I said, hey, you’re good at combat and people need you here; why not go?
May 6, 2015 5:12 PM   Subscribe

Many American, Canadian, and British military veterans opposed to the actions of ISIS in Iraq have been, individually, going over to fight with the Kurdish Peshmerga for some time now, bringing thousands of dollars of military gear and irreplaceable training. There have been so many of them fighting that the Peshmerga are now actively recruiting military veterans online. Not to be internet-outdone, military veterans have begun investigating forming units of their own to fight ISIS -including notable and controversial science-fiction author John Ringo, who suggested trying to crowdfund for 'a brigade of soldiers'.
A former U.S. Marine, who recently flew to the Kurdish region, described his travel.

“When I arrived they were giving me a hard time at the airport because of all the gear I had brought. So, I lied. I flashed an old reserve ID I still had and told them I was on orders. It worked. That was three weeks ago.”
posted by corb (86 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
Oh, John Ringo, no.
posted by The Tensor at 5:18 PM on May 6, 2015 [29 favorites]


See also: The Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War.
posted by absalom at 5:18 PM on May 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


Just curious but why is Ringo controversial? I never heard of him before and his Wikipeda article lacks the usual "controversies" section
posted by Bwithh at 5:19 PM on May 6, 2015


Well, this certainly sounds like a splendid idea. What could possibly go wrong?
posted by bitter-girl.com at 5:20 PM on May 6, 2015 [13 favorites]


The original Oh John Ringo No.
posted by corb at 5:21 PM on May 6, 2015 [31 favorites]


"Black water keep rollin' on past just the same"
posted by clavdivs at 5:21 PM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


The original Oh John Ringo No.

Ho-lee shit.
posted by Literaryhero at 5:30 PM on May 6, 2015 [27 favorites]


Didn't Bill O'Reilly float a "squad of mercenary veterans" idea last year?
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 5:31 PM on May 6, 2015


This is pretty weird and an example of the power of the media to shape our deepest values and perceptions. I mean, ISIS are awful, obviously, but they're really no more awful than the Syrian regime that they're fighting against, or the Saudi regime that "we" are allied with, or quite a number of others that deserve shooting. Why ISIS? Propaganda works well.
posted by wilful at 5:32 PM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I hate the idea of innocent people suffering because of some regime. If these guys want to go to satisfy some lingering war obsession. Have at it. I have known veterans in both camps, and the few that want to go back...need to go back. This may be their outlet.
posted by Benway at 5:36 PM on May 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Have at it. I have known veterans in both camps, and the few that want to go back...need to go back. This may be their outlet.
So, some people just need to kill some people, and should be allowed to do so? Then it seems unethical to get in the way of ISIS as they do their thing.
posted by b1tr0t at 5:40 PM on May 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


See also: The Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War.

"... the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce."
posted by notyou at 5:50 PM on May 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


John Ringo and his ilk have basically turned military scifi into a cesspit of racism, sexism, just about every other ism. it's like reading novels where gamergate trolls are the protagonists.

I can totally understand how the idea of mercenary soldiers going around killing Muslims in a holy war would appeal to him and his fan base
posted by vuron at 5:55 PM on May 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


So, some people just need to kill some people, and should be allowed to do so? Then it seems unethical to get in the way of ISIS as they do their thing.

There are also civilians in the way of ISIS that don't particularly want to be killed. I'm not saying I subscribe to the idea, but the argument could be made that people who want to kill and risk death in the process should be killing each other instead.
posted by Behemoth at 5:55 PM on May 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


So, some people just need to kill some people, and should be allowed to do so? Then it seems unethical to get in the way of ISIS as they do their thing.

The Kurdish state in Northern Iraq is a de facto government, and it is fighting a manifestly defensive war against ISIS militants. I see nothing inherently unethical about the Peshmerga using mercenaries in this fight, so long as those mercenaries are willing and informed of the risks involved. As for the ethics of the mercenaries themselves... I mean, once you accept that war can be ethical (and these are military veterans we're talking about), assisting a state in defending itself from a violent invading force that has committed documented war crimes seems on its face ethical.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:57 PM on May 6, 2015 [36 favorites]


Why ISIS? Propaganda works well.

