ISIS Reportedly Demolishes Second Ancient Site

Hatra_ruinsFlag_of_the_Islamic_State.svgIslamic State militants have continued their scorched earth campaign to wipe out anything considered non-Islamic. After destroying art and artifacts in the Mosul Museum and then the priceless ruins at Nimrud, ISIS is now destroying the ruins of the large fortified city at Hatra, one the capital of the first Arab kingdom. The site has withstood attacks since 116 with the Romans, but ISIS is using modern explosives and bulldozes to eradicate the 2000-year-old site.

Hatra is located 68 miles southwest of the city of Mosul, was a large fortified city the flourished during the Parthian Empire and was capital of the first Arab kingdom. Hatra was probably built in the 3rd or 2nd century BC. ISIS views such sites as promoting idolatry and departing from the true Islamic faith.

ISIS continues to destroy the very culture and history of the Arab people. It is also the history of civilization — an area that is properly called the cradle of civilization as humanity began to take great strides in medicine, mathematics, and other areas. ISIS however demands blind obedience and seeks to destroy any other values or viewpoints other than its form of Islamic orthodoxy.

86 thoughts on “ISIS Reportedly Demolishes Second Ancient Site”

  1. issac: “Obama did not inherit a won war. That is the height of naivety. Obama inherited a hornet’s nest …”

    See President Obama’s assessment of Iraq from May 2011 that I quoted in my comment to duane h at March 9, 2015 at 5:00 pm.

    For another perspective on Iraq’s progress before US peace operations were removed, see this UN press release from December 2010:


    “The Security Council supports the inclusive political process and power-sharing agreement reached by Iraq’s leaders to form a representative national partnership government that reflects the will of the Iraqi people as displayed by the parliamentary election of 7 March 2010. We encourage its leaders to continue to pursue a federal, democratic, pluralistic and unified Iraq based on the rule of law and respect for human rights.

    “The Security Council reaffirms the need to combat all forms of terrorism and that no terrorist act can reverse a path towards peace, democracy, and reconstruction in Iraq, which is supported by its people, the Government of Iraq, and the international community.

    “The Security Council welcomes the positive developments in Iraq and recognizes that the situation now existing in Iraq is significantly different from that which existed at the time of the adoption of resolution 661 (1990). Consistent with resolution 1859 (2008), the Security Council also welcomes the important progress Iraq has made in regaining the international standing it held prior to the adoption of resolution 661 (1990). …

  2. davidm2575: “You mean like Hillary Clinton? If memory serves me correctly, she was a Senator in Congress at the time and she supported the Bush plan.”

    That’s easily explained.

    Before she was a NY Senator, Hillary Clinton had a front-row seat to her husband’s whole-presidency struggle to enforce the terms of the Gulf War ceasefire with Saddam.

    To wit, on July 3, 2003, President Clinton cited to his own still-fresh presidential experience with Saddam to endorse President Bush on Iraq:

    Let me tell you what I know. When I left office, there was a substantial amount of biological and chemical material unaccounted for. … So I thought it was prudent for the president to go to the U.N. and for the U.N. to say you got to let these inspectors in, and this time if you don’t cooperate the penalty could be regime change, not just continued sanctions. I mean, we’re all more sensitive to any possible stocks of chemical and biological weapons. … it is incontestable that on the day I left office, there were unaccounted for stocks of biological and chemical weapons.

    On March 23, 2004, Clinton Secretary of Defense William Cohen gave the Clinton administration perspective to the 9/11 Commission:

    The war against Iraq has highlighted the challenge of obtaining reliable intelligence against a so-called “hard target.” While some charge that the Bush Administration exaggerated or manipulated the available intelligence, the fact is that all responsible officials from the Clinton and Bush administrations and, I believe, most Members of Congress genuinely believed that Saddam Hussein had active WMD programs.

    Operation Iraqi Freedom is often isolated out of context and misrepresented as a new policy by President Bush. In fact, Bush’s case against Saddam was really Clinton’s case against Saddam. OIF was the coda of the US-led enforcement of the UNSC resolutions for Iraq that began when Saddam seized Kuwait in 1990 and continued through the subsequent Gulf War ceasefire. President Bush inherited Saddam’s “clear and present danger to the stability of the Persian Gulf and the safety of people everywhere” (Clinton) and carried forward the Iraq enforcement from President Clinton.

