If you listen to the mainstream media, you probably think mainly that a superior force of Iraqi national troops abandoned the city of Ramadi to Islamic State 10 days ago – by implication, doing so in spite of U.S. support to the Iraqis and the battle.
As Americans were wondering “What happened?” over the past week, words uttered by Ashton Carter, the U.S. secretary of defense, came to seem like the answer. His signature comment was to the effect that the Iraqis were unwilling to fight.
As a cherry on top, I heard (Tuesday evening) a news anchor on the local ABC affiliate chirp out the theory that Carter’s harsh assessment “may have prompted” the Iraqi government to mount its impending operation to retake Ramadi. The implication is that the Iraqis had to be goaded into it. Local affiliates don’t make up foreign-affairs news narratives on their own; this was undoubtedly fed to them by the staff at ABC headquarters.
Unfortunately, there is no accurate adjective for this nonsense other than some variant of stupid.
That’s especially the case when the means to develop a better picture of what’s going on is readily available.
The building blocks of that better picture are three simple ones: the nature of U.S. support to the Ramadi fight; Iraq’s choice of who would fight in Ramadi, versus the demography of Anbar Province; and the geography of Islamic State’s stronghold there.