Pressure Builds to Commit U.S. Troops Against ISIS; Why It's Still a Bad Idea

We may defeat ISIS at an unknown price in lives only to find that keeping the situation from deteriorating again requires putting the region under indefinite occupation.


Marines in Fallujah
U.S. Marine Corps

"I will not commit you and the rest of our Armed Forces to fighting another ground war in Iraq,"  President Obama told an audience at MacDill Air Force Base less than a month ago. It wasn't the first time he'd made that promise, but it's one that's looking increasingly incompatible with his announced intention "to degrade and destroy" ISIS. With the American public horrified by the bloodthirsty organization/budding hellhole country (take your pick), but also opposed to committing troops to combat in Iraq and Syria, Obama and his unenthusiastic coalition have confined themselves to air strikes against ISIS facilities and assets—a strategy that doesn't appear to be getting the job done. It's increasingly obvious that the president is going to have to give ground on one commitment or the other and either abandon his efforts against ISIS or his promise to avoid a ground war.

The coalition has attempted to defend Kobani, the Kurdish city in Syria on the Turkish border, from the air, yet Kobani appears on the verge of falling to ISIS. This just days after the Pentagon warned that "Airstrikes alone are not going to do this… They're not going to save the town of Kobani."

Iraq's Anbar province, too, hemorrhages refugees fleeing from the ISIS onslaught. Provincial leaders bypassed the central government to plead for U.S. troops to do what Iraq's army is very obviously incapable of doing—stop the expansion of the area controlled by the invading radicals. More than a few American officials seem willing to satisfy that request.

Likely presidential candidate Hillary Clinton calls ISIS a bigger threat than al Qaeda. It's a strong statement, post-9/11, and one that leaves little room for anything other than escalating military efforts.

Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) explicitly want "a limited presence of troops on the ground."

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, insisted two weeks ago that "12,000 to 15,000 [troops] is what we believe they would need to recapture lost territory in eastern Syria"—far more than the 5,000 warm bodies the Syrian moderates are expected to supply—though he was coy on Sunday about whether Americans might have to fill the gap.

And former Obama administration Defense Secretary Leon Panetta not only criticizes his former boss for ruling out ground troops, but thinks we should have never withdrawn the forces we had there for eight years after the 2003 invasion.

But what about those forces? Senators McCain and Graham are big believers that the 2007 "surge" of 30,000 troops to Iraq successfully stabilized the country and ended a cycle of violence. Though this is often forgotten, so was Barack Obama after the fact; he said in 2008 that the surge "succeeded beyond our wildest dreams."

The surge temporarily smothered violence so long as Iraq was under U.S. occupation, but it didn't achieve a major goal: political reconciliation among rival factions so that a viable country could be created in the absence of American forces. Or, as Bush administration Secretary of State Colin Powell said of the 2003 Iraq invasion, "you break it, you own it." He explicitly clarified his point to The Atlantic in 2007, noting, "when you take out a regime and you bring down a government, you become the government." And you're stuck until the place you've invaded is capable of establishing some sort of independent order in your absence.

But even as Iraq falls piece by piece to ISIS seven years later, the Kurdish regional government and the central government only belatedly begin to work together. Far worse, Shia militias actually murder their Sunni countrymen, blaming them for the radical group's gains.

Iraq is not a country where the surge paved the way for reconciliation, or where the people are ready to join together to control their fate. Putting U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq and Syria risks a surge-style "success." We may defeat ISIS at an unknown price in lives only to find that keeping the situation from deteriorating again requires putting the region under indefinite occupation.

But that looks like the direction in which the administration is moving. The State Department has been eagerly negotiating with Turkey for access to its military bases—so eagerly that it prematurely announced a deal for their use. The bases could be used for training more moderate Syrian fighters and launching further airstrikes, neither of which, as the Pentagon points out, are getting it done.