    President Clinton worked with Congress, most of all the senior Democrats, on the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement – see, for example, House Resolution 322 (1997) and Public Laws 105-235 and 105-338 (both 1998). As such, Congressional leaders, especially Democrats, were more experienced with the Saddam problem than President Bush. When Congress voted with Bush on the 2002 AUMF, it was also voting with President Clinton, and voting with Congress’ own decade-plus engagement with the Saddam problem.

    1. Eric wrote: “When Congress voted with Bush on the 2002 AUMF, it was also voting with President Clinton, and voting with Congress’ own decade-plus engagement with the Saddam problem.”

      Eric, I always appreciate your many well informed comments on this subject. They really help put things in proper perspective.

  3. Mike Appleton: “However, even if they serve as useful templates, the fact is that we could never sustain the necessary troop level unless Congress reinstated the draft.”

    In 2011, the recommended standing US peace-operations force was 10-15K. That’s sustainable without a draft. Whether that would have been sufficient for Iraq’s progress to continue on the track that President Obama assessed in 2011, we can’t know anymore. That opportunity is gone.

  4. issac: “It wouldn’t have taken more than a few to six months before someone would have waxed him.”

    You’re essentially advocating for a version of Obama’s Libya intervention. President Clinton tried a version of that with Operation Desert Fox, although for 4 days, not for 6 months.

    Again, supposing that a coup would have been workable with the heavy-handed US assistance you describe – assuming we would still have categorized it as a coup at that point – that wouldn’t have improved our position.

    The challenge of the post-war stage pursuant to Section 7 of the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 would have been the same except we would have had even worse initial ‘field position’ for the post-war, Iraqi infrastructure and the Iraqi people would have been more damaged with Saddam turning on his people like before and sectarian conflicts more inflamed. The conflict would have provided greater initial entry opportunities for competitors like the Qutbists and Iranians before we were on-scene at all.

    Deposing Saddam’s regime via US-led invasion was a cleaner option that introduced fewer variables.

    Which is to say, as much as we still fell behind the insurgency when the Sadrists blindsided us until we recovered with the Counterinsurgency “Surge”, your alternative would likely have made the post-war challenge worse right off the bat.

    FYI, for what it’s worth, this shows our post-war planning for Iraq:

    The plan, as inadequate as it proved to be, was ‘state of the art’ at the time.

    I agree we should do what we can beforehand to prepare. However, that the learning curve for victory in post-Saddam Iraq was driven by necessity on the ground is consistent with military history. The standard of perfect preemptive anticipation, preparation, cost accounting, and execution that critics apply to OIF is ahistorical in military history. Our military has always undergone steep learning curves in war that have routinely included devastating defeats. OIF just demanded a steeper learning curve for the peace operations of the post-war.

  5. David

    If you can, place yourself back in the moment. It was shortly after 9/11. The country was galvanized. A vote against the rhetoric of the midget cowboy and his nursemaids was seen as unAmerican. The US military had just invaded and occupied Afghanistan. It was a hey day of yippee and oohaw. Mickey Mouse could have round the country Americans were that galvanized.

    Leading up to the invasion of Iraq almost all of the experienced military leaders, speaking from their experience of the failed colonial experience that was Viet Nam, warned against going it and if so to do so with 450,000 troops and make sure there was a plan when the country was subdued and an exit plan, something that they wished was there in Viet Nam and something they saw lacking in Afghanistan. I remember watching the TV as one after another of those in the know spoke. Then, with obvious planning, the experts, most of whom were not born when Viet Nam happened, started opining about ‘shock and awe’, and how every Iraqi had an American flag rolled up under their mattress. Cheney scoffed at the possibility of any problems. They rounded up one of the most corrupt idiot Iraqis and kept him on ice ready to become a leader. Then when they went in, they sat there dumfounded as hospitals were ransacked for eight months. Looting and thuggery went on until Sadr created a militia to stop it. The US troops were told to man their posts and not get involved. Only after that idiot Bremer, probably on orders from Cheney and Rumsfeld, disbanded the army and loosed half a million young men and things got really chaotic did US troops start going in to stop it. Even then until the surge they did not interact in the urban areas with the people.

