pot. Until the lit match ends the match.

Successful conclusion to all that I ponder?

Pass the Flame for Ignition from Tinkers, to Evers, No, Chance.

Hold Mah Beer! Yee Hah! I did it Ma's Way!
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
"In truth Obama’s can do nothing more than ponder. He’s painted himself into a corner, destroyed his presidency with terminal stupidity."

Or maybe not. A thought which occurs in reading this excellent article and the fine comments -- If one really wanted to change the world, which would be more effective: a few nukes in London & New York? or a major interruption in the flow of oil from the Middle East?

Human beings can recover from local catastrophic damage. That has been proved in Nagaskai and New Orleans. But the economic dislocation from interrupted oil supplies would be a much more serious challenge.

We have in recent years seen how little it takes to get Londoners rioting. What will happen across the Western World when the flow of oil is reduced, food prices rise, Chinese goods don't arrive in Walmart, factories close, unemployment rises dramatically? The only answer will be for the Dear Leaders of the global Political Class reluctantly to declare States of Emergency which empower them to do whatever needs to be done, indefinitely.

Seen from the right angle, stirring up trouble in the Middle East could look like a master stroke. An evil master stroke for sure, but a master stroke nevertheless.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Buddy Larsen (on a previous thread)--re the Big Boy, should that be a .45 degree angle for the 1.5% grade?
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
I dunno --i figured 1.0 would be zero grade, so half again would be 45 degrees. Wrong, huh? My (apparently wrong) clue that this was the formula was that the 1.5 seemed to be near the maximum that a train could do, and that 45 degrees also seemed like a maximum that a train could do --ergo, that guessed-at formula seemed ok to blather on with, esp in the presence of the Big Boy glowering down at me, even tho io was 27 miles tall. Now in the light of day, it dawns that 45 degrees is a monstrous slope. Oh well back to the old drawing mud tablet! Or Google, where i shoulda gone foist --
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
A 1% grade is a rise of 1 foot every 100 feet. I believe the maximum grade allowed on most interstates is 6%, and I think the maximum a train can pull is 3%.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Not so, my dear ertnog, in the world of Rocky and Bullwinkle.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grade_(slope)#Railways

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saluda_Grade

"Saluda Grade is the steepest standard-gauge mainline railway grade in the United States. Owned by the Norfolk Southern Railway as part of its W Line, Saluda Grade in Polk County, North Carolina gains 606 feet (185 m) in elevation in less than three miles between Melrose and Saluda. Average grade is 4.24 percent for 2.6 miles (4.2 km) and maximum is 4.9% for about 300 feet (91 m)."
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
--so my toon train on a 45 degree track rises a foot every foot --making a grade of 100%. Yippee, that's a A+!
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, from the looks of that Big Boy I think it could've done it. A friend of mine just told me that they used to have a BB at Fair Park in Dallas, home of the Cotton Bowl. They moved it to Frisco TX, north of Dallas, and it took quite a while due to the size of the thing, etc. I'd love to see it:

''There is a Big Boy in the Museum of the American Railroad in Frisco. They towed it last year from Fair Park up to Frisco. They ran into all kinds of complications with regular main line traffic and a lack of sidings that could handle it. Took them a week or so to get it up here.''
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
--yup --those steam engines had no limit on HP, other than the boiler burst pressure, and the safety valves, which could be crippled, no doubt. Prob stratospheric in the steel of the 40s & 50s. Just shovel dat coal!

Only 25 of 'em were ever built. The engineer's head looks like it's 25 feet off the ground. They could burn 20 tons of coal per hour.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
First prize to the Raven, uh, remix.

Nothing beats Belmont Club in the morning.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Is this a Western Barroom Brawl without Bill Hart or Hoppy?
OR Europe c. July 1914? Sound and fury and choosing up sides for the 'Great Blood Letting'?
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
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