Return to Iraq

Monday, August 11, 2014

An Iraqi Yazidi mother who fled the violence in the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, sits with her children at a school where they are taking shelter in the Kurdish city of Dohuk. (SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images/Getty)

Bobby Ghosh, managing editor of Quartz, talks about the latest from Iraq and the debate over renewed U.S. military intervention there in support of American personnel in Erbil and the Yazidi refugees.


Bobby Ghosh

Comments [45]

Ed from Larchmont

We have to act on the current situation, regardless of the past mistakes.

Aug. 11 2014 01:32 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

When Iraq finally breaks up, "Palestine" can be given a useable block of land, oil rich land too, and establish the peaceful, secular, rights for all entity that some claim a future Palestine would embody.

Aug. 11 2014 12:32 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Newsreel: 1941 The Grand Mufti meets Hitler

Aug. 11 2014 12:00 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Isn't ISIS the "Religion of Peace" party of Iraq?

Aug. 11 2014 11:53 AM

Not that my intelligence needs defending, Seth, but Mr. Ghosh’s incredible description of the situation inspired me, for one, to speculate upon whether a part of ISIS’s agenda could be the destruction of innocent lives. Words and phrases such as: “the sheer barbarity of it defies belief … the sheer mass slaughter these people seem to enjoy … what makes them worse than before is how indiscriminate they are … they will kill anybody” seem to suggest as much. And, so, I asked.

Aug. 11 2014 11:30 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

FDR during WWII promised King Saud to protect the Royal House as long as US oil companies get preferential treatment in the sale of Saudi oil. King Saud begged FDR not to allow a Jewish state to happen in Palestine but FDR soon died and Truman took the helm.
So our protection of the House of Saud is based on that 70 year old agreement between FDR and King Saud, and so is are the profits of ARAMCO - Arabian-American Company:


"Saudi Aramco's value has been estimated at up to US$10 trillion in the Financial Times, making it the world's most valuable company.[7][8][9]
Saudi Aramco has both the world's largest proven crude oil reserves, at more than 260 billion barrels (4.1×1010 m3), and largest daily oil production.[10]"

Aug. 11 2014 11:20 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

@ Sara from NYC/Arabian Gulf Country

You wrote:

"I wish someone could explain to me how this arrangement works."

It's called self interest. Syrian intervention failed so now we will have ISIL, the track 2 policy in the middle east. The Saudi's hate and fear Iran more than the U.S.... This is all being stage managed. From Riyadh, Doha, DC and probably Tel Aviv too. When Iraq breaks up everyone will get what they want. Again, this is all public knowledge, but nobody reads...

Aug. 11 2014 11:19 AM
Sara from NYC/Arabian Gulf Country

I live in the Arabian Gulf. ISIS/ISIL/IS is a Saudi creation, as so many of these groups are. Now it's metastasised out of their control and they are terrified the chickens will come home to roost, as they will, soon enough. "Islamic State" has clearly indicated their plans for Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine/Israel, and down through Kuwait. After that I imagine it will be the Gulf monarchies.
The fighters one sees in most of those videos are almost always "foreign", meaning NOT Syrian, Not Iraqi. They are mostly from the Gulf. Saudi and Qatar in particular. You can hear their accents. These are the countries who ALWAYS fund this stuff. There are fighters from other countries too, but I think the only locals you will see are those poor children being indoctrinated by these nutty Islamic State fighters.
While I understand the theoretical reason the US is getting involved yet again in a conflict it barely understands, and from which we will certainly create even more of a disaster, as we always do, remember we didn't go into Syria, despite the regime's use of chemical weapons, and despite our official "zero tolerance" policy of those same chemical weapons, and despite the same cast of characters.
It's very interesting to me that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia operates with complete impunity. They are our allies? Really?
I wish someone could explain to me how this arrangement works.
Everyone seems to employ collective blindness.
We don't need their oil. We buy less than 10% of our oil from them.
I'm not suggesting we do something violent to Saudi Arabia. They will do it to themselves soon enough.
But I do wish more people would see things for what they are.
And Saudi Arabia is no friend of the United States.

