There is only one endgame in Syria

Events in Paris have underlined what we should have already understood. US and NATO intervention in Syria is as inevitable as the sunrise. As in Bosnia twenty years ago, every additional day Assad remains in power will cost months or even years of prolonged tension and instability down the line.

This subject might have offered Republicans some solid ground from which to criticize the Obama Administration but for a few inconvenient facts. For starters, Congressional Republicans blocked the Administration from taking action against Assad when the opening presented itself. Beyond that problem, GOP candidates seem incapable of offering any policy alternative that doesn’t dissolve into a word salad of platitudes.

Here’s a summary of what’s been posted on this at GOPLifer on each point:

Why we should already have intervened to topple the Assad government and end the open warfare phase of this mess:

We Should Intervene in Syria

“The lesson of our interventions over the past decade is that military power can be successful in toppling a government, but it is nearly useless in building a new one. In Syria, for example, the American military can reasonably expect to turn the balance of the war and bring it to a close while suffering few if any casualties. It cannot determine the shape of the political arrangements that subsequently emerge no matter how many troops we send or how long we stay.

“From Bosnia to Afghanistan, we have also learned that the longer a civil conflict continues, the more the outcome will be weighted in favor of criminals, despots and religious extremists. Intervention to speed the replacement of a doomed dictator is therefore useful not because it can turn a Libya into a Denmark, but because it will limit the subsequent influence of forces who will otherwise threaten order for decades to come.”

***

It is imperative that we understand what we are doing. This is not a war.

Ebola, ISIS and illegal immigration are the same problem

“This is an age of mass extinctions, driven by an explosion of human technological evolution. Those extinctions are not limited to rare frogs or charming songbirds. Social institutions, cultures, entire political frameworks are collapsing under pressure from new, more adaptive innovations. As these less durable frameworks collapse they create little black holes of chaos, murder and disease that contain the potential to undermine the entire environment.

“Terrorism, Ebola, mass immigration of unaccompanied minors – these are all essentially the same problem. Pockets of anarchy created by the collapse of poorly adapted institutions can be the birthing ground of new, freer, more liberal institutions. Or they can become poison factories. For those of us in rising Asia and the traditional West, decisions we make about how and when to intervene in these evolutionary episodes will grow increasingly complex and consequential as the world shrinks and only the hard cases remain to be worked out.

“This is not a military problem, though the problem has a military dimension. The first order of civilization is to monopolize the use of violence in order to make it accountable and therefore legitimate.

“Our enemy, per se, is not ISIS any more than the enemy is Ebola or unaccompanied migrant children. The enemy is chaos. Battling chaos might begin by using violence to thwart an organization like ISIS, but to accomplish any useful objective the fight must extend beyond the reach of the military. Using air power to combat ISIS is roughly equivalent to using fighter jets to stop the gangs on the west side of Chicago. It amounts to a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the situation. Violence does not create order, though it sometimes can be used to remove forces that stand in the way.”

***

And for those who still doubt it, American military power, when coupled with intelligent strategy and diplomatic skill, is an extremely potent force for order, human rights, and prosperity. Sometimes we make smart decisions. Sometimes we make stupid decisions. A brief review of our highs and lows:

US Power, Good or Bad?

“Those who deny the power of American diplomatic and military engagement to bring positive outcomes in the world are fighting against the tide of history. Those who convince themselves that American military power is always a positive force are making the same mistake. We need to develop a better sense of what kind of involvement can be successful, what success means, and how to place necessary moral and legal bounds on foreign actions. We’ve only been working on this question for about two hundred years, so maybe we’re almost there.”

***

If Republicans want to have any chance to win in 2016, they have to resist the urge to conflate the Paris attacks with their hardline immigration plans. When was the last time you saw a prominent Republican resist an urge?

The ISIS Threat on the Texas Border

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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Posted in Foreign Policy, Immigration
191 comments on “There is only one endgame in Syria
  1. 1mime says:

    One final postscript to terrorism. while the majority of the focus is on ISIL and the attack on Paris, in Nigeria, Boko Haram has killed thousands. Why so little world reaction? Is it because those being killled in Nigeria are poor, or that it is a third world country? This group has aligned with the Islamic State and bills itself as the “western African province”. Boko Haram and ISILare responsible for 51% of terrorism related deaths worldwide, almost 13,000 people.

    It is time that global powers develop a global initiative to eradicate radical Islamic atrocities. America can’t do it alone nor should it be expected to.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/11/nigeria-boko-haram/416580/

    • fiftyohm says:

      Mime – Africans are black. That’s the difference. The Western world has stood by watching how many African genocides? Why should Nigeria and Boko Haram be different?

      And I whole-heartedly agree that if not our problem to solve alone.

      • fiftyohm says:

        It’s not… Dammit.

      • 1mime says:

        I didn’t state that factor because I felt it was self-evident; however, the reason this is different from previous genocides is because Boko Haram has linked itself to the Islamist movement. I’m sorry I didn’t make that point clear.

  2. flypusher says:

    Those who never learn history ITFP are condemned to repeat it:

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/roanoke-mayor-japanese-internment-camp

    Hey Mayor Dumbass, a whole lot of those people thrown into those internment camps were AMERICAN CITIZENS. Just not White.

  3. 1mime says:

    The Republican bill on the Syrian refugee issue has been filed and will be heard in the House tomorrow. There are so many layers of safeguards that they effectively will kill the refugee process…..naturally, an unintended outcome…….(tongue firmly planted in-cheek). This achieves two things: (1) it will not allow President Obama to accept refugees, making him look bad and weak with allies who have all accepted refugees, and (2) it makes the vetting process so difficult that Mother Theresa wouldn’t get in.

    I linked an earlier example (new orleans/NOLA) of the multiple screenings and other steps refugees must undergo in the process for consideration of acceptance to give you an idea of how difficult the process currently is, without these additional protections. The process proposed by the GOP is estimated to require approximately one and one half years for completion.

    This is how Republicans stop things from happening while also trying not to appear “heartless” while simultaneously fanning fear among a base that has limitless capacity for manipulation. (my opinion)

    “Sponsored by Reps. Mike McCaul (R-Texas) and Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), the GOP bill would require the FBI — in addition to the DHS — to perform a background check on each Syrian and Iraqi seeking refuge in the U.S. It also requires the heads of those two agencies, as well as the director of National Intelligence, to certify to Congress that “the covered alien is not a threat to the security of the United States…..As an additional security measure, it also requires the DHS inspector general to review those certifications and provide detailed reports to Congress.”

    “If the bill is not enacted as a stand-alone measure, it could resurface next month as a rider to a year-end spending package — a strategy already being pushed by several leading Senate Republicans.”

    http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/260593-speaker-ryan-syrian-refugee-bill-not-a-religious-test

    • 1mime says:

      Meanwhile, the leader of the country that just experienced an ISIL attack that claimed over one hundred lives and injured hundreds, had this to say:

      “French president François Hollande… says his country will follow through on plans to admit 30,000 such displaced persons”…

      In America, the land of the free, “A Bloomberg poll released today found that a majority of Americans do not want to accept any of the 10,000 Syrian refugees President Obama has committed to taking in.”

      What a difference. I wonder if public attitudes would have been so negative had the Republican Party leadership, including state governors, been supportive?

    • fiftyohm says:

      Last time I checked, the Syrian refugees were trying to get the hell out of the area for their own survival – and not come here to blow things up. There are far, far easier ways to get here if that’s your purpose.

      Furthermore, the US really has very little to fear from Arab immigrants. We traditionally assimilate immigrant populations. The unfortunate situation in France, (which, I might add, had its roots in some pretty damned noble decisions encouraging immigration and full citizenship to residents of former colonies), is likely a result of a lack of assimilation.

      Of course vetting will keep terrorists out. We do it about a hundred thousand times a day at airport and border control stations around the nation. This is blatant pandering to xenophobia, and is quite frankly, very unAmerican.

  4. Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

    Lifer may see only one endgame in Syria, but at least one GOP candidate has another solution in mind.

    In an NBC news interview, with actual video and sound recording devices, John Kasich says,

    “We need to beam messages around the world about what it means to have a Western ethic, to be part of a Christian, a Judeo-Christian society. It is essential, by the way, that those in the West begin embracing again our Jewish and Christian tradition rather than running from it and hiding from it.”

    Kasich would like to target Russia, China, and the Middle East with his Christ-beams.

