Election 2016

"War Prayer 2015"

Thank God for a renewed sense of common purpose in these desultory, fractured, and hyper-partisan times.

|

The United States is in the grip of war hysteria. Recent polls show about three-quarters of us support stepped-up bombing runs in Syria and Iraq and 60 percent support (more) ground troops being dispatched to the Middle East to fight the Isamic State (ISIS).

Politicians, including virtually all the leading Republican candidates for president, are calling Barack Obama, who has rarely been shy about dispatching the military to wherever he wants to do whatever he wants, weak. Hillary Clinton, who as a senator voted for the authorization to use military force (AUMF) that approved the global war on terrorism (GWOT) in September 2001 and to invade Iraq in 2003, has said that "ISIS is not going away" and supports increased military intervention around the world as a general rule.

And so, with apologies to Mark Twain, let's show gratitutde for war this Thanksgiving weekend because 

Constant war means not only that we can—thankfully—keep fighting the last war but also that we can refuse to ask, much less understand, anything about its objectives, tactics, and lack of efficacy.

The greatest gift of war, of "civilizational conflict," is that it makes it possible to ignore the soul-crushing ironies of history both big and small.

How can we acknowledge that we are fighting on the same side as Bashar al-Assad, the very dictator whose regime we seek to destroy?

How can we appreciate that our strongest allies in the current fight, Russia and Iran, are our sworn enemies in every other context? And that other friends—the Saudis, for instance—are not only the enablers of terrorists but practitioners of medieval, anti-modern justice?

How can we live with ourselves refusing refugees—even orphaned children—from a part of the world we've done so much to destabilize?

How can we not understand that after years of uninterrupted bombing, droning, and killing that we are supposedly less safe not despite our war but because of it?

And that there are other ways of combating terrorism and defending American lives and interests than repeating precisely what has failed not in distant memory but the immediate past?

Read the full "2015 War Prayer" at The Daily Beast.

NEXT: Protected Profanity

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. So,a modern vesion of the 30 years war? You could see this coming on 9\12\01.

    1. More like by about noon the day before.

      1. But planned even years earlier.

        1. In Tel Aviv.

    2. It is a war that has been going on in fits and spurts since before the dawn of Islam when the Turks began to emigrate out of central Asia. This is just the latest battle.

  2. Let’s cough up some answers that the candidates and their legions of supporters and the voters in general can get behind. Maybe a bake sale, because no one’s going to accept staying out of it when heads are coming off and Parisian death metal concert-goers are taking it on the chin on the nightly news.

    1. Eagles of Death Metal are more cock-tock than death metal. Fun, poppy thrash.

  3. The greatest gift of war, of “civilizational conflict,” is that it makes it possible to ignore the soul-crushing ironies of history both big and small.

    Oh, I don’t know. I can think of a greater gift should we eradicate a declared state that cuts the heads off of people refusing to convert, that murders expel for voluntarily entering a consensual relationship with a person of the same sex, that enslaves women for sexual purposes, that enslaves children and conscripts them to their military, that cuts the heads off of people not strictly adhering to their laws and that destroys civilization like so many locusts.

    Yeah, I can think of a greater gift than “ignoring ironies” should we commit to a real war* against those fucking barbarians.

    *As opposed to the limited engagement we’ve managed in every conflict we entered the last half century.

    1. Who’s this ‘we’ ,you speak of,you have a frog in your pocket?? This is a mid east problem and theiy need to take care of their own backyard.The Arabs have the forces and the money to take care of themselves. urope can also.The wold does not need the U.S military,D.E.A and F.B.I running around the world chasing bad guys.

      1. John? Is that you?

      2. By “we”, I am referring to every single person that values individual rights of free association, sexual liberty, religious liberty, free speech, private property rights and myriad other things we take for granted in an enlightened society that ISIS has openly stated in word and deed that they will destroy.

    2. “you listed decapitation twice.”

      “i like rape.”