Aug. 11 2014 11:08 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

@Ibrahim from Egypt, I disagree. The conflicts that we are witnessing in the Muslim world are about economics, human rights, and political rights, a way of life dictated by Islam. In short the violence and upheaval is about the soul of Islam, as to what it is to be Muslim, and what it is to have a just community. There is no silence. Being bellicose, like some Americans, as an expression simply doesn’t make sense when people are being murdered by fanatic nihilists naming Islam as a guide.

Aug. 11 2014 11:08 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

Brookings has basically published the Blueprint. it's not like they need to hide this stuff - Americans don't care anyway:

Aug. 11 2014 11:04 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

@ jgarbuz from Queens

I wrote about the price of oil not "peak oil", alternative energy or whatever else you're rambling on about, as usual. Your reading comprehension is lacking.

The ignorance of most every poster on this board is lacking. ISIL has no plans to invade Jordan or Saudi Arabia (both US friendly governments) they plan on establishing a Caliphate that includes most of Syria and the upper half of Iraq.

The overthrow of the Iran run Malicki regime is the short term goal (almost there) and then the partitioning of Iraq can continue apace. ISIL will be "managed" by the DOD/Saudi/Qatar $ until they have outlived their usefulness.

Aug. 11 2014 10:50 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

II only hope an independent Kurdistan comes out of this whole mess.

Aug. 11 2014 10:49 AM
Ibrahim from Egypt

The question persists whether the modern Islam is a religion of peace as Muslims and their supporters keep describing Islam, or it is a religion of hate, bigotry, discrimination, slavery, and murder as it’s being demonstrated by the so-called "Islamic State" .
The answer should arrive from the majority of Muslim world either by condemning ISIS and its practices or by keeping approving silence.
So far the, latter is on display, thus making Islamophobia an honorable thing.

Aug. 11 2014 10:47 AM
deborah in newark

Three developments in past 24hrs not being mentioned in this segment: 1) Kurdish Peshmurga are providing safe passage out of Iraq for several thousand Yazida. 2) For the first time, circumventing Baghdad, the U.S. is now directly arming Peshmurga (through which agency/ies= unknown). 3) in the past 12hrs, Iraq's political Shi'a coalition of parliamentary parties has just nominated the current V.P. (I think it's Ibadi) to be the new Prime Minister, which means Nouri al-Maliki is OUT as a 3d-term P.M., should the Shi'a coalition--absent Maliki's own party--succeed. If so, The Old Man (Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani) wins after all--after all these years (post-2003).

Aug. 11 2014 10:46 AM

Obama's framing of this issue is all wrong. Instead of talking about the plight of the Yazedis, Obama should have stated that he will use all available assets to insure that ISIS is annihilated and destroyed.

Obama is obsessed with having his future encyclopedia entry read that he ended the war in Iraq so he regards ISIS more as a nuisance and an irritant that will spoil the narrative of his legacy instead of seeing this group as a malignant cancer whose members are savage mad dog killers.

Brian and his listeners need to go back to David Remnick's profile of Obama in the New Yorker in which he dismissed ISIS by saying that putting on a Lakers' jersey doesn't make you Kobe Bryant. This remark is just as dumb and clueless as Bush's remark on the aircraft carrier that major combat operations in Iraq were finished.

Aug. 11 2014 10:43 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

RUCB_Alum, smart comment unlike some of the red neck comments by other New Yorkers.

Aug. 11 2014 10:43 AM
jgarbuz from Queens


Our need for oil is not going to last forever no matter what the oil companies say or do. Alternatives will become cheaper and cleaner and safer and the flow of money into the oil regions will eventually dry up like whaling for whale oil dried up. And if Iraq and Syria and other areas are breaking up its because of the intra-muslim civil wars, just as happened in Europe between Catholics and Protestants a few centuries ago.

Aug. 11 2014 10:39 AM

Public opinion be damned. The public only knows what they have retained from a tainted and biased media.

Things I know:

If Dubya had not lied us into Iraq, Saddam would have held the nation together. (and probably Syria would not have needed to use gas to retain power)

We (the people and government of the United States) owe Iraqis a chance at decent life...We owe it because we broke the place up.

Many of the arms and weapons being used by ISIS or ISIL (or whatever you care to call them) originated in U.S. factories.

Things I suspect:

The Shiite al Maliki government is so weak because it too grossly favors Shiite over Sunni. If the place is a republic, why doesn't it work like one?

If Sunni ISIS invades Syria it is only a matter of weeks before they threaten Israel, and our response to that is already dialed in.

