Welcome everybody, it’s Friday September 19th 2014 and we are talking ISIS, war, Obama and more today with Scott Horton host of AntiWar Radio on KPFK 90.7fm in Los Angeles and KUCR 88.3fm in Riverside California. You can also catch Scott on The Scott Horton Show Monday through Friday 12pm to 2pm eastern time on the Liberty Radio Network – LRN.fm. Check out Scott also at his website scotthorton.org.
Scott welcome back to the show.
SH: Hey Tom thanks very much for having me back, I really appreciate it.
TW: Well I should have had you back a heck of a lot sooner. You know, see what goes and happens when I don’t have Scott Horton on often enough, we’re at war again for heavens sakes, so I’m going to have you on more often to have you help us understand what’s going on in the world because I don’t know anybody who keeps up with it as consistently as you do.
So now we’re being told that it’s essential for the US to go back into the middle-east, get involved in another middle-eastern war – ‘this time we really have to do it’ , even some of the non-interventionists among the conservatives are saying ‘well yeah we’re not interventionists most of the time but this, I mean two journalists were beheaded, surely we have to intervene now’ – what is your take on that, why are the conservatives just squishy on this, are the ISIS people really that much worse than any of the other bad guys of the past, what’s going on here?
SH: Well the ISIS guys really are fanatical, I mean if you need a poster child for a group of terrorists taking over a state and being just as bad as you could possibly imagine them being then they fit the bill, they really are civilian butchering monsters. They are very chauvinist they absolutely hate Shi’a, they’re very fanatical. They are basically in a sense – minus the WMD of course – they are sort of the terrorist threat that George W. Bush pretended that Saddam Hussein was when he set about to make it this way — which is what this is, the result of his lies back then.
TW: Alright though let me jump in on this. In that case then why are the conservatives not right to say ‘most of the time we don’t favor intervention because it just leads to worse outcomesÂ but how could there be a worse outcome than this organization gaining more and more ground-there couldn’t be. So therefore we have to have the intervention’. How do you answer that?
SH: Well because right now they’re actually very weak and they could become much more powerful. They’re more likely to become much more powerful if we intervene rather than being degraded. The thing of it is, as you said – what is the problem with the right?
The problem with the right is they see images of convoys on TV – of Toyota trucks (where did they get those Toyota trucks?) coming down the road with all these ISIS guys in them and they think wouldn’t it be fun to fly an F-15 and blast these guys. Sure no problem and no innocents killed there, no big deal.
However that doesn’t accomplish anything actually other than all of their public relations goals. Just today I interviewed the former chief of the CIA’s bin Laden Unit Michael Scheuer on my radio show Tom and he was saying to me that those beheadings are nothing but the worm on the hook and we’re the fish. They don’t just want – they desperately need American intervention against them. Tom war is the health of the state, unless you completely are obliterated and lose.
So for the same reason that George W. Bush and Barack Obama need terrorist enemies these terrorists need American enemies. If they can be seen as the ones fighting the Americans they rally that many more people to their cause and it’s also no different if Obama is just flying air missions or sending in ground troops because if he is just flying air missions then he is just really flying air cover for the Shi’a Iraqi army and militias backed by the Iranians — which, the Iranians, of course, it’s not just because they are Shiite, it’s that their government is a revolutionary Shiite theocracy. So it’s you know, it’s Shiia-ism in force. And so if those groups come in and try to take these cities that ISIS has conquered back, that just rallies even more people to their cause.
So if we back any of ISIS’s enemies against them we make them more powerful. Even if we send our marine corp the most damage that we could deliver to them would be – we send our marines, they sack Mosul, they sack Fallujah, they sack Tikrit – no one doubts our marines could do it (although I don’t really know if we have enough of them now) but then what are they going to do? As Michael Scheuer put it on the show today- are they going to stay there forever, hold that territory there forever?
