Category Archives: Iraq

Is The Islamic State Really Such a Psychological Enigma?

by John Grant, This Can’t Be Happening!, 1/7/15

The costly debacle known as the Iraq War put the US government in a tough spot that’s now exacerbated by the rise of the Islamic State in Anbar Province and western Syria.

A recent New York Times story referred to the Islamic State (also ISIS or ISIL) as a “conundrum” — “a hybrid terrorist organization and a conventional army.” The focus of the story was Major General Michael Nagata, who heads something within the Pentagon known as the Strategic Multilayer Assessment. The Times called it an “unofficial brain trust outside the traditional realms of expertise within the Pentagon, State Department and intelligence agencies, in search of fresh ideas and inspiration.” Besides this theoretical effort to delve into the psychology of the Islamic State, General Nagata has been assigned by President Obama the practical battlefield task of training local Syrian and Iraqi forces to fight the Islamic State.

Major General Michael Nagata, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi at Camp Bucca and the Islamic State leader todayMajor General Michael Nagata, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi at Camp Bucca and the Islamic State leader today

“We do not understand the movement,” General Nagata said of the Islamic State. “And until we do, we are not going to defeat it. We have not defeated the idea. We do not even understand the idea.”…

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Filed under Iraq, John Grant, Mid East other / S Asia

How I Became Radicalized

by John Grant, This Can’t Be Happening, 10/21/2014

It Can Happen To Anyone

      I saw the masked men
      Throwing truth into a well.
      When I began to weep for it
      I found it everywhere.
           -Claudia Lars

I’m not exactly sure when I became radicalized, but it was sometime in the mid 1980s. I purposely use the term radicalize because, with the rise of globalized insurgency in general and al Qaeda and now ISIS in particular, the word has become a favorite in the media, especially for those on the right.

Sean Hannity likes to talk fast, and he uses the term over and over as if it sounds good to him. The problem is he misuses the word. When it pops up these days, it’s in reference to young Americans or Europeans recruited on-line by violent Muslims to join a jihadi organization or, specifically, to be recruited to work for ISIS in Syria or Iraq. The more accurate word for this behavior would be to use the term extremist. Radical refers more to ideas and how someone thinks, while extremist refers to behavior, what someone does.

I’m a radical; but I’m not an extremist. Using myself, I’d distinguish the terms this way: I think Henry Kissinger and Dick Cheney should be in prison for mass murder, but since this is obviously not in the cards I don’t advocate violent actions be taken against either man. My understanding of the history of the Vietnam and the Iraq Wars is radical in that I refuse to go along with selective propaganda about those wars; I choose not to willfully forget the damning facts about those wars. In this country, that’s a radical frame of mind. The word radical comes from the Latin word radix, which means root. The roots of both those wars are damnable and, if there was real justice, men like Kissinger and Cheney would be prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned.

The facts are clear that the roots of the Iraq war are tangled with premeditated dishonesty and misuse of power; there’s plenty of criminal malfeasance if there was a prosecutor to prosecute. Bringing this radical view right up to the moment, I guarantee (I’m confident saying this) that without that war and the horrors it unleashed in Anbar Province there would be no such thing as ISIS….

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Filed under History, Iraq, John Grant, Right Wing

Why We Should Not Go To War Over James Foley

By John Grant, This Can’t Be Happening, 8/27/14

Break the Vengeance Cycle

Back in June 2011, James Foley gave an hour-long interview to an auditorium of students from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where he had graduated three years earlier with a Master’s degree in journalism. It was 15 days after he had been released from 45 rough days of captivity in Libya. He was a handsome young hero returning to his alma-mater.

In a recent item in The New Yorker, Mark Singer quotes Foley that his Libyan captivity was “a cautionary tale.” He makes it clear to the journalism students at Medill that the business of covering wars was pretty new to him when he was snatched in Libya in early 2011.

“I started as a leftist war protester,” he tells interviewer Timothy McNulty, a Medill professor and former editor at the Chicago Tribune. Foley’s brother was a soldier in Iraq, which led him to sympathize with his brother. He began to feel pulled to get into the middle of conflict himself. He aspired to become an active voice in the affairs of the world. So at Medill he took academic coursework on covering international conflicts. Singer points out he participated in something called the National Security Journalism Initiative, in which ex-British commandos grabbed him in a mock kidnapping and shot blanks by his head they’d covered with a bag.

In the interview, he says one thing the US military learned in Vietnam was the need to control journalists. So they came up with the “embed” idea. With a shiny Masters degree in hand, he got a job embedded with a US National Guard unit in Iraq….

Continue reading and follow links at This Can’t Be Happening, 8/27/14

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Filed under Iraq, John Grant, Peace, Security, Terrorism, War

A Meditation on Peacemaking

By John Grant, This Can’t Be Happening, 8/15/14

Americans Need to Break the Cycle of War

All we are saying is give peace a chance
-John Lennon

As George W. Bush paints images of his toes in the bathtub and portraits of his beloved dog Barney, it’s hard not to humanize the man. Who’d a thunk he had an artist somewhere inside him. The work is, well, a bit primitive, but it’s nice to look at. He doesn’t show up in public much, but the other day he was photographed in the audience with a bunch of delighted African women while his wife Laura and Michelle Obama spoke about the empowerment of women. Unlike his vice president from the dark side, he seems determined to avoid commenting on war issues.

Meanwhile, Iraq (here, we should pronounce it I-Rack) has become a charnel house once again. Iraq was the sovereign plaything Mr. Bush and his cronies used to turn him from an aimless deer in the headlights into a bully war president. W’s plaything is now being overrun in the west and north by a band of psychopathic religious killers. In the corridors of Washington power and in many editorial rooms the war drums are beating again and, as is always the case, truth is going down for the count.

ISIS extremists have overwhelmed the tough Kurdish Pesh Merga troops, and we’re bombing people again in Iraq…

continue reading at This Can’t Be Happening

ISIS killing.preview
from the above post:

Police at War in Ferguson.preview
from Dave Lindorff, “Police Need to Be Demilitarized and Remade as ‘Peace Officers,’” 08/14/2014, also at This Can’t Be Happening:

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Filed under Iraq, John Grant, Peace, Security, Terrorism, War