Coffee House

Obama announces military advisers for Iraq

19 June 2014

President Obama has just announced that the US is prepared to launch strikes against ISIS in Iraq if the situation on the ground requires it. The US will send up to 300 military advisers to the country. It is understood that they will provide intelligence on what targets US air power should hit. But Obama stressed that they would not be involved in combat roles.

In a sign of the US’s deep disenchantment with the current Iraqi government, administration officials have told the Washington Post that they are working to see if a new Iraqi government can be put together following this April’s parliamentary elections. The US would like to see a broader based, less sectarian government emerge that includes Shi’ites, Sunnis and Kurds.

Maliki’s own party controls 92 seats, short of the 165 needed to have a majority in the parliament. But it is hard to see what figure in the Iraqi parliament other than Maliki could gather enough support to form a government.

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  • Mike

    I seem to recall that military advisers were sent into Vietnam at the beginning.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    You got one letter wrong in your headline.

    It’s effectively an ‘N’ not a ‘Q’

  • Fiendorfoe

    The history of Democrat Presidents sending ‘Special Advisors’ into a failing country isn’t good. Look at Vietnam, and how that turned out for both the President and the target/client state. DADS, as the Oz would have it. [In the interests of balance, recent Republican Presidents seem to destablize their victims, while Democrats deliver the Coup de Grace.]

  • Curnonsky

    They will be needed when the helicopters come to evacuate the US embassy.

  • Baron

    What we are witnessing in the region now (and the worst is yet to come) is the result of our nibbling at the festering boil of religious fanaticism for decades, Only a fool would have expected anything else.

    When it all began we had two options only. Either we could have left the religious nutters to fight each other until every mutation of the creed of Allah got exhausted, lost interest in the slaughter, settled.

    Or we should have gone in, but gone in in earnest, destroying not only the fighting forces, their backers, but also the mullahs who instal hatred and evil in the hearts of the willing to listen. It would have been bloody, ruthless, totally non PC, but weird as it may seem the casualty count, the displacement of the locals may have been lower than that engendered by the policies we’ve been pursuing till now.

    We need neither, yet lost not only many lives unnecessarily, ours and theirs, but enough treasure to leave our unwashed unwilling to stay engaged, the Treasuries depleted, the policies towards the region impotent.

    The Mandarin speakers must be delighted.

    • Hexhamgeezer

      Until we revise our Guardian approved rules of engagement we’re fcked.

      • Kennybhoy

        Won’t happen until we hit bottom man…

    • Kennybhoy

      “…but weird as it may seem the casualty count, the displacement of the locals may have been lower than that engendered by the policies we’ve been pursuing till now.”

      Not weird at all man.

    • telemachus

      Oh Baron Baron Baron
      Destroy the Mullahs and Bob’s your uncle the Islamic problem solved
      Did burning priests kill off the Catholic church?
      Hearts and minds Baron
      Hearts and minds
      We need to reach out to these folk

      • Baron

        No, not all the mullahs only those who preach the hadiths of war, it will not kill Islam, but cannot but push it towards reformation, not many if any at all of the jihad-against-the-infidel mullahs have shown to be willing to do what they urge their followers to do, die in the name of Allah. If we began eliminating the baddies, the message would get through quickly. You mustn’t forget, telemachus, underneath the religious nonsense, it’s all about power.

        Hearts and minds? Look, we didn’t go for the hearts and minds when we were fighting the Nazis, the Shinto nutters until we destroyed the core of the evil of both, those who were injecting the poisonous ideas that turned the millions of Germans, Japanese against us. A fat lot of good did it do going for the ‘hearts and minds’ of the unwashed in Afghanistan, Iraq … when the ‘machine of evil’ was turning at a speed, and still is. Waist of time, money, often lives.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          Well, when you’ve got ’em by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.

  • Colonel Mustard

    Uh oh.

  • swatnan

    Lets hope these advisors can double up as an assassination squad to take out the terrorist leaders, secretly of course, no questions asked.

  • telemachus

    So the narrative is this
    The US killed Saddam to invoke democracy on folks who probably did not want it
    They now blame the democratically elected leaders for the plight of the Iraqis

  • littlegreyrabbit

    A stunning contrast with the willingness of the US to send its drones to Pakistan and Yemen or act as close air support for the Libyan insurgents. But when it comes the supporting an elected government….

    • Bonkim

      Maliki has instituted sectarian politics in Iraq, and antagonised the Sunni minority. He is stewing in his own juice.

      • Sean Lamb

        Leaving aside no one actually specifies what these terrible sectarian politics are – what is this juice Maliki is stewing in?
        Is it the butchered Iraqi soldiers and policemen in Mosul and Tikrit – executed by the jihadist militias we have nurtured with funds and weapons in Northern Syria? Is that the “juice” you rejoice Maliki is being stewed in?

        • Bonkim

          Simple – ISIS has gathered support from Iraqi Sunnis that were discriminated by Maliki who has favoured his Shia cronies in government appointments including the military – did not want to heed US advice regarding an inclusive power sharing. Hence reluctance of the US to respond to his call for air-bombing ISIS forces. In any case air bombing will be counter-productive as ISIS are spread amongst the civilian populations within the area occupied by them and have local support and sympathy. Air-bombing will cause huge collateral damage. Maliki has therefore created distrust with the US and paying the price. In simple terms Maliki has poor political and organisational judgement, and his forces just don’t have the stomach to fight a more determined enemy..

