VICE Via Youtube: ‘Peshmerga Vs. The Islamic State’

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As of June 2015, some of the tactics of IS, and a ridealong with the Pershmerga.

As previously posted:

Michael Totten: ‘What Just Happened In Syria:’

‘Look. Running guns and ammo under the radar to legitimate proxies in a fight against a terrorist army is entirely reasonable behavior on the part of the United States government. We’ve been doing that sort of thing for decades. Pretty much everyone else in the Middle East does it, too, but they almost always run guns and ammo to terrorist organizations rather than to groups fighting terrorist organizations.

Regardless, it’s high time we come out and say exactly what we’re doing and why. Everyone already knows we’re backing the Kurds against ISIS, and everyone already knows the Turks would rather see an ISIS victory than a Kurdish victory. None of this is even remotely a secret. It’s all right out in the open. Official denials aren’t fooling anybody.’

Independent Kurdistan-A Good Outcome For American Interests?

In his book Where The West Ends, Totten describes visiting Northern Iraq briefly as a tourist with a friend, and the general feeling of pro-Americanism in Kurdish Northern Iraq that generally one can only feel in Poland, parts of the former Yugoslavia etc.

Related On This Site: Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest’s Via Media: “The Rise Of Independent Kurdistan?”From Reuters: ‘Analysis: Syrian Kurds Sense Freedom, Power Struggle Awaits’

Some Wednesday Links-P5 + 1, ISIS & Ticking Clocks

It might be worth revisiting this piece by George Schultz and Henry Kissinger now that the p5 + 1 preliminary negotiations have been extended for another seven months.

No deal is probably better than a bad deal, and perhaps this kind of dealing:

‘Some adjustments are inherent in the inevitable process of historic evolution. But we must avoid an outcome in which Iran, freed from an onerous sanctions regime, emerges as a de facto nuclear power leading an Islamist camp, while traditional allies lose confidence in the credibility of American commitments and follow the Iranian model toward a nuclear-weapons capability, if only to balance it.’

Historic evolution?

I’m guessing it’s certainly true that some people in Iran (the Green Revolution) would like to be out from under the mullah-controlled, Basij supported deep state.  The ruling cadre has plenty of political enemies within Iran (across broader groups, from religious minorities to the politically and economically oppressed).

Yet, for our sakes, it’s tough to deal with shady bunch of fiercely nationalistic, former Revolutionary guard types in charge: Perfectly happy to get nukes, become the big dogs in the region, keep funding Hizbollah and doing all the shady, destablilizing things they’ve been doing, just now with nukes.

This would continue to be really bad for the Sunnis in Iraq, the Saudis, and the Israelis, among others, as well as pretty much all American interests.

Whether it’s aggressive, untrustworthy terrorist-funding types, to more moderate calculating, wheeling-dealing types buying time and maximum advantage, this was always a longer shot which required serious diplomacy.

I’d love to be proven wrong, but I suspect this approach always required experience, timing, testicular fortitude, and enough realist leadership that seems sorely lacking in this White House.

The clock keeps ticking.

Feel free to highlight my ignorance.  Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

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Over at the nearly completely erased Syrian/Iraq border and to the Kurds left to fight for their survival.

The Turks really can’t afford an independent Kurdistan, but they probably really can’t afford an ISIS-controlled Islamo-thunderdome next door, either.  Erdogan has to keep his opposition down, and still ride the Islamically resurgent wave rolling throughout the region.

From VICE:

From this NY Times piece on the state whatever’s left of the Iraqi Army:

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“I told the Americans, don’t give any weapons through the army — not even one piece — because corruption is everywhere, and you will not see any of it,” said Col. Shaaban al-Obeidi of the internal security forces, also a Sunni tribal leader in Anbar Province. “Our people will steal it.”

