Threat Inflation and Our Next Dumb War: ISIS Edition


…we're being gulled into a new-and-improved crusade to fix a Middle East still utterly destabilized in large part due to our still-smoldering failure to reshape desert sand into a form more to our desires. As we prep for the next "smart war" engineered by [President] Obama (he's against "dumb wars," remember, and lives by the credo "don't do stupid shit"), it's worth acknowledging that the signature characteristic of America's 21st-century war on terrorism and foreign policy has been massive threat inflation at every level. Until we fully grok that terrorism—whether state-sponsored or stateless—thrives on the overreaction of its targets and that we have overreacted so far at virtually every turn, we have no hope of enacting real solutions.

That's from my new Daily Beast column, which argues that U.S. foreign policy and war-making in the 21st century has consistently failed in part because it is rarely tethered to realistic assessments of the dangers from our enemies.

The original sin of post-9/11 foreign policy stems from the intertwined and equally mistaken ideas that al Qaeda was a potent, ongoing "existential" threat to America and that the United States had a responsibility to "nation build" in the Islamic world rather than avenge monstrous acts against its citizens. As [John] Mueller and Mark G. Stewart note in their 2012 survey of "Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism Since 9/11" (PDF), the 9/11 attacks were not the start of a new era of mass terroristic violence in the West. "Terrorists are not really all that capable a bunch, terrorism tends to be a counterproductive exercise, and 9/11 is increasingly standing out as an aberration, not a harbinger," they write in their survey of 50 Islamist terrorist acts since 2001….

At the very least, it's worth holding the president and his planners accountable for clarifying whether ISIS in fact poses any sort of threat to the United States homeland and narrowly defined American interests, the two things on which foreign policy and military action should be built. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), the House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, has stated flatly "we don't have any information about credible planning for an attack" by ISIS, an assessment that has been corroborated by both the FBI and The Department of Homeland Security.

A wise foreign policy—or at least one that doesn't constantly make the world worse off—would start by countering threat inflation here and abroad with a heavy dose of reality.

Read the whole thing here.

The president will give a speech on ISIS and the Middle East tonight at 9 P.M. ET. The early word? "Obama wants a blank check to fight ISIS—and Congress is ready to give it to him." So, hey, grandkids, start getting ready for the fourth, fifth, and sixth Iraq Wars…


NEXT: Andrew Napolitano on Waging War

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  1. This time it’s different. This time it’s personal.


    1. This time, we have the right Top Men.

  2. Alt-text: “Rock-paper-SHOOT! Ah-HAA!!”

  3. But what do the Millennials think?

    1. Hmmm, maybe someone can do a poll?

      1. That’s crazy talk!

    2. I’m against it.

    3. Meh. We don’t care what *Congress* thinks.

    4. Reason has assured us that though Millenials overwhelmingly support attacking ISIL, we should be happy — because they support it in an ironic, post-political, secretly libertarian way.

    5. It’s totally ironic.

    6. Free apps with the iPhone 6 and an iWatch if we attack ISIS?

  4. A policy of non-engagement with these fanatics could be sold. Part of the package should include no immigrants from the Middle East (except maybe Zoroastrian and Christian refugees).

    1. (except maybe Zoroastrian and Christian refugees)

      How magnanimous of you!

      1. Close HM, you are suppose to say “That is mighty white of you.”

        1. Well, I got half-way there.

          1. …….oh, Oh! I get it.

    2. I propose a BLT test for passengers on all flights to the US.

      Passengers must consume their choice of a BLT sandwich, two shots of good whiskey, or two beers before they are allowed to board a flight to the US. Any sign of revulsion, and they’re on the “Do Not Fly” list.

      Seriously, if one dislikes bacon, whiskey, and beer, one has no business being in the US.

