— The Erimtan Angle —

Helene Cooper and Michael Shearnov write that “President Obama has authorized the deployment of an additional 1,500 American troops to Iraq in the coming months, doubling the number of Americans meant to train and advise Iraqi and Kurdish forces. The trainers and advisers are to help Iraqis and Kurds as they plan a major offensive expected next spring against Islamic State fighters who have poured into Iraq from Syria. Pentagon officials said Friday [, 7 November 2014] that military advisers would establish training sites across Iraq in a significant expansion of the American military campaign in Iraq and Syria against the Islamic State. A Defense Department official said that a number of military personnel would deploy specifically to Anbar Province, the Sunni stronghold in western Iraq that was the scene of bloody fighting for years after the 2003 American-led invasion. In recent months Sunni militants with the Islamic State have been seizing and holding territory across Anbar. In addition, White House budget officials said they would ask Congress for $5 billion for military operations in the Middle East against the Islamic State, including $1.6 billion to train and equip Iraqi troops. At its height in 2006 and 2007, the Iraq war was costing the United States more than $60 billion a year. Administration officials said the expanded effort was intended to help the Iraqis break the Islamic State’s occupation in northern and western Iraq, re-establish the government’s control over the country’s major roads and borders, and retake Mosul, a city of about a million people 250 miles north of Baghdad “.[1]

Obama will now spend another $5 billion on Iraq . . . Last year, Brown’s University’s News Officera Courtney Coelho posted “[m]ore than 190,000 people have been killed in the 10 years since the war in Iraq began. The war will cost the U.S. $2.2 trillion, including substantial costs for veterans care through 2053, far exceeding the initial government estimate of $50 to $60 billion, according to a new report by scholars with the Costs of War project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies”.[2]  With the emergence of the Islamic State, more money will flow into the hands of the big arms’ manufacturers, an development that will lead to unleashing even more deadly weapons on the scene and causing even more deaths and injuries on the ground. In March 2013, Professor Neta C. Crawford wrote in the Costs of War-report Civilian Death and Injury in the Iraq War, 2003-2013 that  “[n]early every day brings reports of continued injury and death due to violence in Iraq. Indeed, the trend is increasing violence over the last two years. More people were killed by war-related violence in Iraq during 2011 than in 2010 and more were killed in 2012 than in 2011”.[3]  A trend that is set to continue now that President Obama has decided that the extermination of the Islamic State is in the American interest — in his famous phrase “degrade and ultimately destroy”.

The New York Times‘ piece continues that “Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said that Mr. Obama has authorized the additional personnel to operate at Iraqi bases, even those outside the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, and Erbil, the Kurdish capital. Until now, American troops have been operating at a headquarters with Iraqi and Kurdish forces in those two cities”.[4]

The BBC’, Washington Correspondent Tom Esslemont has this to say: “In the eyes of the Pentagon, the Iraqi armed forces are responding well to the training they have already been given. Its spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said they had ‘stiffened their spine’. So the expansion of the training programme to the north, south and west of Iraq is designed to build on what is being labelled as progress. But others may see this deployment differently. There are those who recall how, earlier this year, the US-trained and equipped Iraqi armed forces simply crumbled in the face of Islamic State militants. Rear Adm Kirby blamed the previous Iraqi government for that, and said that the Iraqis were now making gains and that the situation was completely different this time”.[5]  The BBC recaps that a “US-led coalition has launched more than 400 air strikes on the group in Iraq since August, and more than 300 across the border in Syria. The strikes have destroyed hundreds of the group’s armed vehicles and several of its bases, but [the] Islamic State has continued its campaign to establish a caliphate. Last week, officials in Iraq’s western Anbar province said IS militants had killed at least 322 members of a Sunni tribe who had tried to resist the jihadists”. [6]

[1] Helene Cooper and Michael Shearnov, “Obama to Send 1,500 More Troops to Assist Iraq” The New York Times (07 November 2014). http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/08/world/middleeast/us-to-send-1500-more-troops-to-iraq.html?emc=edit_na_20141107&nlid=68990308&_r=0.

[2] Courtney Coelho, “Iraq War: 190,000 lives, $2.2 trillion” Brown University (14 March 2013). https://news.brown.edu/articles/2013/03/warcosts.

[3] Neta C. Crawford, “Civilian Death and Injury in the Iraq War, 2003-2013” Costs of War (March 2013). http://costsofwar.org/sites/all/themes/costsofwar/images/Civilian_Death.pdf.

[4] Helene Cooper and Michael Shearnov, “Obama to Send 1,500 More Troops to Assist Iraq”.

[5] Tom Esslemont, “Analysis: Tom Esslemont, Washington Correspondent” BBC News (08 November 2014). http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-29961084.

[6] “Islamic State crisis: US to send 1,500 more troops to Iraq” BBC News (08 November 2014).


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