Devious Calculation or Brazen Incompetence?

by lizard

When it comes to assessing the movements on the global chessboard, I go back and forth between devious calculation and brazen incompetence. Maybe describing the geopolitical game as chess-like is being too generous. It could just be a game of checkers, quickly and stupidly played after throwing back a few too many pours of single malt scotch. Or vodka. Or Sake.

In Iraq, ISIS has allegedly taken a refinery that produces 1/3 of Iraq’s oil (RT):

Radicals from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS, or ISIL) have been attacking the refinery, which is responsible for supplying a third of Iraq’s oil, for the past ten days.

The militants are planning to hand over the complex to local tribes for day-to-day management, BBC quoted a rebels’ spokesman as saying, adding that the militants will continue to make their way to Baghdad.

I imagine that’s a pretty big deal.

This whirlwind called ISIS (or ISIL) is hard to track. I always appreciate b’s take at Moon of Alabama, where the trolls come out in force for a reason. His latest post points out the stated ambitions of ISIS:

Elijah J. Magnier has an interesting interview with an ISIS commander, Abu Baqr-al-Janabi, in Baghdad. There are plans for ISIS to take the city and there are apparently sleeper cells of fighters waiting for the big attack signal. But, says the commander, ISIS and the attached other forces, will first have to consolidate their positions and eliminate Iraqi government position in their back. The Iraqi government is already giving up some outer position and is consolidating its side by securing only Baghdad, the south and some economically important assets.

The 300 military “advisers” the U.S. had announced to send to Iraqi headquarters will likely never arrive. There is disagreement over their legal status and the Iraqi government, given the U.S. commitment to another regime change in Baghdad, may well conclude that these soldiers would likely be malign actors rather than trustworthy allies. The Maliki government, like the Iranians, probably sees the whole ISIS attack as the result of a U.S. conspiracy.

My hunch for now is that ISIS will not go for the big fight in Baghdad in the near term but will rather try to launch some substantial diversion elsewhere. In the introduction of the interview Magnier writes:

ISIS’s aim is not Iraq and Syria, it is the Levant and beyond. It includes Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel and more. “No Limits”, as I am told.

A different perspective sees Israel all over this ISIS push to Baghdad, as best summarized by Michael Whitney’s latest piece at Counterpunch. Apparently the Israeli desire to split up Iraq can be traced to this guy, Oded Yinon. The quote from Whitney’s article I’m selecting is a bit clunky and should be read in full context:

The plan was the brainstorm of Oded Yinon who saw Iraq as a serious threat to Israel’s hegemonic aspirations, so he cooked up a plan to remedy the problem. Here’s a blurb from Yinon’s primary work titled, “A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties”, which is the roadmap that will be used to divide Iraq:

“Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other, is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel’s targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria. Iraq is stronger than Syria. In the short run it is Iraqi power which constitutes the greatest threat to Israel. An Iraqi-Iranian war will tear Iraq apart and cause its downfall at home even before it is able to organize a struggle on a wide front against us. Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and in Lebanon. In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines as in Syria during Ottoman times is possible. So, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, and Shi’ite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north. It is possible that the present Iranian-Iraqi confrontation will deepen this polarization.” (A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties, Oded Yinon,

Here at home there is the faintest simmering of protest against ANOTHER invasion of Iraq. I think a lot of people, even the ones paying just the slightest attention, are dumbfounded by what’s being reported.

And it’s from that nearly worthless corporate reporting a small gem appeared, a brief glimmer that even carefully sculpted anchors at Fox News are not total robots incapable of the tiniest pushback.

Ladies and gentlemen, Megyn Kelly:

I offer that as evidence of the brazen incompetence argument.

Another argument comes from the right, and I think a nice representation of that comes from an exchange I had with Douglas Ernst, a gracious fellow who let me start commenting again after a period of being put in time out.

