Saturday, March 7, 2015

More Fun With ISIS

Ah.  The psychotic religious fanatics called ISIS.  So what have those guys been up to? 

Party like it's 1399

When the rough boys of ISIS roll into town, you know they're about to turn back the clocks.  All the way back.  To the Dark Ages or earlier.  

You know ISIS.  They're the Sunni religious fanatics that have taken advantage of the collapse of middle eastern political stability to carve out the Islamic State, a bizarre little pseudo-country in the deserts of western Iraq and eastern Syria.  

Inside the boundaries of their "country," they carry out public atrocities with an unbridled enthusiasm that would be commendable if it were directed toward infrastructure rebuilding projects, say, or even sporting events. 

So what sorts of medieval antics have these crazy brides of Muhammad been up to lately, and what are we (The Coalition of the Willing, or whatever we're calling ourselves) doing in response?

This is a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad with a bomb in his turban.  It was drawn by the Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard.  Westergaard has been marked for death by radical Islamists for this cartoon and others like it.  I post it here gratuitously, because Thee Optimist is not a fan of religious nutjobs. 

Throwing Gay Guys Off Buildings

For starters, just the other day ISIS loonies were getting busy in Nineveh, Iraq, which I guess is now technically part of the glorious Islamic State.  So they captured a couple of gay guys, or guys who looked gay to them, or maybe somebody told them the guys were gay.  

No one was quite sure how the big brains over at ISIS decided these two particular guys were gay.  Be that as it may, if ISIS decides you're gay, you're as good as gay.  And the next thing you are is dead.  

See, because the prophet Muhammad didn't like gay people.  He wanted everybody who was gay to be killed, so that they could... what?  Go see Allah faster, I suppose.  Which is usually thought of as a good thing, if you're a suicide bomber. 

There are flaws in the argument, certainly.  But why wouldn't there be?  There's actually no historical evidence that Muhammad ever existed.  So there's really no reason for the cockamamie ideas he cooked up to make much sense.  Because, like, he was never alive in the first place.

I don't care.  Do you care?  In my book, people can worship whatever ridiculous half-baked horse-piss they want, as long as they're not hurting anybody.  But ISIS does hurt people.  Like this maybe (maybe not) gay guy:

This is a man who may or may not have been gay, falling to his death in Nineveh Iraq, after ISIS activists bound his hands and threw him off a building.

Demolishing Humanity's Cultural Heritage

Up until three days ago, there was a place in Iraq called Nimrud.  It was an ancient city along the Tigris River, built perhaps 3,500 years ago.  

Many priceless artifacts have been removed from the site, and are held in more than 70 museums around the world.  Many more have been stolen.

In any event, for long years the Nimrud archeological site had survived the tumultuous history of the region.  This is because most of the various competing interests, factions, militias, dictators and Mad Max style post-Apocalyptic lunatics could somehow agree that the history of human civilization is worth preserving.

A mythological creature called a lamassu, depicted with eagle's wings, a bull's body, and a human head, protecting the entrance to the palace at Nimrud.

The people who built Nimrud were alive nearly 2,000 years before Islam even started.  They worshipped mythical gods that were meaningful to them, and which had no more basis in fact than Muhammad or his pal Allah.

They also built a temple and palace complex that was part of humanity's cultural endowment, in a part of the world where civilization as we think of it is considered to have begun.

No matter.  To ISIS, Nimrud was an example of pagan idolatry, and an affront to the purity of their religion. 
Clearly these ancient people were heretics, no more, no less. 

Today is Sunday.  Just this past Thursday, ISIS showed up at Nimrud with bulldozers and knocked the entire place down.  

What can we really do about ISIS? 
A strange event took place in Iraq earlier this week.  Iraqi government troops, combined with troops from Iran, all of which were commanded by an Iranian general, attacked the city of Tikrit.  

