ISIS

Republicans Plan to Defeat ISIS With Rhetoric

Their plans, such as they are, sound a lot like Obama's, but with tougher rhetoric.

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Last night's Republican debate was unusual not just because Donald Trump wasn't there, but for the first Republican debate I can remember this cycle, no one insisted that part of the problem with the U.S. prosecution of the war on terror was President Obama's refusal to use the term "radical Islam."

Nevertheless, most of the Republican candidates continued to mistake rhetoric aimed at a militaristic-minded domestic audience for actual foreign policy. While the U.S. prepares to possibly relaunch military operations in Libya (and, in fact, appears to have already started to try to do so), Libya didn't get a lot of attention at the debate.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie got a question about whether he would deploy U.S. troops to Libya because of the growing influence of the Islamic State (ISIS) there but he didn't particularly answer it, instead noting, rightly, that Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has consistently skirted any responsibility for her role in destabilizing Libya and creating the current problem. But, as I wrote earlier this week, acknowledging the inability of others to understand the responsibility their policies have for regional instability doesn't necessarily mean you understand the responsibility your own policies have.

After talking about Clinton, Christie did not return to the specific question of troops in Libya. Instead, he explained that his plan against ISIS would involve a "broader war" that involved European and Sunni Arab countries, talking the fight to ISIS "every place that it is around the world." The rhetoric is not that different from President Obama's, who insists he is working with regional allies on a "comprehensive" anti-ISIS plan. The U.S. has troops deployed from Nigeria to Iraq battling elements of ISIS and elements associated with it.

Other candidates did not do much better. Marco Rubio used a response to a response from Rand Paul about whether he should have embraced his father Ron Paul earlier in the campaign to explain that he believed the world was a "safer and a better place when America is the strongest power in the world." That was also the sum total of his ISIS strategy. If America were stronger (Rubio mentioned rebuilding intelligence capabilities, and elsewhere he and others complained about the shrinking military under Obama), Rubio insisted, it would defeat ISIS. That's obviously not a strategy, it's just wishful thinking.

Rubio also said if any ISIS leaders would be captured alive they'd be taken to Guantanamo Bay to "find out everything they know," but didn't specify what kind of interrogation techniques he might authorize that would be more effective than present ones, nor did he specify how the military would capture more ISIS leaders than it currently does if he were president.

Ted Cruz, meanwhile, was asked about his sharp rhetoric (he's mentioned wanting to find out if "sand glows" in supporting carpet bombing of ISIS) and how it squared with his history of voting for smaller defense budgets.

Naturally, Cruz avoided the substance of the question, instead insisting he would "apologize to nobody for the vigorousness with which I will fight terrorism, go after ISIS, hunt them down wherever they are, and utterly and completely destroy ISIS." Of course, nobody asked him to apologize for that.

Then he said carpet bombing was a "different, fundamental military strategy" than Barack Obama's, which has also focused largely on mass bombings in Iraq and Syria (so many bombs have been dropped the Pentagon is running out).

Amazingly, Cruz tried to compare the war on ISIS to the first Persian Gulf War, saying that carpet bombing was effective there because "saturation bombing… utterly destroyed the enemy." Yet that is, very clearly, incorrect. Given what happened in the 25 years after, even claiming the Persian Gulf War was a victory is questionable. But the U.S. certainly didn't "utterly destroy the enemy" in the Gulf War because Saddam Hussein remained in power for another decade, with the U.S. involved in on-again off-again air campaigns over Iraq throughout that time, until the 2003 invasion of Iraq finally led to Hussein's toppling.

That war wasn't a victory either. Among other things, it helped create the space for ISIS. The problem didn't start with the Persian Gulf War—the U.S. supported Hussein's Iraq in the 1979-1989 Iran-Iraq war—but ran through it. Pointing to the Gulf War for examples on how to fight ISIS is an incredible display of historical and policy ignorance.

Cruz finished by saying the U.S. needed to define the enemy (but he didn't say the enemy was radical Islam, so how would we ever know???) and "rebuild the military to defeat the enemy." Remember, the question was about Cruz supporting tighter budgets for the military in an effort to return fiscal sustainability to the federal government, and how that squared with his tough rhetoric. He didn't answer that question.