    Nothing says small-government conservative GOP like the establishment of a federal government system to beam Jewish and Christian messages around the planet.

    Remember, they hate us for our freedoms.

    Seriously, these folks manage to get out of bed, feed themselves, dress themselves, and tie their shoes, yet are abjectly stupid enough to say things like this. I would like to believe these folks are just pandering to the worst of our angels, but after a while, you just have to start believing, nope, they are just this stupid.

    • flypusher says:

      Wasn’t he supposed to be one of the smart ones?

      The religious sell isn’t going to work. Christians here wouldn’t be receptive to some outsider telling them that everything they believe is wrong. But you think that’s going to work on people whose religious beliefs are just as sincerely held as yours.

      If you want to sell something that could actually work, sell the concept of freedom. Freedom of worship, freedom of conscience, freedom of expression.

  5. Rob Ambrose says:

    Meanwhile, in Texas:

    http://www.rawstory.com/2015/11/study-up-to-240000-texas-women-tried-to-self-induce-abortions-and-gop-lawmakers-are-to-blame/

    So, it appears restricting abortion (a completely legal practice all women have a constitutional right to get) doesn’t make abortions go down. It simply forces women to choose more dangerous methods. Yet more proof that the GOP could honestly give two sweet f—s about the fetus. This is all part of trying to control female sexuality, and punishing those who dare to try to take control of their own.

    Some of these reported self abortions are from drugs/drinking and beyond ng hit/kicked in the stomach.

    How these unethical scumbags live with themselves is beyond me.

    Im not saying anyone who is anti choice is an unwthical scumbag. Lots of good people oppose it.

    But, much like gay marriage, if you oppose abortion, the only thing that really should mean is that you yourself will never get one. Don’t try to force hour beliefs on other people.

    This isn’t that hard.

    • dowripple says:

      “This is all part of trying to control female sexuality”

      That really is the only logical explanation. Anyone against abortion who argues for a return to morality has obviously never looked at poverty statistics from the Gilded Age.

  6. Glandu says:

    Greetings from France.

    Just a side note : they did attack Paris because they COULD. They had enough people here. 10 teams have been blocked between January & November, 8 by intelligence, 2 by their own stupidity (and the courage of 3 very fine men, though they were helped by the jamming of the attacker’s gun). But still more teams are preparing things, and you cannot always count on luck, skill, or enemy’s stupidity to always avoid casualties.

    Many of my friends did lose friends. My parents’s train did go next to the Stade de France 7 Hours before the guys there did explode. And in Syria, 130 dead due to war actions, that’s a normal day.

    • johngalt says:

      It is a very fair point that, as the world (by which is meant Western democracies) come together to mourn the tragedy in Paris, in Syria 130 violent, senseless deaths is Tuesday afternoon.

      Nevertheless, my sympathies to those friends of yours who lost loved ones.

    • 1mime says:

      Glandu, I watched the news on the Paris terrorist attacks with great sorrow. So many young lives lost in such a despicable way. I join my colleagues here in my sympathy for France’s losses at the hands of these cruel people. We all share your grief and loss.

  7. flypusher says:

    http://theweek.com/articles/589402/america-needs-grip

    The history books a century from now will be interesting to read (assuming the promote-more-patriotism crowd doesn’t succeed in dumbing them down). This is not our finest hour.

    • 1mime says:

      “The sky is not falling…?” In reading the article (good one, Fly) – it seemed to reinforce the logic of Pres. Obama’s strategy of targeted strikes in combination with other coordinated efforts identified in his G20 speech amongst European allies…or, maybe the more appropriate term is, the “coalition of strange bedfellows”.

    • Creigh says:

      fly, here’s another one:

      http://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/ikes-advice-how-to-avoid-a-multiplicity-of-fears

      The article makes the point that today’s candidates are actually stirring up fears. (I’d argue that when it comes to terrorism Bernie Sanders is an exception, but of course he’s trying to highlight other issues.) That’s kind of an understandable strategy for an outsider to pursue, but you have to question at what point does the pot-stirring that they are deliberately indulging in make it difficult if not impossible to craft an intelligent and effective response.

      Point in Jeb!’s favor: you might not like his proposed policies, but at least he’s not willing to blow up any hope of effective governing with his campaign tactics.

  8. fiftyohm says:

    In my view, those who deny reality and continue to insist that Islam is not the problem, will never be part of the solution, (if there even is one).

    I’ll not review the facts regarding polls and percentages across the Muslim world regarding viewpoints that are incompatible with our notions of civilized society – from the treatment of women, to gay people, to punisments for aposty, and all the rest. Those are available to the interested.

    The PC bullshit like refusing to blame ‘radical Islam’, and the nonsense from the likes of Chomsky that it’s really ‘all our fault’, brings less than nothing to the table.

    Others, I think EJ wrote, and quite accurately I might add, that our individual risk associated with terrorism is tiny. And our risk of overreaction to it is not. This is incontrovertible. What we cannot control is global chaos that ensues as a result of it.

    I’d ask everyone who has not looked at the likes of Sam Harris’ view of the issue to do so.

    • duncancairncross says:

      “Islam is the problem”
      “viewpoints that are incompatible with our notions of civilized society”

      Sounds just like Christianity to me
      I would certainly support measures against Islam as long as they were also applied to all other religions

    • fiftyohm says:

      Duncan – Your point about Christianity is taken, but for the last few centuries. I have little patience with either, BTW. Nor am I suggesting “taking measures against” either. I’m simply suggesting we recognize where the problem lies, and cut the crap about ‘all religions are the same’, and how ‘Islam is a religion is a religion is peace’, and how it’s only a tiny minority of Muslims that are psychopaths. It’s just horseshit, and the facts and polls throughout the world demonstrate these simple, though uncomfortable, facts.

    • johngalt says:

      Indisputably there are interpretations of Islam that are incompatible with our notions of civilized society, and there are less radical interpretations that sit awkwardly with it. Islam is concentrated in parts of the world that are largely just emerging from the Dark Ages. We do not have to look that far back into our own history to see examples of mainstream religions that I would argue are also incompatible with our (modern) view of civilization. Catholicism preaches against homosexuality, is rather patronizing towards women, and has long tolerated shocking abuse of children. The Southern Baptist Convention was formed on an explicitly racist foundation. Protestants and Catholics had no problem waging a religious war of sorts in Ireland until less than 20 years ago.

      There are a billion Muslims in the world. They are not going anywhere. Most of them are peaceful and simply want the same things out of life that you and I do. Alienating all of them by giving in to terrorists by smearing their whole religion is not much different than tarring Christianity by focusing on the actions of David Koresh and the IRA. It is not fair, but more pragmatically, it is not a practical solution going forward.

      • fiftyohm says:

        JG – First, I know full well you are not comparing certain (disgusting) actions of Christianity in the modern era to chopping little girl’s fucking heads off. There is simply no comparison. None of the miserable behavior you mentioned is even in the same ballpark as radical Islam. Most of the stuff you mentioned is *main stream* Islam, for christ sake.

        Call a spade a spade.

      • johngalt says:

        The actions of ISIS are reprehensible. They’re animals. I make no apologies for calling them such.

        You sit as the product of a gradual enlightenment in the Western Judeo-Christian world. The Old Testament prescribes some pretty objectionable things and has been used to buttress some pretty awful behaviors, such as slavery and apartheid, in the not too distant past. They didn’t burn crescents at lynchings in the south. The penalties for apostasy were none too kind in Inquisition Spain.

        “Modern” Islam is a product of the societies in which it predominates. These are, nearly without exception, centuries behind the West in the measures of development we would agree underlie our culture, and which, I think, underlie the relative success of Western democracies compared to everyone else. Most of the Middle East was occupied by Bedouins and poor agrarian societies scraping a living merely 75 years ago, before they realized that their riches lie under the desert rather than on it. South Asia and North Africa saw their best days centuries – in some cases millennia – ago.

        This is not an apology for the backwardness of most of Islam (the non-murderous sort). It is merely to point out that they’re way behind the West in nearly every aspect of human development that I consider important. Might they join the rest of us in the 21st century? Some will, certainly. Other might, but calling mainstream Muslims backwards barbarians is about as effective as a San Francisco liberal lecturing East Texas natives about how they are intolerant rubes. It might make them feel better, but it’s not going to win any converts.