The truth of the situation is: The new Islamic State, so called caliphate over there is absolutely and completely landlocked and surrounded by enemies. The people that they have conquered- the Sunni Arabs of western Iraq and eastern Syria that they actually are ruling over have more reason to hate them and want to be rid of them than anyone else. And actually they are pretty much a movement that has forced themselves on these people in a lawless territory and the traditional system in these regions is the tribal system – not hardcore Islamist you know bin Laden-ite caliphate-ism.
So in other words, they’re absolutely contained just by geography and by the enemies that they have in every direction and because they are such would-be totalitarian monsters they absolutely alienate the people that they attempt to rule. We saw what happened when Al Qaeda in Iraq -Â which is what this is really – Al Qaeda in Iraq during Iraq War II, they ended up alienating all the localÂ Sunnis that they had been fighting for because they just took it way too far. And then after Zarqawi was killed they tried to declare themselves for the first time The Islamic State of Iraq ,which at that point all the local Sunni tribal and religious leaders said ‘Yeah right this is our country’ – most of these Al Qaeda guys are foreigners – Saudi’s, Libyans, Syrians, Egyptians, Jordanians and others who had gone there to fight. They said, ‘No this is our country. You guys are our small minority of helpers, you are not the bosses of us’ and quickly marginalized them in the so-called great victory that David Petraeus took all the credit for when the tribes marginalized the Jihadists back then.
So in other words, even from a non-libertarian point of view, even from a hardcore American nationalist interest utilitarian point of view – the best solution here is to do nothing. To let the situation play out.
You know I read a scare mongering thing Tom by a guy from the Rand Corporation who said – funny, it’s shades of Mike Myers saying you know they’re making 2 million dollars a day, right? Like these guys who haveÂ never heard of Alan Greenspan and inflation before – they still think that’s a lot of money – and he estimated that their annual budget this year will be two billion dollars – not two hundred billion – not two trillion which is a third of the USA’s budget – just two billion – not twenty billion – two billion is their annual budget and that goes to pay their fighters and their fighters wives when they get killed – their pensions, whatever.
They have more than their hands full and enemies all around, and so really Tom I would argue, what conservative liberal or anyone else could argue that now isn’t the single best time ever to just stop intervening over there. It is 100% clear that this is 99.9% America’s government’s fault and there is nothing we could possibly to do in intervening in the situation but make it worse. So if there was ever a time to just go cold turkey on intervention and quit trying to pretend that the next one is going to solve the problem of the last one, instead of making it worse, now is the time.
TW: Scott there have been a number of different estimates of the strength of the forces of ISIS, the types of numbers that we’re talking about, there has been a CIA estimate which may be an over estimate you never know what to think about CIA estimates what is your sense of how substantial of a force we’re looking at?
SH: Well I mean I think as you mentioned, the CIA high-end estimate is 30 000 fighters, how many of those are committed hardcore idealogical types? – maybe half of that, probably less. We know the real question is: In what swamp are they festering? Why have the tribal leaders compromised with these men at all? Why have the former Baathist military commanders of Saddam Hussein compromised to work with these you know school shooter, Khmer Rouge lunatic types?
And the answer is because they have been completely frozen out. Because George Bush didn’t only invade Iraq, but he stayed. And remember even libertarians – all kinds of people say, ‘well we can’t just cut and run now, the violence will get worse, we can’t leave now, we can’t leave now.’
They’ve said it for years and years but it was America that was causing all the violence because – and this is especially easy to see now Tom, that America has left and is now going back again and all this, you look back in hindsight – the only missions the Americans actually accomplished the entire time that they were in Iraq was to help the Iranian backed Shiite militias kick all of the Sunnis out of Baghdad and make it an 85% super-majority Shiite city ruled by the 60% majority Shiite Arab population of the country.
It was a minority ruled city, Baathist dictatorship – not a Sunni Islamist one – a Baathist one meaning Saddam was basically a communist in olive green, with a beret and a clean shaven chin, but he was representing the Sunni minority tribes and all of that and lording it over the Shi’a and what Bush did was, he had the army and marine corp change that and make Baghdad a Shiite city.
So what did that mean? It meant that the parties that Bush chose to put in power to be the leaders of the Shiite community, to take over the new government in Baghdad, by the time America left they didn’t have one reason left to compromise with the Sunnis at all. We’d given them all of Baghdad.
