How should the U.S. respond to militants in Iraq?

Militant group advances in Iraq, taking another northern town

By Eyder Peralta – NPR
A militant Sunni group continues its offensive in Iraq, taking the northern town of Tal Afar in the early morning hours.

The Associated Press reports Tal Afar is a city of about 200,000 people and with an ethnic mix of Shiite and Sunni Turkomen, so it “raises the grim specter of large-scale atrocities by Sunni militants of the al-Qaida-inspired” Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.

As we’ve reported, ISIS released pictures over the weekend of what it says was the massacre of hundreds of Shiite members of the Iraqi security forces. Iraq’s government is still trying to verify the claims.

The New York Times reports that so far, Shiites in Iraq have not reacted violently to the claims. In fact, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the Shiite supreme leader, called on everyone to “exert the highest possible level of self-restraint during this tumultuous period.”

On Morning Edition, NPR’s Leila Fadel was asked whether all of this means Iraq is stumbling toward a civil war.

“It’s very possible and in some places it appears it’s already happening,” Leila said. What we’re seeing, she added, is a country being torn apart along ethnic and religious lines.

Meanwhile, NPR’s Tom Bowman reports that the U.S. is beefing up its embassy security in Iraq by sending a mix of Marines and other military personnel. A military official tells Tom the contingency will include fewer than 100 people.

If you remember, the U.S. State Department announced Sunday that it was evacuating some staff out of its embassy in Baghdad. A majority of the staff, however, will remain in place, the State Department said.

Today’s Question: How should the U.S. respond to militants in Iraq?

  • Sue de Nim

    First, realize that the current chaos in Iraq is fallout from our ill-advised 2003 invasion and subsequent ill-managed occupation of Iraq. Add it to the long list of lessons learned from that debacle. Let’s not make those mistakes again.

    • Carrie

      My thoughts exactly!

  • Gary F
    • Ralphy

      Colin Powell warned President Bush, “If you break it, you own it.”. I take that to mean, in Colin Powell’s opinion (and most of the rest of us), President Bush owns this fiasco.
      Do you have an idea as to what should be done?

      • Ringo

        Bush also signed the order to all withdraw U.S. troops by end of 2011, by signing the U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement.

        (Powerlineblog … really?!)

        • JQP

          Powerline blog .com is , and always has been , unabashedly conservative …. they claim data driven … but when I atended an event at which the lead blogger John Hinderaker was pressed with questions on his data and sources … … a lot of his factual underpinning .. was pretty limited and circular. Basically if you like his bacon … accept that there is loads of nitrates, salt and fat.

    • Give it a rest

      Unless you are a fox news lacky. Then everything is Obama’s fault.

      Obama caught the guy responsible for Benghazi. Curious to hear how fox turns that around for you and your ilk.

  • Emery

    The fact that a numerically superior (by far) Iraqi army collapsed while facing ISIS highlights the corrupt and inefficient nature of the current
    government. That basic fact will not be altered by any US

  • Rich in Duluth

    The U.S. should stay out of this religious war. These sects have apparently hated each other for 1400-years. It’s up to them to settle their conflict. If the people of Iraq want to hold on to the democracy they have, they must be willing to stand together and fight for it…or let it go and slip back into the 6th century.

  • Ralphy

    There are no good options left. If any help is forthcoming, it should be through th UN, the Arab League and the neighboring countries that are at risk from a failed state.
    We do have a moral and humanitarian obligation to the innocents caught in the cross-fire, and we need to figure out how to offer some sort of safe-harbor.
    Long and short term, the US should double down on our emerging technologies that will take oil out of the equation and impose economic sanctions on countries that sell weapons that end up in the hands of terrorist organizations.

    • David P

      That is a good question – Why does the US do business with countries that sell weapons to war lords and terrorists? I don’t know if we can economically detach from China, especially with how much Bush borrowed to pay for his mis-adventure, but I do question our ongoing relationship with Russia and China, who show no sign of slowing down their military sales to North Korea, African war lords and Mid East terrorists.

  • Dude

    Why do we have to do anything about it? Let someone else handle it for once. Iraq needs to put it’s big boy pants on and grow up. We have our own crap to worry about.

    • James

      The problem is, Dude, they don’t have any big boy pants to put on. We took their torn and dirty big boy pants from them and replaced them with not much. It’s our choice to not go back and help, but we are culpable in this.

      • Dude

        Oh. Well then I think the US should call a whambulance for them.

  • James

    Put W and Dick and Paul and all their pals on a plane to Baghdad and tell them to sort it out. Don’t let them back into to the US until they are successful.

    • Jamie


      • Ringo

        Wolfowitz. A driving force in invading Iraq, who famously wrote the we needed a “new Pearl Harbor” so we could do so, even before 9/11 occurred (and, surprise, surprise).

  • Guy

    There’s a new revolution or civil war in middle eastern countries every other year. Only intervene if it’s really hurting our gas prices very badly. Otherwise let them kill each other off. Saves US the trouble.

  • Jim G

    I’m thinking about the end of the Vietnam War and the similarities and differences between Iraq’s current situation. In both cases, we trained these allied armed forces to fight like Americans with huge logistical support and air superiority. When we leave these countries, we take both of these crucial legs for success on the battle field with us. In addition, the Iraqi army has shown that it has no faith in itself or its government. Two divisions, 30,000 men, dissolved before a force of 800 ISIS militia. How do you fix this? I’m thinking. I’m positive that I don’t want to get our troops involved on the ground again. Beyond that, I’m not sure what advice to offer on this tar baby right now.

  • JQP

    Declare the a corporation and tax them!

  • Dick Johnson

    Prime Directive

    • Peter Wang

      Too late to apply that. We’ve already altered their course.

      • Dixon Cox

        Then we should just nuke ’em.

        • Willie Putz

          This is a serious discussion by men with two-euphemism names. We can’t just nuke people. Only you and Rod Wood (aka TwoGuns) could think that was appropriate.

          • Hugh G. Rection

            Yeah, seriously. Grow up people.


    @%$#@!!!! NO!!! Killing Humans in the Middle East is a waste of time and has always been a waste of money. All the money that the is being used on Military weapons right now can be used to support returning U.S Troops, and their families. All the money that is used towards military weapons can be used towards working class Human beings, Homeless Humans, Educations and jobs. Need I say more right now. Let us not repeat history….See you at the 2016 elections. God Bless America.

  • Joe

    We should declare war on the Babylonians for their absurd base 60 numbering system