Rubio noted the only budget Cruz ever voted for was Rand Paul's, which balanced the budget by imposing fiscal discipline across the federal government, including on the military. Rubio's answer also talked about using "overwhelming force," but didn't explain how that would translate into victory. And that's actually the same intellectually bankrupt argument liberals use to justify ever-increasing government spending: that any problem can be solved with more taxpayer money. The opposite, in fact, is often true. Austerity is the best auditor, for the military and any other government program, but requires a commitment to improving results and not spending more money.

Jeb Bush gave a more comprehensive answer if still a wrong one. He scolded the senators on stage for not passing an authorization for the use of military force against ISIS, said he would arm the Kurds, "embed" U.S. troops with Iraqi ones, re-engage Sunni tribal leaders, impose a no-fly zone over Syria, and train a Sunni force in Syria to fight ISIS. He also made a comment about getting "the lawyers off the damn backs of the military once and for all," which, like Rubio's Guantanamo comment, could be another example of a weak attempt to dog whistle about torture and other practices President Obama insists the U.S. stopped doing when he came into office.

Kasich also claimed "victory" in the Persian Gulf War of 1991 (which led to years of a no-fly zone, sanctions against Iraq, and finally a full-scale invasion and an intractable eight year war out of which now ISIS has emerged) could be replicated, not just through bombings but by bringing together Arab leaders. That, too, if something the Obama administration has been trying to do. Kasich doesn't explain how his effort at coalition-building would be more effective than Obama's, but was confident enough of it to say that the U.S. could leave the area once it had led that coalition to a victory over ISIS.

Christie brought up ISIS in a question about religious liberty, saying he supported fighting ISIS because it was necessary in securing religious liberty at home. "I will take on ISIS," Christie said, "not only because it keeps us safe, but because it allows us to absolutely conduct our religious affairs the way we find in our heart and in our souls." He did not articulate the link between ISIS' attempt at launching terror attacks to the U.S. to religious liberty. One of ISIS' goals is, indeed, to impose a caliphate on territory it controls, but Christie could've explained how a mass shooting at government holiday party comes even close to accomplishing that and, therefore, what makes this bout of terrorism different from previous ones vis a vis religious, or any other kind of liberties other than the ones the government curtails in order to fight terrorism.

Perhaps the most depressing rhetoric on ISIS came from Rand Paul, when he used the threat of ISIS to not only defend the strict border policies he supports but to attack Marco Rubio for not supporting tough border policies and therefore not being serious about fighting ISIS, illustrating that even candidates who embrace ideas of freedom and show and understanding of them aren't above using scare tactics to curtail it, in this case the freedom of movement.

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79 responses to “Republicans Plan to Defeat ISIS With Rhetoric

  1. Let me know when the GOP has a plan to defeat Trump, I might take their ISIS plan seriously.

    1. They plan to let him lose to Hillary, apparently.

  2. How Christie has not yet been relegated to the under card debate baffles me. I mean, who the hell supports him other than maybe some voters “with curves” who hope to see the first morbidly-obese-American president since Taft?

    1. I say it’s about time we got a president that “looks like America”.

  3. I’d rather they fought ISIS with rhetoric–rather than putting troops on the ground in Syria.

    Go rhetoric!

    1. He’ll be in his bunk.

  4. Why does anybody think these guys plan on defeating ISIS?!?

    The U.S. is Saudi Arabia’s bottom bitch when it comes to the middle east. Sure, when the Congress refused to give Obama the authorization to attack Libya it was a rare bit of defiance, and the gulf arabs are using Isis to smack their bottom bitch around for her defiance.

    But in the end, you don’t get to stay bottom bitch if you buck your pimp for too long. All of these guys wanting to be president (with the possible exception of Bernie Sanders) know the reality; if they win, they will continue to be the Saudi Monarch’s bottom bitch, and in the end they are going to turn tricks for their pimp as he asks.

    And their pimp likes Isis killing infidels.

    1. This. I may actually get excited about a president if we had one that would tell, the Saudi, Qatar, all the GCC really, and Turkey to go fuck themselves and hold them responsible for utilizing and empowering takfiri headchoppers to accomplish much of their foreign policy. I get people are uncomfortable with Iran but how the fuck is Saudi not worse. Most of the Saudi princes actually finance ISIS and terrorism.