    Iraq was an unnecessary war almost completely bungled by the three stooges. The situation of Sunni and Shia militias was created entirely by the three stooges with Bremer. It couldn’t have been done any worse if it had been planned. The fact is there was no plan.

    So, point your finger all you want at Obama. Sweep history under the bed. Sure Clinton voted for it. Everybody but a couple voted for it. It might have worked if it wasn’t for the next to absolute incompetence of the three stooges. All the top military involved in the ‘surge’ stated that that was the first planned interaction with the people and that positioning the US troops in the urban areas and making the neighborhoods safe was the reason for the success. They spoke disparagingly of the ‘shock and awe’ concept.

    Don’t lose sight of stupidity. Don’t try and turn this chaos into Obama’s plans. Obama has been following the wishes of the majority of Americans. If ISIS had not of happened, Iraqis would still be killing each other trying to build a coalition between a 65% Shia population and a 35% Sunni population after the Sunni’s had dominated the Shia for decades. ISIS is nothing more than thuggery. Read your history; this sort of thuggery has been going on for almost all of the colonial periods with the invasions by the British, French, and now the Americans.

    Obama did not inherit a won war. That is the height of naivety. Obama inherited a hornet’s nest that was provoked with no idea of the consequences. For that the blame lies entirely with the three stooges. Google the newspapers of the time and resist cherry picking.

    1. issac – Bremer was an idiot. That is the only thing in your comment I could agree with. After that it was a lot of smoke and ahhh.

    2. issac wrote: “Cheney scoffed at the possibility of any problems.”

      You have a very perverted view of history. I remember my President addressing the nation and telling us that this effort would take a very long time, many years, and he gave a sobering comparison to how it could turn into a Vietnam. They certainly held that it was winnable, but they made it very clear before going in that there was no immediate exit plan. We were going to be there for the long haul to see a democracy established. When most Americans wanted us to leave, he held fast saying that leaving too early would be a mistake. Bush was right. Obama and the rest of America was wrong.

      issac wrote: “Obama has been following the wishes of the majority of Americans.”

      Which is why Obama is a bad leader. Mob rule does not work. The majority do not have the fortitude to make good decisions when under pressure. A good leader will make the right decision even when the majority pressure him to do the easy thing.

      issac wrote: “Obama did not inherit a won war.”

      Of course he did. The Iraq War was won. You apparently forget Bush’s Mission Accomplished Speech from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003 off the coast from San Diego. Major military operations were completed. The government officials were deposed. After that it was time to keep the peace and build a democracy. I know the Bush haters have spun this story every which way they can, but this kind of war is unlike other wars. There was no peace treaty to make with ruling leaders. It was a removal from office of those who had defrauded the international leadership followed by a long rebuilding effort.

  6. Bush 41 received a lot of criticism for not “going all the way to Bagdad” to depose Saddam Hussein. He and others in his administration had a specific, limited goal of ejecting Iraqi forces from Kuwait, and they warned against “mission creep”.
    I don’t think that any subsequent President has shown anything close to Bush 41’s foreign policy expertise. He had the outstanding resume and experience one day one when he took office, and displayed excellent judgement.
    In the wake of Gulf War II, the earlier criticism of Bush 41 “not finishing the job” has pretty much evaporated. I think he understood that a U.S
    invasion to topple Saddam could have extremely serious, negative repercussions.
    I think Bush 41 believed that their would be a successful internal uprising to depose Saddam. That appeared to be the general consensus among Mid-East analysts at the time, as well.
    The disasterous military and economic consequences of Saddam’s refusal to pull out of Kuwait, on the heels of a protracted, bloody war with Iran, were thought to have weakened Saddam to the point where he would not survive.
    Saddam was a fan of Stalin and Stalinist methods. He had a police state apparatus that withstood numerous attempted (or “suspected”) coups and uprisings.
    The near-universal belief that Saddam would be, or could easily, be deposed probably resulted from a lack of full appreciation of the effectiveness of that police state, and Saddam’s long experience and “skills” in surviving the treacherous world of Iraqi “politics”.
    An (internally) deposed Saddam proved to be an overly optimistic forecast. That he could have been “easily” deposed via a coup seems wildly unrealistic.

