Amb. Henry F. Cooper, Chairman Lt. Gen. Daniel Graham, Founder
High Frontier . . Building Truly Effective Defenses . . . Reagan’s Vision Lives!
E-Mail Message 140811
Operation Pinprick . . .
By Ambassador Henry F. Cooper
August 11, 2014
“This is a pinprick. It’s almost worse than nothing because I fear the President is threatening and then he won’t follow through … It’s the weakest possible response and we cannot allow them [ISIS] to take Erbil. What [the administration has] done so far is almost meaningless.” ~Senator John McCain (R-AZ)
Senator John McCain referred to our engagement to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as a “pinprick.” I agree with his assessment—click here—and suggest that we refer to this latest chapter as “Operation Pinprick” since no other name has been provided to the limited action taken thus far. And, in my opinion, this “pinprick” may burst the balloon puffed up around other serious threats to our security.
Gestation for Decisions?
Consider first articles in the August 8th New York Times and August 9th Washington Post, which provide a picture of a flurry of events between last Wednesday evening, the day before the U.S. strikes on ISIS, and last Saturday, the day afterward. In brief summary:
- Wednesday evening, a sobering message from Joint Chief’s Chairman Martin Dempsey followed by discussions with others on his national security team finally persuaded President Obama to respond to advances of ISIS—or the Islamic State as they prefer to call themselves to emphasize their objective of founding a Caliphate.
- Thursday morning, the President was briefed again about the plight of some 40,000 Iraqis stranded on Mount Sinjar, members of an ancient religious sect known as Yazidi. They were branded as devil worshipers by ISIS; the women were to be enslaved and the men were to be slaughtered.
- These deliberations apparently jelled into a plan of sorts, which the President outlined to the Nation in his televised address on Thursday evening (east coast time). His announced objectives were:
- First, “to stop the advance on Erbil, I’ve directed our military to take targeted strikes against ISIS terrorist convoys should they move toward the city” [where Americans are stationed], and
- Second, “at the request of the Iraqi government—we’ve begun operations to help save Iraqi civilians stranded on the mountain.”
It should also be noted that ISIS has been persecuting Christians for weeks, demanding that they convert or die—they have been raping and enslaving the women, beheading and crucifying the men and murdering children. ISIS tells the people that anyone who kills a Christian will go straight to heaven. About 100,000 Christians abandoned their villages in the Nineveh plains by last week, after ISIS launched mortar attacks. ISIS has burned some churches and occupied others, converting them into mosques. The refuges, including the sick, the elderly, infants and pregnant women, are on foot in Iraq’s searing summer heat, walking toward Kurdish cities including Irbil, Duhok and Soulaymiyia. This while Iraqi soldiers and others also face mass executions as illustrated below.
This obvious human catastrophe is real genocide, as the President acknowledged as he finally acted, however restrained. Genocide is a crime, according to the United Nations which is supposed to act in response. Really? Don’t hold your breath.
After Friday’s military intervention in Iraq, the President underscored its limited nature in his Saturday morning remarks at the White House, emphasizing that the airstrikes were intended only to protect U.S. citizens and facilities and to ease the looming humanitarian disaster on Mount Sinjar. He emphasized that, only if Iraq forms a new, unified government will the United States contemplate more aggressive action.
The President explicitly held out the prospect of expanded involvement if Iraqis form a government embraced by all major factions in the country, including Shiite, Sunni and the Kurdish ethnic group that controls the north. If such a government forms, he said, the U.S. can “not just play defense but engage in some offense.” This could take months if ever it occurs. So, don’t hold your breath.
“This is something that the United States cannot do for them [the Iraqis],” President Obama emphasized in a Saturday morning news conference, as he prepared to leave for a vacation in Martha’s Vineyard. Just before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, he observed that U.S. airstrikes in Iraq succeeded in destroying arms and equipment that could have been used against the Kurdish capital of Irbil, where U.S. military are serving.
He observed that the humanitarian efforts to airdrop food and water to persecuted religious minorities stranded on a mountaintop were continuing—and planning was underway to get them down to safety. He gave no timetable for how long the U.S. military involvement would last, saying it depends on Iraqi political efforts.
He also acknowledged that the advance of the Islamic State forces was more rapid than anticipated. Indeed, they have been demonstrably far more capable than a “JV” operation—last January, President Obama had said the al-Qaeda-linked ISIS was like junior varsity basketball players as compared to Kobe Bryant.
So this meandering continues with additional air strikes on Sunday and this morning, still without indication about whether we will provide additional arms to our ally Kurdistan which is fighting ISIS troops armed with U.S. military equipment obtained when the Iraqi military turned tail and ran in the beginning stage of the war. And so far I have heard no real strategy for dealing with ISIS in the longer run as it indeed forms a Islamic State—a Caliphate. They now dominate a substantial portion of Iraq and Syria and can pose major chaos in the region, e.g., by destroying one of the two major dams they now “own.” They wouldn’t do that, right? Right.
How’s That Working Out?
So, what has been the ISIS response? As news of the strikes spread, jihadist fighters and supporters took to Twitter to express glee that the United States had become embroiled in their battle, threatening to shoot down planes, exact revenge and conquer other American allies elsewhere in the region.
“This crisis will become a gift and you shall remember this: Our State will enter Irbil and America will fall, and then the Gulf will be ours,” one purported jihadist tweeted.
“Your announcements do not scare us; the biggest enemy of the State is the Americans,” said another.
And Sunday morning’s Washington Post (Click here for the early web edition of this sobering article.) observed that Islamic fighters are abandoning al Qaeda affiliates in Yemen and Africa to join the Islamic State (ISIS), which now sees itself in direct conflict with the United States—the “Great Satan,” remember?
