5 Myths About ISIS and Iraq

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Thousands of Americans were killed and trillions expended in Iraq over the last 11 years. Tragically, all of this was in vain since the situation is at its worst since Saddam Hussein was wrongfully deposed.  And one would think America would have learned its lesson.

But after President Obama’s pronouncement that more troops are headed back to Iraq, it’s abundantly clear that America prefers self-immolation.

Most shocking is how cavalierly the war hawks want to ship Americans to the Middle East, seemingly fine with the inevitable fact that many will return in body bags — if they return at all.

In a last-ditch effort to inject common sense into the debate, here’s a look at the truths, and myths, regarding America’s involvement in Iraq:

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Will President Obama Put American Soldiers in Iraq and Syria in Time?

Photograph by Jeff Fusco

Photograph by Jeff Fusco

When President Obama addresses the nation Wednesday night, on the event of the 13th anniversary of the attacks of 9/11, the country faces its greatest threat from a terrorist organization since that fateful day.

After a long, sleepy summer of inaction by the President as ISIS grew and seized land, arms and treasure, the President finally does have a strategy and is ready to share it with the country. The President will look for national support in the face of his lowest approval numbers since he was first sworn in to office in 2008.

We should give it to him.

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Where Is the Outrage Over James Foley’s Beheading?

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There have been two weeks of outrage over the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The details of the shooting are still fuzzy, but the anger is crystal clear and exposes a still deep and ugly divide in America.

In sharp contrast, the beheading of James Foley by Islamic State extremists did not prompt the same outrage or protests. The details of the beheading are on video for anyone with the stomach to watch (WARNING: GRAPHIC). The international divide it exposes is equally ugly and far more dangerous. It should unite us as Americans, as the Islamic State on the other side of the divide wants to kill us all, regardless of color or class.

And yet the growing threat of the Islamic State is a secondary story to Ferguson. It speaks more to our national media than the greater population. Ferguson is easier and much less expensive to cover. The growing threat of ISIS — the greatest threat to America and the civilized world in recent history — is more dangerous and more expensive to cover.

And besides, stories that divide us rather than unite us make for better TV. Two sides yelling at each other is the formula for cable news success. The importance of a story and journalistic responsibility lost in the battle for ratings and revenue long ago.

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After Ukraine, Good Luck Getting Iran to Give Up Nukes

Photo | Shutterstock.com

Photo | Shutterstock.com

Hardliners in Iran are using America’s impotence in dealing with the crisis in the Ukraine as an example of what happens when you give up your nuclear strength.

Twenty years ago, no one would have messed with the Ukraine. Russia certainly would not have dared to move forces to its doorstep.

In 1994 Ukraine was the third largest nuclear power. That same year Ukraine agreed to give up its nuclear arsenal with the promise from the United States and Russia that neither country would use force or threaten action against the newly independent nation.

Ironically, Ukraine gave all of its nuclear warheads — 1,900 long range and 2,500 short range – to Russia.

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Edward Snowden Is a Hero

Photo | Shutterstock.com

Photo | Shutterstock.com

That settles it, then: Edward Snowden is a hero.

You remember Snowden, of course. He’s the former NSA contractor who took the agency’s secrets — including the revelation that the the federal government collects rather more data on its citizens than most of those citizens probably expected — then gave those secrets to Glenn Greenwald and fled the country. His initial appearance on the scene produced one of those irresolvable debates, whether Snowden was a hero, a traitor, or maybe a mix of both.

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No, Let’s Not Start War in Iran Quite Yet

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Photo | Shutterstock.com

In all but the most optimistic scenarios, a war to keep nuclear arms out of Iran’s hands would be a very costly endeavor. Literally, in some cases: The price of oil would probably spike far beyond the wallet tolerances of most American families; the world economy would suffer greatly as a result. The violence would probably spill beyond Iran’s borders and throw a deadly, turmoil-filled region into, well, more deadly turmoil — enough to make the wars in Iran and Afghanistan look like cake walks. What’s more, it probably wouldn’t even work that well, delaying instead of ending Iran’s attempts to obtain a bomb. And the consequences — for America, and the world — are pretty much the same whether America joins such a war, or lets Israel attack Iran on its own.

Naturally, such a war should start right away.

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Where Is America’s Nelson Mandela?

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As the entire world joined South Africans in laying the father of their nation, Nelson Mandela, to rest this week, much has been said about the genius, determination and humanity of the man who won a revolution without firing a single shot.

But there was one other element to his victory that seems to have escaped the notice of just about everybody who has remarked on his life — and that made it truly unique in human history.

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Mayor Nutter Is Going to the Wrong European City

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Shutterstock

So Mayor Nutter is going to London in a couple of weeks.

I get it. He wants to improve the city’s business relations. He’s looking for new business to attract here. He’s trying to better our image. People can debate the actual value of these kinds of trips. Do they really help? Does it really make a difference if our mayor goes? Can’t he be more productive and valuable just by staying at home and working on our own enormous challenges? Should taxpayers, even political contributors, be paying for these things? Will British Airways even upgrade him (trust me, it isn’t easy)? No one really knows. But that’s not important. Because the Mayor’s mind is made up. The reservations are made. The tickets are booked. He’s going.

The problem is he’s going to the wrong city.

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Vladimir Putin Writes Most Hilarious Anti-War Op-Ed Ever to Appear in the New York Times

We think the journalist Jeffrey Goldberg has the best take on Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s op-ed in the New York Times, urging the U.S. to be cautious on Syria:

Yeah, that about covers it. Here are three of the most chutzpah-filled sections of the op-ed:

No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists. Reports that militants are preparing another attack — this time against Israel — cannot be ignored.

If Russia was really concerned about Israel’s defense, it probably wouldn’t be selling missiles to Iran.

My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation.

Says this guy.

Finally, those of us who grew up fearing Russia’s “Godless commies” can’t help but take notice of Putin’s conclusion:

We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.

Sounds sincere, didn’t it?

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