      • johngalt says:

        Oh, and if you would suggest that my framing of Islam in this manner is a wee bit patronizing, you’d get no argument from me.

      • fiftyohm says:

        The important thing is that any dialog must begin with much of what you said, but the “San Francisco liberal” won’t have it. (Worse, he/she knows not a goddam thing about it.). Maajid Nawaz sees this. Mime’s reference on his book with Harris is important. We need to speak clearly and directly on the issue, and not pussyfoot around it. Radical Islam is the problem. The present interpretation of Islam by a substantial percentage of Muslims worldwide is not compatible with human flourishing. This is pretty clear.

      • flypusher says:

        Radical Islam, yes, it’s a problem. Zero argument from me on that. I also don’t care for the Saudis and how they run things, and I think our dealings with them puts dirt on our hands. But what percentage of the world’s Muslim population falls into this category?

      • 1mime says:

        That is “the” question, isn’t it, Fly. If I am understanding Fifty correctly, “all” Muslim who profess Islam unavoidably fall into this category. While I disagree with this broad condemnation, I have no answer as to what percentage are radical even as I hope it is the minority. The bigger question to me is, what can those Muslim who advocate peace do to eradicate this radical sect within their midst? And, is the only appropriate action for those on the outside (the U.S.), interruption and military engagement with those who represent jihadism? Is the lasting solution to the fundamental problem one that has to be resolved from within the broad Muslim community?

        In listening to the discussion of radical Islam by panelists on the Charlie Rose Show (link provided in earlier post this blog – very informative), it is evident to me that the process of assimilation of Muslims into the broader, more civilized world, is going to take a very long time. It will require tolerance, patience, kindness and vigilance, and of course, military engagement as necessary. But, targeted nukes a la Donald Trump? Turning away Syrian refugees who have no home? 10,000 people in a country of over 320 million people? No room at our inn?! Such fear and ignorance has become standard fare to be expected from our Republican leaders. What about the rest of us?

        I find it ironic that those who advocate “zero” tolerance for all Muslims, be they Syrian refugees or American citizens (Trump – close the mosques in the U.S.) exhibit the antithesis of Christian behavior as advocated in the Bible they profess as their guide. That does not imply that utmost caution should not be followed in screening ( as it should be of ALL immigrants – even those on coveted visas). “We” are not cutting off little children’s fingers, but we are certainly guilty as a society of letting thousands of innocent people die from neglect in prisons, hospitals, the streets, hunger, gun violence, disease, or, by simply refusing asylum to people who have no where else to turn.

        But, I digress. In my limited world view, I tend to focus on those things that surround me that impact me directly or indirectly through the very real, ugly side of human action cloaked in “Christian” values. Radical Islam is a scourge, one that must be and is being addressed, but as individuals, how can we ignore the innocent victims. They are what is real about this issue. They are the now of this horror and they represent the future hope for change within the Muslim people. America has an opportunity to help the innocent, yet out of fear and ignorance, as well as a political calculation, many are refusing. Do they even understand the process by which refugees are vetted? Do they think for one minute that the odds of a radical jihadist coming in through other avenues are not greater? I offer the link below for your information. America was built by refugees. Have we come so far and learned so little?

        http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/11/syrian_refugee_controversy_how.html

      • johngalt says:

        Three of the four countries with the largest Muslim populations are Indonesia, India, and Bangladesh and have between them north of half-a-billion Muslims (the fourth is Pakistan). These countries have problems, for sure, but absent a few isolated incidents widespread terrorism is not amongst them. They are each democracies, fairly decent ones in India and Indonesia and fairly dysfunctional in Bangladesh. There are another 80 million in Turkey, which is also a reasonably functional democracy that is not riven by terrorist strikes. That is a pretty healthy percentage of Islam right there. A question that should be asked is what is the combination of Islam with Arab cultures that tends to generate angry young men who resort to violence?

      • 1mime says:

        Surely the yin and the yang of this issue. Both well stated although my personal belief lies more with that expressed by JG. Maybe the alternative is just too abhorrent for me to accept, although I do accept that that element exists within the religion.

      • flypusher says:

        ” A question that should be asked is what is the combination of Islam with Arab cultures that tends to generate angry young men who resort to violence?”

        I wonder how much the puritanical streak feeds this. I’ve read reports that ISIS is actually recruiting these angry young men with the assurance that it’s really an act of worship to rape 12 year olds from infidel cultures. I lack the words to adequetely convey my disgust.

      • 1mime says:

        Important question, Fly, but maybe the real question is what motivates men to violence, generally? After all, conversions happen to people raised in civilized cultures.

      • flypusher says:

        Violence is in our DNA, 1mime, and idle young men are especially susceptible.

      • 1mime says:

        Of course, Fly. The comment posed the question of how to “channel” these tendencies among peoples who share a religion that embraces violence. My point was simply to point out that violence, as you noted, is not congenital to Muslim men.

      • Shiro17 says:

        “what is the combination of Islam with Arab cultures that tends to generate angry young men who resort to violence?”

        If I may offer a small, but very vital, contextual point: the entire Arabian region has been in a long-standing drought for over a decade. There was barely enough water to take care of everyone and grow crops to begin with, and now there’s even less. Much of the region now has to import all of their basic foodstuffs in order to have enough to go around, and all the constant fighting makes it impossible to get enough food to some of the more far-flung areas. Not to mention that all the fighting makes it extremely difficult to hold down a stable job to provide for one’s family. I would argue that (very fittingly) what we’re seeing here has strong undertones of the French Revolution with Radical Islam simply being the thing that the people are clinging to to try and find a solution to the problem (i.e. if we’re pious enough, if we go back to the basics, maybe G-d will forgive us and return things to normal). The countries that you mentioned (India, Indonesia, Turkey, Bangladesh) are not found in the same area affected by the drought (though they may have their own problems with food). Also, if you actually read any interviews that have been done with captured ISIS fighters, the majority of them already have wives and families, and none that I’ve seen really mention to prospect of picking up Western girls, but often they talk about how “This was the only job around. I need to take care of my family.”

        Case in point: The main exporter of wheat to most of the region is Russia. In particular, Egypt almost exclusively imported its wheat from there. In late 2010/early 2011, Russia had its own drought and had to completely cut off exports of wheat. “Arab Spring,” crowned with the collapse of the Egyptian dictatorship, happened less than a few months later.

    • Griffin says:

      I’d agree that it’s fundamentalist Islam or radical Islam that’s the main problem but expecting politicians to say “Islam is the problem” and alienate moderate Muslims and middle-Eastern allies (e.g. The Kurds) isn’t a very good idea at the moment, especially when ISIS wants to frame the fight as one between Christians and Muslims.

      I do think that there needs to be an Enlightment movement in the Muslim world that domesticates Islam much like it did Christianity, but don’t expect to get rid of Islam as a whole, the goal should be making the interpretations of Islam go in a more liberal, secular direction as opposed to the conservative interpretations that seem to be more dominant right now.

      Sam Harris is kind of like Chomsky in that he has many good ideas. Also like Chomsky he has some really bad ideas.

      “We should profile Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim, and we should be honest about it.” -Sam Harris

      • duncancairncross says:

        Here is an analogy for you guys

        We are in a nice house being plagued by a really nasty field mouse – it is getting in and shitting places

        Obama is hunting it with pump action shotguns and a flame thrower while holding back the GOP who want to try Tactical Nukes – except for their extremists who want to go straight to Hydrogen bombs

      • 1mime says:

        “Tactical nukes?”……..And, just “how” does the Republican “plan” target ISIL without destroying the “good” people among whom they hide? Are you advocating that we “nuke” a section of Brussels? Or, Paris? It’s definitely not that simple. The U.S. has been bombing ISIL for months – selectively, now the Parisians are going in..doubtless, soon Russia will be as well. These “bad” radical jihadists simply move and re-group. ISIL must be destroyed at its core and I really believe that this will have to be done from within the Muslim nations in combination with targeted military strikes. But what do I know….

        You want another analogy? Try cancer. Sometimes you can target the cancer “in situ” and kill it; sometimes, the method delivers so much damage to the body that the patient dies of the treatment. Some oncologists are now advocating “smart” cancer treatment which builds the immune system and allows the body’s system to fight the cancer from within. It’s fortunate that so many options exist even if many patients still die.