So from their point of view the Sunnis can rot in the sun. If they want to fly aÂ black flag over Mosul, Tikrit, and Fallujah Baghdad doesn’t really care about that.
The Iranian plan, and well intentioned and well informed commentators have been warning of this all along – Bob Dreyfuss,Â Justin Raimondo, and others from 2003 on, saying the Iranian plan is to run away with the land from Baghdad to Basra — Shi’as-tan, George W Bushisatan, Ayatollah-land in alliance with Iran and they don’t care about – they’re not dumb enough to try to occupy and conquer and rule the predominantly Sunni areas of Iraq.
That’s why the Iraqi army quote unquote, the Shiite army turned and fled when ISIS came – they didn’t want to fight and all because it wasn’t their city to fight for – I’m talking about in Mosul in June. That’s why they turned and fled, they were occupying someone else’s land and without the support to do so. So they just turned right around and went home.
So the Sunnis have been completely frozen out of the process since 2003 – they get none of the spoils of the oil wealth, and they have none of the security force positions in the police or the military and so they’re all basically living in no-man’s land and then here comes ISIS saying ‘we’ll help you fight those Shiites, we’ll get revenge for you and we’ll also fill the potholes and administer a local court system and we’ll be less corrupt than the people that you are suffering under now.’ And so even though these guys are a bunch of Bin Laden-ites – this is the same effect that happened with the Taliban in the 1990’s: the war lords fighting over Kabul were such criminals that people welcomed the Taliban because they’re not corrupt.
When they find someone who is corrupt – I mean they’re evil and totalitarian, but they’re not corrupt. You can’t bribe them and if one of them takes a bribe he gets thrown down a well – y’know, and that’s the kind of compromise that people are making now. They have lived in such insecurity, in such desperation, frozen out of the system of the country formerly known as Iraq that they’re now desperate enough to turn to these guys.
So again back to the point, it was American intervention that made it this way and I’ll go you further Tom because I’m not certain if you’re going to ask me or not, I’ll go ahead and say, the Obama strategy as he’s explained it is absolutely laughable and crazy and ridiculous and cannot work. He swears there is going to be no combat troops, and he may even be telling the truth for now that that is what he wants, but then he says he is going to destroy ISIS. With what? Drones and F-18s? Bombing from the air? Killing even more civilians in aerial strikes which will rally even more people to the ISIS cause?
You can’t sack a city and drive a government out of control of a city with just air power, not unless you’re willing to go full scale Dresden on them and you can’t do that with photography being what it is in the 21st century. And so, what he is announcing, and this is just the Iraq side, in Syria he wants to keep backing some of the Mujahideen against the other Mujahideen and against the Shiite government there…
He is absolutely ten times as mad in Syria as he is in Iraq and yet anyone can tell you, anyone who is not just hell bent you know, up to their eyeballs in slogans Tom, can tell you, this strategy outlined by the government, by Obama, by his secretary of defense, makes no sense whatsoever. It’s an absolute disaster.
And that’s why they say, ‘it might take as long as 3 years’, it’s because they have no idea how this is even supposed to work.
In fact, I’ll even go you one worse, which is the Kagan’s, the very famous neo-con family – Robert Kagan and Fred Kagan, well Fred Kagan has a wife named Kimberly Kagan and they were the two big think tank supporters of the surge back in 2007 which accomplished nothing other than making everything in worse. They have a new study out that says Obama has got to put in at least
25 000 ground troops. That’s the Institute for the Study of War, and they say right there in the preface – it’s hilarious the way they say it, I’ll paraphrase it very closely: “There is no articulate-able narrative for how to achieve a positive outcome in Iraq and Syria. Send 25,000 troops.’ We cannot even feed you a line of BS that we think even sounds plausible like it could work so we’re not even going to try. We’re just going to tell you we’ve gotta bomb ’em, and we’ve got to send troops. That’s all they can say Tom. They don’t even have a line about how it’s supposed to work.