I think it's more than that. ISIS, for all its remarkable success at fundraising, is still mostly restricted to hardware that infantry can engage non-suicidally (ie APCs and older Warsaw Pact tanks). Syria and Saudi Arabia have air power - and most importantly for this kind of warfare - helicopters.

We trained a few hundred thousand people how to kill, arguably better than any military in history, and then continually threw them into conflicts that anyone with even moderate intelligence knew were extremely ethically dubious at the best of times and usually just naked imperialistic horror shows. If some of them see a chance to finally use that training for something like a legitimate "good cause", and against an enemy they actually stand a chance against...well, it kind of makes sense.

The cynic in me says a substantial fraction are probably motivated by the fact that ISIS is openly shouting its desire to establish a new caliphate and is basically acting exactly like the bloodthirsty barbarians FoxNews has been promising for the last 15 years. In other words: a good chunk are probably modern-day Crusaders.

Regardless, given how often over the last twenty-five years we've abandoned the Kurds, it's kind of nice to see some Americans helping them out, for whatever reason.
posted by Ryvar at 5:58 PM on May 6, 2015 [26 favorites]


The original Oh John Ringo No.

Oh John Ringo No, previously.
posted by jamjam at 5:58 PM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Maybe a couple of these Proud Americans can try to attack a "Draw Jesus" event organized by ISIS. Oh, wait, bad parallel, neither of the "Draw Muhammed" attackers were from outside the U.S.

As much as some Americans fear ISIS terrorists coming here, we're doing a bang-up job of sending terrorists there.
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:02 PM on May 6, 2015


This doesn't seem very real to me. Maston comes up in multiple links, then there's the two brits, and a video of what looks like war-touristing yahoo's hiding behind a rock and joking while bullets whiz by, but never firing a shot. And then something about a really terrible sci-fi writer. Nothing points to a real movement in the sense of American involvement in the Mexican or Spanish civil wars. This seems like an anecdote taken too far.
posted by kernel_sander at 6:09 PM on May 6, 2015 [4 favorites]




"terrorists coming here, we're doing a bang-up job of sending terrorists there."

Are you calling the Peshmerga terrorists? That's really super duper not true.
posted by clavdivs at 6:18 PM on May 6, 2015 [9 favorites]


Orwell wept.
posted by Divine_Wino at 6:32 PM on May 6, 2015 [2 favorites]




Maybe a couple of these Proud Americans can try to attack a "Draw Jesus" event organized by ISIS. Oh, wait, bad parallel, neither of the "Draw Muhammed" attackers were from outside the U.S.


Well, they are attacking the organizers of an "Exterminate the Yazidis" event.
posted by ocschwar at 6:48 PM on May 6, 2015 [16 favorites]


Nothing points to a real movement in the sense of American involvement in the Mexican or Spanish civil wars. This seems like an anecdote taken too far.

There are at least two different movements. Lions of Rojava is one. Rojava is the Kurdish inhabited northern part of Syria, and means the "West" or "Western Kurdistan" in Kurdish. It is run by the PYD, a fomer Marxist-Leninst organization tied to the PKK in Turkey (which formerly engaged in terrorism) that has since formed a more social anarchist vision heavily influenced by Murray Bukchin and feminist thinking - they require co-leadership positions for men and women in the government and military. There aim is to create autonomous regions in Syria and Turkey rather than a separate state. This is a document by their guru Abdullah Ocalan (PDF) about it. The PYD/PKK is a bit cultish, but I don't think Orwell would weep about them. The autonomous, non-state cantons are a great idea, but the PYD needs to mature, which is hard for them to do with Ocalan in prison.

There is another group of international Christians fighting with the Assyrian Christian militia, Dwekh Nawsha, in Iraq . There may be other more secular groups forming up with the Iraqi Peshmerga now. I think it is a lot easier to get into Erbil than Syria. Note the KRG (Kurdish Regional Government) in Iraq has a lot of its own problems and is extremely corrupt. I think they practically fought a civil war (KDP vs PUK) a little while ago.

There is one woman from Israel, Gill Rosenberg, who is fighting with them. She originally fought for the YPJ but I believe may have changed to Dwekh Nawsha for some reason. There is an Amercian woman who just recently joined YPJ as well.