      1. The Saudis are also worse than Iran because there’s a strong liberal, pro-democracy undercurrent within Iranian society. If the Iranian government were overthrown, it’s one of the few countries in the region that actually has a civil society that could bring about liberal democracy.

        Saudi is more of a danger long term than the Iranians are. Most Iranian terrorism doesn’t hit the US too since their primary target is usually Israelis. Their terrorism is therefore less of a threat to the West outside of Israel.

        1. And really, what does Shia terrorism from the Iranians even look like against Israel? I find it unlikely Hamas would be peacefful without Iran or even gets much support from them and Hezballah gets in a Military to Militia conflict every seven years or so but certainly aren’t suicide bombing civilians like the Sunnis. Have there ever been a shia suicide bomber?

          1. but certainly aren’t suicide bombing civilians like the Sunnis.

            ?

            1. Huh, didn’t know that. Thanks. Probably look into that more.

              1. I was a kid, but I do remember the news reports when Hezbollah killed 200 US Marines, it’s one of the things I’ll always associate with the Reagan years.

        2. While I hesitate to go so far as to call it “Iran Derangement Syndrome”, it seems like post-Revolution many people have forgotten that Iran was once a strong ally of ours in the region. And yes while the Shah was not a nice guy, he was no Saddam Hussein; there were lots of Iranians who were supportive of the somewhat liberal, somewhat secular Western-ish government he ran even if they didn’t like him.

          Of course, as I like to point out, the “Revolution” has been going on almost twice as long as the Shah reigned. People and attitudes do change.

          1. Too many libertarians point to Mossadegh as some kind of Enlightenment liberal when, in fact, he was a socialist who probably was being supported by the USSR. Overthrowing him did not inspire the theocratic putsch that occurred twenty years later. Mossadegh was primarily a secular politician.

            The Shah was a bad guy but not as bad as Khomeini who, more than any other influence, turned Iran away from western values and towards theocratic rule.

            1. There does seem to be a prevailing undercurrent in certain schools of thought (not just “libertarian”/”non-interventionist”) that sees the rest of the world as a function with “bad shit the US does” as the input and “bad shit foreigners do” as the output. Apparently, we’re the only people with moral agency, and even then we’re incapable of doing anything right.

              However, I think Mossadegh’s overthrow did play some part in the revolution’s success. It gave the revolutionaries rhetorical cover to sell their bullshit as not only Islamic but also nationalistic.

              1. Apparently, we’re the only people with moral agency, and even then we’re incapable of doing anything righ

                I take issue with this interpertation. John was a fierce proponent of it in past years and its frutratingly off the mark.

                Does Germany bear primary responsibility for the Holodomor? No. Stalin did that. But without Germany packing Lenin on a train, its likely it wouldn’t have happened. So, if a Greman is is engaged in a discussion regarding policies for his government, it is entirely appropriate for him to say “if we hadn’t packed Lenin on a train both we and the rest of the world could have avoided much misery”.

                Unsurprisingly, as the U.S. government grew to dominate the International scene, and put its fingers in an increasing number of pies, it became more and more likely that when something bad happened, part of the pie had U.S. government fingers on it. And often those fingerprints were the product of the US government taking a position that caused more grief than the grief it sought to avoid by taking that action.

                A thorough examination of the failures of our own government in no way excuses the other and almost always more culpable actors who were the primary agents of those catastrophes.

                1. A thorough examination of the failures of our own government in no way excuses the other and almost always more culpable actors who were the primary agents of those catastrophes.

                  I agree. But the key qualifier is “a thorough examination”.

        3. If we could actually get Iran and Israel to buddy up, that would be very interesting.

    2. The U.S. is Saudi Arabia’s bottom bitch

      But why? I know domestic oil production couldn’t make up for the loss of Saudi oil overnight, but it’s just asinine to be beholden to such horrible people.

      I’ve read the Romancing the Sunni editorial series and I think it offers up some good insight, but I’m just flabbergasted as to the ultimate motivation of anyone involved on the US side.