      /seeit’scominoff

    3. Well, “gift” is fitting since our engagement is exactly what ISIS wants. But I’m sure we can bomb these guys out of existence like we did AQ and the Taliban. Lets Roll!!

      1. Well, “gift” is fitting since our engagement is exactly what ISIS wants.

        +1 Bitches don’t know ’bout Idarat at-Tawahhush

    4. Yeah, they’re fucking barbarians. So was Assad. Remember him gassing civilians? If we eradicate these guys, the guys who replace them will be fucking barbarians.

      I really didn’t think people could get whipped up for war over ISIS after Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, Hamas et al. It’s like they wave a different flag, the media promises that they’re REALLY super duper bad guys this time and people completely forget that this same shit has all been done there for the past few thousand years.

      Also, isn’t if funny you want to use violence to coerce money from me to pay for your war against the coercive violent barbarians? There are western civilians fighting ISIS on their own dime right now. If you believe so strongly in it why don’t you just go do that?

      1. You’re paying for the military even when they sit on their ass.

        1. You’re paying for the military even when they sit on their ass.

          The cost of actually fighting a war is vastly more expensive than sitting at home training for one.

          Dude, how much more are you paying for your military by grinding up all their equipment 10x faster than it was designed for?

          And, what’s been the ROE for 14 years of war? We got em about licked?

    5. Yeah, I can think of a greater gift than “ignoring ironies” should we commit to a real war* against those fucking barbarians.

      Respectfully, Sloop, how do you propose we do that? These people don’t march onto a battlefield to be mown down like Redcoats. They are in and among a civilian population. They surround themselves with innocent people. Their locations aren’t known except through months/years of intell and then a lucky break. And then you only get a few of them. They are organized such that when you chop off the head there are three lined up behind to take his place, and never colocated. Are you suggesting we carpet bomb cities and disregard collateral damage?

      I can think of a greater gift should we eradicate a declared state that cuts the heads off of people….

      You’ve just described half of the ME and 2/3 of Africa. Is the function of the US military to truly be the world’s cop?

      As I see it, we have three options:

      1. Total War and all the killing of innocents that entails. Paramount to committing genocide over 128 dead Frogs.
      2. A never ending limited war that creates enemies as fast as you can kill them. (Not to mention, drains the treasury.)
      3. Stay out of it unless attacked. And if so, kill those directly responsible and then go home.

      I’m open to other suggestions. Anyone, please share a solution that the top strategists haven’t already thought of.

      Which of the above 3 makes the most sense?

      1. 3

        I don’t see any resolution to this anytime soon unless regional governments (Turkey, the Sauds, Egypt, etc.) have the incentives to fight it themselves.

        /2 cents

      2. This is spot on. It does seem like the limited war and bombing that most favor just creates more.

        In the Warhammer universe it was found that Greenskins could be eradicated from a planet by torching the ground after a battle, because their corpses would just spawn more Greenskins after a while. So, I dunno, maybe we could try that?

      3. Franc,
        No to # 2. # 3 is moot; we’re attacked by proxy, by guys we have every reason to believe, who say we are targeted. Your first point is correct – if you meant that we have no need to make any such calculations. Our only reasonable goal is stopping ISIS, and given their martial mindset, this means killing or capturing as many of them as possible.

        During Obamatime we’ve had Egypt and Jordan offer to be manpower in the field with us. Jordan has a tiny, very professional army, and Egypt’s is huge and so-so. Both are better than the Iraqis’ we fought and won with (before Obama said “by by”). Us leading with some Marines and Army Rangers would be enough to lead many more Egyptians and Jordanians. I was in Iraq, pre-surge. We know how to fight and beat this particular enemy.

        We can do it with a few thousand of our guys, many thousand others, our Air and Navy, and crush both ISIS and Syria’s Assad. His Russian Air will not contest ours – under a different Pres, anyway. If it did, it would lose. That’s the main reason Putin won’t do it, in this “other Pres” scenario-he doesn’t want to be embarrassed. Assad’s best troops are Iranian special forces and Lebanese Hezbollah infantry. We’d crush them. This, however, cannot be done by Obama. He will, however, save us from the deadly heat that’s being hidden in the ocean-you didn’t fall for that Hiatus lie, I hope!