The MLKP, another Marxist-Leninist organization in Turkey, which I believe may have been involved in the recent terrorist hostage taking and murder of a Turkish prosecutor, has also been calling for the formation of an "International Brigades" in the spirit of the Spanish Revolution, and has recruited several foreigners, including Ivana Hoffman from Germany who was recently killed in Syria. From what I've heard about this group, they have decided to follow some of the worst aspects of Marxist-Leninism similar to born-again evangelicals and Christianity.
posted by Golden Eternity at 6:50 PM on May 6, 2015 [28 favorites]


But John Ringo should know that Duffel Blog, the military wing of The Onion, suggested a crowdfunded operation in Iraq years ago.

Come up with your own material, yo
posted by ocschwar at 6:51 PM on May 6, 2015


There Their aim ...

Jesus.
posted by Golden Eternity at 6:58 PM on May 6, 2015


wilful: This is pretty weird and an example of the power of the media to shape our deepest values and perceptions. I mean, ISIS are awful, obviously, but they're really no more awful than the Syrian regime that they're fighting against, or the Saudi regime that "we" are allied with, or quite a number of others that deserve shooting. Why ISIS? Propaganda works well.

The Saudis are as bad as ISIS? I'm not a fan of the Saudi regime in any way, but that's pretty much crazy talk.
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:15 PM on May 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


The Saudis are as bad as ISIS? I'm not a fan of the Saudi regime in any way, but that's pretty much crazy talk.

Yeah, this.

I'm not really a fan of most of the actors in this area, states or otherwise, but I do think that ISIS/ISIL's endorsements of slavery and slaughtering minorities wholesale put them a notch worse than all the other actors. Or has Saudi Arabia been bombing the Yazidis when I wasn't looking?

It's worth pointing out difference in degree of awfulness.

Besides, even if it is military adventurism, they're joining the Kurds, probably the most laudable of all the actors in that region. They at least have a history of not massacring innocents. Just saying.
posted by Strudel at 7:31 PM on May 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


The Saudis are as bad as ISIS? I'm not a fan of the Saudi regime in any way, but that's pretty much crazy talk.

What's your standard? I mean, of course there's no actual war going on right now to see their true colours, but what do you want, beheading, stoning, etc for adultery, homosexuality, witchcraft? Extrajudicial killing, the sponsorship and training of terrorism. Slavery, sure. SA has it all, a vicious and brutal theocratic regime. And hell yeah they'll bomb anyone (in Yemen) if they can get away with it.

But they area reliable ally.
posted by wilful at 7:35 PM on May 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


The Saudis are as bad as ISIS? I'm not a fan of the Saudi regime in any way, but that's pretty much crazy talk.

This, exactly.

The New Yorker article Bwithh linked above is really interesting, though sad on on several levels.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:37 PM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


They at least have a history of not massacring innocents.

Actually, I understand Kurds did participate in the ethnic cleansing of Armenians and Assyrians in the Ottoman Empire and there is a reasonable amount of tension with the later.
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:38 PM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't it be great if some of these military folks went into their own communities and, say, built schools and parks and houses for the homeless and stuff?

I guess killing is just too much fun.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:47 PM on May 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I have a list of people I'd like to throw to the extremists. (I have too many fond memories of the Isis tv show to dignify them with that name.) Where do I send the money to get them there?
posted by octobersurprise at 7:56 PM on May 6, 2015


John Ringo and his ilk have basically turned military scifi into a cesspit of racism, sexism, just about every other ism. it's like reading novels where gamergate trolls are the protagonists

Not to mention it is also laughably implausible and badly written. If read the right way though the thinly disguised author, sorry I mean hero, with god-like charm, military prowess and, I'm sure, a huge cock can make John Ringo's writing hilarious. I don't believe this was intended.
posted by deadwax at 7:59 PM on May 6, 2015


This is unfortunate, as the Kurds are a very progressive and formidable fighting force in all of their guises - Peshmerga and PKK - who are unapologetically majority-islamic, and unapologetically inclusive. The Yezidis were their people simply because some of them were their neighbors - they sent their best to fight for them because no-one else would.

They're not super-heroes, tho, and they no-kidding kill innocent Turks and Iranians to make their point with either nation. They kill a whole hell of a lot more ISIL combatants, with hunting rifles and knives in some battles, so, go team! I guess?

