3:06 PM, Sep 10, 2014 • By THOMAS DONNELLY
Stories on President Obama’s strategy-for-the-Islamic-State speech this evening have made it plain that the military approach is going to be a combination of U.S. airpower and various Iraqi and Syrian proxies on the ground. “Obama’s ISIL Strategy to Emphasize Coalition Effort,” headlines RealClearPolitics.
Since the administration repeatedly has drawn a “red line” on U.S. “boots on the ground,” this comes as no surprise. But it will come at a cost, measured primarily in time but also perhaps in terms of mission failure. There are limits to what American airpower can achieve, particularly when applied in penny-packets and under operational constraints. And there are also lots of limits to what the on-the-ground members of any coalition can accomplish.
Since announcing its commitment to deal seriously with the Islamic State, the administration has steered well clear of anything that might carry the sulfurous smell of George Bush and Operation Iraqi Freedom. So whatever “air campaign” may unfold, it isn’t going to be of the shock and awe variety. What we’re likely to see is a continuous set of precision pinpricks delivered from drones, cruise missiles, or carrier aircraft. There will need to be “surges” of airpower in the event that Kurdish or Iraqi forces are in position to try to retake any of the urban areas held by IS forces – in the case of Mosul, a city of three-quarters of a million people, that would be a very substantial surge. It’s not that there can be a carpet-bombing of IS positions; fear of collateral damage and civilian casualties would be high. But there would be a constant need for on-call fire support – and, for U.S. “advisers” to make those calls.
The requirements for airpower would metastasize were the campaign to include Syria, or, perhaps more properly, when it does. If carrier air were employed – and the Navy’s F/A-18s would be the most flexible platforms for the job, at least until the Marines start using the F-35s they’ve got – covering both Iraq and Syria would probably require keeping a carrier in the Persian Gulf and one in the Mediterranean. That’s really all the entire U.S. Navy could sustain over an extended period of time, and the administration has floated the prospect of a three-year campaign. So much for that “Pacific Pivot.” And that’s assuming there won’t be a paralyzing paranoia about sending pilots into harm’s way. Who remembers Scot O’Grady? The IS videographers surely do.
The on-the-ground, “coalition” order of battle is likewise limited. The most useful and powerful partner would be Turkey, but Secretary of State John Kerry got the brush-off from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the other day. To begin with, IS fighters nabbed a gaggle of Turkish diplomats (and, no doubt, intelligence operatives) when they seized Mosul, making the Turkish domestic politics of coalition participation even more delicate. More deeply, Erdogan’s “neo-Ottoman” foreign policy, though a failure, has driven Turkey’s strategy in the Syria war, providing a rationale for taking in an enormous number of refugees and keeping the border open to resupply Syrian rebels – including the rebels formerly known as ISIS.
The Iraqi Kurds and Sunni sheiks of western Iraq are more politically promising partners, if only because they have no place else to turn. Although both have been sold out by the United States before, they have most to gain by even an Obama-style recommitment. Alas, the pesh merga and the Anbari tribal militias are ill-prepared to conduct the kind of fight that defeating the IS forces would demand. It would take quite a while for them to acquire such firepower, mobility, mass or logistical ability to sustain operations. And, if they did get such capabilities, that would shift the military balance within Iraq.
Growth trumps (nearly) all.Sep 8, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 48 • By IKE BRANNON
In my quest to write an article about my family vacation to Turkey and thereby write off part of the cost, I came up with an observation I deemed worthy of David Brooks or Malcolm Gladwell. It turned out to be dead wrong.
Hosted by Michael Graham.4:10 PM, Jul 30, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with senior editor Lee Smith on Hamas's attack tunnels, Operation Protective Edge, the Iranian factor, and what the media gets wrong about Israel's involvement in Gaza.
Bright young things of the Bosphorus Jul 21, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 42 • By KATE HAVARD
Demet Muftuoglu-Eseli is standing perilously close to the fire. The Turkish fashion mogul turned gallerist is hosting a gala dinner for “Istancool,” the annual arts and culture festival she founded with her husband in 2009. The proceedings begin with a “fire poem” by the Scottish artist Robert Montgomery. On a giant scaffold overlooking the Bosphorus, Montgomery mounts wooden letters on pikes:
Everything in the city is perfect
9:25 AM, Mar 22, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The government of Turkey has pulled the plug on Twitter and the White House is not happy.
12:31 PM, Mar 9, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
First question asked, supposedly, in situation rooms when there is … well, a situation: Where are the carriers?
Lately, there has been this situation in the Ukraine and now we learn that there is a carrier on hand. In this case the George H.W. Bush, the Navy’s most recently commissioned Nimitz-class carrier.
According to a release written by master chief Jeffrey Madlangbayan the ship’s public affairs department the carrier:
12:18 PM, Feb 7, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The Turkish press is reporting that a man attempted to hijack an airplane and demanded to be flown to Sochi, the site of the winter Olympics.
Some gloomy reflections on the presidential conscience. Jan 13, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 17 • By EDWARD ALEXANDER
In his ponderously titled book Contributions to the Correction of the Public’s Judgement Concerning the French Revolution (1793), the German philosopher and political leader Johann Gottlieb Fichte took time out from his defense of the Reign of Terror to compose what has been called by Daniel Johnson “the most notorious footnote in history.” It warned his German countrymen of the Jewish menace in their midst. The Jews, he told them, constituted “a state within a state. . . .
11:15 AM, Nov 28, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
It is the pièce de résistance in feast that includes, in my family’s case: smoked turkey with oyster stuffing, Smithfield ham, Brussels sprouts, green beans, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and various other basics. For desert there will be pies: pecan, apple, pumpkin, shoo fly, and coconut cream. All manner of good things. But the fried turkey is the star of this show.
Forget chess, Turkey is failing at geopolitical checkers. Nov 4, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 08 • By LEE SMITH
A recent spate of newspaper articles suggests a concerted media campaign targeting Turkey’s foreign intelligence service, the MIT, its director, Hakan Fidan, and almost surely his boss as well, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In a piece published by the Wall Street Journal and another by the Washington Times, Fidan is said to be supporting al Qaeda affiliates in Syria fighting against forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.
This time, it’s personal. They dislike the prime minister. Jun 24, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 39 • By LEE SMITH
Two weeks of protests across Turkey that have left four dead and more than 5,000 injured have observers wondering whether Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is facing an Anatolian Spring. Is Turkey’s Islamic ruler weathering a crisis similar to the revolutionary climate that sent Arab protesters into the streets two years ago, pitted populations against each other, and in several notable cases toppled dictators?
7:12 AM, Jun 13, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Steve Hayes, with Kirsten Powers and Charles Krauthammer, last night on Fox News:
11:40 AM, May 30, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
The AP reports:
Turkey's military says it has returned fire after shots were fired at an armored personnel carrier from across the border with Syria.
9:26 AM, Apr 22, 2013 • By LEE SMITH
During President Obama’s trip to Israel last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to apologize for the “operational mistakes” that in May 2010 led to the deaths of nine Turks who attacked Israeli commandoes after they boarded the Turkish-sponsored Mavi Marmara to prevent it from violating the maritime blockade of Gaza.