      1. But why?

        We rely on these countries (Saudi/Egypt) because our aid programs to them serve as a significant stimulus program to the U.S. defense industry. We give them vouchers for materiel that they turn around and purchase from powerful political districts.

        It’s a huge perversion of foreign policy.

        1. It’s a huge perversion of foreign policy.

          Not to mention completely undermining the purpose of ITAR. But much like insider trading, it’s okay when Congress does it.

          1. Don’t worry. We totally conduct regular, rigorous inspections of Saudi depots to make sure they can account for all the restricted items they bought. Totally.

        2. “We rely on these countries (Saudi/Egypt) because our aid programs to them serve as a significant stimulus program to the U.S. defense industry. ”

          LOL, not it’s not. It’s a rounding error. Now if you include the amount of money the Saudi’s spend on their own you have a better point.

    3. “The U.S. is Saudi Arabia’s bottom bitch when it comes to the middle east. Sure, when the Congress refused to give Obama the authorization to attack Libya it was a rare bit of defiance, and the gulf arabs are using Isis to smack their bottom bitch around for her defiance.”

      This, 100%. The Saudis executed 47 people in one day including political opponents of the state. The entire Western political class either a) said “well, sure it’s bad but they’re our allies” or b) did what David Cameron did and hilariously asserted that Britain is opposed to “all state executions, including those of Saudi Arabia.” In other words, no difference whatsoever between Texas executing convicted murderers after a trial by jury and Saudi Arabia murdering a bunch of political opponents on the King’s say so.

      Both Fiorina and Carson were asked about the executions and picked option A. As far as I recall, no Republicans came out and unequivocally condemned the Saudis for what they did. So long as Saudi Arabia can’t even be criticized, this war on ‘terrorism’ or ‘radical Islam’ will remain a total farce since the primary exporter of radicalism will be completely left alone.

      1. no Republicans came out and unequivocally condemned the Saudis for what they did

        Trump might be the only one who would seriously take on Saudi Arabia. Or he might cozy up to them at heretofore unseen levels. The man is a fucking magic 8-ball.

    4. Added bonus: ISIS is the perfect boogeyman the USG uses to keep American Citizens as its bottom bitch.

    5. I don’t think the Saudis like ISIS either.

      ISIS represents a challenge to the religious orthodoxy of Sunni clerics everywhere, too. The progressives are always calling Tea Partiers the “American Taliban”, but there is kind of a parallel between ISIS and the Tea Party. The Tea Party rose up because the Republicans weren’t living up to their rhetoric; the establishment Republicans said the Tea Party wasn’t being pragmatic or realistic. In private, the establishment Republicans hate and fear the Tea Party. When you’re in charge, you don’t want opposition from outside–but you don’t want it from inside either.

      Remember, ISIS broke with Al Qaeda because they thought Al Qaeda was all talk. Al Qaeda (and bin Laden, specifically) was seriously pissed off at ISIS leadership for targeting the Shia specifically. Al Qaeda leadership was like ivory tower intellectuals compared to ISIS. ISIS is rednecks who want action–and damn the nuances, intellectual justifications, and rhetoric.

      1. This is true, even if they have contributed to creating the movement through supporting Wahhabism.

      2. Just wait till you see their version of Trump.

    6. Meanwhile, the Shia may make up as much as 25% of the population of Saudi Arabia. I don’t think the Saudis want a war with the Shia. They want everyone to be nice and peaceful and obedient. Stirring up trouble with the Shia doesn’t help with that. If ISIS disappeared tomorrow, I’m sure the Saudis would be as happy as anybody. If ISIS managed to take out Iran’s ally in Syria, first (before they set themselves on fire and disappeared), the Saudis think that would be great though, I’m sure.

      Seeing Assad’s head on a pike is probably great for American security over the long term, too, but that doesn’t mean we support ISIS. I think Saudi Arabia is like that–maybe even more so.

      1. “I don’t think the Saudis want a war with the Shia. They want everyone to be nice and peaceful and obedient.”

        Then why are the Saudis the primary supporter of Salafism, which is strongly anti-Shi’ism? Why do they fund mosques and Madrassas all over the world which teach children that Shi’ism is actually a form of apostasy?