Things Are Heating Up In Ukraine

Lilia Shevtsova At The American Interest ‘Putin Ends The Interregnum:’

‘What a mess Putin has gotten us all into! But let’s also give him his due: He has paved the way for the emergence of new trends—or at least he’s called the existing ones into serious question. He has also facilitated the formation of Ukrainian national identity, ensuring that the country will never again become a mere extension of Russia. He has thus undermined his own dream—that of creating the Eurasian Union. He has precipitated a crisis in his own country, making its future path completely unpredictable. And finally, he has reminded NATO of its mission and prompted the liberal democracies to reflect on their own principles.’

It seems there’s a Russian ethno-nationalist core Putin’s playing to aside from the clear interest in Crimea and a corridor that means splitting Ukraine in two.  Just how Putin defines that core in order to play-up to Russian pride, nostalgia and national security via his own power via a cagey ex-KGB, authoritarian, petro-Czar ruling-style is up for debate.

Over at the New Republic, they’re going to have to work harder to figure out how to maintain humanist, Left-liberal ideals in the face of such meddling and aggression (they might have to think about rebuilding the Peretz wall separating a kind of liberalism from full-on Lefty activism that new ownership has since removed):

Putin Will Never, Ever Admit That Russia Has Invaded Ukraine

‘The Kremlin will continue to deny its involvement in Ukraine, and the U.S. and E.U. will take their time calling this an outright invasion. Russia has made its objectives in Ukraine clear, and has signalled its resolute unwillingness to participate in military negotiations while its political concerns go unresolved.’

It’s pretty clear the Georgia model is in play, to some extent.  Ukraine’s economy is weak, and its civil institutions very corrupt, but Putin’s aims are pretty clear.

An interesting interview with an American volunteer with Army experience and Ukrainian roots who’s joined the fight.  A surprisingly reasonable-sounding guy via VICE:

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Via a reader: George Kennan’s ‘Long Telegram’ back to Washington in 1946.

From Vlad’s pen to NY Times readers’ eyes.

Also On This Site: Obama’s Decision On Missile Defense And A Quote From Robert Kagan’s: ‘The Return Of History And The End Of Dreams’From The National Interest: ‘Inside The Mind Of George F. Kennan’

Some Links On Foreign Policy & Ukraine…Kasparov, Kerry, Putin & Obama?-Some Links On Ukraine

James Baker At The NY Times: ‘3 Presidents and a Riddle Named Putin’

Nearly three years ago now: Eric Posner At The Volokh Conspiracy: The Bear Is Back!

Two Thursday Links-Michael Totten On Western Sahara & A Possible Kurdistan?

Full piece here.

Totten visits Western Sahara, ‘administered’ by Morocco, parts of it run by the renegade communist Polisario. The region’s become a sort-of proxy for tension between Morocco and the deeply repressive, authoritarian regime in Algeria and various conflicting interests:

“The Polisario wanted to impose a communist structure on nomadic populations,” she said. “I don’t believe that has changed. The same people are the leaders today as when I was young. There are still Sahrawi children in Cuba right now.”

Imagine going to Cuba for ‘education’…

.The entire Sahara-Sahel region is unstable. Egypt is ruled again by a military dictatorship. Libya is on the verge of total disintegration a la Somalia. Algeria is mired in a Soviet time warp. Northern Mali was recently taken over by Taliban-style terrorists so vicious they prompted the French to invade. At the time of this writing, US troops are hunting Nigeria’s Al Qaeda-linked Boko Haram across the border in Chad.

This blog thinks Totten’s at his best while travel-writing, weaving observation, journalism, politics and his experiences together.

Has the spread of Western liberal democracy involved socialist, communist, ‘social democratic,’ and even broadly humanist influences within a larger Western spectrum? You bet, and some of these influences have produced repressive and totalitarian hybrids still hanging-on.

On This Site See: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty” …The End Of History?: Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’

Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘The Once Great Havana’

In other news…

If you’re the Kurds, you defend your turf, play it cool, gain valuable territory and bide your time:

From The Daily Beast: ‘Iraqi Kurds Declare Plans For Breakaway State:’

‘But it isn’t clear that Washington can rely on either the Turkish or Israeli governments to rebuff the Kurds. Officials from both countries argue that events are fast overtaking the Obama administration.’