Turkey could also act as an effective staging ground for a ground war against ISIS. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says, "You need to take into consideration all options, including an operation on the ground." But he adds, "It is not realistic to expect Turkey to conduct a ground operation on its own."

You have to wonder just what's on the table in those negotiations for Turkish bases.

Meanwhile, the president of the United States remains committed to two incompatible goals: defeating ISIS and doing so without ground forces. And while Reason-Rupe polling finds 52 percent of Americans opposed to sending troops into harms way in a part of the world that has already consumed too many U.S. lives, one of those promises is going to have to give.

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  1. Let’s see, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq can basically all be categorized as failures. Going to war against ISIS would be different…how?

    Seems like a good time to suggest this book.…..ion+of+war

    1. Let’s see, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq can basically all be categorized as failures. Going to war against ISIS would be different…how?

      It would be more like Libya.


      1. +2 capitals

  2. It’s increasingly obvious … that the president is going to have to … either abandon his efforts against ISIS or his promise to avoid a ground war.

    Why not both?

    1. Less snarkily: The administration often says “Nothing is off the table”.

      *** wink-wink-nudge-nudge ***

  3. It’s amazing; Obama is following exactly the sort of thought process that led JFK and LBJ to shatter the U.S. post war political and military order on the rocks of Vietnam.

    It’s not history repeating and turning a tragedy into a farce. It’s more just a pitiable mess.

  4. When ISIS establishes an Islamic state in the land of Sham–which it will do because Europe can’t stop it and Obama would have to be dragged kicking and screaming into stopping it and the Arabs can’t stop it and some of they don’t want to stop it–it’s going to be a massive problem for the entire world.

    So do we fight them now or later? Because even if we mind our own business, they don’t care.

    1. The US fighting them is exactly what they want, which should be obvious from the way they have behaved.

      The US fighting them only strengthens them politically.

      Ignore them (i.e. let the people who actually live near them and are actually being endangered by them) deal with them, which will end them politically.

      1. The US fighting them only strengthens them politically.

        Ignore them (i.e. let the people who actually live near them and are actually being endangered by them) deal with them, which will end them politically.

        Which we tried with the Taliban throughout the ’90s, and resulted in AQ being allowed to have a sanctuary to train and arm. I think your proposed policy with respect to ISIS and the rump state of Western/NW Iraq may have the same result. Threatening to destroy their paymasters and suppliers (Gulf Arab states + various members of the 7,000 strong Saudi royal family) if ISIS gets out of line and starts attacking Americans here will have a better chance of containing them, IMHO. Of course, we could start with that too.

        If averting a slaughter is the goal, why not give visas/transportation to Iraqi refugees that we want here? Like our old ‘terps and other collaborators, or religious refugees?

        But Obama forgetting (or not even learning, which is more likely) everything taught about the Vietnam War by re-doing Rolling Thunder, isn’t going to do shit. Baghdad’s about to fall, BTW. Good luck to the, what is it, 10,000 Americans we still have fucking around in the Green Zone?

        1. “Which we tried with the Taliban throughout the ’90s, and resulted in AQ being allowed to have a sanctuary to train and arm.”

          A not unfair observation, and any such policy has to be combined with a complete military disengagement from the area – no more of this “bring a firestorm down over in this part and ignore what’s going on over there in another part.”

          Allowing the Taliban to thrive helped AQ, but random US policies in the area also helped AQ.

          This is why the continued strategy of “go after the paymasters, who we think might be x, y, and z,” won’t work, because we attack the wrong people as often as we attack the right ones, and that also encourages AQ.

          The 10,000 Americans in Baghdad need to leave. They have no place there.

        2. AQ only existed because we had troops in their sacred country.

          Every Single Intervention overseas has had the noble cause of fixing the mistakes of the previous intervention.

          The only way to stop this vicious cycle is to …. stop it.

          It’s like asking the trick question “When was the best time to get out of Vietnam?” and the only real answer is to never have gotten involved in the first place, but the second best answer is always “sooner.”

