ONE DAY AFTER ABC NEWSY AND ENTERTAINMENT'S DAVID MUIR LET CRANKY CLINTON WALK ALL OVER HIM IN THE NEW HAMPSHIRE DEBATE, MUIR REVEALED WHAT ACTUALLY WENT DOWN TO THESE REPORTERS.
"SHE'S JUST SO SCARY!" HE EXCLAIMED. "SOMETIMES, THAT WATTLE UNDER HER NECK WAGS SO FIRMLY YOU THINK IT'S GOING TO BREAK OFF AND HIT YOU IN THE FACE. OTHER TIMES, YOU JUST THINK SHE'S GOING TO TALK YOU TO DEATH. IT WAS VERY SCARY. I HAVEN'T WET MY BRIEFS SO MUCH SINCE I SAT THROUGH R.L. STINE'S GOOSEBUMPS."
In Baghdad, on Wednesday, Carter took questions from the press.
Q: (inaudible) -- clarification -- (inaudible). When you announced the -- (inaudible) -- last week to the Congress, you put it in the context of the Ramadi fight. Are you saying now that the use of American Apaches to support the Iraqi forces and their (inaudible) advisers -- (inaudible) -- level is -- are steps that are unlikely to happen during the battle of Ramadi and will be perhaps taken up for a future engagement?
SEC. CARTER: They certainly might be taken up for a future engagement. And I am telling you that it's not either General MacFarland's judgment or the prime minister's judgment that they're needed right now for the completion of the fight in Ramadi. That does not mean that they wouldn't -- they won't make a difference sometime in the future.
And so, the offer of the United States when circumstances suggest it, and subject to -- always to Iraqi approval, our willingness to do more, including the use of Apache helicopters. So that's the situation.
Q: Mr. Secretary, there is some reluctance among some Iraqis to have a larger U.S. or coalition footprint on the ground here in Iraq. Did you discuss that with either the minister or the prime minister? And what is their assessment of how much more they could accept?
SEC. CARTER: We didn't discuss specifically, no, numbers. We did discuss the opportunity for the United States to do more. Now, you know, the ways that we uniquely contribute and can uniquely contribute to Iraqi battlefield success is by training Iraqi units, providing air support to Iraqi units, and possibly operating with Iraqi units to advise and do other things like that; not to replace them.
So I don't think in any case that the numbers were a part of the conversation -- numbers, per se. But I just want to be clear, numbers aside, we were talking about the opportunities that will arise in the future to increase the American contribution to Iraqi success here, and both he and I anticipate that those circumstances will arise as Iraqi troops move north to Mosul, and we're prepared to increase our contribution.
The US government has Lt Gen Sean MacFarland doing daily meetings in Iraq and they had Secretary of Defense Ash Carter visiting this week.
The White House still, however, struggles to seriously work on the political aspect.
Wednesday, December 16th in Baghdad, Carter did remark, "By the way, while I'm rattling on, I should say it's actually a whole-of-government too, because there's a political side to this, right, all these societies. And really importantly for us, there's a law enforcement, homeland security, intelligence, you know, my colleagues around the U.S. government matter in this, as well as everyone. That's a whole government approach."
That's the only time he noted the political aspect.
In fairness to Carter, he's the Secretary of Defense, not the Secretary of State.
But it does underscore the lack of importance the White House has placed on diplomacy.
Yes, June 19, 2015, US President Barack Obama insisted in public that only a political solution could solve Iraq's various crises.
But it was just empty lip service as evidenced by the refusal to emphasize diplomacy.
Repeatedly, Barack has acted as though the answer -- the one and only answer -- was military.
In keeping with that one-note approach, the US Defense Dept announced today:
Strikes in Iraq
Attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 11 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:
-- Near Fallujah, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL sniper position, an ISIL tunnel, two ISIL heavy machine guns and an ISIL rocket-propelled grenade and wounded an ISIL fighter.
-- Near Hit, one strike destroyed an ISIL homemade explosives cache.
-- Near Kirkuk, one strike destroyed an ISIL excavator.
-- Near Mosul, two strikes struck multiple large ISIL tactical units and three suicide bombers and destroyed 12 ISIL machine guns, 13 ISIL fighting positions, six ISIL vehicles and an ISIL vehicle bomb.
-- Near Ramadi, four strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL machine gun, three ISIL fighting positions, five ISIL buildings, three ISIL staging areas and an ISIL vehicle bomb.
-- Near Sinjar, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL machine gun.
Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.
RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"