  7. Eric:

    I do not believe that our post-WWII operations in Asia and Europe are comparable for a variety of historical and cultural reasons. However, even if they serve as useful templates, the fact is that we could never sustain the necessary troop level unless Congress reinstated the draft.

    Second, the Iraqi military preferred our presence because it recognized that the civilian government was dysfunctional and sectarian, a condition that I seriously doubt would have changed in the foreseeable future.

  8. Mike Appleton: “We’ve spent billions of dollars attempting to train effective armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The fact that those billions have been unproductive is not a criticism of our training ability.”

    Lesson learned from Korea not that long ago mysteriously forgotten by the current administration truncating US peace operations with Iraq. In Iraq, same as why we’re still serving on post-WW2 missions in Europe and Asia, there is no billions-dollar substitute for the stabilizing leadership element of US boots on the grounds. The Iraqi military was progressing fine while serving alongside US military. Then the US peace operations were prematurely removed.

  9. Davidm
    Good thing President Bush arranged the time table. Obama was only following the agreement the Republican President arranged days before he vacated office. Good strategy, no? Leave the new guy holding your bag of crap. This way when things go bad, the ignorant will blame him…

  10. Cassandra: “The Iraqi leaders promoted a Status Of Forces which bush agreed to, which would end the presence of American ground troops on December 31,2011, which Obama adhered to.”

    The 2008-2011 SOFA neither barred nor required the next President to maintain US forces past 2011. The subsequent US-Iraq relationship was left up to the next President (Obama) to assess conditions and decide what was best for US interests and needed for Iraq.

    That being said, the likeliest representation of President Bush’s intent for the subsequent US-Iraq relationship is the Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA) that the US signed with Iraq alongside the 2008-2011 SOFA.

    The SFA set out, as the name implies, a framework of conditions-based guideposts for the subsequent US-Iraq relations.

    However, neither the SFA nor the SOFA bound Bush’s successor to a detailed mandate of how those conditions would be met after 2011. The SFA and SOFA were signed at the end of the Bush presidency in a climate of rapidly progressing, even startling improvement. The Arab Spring, which was perhaps inspired in part by Iraq’s progress, was yet in the future. As such, not binding Bush’s successor with a longer SOFA at that stage was likely a feature, not an oversight.

    Instead, Bush provided his successor with a 3-year window to assess the situation with Iraq as it evolved and hopefully continued its “peaceful progress” (Obama). The 3-year window would provide the next President with a better position to decide what the subsequent US-Iraq relationship should look like under the SFA – whether that meant extending the 2008-2011 SOFA, transitioning from a ‘post-war occupation’ SOFA to a ‘peacetime partnership’ SOFA akin to the longstanding US missions in Europe and Asia, or even – as President Obama opted – allowing the SOFA to run out with an enhanced State presence but without military peace operations.

    Obviously, Obama’s assessment and decision for the subsequent US-Iraq relationship has fallen short of the guide-posts set by the SFA.

    What might a President McCain or Clinton have assessed and decided in President Obama’s place?

    First, I believe McCain or Clinton would not have deviated from Bush by pulling away from US-Iraqi affairs as Obama did from the start of his presidency. Second, if McCain or Clinton had received the same Iraq situation assessments that Obama received in 2010-2011, then in those conditions in accordance with the SFA, I believe McCain or Clinton would have accepted PM Maliki’s offer for the executive agreement SOFA that Obama rejected in 2011 (which Obama then accepted in June 2014).