Here is my comment and his response:

lizard 19: ISIS was strengthened by US-backed efforts to topple Assad and armed in part with weapon caches “liberated” from the NATO-imposed regime change in Libya. now ISIS is being used to get Maliki out in order to insert a more compliant stooge, like the Neocon favorite, Chalabi.

Douglas Ernst: Guess who’s back? Back again. Lizard’s back. Tell a friend! Guess who’s back? Guess who’s back? Guess who’s back? Guess who’s back?

“Neocon”? Are you now arguing that Barack Obama and his national security team are all a bunch of “neocons”? They’re in charge. The buck stops with him (no matter how much he tries to pretend that it doesn’t), and the last time I checked the big bad BushHitler (one word) is no longer in office.

There weren’t any U.S. “efforts” to topple Assad, if by “effort” you mean a serious attempt to implement a coherent foreign policy. There wasn’t much more than foreign policy finger painting going on, which just smeared the mess around.

As I said: this is what “leading from behind” gets us. Obama sloughs off real leadership in favor of allowing the chips to fall where they may, and then he essentially says everyone is to blame. He passes around enough bombs (or drops them) to give the appearance that he has some sort of plan, when in reality he has no clue what he’s doing — he’s just a community organizer who is making things go “boom” while the world’s worst actors on the world stage laugh at him. If you’re a fan of chaos — and terrorist organizations thrive on it — Mr. Obama is the guy you want in office.

He later, in the post, said boots need to be on the ground in Iraq. Again.

America, fuck yeah.


  1. evdebs

    Jon Stewart had a good segment on Megyn Kelley going off the plantation. I wonder if she’s looking for new work?

    More boots on the ground?

    I think even the Spice Girls had it right, compared to “boots.”

    I’m not aware of too many things
    I know what I know, if you know what I mean
    Philosophy is the talk on a cereal box
    Religion is the smile on a dog
    I’m not aware of too many things
    I know what I know, if you know what I mean, d-doo yeah

    Chuck me in the shallow waters
    Before I get too deep

    What I am is what I am
    Are you what you are or what?
    What I am is what I am
    Are you what you are or

  2. Big Swede

    A U.S. official said this week that its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, said “I’ll see you guys in New York” when released in 2009.-WABC NY

  3. Big Swede

    How about brazen ideological incompetence?

    Followed by history repeating itself….over and over again.

    • Steve W

      Swede, I love you putting on stoned people to lie. Is he on Paxol?

      You need to contact your local public access station and get this stuff out there. You could be a star! It’s up to you.

      • Big Swede

        As usual when libs lack a constructive or intelligent argument they devolve into personal attacks.

  4. steve kelly

    The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia must be factored into this somehow. The global price of oil matters. There are KSA fingerprints everywhere, yet the US/EU/NATO anti-terrorist alliance seem unconcerned about KSA-funded terrorists. I thought funding terrorists was a no-no. Coincidence? Unlikely.

    Is war a racket, or not? If it is, a spike in the global oil price combined with those trillions spent on “defense,” are fattening somebody’s wallets.
    War profiteers don’t watch which way the wind is blowing, they make the wind at K Street. Without heightened security threats every now and then, just how will Congress and President Obama continue to justify maintaining (2003-2013) wartime levels of NSA/CIA/TSA/Pentagon, etc. expenditures year after year? How will they bust the sequester’s impact on Wall Street’s growth/profits? Once established, a racket is hard to break. I seriously doubt that the highest order of organized crime in the world leaves very much to chance (or incompetence).

  5. The Kelly/Cheney exchange can easily be read as “Cheney no long has power.” We needed Kelly to do that, to confront power, in 2003. Beating up on an old man long after the fact is just showmanship.

    • lizard19

      since 4&20 contributors oversee moderation of their own posts, unless I hear otherwise, you are welcome to comment on anything I write.

      • I know I can be a force for evil. I will do my best to be a good little commenter. I got a devil inside me, and he’s a clever one, but I will do my best.

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