My RedState post on Islamic State is up.

Found here.  Short version: …there is something evil going on in Islamic State territory. And I wonder sometimes whether the ‘e’ in ‘evil’ there should be capitalized.


Kurds retake town of Sinjar from Islamic State, find mass graves.


Local media outlet Rudaw reported Sunday that witnesses had pointed out one of the graves to officials the day before. The witnesses told them the grave, near the Sinjar Technical Institute, contained the remains of 78 women between the ages of 40 and 80 years old.

The gruesome discovery was followed by the finding of another grave Sunday 10 miles west of Sinjar believed to contain the bodies of about 50 men. Both graves have yet to be excavated.



Why the Obama administration can’t admit that we’re at war in Iraq and Syria.

So, last week we and the Kurds and the Iraqis – or the Kurds and the Iraqis and us – went and did a hostage rescue mission in Islamic State (IS) territory.  It was, by all accounts, a highly successful mission: hostages were freed, the base the hostages were in was then obliterated by the US Air Force, and ‘we*’ lost only one man to combat (Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler). As combat raids in a war zone go, this one ended very well.

Assuming, of course, you’re allowed to call it ‘combat,’ and you’re allowed to call it a ‘war.’ Which is to say: you’re not a member of the Obama administration. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, courtesy of Andrew Malcolm: (more…)


News not-flash: Brass altered intelligence reports on ISIS to appease Barack Obama.

I’ve long held the opinion that this administration, when it wants to be competent in foreign affairs, actively attempts to imitate the last administration. Because – and this will come as a shock to the folks who have been drinking too deeply from the antiwar movement’s poisoned wells – the last administration actually was competent at foreign affairs*. Which would be great, except that this administration doesn’t actually know what the last administration is like – so it imitates the fever-dream version of the Bush administration, and then wonders why things keep turning to crud.

Case in point: “More than 50 intelligence analysts working out of the U.S. military’s Central Command have formally complained that their reports on ISIS and al Qaeda’s branch in Syria were being inappropriately altered by senior officials, The Daily Beast has learned.” Although contra the Daily Beast, this situation is not particularly like what happened in 2003. What happened in 2003 was, essentially, that George W. Bush decided to take no chances in trusting the good intentions of an uncontrollable dictator. What’s happening now is that the military cadre that interacts with the Executive Branch is too ready to tell the Executive Branch what it wants to hear, and the Executive Branch is collectively too arrogant – or just too stupid – to realize that this is happening. (more…)


My alarming thought of the night.

Two hundred years from now, they’re going to write blood-and-thunder adventure fiction, usually set in the Middle East, about this decade. The kind of fiction that has in the Afterword something like While this book is fiction, many of the groups and people found in it are not – and, as usual, the most unbelievable ones are the ones that were most real.  

I mean, Jeebus. Nascent pocket empire that buys and sells women in open market while the death cultists that run it prepare their latest victims for the sacrificial fires. It’s tailor-made for a two-fisted adventurer to go through the place at high velocity, all the while raising merry hell. Would that we had some…

Moe Lane

PS: Unfortunately, this isn’t a book. Those poor people are real.


Quote of the Day, It’s Naive NOT To Call Isis Evil edition.

Jim Geraghty knows that already, of course. That’s why he wrote this:

You know, of all of the injustices in the world, the idea that the Islamic State’s viewpoint isn’t getting a sufficiently nuanced assessment in Western discussions is pretty far down my list of concerns.

Same here. I mean: Jesus Christ, it’s a no-fooling human-sacrificing death cult. And I’m not swearing, either. I’m presumptuously bringing that fact to my God’s attention.


Marvelous: the Islamic State death cult is LAWFUL Evil.

This is a problem.  Chaotic Evil death cults are, of course, horrid: but they also can be slaughtered with relative impunity. Lawful Evil cults, on the other hand, tend to want to stick around for a while. As we are seeing in the Middle East right now.

While no one is predicting that the Islamic State will become steward of an accountable, functioning state anytime soon, the group is putting in place the kinds of measures associated with governance: issuing identification cards for residents, promulgating fishing guidelines to preserve stocks, requiring that cars carry tool kits for emergencies. That transition may demand that the West rethink its military-first approach to combating the group.



On the Matter of the perverted Messianic romanticism of Islamic State.

Via @cayankee comes this article with a provocative (to me) title, but that’s mostly because the article actually understated the influence of the Arthur legend on Tolkien.

But the story of the arrival and lingering global charisma of ISIS features something that sets it apart: the idea of the Caliphate. Last June, the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared himself caliph. The grandiosity of the claim was likely lost even on many educated non-Muslim observers. A position that has been gone from Islam in anything but name for 1,000 years, the caliph has to meet certain requirements: he must control territory, must enforce sharia law within it, and he must descend from the Quraysh tribe, the tribe of the Prophet Muhammad (the Ottoman emperors claimed the title into the 20th century, but their claim is widely rejected because they did not descend from the Quraysh). Pledging allegiance to a valid caliph, when one is available, is an obligation that ISIS supporters view as binding on all Muslims. And while Baghdadi’s claim has been divisive even in the world of violent jihadism, groups in Nigeria and Libya have apparently made this vow of allegiance.


Far from being a parochially Islamic impulse or a nerd’s fantasy – something you can get involved in from ‘your mama’s basement’, as one counter-terrorism expert has said – the myth of the Caliphate echoes dreams of transcendent legitimacy that are deeply embedded in European culture and literature. To find a story of a sovereign authority long lapsed in kingship but still entitled to the allegiance of all the just, and fated to reappear at an auspicious moment, we need look no further than The Lord of the Rings (1954-55).



Islamic State seizes key portions of Ramadi, we’re-still-calling-it-Iraq.

Well. I guess we now know why it was suddenly important to ask all the Republican candidates whether they would have gone into to Iraq, knowing now what we knew then.  It was done apparently to distract from the fact that the current Democratic President is still busy losing the war that the Republican President won for him: “Islamic State fighters took control of key sites in heart of Ramadi, capital of Iraq’s largest province, Iraqi officials said Friday, in what appeared to mark a significant blow to a U.S.-backed military campaign to retake territory from the militants.”  Ramadi, for those unfamiliar with the area, is about as far away from Baghdad as Trenton, NJ is from New York City. So this is, as they say, bad. Hopefully it’s still salvageable, but it’s still pretty bad. (more…)


Reuters apparently shocked that people act horridly when a city’s being sacked.

Seriously, what did Reuters expect was going to happen?

On April 1, the city of Tikrit was liberated from the extremist group Islamic State. The Shi’ite-led central government and allied militias, after a month-long battle, had expelled the barbarous Sunni radicals.

Then, some of the liberators took revenge.

Near the charred, bullet-scarred government headquarters, two federal policemen flanked a suspected Islamic State fighter. Urged on by a furious mob, the two officers took out knives and repeatedly stabbed the man in the neck and slit his throat. The killing was witnessed by two Reuters correspondents.


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