The first Morning Jolt of the week offers some eye-opening news about Hillary Clinton, an attempt to understand the appeal of the World Cup, and some terrific personal news, but it begins with this awful update from developments overseas:
‘Practically Speaking, [Iraq] Has Broken Apart’
You know the news from the Middle East, and Iraq in particular, is usually bad. Today is no different:
Fighters affiliated with an extremist Al Qaeda-inspired faction seized control Monday of another town in the northwest of Iraq, beating back pro-government forces scrambling to stop the group’s advance
Tal Afar, an ethnically diverse town of Sunni Muslims and Turkmen, was overrun by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, after heavy clashes with Iraqi army units and Turkmen tribal fighters, according to Turkey’s semi-official Anatolia news agency. Pro-government activists in Tal Afar, however, asserted on social media that the fight was continuing, with heavy airstrikes against the militants’ positions.
American presidents and Iraqi strongmen have been trying for decades to keep the country intact. But that effort is now failing under pressure from the Islamic extremists who are taking over more and more of Iraq’s cities. “Practically speaking, the country has broken apart,” a top official in Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government told The Daily Beast.
On the Sunday shows, Washington politicians aren’t downplaying the danger:
The bloodthirsty Islamist group hellbent on overthrowing the Iraqi government claims to have massacred 1,700 soldiers and posted a series of gory pictures of executed captives that kicked off a chain reaction of fear from Baghdad to the Beltway.
And in further evidence of the deteriorating security situation in Iraq, terrorists killed more than 20 people with four bombs on Sunday in Baghdad, and the State Department moved to protect the U.S. Embassy and its employees.
“This is as dangerous as it gets,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers said on “Fox News Sunday.” He was one of several GOP lawmakers who called on the Obama administration to act aggressively against the Sunni militants who call themselves the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, another Iraq War proponent, echoed Rogers with a dire caution of his own.
“Iraq and Syria combined are going to be the staging area for the next 9/11 if we don’t do anything about it,” the South Carolina Republican said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “If Baghdad falls . . . a disaster awaits us of monumental proportions.”
Thomas Friedman is sounding . . . almost isolationist, or at least noninterventionist:
Hence my rule: The Middle East only puts a smile on your face when it starts with them — when they take ownership of reconciliation. Please spare me another dose of: It is all about whom we train and arm. Sunnis and Shiites don’t need guns from us. They need the truth. It is the early 21st century, and too many of them are still fighting over who is the rightful heir to the Prophet Muhammad from the 7th century. It has to stop — for them, and for their kids, to have any future.
There are a lot of people who don’t know what to do now, so they’ll spend a lot of energy arguing about what should have been done in March 2003.