Vice is embedding a reporter with the Kurds, because that’s probably the only semi-safe option amidst such instability:

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Independent Kurdistan-A Good Outcome For American Interests?

In his book Where The West Ends, Totten describes visiting Northern Iraq briefly as a tourist with a friend, and the general feeling of pro-Americanism in Kurdish Northern Iraq that generally one can only feel in Poland, parts of the former Yugoslavia etc.

Related On This Site: Longer odds, lots of risk: Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest’s Via Media: “The Rise Of Independent Kurdistan?”From Reuters: ‘Analysis: Syrian Kurds Sense Freedom, Power Struggle Awaits’

Iraq, Islamism & Terrorism-The National Defense-Some Wednesday Links

Yes, there’s oil involved and the policing of the global marketplace for it (oil which we would do well to get more of here at home, but which won’t likely happen with a ballooning EPA and an activist-sympathetic administration). There’s also Israel and the larger region to think about strategically, as well as our national security.  Should ISIS/ISIL be able to control and hold any territory, like other Islamist held territories or those sympathetic to Islamist causes, this will create a genuine threat to our interests and safety pretty soon afterwards.

Thousands of fighters from the Western world have joined their ranks. This is dangerous stuff.

Vice magazine has another dispatch up from the Kurdish controlled territories of Iraq. Perhaps the Kurds would not easily give up Kirkuk after taking over its defense from fleeing Iraqi Army forces and defending it from ISIS/ISIL.

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https://twitter.com/MsIntervention/status/481798600092286976

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Walter Russell Mead tears into the current administration’s unraveling foreign policy, while Jeffrey Goldberg takes a rather bleak, non-interventionist stance, and tries to redirect focus away from the Obama blame (whom most of the press is just getting around to judging more objectively after exhausting all other options):

I’ve often thought of real neo-conservatives as liberals who’ve left the fold. Many Left-liberal loyalties and underlying liberal humanist sympathies remain, but now married to American military power and a more realist look at international affairs. The use of force is justified to promote those ideals, especially regarding Israel.

So, perhaps the more Left-liberal and ‘progressive’ our culture drifts, an eventual backlash out of the grad schools, social sciences, and policy-halls of liberal humanitarian thought awaits.

Just as many libertarians are most vocal about criticizing liberal collectivism and Statism, neo-conservatives are often most vocal about criticizing Left-liberal and non-interventionist foreign policy.

What am I missing?

Two Monday Links On Media-Who Do You Pay For Information?

Thanks to readers.

From The Economist: Rethinking The Bundle:

‘With NYT Now The Times is trying to keep readers in its embrace, rather than have them wander in and out through social networks or search.’

If the purpose of mass media communications is adapting the latest technology to the greatest number of readers possible in order to broadcast information, then many print publications still lag behind the tech curve. They’re making pronouncements from older soapboxes and not necessarily from the device in your pocket.

So, who’s doing well?

One answer may surprise you. From Forbes on Vice Magazine:

‘Vice has relentlessly pursued every possible profit opportunity, including becoming a sort of in-house ad agency for its client, and aggressively pursuing branding opportunities and other non-standard advertising opportunities, rather than simply splashing banners on its website. It has focused heavily on video–good, watchable video–, the most lucrative segment of online advertising.

But other than just “news can make money”–which is still something–the other less on Vice might be: target a demographic and own it. In a sense, that’s always been true in media, but Vice shows it especially works on the internet.’

It’s tough to imagine older readers going in for VICE, but that’s much the point. Maybe it’s just as important to be ahead of a cultural curve.

A diversion to politics:  One demographic danger on the liberal end of the spectrum may well be observable at NPR: Aging liberal/progressive boomers need the support of young people in order to pledge and keep them in business, and also to transmit principles. They need a younger cohort, but many possibly future NPR listeners don’t have the money and inclination in their youth to support Terry Gross and The Splendid Table, at least not until they age-up.

Libertarian Reason magazine has an endowment, and compared to Vice shares in a similar spirit of punk, youthful rebellion, and flirtations with anarchy, but also offers deeper discussions on political philosophy and economy. Many libertarian principles are a tougher sell to a broader audience.

