Friday, September 12, 2014

Walk Hard But Carry a Soft Stick?

Juan Cole, an expert on the region, responds a little different than many, to the Obama ready-for-war speech--claiming that actually it may just be plea to calm down while he takes weeks to maybe do little and then back off as the hysteria declines.  Well, maybe.  Must-reading in any case.
What if Obama is a sharper reader of the Middle East than his critics give him credit for? He knows ISIL is likely not going away, just as, after 13 years, the Taliban have not. US military action may even prolong the lifetime of these groups (that is one argument about AQAP) even as it keeps them from taking more territory.

Don’t listen to his expansive four-stage program or his retooled, stage-managed John Wayne rhetoric. Look at his metaphors. He is telling those who have ears to hear that he is pulling a Yemen in Iraq and Syria. He knows very well what that implies. It is a sort of desultory, staccato containment from the air with a variety of grassroots and governmental forces joining in. Yemen is widely regarded as a failure, but perhaps it is only not a success. And perhaps that is all Obama can realistically hope for.

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