    6. WWII was seventy years ago. 50 yrs ago was 1965, and we definitely weren’t fighting an unlimited war in 1965.

  4. Again I take umbrage at the suggestion that I want orphans to starve or be shot in the desert.

    It is absurd. No one is saying that. The objection is to swarms of unattached military aged males.

    Want to bring Obumbles orphans and widows to safety? Ok, fine. We all know that isnt what is going to happen so quit pretending it is.

    1. It’s either/or with Nick on the “refugee” issue. Either we open our arms to them unconditionally and cross our fingers that there aren’t any potential terrorists coming in with the overwhelmingly military-age unaccompanied males, or we resign all children to a brutal death.

      Never mind that we could go over there and establish a safe haven for them as we annihilate the barbarians that are killing and enslaving women and children for sexual and military uses and return their lands to them once we rid the world of that filth.

      1. we could go over there and establish a safe haven for them as we annihilate the barbarians that are killing and enslaving women and children for sexual and military uses

        Utter hubris. We’re not going to change the cultural status quo over there of almost 4,000 years of killing and enslaving women and children for sexual and military uses. As Progs used to say of Afghanistan before they became possessed with Obama-induced blood lust, “And they’re still wearing burkas!” Hell, we pretty much failed at our own reconstruction; and that “peculiar institution” had only been part of American culture for 200 something years prior.

        1. There’s enough open land there that we could do exactly what I stated.

          As for failing at our own reconstruction, you’re comparing apples and oranges. The Union reincorporated a section of the nation that had seceded. There were financial and political interests as well as scores to settle against people that also were going to have a say in how the government ran. We’re we to destroy ISIS, we would not be sharing their government with the vanquished.

          1. We’re we to destroy ISIS, we would not be sharing their government with the vanquished.

            I wish I shared your optimism. Indeed, I heard the same arguments 13 years ago, and as we saw, the new boss wasn’t too far off the old boss. And unless we colonize the land outright, the people who would be governing this putative safe haven, the Free Syrian Army or whomever, would have ” financial and political interests as well as scores to settle against people that also were going to have a say in how the government ran.”

            Besides, what’s so special about Syria that we need to pick up the “White Man’s

            1. It’s not Syria that’s special. It’s ISIS. They deserve our full and immediate attention. They’ve earned it by cutting the heads off of people for being apostates, by murdering gays for their associations, by enslaving tens of thousands of women for sexual amusement and for their desire to spread their reign of terror the world over.

              Just my opinion.

              1. So, Saudi Arabia without the child legions and less sweeping of icky feelz under the rug?

            2. Hmm…the squirrels ate like half my comment. The rest was, what’s so special about Syria that we need to establish a safe haven there as opposed to the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has seen a bloody decade-long insurgency complete with child soldiers and a brutal systematic practice of war rape? Why invest our energies in Syria as opposed to Congo? Why is Syria any more deserving of our help than Congo?

              1. It’s not about Syria. It’s about the Islamic State.

                1. You still haven’t answered the question though. Why is ISIS brutality any more deserving of a response than brutality by the FDLR?

                  1. I don’t get it either. All of this shit was happening long before ISIS and it will happen long after ISIS unless they get their own act together.

                  2. Because the FDLR isn’t interested in murdering US citizens.

          2. We could defeat ISIS as a whole, but not the ideology. A world that pats itself on the back for cutting greenhouse emissions but has allowed a group that conducts massive rape and murder to control a large amount of land accurately sums up Obama’s legacy.

            1. This. We could drone every single ISIS soldier on the ground in Syria and Iraq today, and not only is the threat to the US homeland unchanged, but we just gave them more recruiting material.

            2. This. We could drone every single ISIS soldier on the ground in Syria and Iraq today, and not only is the threat to the US homeland unchanged, but we just gave them more recruiting material.