  11. Iraq was and is an artificial nation, held together solely by brute force. We certainly understood that prior to invading the country. We also understood, or should have, that democracy is not like agricultural commodities; it cannot be simply transported. The notion that we could convert a tribal society into a unified democracy was not a “noble” endeavor. It was instead hubris and arrogance. It’s time we realized that the wars of the 21st century are an almost inevitable byproduct of the colonialism of the 19th and 20th.

    No one disputes that Saddam Hussein was evil. We have supported, and continue to support, many evil regimes. The question should have been whether he remained useful to us as a stabilizing influence.

    We’ve spent billions of dollars attempting to train effective armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The fact that those billions have been unproductive is not a criticism of our training ability. It is representative of the fact that armies will not defend regimes in which they do not believe. That is the current situation, and we will soon see the momentary cooperation between Iraq and Iran dissolve into sectarian rancor and retribution.

  12. usn420:

    “The overall goal of the Bush Administration was to establish a functioning democracy in Iraq. It was not to colonize the country, , take their oil, or to get Halliburton a huge contract… it was to turn Iraq into a democracy. Had this been successful, it could have been a stabilizing influence in all of the middle east and provided an example for numerous other countries in the region.

    Unfortunately, despite our efforts (possibly misguided), Iraq has proven they are not ready or willing to do the work necessary to make democracy work. Like most of the Islamic world, they simply cannot move beyond the sectarian violence and ideological squabbles.

    It may have indeed been folly on our part to attempt such a thing, but the cause was a noble one.”

    It frustrates me to hear the old line that we fought Iraq to get their oil. I wish we took enough oil to pay our expenses. But, instead, we always use our own treasure in war. Instead, that oil went back on the global marketplace, where Halliburton bid on it along with all the other companies.

    Our attempts at nation building were a failure. Although it was a noble goal, I now do not think such an enterprise could work without the will and support of the people. Plus, another problem central to the Middle East is that it’s difficult to create a moderate democracy in a region where human rights have no value, and intertribal violence/warring factions are the norm. Extremism is sweeping the region, and unfortunately such groups are the most organized, and come out ahead in elections. The Arab Spring is a good example.

    The fact that Iraqi troops interviewed admitted they would simply throw down their arms and leave if ISIS came near testifies that they are not serious about battling extremism and cleaning up their country.

  13. Following the Gulf War, Bush Sr. had a chance to follow through supporting a coup. He choked or called it off for whatever reason and tens of thousands of Iraqis paid.

    Hussein took power in a coup. The little bush could have created conditions that would have lead to a coup: surgically bomb military bases, create a no fly umbrella over all of Iraq, surgically bomb Hussein’s palace, let it be known to Hussein’s underlings that their military would be targeted until someone took him out. It wouldn’t have taken more than a few to six months before someone would have waxed him. The point is it wasn’t even considered. Almost all of the top, experienced, American military experts advised against going in and if so, to do so with twice the force, along with a well defined plan of what to do there and when and how to leave. They spoke for a few weeks on TV. Then the bush yes men came in.

    The rest is history.

    1. issac wrote: “Then the bush yes men came in.”

      You mean like Hillary Clinton? If memory serves me correctly, she was a Senator in Congress at the time and she supported the Bush plan.

  14. AMartel: “This is probably a ploy for money in exchange for not demolishing world history.”

    It’s MO. They believe in what they’re doing. The Taliban did the same stuff in Afghanistan.

  15. usn420:

    “Instead, our political leaders place extremely limited “rules of engagement” on our troops that result in nothing more than our service members walking around with targets on their backs in some foreign land with no mission, no goals, and no strategic plan to define victory.” My father, who is a retired officer, says much the same thing about Vietnam, which he described as a “politicians’ war.”

  16. Nick Spinelli: “BDS, combined w/ draconian efforts to protect the failed Obama, has created the cultist meme, “Saddam wasn’t that bad.” It’s mind boggling.”


    Excerpt from the 2004 finding by the UN Special Rapporteur on Iraq, Andreas Mavrommatis:

    The new evidence, particularly that of eyewitnesses, added another dimension to the systematic crimes of the former regime, revealing unparalleled cruelty, even in respect of the people being taken away for execution, and at the same time stories unfolded that were far worse than originally reported to the Special Rapporteur in the past.