        1. Yeah, the Saudis want anyone more powerful than them to be “nice and peaceful and obedient” and they want anyone less powerful than them to submit to their rule.

          In other words, they are typical belligerent regional power.

          1. Although, it is worth noting that some of what the Saudis export is a reflection of their own politically tenuous position at home. The Arabian peninsula is the birthplace of al-Wahhab and the Saudis have been linked at the hip in a power-sharing agreement with Salafism/Wahhabism since before the fall of the Ottoman Empire. They are always one wrong move away from a domestic insurgency.

            1. “They are always one wrong move away from a domestic insurgency.”

              This is exactly right.

              We originally stationed troops in Saudi Arabia because they were concerned about the Iranians taking Saudi Arabia in the wake of the Iranian revolution. We didn’t want Iran taking Saudi Arabia’s oil fields–especially during the Cold War. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, we became concerned about him invading Saudi Arabia and taking their oil, and we stationed our troops there to watch out for him.

              Of course, having Christians troops in the Muslim holy land has always been a touchy subject, and bin Laden’s claim was always that the Americans weren’t there to protect the Saudis from the Iranians or Saddam Hussein. The Americans were there to protect the House of Saud from the Saudi people. One of his apparent hopes in attacking us on 9/11 was to make us pull out of Saudi Arabia so that he could organize opposition to the Saudi regime and take his place as the head of a new righteous Saudi Arabia.

              That’s what maintaining “the Base” was all about–keeping track of Mujaheddin volunteers who might be used to fight a holy war to take control of Saudi Arabia and establish a truly holy government under his own control.

              1. The Saudis may be Wahabis, but they weren’t allies of Al Qaeda–which is not to say that Al Qaeda didn’t enjoy support from within Saudi Arabia. bin Laden wanted to overthrow the Saudi government and take over control.

                Ultimately, ISIS’ plan is the same. If ISIS took control of Saudi Arabia, the first thing they’d do is execute all the royals.

                1. If ISIS took control of Saudi Arabia, the first thing they’d do is execute all the royals.

                  This is true. I’m sure the Saudi royalty and royal-backing clerics think they have ISIS under control, though.

            2. Al-Wahhab was putting together his version of Salafist Islam at the same time that Jefferson was writing the Declaration of Independence. More than anything else these two men show the difference between the Middle East values and Enlightenment values.

          2. A bunch of Shi’a in southern Saudi Arabia once booted out a Sunni governor. The Saudi secret police went down there and basically slaughtered them.

            In the 80’s there were major Saudi clerics with connections to the government denouncing Shi’a as apostates. There is also massive discrimination against Shi’a within Saudi society.

            1. Yes, I know that is true.

              Think of it this way. The United States fought a lot of wars against the Indians.

              The Mormons fought with the Indians, too.

              Just because the Mormons were fighting against the Indians didn’t mean the United States was on the same side as the Mormons. In fact, the United States militarily invaded and occupied Utah right before the Civil War like we invaded and occupied Iraq.

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utah_War #Consequences

              The clerics don’t want their rule threatened by Shia jurisprudence. The Saudis don’t want their rule threatened by internal Shia dissent.

              ISIS thinks the Shia are a bunch of heretics, and they don’t want their state threatened by Shia in Iran, Syira, and Iraq.

              But suggesting that because they’re all against the Shia means they’re all on the same side is going too far.

              Here’s another example. When the Japanese invaded China, both the Nationalists and the communists fought against the Japanese. But when the Japanese weren’t in range, the Nationalists and communists were firing on each other–constantly. Just because they had a common enemy doesn’t mean they were on the same side.

        2. “Then why are the Saudis the primary supporter of Salafism, which is strongly anti-Shi’ism?

          One reason is because the clerics support the Saudis being in power.

          It’s a symbiotic relationship.

          And the clerics are not necessarily on board with ISIS. It’s a challenge to their religious authority. The guys in ISIS aren’t clerics. They’re people from the margins.

          1. And the clerics are not necessarily on board with ISIS. It’s a challenge to their religious authority. The guys in ISIS aren’t clerics. They’re people from the margins.

            And the Fourth Crusade mysteriously ended up in Constantinople, the heart of Orthodox Christendom.