              1. I doubt it, Al Qaeda was destroyed before we left Afghanistan. They’re still a shell of their former selves. I don’t see much evidence of this kill one you create two theory, either today, or historically.

            3. Crusty strikes at the heart of the matter. This is a clash of civilizations with diametrically opposed cultural values. We are up against an ideology and until that is extinguished there will just be more groups like ISIS popping up. We can’t play whack-a-mole forever. We have to go after the source.

              What no one in a leadership position is willing to say is that, yes, we are at war with Islam.

              Sorry Sloopy. Your outrage and anger is justified, but defeating ISIS will accomplish nothing.

              1. ISIS’s brand of Islam is a triumphalism totalitarian ideology. It does not merely promise its followers moral righteousness, but glory, victory, and a resurgent Islam. It is vulnerable, in precisely the way that fascism or the Imperial Japanese were vulnerable, in that crushing military defeat would go a long way toward discrediting it as an ideology. Doing so would be a costly and bloody business and would require that we not merely occupy those territories in Syria, but impose Western legal and constitutional norms by force. Sloopy aside I am not sure we have the stomach for that sort of cultural imperialism – I’m not sure I do either. Nevertheless, it is easily within our capabilities.

                1. “in that crushing military defeat would go a long way toward discrediting it as an ideology. Doing so would be a costly and bloody business ”

                  The Battle of Vienna in 1683 so destroyed Islamic expansion that they are just now feeling their oats again in part to the immense amount of wealth their oil reserves have pumped into Muslim societies..

                  We will never defeat it for good but we can beat it back in it’s hole. It will just take the political and social, and cultural will to do so.

                  The only moderate Muslim is one who is surrounded by non Muslims.

        2. If we can put a man in the moon…

          1. in the moon

            Oh, sure, you all laugh at the moon men theory now, until they come swarming down in their moonoil propelled landers and scarp off with our women.

        3. “…the cultural status quo over there of almost 4,000 years of killing and enslaving women and children for sexual and military uses. ”

          Some years back a site in Syria was excavated and studied by archaeologists. The site was 12K+ years old.
          The only specific I remember about it was the pronouncement “It looks like life was brutal and violent for these people.”

          I would bet it goes back a lot further than that.

          1. It is likely that “killing and enslaving women and children for sexual and military uses” was the status quo everywhere in the world 4,000 years ago.

            1. It’s unfortunate that it’s still the status quo in the Islamic world. I guess the rennaisance was just something that happened to other people.

            2. It seems more and more that the flame of Liberty as a central philosophical principal will have a short run. There may have been pockets of free people here and there over time, but it seems that almost every time we get communities large enough to have cities, daily liberty is quickly only a distant memory.

              Well, at least we have a word for it now.

            3. I think you’re right. There have always been raiders who live off the work and innovation of others. ISIS is just another cloud of predatory locusts like those who came before. The only way to defeat them is to convince them that producing is cheaper than raiding. Convincing them requires making raiding so expensive that they stop.

      2. Duh! Stupid me. I see it clearly now. All we need to do is “go over there and establish a safe haven for them as we annihilate the barbarians”
        Thank you Rumsfeld Wolfowitz

  5. Klitschko vs. Fury. Imagine a king that would fight his own battles. Wouldn’t that be a sight?

  6. And that there are other ways of combating terrorism and defending American lives and interests than repeating precisely what has failed not in distant memory but the immediate past?

    What has failed is the fact that we’ve not really waged war or disengaged completely. And we can either combat terrorism here by losing our civil liberties, since the people who hate us will wage war on us wherever they can. Or we can combat terrorism by declaring a real war and not stopping until our adversary, the adversary to enlightenment really, unconditionally surrenders and their remnants are tried for the brutal crimes they have committed (that I listed above).

    Those are the only real choices for a civilized society.