Aug. 11 2014 10:38 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

What really comes to me when reading the comments here, is how successful American media and Hollywood has been in demonizing, and dehumanizing all the different peoples of the Middle East. The view is of a weird, violent people who could do no better.

Aug. 11 2014 10:38 AM

Yes, they must be stopped.However this is blowback for our indifference to the attempted genocide of Sunnis taking place in Syria by Assad. Even when Obama and Kerry wanted to act on the red line of chemical weapons, it was the right wing here [and the left but for different reasons] who stopped Obama from doing anything about the atrocities that the Assad regime was engaged in against Sunni's ,after the Syrian people peacefully rose up to topple a brutal "axis of evil" dictatorship. All that mattered was that Assad is good to Christians and the virtual holocaust against Sunnis we were indifferent to. That Obama heeded the people's clamor to not act in Syria or to even heed his red line ultimatum on chemical weapons was called a great victory of the people by the right wing[and the left but for different reasons] . The right wing took the position; "Muslims killing Muslims, let Allah sort it out and pass the popcorn" about the brutality of Assad in Syria. This is what the pundits and politicians were saying in the media and in government. It was our complicity with a virtual holocaust there[chemical weapons are the tip of that iceberg of Assad's atrocities against Sunnis]that had Sunnis fanatics coming from all over the world to converge on Syria to defend Sunnis against Assad as no one else would come to their aid. The ISIS fanatics believe that Sunni's are targeted by not only Assad, but Iraq where we installed a Shia government that persecutes the Sunnis. Our indifference if not gleeful complicity with the mass murder of Sunnis in Syria and oppression of Sunnis in Iraq, has empowered ISIS.[Baghdad was a 50/50 Shia /Sunni city ,Now it's a Shia city. What happened? We with the Kurds and the Shias killed all the Sunnis there, that's what happened. They believe the world is at war with Sunnis and so they are at war with the world. This is blow back for our "pass the popcorn" attitude against Sunni Muslims facing a holocaust in Syria and after we installed an oppressive Shia government in Iraq.

Aug. 11 2014 10:38 AM

Jay, no one "sells terrorists weapons and why do we allow it?" They took away the weapons that the US sold to Iraqi forces when those guys tucked tail and ran. So, we'll be fighting ISIS who's using our best weapons against us.

Aug. 11 2014 10:36 AM

"if IS continues they will take over Jordan and then they will face Israelis." Well, that is very true, but they ain't gonna slaughter no Israelis. Israel will kick their butts.

Aug. 11 2014 10:33 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

This is the defacto partition of Iraq that has been long predicted and planned by the Defense Dept., Saudis, Qataris, et al as a hedge against Iran, a means of legitimizing An independent Kurdistan (because screw Edrogan) and to maintain the profits of oil companies by continuing instability. Believe it.

Aug. 11 2014 10:32 AM

Sarah, you were so smart until " Perhaps, they "just like killing..."??"

Aug. 11 2014 10:32 AM

Brian for ONCE do a show with the people that were right 12 years ago. Enough of this dick swinging by people think that they were right when they wanted MORE war. Greenwald (as that caller said) was right in that article he wrote this weekend. Enough of these pro war guests. if you have kids suit em up and send them over.

Aug. 11 2014 10:31 AM
Jay F.

Who sells terrorists weapons and why do we allow it?

Aug. 11 2014 10:30 AM
jgarbuz from Queens


The ultimate goal of ISIS is the same ultimate goal of Muhammad 1400 years ago, to bring the entire world under the rule of Allah by whatever means it takes to do so. If it can be done in a nice way, so be it. If it must be done by cutting off heads, so be it too. I think this is the last gasp of Islamism.

Aug. 11 2014 10:30 AM

What is the ultimate goal of ISIS? What vision do they see for themselves and the future of the world? What would make them cease their hostile fire? Are we all to follow Islam and, in the process, follow their leaders? How can they believe this will work? Perhaps, they "just like killing..."??

Aug. 11 2014 10:26 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

@Seth if IS continues they will take over Jordan and then they will face Israelis. Sorry you are really ignorant on the Middle East, like a lot of Americans. In that event I am sure you will change your tune.

Aug. 11 2014 10:25 AM

How culpable are the Saudis in funding ISIS?