          • Sean Lamb

            Right, so because some Sunni educated at a US university missed out on a plum job at the Oil Ministry to a Shiite also educated overseas, it inevitably follows that a group of largely foreign fighters start beheading young Iraqi army recruits? Well quite.
            What is alarming about your views is not that so are obviously nutty and formed in complete ignorance of any REAL iraqis – but they seem to be widely shared by the British/US elite. If you actually talk to REAL iraqis you will find people who are all just looking for the quite life, they aren’t running around totting guns and they aren’t hankering after massacring other ethnicities. The broad mass of the civilian population yearn simply for security and for all the guns to go away.
            But tiny unrepresentative groups have been empowered by being supplied with sophisticated weaponry and international jihadists and because they are cashed up (not as Martin Chulov ludicrously tries to suggest by the sale of Syrian antiquities but from the deliberate flow of funds from 3rd parties) they can provide financial security to a young underemployed male population.

            As for your claims air strikes are ineffectual – Britain and US have had a lot of success with using pocket ground militias to draw fire and illuminate the position of the targeted military in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Libya. It is a very successful and demoralizing combination, particularly with the addition of drones, for the reason that shooting down a drone doesn’t really harm your opponent. In other words you run huge risk of death or terrible injury with the only damage you can possibly inflict is to destroy your opponent’s gaming console. Few people are going to keep fighting long in such an situation.

            Lets face it, we are doing what we have been doing for the last 200 hundred years – redrawing the borders of other countries to our own satisfaction. We aren’t making drone strikes on ISIS because secretly our elites approve of what ISIS is doing, even while holding their nose while ISIS actually does it.

            • Bonkim

              A little over the top. Why should the West waste men and materials to save an inept and sectarian government in Iraq – the same reason they did not bomb Damascus three years back. Politics is to safeguard economic interests. The Shia Sunni conflict must run its course – not unlike the 30 year War in Europe between Catholics and Protestants that decimated population of Europe. Free thinking and secularism prevailed following the 30 year war and brought sanity – separating Church and state and subsequent age of enlightenment.

              Islam is still stuck in the dark ages – unlikely Mr Obama or Mr Cameron would take sides and the Shias and Sunnis need to battle it out – yes a lot of people wanting a quiet life will suffer – they need to come out of their slumber too and reform their society, stop breeding like rats and assume the West will send the Cavalry every time they are in trouble.

              • Sean Lamb

                “The Shia Sunni conflict must run its course – not unlike the 30 year War
                in Europe between Catholics and Protestants that decimated population
                of Europe.”

                What a loony.

                • Bonkim

                  Solutions imposed from outside never work – people of the region will have to come to equilibrium when they realize cost of conflict is too high to pay.

                • Sean Lamb

                  But this is not a conflict intrinsic it to Iraq. It is a conflict that has been imposed on it by the slow, careful and deliberate nurturing of a jihadist militia in Northern Syria with fighters, funds and weapons all under the watchful eye of Western intelligence – remember those stories about the CIA overseeing the arms trade via Turkey?

                  We have imposed this conflict on Iraq – admittedly building on some pre-existing fracture lines. But this conflict would not have occurred without our assistance.

                • Bonkim

                  Hello Sean – this has been going on for centuries – only today fast and instant communications and travel, powerful weapons, and social media for instant publicity and call to believers. The mindset is no different from the sabre-swinging bigots of history – only today their impact deadly and all pervasive. High Tech violence is not just in the US or Britain but worldwide. Look up British History in the world trouble spots – Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan – yes – the Brits have been there and done that a century or two back – and came back bloodied. In the early 20th century biplanes were used to bomb rebellious Arab tribes. Sending a gunboat was easy and there was no media to report. that was the done thing. See Lawrence of Arabia – although dramatic entertainment, a lot of truth there as also the issues – no different today.

                • littlegreyrabbit

                  “this has been going on for centuries”
                  Well, yes, of course there was a bit of Shia-Sunni fighting around the time Alfred was having a bit of argy-bargy with Danelaw – and to some people that is just like yesterday I suppose.

                  But they all seemed to rub along fine under the Ottomans for 600 or so years. That is why the regions is such a mosiac of sects and ethnicities and cultures all living along side one another. Because they don’t have a culture of massacring each other.

                • Bonkim

                  Life was O.K when everybody knew their place. Plenty of heathen slaves to do the work, and the Sultan to keep law and order. From time to time go on an expedition to neighbouring lands to loot gold and gemstones, get a few more pretty maidens to re-stock the Harem, and slaves to do the slaving. From time to time kill off the evil moneylenders to wipe off the National debt.

                  All the Sultans were multi-cultural with wives from different continents and religions – so sort of loving harmony to suppress ant racist and sectarian strife. Lovely times I must say if you were top Sultan.

                • Sean Lamb

                  Right, so the Sultan was a cad. But he was one person living in Istanbul. Meanwhile in Mesopotamia community after community lived in relative harmony with only the lightest touch of governing from a distant ramshackle pre-modern metropolis

                  Face it, your understanding of the region and its history is the purest cliched drivel

                • Bonkim

                  Sean – did you read some of the comments on the newsclip you refer to (1913) – how similar some of the comments and many are pointing to the situation getting worse if Assad is not taken out soon. It has now got worse, millions displaced, hundreds of thousands murdered, and radical Sunni Islamic fighters gathering strength in the region and invading Iraq. Much more difficult to go back to square 1 now.

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