Thomas Wictor

The price of denial

The price of denial

In 2013 neither of my parents would acknowledge the seriousness of their illnesses. For them the price of denial was their lives. Today the Iraqis are seeing what happens when you refuse to face reality and change your ways to accommodate unpleasant truths.

Iraqi City of Mosul Falls to Jihadists.

BAGHDAD — Islamic militants overran parts of Iraq’s second-largest city of Mosul on Tuesday, driving security forces from their posts and seizing the provincial government headquarters, security bases and other key buildings. Gunmen cruised through neighborhoods, waving black banners while residents fled.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki pressed parliament to declare a state of emergency.

The fight for Mosul was a heavy defeat in Baghdad’s battle against a widening insurgency by a breakaway al Qaeda group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which has been trying - with some success - to seize territory both in Iraq and neighboring Syria.


Earlier this year, the group captured another Iraqi city, Fallujah, in the west of the country, and government forces have been unable to take it back after months of fighting. The far larger Mosul is an even more strategic prize. The city and surrounding Ninevah province are a major export route for Iraqi oil and a gateway to Syria.

Regaining Mosul poses a daunting challenge for al-Maliki. The city has a Sunni Muslim majority and many in the community are already deeply embittered against his Shiite-led government. During the nearly nine-year American presence in the country, Mosul was a major stronghold for al Qaeda and U.S. and Iraqi forces carried out repeated offensives there, regaining a semblance of control but never routing the insurgents entirely.

Islamic militants and Iraqi troops have been fighting for days in Mosul. But Monday night and into early Tuesday, the government forces in the city appeared to collapse.

Insurgents overran the Ninevah provincial government building in the city - a key symbol of state control - in the evening, and security forces fled many of their posts. The fighters stormed police stations, bases and prisons, capturing weapons and freeing prisoners.

Armed Iraqi security forces personnel take their positions during a patrol in the city of Ramadi

On Tuesday, Mosul residents said the militants appeared to be in control of several parts of the city, raising the black banners that are the emblem of the Islamic State. The residents spoke to The Associated Press by telephone on condition of anonymity, fearing for their safety.

The fighters also seized helicopters at Mosul airport and seized heavy equipment and weapons depots, parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi - a Sunni from Mosul - said in a televised address. South of Mosul, several villages and a military air base around the town of Shurqat, in Salahuddin province, also fell to militants, al-Nujaifi said.

“What happened is a disaster by any standard,” he said. “The presence of these terrorist groups in this vast province … threatens not just the security and the unity of Iraq, but the whole Middle East.”

Al-Nujaifi said the terrorists are now setting their sights on Salahuddin, a province just north of Baghdad.

Al-Nujaifi blamed the fall of Mosul on “negligence” on the part of army forces and their withdrawal from the city.

Al-Nujaifi said he spoke to U.S. Ambassador Lukman Faily, requesting U.S. support to repel the terrorists’ attack by virtue of the Joint Cooperation agreement between the two countries. “Ambassador Faily promised to promptly convey our request to the U.S. administration,” al-Nujaifi said.

Where to begin? Denial has now caused catastrophe.

I read about Iraq almost every day. What made me realize that the country was doomed was that Coalition forces could simply not get the Iraqis to take their training seriously. The Iraqis thought that having hi-tech equipment and cool uniforms would be enough.

Well, now they’ve learned too late that this isn’t so. The reason American forces are so effective is their training. There’s a phrase: “The training takes over.” In this video, Italian troops in Afghanistan are ambushed by the Taliban.

They’re hit with heavy machine guns, mortars, and rocket-propelled grenades. Italian culture is known for its excitability, but look how professional and calm the troops are as the explosions go off and the bullets fly. One of the reasons is that these are men of the Folgore Parachute Brigade, a unit with long and proud history.

The soldiers are fighting for something greater than themselves. In the end the Italians defeated the ambush and killed ninety Taliban without losing a single man.

It was impossible for the Coalition to instill in the Iraqis the concept of fighting for something greater than themselves. The Iraqi security forces are terminally corrupt, and the troops are lackadaisical about their training.

Now they’re paying the price. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are the most savage of the Wahabbist terrorists. They’re such sadists that they were thrown out of al Qaeda. The Sunnis in Iraq who now support them will soon regret it, because ISIL will begin murdering and torturing the way they did before. All of this is a repeat of what happened between 2003 and 2007.

The chances that the Obama administration will send American forces to Iraq are zero. For one thing the US failed to negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with Iraq that would’ve left some American troops there for just this contingency.

Secondly, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has become a typical Arab strongman who oppresses his people, which is precisely why terrorist groups like ISIL gain popularity. Iraq also cosied up to Iran, which further alarmed the Sunnis and made them more likely to support Wahabbist terrorists.

The problem is that ISIL are subhuman monsters. They revel in gore, blood, pain, and suffering. These are ghouls, head-chopping time travelers from the Bronze Age. They’re worse than the most sickening, perverse serial killer you can imagine.

I’ve studied Operation Iraqi Freedom for eleven years now. In my opinion the invasion was the right thing to do. The fact that President George W. Bush is pathologically incapable of explaining or defending himself isn’t my problem. Looking at the war through nonpartisan eyes, I can see that it was the correct decision, given the imminent lifting of the sanctions on Iraq, Saddam Hussein’s support of international terrorism, Russia’s warning that Iraq was about to attack the US, and the failure of the United Nations to prevent or even detect WMD development in nations such as Libya and North Korea.

The Iraqis had a chance to do something different, but they squandered their opportunity. Even now, as Wahhabist terrorists overrun their country, they won’t admit to having denied reality. I learned in 2013 that too many people are unreachable.

All I can say is that I’m sorry.

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