        Or, we could just “nuke” the cancer patient and get it over with.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi 1mime

        If Terrorism is “Cancer” than it’s a remarkably slow and benign one – there have been Terrorists since Roman times
        More “recently” one of them nearly assassinated Queen Victoria and I think you guys lost a number of presidents

        BUT the overall effect on society has been at the mouse poo level – except when they have triggered a massive overreaction like WW1

        “And, just “how” does the Republican “plan” target ISIL without destroying the “good” people among whom they hide?”

        This is exactly the problem – Obama’s “shotgun” is less destructive but still massively counterproductive – causing much much more damage than the “mouse”

        I don’t know what the best solution is BUT I can identify solutions that are WORSE than the problem

      • fiftyohm says:

        Griffin – I agree with much of what you say. But we are not politicians, and (fortunately) can say what we think, without PC nonsense.

        Regarding the Kurds, and while I completely agree they should be supported, and should be politically independent, that territory would necessarily in part come from a NATO member. This complicates the crap out of the situation.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Duncan – Interesting analogy. Not far from the situation, for certain. But how do we teach continence to a mouse?

        Good comment.

      • texan5142 says:

        “But how do we teach continence to a mouse?”

        It is possible, just look at Cruz, someone taught that mousy, ghoulish, christofascist, carpet bagging Canadian.

      • texan5142 says:

        That this was interesting, from the Urban Dictionary,

        20 WORDS RELATED TO CHRISTOFASCIST
        christian republican bible banger christo-facist christofascism christo-fascist evangelist godflogger jesus jetard rack rebo terrorism word salad evangelical george bush jackchickian jesus christ johnnyhartism proselytization

      • texan5142 says:

        Some context, from Urban Dic.

        Christofascist
        Hypocritical bigots who reject any alternative view to their own. Believing in cencorship of freedom of thought and speech. Are prejudice to people who do not follow christianity, that they are bad people. Basically, a not very nice bunch of people who will be held responsible for the downfall of planet earth.
        Athiest: You know what, the bible actually is a load of crap

        Christofascist: YOURE GOING TO HELLZ OMG. PRAISE THE LORD. ALLOW JESUS INTO YOURE LIFE PLEASE. IGNORE THE BIBLE, WELL CONTINUE TO ADD MORE TO THE BIBLE UNTIL EVENTUALLY IT ACTUALLY IS IN ALIGNMENT TO SCIENCE AND EVOLUTION. THE MORE WE KNOW THE LESS WE MAKE SENSE BUT IM GONNA SUC K GODS ASS TO GET TO HEAVEN SO I CAN NOT FUCK ANYONE FOR ALL ETERNITY. WOOO YEAHH. RELIGION MAN.

      • fiftyohm says:

        EJ – Sam Harris’ is not, nor has ever been, a neurosurgeon. He has degrees in philosophy and neuroscience (PhD). And the only people he ’embarasses’ are the Ben Afflecks of the world.

    • EJ says:

      I have no good opinion of Sam Harris, I’m afraid. The man exists within an ideological bubble and has demonstrated his inability to accept empirical data which does not conform to that ideology. As time goes past and his previous assertions look more and more uncomfortable and difficult to defend, he’s responded by creating a fantasy world in which he was right all along and then insisting that people join him there.

      Dr Harris was, before he became a full-time embarrassment to hardline atheism, a neurosurgeon by trade. At the time this was a prestigious career. Now, with Dr Carson also in the news, I’m wondering if there’s something about neurosurgery we don’t know.

    • Crogged says:

      “Radical Islam” is simply a litmus test and a label, makes you one of the Red State guys to say it out loud. But it does bring up an interesting thing about these incidences. As in 9/11, at first blush, the backgrounds of the perpetrators isn’t of extremely poor and uneducated young men rebelling against the ‘system’ holding them down. But more facts are to come.

      Does the religion of a murderer matter-how is the religion the cause?

      • fiftyohm says:

        Crogged – It does if that was the motivating factor, yeah. If you believe you’ll get 72 virgins, yeah it does. The real question is why so many people think that belief systems and actions should be decoupled. I guess these are the some people that call themselves Jewish between bites of a bacon cheeseburger.

      • 1mime says:

        Or call themselves Christians while hurting others…….they are all hypocrites, Fifty.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Of course, mime. But it is not useful to compare modern Islamism with Christianity every time the subject comes up.

      • fiftyohm says:

        And further, mime, you’ll find few books more violent and horrific than the Old Testament. I wasn’t talking about hypocrisy per se, but rather belief systems that are inconsistent with the letter of the doctrine. To that extent, ISIS is anything but hypocritical in their behavior.

    • goplifer says:

      A religion is a religion is a religion. “God’s will” is whatever his individual followers decide it should be at a particular moment in time, regardless what anyone’s scriptures might command.

      Break down a civilization and you will get violence, disease, and migration. That violence will co-opt whatever symbols are readily at hand, a cross, a crescent, a pig’s head, whatever.

      Religion is just a tool like any other. They are all pretty much the same.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Chris – Maybe. But I don’t see many Janists blowing themselves up in market squares. Nor many Tibetan Buddhists bringing down airliners. Such incidents are rarer than Muslims with Nobel Prizes. Beliefs have consequences.

      • fiftyohm says:

        And for the record: http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/opinion-polls.htm

        And: https://www.reddit.com/r/islam/comments/1mtman/muslims_whats_your_opinion_on_this_kind_of/

        Multiply the percentages by 1.5 billion, and if you don’t think that constitutes a problem, I’ve got news for you.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Is the real question one of degree? If we knew of a “Lord of the Flies” type of situation, would you rather have them find the Koran, Bible, or a book of Tao. For me the book that emphasizes self inspection wins hands down.

        Cutting the off hands for thievery, yow! But prescribing what to do to your wife if she interferes with a fight you are having with your neighbor? A little too specific. Wonder what was in the news when they wrote that law?

        http://biblehub.com/deuteronomy/25-12.htm

      • Griffin says:

        ““God’s will” is whatever his individual followers decide it should be at a particular moment in time, regardless what anyone’s scriptures might command.”

        Good point. Nobody actually follows their religion to a tee because there are so many contradictions in these texts it’s impossible to do so. Most Christians/Muslims ignore most of their Holy Texts, and even fundies cherry-pick the interpretations they like.

        While I think the Middle-East does need more of their own Voltaire’s who satirize and moderate the religion on an ideological level there are clearly socioeconomic problems that need to be solved. There is no one solution. Fifty if you could press a button and get rid of Islam tomorrow the Middle-East would quickly fall to another (radical interpretation of an) ideology the situation is more complicated than you seem to be making it out to be.

    • Glandu says:

      There is a much versions of Islam as there are muslims.

      Now, a country like Syria who is under sever drought since 10 years(thanks to climate change) cannot keep its stability as it is. It did for 5 years due to a strong dictatorship, but, at the end, it was so weak that it could not stay stable anymore.

      THAT’s the problem. Climate change strikes the muslim world first. So muslim look less nice now. But how good muslims are people who attacked the city where I worked for 15 years? Their speech after the attacks was not a proper quote of the Quran. In fact, one of the quotes is a mix of 2 different verses! That’s all the respect they have for their own holy book. I don’t call this scum “muslims”.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Seriously? You are blaming the rise of Islamism and Muslim extremism on climate change? (Obviously, you aren’t kidding though.).

        Watcha all think of this theory, gang? (snicker)

      • 1mime says:

        Come on, Fifty. This isn hard. If people in tribal existence can’t farm, they can’t eat. If they can’t eat, they get hungry, many starve, and many lose hope. Others get angry. This anger and hopelessness lead to people doing things they might not have had they been able to live off the land.

        Are we all so fat and happy that we have totally lost our ability to relate to something as basic as starvation?

      • duncancairncross says:

        The main reason for “the rise of Islamism and Muslim extremism” is the way that the USA has been subverting progress and supporting nasty dictators in the ME culminating in the Shrubs stupid war

        Climate change has played a part in the severe drought but US interventions in the area have been much much more of a reason

        As I said earlier the Arab cultures have actually responded in a relatively quiet way – imagine if you had done that to Scots or Germans

      • 1mime says:

        That’s an interesting observation, Duncan. However, I found more relevant the observations of a French female counter-terrorism analyst who responded to this question from NBC:
        Q: What causes so many young men in Paris to become radicalized?
        A: What is most common is poverty, age, unemployment, proximity, idle time.