I'm also not comfortable with the white-nationalist Soldier Of Fortune types going to serve with them as if it's Rhodesia all over again. I guess this will make SoF Magazine entertaining to read again, but man... what happens when ISIL is gone, but the brown non-christians the Mercs are serving stick around?
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:20 PM on May 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


True, but in light of GE's comment they're at least not the only sort going.

Also, the phone number on the Peshmerga site goes to a cell phone in Kentucky, which is interesting. Love to know the story there.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 8:32 PM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Oh John Ringo No stuff reminds me of Patrick Stewart's screenplay in this.
posted by XMLicious at 8:36 PM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


corb: "The original Oh John Ringo No."

Well... I think the whole sad/rabid puppy slates for the hugos now have something they can do...

Too many puppies...
Too many puppies with guns in their hands.
Too many puppies in foreign lands.
Are dressed up sharp in suits of green and
Placed upon the war machine.
Too many puppies are just like me.
Too many puppies are afraid to see.
The visions of the past brought to life again,
Too many puppies, too many dead men.
posted by symbioid at 9:03 PM on May 6, 2015




the Mercs

It's a little weird to call them mercenaries, though. From what I understand, most mercenaries get paid. In this case, most of the veterans they've talked to who are actually joining the Peshmerga - for whatever reasons - seem to be laying out a couple grand to be a part of it, rather than getting paid for their actions.
posted by corb at 9:51 PM on May 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


Yes, they're volunteers rather than mercenaries. Like the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War or the Eagle Squadrons in the Battle of Britain.
posted by Justinian at 11:34 PM on May 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


octobersurprise: I have too many fond memories of the Isis tv show to dignify them with that name.
Despite the persistent use of ISIS by just about everybody, the preferred State and Defense Department nomenclature is ISIL. You could also use the name they hate — Daesh.
posted by ob1quixote at 11:54 PM on May 6, 2015


So, some people just need to kill some people, and should be allowed to do so? Then it seems unethical to get in the way of ISIS as they do their thing.

There is a difference between surviving in a combat zone and killing. You seem to not know the difference.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:00 AM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


As much as some Americans fear ISIS terrorists coming here, we're doing a bang-up job of sending t********s there.

This is really offensive.

Would you have thought them terrorists if a group of organized people flew over to Poland to fight the Nazis before Pearl Harbor? Why do you refer to these people as "terrorists"?

People have been calling these people "mercenaries", but mercenaries get paid. The British and American forces I know of over there are volunteers. THEY INCUR ALL COSTS.

And they are doing this knowing that there is a possibility that their home country will prosecute them if/when they return home.

I don't understand why these people fighting ISIS are getting no love here.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:12 AM on May 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


As the partner of a medically retired combat veteran who served two tours in Iraq, I can attest to how devastating it is to be a soldier who was sent arbitrarily to Iraq, fought for the U.S government to hold a certain territory and lost people and sanity and many other things in the mix; was just as arbitrarily taken out, and then forced to watch as a very brutal group of people take that same territory. I think these soldiers are put in the wretched position of asking, 'what was the point?' So before condemning them, try to see their perspective. Certainly the endless war itself is wrong, I think, but it isn't the soldier's fault for caring.
posted by branravenraven at 12:36 AM on May 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


There was no point. There rarely is with these things, unfortunately.
posted by Justinian at 12:38 AM on May 7, 2015


I think if non-state-actor volunteers want to pay out of their own pockets to fly to the scene where cryptofascists are terrorizing a civilian population, and help those civilians in their efforts to resist, more power to them. This kind of internationalism has been a key part of a lot of resistance movements we praise today. I can't not support this endeavor.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 5:23 AM on May 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


As long as they don't expect rescue or negotiation from the US if they get captured, fine.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:47 AM on May 7, 2015


Just out of curiosity, Drinky: why? Would it be so terrible for the US to help in the rescue or negotiation of citizens taking part in the fight the US is already waging, albeit as a state actor?
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 5:55 AM on May 7, 2015


Well regardless, as hal_c_on pointed out, these people are well aware of the risks and are going into this completely on their own. I'm sure they know there's no backup.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:17 AM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Would it be so terrible for the US to help in the rescue or negotiation of citizens taking part in the fight the US is already waging, albeit as a state actor?

