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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Through Iraq's recent unfolding crisis, the US position has been that no progress is possible until Baghdad forms an inclusive rather than sectarian government which commands confidence from each of Iraq's three ethno-religious communities - Kurds, Sunni Arabs and Shia Arabs. This is undoubtedly right as far as it goes: ISIS's success rolling over Iraq's Sunni heartlands was at least made much easier - perhaps possible - by Sunni estrangement from the government in Baghdad. But what if that government simply cannot or will not be formed?

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Police shoot a man at a Walmart in Dayton, Ohio, apparently after he'd picked up a toy gun on a store display, while he was talking to his girlfriend on the phone ...

“We was just talking. He said he was at the video games playing videos and he went over there by the toy section where the toy guns were. And the next thing I know, he said ‘It’s not real,’ and the police start shooting and they said ‘Get on the ground,’ but he was already on the ground because they had shot him,” she said, adding: “And I could hear him just crying and screaming. I feel like they shot him down like he was not even human.”

From a longtime TPM Reader who's former US military intelligence/counter-terrorism ops and has worked as a military contractor in Iraq pretty since the invasion ...

Let me take a shot at your question. You might recall that I have some expertise in the area of the Iraqi terror groups and their strategies, particularly al-Qaeda in Iraq. I also wrote for Small Wars Journal and published three books on al-Qaeda. I have only just completed the second edition of my 2007 book The Terrorists of Iraq. It is due out in October and give quite a bit of details into the rise of ISIS from al-Qaeda in Iraq and why their operational combat strategy against the Iraqi army and Kurds is successful.

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I asked for you input last night about the seeming disconnect between what we'd been led to believe about ISIS and the Kurdish Peshmerga and what we've seen unfold on the ground over the last few days. As usual, you've come through. A few basic points come through. ISIS either had or has absorbed since its move into Iraq (probably both) elements of the Saddam-era Iraqi Army. That means more experience with and ability to absorb and use heavy weaponry and armor than I'd suggested. It also brings the sort of tactical and command and control experience you get from time in a regular army.

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After rolling over the Iraqi National Army in much of the Sunni heartland of Iraq, ISIS has now made significant territorial gains in Iraqi Kurdistan. This isn't just bad news for the US inasmuch as the Iraqi Kurds have been close to the United States. It also suggests some major misreadings (perhaps more than one or two) of key elements of what is happening in what we might now call the former Iraq.

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Was Abraham Lincoln, the 'Great Emancipator', a racist? This question is raised again by the news that a copy of a book about 'racial science' has been identified as having Lincoln's handwriting in its pages.

It's a perennial question, a deeply anachronistic question, but also a critically important one given Lincoln's role as perhaps the most revered and significant political figure in all of American history. It's also a question I have some level of expertise on. So without trying to answer the question in a definitive way, I thought I would provide a few factual guideposts about how to approach the issue and what we know.

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