            For the Saudi clerics, ISIS is a tool. Most of them might not want to live under the unsophisticated naked brutalism of ISIS, but that is irrelevant. What better use for the people you disdain than to further the objectives you’d rather not sully yourself with doing on your own?

            1. I’m sure the clerics are more supportive of ISIS than the Saudi royal house is, but they also see ISIS as a bunch of fake Imams.

              They’re heretics in the most useful sense. They’re religiously motivated people who are challenging the authority of the clerics.

              Al Qaeda used to issue fatwas in the .90s. That’s when clerics all over the world started taking objection. bin Laden was not a Mufti. By what right could he issue fatwas?

              The Wahabi establishment isn’t about to endorse that. Issuing rulings and fatwas is their job. And bin Laden made ISIS look a bunch of ignorant hillbillies.

        3. “Why do they fund mosques and Madrassas all over the world which teach children that Shi’ism is actually a form of apostasy?”

          Shiites represent a challenge to the political authority and legitimacy of both the House of Saud and the clerics in Saudi Arabia, too.

          Just because they don’t like the Shia challenging their political authority and legitimacy doesn’t mean they like ISIS challenging their political authority and legitimacy.

    7. “The U.S. is Saudi Arabia’s bottom bitch when it comes to the middle east.”

      I think maybe you should read this

      all 3 parts, really.

      1. or are you the person who linked everyone to it in the first place? apologies if so.

        I’m not sure that “bottom bitch” is exactly the right summary.

        I think the problem that the author identifies is that we’ve become convinced that the US has an interest in maintaining a status-quo that is ultimately *unsustainable*

        its not about some blind adherence to “pro-sunni”/”Anti-shiite” dynamics, or “Pro-(so-called) moderates!/anti-extremists”…

        ….so much as its US ME policy rooted in the idea of ‘stability’ being sustained by an unnatural balance-of-power between interest groups, and that we in the US are somehow supposed to be the Jenga-master in ensuring that the whole house of cards doesn’t collapse all at once.

        I think the author of that piece thinks that basic idea is false and that we need to stop caring about the ME stability, and look at actors in the region with a very cold eye as to their utility as ‘allies’

        1. the US has an interest in maintaining a status-quo that is ultimately *unsustainable*

          This is the US policy on… EVERYTHING. The US and Saudi Arabia are joined at the uglies in wanting to usher in a new Dark Ages.

          1. “This is the US policy on… EVERYTHING. “

            Not really. Or it *hasn’t been* forever.

            Think about US cold-war policy= the idea was not to freeze-history and ensure that the balance of power in the world be put into stasis…. that ‘stability’ for its own sake was a valuable reward.

            no, instead we took a long view that ultimately soviet influence would collapse and that there would be a lot of positive developments in the regions they formerly held sway over.

            did we handle it well? probably not. but the main policy-theme in the 1990s and early 2000s was really about trying to shore up and limit the problems caused by the shaky-states left in the wake of the soviet collapse. and trying to empower and develop alliances with the stronger ones.

            in the ME, i suppose this idea of propping up the status quo has dated since the late 1970s… in the wake of oil-crises and the Islamic revolution… and the constant wars between Israel and its neighbors.

            The desire for a stable status-quo was not an unreasonable goal considering the non-stop clusterfuck nature of the place. the issue now is whether the status quo we supported is really one worth preserving.

            1. and trying to empower and develop alliances with the stronger ones.

              I dunno, the motivation for that always seemed to be to stick it to Moscow. We still have that mindset, which partially explains the total fuckup of Ukraine.

              Besides, I wasn’t merely limiting it to foreign policy. The US government doesn’t want temperatures to change, doesn’t want species to evolve, doesn’t like new drugs being discovered, etc. DC’s entire m.o. on everything under the sun is that they don’t want anything to change unless DC (as the almightiest central planner) says it’s OK. It’s a policy based on paranoia; every government is paranoid to a degree but it’s now grown to the point of absurdity and counter-productivity. And I mean that literally as FedGov is now even scared shitless of productivity – they are positively ecstatic when GDP goes up because of red tape.

        2. While “instability” will, of course, at least in the short-term make it harder to get what the US wants, trying to maintain “stability” isn’t exactly paying off amazing dividends.