        Without developing her response more completely, (it should be obvious, anyway), allow me to suggest that these conditions – poverty, age, unemployment, proximity, idle time – appear to be present in America as well and conducive to high crime involvement. Here we refer to “gangs” vs “terrorists” though many methods of assault may be similar.

        Someone somewhere in the comments above noted that if we overcome socio-economic problems, terrorism cannot thrive. Could it be that it is not endemic to religion but mostly due to the problems of poverty that prevail in so many third world countries?

        (I am strapping on my GOPlifer flak jacket again in anticipation of the barbs coming my way….bring ’em on…)

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi 1mime
        I agree entirely – if we can fix the poverty the “reason” is reduced
        I don’t think it will fix the problem – too many of the “radicalised” were themselves NOT in poverty – but it would take the heat off and in the long term fix it

        If “we” were to go in on a blitzkrieg of life improvements for the poor it would not only help massively in the medium to long term it would be cheaper than fighting

        The Iraqi war cost what $4Trillion?? – more?
        Enough to have simply given every single Iraqi – man woman and child – $120,000 each!

        More than enough to have brought the entire region up to Western European or American levels of comfort

        The remaining dictatorships would have to be dealt with – but again give the dictators and their families a million each and move them to Florida – or New Zealand

      • 1mime says:

        “….move the dictators and their families to FL or NZ…”

        We couldn’t possibly deprive NZ the pleasure of accepting these dictators and their families, Duncan! They are yours for the taking.

        Poverty is as old as time itself. I disagree that poverty is not a major factor in attracting people to a well run organization which promises (and delivers to a degree under very specific conditions) more stability and the basic needs of existence. I cannot imagine how motivational it is to watch a child die from lack of food or water.

      • fiftyohm says:

        And BTW, we are all Parisians, Glandu. And I do mean that seriously. My best to you.

      • johngalt says:

        No, I think he has a point, 50. The climate is constantly changing, has been for thousands of years. And the Middle East has been a violent, sectarian, chaotic place for thousands of years. The correlation couldn’t be more clear.

      • fiftyohm says:

        JG – By “climate change”, I’m pretty sure Glandu was referring to anthropomorphic causes in very recent history. And, as you said, the ME has been a place of chaos for a very, very long time.

      • flypusher says:

        “Seriously? You are blaming the rise of Islamism and Muslim extremism on climate change? (Obviously, you aren’t kidding though.).

        Watcha all think of this theory, gang? (snicker)”

        The Pentagon takes the possibility of climate change contributing to social unrest VERY seriously. Droughts and floods and other calamities that interfere with food production won’t cause religious extremism. It’s not a huge leap of logic to propose how that could exercerbate extremism.

      • flypusher says:

        “And BTW, we are all Parisians, Glandu. And I do mean that seriously. My best to you.”

        Seconded. We’re hoping the rest of the bad actors get neutralized quickly

      • johngalt says:

        Yes, of course, 50. I’m rarely accused of my sarcasm being too subtle.

    • Creigh says:

      I’d like to look a Harris’ work more carefully, but I’ve always believed that religious wars always had an underlying power struggle, like tribalism or class, or perhaps territorial issues. To be sure, religion is a powerful rallying point in these struggles, some religions more effective than others. But one should always look for these underlying issues. They are important.

      • 1mime says:

        I agree, Creigh. There is some fundamental unmet human need that is compelling. I guess, in light of my own statement, I need to extrapolate to try to make sense of the religious fundamentalism that is occurring in our own country. We don’t really have to look across the pond, do we, for examples of human need.

  9. 1mime says:

    The Charlie Rose Show hosted a roundtable discussion on ISIL and the recent Paris attack. Outstanding, knowledgeable panelists offered their views. My impression of the consensus was that ISIL will have to be beaten on the ground – where they evidently are weakest….destroy them. President Obama was credited for a thoughtful but pacifist proposal for dealing with ISIL. Very high level discussion – very frank. One of the most knowledgeable participants (there were four) was Michael Weiss, Senior Editor for the Daily Beast, who is regarded as an expert on ISIL and has a book on the subject. All were very well informed. Here’s the link.

    http://www.charlierose.com/watch/60649878

    • Shiro17 says:

      The main reason why the President is so reluctant to put troops on the ground is because of the precedent that it sets. We had troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan….and they were there…and they were there………. The problem is that Syria/ISIS won’t be the end of things. There may be other groups that rise up in vulnerable places like Libya or Somalia. We can’t have the US army occupying the entire Middle East. Pres Obama was quite clear that there needs to be some sustainable strategy that can neutralize these threats while being able to transition to a moderate government that would be able to take over without having the US be there for 10 years to oversee everything. We could stomp ISIS flat, but that wouldn’t solve the major underlying issues that would prevent another group from taking their place.

  10. unarmedandunafraid says:

    Just to lighten things up.

    http://www.salon.com/2015/11/17/texas_lawmaker_in_nras_pocket_argues_his_state_cant_accept_syrian_refugees_because_its_too_easy_to_purchase_firearms_in_it/

    I just read the headline and got two minutes lol goodness. Don’t know what the article says. Read at your own risk.

    • 1mime says:

      At least the doofus acknowledges that the Syrian refugees will have enough sense to buy the driver’s license before purchasing their gun. One of TX best and brightest………….

      I will say that the NRA will be mighty proud to hear how well things are going down in TX on gun control….

    • johngalt says:

      You can’t make this stuff up.

  11. 1mime says:

    Interesting analogy in The Weekly Sift on Middle East terrorism.

    http://weeklysift.com/2015/11/16/a-meditation-on-terrorism/

  12. goplifer says:

    Best idea for military intervention in Syria that I’ve ever seen. It comes from the Polish foreign minister: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/poland/11998766/Polands-foreign-minister-proposes-forming-army-out-of-the-Syrian-men-arriving-in-Europe.html?utm_campaign=Echobox&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook

    The Poles did this in WW2, fielding some brutally effective divisions from their base in exile in Britain.

    • 1mime says:

      They’re there, they’re pissed, and they’re young. The only problem is the i-pad connection. One has to wonder if this nerdy type refugee would have the fighting skills needed to combat hard-core jihadist soldiers. If there could be some guarantee of repatriation with property rights in Syria, that might provide incentive but fighting skills will have to be acquired. Absent other forces from neighboring countries stepping up (such as what JG suggested on the borders), how else will it be done? Americans don’t want a broad initiative and air strikes can only achieve so much without accompanying troops on the ground. Ostensibly, the Kurds could focus on ISIL in Iraq leaving Syria to this ‘expat” army of Syrian refugees….if they could be trained quickly enough. Our training experiment was a failure in Syria with the revolutionaries.

      Don’t know, Lifer. It’s interesting because it involves those who have been forced to leave their country, and it neatly plugs the hole that no one else wants to fill. So, who trains them? Equips them? Finances them?

      • Turtles Run says:

        1mime – Anyone brave enough and strong enough to make that journey is more than capable of undertaking the training to become a soldier. Training people that have lost everything is easy if they know they can fight those that took their way of life from them.

      • 1mime says:

        Good answer, Turtles. They would certainly be motivated.

      • Pseudoperson Randomian says:

        The real problem with the money would be convincing people to spend money to train a foreign army – that’s a more visible expenditure than bombing.

        All of those refugees have gone through hardship. And like in every other country, only a few people actually volunteer for the army

    • Glandu says:

      errrm, there are some ISIS guys infiltrated within. You want to arm them?

  13. flypusher says:

    Trump being Trump:

    http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/16/politics/donald-trump-paris-attacks-close-mosques/index.html

    The 1st Amendment ISN’T for Christians only??????!!!!! Inconceivable!!!!!!!

  14. Tom says:

    It does seem as though humanitarian interventions have gone far better than imperialists ones after reading your prior post.

    There are exceptions in both directions (Hawaii, Somalia) but then Hawaii was driven by American expats and it’s hard to argue that US intervention in Somalia made things worse. But imperialist interventions like Iran, Iraq (2002) and Vietnam have frequently had disastrous consequences.

  15. Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

    I’m not sure I’ve ever actually typed these words in this sequence before, but, “Is Rand Paul actually correct?”

    What happens if we take our ball and go home?

    The region descends into chaos – what does that look like that we aren’t already seeing?

    Difficulties with oil shipments – the big dollars of the oil customers might motivate a few countries to stabilize the oil fields and shipping routes.