    Of course, again, Saddam’s material breach of the humanitarian mandates of UNSCR 688 was an enforcement trigger for the President “to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to … enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq” (P.L. 107-243).

  17. issac: “Hussein could have easily been taken out with a coup, just like he came to power.”

    If we suppose that’s true, which it isn’t, it doesn’t make the difference that you think.

    One, the disintegration of the Arab Spring demonstrates – if we didn’t know it already from Afghanistan, Somalia, etc – that the creative-destruction opportunity from a toppling regime with attendant chaos, insecurity, instability, etc, is what attracts the terrorists. It’s not American intervention per se that draws the terrorists. Americans are just a chief competitor and existential threat standing in the way of terrorist goals.

    Two, if we assume against evidence per Saddam’s record and the record of the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 that a coup was “easily” in the offing in Iraq and could get off the ground, it would likely have turned into something like present-day Syria rather than the OIF I operation that deposed Saddam’s regime.

    Even against us, Saddam planned and carried out a savage post-war insurgency that included leveraging Saddam’s world-class terrorist network (which was a material breach of UNSCR 687 and trigger for OIF in its own right). Saddam’s history, including his 1991 actions that compelled UNSCR 688, shows that a coup in Iraq would have been a highly brutal undertaking. Based on the terrorists’ MO, a version of AQI would most likely have grown out of a viable coup against Saddam.

    Third – and here’s the rub – in the event of a coup in Iraq, which likely would have had US inputs in the 1st place, the US was committed to intervene per standing policy and Section 3 of the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998. Section 7 of the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 also committed the US to assist post-Saddam Iraq.

    Recall that the most straightforward, even relatively simplest part of Operation Iraqi Freedom was toppling Saddam’s regime. The most difficult parts came in the post-war stage. The US was committed by pre-Bush law and policy to intervention whether a post-Saddam Iraq arrived at by coup or US-led invasion.

  18. BDS, combined w/ draconian efforts to protect the failed Obama, has created the cultist meme, “Saddam wasn’t that bad.” It’s mind boggling.

  19. usn420:

    Saddam was a brutal dictator who for many years used violence, intimidation, and fear to keep the disagreeing factions (Sunni / Shiite / Kurds) from causing internal uprisings within Iraq. He simply erased them from existence and basically kept an uneasy “peace” in Iraq through sheer dominance.

    I was in Iraq in the early 2000’s and personally saw many of the mass graves our military and State Department personnel were unearthing. All were courtesy of Saddam Hussein’s henchmen. And there were many.

    Often overlooked in the discourse on OIF is that it wasn’t just about Saddam’s material breach of the disarmament mandates of UNSCR 687. Saddam’s material breach of the humanitarian mandates of UNSCR 688 was also an enforcement trigger for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

    UNSCR 688 (1991) mandated Iraq to immediately end the repression of the Iraqi civilian population:

    1. Condemns the repression of the Iraqi civilian population in many parts of Iraq, including most recently in Kurdish populated areas, the consequences of which threaten international peace and security in the region;
    2. Demands that Iraq, as a contribution to remove the threat to international peace and security in the region, immediately end this repression and express the hope in the same context that an open dialogue will take place to ensure that the human and political rights of all Iraqi citizens are respected;
    3. Insists that Iraq allow immediate access by international humanitarian organizations to all those in need of assistance in all parts of Iraq and to make available all necessary facilities for their operations;

    7. Demands that Iraq cooperate with the Secretary-General to these ends;

    On April 19, 2002, the UN Commission on Human Rights condemned Saddam’s regime pursuant to UNSCR 688:

    The [United Nations] Commission on Human Rights … Recalling: … [UNSCR] 688 (1991) of 5 April 1991, in which the Council demanded an end to repression of the Iraqi civilian population and insisted that Iraq cooperate with humanitarian organizations and that the human rights of all Iraqi citizens be respected … Strongly condemns: (a) The systematic, widespread and extremely grave violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law by the Government of Iraq, resulting in an all-pervasive repression and oppression sustained by broad-based discrimination and widespread terror.

Comments are closed.