          1. AQ only existed because we had troops in their sacred country.

            Every Single Intervention overseas has had the noble cause of fixing the mistakes of the previous intervention.

            And if you’re therefore saying that the U.S. should never have started Desert Shield or Storm, I see your point, and wonder what would have happened if we decided to accept the invasion of Kuwait and continue to do business with Saddam? After all, he couldn’t very well drink the oil of Kuwait, or even the Kingdom, if he wanted to make money to pay off eight years of war spending debts: he’d need to sell that oil. Fast. Why should we have cared if we the Japanese had to buy it from him instead of the Sauds and Al-Sabahs?

            But I think that OBL and Ayman Al-Zawahiri would have just found something else to get pissed off at the U.S. for. Zawahiri was a longtime acolyte of Sayyid Qutb after all. Perhaps the Muslim Brotherhood would have become the backbone of AQ instead of Pashtuns Saudis and Chechens? But the demographic reasons for the growth of AQ—loads of young men in SW Asia & E. Africa with no economic prospects and a fundamentalist Islamic education—were going to happen whether the U.S. had troops in SA or not.

            I like the idea of totally disengaging too. The Green Zone should be evacuated like yesterday. Just don’t be surprised when these guys continue to be pissed off at the U.S. even if there aren’t any U.S. personnel still there.

            1. We had no business rescuing Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia especially is a far worse dictatorship than Saddam’s Iraq ever was, and as for the oil, who cares — Saddam wasn’t going to go enviro and stop selling it, he just wanted the profits for himself, and the borders had no relation to any kind of native reality.

              Another aspect is that if Saudi Arabians can’t be fussed enough to save their own skin, if the Saudis make it such a horrible place to live that the peasants can’t be fussed to save royal hides, then why should we spend treasure and blood doing it for them?

              And finally, it’s just none of our fucking business. Anyone who claims it is is not a libertarian of any stripe, they are just plain old imperialists.

              1. Bullshit, Saudi is not a worse dictatorship than Iraq under Saddam.

      2. We’d only do them a favor fighting them now. I say let them establish a state. We are much better at fighting nation-states than we are amorphous guerilla organizations. Better yet, let Iran fight them. There are other countries in the area more interested in fighting them than us. They are just sitting back hoping we’ll do the dirty work as always.

      3. Ignore them (i.e. let the people who actually live near them and are actually being endangered by them) deal with them, which will end them politically.

        This is basically the stick-our-head-up-our-ass approach to foreign policy. And unfortunately is almost as common among non-interventionists as the let’s-let-someone-else-do-the-dirty-work-for-us approach. Neither one works. Both actually create more of the ‘blowback’ that non-interventionists love throwing out as jargon (admittedly muffled jargon because they refuse to take their heads out of their ass)

        If ISIS is not a threat (a legitimate argument pro/anti can be made here), then we do not get involved. Period.

        If ISIS is a threat, then we should grow a set of balls and be honest for once – and do the goddamn dirty work ourselves. Because leaving it to someone else ensures only that a)they do whatever is on THEIR agenda not on ours and b)we will by default get the blame/hatred for every bad thing that occurs anyway because – we have the capability of getting involved and thus shoulder the inevitable consequences of a great power choosing to act/inact.

        And bluntly, non-interventionism should start getting honest. If it is simply never get involved ever; then you damn well better accept the epithet ‘isolationist’ and figure out how to make it positive. If it is simply pacifism; then have the courage of the Quakers/Mennonites and fucking say so.

    2. We have Nukes. China has Nukes. the Russians have Nukes. The axis of the “Status Quo” needs oil, and is getting real tired of middle eastern tomfoolery.

      1. * and European.