    Humanitarian issues – does it get worse than it is?

    I’m normally not an isolationist, but man it is tempting now.

    • 1mime says:

      It is a miracle that President Obama has any international leadership and standing given the continuous degrading of his every action by the Republican Congress. How can any President lead effectively in this environment? If he doesn’t engage militarily, he is criticized. If he does send even limited troops, he is criticized for either doing too little or too much. If he advocates asylum for Syrian refugees, he is criticized for accepting Muslim refugees instead of limiting asylum to only Christian refugees (Ted Cruz). He supported increasing America’s Defense Department budget increase but only if there were commensurate increases in domestic programs. He has a lot of balls in the air. I don’t know how he does it.

      The President stated this morning in his address in Turkey that he is following the recommendations of his defense department chiefs of staff in making his decisions – which is his right and responsibility. As to Rand Paul’s simplistic suggestion that America just “leave” the ME, I don’t realistically see how that is possible. I think that Obama’s decision to limit engagement is more responsible and frankly the only real choice America has. Capitalism knows no borders and this has consequences.

      • vikinghou says:

        The reaction to the Paris attacks seems similar to what happened after 9/11. Bin Laden obviously wanted the US to overreact, and did it ever. The US exceeded his wildest dreams many times over, throwing in the gratuitous invasion and occupation of Iraq as a huge bonus. It’s the gift that keeps on giving, having destabilized the region and provided fertile ground for the rise of ISIS. I fear we’re about to make the same mistake.

      • 1mime says:

        If you have an opportunity to hear Pres. Obama’s remarks to this exact point, I think you will be comforted. However, we know the pressure Republicans will put him through, some because they are Hawks, some because they want him to make a political mistake. I think O’s relying more on his military and intelligence advisers who, hopefully, will be less politically driven.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        Republicans have long since boxed themselves into a political corner when they made the ‘genius’ decision to reflexively oppose everything that President Obama supports from the moment he was inaugurated. This idiocy is, arguably, even more pronounced when it comes to foreign policy and the Middle East because of just how much the GOP has invested in Iraq and the ridiculous complications that come when dealing with the region, so much so that they’re on a consistent, visible display trying to play to both sides of every issue while never being truly substantive on anything.

        Our most recent dive into this absurdity can be seen through the Republicans’ call to stop receiving Syrian refugees, but only the Muslim ones of course. Naturally, the Christian ones, as according to one Mr. Ted Cruz, are a-okay.

        What is this I can’t even.

    • goplifer says:

      Unless you’ve located another planet on which to retreat, isolationism is just shoving your head in the sand. There is no “here” and “there” anymore. Syria and Myanmar are a day’s flight from you, or from each other.

      Let them descend into chaos, and that chaos will find you eventually.

      • 1mime says:

        It’s hard to know what’s worse: those who advocate doing nothing in the face of atrocity, or those who want to launch a full scale war.

        As for me, I’ll give President Obama’s plan of targeted military action a chance. It may not be the best, the last or only strategy to be employed, but it is rational and has a track record of success. If it doesn’t work, there will be a plan “B”. This is the first world-wide effort between nations in contemporary times to coordinate a multi-faceted assault on a very different, common enemy. Isn’t it ironic that ISIL’s plan to destroy all infidels is, instead, uniting them.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Disagree totally
        There have been tons of places that have “descended into chaos” – with no effect at all on the rest of us

        In industry when you want to “fix” something you always have to compare with the “Do Nothing” scenario
        In this case the “Do Nothing Scenario” is the best that will happen

        I know it doesn’t scratch your “do something” itch – but it’s an itch just an itch
        Any sensible analysis will say – keep paws OFF!

        So far the results of people “doing something” have been orders of magnitude WORSE than doing nothing

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Would it be complete chaos or would a few countries in the Middle East step up?

        Would the Saudis feel threatened enough to spend the money to buy arms and mercenaries to fight?

        Would Iran slowly take over? Would a near super-power Iran lose its taste for American blood if there were no Americans within 2000 miles of Tehran?

        Heck, if Putin manages to exert control in the Middle East and essentially becomes the “world’s policeman” for that part of the world, how bad would it be?

        Sure, you can get from Syria to NYC in a day with a couple of connecting flights, but if the US isn’t hassling you, why are you going to waste your frequent flier miles to do that?

      • johngalt says:

        When Rwanda descends into chaos, it does not approach our shores. Rwanda has nothing – no notable resources, no money. When the Middle East descends into chaos it does, because there are defined factions that have wealthy benefactors willing to support other people’s sons immolating themselves.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        @duncancairncross: With all respect, you’re looking at this situation through far too short-term a view.

        It isn’t like flipping a switch and either you feel the consequences right away or you don’t; and, of course, there’s a legitimate debate to be had over the action to be taken, and whether it needs to be a hands-on, hands-off approach.

        That being said, the world is far too interconnected in this age for anyone to be truly isolated from anyone else. Actions elsewhere will have a ripple effect, even if you yourself don’t feel them in your day-to-day life, and having the foresight to see what those actions entail and what we need to do in response is what being a leader is all about.

      • 1mime says:

        Someone needs to get that message to Congressional Republicans. Use utmost caution, but do not use this issue as a political tool.

        http://thehill.com/homenews/house/260395-house-to-vote-this-week-to-address-syrian-refugees

      • “Use utmost caution”
        Exactly
        If you do something you must first show that it will be better than “DO NOTHING”

        And so far the evidence is that everything that has been done has made the problem worse

        Have you guys never heard
        When you are in a hole the FIRST thing to do is STOP DIGGING

      • 1mime says:

        Duncan, I always look forward to your comments – including on the ISIL matter. Let me also acknowledge that my comments reflect my greatly uninformed opinion and those of others who are certainly much better qualified. In that spirit, I wonder if the physical isolation of NZ impacts your views as to correct response to ISIL? NZ is a small, totally separated island in a remote area which offers a different situation relative to the more connected areas in Europe and the U.S. (due to significant transportation commercial interaction). I am certain that the tight controls in NZ are more readily imposed and maintained without undue external interference. That can be both a blessing and a curse, correct? With the right leadership and an educated, progressive populace, I can see this as a blessing. Reverse this and it could lead to despotic, ineffective governance.

        With this geographical distinction, the problems and solutions to the ISIL situation may be much more difficult and complex to impose and maintain in Europe, the M.E. and the U.S. It would seem that President Obama’s commitment to a limited, targeted response working in coordination with other nations is appropriate and smart as a first response. As you noted, we shall see. This enemy is unlike any other that the civilized areas of the world have engaged. Doubtless, mistakes will be made, even if they are made for the right reasons. I cannot fathom doing “nothing” as a thoughtful response to ISIL’s increasing violence even as I respect the fact that everyone involved is dealing with a very non-traditional enemy. I am heartened by the cooperation and coordination that I hear is happening among the nations who are being impacted by this terrorist organization. Cutting off their monetary and weapon supplies is huge. Of course, it begs the question….who are ISIL’s customers for the oil they are selling? I heard today that the hacking group, Anonymous is going after them, determined to bring their internet capabilities down. Shared information gained through intelligence and sophisticated equipment is yet another positive. This isn’t doing “nothing”, nor is it pouring billions of dollars and soldiers into the morass of a world war. It is strategic, it is smart, it is cooperative, and we should all hope it is effective.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi 1mime
        I’m a Kiwi now but I was a Brit last century – when we were having the Northern Irish problems and that formed my reactions to terrorism

        My main “take” is like Dad’s Army – Don’t Panic!

        The terrorists are trying to make you do things to benefit them – and we have had people doing that for centuries

        There were the Anarchists, then the iRA and the Baader Meinhof –
        Hell the Romans had problems with the Jewish terrorists!

        They killed a few people – less than lightning or bathtub falls
        UNLESS the world overreacted
        Then we got WW1
        Started by an single person killed in a terrorist attack

        First
        Don’t Panic
        Second
        Don’t do what they want you to do

        Third – be very very careful about what you do do

        So far we have
        Direct results of terrorist attacks
        A few thousand dead over 100+ years

        Indirect results
        WW1 – which “caused” WW2
        Iraq War

        The deaths as a result of our overreactions have swamped the deaths directly caused by a factor of 10,000 : 1

        If a terrorist kills 10 people and our actions result in an additional 100 terrorists we will make a LOSS

        Imagine if you were living in Syria and the US bombing killed your family
        In some ways the response has been very minor

        My cultural background (Scot) would I suspect have unleashed a much bigger more deadly response if those US bombs had killed my family

        Historically we (The West) has screwed the pooch big time on this 10,000:1 is BAAAD
        So we should be very very careful about what we do about it

        Do we go bombing the shit out of people just because we have killed all of their reasonable leaders and they are now being led by the loonies??