The key objection stems from the possibility that some guys might LEEROY JENKINS themselves into serious trouble and in the process of their rescue interfere with the strategy and logistics of the official US mission in the area.
posted by fifthrider at 6:18 AM on May 7, 2015


Sure, and that'd be a valid concern if there was a chance of that happening, but it seems none of these guys are saying they presume rescue if they get in a jam, and I think we can pretty much count on the US to not come parachuting in if they're captured.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:36 AM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wait... You want to imitate American involvement in the Spanish Civil War... As if that was a good thing? The Americans got slaughtered and caused horrible problems for US diplomacy in the region for decades. The soldiers who fought and returned were harrassed for the rest of their lives. Does not seem like a chapter of history that needs to be repeated.
posted by miyabo at 7:05 AM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


It caused "problems" because the fascists won. Something I doubt will be the case where ISIS is concerned. And yeah, I think it is a good thing when people volunteer to help civilians who are being terrorized.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 7:11 AM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Especially when those civilians are actively asking for help from volunteers, as demonstrated. This seems like a non-issue to me. Kind of scratching my head at the contortions to find something wrong with this.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 7:15 AM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]



It caused "problems" because the fascists won. Something I doubt will be the case where ISIS is concerned. And yeah, I think it is a good thing when people volunteer to help civilians who are being terrorized.


True. But if American volunteers will help solidify the legitimacy of the Kurdish entities, (not a bad thing IMO) we have to commit to it 100%. Either we step them going or we tell Foggy Bottom that we are done stabbing the Kurds in the back.
posted by ocschwar at 8:01 AM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


it seems none of these guys are saying they presume rescue if they get in a jam, and I think we can pretty much count on the US to not come parachuting in if they're captured.

Now it's no skin off my nose if some yahoo wants to pay to play cowboys and muslims, but let's not bullshit ourselves here. A) It's unlikely that an American in trouble abroad isn't going to appeal to the US government for help. B) It's even more unlikely that the US government won't aid an American in trouble if such aid is remotely feasible—the checkered history of failed and successful rescue missions bears that out. And C) expecting the case of an abandoned American abroad—a heroic American at that!—not to be greeted with shrill and piercing cries of outrage is least likely of all. So what I'm saying is these protestations to the contrary are about as believable as a child's "I'm on my own!" as he runs out the door with his bindlestiff.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:44 AM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Actually, given that no one is sure it's even legal to go in the first place, I really doubt people would petition the State Department for their own rescue.

And honestly, it's a little American-Exceptionalism to think that they would even want to appeal to the State Department if they got into a jam. I think it's pretty clear that the US military has a bad track record of rescuing individuals, and if they're deploying with Peshmerga, why wouldn't they look to, I don't know, the people they're actually deploying with for assistance? It seems crazily surreal to assume they'd contact the State Department. What would they even do? "Help, we're pinned down and need air support?"
posted by corb at 9:05 AM on May 7, 2015


Bit of an academic discussion there, given the life expectancy of people who surrender to ISIS.
posted by ocschwar at 9:24 AM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Actually, given that no one is sure it's even legal to go in the first place, I really doubt people would petition the State Department for their own rescue.
Perhaps not. But picture Hillary Clinton or Carly Fiorina riding into battle as avenging Valkyries, out to rescue these selfless heroes who were themselves fighting the good fight against ISIS. Maybe this even happens in the run-up to the election as an, uh, October Surprise. Either way, the spectacle practically writes itself.

I'd like to throw the entirety of ISIS in a burr grinder the size of Madison Square Garden as much as the next person, but I'm not confident that there is a way to actually do that without throwing new fuel into an already roaring fire.
posted by b1tr0t at 10:21 AM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Now it's no skin off my nose if some yahoo wants to pay to play cowboys and muslims, but let's not bullshit ourselves here. A) It's unlikely that an American in trouble abroad isn't going to appeal to the US government for help. B) It's even more unlikely that the US government won't aid an American in trouble if such aid is remotely feasible—the checkered history of failed and successful rescue missions bears that out. And C) expecting the case of an abandoned American abroad—a heroic American at that!—not to be greeted with shrill and piercing cries of outrage is least likely of all. So what I'm saying is these protestations to the contrary are about as believable as a child's "I'm on my own!" as he runs out the door with his bindlestiff.