  5. CNBC just cut to the president complaining that there aren’t enough people on board this whole ISIS thing.

  6. Somewhat off topic. The U.S. military must be pretty damn good because there hasn’t been one reported (to my knowledge) death due to a carrier landing accident, or refueling accident, or copter crash, or sailor falling overboard, or etc. etc. A carrier pilot I knew who was in WWII said there would be a deadly accident almost every day during combat operations. On the other hand, do we want “airstrikes and robot war” to be so antiseptic that the voters will be tempted to support even more intervention?

    1. Robots need to eat too.

    2. Seeing footage of WWII carrier decks full of moving propellers…can’t say I’m surprised.

    3. I thought there was a fatality from a copter crash already…

      1. Yep. Actually, it was a Marine in an Osprey.…..inst-isis/

    4. This is false. I was on the USS Midway 73-76, and remember one incident very clearly. A plane crashed, they sent a helo to recover bodies r investigate and it crashed. We ended up with six dead aviators hibernating in the meat reefer.

      “Mystery meat” and “scab steak” took on new meaning.

      1. Don’t people die on every cruise a CV takes? I mean, they aren’t always from the aviation department, but I thought I had read somewhere that pretty much every 6 month deployment of a CV group has someone die from an accident somewhere along the way. Naval Aviation can be really, really dangerous.

        1. We were told the average WestPac cruise had one death a month. We were homeported in Japan, presumably better training because no transit slack, but I don’t know what the average was. I suspect it’s slightly better just from experience feeding back into training.

  7. A truly great president would get Ebola and ISIS to fight each other, and then withdraw all US troops from both conflicts.

    1. Like Reagan did with AIDS?

  8. When the Iranians, Turks and Saudis decide to get serious about the threat on their own borders, then maybe it’s time to consider action. If they don’t think it’s worth the bother, then neither should we.

    And without them, no lasting solution is possible, anyway. Creating another Zombie Iraq, with a Zombie Syria next door for good measure, makes no sense.

    1. They’ll sit out as long as we are bombing and talking about invading.

  9. The proper question to ask is, “Is America being threatened by enemies that are credible threats to the country and its citizenry.”

    In regards the the ME, consider this: Since the taking of hostages in Iran in 1979, the following attacks have been made against the USA in the ME (partial list): Islamist riots that destroyed the American Embassy in Pakistan in 1979, Islamist destruction of the Libya Embassy in 1979, Islamic Jihad destruction of the Beirut Embassy in 1983, the Iran support of US Marine massacre in Lebanon in 1983, the murder of Leon Klinghoffer on the Achille Lauro in 1985, the al-Qaeda attack on the USS Cole and death of 17 American sailors in 2000, al-Qaeda attacks on the Kenya, the 911 attacks, Iran’s repeated goal of destroying American only Ally in the ME, Israel, using atomic bombs, Iran’s direct involvement in killing US soldiers in both Iraq and Afghanistan. This list is not complete.

    Libertarians, we have enemies that wish our total destruction. If you and your guy, Rand Paul, want to take the center political stage, you must have a credible answer to this obvious threat.

    Iran and probably Saudi Arabia are the primary financial supporters of many of these threats. These two countries are our enemies. They must be destroyed before we will have peace.

    Think of a world where we don’t have to go through security lines at the airport and the NSA has no reason for existing. That will only happen when these threats are eliminated.

    1. So . . .

      7 attacks over a period of 35 years, each one in a different country from all of the others.

      Pardon me if I’m not exactly quaking with fear.

      The security lines at the airport will only go away once people like you grow a pair and learn to face the big, bad world all on your own.

      1. This is a partial list and it includes 911. As a libertarian, try to discount that one attack to the American people and win their support. I’m arguing that libertarians do not have a credible answer to this issue and it will keep them from being taken seriously.

        Please understand, that I mainly support libertarian positions, but on defense they have the big L on their forehead.