        Which is what happened in Iran
        The US (and the Brits) overthrew a democratically elected government and the helped the dictator to kill all of his “reasonable” opponents

        I don’t see this as a NEW problem – it’s an age old problem
        What we need is the courage NOT to respond (until we are very very very certain of the effects)

      • 1mime says:

        Even if you are correct, that is not what is in the cards. I, for one, will throw my lot in with Obama who at least seems to have “a” plan and it is “limited”. The danger is if the hawks on the right refuse to be patient and prudent….which, you may have noted from way over yonder, is most often the case.

      • 1mime says:

        You’ll appreciate this “look back” in time on American attitudes towards refugees….For a country settled by immigrants (many of whom were political refugees from England), we sure have developed a closed mind.

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/11/17/what-americans-thought-of-jewish-refugees-on-the-eve-of-world-war-ii/?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_most

    • flypusher says:

      Not an isolationist either, but this is what I’ve so badly wanted to say to the ME for quite a while:

  16. texan5142 says:

    The GOP owns this mess. George , Cheney and company should be behind bars or headed for the guillotine for their war crimes.

    • texan5142 says:

      I might add, no action should be taken unless there is a war tax to pay for it. No action should be take unless those that shout war are drafted, or at least their children drafted. For too long now the wars are fought by the middle class and/or poor, time to get some rich wealthy kids in there to fight.

      • texan5142 says:

        “They were dealt a terrible hand, and I’m absolutely do not see a good path for them to chart, but blaming Bush/Cheney is going to get old (even if it is generally deserved).”

        Tell that to the GOP, this pisses me off. The party of personal responsibility needs to quit blaming Obama for the cluster fuck they created. Heads need to roll, instead you get people wanting to put a statue of the war criminal Darth Cheney in the US Capital. I cried when the Iraq war started. I am still amazed that someone today will go to jail for some bullshit charge while the architects of the great tragedy in Iraq and neighboring countries are walking around free. If it has been reversed, the GOP would not hesitate at all to bring charges against a Democratic president and his/her crew.

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      The previous administration shoulders a ton of blame for this. While the region certainly was not “stable” in any real sense of the term, a functioning Iraq with a dictator allowed for more stability than we see now after our forays into Iraq and and Afghanistan.

      With that said, we’ve had almost seven years without Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld, and while the first year is just Obama trying to find the bathroom, we’ve had a handful of years of Obama/Clinton/Kerry, so at some point, they are going to get to own the situation.

      They were dealt a terrible hand, and I’m absolutely do not see a good path for them to chart, but blaming Bush/Cheney is going to get old (even if it is generally deserved).

      • 1mime says:

        “…at some point, they are going to get to own the situation”…..

        This is especially troublesome with the right wing domination of the media….and, don’t forget how some states are sanitizing history texts. Most people today are lazy thinkers and unable to use history to guide understanding. It would be interesting to survey a sample of America and pose the questions about what responsibility our country has for the problems in the M.E.
        Of course, you’d have to go back a lot farther than the Iraq invasion…how about how the allies divided up Europe during WW1 and 11. We are seeing the consequence of countries formed with little regard for ethnicity or religion. Oil and water do not mix. Still.

        Informed people can trace cause and effect, but it still doesn’t change where things are today.
        This is going to be hard to “fix” militarily or diplomatically. Until the people within these ME countries have more education and more economic stability, they are in survival mode. How can any of us here really understand what it is like to live in this environment? If we are honest, we can’t. It’s difficult enough to “try” to understand what is going on in our own country. Liking it is even harder.

  17. flypusher says:

    So here’s some of the ugly fallout:

    http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/paris-terror-attacks/governor-seeks-bar-syrian-refugees-alabama-after-french-attack-n463956

    I’ll admit, I don’t know what kind of background checks are possible with this group of people, and initial reports are that one of the terrorists involved in the Paris attacks came in under the cover of the refugee wave. So I can’t just say they’re being paranoid bigoted RWNJs here. How do we shift out any scorpions?

  18. Martin says:

    We the people in this party are so good at ruling the world. Our recipe is simple though, really too simple: “We are strong and nobody mess with us. We will hit you over the head no matter the cost and we are the arbiter of justice for everything.” In my book this recipe increases the threat profile for terror attacks like no other.

    “US and NATO intervention in Syria is as inevitable as the sunrise.” — And of course our national debt is priority one for us to solve domestically. I called those who ponder this view hypocrites.

    Terror is bad, but it is overrated. If, with only a few attacks, terrorists can trigger a US response costing us a trillion dollars, they found a sure way to even defeat the mightiest of all enemies.

    @1mime: “If Russia (or any other “identifiable” party directly attacks us, wouldn’t you want to strike back?” — I look at it this way: What is the likelihood of this happening? In 2015 the insurance policy for this eventuality runs at $598 billion. If this is reasonable to you, we are right on track.

    How about economic vulnerability? Like for instance the Chinese sell off some or all their T-bills? What is the insurance policy we took out to protect us against that eventuality? Or what about the risk of falling behind economically as a nation? Where do I find that insurance policy in our national budget? We are off by a lot in our risk assessment it seems and our exorbitant military expense is ill suited to fight today’s “unidentifiable” targets.

    Imagine where we would be as a country if all the money spent in Iraq and Afghanistan would have been invested into our economy and infrastructure? We would have hyperloops criss-crossing the country instead of traffic jams by now. An investment like this would lift our spirits like the moon-landing did, and we need something like this it seems as a nation to get back into an upward spiral.

    I am tired of chest-drummers wanting to be president. I want science to be rehabilitated. Our political discourse is so skewed that even if you are smart you have to talk dumb to stand a chance to win. I am tired to see that our candidates have to ponder to the religious right to get elected. Nothing written in any holy book will get us to sound reasoning. It is preponderous to even think that.

    @1mime: I have many other quintessential questions before I would spend cycles wondering whether we need more troops in Eastern Europe. The Romans were not beaten by external forces, but because they rotted on the inside. And yes, I totally agree on offering humanitarian help to the very best of our abilities.

    • 1mime says:

      My “hypothetical” question about what America should do if directly hit was posed because this could happen and this could dictate a military response, depending upon the nature of the event. People at our level don’t have the intelligence to critique this situation, although we certainly have the right to be critical of military engagement. That is NOT the same situation that the ISIL strikes create and the President has been clear as to the level of troop support and activity he believes is required. If such a situation were to occur, we may not have the option of not striking back, regardless of cost….which situation we all hope doesn’t happen.

      The President spoke at length earlier from Turkey and I hope all were able to hear his remarks. They directly relate to this topic. You can go to the Whitehouse.gov site to pull it up once it’s loaded. (All his addresses are published.) He was unequivocal in resolve to NOT increase troop numbers and engagement and also in his resolve to provide asylum to Syrian refugees.

      I concur that America has many serious, internal problems that need to be addressed and we are fortunate to have a President who is cool-headed and focused on basic American needs.
      At present, the State Department budget has been cut so much that it has reduced intelligence on the ground. As long as the Republican Party refuses to approve a budget that enables American military and intelligence agencies to do their job, we remain vulnerable to forces such as ISIL. This political charade is the rot that is melting the core of America’s democratic way of life and it is putting us all at risk. Elected officials of both parties need to back this President in his effort to keep America safe and functioning. ISIL is active and all democracies are vulnerable to this evil organization.

      ISIL leaked today that they intend to strike Washington D.C. (CNBC).

      • Martin says:

        We could be hit by an asteroid as well. It has happened before. We are so powerful and so scared at the same time. We have all the money in the world, but we can get nothing done. We act like chicken with our actions driven by terrorists. The land of the free deprived of the freedom to act on our own and get ahead. We used to create our own future; now we are dragged into it by others. With our head in the sand, denying science, and hoping to find salvation in scripture. It’s been a long road, but it led to nowhere.