TW: Alright, okay so they don’t have a line on how it’s supposed to work but presumably they have some unstated real reason for what they do because they always have some real reason and then they give us the BS reason.
If they’re not giving us a BS reason I assume they still have some reason – enough for Obama personally, it could be nothing more than he feels compelled to do something and he’s sick of being called a wimp, I’m sure there is something more to it with him but the people around him must have some reason for this. What is that reason?
SH: Well, you know it’s confusing because in terms of domestic politics most of the foreign policy pressure – as you can hear John Mccain stuck in the double-think – is still focused on Assad, as though Assad is a worse threat than ISIS, and that’s simply because that’s what Israel wants.
As Michael Oren the former ambassador to the United States from Israel explained, Israel has wanted Assad gone this whole time, and between ‘these bad guys’ – Al Qaeda – and ‘those bad guys’ – Assad and Hezbollah, he prefers these bad guys – Al Qaeda. Because those bad guys, Assad and Hezbollah are backed by Iran.
So the domestic political pressure mostly is still to weaken Assad and even complete the overthrow of Assad in order to destroy Iran’s last alliance in the Arab world, in order to weaken Iran, because that is Israel’s obsession. But never mind the fact that Iran is not really America’s enemy. The only thing Iran ever did to America was overthrow our sock puppet fascist dictator monster that ruled their country which they had every right to do.
It’s Al Qaeda that’s our enemy. So what’s insane is that America has been backing the rebellion, which has included Al Qaeda for the last 3 years in Syria due to this policy. Now it is so hard to turn around, they can’t figure out how to go back to aligning with Assad like George W. Bush did and fighting against Al Qaeda, now they’ve got to fight Al Qaeda and Assad at the same time, the whole thing is just chaos.
So when it comes to the answer, why attack the Islamic State? The only real political interest weighing on that that I can think of is just the bad public relations from a narrow party politics point of view of just having basically Osama reincarnate declare himself as the Caliph of this state. It’s Bin Laden’s dream come true and just from how it looks in a domestic politics sense even though there is the whole confusion and dissonance with the anti-Assad Syria policy, I think ultimately they figure from Democratic and Republican politics point of view they just can’t tolerate somebody like Baghdadi being the government of Sunni-stan in that part of Iraq.
If somebody has to be the big daddy Tony Soprano tribal chief that’s one thing, but now their Syria policy has blown up in all of our face so big and in such an ugly way, where he is literally calling himself the caliph, I think that just given the presumptions of the entire terror war they just can’t let that result stand.
They’re just, and I’ve been saying this since before they sacked Mosul, I’ve been saying this really all year long, is that ISIS, al-Nusra, in Syria are getting so powerful now that I expect them to really create that caliphate between Syria and Iraq and then for America to re-invade and go back to war against it. It’s just playing out the logical thing.
In fact a year ago I wrote a thing in the Future of Freedom Foundation saying that – that it’s the rise of the caliphate and we’ll end up going back to war against them. Because it’s just that easy to see.
In fact Tom it seems like really that the Israel-first, support the Mujahideen treason to weaken Assad has actually helped prevent this war from being that much worse. If we had just had a George W. Bush Assad policy this whole time, of paying him to help kill and torture and murder these guys, then there wouldn’t have been much confusion. Obama would have just declared war and we’d have gone right back to war in June.
Instead they’ve had to try to figure out how in the hell are we going to sell going to war against Assad and his enemies at the same time and it’s making it very difficult – thank goodness, in an ironical kind of way.
TW: You know as soon as this whole issue really broke, almost immediately we started to hear stories that had no substance to them, they were just pure speculation, about ISIS sleeper cells in the US. There was no evidence of this, it was entirely a suspicion of an ex CIA guy, and every right wing radio guy ran with this sort of story.
Now there is no evidence for anything like that, now it’s not impossible, right? It’s certainly not beyond the realm of possibility but we go from 99% of Americans never having heard of these people, to the next day they’re terrified of the guy running the deli down the street may actually belong to them.
