Over the past couple of days, I've been observing this Iraq "disintegration", with the ISIS folks who suddenly came out of nowhere and took over almost forty percent of the landmass of Iraq. There are some interesting observations.
First, the ISIS folks are really a band of ragtag Muslim enthusiasts who have some control of Syrian land space and had accumulated a fair amount of ammo, weapons and hardware for a decent sized army. If they weren't moving against Assad's regime in Syria.....one cannot imagine them just sitting there and calmly sipping tea and discussing World Cup soccer scores in Syria. They've done something with their time and weapons.....building up momentum, and taking out all authority in northern Iraq.
Second, when Iraq called the US for quick help....none came. So they turned around to Iran and they reacted almost overnight, and will likely shift 10,000 seasoned military guys to this fight. Crazy? Well....here's the thing....Iran has a certain version of Islam and traditions that everyone can live with. Yeah, there's Mullahs and some strict laws....but most Iranians will tell you that it's Islam-lite and the vast number of folks in society have trust in this. What they really don't want is the hardcore stuff, where every single factor of life is Islam-connected.....which is what the ISIS folks dictate. If fifty percent of Iraq becomes a real ISIS nation....where's the next step? Western Iran? So they have a reason on why this has to be "nipped in the bud" (as Barney would say).
Third, the US 'pause'? Basically, the US has stood there for several days....thinking over the potential mess now, and the potential mess a year from now. No one in the White House wants to send troops back in. Some question sending bombers (what Iraq asked for).....to bomb the heck out of ISIS strongholds. Today (Sunday).....the newspapers say that a carrier group is heading toward the region. What they do.....is likely project power, but it'll give the administration five days to think about the next step.
Fourth, what all this says is that when the US packed up and left.....the Iraq government was immature and not capable of mending its own fences. We can talk over this topic for hours.....but it doesn't matter. It's done.
Fifth, the five guys who got released in the Bergdahl deal? They fit rather comfortably into the ISIS mentality. If you don't take ISIS down now....or you allow them to grow over the next twelve months.....I suspect that the five big-time terrorists will show up in this area of Iraq and be part of a bigger plan for 2015. What people felt about Afghanistan back in the 1990s before 9-11.....could come around and be part of our future within just a year or two.
Six, and final. There should have been signals.....the NSA should have caught phone chats and emails. Someone in the intelligence community should have noted this was going to happen at least two weeks ago. Are they so stuck on Snowden episodes or monitoring the French and Germans.....that they just plain let this slip by? It's hard to say. One might sit there and get the idea that they not only saw it coming but they might have wanted it to happen....but that would be a conspiracy theorist.....which I tried hard not to be.
So, for the next three weeks....a bold new era of Islam extremism, mixed with Iraqi third-world politics (without Saddam to butcher them off quickly in his typical method).....a dash of Iranian 'friends'.....some US world political thinking.....and a bunch of question marks over what happens next. Kinda like an episode of Dallas, with J.R. getting shot nightly by multiple folks, and you keep wondering what happens next.