Thursday, August 07, 2014

Crowded attention space

The current focus on the plight of the Iraqi Yazidis makes it worth recalling the disastrous bombings they suffered in 2007, but occurring at another time when Iraqi deaths didn't seem to matter much, it was quickly forgotten. It's not clear whether the apparent White House rush to intervene now on their behalf reflects a reassessment of previous assumptions (e.g. that the Kurdish military would perform better than the Iraqi military) or of broader strategy in the region (e.g. the "let's leave Bashar al-Assad there and see what happens" approach to Syria). Without such rethinking, the current Yazidi crisis will be dust in the wind as quickly as 2007.

UPDATE: Good post from Josh Marshall making the same point as the latter element of the above i.e. that some of the assumptions about ISIS prospects in Iraq must be wrong. He puts it in terms of whether the Peshmerga was weaker than advertised or ISIS stronger, but the foundational assumption of the entire White House Levant strategy since 2011 is that Syria could be ignored -- and most pundits have dutifully followed that assumption.