Doesn’t exactly fit the theme that “bin Laden is dead and al Qaeda is on the run” does it? Actually, al Qaeda reportedly rejected the more extreme ISIS—but the Washington Post now reports that U.S. officials say that ISIS “expanding territory, aggressive reputation and roster of experienced fighters account for its momentum.”
Last July, ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, took the pulpit at the largest mosque in Mosul, declaring himself to be the “caliph” of the Muslim world and urging followers to flock to his organization to establish a Caliphate—fulfilling an ambition articulated by his predecessor, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed by U.S. forces in Iraq in 2006.
Last January, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. testified that ISIS “does have aspirations for attacks on the [U.S.] homeland.” Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Fox News Sunday said he takes seriously ISIS threat to raise the flag of Allah over the White House, and that “I think of an American city in flames because of the terrorists’ ability to operate in Syria and Iraq.” And remember that something on the order of a hundred Americans are reported to have joined ISIS and its marauding ban in the Middle East.
What will they do if and when they come home? And what about the crooks and terrorists leaking through our borders? Are there jihadis among them? You think?
As you connect these unpleasant dots, I suggest you don’t forget that there are sources of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in this boiling mix. Well beyond the concerns about our importing the Ebola virus from Africa.
And the Rest of the World?
After all, Osama bin Laden was sheltered for years in Pakistan, with tight links to the Taliban. Navy SEALs killed him within a half mile of Pakistan’s premier military training academy, their West Point. And Pakistan is widely reported to already have a hundred or so nuclear weapons. Not to worry, they are under tight control. Right.
Then there’s Iran, not exactly an ally of ISIS—except perhaps in one thing upon which they agree: Death to the “Great Satan” America. Not to worry, Secretary of State John Kerry is deeply engaged in negotiations with Iran to block Iran’s persistent march to its own nuclear weapons. Right.
I agree with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s warning to us about Iran getting nuclear weapons in his interview with Sean Hannity, in his brief departure from discussing his ongoing fight with Hamas—another jihadi group seeking to destroy the “Little Satan” Israel. At least, Israel has developed with our help excellent defenses against Hamas’ rockets.
Too bad we have left our back door open to nuclear armed ballistic missiles launched by Iran to attack us from the south, as discussed previously. And we appear to be doing nothing about that vulnerability.
Then there’s North Korea and Dear Leader 3.0 and the same threat to us—not to mention that Iran and North Korea cooperate on developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles to deliver them.
Worrisome, these matters and more, e.g., did I forget to mention our reset with Russia and Russia’s invasion and continuing threat to Ukraine? Russia modernizes its strategic systems while our atrophy.
And let’s see, Russia is somehow coupled to the Middle East, right? Oh yes, Russia has longstanding ties to Iran and Syria—the second “S” in ISIS—and after drawing his redline in Syria, President Obama deeded the future in Syria (and arguably the rest of the Middle East) to Putin’s management. And, over a hundred thousand Syrians are reported to have perished at Assad’s hand. Reset, anyone?
Lest you forget, ISIS leader al-Baghdadi has threatened, “We’ll see you in New York!” So, we should not expect to see this threat remain “over there” unless we act decisively to keep it over there. American national interests are at stake! And not just overseas.
If you wonder about President Obama’s vision and related policies, you might enjoy (sorry, wrong word) reading Tom Friedman’s interview with the President before he left town. Click here. Note: ISIL = ISIS = Islamic State = Caliphate = lots of trouble. Especially when our friends don’t trust us and our enemies don’t fear us.
Personally, I find little of comfort in Friedman’s interview.
Hope President Obama enjoys Martha’s Vineyard. What’s a little pinprick among friends? Golf, anyone?
Near Term High Frontier Plans.
We seek to inform all who will listen of the existential threats confronting us. There is so little if any sign of improvement in the conditions overseas—and with “the powers that be” in Washington. We could confront dire conditions here at home in the twinkle of the eye. Especially if our leaders do not wake up to the growing threats and deal with them.
We are renewing our efforts to inform the state and local authorities—and publics—in states around the Gulf of Mexico of the important role their states can play in defending all Americans against the existential EMP threat.
Given the lethargy in Washington, we will continue informing all who will listen about the existential EMP threat and expanding our work with the National Guard to help them gain knowledge and workable plans to help harden the electric power grid and counter the EMP threat. This work will go hand in hand with efforts of State legislators who are seeking to expand on the excellent work of those in Maine and Virginia, who have passed legislation requiring serious studies of the EMP threat and the needed countermeasures to protect the electric power grid.
The most recent bill passed in record time without a single negative vote in Virginia can be used as a ready pattern.
We are working with South Carolina National Guard to plan tabletop exercises to help them understand how best to engage constructively with private citizens and their local and state representatives and other authorities to understand and respond to this serious threat. We also are supporting related activities in neighboring and other states.
We are informing SC state legislators and senators about the threat and what can be done to deal with it—hopefully they will follow Maine and Virginia in seeking to harden the electric power grid. We also expect support from Cong. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) whose district includes my SC farm—and who is a member of the Congressional EMP Caucus seeking passage of the Shield Act and the Infrastructure Protection Act, as well as other SC representatives.
We will be working with members of the EMP Coalition and others who are seeking to take our message across the country—especially with Bob Newman, a former Adjutant General of Virginia, to help us link our SC plans more broadly and especially into Virginia and the National Capital region.
What can you do?
Join us in praying for our nation, and for a rebirth of the freedom sought, achieved and passed to us by those who came before us.
Help us to spread our message to the grass roots and to encourage all “powers that be” to provide for the common defense as they are sworn to do.
Begin by passing this message to your friends and suggest they visit our webpage, www.highfrontier.org for more information. Also, please encourage your sphere of influence to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter.
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