    1. I think you are theoretically correct, but I have no faith in the current president to come up with a strategy that would do what you desire. As I linked in the previous thread, the White House has apparently been ignoring intelligence assessments that contrast with their preferred narrative. Nothing substantial is going to happen until America is attacked again, and even then I doubt we create a strategy that would have a chance at success.

      1. I don’t think our political leadership has the stomach for waging a true way anymore against an ideological enemy that is willing to slog it out to the last man standing. Mthats why we’ve largely waged proxy “wars” or gone after tinpot shitheads with no ideological hardliners. They think the American people will lose interest too easily.

        And what’s really sad in this case is that this war could easily be framed to the progressives (for fighting against religious extremists) as it could socons (for fighting against people that hate Jews and lop heads off of Christians) and libertarians (for fighting against those who kill people for free association). But our political leaders are a bunch of dickheads.

        1. The ones whoo speak out for that are laughed at and made fun of.

          Did you support Trump when he was incorrectly quoted as saying his administration would create a watchlist of Muslims and/or deport them ?

          Islam is evil and the more one reads their book and the more devout a Muslim becomes the more evil that person behaves.

          It’s just a non PC fact.

    2. Who do ‘we’ declare war on? ISSI is a Arab problem,and the other groups are spread aross the globe in many countries.’We’ do not have the means to go to war in all these locations. I doubt those contries want lager numbers of ‘our’ troops invading their soil.Your lack of knowlage is impressive. Ignorance can be cured,stupid is forever.

      1. We declare war on the “Islamic State”, as they have declared themselves. We confine our war within the borders they have declared and wage it against their soldiers and leadership…same as we have against any other state we’ve declared war against.

        The fact that other nations lay claim to the land isn’t relevant. They call themselves a state and act as one, we have every right to treat them as such and declare war against them.

      2. Ignorance can be cured,stupid is forever.

        So you’re saying we can cure the ignorance of the people being enslaved by ISIS? Maybe by exposing them to other ways of thinking and individual liberty? Or should we allow the perpetually stupid, backward slave-taking and murderous ideology to ruin millions of lives while they grow and seize more territory to spread their barbarism?

        1. Those people deserved to be enslaved for their regressive Islamophobic sentiments on being enslaved by Islamists.

  7. OT – other sad news, there have been multiple fatalities in a Texas flood.

    1. I see Nick as more this.

      1. Nick’s not that cool. Though I can see him as trying to be a bosozoku. Is there a particular genre of music associated with them?

        1. The only genre I get from them is the sound of aluminum bats throwing sparks off the pavement as they drag it from their bikes.

      2. I thought there was only one Don Ho?

        1. Oh no you di’nt.

          1. I just want to know where Japanese Pitbull hails from that seems to be trapped in late 60s Soul/R&B land; because I would enjoy a visit there immensely.

            1. He’s got a little enka mixed in there, too.

              1. If Japanese history has taught us anything, it’s always better to mix a little enka in there as opposed to gunka.

                1. Creepy to think what they can turn into. But they can rock the shamisen.

  8. I know my stand on this it out of character for me. And I know it’s probably confusing to many of the fellow commenters on here that have seen me be a non-interventionist for well over a decade.

    It’s just that I don’t see this as the same situation we were in with our other adventurism in the mid-east. In those situations, there was not a state that declared war on all freedom of thought and association. These assholes have done that and they’re literally enslaving hundreds of thousands of people for their sick and twisted uses. They murder people for their thoughts. They murder people for interactions that have no effect on them. They are true enemies of enlightened thought and there is no place on this earth for them to be tolerated. And I truly wish their oppressed could fight back on their own, but they can’t. And rather than accept their victims to our shores, I believe it is just and moral to collectively (meaning not just the US, but all enlightened people) come together and destroy them so their victims can live their lives in their homeland freely…or at least have the opportunity to. It would also stand as a warning for future tyrannical regimes that that level of barbarity will not be tolerated.