    8. The US needs an outside adversary to focus attention away from problems at home. Screaming about ISIS and the “radical Muslim threat” is a convenient foil for distracting from issues that are a more direct and immediate threat to our lives/freedom (or even claiming complaining about those issues helps the outside threat).

  5. I still find it amazing that this rhetoric sells. Does the average voter have that short of a memory? How many times to we have to try and fail to build nations and defeat guerrillas before people realize that we’re terrible at it and it’s pointless anyway? Is it irrational fear or some terrible blood lust? I don’t get it.

    1. To be fair, no one is actually trying to build nations.

      1. It’s kind of implied, I think. Unless they actually plan to just continually carpet bomb the area in perpetuity.

    2. How many times to we have to try and fail to … defeat guerrillas

      Guerrillas can be defeated. For example, the Tamil Tigers are no more, but the Sri Lankan government had to use some pretty dirty tactics to get rid of them.

      it’s pointless anyway

      I’m not so sure. Getting rid of a threat* is still worthwhile even if it’s likely a new threat may eventually take its place, unless you have reason to believe the new one will be worse than the old one.

      * = Without making any judgment on whether or not ISIS is a threat

      1. 1)The Sri Lankan government is also a local power, not a separate government from a different culture on the other side of the world. I forgot to include that caveat. Only local powers have any history of success in asymmetrical warfare.

        2)True. I guess I’m saying that we wouldn’t really benefit from winning because they aren’t really a threat to us.

        1. Only local powers have any history of success in asymmetrical warfare.

          I’d have to think on this, although no counterexample comes to mind. Given the nature of asymmetrical warfare, I wonder to what extent cause-and-effect need to be examined more deeply. Empires have put down distant enemies and quelled rebellious opposition for long stretches of time; how did they discourage the guerrilla tendency?

          1. Empires have put down distant enemies and quelled rebellious opposition for long stretches of time; how did they discourage the guerrilla tendency?

            That’s a good point. Maybe it’s just that the empire has to be willing to use tactics that we’re no longer willing to use. Or maybe it’s a question of productivity. It’s hard for a bunch of subsistence farmers to support a rebel war machine. It’s much easier in the modern era.

  6. “Last night’s Republican debate was unusual not just because Donald Trump wasn’t there, but for the first Republican debate I can remember this cycle, no one insisted that part of the problem with the U.S. prosecution of the war on terror was President Obama’s refusal to use the term “radical Islam.””

    I disagree. The rhetoric related to not saying radical Islam does show something very fucked up about leftist’s views about Islam. They really believe Islam has nothing to do with violence, nothing to do with terrorism, nothing to do with oppression, and that Islam is such a religion of peace that murderers can’t be ‘radical Muslims’ since committing such crimes makes them not Muslim at all.

    John Kerry outright asserted ISIS was not a Muslim organization. Kerry actually called ISIS apostates, which is just laughable since the state department should not be getting involved in sectarian squabbles about who is and is not Muslim.

    Refusing to mention what the actual ideology is does stem from other idiotic aspects of left-wing policy regarding Islam.

    1. Yes, their No True Scotsman approach is infuriating. It is a glimpse into the mentality that allows them to fail at everything while we pay the price.

  7. “Given what happened in the 25 years after, even claiming the Persian Gulf War was a victory is questionable.”

    Uh, no it isn’t. We killed something like 35,000 Iraqi troops at a loss of 292 of our own. It must be the most lopsided military victory in history. Saying it was a failure because ISIS is in Iraq now is like saying Prussia lost the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1871 because they signed in Armistice in 1918.

    1. Yeah, Kuwait is still an (mostly?) independent country and not having the problems of Iraq. The former was the mission objective, and the latter is a desirable outcome.

    2. Yeah, that was a massive victory. What was our goal? Get Iraq out of Kuwait and contain Sadaam, who at that time had been in a constant state of war going back to 1980 when he started fighting the Iranians. We succeeded in our first goal and Sadaam’s war engine was quiet for the next 12 years after he’d been warring with his neighbors constantly for over a decade.

      That strikes me as a victory.