    3. No more Muslims period. Which is a beautiful thought, ‘No more Muslims’ .

  5. We should make Israel our 51st state. Then we can claim there is a credible, daily threat from our A-rab brothers.

    1. Israel doesn’t want the hassle of DC on their backs.

    2. We should make Syria our 52nd state. Then if they don’t control ISIS we can withhold their highway funding.

      1. This has potential. Between asset forfeiture and the Interstate Commerce Clause, who needs drones?

        1. Empire is so tempting. Wouldn’t that be grand? Especially while we expand out into space. We could have space flags and everything!

          1. Yup, like this one!

      2. Then if they don’t control ISIS we can withhold their highway funding.

        A threat that will fall on deaf ears in our 53rd state, Somalia.

        1. Can we have Kenya as our 54th. I’ve always wanted to go, but I don’t want to deal with the passport hassle.

            1. Not if Monaco can help it.

      3. We could then really fuck Syria over by sending 10 million Mexicans there.

    3. And subject them to Obamacare? You must really hate Israel.

      1. Where would all the Jewish doctors go?

    4. I think Iraq and Iran and Israel and Ukraine should have a fight over who gets to be the 51st state.

      Loser gets to be the 51st state. If they have enough oil.

  6. Just send JSOC and SAS operatives in long enough to kick their asses back to Syria (about 4 weeks) and then leave. But tell them will kick their asses again if they come back. We’re gone and Iraq can rebuild.

    1. I’m not well educated on foreign policy, but aren’t these guys causing trouble for Syria? Didn’t Obama want a war with Syria? Seems like a proxy war without having your finger prints on the proxy.

      1. Yes, Obama wanted a war with Syria. Not just Assad, but also everyone who hates Assad.

        I think our foreign policy can be summed up as “manic depression.”

        1. With a heaping portion of paranoid schizophrenia.

  7. he’s against “dumb wars”

    +1 Red Line

  8. [John] Mueller and Mark G. Stewart note … “Terrorists are not really all that capable a bunch, terrorism tends to be a counterproductive exercise

    Mueller & Stewart risk being misinterpreted here. They clearly understand that the grand strategy of Islamic terror groups concerning the West is “Death by a Thousand Cuts”. Now, conventionally, while even groups like the 055 Brigade/Lashkar-al-Zil might pale in comparison to even mid-tier infantry of the world’s professional armies, one cannot say terrorism is a “counterproductive exercise” as long as a large sector of the targeted population still hysterically call for multi-billion dollar boondoggles as they pant-shit themselves with fear over the possibility of “prayer-rug” carrying Brown people with Ebola crossing the Rio Grande or Lake Michigan.

    1. They give us a paper cut, and we pour lemon juice in it.

      1. Exactly, except it’s more like flaming turpentine.

  9. Last night, an anti-war libertarian friend said that hitting ISIS would be like hitting a blob of mercury with a hammer – it explodes into hundreds of blobs that will contaminate the surrounding environment. I laughed…and then saw this AP item in today’s paper:
    NYPD intelligence source, on eve of Sept. 11, is afraid of “the rising power of disparate militant groups around the world…most complex terrorism danger since the twin towers were destroyed…it is layer upon layer-not all coming from the same place…five years ago the risk was chiefly from a;_Qaida…now..the threat is coming from the well-funded, highly sophisticated mass marketing of terrorism…”

    1. “NYPD intelligence source”


    2. the rising power of disparate militant groups around the world…most complex terrorism danger since the twin towers were destroyed

      It’s not complex at all: stop f*cking bombing foreign nations just because there are a few criminals hiding there.

  10. The US jsut loves playing “World POlice” doesnt it.

  11. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), the House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, has stated flatly “we don’t have any information about credible planning for an attack” by ISIS, an assessment that has been corroborated by both the FBI and The Department of Homeland Security.