        1. You do not mean defense. Your describing offense. We cannot police world, and should mind our fucking business.

          1. Screw policing the world. I am calling for a defense of America. Nation building, Marshal Plans, protecting the world order, stopping the dominoes from falling, all that is altruist tripe. The only issue is the defense of America, its central principle of individual rights, and its citizens. The rest of the crappy world can go to hell.

            1. Good then we agree.

              Best way to fight is through trade and culture.

              1. Exactly this.

                You look ISIS in the eye with gun in hand and say “YOU WANT A PIECE OF THIS?” they say “HELL YEAH I DO!”

                You hold up in iPhone and say “you want to buy one of these?” they say “HELL YEAH I DO!”

                1. They use iPads to aim their mortars.

            2. So why do you want to defend America by fighting overseas, against bandits who are a police problem everywhere else?

              If I throw an egg at the Saudi embassy in DC, is that an act of war? If their ambassador is mugged, is that an act of war?

              Thousands of people die every year from burglars, robbers, criminals of every kind. Any you want to send soldiers overseas, some of them to die, because some bandits overseas attack an embassy?

              Go defend your own honor. My government would have no embassies, no ambassadors, no bait for stupid chicken hawks like yourself.

              1. Total destruction of an enemy is reserved for those that present an existential threat–Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany, for instance. However, you don’t stand by and let any little piss-ant group or country walk away from an assault. You make them pay double or you do what is necessary to eliminate any future rogue behavior that hurt you or your citizens. It is all situation specific.

                The deal is, once it becomes clear you will do something in retaliation, it won’t be long before these assholes get the message and stop their shit, to put it bluntly. Give me a break, I’m an Okie and I believe in frontier rules because I think they still apply.

                1. “The deal is, once it becomes clear you will do something in retaliation, it won’t be long before these assholes get the message and stop their shit, to put it bluntly.”

                  I get your emotional response, I really do – I had a hard time not jumping on the “kill these fuckers” train, too.

                  But you have to understand that the political idiom we are dealing with thrives on martyrdom. Your statement about their getting the message if we go kill a bunch of them is exactly, 180-degrees wrong.

                  1. It is not emotion, it is a rational response. Islamists hate us and want our country and culture’s destroyed along with our influences toward freedom and liberty. Who cares what they think of us. Do you really think the Islamist will continue to grow and gain influence if more and more of their leaders and followers are squished like the bugs they are? But if we act like a bunch of scared, pussies, with no confidence in the rightness of our self-defense and our love of liberty, this is going to make them love us and roll over and let us bet their tummies. Gimme a break. These guys are out to destroy us. Once we figure out it is either us or them, then, the response is easy. They have told us and shown us over the years–it is either us or them–they are at war with us. Its time we took them at their work and responded in kind.

                    1. So if an ant declares war on you, you squish it?

                      I just laugh and move on with my life. Fucking ants.

                    2. So, you laughed after 911 and I am suppose to think that is a mentally healthy response.

        2. There’s a difference between discounting an attack against Americans and questioning its continued use 13 years later to keep inspiring fear and panic in the name of drumming up support for military actions that have no relationship to domestic security.

          The libertarian position on defense is unpopular because the concept is highly unappealing to the power hungry, and highly unsatisfying to the popular bloodlust that the power-hungry are so skilled at fostering.

          Question from a libertarian perspective: how do all the “serious” approaches make us safer?

          1. The serious approach MUST include defending the country. A defense of the individual rights of the country’s citizenry is the one and only moral purpose of a government. If libertarians and its leaders (R. Paul) wants to lead, they must be able to stand up to the plate on this issue. The no coercion argument libertarians lean on will not fly if enemies are attacking the country. They will not be given a position of leadership by the country, nor should they be given a position of leadership.

            1. So disband DEA, ATF, NSA, and have more accountability for police departments.

              These are my biggest enemies, and threats to personal freedom.

            2. To restate the question, in what way is bombing ISIS defending our country and our individual rights?

              1. The ISIS piss-ants are being supported by someone–most likely Saudi money, but I am not sure about that. In any case they are not a threat until they attack this country directly. If and only if they threaten this country, should we then go about destroying them. They are not a present threat. The threats in the ME are elsewhere.