      1. Yes, but according to the butterfly-flapping-its-wings-leads-to-tsunami causation regularly utilized by the non-interventionist purists, the “failure” of the Persian Gulf war clearly led directly to the formation of ISIS.

        in the oft-mentioned “romancing the sunni“-series, he does point out one thing that the Persian Gulf war did which we probably continue to pay for =

        – The West will always solve the region’s problems for them.

        Why should Arabs form an army to eradicate ISIS? the West will solve it. Plus, if they did that…why, there’d be some small amount of discontent here amongst radical domestic groups. and then they’d have to deal with *that* too.

        in that sense,… there is a chain of consequences. but its not (as ed suggested) because the P.Gulf wasn’t a “success”. Its because *it was* a success.

    3. Saddam left Kuwait. He was soundly beaten, his army shattered. It was a huge victory for us. We did what we went to do and we came home. No quagmire. No nation building bullshit.

      There is no real connection between that limited, successful war and Shrub’s Iraq war. As I recall James Baker begged George II not to invade Iraq and depose Saddam to no avail. Bush I was a war vet himself and knew what he was doing. Bush II, not so much.

      1. Sorry…YUUUUUUGE victory.

      2. There is no real connection between that limited, successful war and Shrub’s Iraq war.

        I don’t think this is an entirely fair assessment.

        It is true that the core mission objectives were decisively achieved; but the decision not to go further into Iraq only set up the stage for what came later.

      3. “As I recall James Baker begged George II not to invade Iraq and depose Saddam to no avail

        I think you’re thinking of Brent Scowcroft

        Baker was head of the Carlyle group, GWB’s legal advisor during his election, was basically working as a lobbyist for the Saudis before 9/11. He was mum on the topic AFAIK.

        1. I only have a vague memory of a rumor that X privately urged Bush II not to go into Iraq. Somehow it stuck in my head that it was James Baker. I could easily be wrong about who it was. However, I did hear numerous times that Reagan and Bush I people knew what a disaster it would be and begged him not to do it.

          To this day I am not sure why he was so adamant to ignore their council and go anyway. The only reason I can think of are all of the sweet, sweet crony deals to be made in nation building.

          1. Baker wrote an op-ed in the NYT in 2002 basically arguing “we must get rid of Saddam“….but suggesting that Rummy probably needed more troops. His complaint was not the mission, but the mode of execution. “Don’t do it on the cheap”.

            Scowcroft was the one who wrote a long piece in Foreign Affairs saying, “Getting rid of Saddam is going to unleash a tidal wave of fucking Sunni/Shia malice we won’t be able to contain”…and a shorter argument in the WSJ, simply titled, “Don’t Attack Saddam

    4. When you 1) defeat the opposing army and 2) remove the opposing government, you have, by definition, won the war.

      Everything that has happened since the first day of occupying the lands of the defeated government, however, has been a total clusterfuck.

    5. It must be the most lopsided military victory in history.

      I think there were some British-French battles that were similarly lopsided.

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  9. See it is stuff like this that makes libertarians look like morons…

    Yet that is, very clearly, incorrect. Given what happened in the 25 years after, even claiming the Persian Gulf War was a victory is questionable. But the U.S. certainly didn’t “utterly destroy the enemy” in the Gulf War because Saddam Hussein remained in power for another decade, with the U.S. involved in on-again off-again air campaigns over Iraq throughout that time, until the 2003 invasion of Iraq finally led to Hussein’s toppling.

    See in the first Gulf War for all practical purposes the US military DID utterly destroy the enemy. Saddam’s remaining in power was purely a choice that we made. The Iraqi military was decimated and had lost all ability to conduct even defensive operations forget offensive ones so yes we completely destroyed the enemy.

    What both you and Cruz seem to be missing is that ISIS is not the Iraqi government or military, they are not organized like a traditional army and while they do control some territory and try to act like a government within that area they are not tied to any specific piece of land and that is why Carpet Bombing won’t work on ISIS the way it did against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq

    1. What both you and Cruz seem to be missing is that ISIS is not the Iraqi government or military, they are not organized like a traditional arm

      The officer corps of ISIS’ military is composed primarily of officers from Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi army.

  10. some of them wish to arm more muslims…..you can bet these same phonies would disarm US citizens

    some still want Assad taken down – ISIS will bloom then in Syria……..

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