    1. (Cont.)
      I hope that explains my views a little better than I have to this point. I still know we were wrong in the way we’ve acquitted ourselves as a nation in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan and the other nations we’ve indiscriminately bombed and attacked. But this situation is different by many orders of magnitude.

      1. No it isn’t. Boko Harem is far worse. Were you stroking your war boner for them?

        You have just lost your principles. You are playing Proggie games.

        1. Why don’t we destroy North Korea while we’re at it?

          Seriously, this is lunacy. How many innocents have we killed in the last 15 years of doing it half-assed? If we go full-barrel the carnage will be unbelievable.

      2. I understand your position perfectly and agree in principle. The entire civilized world should rise up against this savagery, but they aren’t going to at this point and we can’t do it on our own.

        Just going after ISIS isnt a solution. They are just the latest iteration in a long line of savages spawned from the culture in the ME. This one is actually a bit milder than some from the past. Take this lot out and another will take their place.

        It is also prudent to keep in mind that combatting monsters often requires one to become a monster themselves. I see dark days ahead. They will keep pushing until the west starts pushing back in earnest.

      3. What must be done vs. what can be done.

        With our current leadership, in either party, I don’t think there is much that can be done. These are some truly feckless, venal people

        Maybe after the next election, if there is enough of a shake up.

    2. I agree they need killing. What makes you think the US will do anything other than screw it up worse than it is?

      1. That’s why I said all enlightened people collectively destroying them. Same as we did against the fucking Nazi death cult…even though we had the help of the Commies that were likewise killing tens of millions of their own people.

        1. I’ll give you this, Sloop, if the US is going to go and do this war, they have to do it all out or the result we be even worse than doing it half assed. I don’t see all enlightened people, so to speak, falling in behind a super power that has been bombing the hell out of backwaters for decades. It will be the BS that a waning empire usually does.

    3. I agree that slicing throats on camera is barbarity. In this day and age I’d much prefer to see my relatives be dispatched quickly and swiftly by gamers operating drones and flyboys guiding gleaming cruise missiles. And when their kids’ flesh gets tore up by cluster bomblets manufactured in the good ol USA (like Sabra & Shatilla) y’know many of them don’t even die.
      We need to eradicate ISIS and return to civilized war.

      1. War is not civil. It is either kill or be killed. Attempting anything less results in failure.

        Civilization solves problems in other ways, like the rule of law. War can have only one solution: subdue your enemy by whatever means necessary.

  9. I see Mark Twain had read Bastiat:

    God’s servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two ? one uttered, the other not.

  10. Obama is not itching to increase attacks on IS despite the calls by Hollande, Putin, and most presidential candidates. That is something to be thankful for.

    France is itching for a civil war with the muslims who don’t appreciate the sacrament of the republic and laicite. Both sides know it. Now they are passing laws to restrict rights which will polarize society and they are heading for a purge. The GWOT results from a combined WoS (speech) and WoD (drugs). If extremists can’t speak their minds in France, and if they can’t get the drugs all their friends are into these days, well then there’s a cool new ideology that fits the bill perfectly – Islamism – pious righteous hypocrisy. So the solution is to shut down extremist youtube videos? LOL sure that will work great.

  11. Again with the libertarian war fearing pants shitting.

  12. I’m a big Nick fan but must everything he writes now include gratuitous swipes at those who disagree with the idea that we must take in refugees (cute helpless tiny baby “orphans”) from Syria (and, logically, Bosnia, Yemen, Congo, Rwanda, Haiti, etc. w/o end)?
    NG is currently on a pro-immigration jihad despite the fact even libertarians have genuine disagreement on the issue. His premise, of a morality play pitting The Donald vs. forces of Reason & Light, is just one viewpoint, which I acknowledge and respect but disagree with.

    1. I have to distract folks from talking about the fact that my hero President Obama is a failure. You little ratfucker. Vote for democrats.

      Clinton/Castro 2016.

      1. Hillary picks Bernie as a running mate? Hmmm…

  13. So I gather you think we should let ISIS take over the Levant before coming after us. I hope you like being headless.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.