Tikrit is best known as the birthplace of Saddam Hussein.  Remember that guy?  Talk about yesterday's news.  Tikrit was overrun by ISIS back in the summer of 2014, and has since been part of that much admired bastion of free-thinking, the Islamic State.

What's odd about this is the attack took the United States government entirely by surprise.  The Iraqis (mostly Shiite militias) and the Iranian version of special forces, the Revolutionary Guards, attacked Tikrit without bothering to tell the Americans ahead of time.  There are no American airstrikes involved.  

And what's more, American observers have made it clear that the combined Iranian and Iraqi forces will likely wipe out the ISIS fighters holding the city, potentially within the next few weeks.  

What's going on here?

It's really pretty simple.  We've even talked about it before. 

The American government has no intention of destroying ISIS, or rolling them back from the lands they hold.  ISIS serves a purpose for us, and we like them right where they are.  The Iranians have finally come to grips with this fact, and so they're going to start clearing out ISIS themselves.

The US government talks a lot about how hard it will be to eradicate ISIS, how tenacious they are as fighters, how it's a project that's going to take years, how we can bomb them, but it will never be enough.  Local armies will have to do the fighting on the ground, and it will take years and years to get them ready.

This is what's known as a pack of lies.  How can I be so sure?  Easy.

A woman walks past a ruined building during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999.

Operation Noble Anvil 

By our own count, we have launched some 2,500 air missions against ISIS-held positions since we started bombing them last summer.  That sounds pretty impressive, eh?

Well, no.

Listen, Thee Optimist is no war monger website.  We're all about love and peace around this place.  But if you're going to bomb somebody, then bomb them, okay?  Like you mean it.

2,500 missions in 6+ months is not a lot of missions.  In fact, by modern standards, it's relatively paltry.  You know what is a lot of missions?  Try 38,000 missions in just 10 weeks.   

In 1999, we (and our courageous NATO allies) were just about fed up with a Serbian man named Slobodan Milosevic, and the newly re-united country he ran, Yugoslavia.  

The reasons for this are complicated, but at their simplest, they had a lot to do with atrocities committed during the Yugoslavian Civil War, and also our desire to weaken our enemy Russia by dismantling her allies in Eastern Europe.

So we cooked up a new country called Kosovo, an ancient region in Yugoslavia somewhat smaller than Connecticut and with a much smaller population.  Kosovo had never been an independent country in human history, but now they wanted to be free, and we were ready to help them do that.

Slobodan Milosevic and his military had other ideas.  They wanted to keep Kosovo part of Yugoslavia, and they were prepared to commit yet more atrocities to do so. 

So we bombed Yugoslavia.  We bombed them from March 24 to June 10, night and day, 24 hours a day.  We bombed them until it didn't make sense anymore.  Planes landed, new ones took off.  Around the clock. 

38,000 bombing runs in 10 weeks.  We called it Operation Noble Anvil.  Conveniently enough (mathematically speaking), the relentless pace of that attack was roughly 38 times faster and more intense than our current bombing program.

What was the upshot of all that bombing?  Well, we completely destroyed tiny Yugoslavia's ability to make war on even tinier Kosovo.  In fact, we completely destroyed Yugoslavia's ability to do much of anything.

We knocked out all of their military installations.  We destroyed their air force.  We wiped out their electrical grid.  No radio.  No TV.  No phones.  There was no more drinking water.  There were no railroads.  There were no bridges, but it hardly mattered because there were barely any roads.  Nothing moved on the ground unless we said okay.

Two American airmen died in all that bombing.  Meanwhile, we killed about 10,000 Yugoslavian soldiers, and another 1,000 or so cops.  We killed anywhere from 500 to 5,500 civilians - estimates vary.  Long before we stopped bombing, there was no one attempting to mount even a feeble, token defense of the country.  The only thing left was total, abject surrender.

Could we do the same thing to ISIS?  You bet.  

Do we?  No.  

Why not?  

For answers, look no further than:

Related Article:  Why Don't We Just Wipe Out ISIS?

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