                1. “In any case they are not a threat until they attack this country directly.”

                  Agreed. Who is the threat again?

                  1. Iran, Saudi Arabia and to a lesser degree Pakistan and Afghanistan have supported most of the attacks that have occurred against this country in the last 3 decades.

                    Iran is the primary threat from what I have read.

                    1. You leave out Sudan, Libya, Yemen, and Egypt, and all of the above (including your list) are suspects, not convicts.

                      Before launching Operation Infinite Firestorm, let’s ask ourselves what we’re looking to achieve.

                      And keep in mind when you say “attacks against this country” you’re mostly talking about “attacks against our troops stationed in other countries.”

                      It’s important to keep that in perspective.

    2. Libertarians, we have enemies that wish our total destruction.

      And no ability to cause our total destruction.

      These two countries are our enemies. They must be destroyed before we will have peace.

      Yes, we’re always one or two colossally murderous wars short of peace. Trashing Iran and Saudi Arabia will do so much to make everyone in the area love us. Nobody would ever get mad at the US merely because it came in and completely pulverized their city.

      1. Why should we want them to love us? Do you think Americans cared whether the Japanese loved us when the country set about defending itself after Pearl Harbor?

        1. You’re forgetting that Saudi Arabia is on the “ally” side of the team roster, not the “enemy” side.

          That considerably complicates the “kill ’em all” mentality.

          1. No. If evidence exist which I think it does in regards to the Saudi regime’s support of forces that attack this country, then you give them time to cease and desist. If they do not, then you destroy them without reservations.

            1. In a rational world this makes sense.

              You are forgetting that we got into this mess in the first place *at the behest of* Saudi Arabia and *in their defense.*

              You are being played by people like ISIS and the Saudis, and you respond like a Stradivarius.

              1. Bush was a putz, no doubt about it. The Saudi’s definitely played him.

                1. Anyway – good talk. I argue with you because you’re not an idiot, but I have to go face traffic.

      2. Because World Wars are great for International Commerce, and Internal Stability. /sarcasm

  10. And no ability to cause our total destruction.

    This right here. I fear my heart more than any terrorist.

  11. Here’s the MegaloMonocle plan for the Mideast:

    (1) As long as you aren’t either (a) interfering with international trade (yeah, oil, but there might be other stuff) or (b) trying to kill Americans and succeeding, we won’t seek to wipe you from the face of the earth.

    (2) To help you with your poor impulse control, we will withdraw American forces from the region. The Navy, natch, will stick around to keep an eye on trade. And kill pirates. On sight.

    (3) Oh, and we’ll sell guns to our friends, but not to people who aren’t our friends. Lots and lots of guns. They know you better than we do, so if they decide you need killing (or don’t), who are we to second-guess?

    (4) We’ll do a quick referendum as best we can in Kurdistan (both sides of the border). If they’re willing, we’ll make them a territory with a path to becoming our next state, Kurdlahoma. If Turkey or Iraq don’t like it, they can go fuck themselves.

    1. I like your ideas.

    2. You are making it too hard. It is easy. If you attack America or its citizen, there will be a price to pay. Then back it up. No proxies, no international approval, no UN resolution. It is just between America and whoever attacks us or our citizens. If the attack is judged an existential threat, then you will be destroyed. The total force of the American military will be sent directly to you wherever you and your allies exist. If there is collateral damage, that damage is on you. We are morally defending ourselves as we have every right to do.

      Don’t make it so hard, my friend.

    3. “And kill pirates. On sight.”

      You can have my stolen information when you pry it from my cold dead hands.

    4. Kurdlahoma, love it.

      New Kurdshire


      Reason and Rupe should do a poll and see what millenials think.