I'd like to congratulate you. I think this is the first time on metafilter I'm calling somebody out for complete bullshit. This is just absolute fiction and lies.

Next, I don't use words like "everyone", but it's warranted here. EVERYONE who is going knows that their govt won't give a shit about the if they are captured/killed. NOBODY would want their govt to rescue them. The men (and women) who are VOLUNTEERING are frustrated that their own country won't help, so they are going in by themselves. They would rather die than ask for assistance if captured.

How do I know this? Let's just go to the numbers. How many of these VOLUNTEERS have actually asked their country to help them when they went in on their own? Anybody?



But picture Hillary Clinton or Carly Fiorina riding into battle as avenging Valkyries, out to rescue these selfless heroes who were themselves fighting the good fight against ISIS. Maybe this even happens in the run-up to the election as an, uh, October Surprise.

Lol. You think any of these people care enough to do that? It would make a great movie, but this never actually happens in real life. The politician finds out about what can be done, weighs the political risk, then goes back on the campaign trail without devoting another second to it.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:05 AM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


EVERYONE who is going knows that their govt won't give a shit about the if they are captured/killed. NOBODY would want their govt to rescue them.

if they're deploying with Peshmerga, why wouldn't they look to, I don't know, the people they're actually deploying with for assistance?

At this point we're just writing fan fiction so who the hell knows who one of these cowboys would rely on for assistance? Maybe they call their Peshmerga blood brothers, forged in the heat of battle, or maybe they call the Mossad, James Bond, the Illuminati, or summon spirits from the vasty deeps? Who knows? We can only be certain that no one would expect their government to rescue them because that would be crazy, right? NOBODY would do that.

I think this is the first time on metafilter I'm calling somebody out for complete bullshit.

'Sall right. I feel the same way about everything you write.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:57 AM on May 7, 2015


As long as they don't expect rescue or negotiation from the US if they get captured, fine.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:47 AM on May 7 [+] [!]

Just out of curiosity, Drinky: why? Would it be so terrible for the US to help in the rescue or negotiation of citizens taking part in the fight the US is already waging, albeit as a state actor?
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 8:55 AM on May 7 [+] [!]


As usual, my pithiness and quickness with posting has got me in trouble. It's a complex topic. My fear isn't so much that they would ask for US help (though if it was me captured by ISIS I would ask everybody up to and including North Korea if I thought it would keep my head on my shoulders) and more that potential propaganda value might force the US to act. Line up a few captured Americans bravely protecting our Kurdish allies in an ISIS video and there will be very little patience for the details back home. There will be pressure to act to find a way to bring them home.

I don't want to give them that potential propaganda victory, and I don't want to risk American political capital or put American soldiers at risk over this. But if they executed a bunch of Americans on camera America might very well quickly be at war in Iraq again for real, which is exactly what ISIS wants.

But yeah, I have a libertarian streak so I say let them make their own choices, I would just prefer that it's made very clear ahead of time that they have relinquished their country of any obligations towards them.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:07 PM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


These folks and Blackwater are the pirates of the 21st century. Sooner or later they are going to piss off the King and be hung on a gibbet.
posted by rankfreudlite at 12:14 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Let's see, Acadamé, (Nee Blackwater,) is working Africa, for China, out of Dubai. Poor Africa.

A recent article described an American deserter, admittedly addicted to the neurochemistry of warfare, as an antidote for severe depression, came home to court martial, from volunteering in the Middle East. War as an addiction, interesting demographic.

Then a third ingredient, the belief some Egyptians and Libyans hold, that the US is ISIS.

Then there is Saudi, where slavery is a part of the system, acceptable under sharia, and where the Saudis have it totally their way, no different than ISIS woud have it. The Yazidi were convenient targets with their beliefs held as satanic by all branches of Islam, and by the Christian minority. The reason I thought ISIS wasn't fundie, is they took sex slaves, first, like mercenaries.

My personal take on military volunteerism in the Middle East, it is both chauvanistic, and addictive behavior, and doubtlessly unsanctioned work. I think the entities in the Middle East can work it out among themselves. They should have figured out that the West is not their friend. Maybe instead of playing the pretend friend we have done, it is time to stop being their chump, which is what we are now, for this last thirty years.