    Nonsense. You don’t know of any information, but I can guarantee you you’ve got some. If ISIS breaks the arms off the Statue of Liberty tomorrow, within 72 hours you’re going to find that the FBI had a file on the guys who did it, that 6 months ago one of the guys father-in-law had contacted the FBI about his suspicion that the guy was up to something, that some lady in New York had reported to the NYPD that there were some guys taking pictures of the statue and one of them turned out to be that guy, that 3 weeks ago the guy had been ticketed for parking a rental truck right near the harbor and the cop had noted the guy had binoculars and a notepad and a long rope, etc.

    It doesn’t matter who does what, when you have trillions of bits of information you’ve got all the information you need to have seen it coming but good luck trying to find that specific grain of sand in the Sahara.

  12. Gee, Nick, sounds like he is doing exactly what Rand Paul says he would do, and let’s face it, if we get a GOP sweep in the next round, the blank check will be even bigger for the likes of Rand Paul.

    Any complaints about your main man?

    1. “blank check will be even bigger”

      Obviously, someone doesn’t understand what a blank check is

      1. There’s a LOT that Jack ‘doesn’t understand’, along with a lot he just lies about.
        BTW, Jack, how’s your fave lying bastard doing?

      2. I guess that’s you who doesn’t understand the concept of a “blank check.”

        You see, you have to fill in an amount. And if its a GOP majority, with your man Rand, he will fill in a larger amount than Obama.

        Get it?

        1. BTW, Jack, how’s your fave lying bastard doing?

          1. Jack is a progressive?

    2. No, not really any complaints about “my main man”; he’s still orders of magnitude better than Obama even if I don’t agree with him on everything.

    3. Rand Paul says a declaration of war on ISIS is a decision for Congress.

      Emperor Obama says it is his decision.

      It is a BIG DIFFERENCE if one has any respect for the Constitution. Rand Paul says he does not want a blank check, that it is a check that Congress must fill in.

  13. Only A Thought

    “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” -from Sanskrit

    Here’s a thought for the USA in the Middle East. Get out … but provisionally and on our terms.

    Let’s not forget, although rarely mentioned, that Bush the First ignited this conflagration by double-crossing our ally in Iraq, homicidal thug that he was, Saddam Hussein. We began it, but we can’t finish it … unless … unless, possibly … ?

    Make a deal with ISIL or whatever it calls itself at the moment? Let’s not forget, also, that an ally is merely someone else with a common interest at the moment. Do ISIL and the USA have any interests in common? Despite the despicable acts of ISIL, could it be?

    Would it be possible to make a deal with ISIL? Who knows? Perhaps, it’s possible. Besides, have you got a better thought?

    Right! What about Obama, Kerry, and of that inept cabal? Ah, the consequences of the voting in 2008 and 2012 (

    1. You’d be better off making a deal with Iran.

    2. Finding common ground with ISIS? Sure, that’s a productive line of thinking. And so realistic.

  14. my friend’s sister makes $83 an hour on the laptop . She has been fired for ten months but last month her payment was $12435 just working on the laptop for a few hours
    Find Out More. ??????

  15. my classmate’s mom makes $64 /hr on the laptop . She has been fired for eight months but last month her pay was $12301 just working on the laptop for a few hours. More Info………..


  16. I’m sure we have a lot of ordnance nearing it’s expiriation dates, load it on B-52, B-2 and deliver it to ISIS. They are hiding in a desert, infrared would light them up nicely, make it a Dresden level operation.

  17. As a Millenial who was outraged by the actions taken after 9/11/01 in my country and heavily protested the Iraq/Afghanistan war I am against this bullshit too. Stop going to war with these people! They are extremists, yes, they are Anti-American, yes, but why the fuck do we want to “fix” their governing structure when we can barely survive our own?

    My take on this whole thing is decimate then assimilate. Control the oil and other natural resources while forcing another country and culture to assimilate to “our” ways or die. Sounds a bit like Hilter-ism.

  18. my friend’s sister makes $83 an hour on the laptop . She has been fired for ten months but last month her payment was $12435 just working on the laptop for a few hours
    Find Out More. ??????

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