      1. Most in our military are Millennials. These are the only Millennials that really count when it comes to the defense of the country. I can guarantee you that most young soldiers and sailors would be in favor of a clear cut foreign policy designed to defend America and nothing else. For the better recruits that’s the ideal they had in their head when they joined in the first place.

        1. What branch of the service are you in Mr. Wall, who seems so anxious to kill in the name of the ole USA?

        2. 70% of the military does not want to go to war in Syria. From my experience as a Marine Captain, the other 30% hasn’t deployed yet.

  12. An investigation should be launched against Senator John Mc Cain after it has been revealed that he had met with the founder of ISIS. “Here’s the problem. He [Sen. John McCain] did meet with ISIS, and had his picture taken, and didn’t know it was happening at the time.” ?Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), in an interview with the Daily Beast, Sept. 16. This picture is the obvious evidence that the World conspiracy is not a theory. The chief of ISIS is that same Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who spent time in a US prison and in a meeting with Mc Cain before being released in 2009. There is no doubt that the Zionists and their counter terrorist agencies have all the means to enlist and pay well mercenaries of all Countries and Islamic extremists without having to show their face or their wallet. A World War has already been planned. Obama is under strong pressure from all media and from the many US politicians on payroll of Israel (like Mc Cain) to commit US troops on the ground against ISIS and to begin this War on behalf of Israel. The US president recognizes the Zionist trap and is resisting for now from sending those troops. The comedy will go on with the tears of the Pharisees while in Jerusalem the situation of Al Aqsa mosque will get to a boiling point. It will be Jeb Bush, the next US president, to fix everything with a spectacular final act.

    Enjoy the show.

    1. For some reason I have a vision of you typing this with your left hand, while your right arm is out in a rigid Nazi salute…

    2. I’ve been calling him “Hanoi Jane” John McCain.

  13. Iraq is not a country where the surge paved the way for reconciliation

    I would disagree – it most certainly “paved the way” – the majority and their politicians chose not to take the nice new street.

  14. I’ll never understand the libertarian orthodoxy when it comes to pacifism. As far as I can tell, there is no enemy worth fighting.

    That said, I’m a lot more militant than most people, and I could still support standing by while ISIS slaughters minorities and consolidates its regional power. I think we should be bombing local mosques who support their ideology. Let’s take care of the scum here at home before going off crusading to solve other people’s problems.

    1. I think most libertarians would consider themselves as non-aggressors, NOT pacifists. I lose no sleep of Gen Curtis Lemay firebombing Dresden or Tokyo during the early 40s.

    2. Not pacifists. force is justified in self defense. Libertarians are just much more careful about war than the others. They consider blowback. What we called, in the Marines, 2nd and 3rd order effects. From the POV of someone who was in the military, it’s much better to know that the people sending you to fight and possibly die have considered that what you’re fighting for will not actually make the USA less safe. Great thing about libertarians. They think. They don’t just whip out their raging war boners and ejaculate propaganda all over the place.

  15. Oh yeah, let’s put combat troops in a yet another country (Syria) to fight wars that have origins to disputes originating literally thousands of years ago that we have no cultural capability to understand:

    “Wait, all of this mess is because the wrong cousin of Mohammed became caliph in the year 800?” This is literally what the Sunni-Shiite dispute comes down to: a dispute over political hierarchy (which, of course, has roots in an even older and more impossible-to-understand between the Persians and Arabs).

    This can only go well.

  16. “We have to do something”

    “We have to do nothing”

    I have a feeling Americans are somewhere in the middle, since they’re more or less down with air strikes.

    Al Qaida obviously cannot launch a conventional military attack on us, and it won’t be easy for them unleash some sort of chemical warfare.

    But Al Qaida does try to recruit young American airheads, and several of them nearly succeeded in blowing up a bank, Madison Square Garden, etc before the FBI intercepted them. Or fooled them into thinking they were recruiters.

    We can be hit. And if we are, then we’re going to war.

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