SH: Right. Yeah I know it’s crazy and honestly Tom I mean I think you’re right to say that it is possible, and I think it’s more likely now than ever before. I mean, I don’t know what to say. I’ve been saying for 3 years in a row that it is high treason for Obama to support the rebellion in Syria – for Obama to work, and the CIA, for Americans to work with the Saudis, the Turks, in order to train up and finance and support this Jihadist led rebellion which has always been led by the suicide bomber kooks since 2011 on. This whole time.
Yet the policy has persisted and persisted and there are at least a couple of thousand Europeans, western Europeans who have traveled to Syria to fight, some of whom have passports and will be able to make it back to western Europe and there are at least 10s, they say, of Americans who have gone and done the same.
There was an American suicide bomber in Syria who had gone to fight, and then he came home, and then he went back and he did a suicide attack in Syria. He was from Florida and he came back and he hung around for a while before he went back and did his suicide attack. So in other words, do you have faith that the FBI and the CIA are keeping a close count on who all these guys are and where they are and making sure that none of them get back into the United States? I have absolutely no trust in that whatsoever. And so yes, it has been an absolutely extremely dangerous policy this whole time to support this rebellion which again, I’m not saying there has been direct US support for ISIS, but in effect, and though indirect, enough that it is still their responsibility. Assad would have won this civil war against these Jihadists back in 2011 Tom if it hadn’t been for the United States and our allies’ intervention here – our satellites’ intervention here. So now is it likely that we’re going to see 20 guys take 4 planes and hit 3 out of 4 targets like on 9/11 kind of a thing? No.
But then again like you said at the top of the show, all it took was a couple of journalists being beheaded over there -guys who were taking a risk in a foreign war zone, that apparently is a good enough excuse to go to war. I don’t know if you’ve been watching Fox news lately but there has a story that for some reason only they will cover, where a guy murdered, I think he’s in the north west somewhere, he murdered 3 people at random, just murdered 3 people on the street at random, shot them, and when he was arrested he told the cops he did it as revenge for our foreign policy. And that by definition a lone wolf inspired type attack.
This is what happens when we’re now at year 13 of this, and counting, and re-invading and more than 1 million people killed, the entire region bankrupted and turned upside down, destabilized, radicalized and so, yes you’re correct there is no evidence whatsoever that there are ISIS sleeper cells in the country and that sure as hell shouldn’t be a reason to go to war, that should be a reason to stay out of it anyway.
But then also you’re right that it is a possibility and probably a greater one than ever before again, that’s why we should not be intervening here. I mean, let’s just assume the premise for a minute, that we do have a sleeper cell in every major American city, well now what are we supposed to do, carpet bomb the caliphate over there? That’s going to do what? Make these guys give up and go home? Or that’s going to provoke them into actually killing people – you know being activated and doing something crazy?
And I’m not saying that we should negotiate with terrorists or that we should do things their way – follow their marching orders or whatever like they tried to say about Ron Paul – I’m just saying that we’re not supposed to be doing the wrong thing in the first place so it’s not the wrong thing to stop doing the wrong thing. If stopping doing the wrong thing helps improve your security situation well then good. Doing the wrong thing never helped improve it that’s for sure.
TW: Well Scott, I’m going to let you run because this is plenty for my listeners to chew on. I always get told that when Horton is on the show I listen 2-3 times, I got to absorb what is in that mans brain (laughs) and you’ve delivered again.
SH: Every time I do your show I get new listeners, new sponsors, new donors, new supporters, new greatest fans, so I owe you 10,000 thank yous.
TW: I want to direct people over to you. I want people listening to you. I want people supporting you. I want you guys to know I support the Scott Horton Show with a monthly donation and you guys should too. scotthorton.orgÂ is your website – is there anywhere else we want to direct people so they can hear more from you?
SH: Yeah, I’m at lrn.fm from noon to three, but I also got to say antiwar.com, read Jason Ditz, read Justin Raimondo, read our pick of the view points for you, especially those top couple dozen news stories every day and you’ll be up to speed in no time flat.
TW: Well thanks again Scott. We’ll have you on again soon, we’ve got to. I mean disaster struck. We didn’t have you on quite often enough. We’ll get you on again soon, thanks so much.