Conservative publications have a tougher slog still. Aside from the general liberal bent of many who work in media, the transmission of conservative values and principles to the young (fiscal responsibility, social and/or religious conservatism, depressive and/or sober realism) has always been unsexy and uncool.  Add to this many recent cultural trends, and those are a lot of grains to run against.

Classic Yellow Journalism by malik2moon

Remember The Maine! The good old days…by malik2moon

Related On This SiteFrom io9 Via An Emailer: ‘Viral journalism And The Valley Of Ambiguity’

From The Nieman Lab:-An Oral History Of The Epic Collision Between Journalism & Digital Technology, From 1980 To The Present.

Charlie Martin At PJ Media: ‘Could Amazon and Jeff Bezos Make the Washington Post Profitable?’…‘Sorry, Jeff Bezos, the News Bundle Isn’t Coming Back

Michael Kinsley At The New Republic Via Althouse: ‘A Q & A With Jill Abramson’

From Slate: “Newsweek Has Fallen And Can’t Get Up”

A Few Thoughts On Blogging-Chris Anderson At Wired: ‘The Long Tail’

You could do like Matt Drudge, but the odds are stacked against you.

From VICE: ‘The Mexican Mormon War’

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VICE takes a hipster, counter-culture view on things, but this is an interesting and raw video piece on the Mormons who fled to Northern Mexico mostly in the 1880’s, the colonies they settled there mostly for reasons of polygamy, and are now defending against increasing drug violence and ruthless narco-traffickers.   It’s a glimpse of life inside Mexico, the Mexican Federal government’s role in patrolling a main drug highway into America, the poverty and danger, rational incentives and endemic police corruption over the border.  American laws, public policy and money have a lot to do with what goes on in Mexico.

The drug gangs are pretty much ruthless.  Gun prohibition in Mexico prevents the Mormons from protecting themselves (so the criminals have all the guns), but they have found ways around that.

Addition: What, if any, moral obligation does America have to Mexico to help it get its house, economy, police force and federal government out of the depths of corruption and weakness now that there’s new leadership?  Will a wall work?  Do we listen to the border state Republicanism guest program paths to citizenship?

What’s politically possible with the current administration in office, and the California style movement of the Democratic party towards another amnesty and the DREAM act?

Related On This Site:  Via Youtube Via Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘VICE Guide To Karachi’Francis Fukuyama At The American Interest: ‘Mexico And The Drug Wars’

Via Youtube Via Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘VICE Guide To Karachi’

Michael Totten post here.

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What’s life like in a slum in Karachi?  Crime bosses provide basic social services and protection for residents and become populist figures, earning the love and fear of the people.  The bosses then buy off the police.  The corruption is deep,  the makers of the film courageous, and perhaps a little nuts.  The PPP doesn’t necessarily have control. Good film. Perhaps, what the Karachi government is to the Liyari slum, the Federal government is to the FATA region.

Related On This Site:   From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And Pakistan…A tense relationship: Fareed Zakaria At Newsweek: ‘Terrorism’s Supermarket’Christopher Hitchens At Vanity Fair: ‘From Abbotabad To Worse’Repost-’Dexter Filkins In The NY Times: The Long Road To Chaos In Pakistan’

Is the creation of a powerful state (police, law, courts) a necessary step to overcome this basic corruption?  If so, is it a matter of timing…and here in the U.S. (Chicago, New York especially) won’t there always remain corruption?  Fukuyama’s analysis is deep, but what are the limits of the modern liberal State?:  Francis Fukuyama At The American Interest-’The Two Europes’

Martha Nussbaum and Amartya Sen have plans for America and India to address some of the corruption there, and it may involve much more state involvement here in America by extension.  Can you see life, liberty and property from here?:  Amartya Sen In The New York Review Of Books: Capitalism Beyond The Crisis

From Michael Totten: ‘An Interview With Christopher Hitchens’From Abu Muqawama: ‘Mubarak And Me’From Michael Totten: ‘The New Egyptian Underground’Michael Totten At The American Interest: “A Leaner, Meaner Brotherhood”

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