Aug. 11 2014 10:24 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

What is funding all the Muslim fighters is our addiction to oil. Until the US, the EU and "the world" gets off of oil and the Arab world has no money whatsoever to spend on arms, this craziness will go on forever. If people doubt climate change as a reason to stop using so much oil, this Islamic extremism is a more immediate greater danger. Oil is the problem and the answer is to stop using it.

Aug. 11 2014 10:22 AM

"if Israelis were being slaughtered" -- but they are not!

Aug. 11 2014 10:20 AM
NYCitizen from NYC


ISIS is no different from Hezbollah, Hamas, and Syria's Assad regime in that it does not distinguish from civilians and combatants. It is also no more fascistic in its genocidal ambitions, but Brain would never let someone compare Hamas to the Nazis (despite the actual historical legacy of the Grand Mufti's alliance with Hitler).

WILL NPR ever air a program on the theological roots of the Shiite-Sunni divide??

Is the Shiite-Sunni divide new or has it been ongoing since the time of the original Shiite heresy?

Aug. 11 2014 10:20 AM

Why don't we just airlift all the trapped Yazidis out and drop them off on the Texas border. The whole group is less than the bogus refugees down there right now. It will be cheaper than bombing the hell out of Iraq for years and "immigrants are good for the economy" so importing the Yazidis will be a win win. Or you don't want a Yazidi maid?

Aug. 11 2014 10:18 AM
gary from queens

Also, Maliki told Obama that a status of forces agreement was not something the iraqi legislature needed to approve. But Obama insisted on it anyway, because he knew they wouldnt ratify it because it contained criminal liability waivers for our troops----standard stuff previously approved under Bush.

WHY? Because Obama's campaign promise was to vacate iraq completely and on atime table. Obama won and ISIS won. America and iraqi christians and khurds lost.

Aug. 11 2014 10:16 AM

Did Bobby Ghosh strenuously oppose the 2003 invasion, because in all his wisdom he knew that while we could break it, we couldn't fix it?

Or does he support every invasion, every time, because every time is different and every time we need to invade?

Aug. 11 2014 10:16 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

The US did not declare war on Hitler. Hitler declared war on the US three days after Pearl Harbor.

Aug. 11 2014 10:14 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

@Seth, if Israelis were being slaughtered, I don't think you would make a stupid like the one you posted. Any one who thinks that IS is not a threat to the American homeland is living in a fantasy world.

Aug. 11 2014 10:14 AM
gary from queens

We heard liberals for 5 years under Bush, then under Obama, complaining that Bush didnt understand or otherwise underestimated sectarian divisions in the mideast. Now we see that even with hindsight, obama wasnt paying attention to his own demagogery.

Worse, dumbass Joe Biden turned out to be right. Without a ruthless dictator controling sectarian wars, you need to split Iraq into 3 nations. Dumbass Joe----you can't make this stuff up!

Aug. 11 2014 10:13 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

What difference does it matter what names they give themselves? They all want the same thing: to kill the Jews and conquer the world. Maybe the Khmer Rouge didn't care about the Jews or conquering the world, just brutalizing their own people.

Aug. 11 2014 10:13 AM

Bobby Ghosh is doing an excellent job of framing the propaganda narrative.

Aug. 11 2014 10:11 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

The Israelis report after questioning hundreds of captured Hamas fighters, what they say about how the tunnels into Israel were built. They say that the captured fighters told them that Hamas would blindfold workers going to dig tunnels for $150-$300 a month so they would not know the locations of those tunnels they were digging, and blindfolded at night, after 8-14 hours of working, when they brought them home, so that they would not be able to tell the Israelis where the entrances to those tunnels were located. A recent report is that Hamas has just executed scores of tunnel diggers they suspect "know too much" to keep them from talking.
So these Islamists are a pretty rough lot no matter what names they give themselves.

Aug. 11 2014 10:09 AM

Isn't ISIS the tea party of Iraq?

Aug. 11 2014 10:04 AM

Al Qeda, Knmer Rouge, Nazis....oh no you didn't.

Aug. 11 2014 10:04 AM
john from office

Brian I am disappointed. I was hoping for your breathless segment on the St. Louis police shooting and the rioting and looting that followed!? Nothng says outrage like stealing beer and chips and setting fire to stores.

Aug. 11 2014 10:04 AM

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