A Most Unserious War


Patrick Cockburn’s report could also go under the “Required Reading” banner, so here’s the lede to get you started:

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.


It took weeks, not years, to destroy Saddam’s Hussein’s Army in 2003. It took days, not years, to thoroughly defeat it in 1991. And while the Iraqi Army of old couldn’t stand up to the United States and its coalition partners, it was well trained enough and well armed enough to fight the Iranians to a standstill for the best part of a decade. In other words, the Iraqi Army was a professional fighting force.

ISIL consists of 20,000 to 30,000 thugs with stolen equipment whose training consists mostly of a thuggish willingness to do whatever. President Obama said it will take years to defeat them — and judging by Cockburn’s report, even that isn’t long enough for this most unserious President waging a most unserious war.


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