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WHY WE LOST

IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN AND…

It may not be clear from the way popular news outlets cover these stories or from the way senior leaders celebrate themselves, but the United States has demonstrated some significant capability gaps that our enemies are exploiting.

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Islamic State militants are reportedly within a mile of Baghdad despite battling Iraqi forces and U.S.-led airstrikes, and there is "immense fear among everybody," the vicar of the only Anglican church in Iraq said Tuesday.

 

"We are at a crisis point," Canon Andrew White, vicar of St George's Church in Baghdad, told Sky News. "People know ISIS are coming nearer."

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In an exclusive interview with CNN, a Syrian fighter with the group known as the Islamic State or ISIS said they were prepared for US airstrikes within Syria and the damage done against the organization was ineffective.

 

A Syrian ISIS fighter operating under the pseudonym Abu Tahla told CNN through Skype that the US and coalition airstrikes within Syria were expected.

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Considered almost unbeatable in the air-to-air role, the F-22 successfully debuted in combat, taking part in airstrikes against ISIS targets. But what if the F-22 found a fourth-generation opponent?

 

Even though we don’t know many details about them, missions flown by the F-22 Raptor over Syria marked the combat debut of the stealth jet.

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Change has come, or so the Obama administration has been preaching since the election of President Hassan Rouhani, arguing that a deal with Iran has now become possible. Rouhani and his foreign minister, Javad Zarif, also jumped on the word "change" and the possibility of a "historic" deal.

 

Yet in Zarif's version, it is America and the world – not Iran – that have changed. Globalization and other factors, Zarif believes, have made the old world order anachronistic: old rules should be replaced with new ones that give non-Western countries a bigger role in international affairs. And thus, the faster America and the West realize this new reality, the faster "change" can result in a deal, and the faster some pressing Middle Eastern problems can be solved.

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YASYNUVATA Ukraine (Reuters) - With his face hidden behind a camouflage balaclava and an assault rifle slung over his shoulder, "Hunter" looks like other separatist fighters in eastern Ukraine.

 

What distinguishes him from his brothers in arms in the Vostok (East) battalion, an irregular pro-Russian militia fighting government forces, is his American accent - and English is the only language he knows.

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In a "60 Minutes" interview Sunday night, President Barack Obama placed blame squarely at the foot of the US intelligence community for the rise of the Islamic State, the extremist group also known as ISIS.

 

Citing comments from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Obama said the intelligence community had "underestimated what had been taking place in Syria," referring to the rise of ISIS militants in the country's northeast.

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Seven Ukrainian soldiers are said to have died in a clash with pro-Russian rebels near Donetsk airport - in what would be the deadliest single incident for the military since a truce deal.

 

A tank shell hit the vehicle carrying the troops, an official said.

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Schools were closed, banks were shuttered and bankers and lawyers were forced to take the subway as protesters chanting for democracy continued to occupy the centre of Hong Kong on Monday morning.

 

Riot police armed with tear gas and teams of officers armed with rifles failed to disperse a crowd of tens of thousands who began streaming into central Hong Kong on Sunday afternoon.

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WASHINGTON — The air war in Syria and Iraq has already cost nearly $1 billion and ultimately could cost as much as $22 billion per year if a large ground force is deployed to the region, according to an analysis by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

 

The study, due to be released Monday, shows a range of costs based on sustained but low-intensity combat up to a force of 25,000 U.S. troops on the ground.

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As the tide of war rises again in the Middle East, the military’s rank and file are mostly opposed to expanding the new mission in Iraq and Syria to include sending a large number of U.S. ground troops into combat, according to a Military Times survey of active-duty members.

 

On the surface, troops appear to support President Obama’s repeated vows not to let the U.S. military get “dragged into another ground war” in Iraq. Yet at the same time, the views of many service members are shaped by a deep ambivalence about this commander in chief and questions about his ability to lead the nation through a major war, according to the survey and interviews.

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US President Barack Obama wants everyone to know "how we roll": The US always takes the lead in international crises.

 

In a "60 Minutes" interview Sunday evening, Obama was asked why the US was contributing such a significant portion of the military coalition against the jihadist group known as the Islamic State, or ISIS. Obama responded by arguing that other countries were not stepping up.

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PARIS (Reuters) - The United States on Monday ruled out any possibility of future military coordination with Iran in a U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State fighters but held out the prospect of separate talks with Tehran on Iraq, describing the jihadists as a "serious threat" to Iran and the region.

The comments follow a statement by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Twitter on Monday in which he dismissed as hollow and self-serving U.S. efforts to build a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, and rejected what he called a "U.S. offer to Iran" on Islamic State.

 

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Islamic State militants, who once relied on wealthy Persian Gulf donors for money, have become a self-sustaining financial juggernaut, earning more than $3 million a day from oil smuggling, human trafficking, theft and extortion, according to U.S. intelligence officials and private experts.

The extremist group's resources exceed that "of any other terrorist group in history," said a U.S. intelligence official who, like others interviewed, spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss classified assessments. Such riches are one reason that American officials are so concerned about the group even while acknowledging they have no evidence it is plotting attacks against the United States.

The Islamic State group has taken over large sections of Syria and Iraq, and controls as many as 11 oil fields in both countries, analysts say. It is selling oil and other goods through generations-old smuggling networks under the noses of some of the same governments it is fighting: Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, Turkey and Jordan.

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in remarks aired on Sunday he is "extremely encouraged" by pledges of military assistance against Islamic State militants by countries inside and outside the Middle East.

On the CBS program 'Face the Nation,' Kerry said some countries have offered ground troops for the effort, but "we are not looking for that at this moment anyway." He did not identify the countries.

 

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London (AFP) - The Islamic State's beheading of another Western hostage has strengthened the resolve of a US-led coalition ahead of a Paris conference Monday on how to jointly eliminate the jihadist group.

Prime Minister David Cameron vowed on Sunday Britain would hunt down the killers of British aid worker David Haines, an act he described as the "embodiment of evil".

 

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US Sen Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday said the idea that the US will never have ground troops in Syria is a "fantasy," while ripping President Barack Obama's strategy to defeat the extremist group calling itself the Islamic State (ISIS).

Graham, one of the most prominent foreign-policy hawks in the Republican Party, said on "Fox News Sunday" that Obama's strategy of ramped-up airstrikes with support of shaky ground forces in both Iraq and Syria was "delusional."

 

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New U.S. sanctions handed down on Friday are designed to effectively "shut off" Russian oil conglomerates from oil exploration projects, U.S. officials said, in a move aimed squarely at Russia's $425 billion-a-year petroleum industry.

The measures are "designed to effectively shut down this type of oil exploration and production activity by depriving these Russian companies of the goods, technology, and services that they need to do this work," a senior Obama administration official said Friday.

 

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A top White House aide on Sunday defended President Barack Obama's plan to fight Islamic State militants, as the administration sought to persuade the U.S. Congress to back an escalation of the effort.

The Obama administration has been making the case to Congress for wider operations against the Sunni militants, including U.S. air strikes in Syria for the first time, more strikes in Iraq and more military advisers in Iraq.

 

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Syria's secular and moderate rebels could be on the brink of their biggest defeat yet.

According to a report published by the International Crisis Group on September 8, the regime of Syrian president Bashar al Assad and the jihadist group ISIS are squeezing the rebels out of Aleppo, the strategic and symbolic center of the country's three-year-old revolution.

 

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