Ramadi, Iraq, has fallen to ISIL:
About 500 people have been killed in the fighting for Ramadi in recent days and between 6,000 and 8,000 have fled, a spokesman for the provincial governor said.
The city's fall marked a major setback for the forces ranged against Islamic State: a U.S.-led coalition and the Iraqi security forces, which have been propped up by Iranian-backed Shi'ite militias
It was also a harsh return to reality for Washington, which at the weekend had mounted a successful special forces raid in Syria in which it said it killed an Islamic State leader in charge of the group's black market oil and gas sales, and captured his wife.
I know, I know. Our military says that the status of Ramadi is no big deal in the big picture of our 3-year plan to defeat ISIL (that is only in its 8th month, after all). How many more Iraqi cities are irrelevant to that perfect plan we are working on?
I think our basic plan is sound, since it is what I outlined in posts before it became clear it is what we are planning to do: Win in Iraq; build up friendly forces in Syria while we win in Iraq; and then win in Syria.
I'd also like to make sure Assad is defeated and Iran is defeated, too--which don't seem to be part of the Obama administration plan--but right now I'm just talking about ISIL.
Another point of disagreement is that while it seems like we want to focus on Mosul, I've long thought Anbar is the priority front.
The Kurds are a reliable force to hold the northern front while focusing on Anbar is necessary to protect Baghdad and to convince Sunni Arabs it is safe enough to turn against ISIL.
Yet despite thinking our basic plan is sound in concept, from the beginning, I've worried about lacking a sense of urgency since our enemies might not wait for our perfect plan to be finished.
I've been frustrated as we've failed to address Anbar before it gets worse.
And my frustration grew worse as the situation in Anbar's Ramadi got worse despite the obvious nature of that threat.
So we're still months away from an offensive to liberate Mosul while Anbar continues to fall to ISIL advances.
Yes, ISIL wins actual battles while we are still working on our detailed plan to strike north, apparently ignoring anything that might derail the awesome plan we are progressing through and checking off boxes of tasks completed.
I can see it now. Just as we lead the march into Mosul, ISIL forces will sweep through Fallujah and make their own thunder run into Baghdad, which we will say is no big deal as long as the Green Zone is safe.
But no matter, we'll have increased our bombing sorties by 12% over that time period--totally validating the plan!
It's the damnedest thing about giving your enemies time. Sometimes they use it to try to win rather than just patiently wait for the meticulously planned killing blow to fall on them.
I felt the same way about our invasion of Iraq in 2003. I worried we gave Saddam too much time before we struck. But the most telegraphed war in history up to that time was a marvel of urgency in retrospect.
In about the same amount of time as President Obama has spent planning to defeat ISIL since he announced our re-intervention in Iraq, President Bush asked the UN to authorize a war against Saddam Hussein, got Congress to declare war, sent our military to the Middle East, invaded Iraq and destroyed Saddam's military, and sent Saddam himself into hiding.
But no. Really. We should just take our freaking time on defeating ISIL. Because what can they do? Defeat us?
UPDATE: I may fail to see the full nuance of our fully Hoped battle station, of course. Perhaps the three-year plan is just to delay total defeat in Iraq until after President Obama leaves office, allowing him to farcically claim he didn't lose Iraq.
I'm not sure even that more focused objective is within his reach if this keeps up.
UPDATE: Perhaps we should review the last time we began a campaign to free Ramadi from jihadis.