Poor Africa, it is like the tablecloth trick, only the grifter takes the tablecloth, and the table, and casts everything else into the sea, Mt. Gorillas, Rhinos, every tribe, ostrich and emu.

This DIY war effort on the part of American voluteers just seems to me, war has become a culture, an acceptable alternative culture, of inhumanity masquerading as service, and it is a masquerade, as who really knows who the enemy is, or who employs the enemy of the day?
posted by Oyéah at 3:38 PM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


There will be pressure to act to find a way to bring them home.

Like James Foley?

Like Kayla Mueller?

Why talk in hypotheticals? ISIS has captured and killed American volunteers who weren't even combatants. I don't see the SEALS streaming in.
posted by ocschwar at 3:58 PM on May 7, 2015


Like James Foley?

In July 2014, US President Barack Obama authorized a “substantial and complex” rescue operation after the US intelligence community said a “broad collection of intelligence” led to believe that the hostages were being held at a specific location in Syria. However, the mission failed because the hostages had been moved.[41]

Kayla Mueller

Mueller had been in ISIS custody for 18 months. A US mission to rescue her and several others in northern Syria in July 2014 failed when ISIS moved the prisoners.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:05 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


The new spin, that Obama is indecisive, therefore Saudi and Turkey have to ante up, that is the good news. Let them do their own dirty work, and reap the rewards. We as a nation really have no stake in the area, it is their doings anyway. It is their backyard. Let us go home, blow some kisses, enjoy the outcomes. It isn't ours.
posted by Oyéah at 5:11 PM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


These are interesting times, I agree with Hal_c_on and Oyeah.

These diametrically opposed views make my head hurt, like valkrie und condor.
posted by clavdivs at 7:18 PM on May 7, 2015 [3 favorites]






I'm somewhat tempted to send them my totally unsuitable for the job resume and see how polite their rejection letter might be.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:35 AM on May 9, 2015




You know, a question I was actually thinking about this weekend - I know someone who's considering doing this, and he's looking at the gear he has together - which is mostly ACU stuff he bought while in the Army. And it occurs to me - what happens if you have veterans basically in American military uniforms on their own initiative? There's rules governing when retirees can wear the uniform, but I'm not sure there are for veterans.
posted by corb at 6:32 PM on May 10, 2015


This is most probably completely bogus, but it is worth reading: Was the US Complicit in Ethnic Cleansing in Syria?

What will happen to Sunni villagers in towns that supported Daesh? Kurds will have a hard time trusting them for sure. I could easily see Western volunteers getting caught up in reprisal attacks, or evicting people and destroying their homes.

Communes In Rojava Growing Daily
The Şehîd (‘Martyr’) Fadil Commune founded in the Cindirêsê district of the Efrîn Canton has replaced the logic of the capitalist market with that of a people’s market. The district market carries the distinction of being the first such market in the region and can meet the needs of residents in the region every Thursday. The market, which offers its service to the people on very low profit margins, reinvests of its income to the benefit of the local people. The market supplies such basic goods as fruits and vegetables, clothing and other textiles, as well as a myriad of other daily supplies.
There was recently a big uprising in Rojhelat, the Kurdish region of Iran: A Young Woman's Death Sparked Riots in a Kurdish City in Iran

Arduous Battle of Kurdish Socialist Forces in Rojhelat
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:42 AM on May 11, 2015




Five Boko Haram members training under ISIS killed In Iraq
At least, five Boko Haram terrorists undergoing training in Iraq were on Wednesday killed by a vigilante group, the Mosul Youth Resistance Movement.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:41 AM on May 14, 2015




As a side note, yes, those Assyrians. They speak dialects of Aramaic, flavored with Akkadian, and evolved with the passing of dozens of centuries... yet still here.

It's sort of like the Mayans - you expect them to be dead and gone like the ancient Greeks or Egyptians, a people of the past... nope. Still here. Still striving. Still relevant.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:23 PM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ever wonder what Egyptian would sound like from someone who learned to speak it from their family as a child? Here you go.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:36 PM on May 14, 2015


A Dangerous Language: Vineet Gill interviews Mano Khalil - "The Kurdish filmmaker on deploying a camera rather than a gun to fight for his community."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:15 PM on May 15, 2015












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