      • 1mime says:

        We can’t do one hell of a lot about an asteroid hitting us but we do have greater capability to ferret out terrorism and the military resources to respond. Fear is a powerful and real force. I will never forget 9/11 and people jumping out of windows, nor the fact that our daughter was a mere 8 minutes past the finish line during the Boston Marathon bombing…nharmed….but so close. Hundreds in Paris and elsewhere have been hurt and killed. For them and their loved ones, this is real and frightening. And, ISIL has blatantly announced that Washington DC is next.

        If you were President, how would you protect America in light of terrorism threats? I have heard intelligence experts interviewed who state that the American people do not appreciate how many near attacks have been averted. Terrorism doesn’t require or justify the launch of 500,000 troops and multi billion dollar war commitment, but it still must be dealt with, and it will cost money. At least with this president, it won’t be OFF budget. Most of the reports indicate special forces will be employed, which is consistent with President Obama’s original targeted approach and verified in comments he made this morning in Turkey.

        CNBC reports many actions being implemented through global cooperation…. monetary sources aiding terrorism are being frozen and tracked (the bit coin is suspected as ISIL’s currency)…the supply of weapons are being disrupted….the best minds in technology are being enlisted in tracking the terrorists….more targeted strikes are being planned and coordinated (like the one France did yesterday), coordination with and training of local forces is ongoing and will be expanded, more focused telecommunications, and, most important, information is being shared to a far greater extent across geo-political borders. Even if these targeted efforts are not 100% effective, there is common resolve to eradicate ISIL which is a universal enemy.

        For those who follow the stock market, it is interesting to see the sharp rise in today’s activity.
        The perception is oil supply and production will be disrupted which will advantage our oil industry. It is ironic that the Republican budget process requires the sale of millions of barrels of oil from our strategic oil reserves to help finance the highway bill because they wouldn’t agree to raise one cent on a 30 year old gasoline tax! Yet, as Martin points out, you will not hear a peep from conservatives who will commit billions of American capital to launch a massive war while sticking the American taxpayer and their children with the tab. Like TX noted, how few of them served in war, or would allow their children to bypass war? These are the real hypocrites. Unfortunately, they are also the ones who have been elected to make these decisions. Be grateful that President Obama stands strong in their path.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi Mime
        The problem is overreaction
        Terrorism is a MINOR problem – 1/10th number of deaths as lightning strikes! – if as many as that

        ALL of the problems are caused by us reacting to the attacks

        The best thing to do is to put more police on the problem and otherwise IGNORE it

        Everytime we react the damn terrorists WIN

      • 1mime says:

        Yes, but to think that human and financial capital will not be needed is foolish. Also, you cannot ignore it out of existence, it will have to be dealt with – just appropriately. President Obama has been steadfast in his resolve to not expand America’s war commitment. I, for one, am grateful for his common sense and commitment to that end.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi Mime
        I Disagree
        You can do nothing
        or you can “Do Something” –
        At the moment almost everything you are likely to do will MAKE IT WORSE

        There are times when the correct strategy is to sit on your hands

        Investing “Human and financial capital” will just enable you to make it worse

        If you have a specific plan to do something that would help – yes OK
        BUT if you just add resources they will be spent on making it worse

      • 1mime says:

        Duncan, did you read my post that outlined a multi-prong strategy that is being coordinated across geo-political borders?

        “I” don’t count. But, the coordinated, focused efforts of the heads of security and state of countries throughout the world, they do count.

        Doing nothing is not something I am comfortable with and fortunately, with President Obama’s restraint and resolve, I a hopeful that the correct “limited but focused” effort will be undertaken.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi 1mime

        If the options were “a limited but focused effort” and “nothing” I would go that way

        Unfortunately all of the idiots will be pulling towards a massive effort and any attempt by sensible souls like Obama to limit the response will mean little

        We need to push for a ZERO response if we are to have any hope of a sensible response

        And I’m not at all certain that even a minimal sensible response would be better than nothing at all

        Nobody is comfortable with “doing nothing” which is why the idiots will win and we will do exactly what the terrorists want

      • 1mime says:

        Well, Duncan, I’m betting on President Obama, not President Cairncross (-: I believe he will do what he said and not be suckered by the hotheads in America. Hopefully, NZ will be protected by its location and we won’t have to know what action would be taken there under similar circumstances

      • duncancairncross says:

        Fair enough – we will see what happens

      • Martin says:

        We should learn to focus on what matters. We get so easily distracted. Terror is the prime example. We turn it into a political football and everyone screams and yells. The chance that something stupid results from all the yelling is converging towards 100%. While at the same time we totally lost focus on what really matters to us. Just put it in perspective.

      • 1mime says:

        Not our beleaguered president, Martin. He’s hanging in there but boy does he need support!

      • 1mime says:

        Insanity and fear is already being brandished for all the political gain it can muster. Practically every “red” state (plus NH, led by a Democrat…shame, shame), is hoisting the refugee issue as the most dangerous of all ideas President Obama has launched. Ideas include: holding up the budget and striking funding for resettlement of the Syrian refugees; state governors and legislatures issuing EO and proclamations rejecting refugee acceptance in their states;and the inevitable ultimate political tv ads by Senator David Vitter asserting that his Democratic challenger, John bel Edwards, will support President Obama’s refugee plan. Never mind that Edwards is also (shame, shame) opposing having these refugees come to LA. This is a big U.S. Senate race and this refugee issue could very well tip the electorate back to Vitter when they vote this coming Saturday.

        Ah, hyperbole, fear tactics, are such slimy yet frequently effective tools in politics and still disgusting in its hypocrisy. For the record, over 1500 Syrian refugees have been resettled in the U.S. since 2011. 10,000 more are proposed. Message from the Republicans? Stay away. This G20 link presents the President sharing his thoughts at the press conference about America’s commitment to help the Syrian refugees and engage against ISIL with other countries.

        http://www.cnbc.com/2015/11/16/us-states-to-turn-away-syrian-refugees.html

  19. duncancairncross says:

    Look at this on a “cost benefit” viewpoint

    If you do absolutely nothing what will it cost the USA? or France?
    At most a tiny uptick in deaths – probably less deaths than slipping in the shower

    If you “DO SOMETHING” it will cost a LOT more

    The correct response to terrorism is increased policing (but not so much that it interferes with life) and otherwise ignore it

    Don’t send troops
    Don’t bomb people
    Don’t interfere in another country

    Do STOP American companies and organisations from making conditions worse
    Do Help to make things better
    Provide “neutral” help – anything with an agenda will be detected and make things worse

  20. johngalt says:

    We should absolutely not put significant numbers of boots on the ground in Syria. We should contain this mess like a toxic waste dump. Let Israel defend their northern border (with piles of our money). Let Turkey and NATO defend on the north side. We can put more troops in Iraq to support that particular mess and hold down the eastern front. Create a mechanism to receive, vet, relocate, and track refugees, then let god sort out what’s left of Syria.

    There is no good outcome there. None. We go in and we’ll lose a few thousand more young American men and women, spend a trillion dollars, risk confrontations with the Russians that would be better avoided, and stoke further resentment and hatred. All to create an unstable and violent country with innumerable sectarian strife with root causes that go back centuries. In other words, just like what it is today.

    • flypusher says:

      I wonder if Cheney still truly believes the whole “greeted as liberators” schtick. Was on other forums this weekend rehashing the whole Iraq war thing with some people who initially believed that yes the Iraqis would welcome us and sure they’ll be eager to build a democratic republic. They could have looked to Yugoslavia as a more likely example.

      • Turtles Run says:

        Does it really matter if he really believes his own BS? The old fargin bastage has to keep repeating this same ole line till the day he dies or else admit that he is one of the world’s worst humans.

      • 1mime says:

        Cheney should be in jail.

      • RightonRush says:

        The old son of a bitch never believed it Fly. We went into Iraq to feather Cheney’s and Haliburton’s nest. They knew there were no WMD’s, but GW is/was such a dumbarse he was led by the nose into this quagmire.

      • Turtles Run says:

        “Cheney should be in under a jail.”

        FTFY

    • 1mime says:

      I totally agree, JG. Critical to the effectiveness of the multi-nation effort is shared information and coordinated initiatives such as the ones CNBC previewed and I restated in my link. That’s smart and it’s focused. Sooner of later, bullies have to be confronted….a “targeted” approach….as it were. I don’t know what your experience is in this area, but I see a striking similarity in strategy with ISIL. Wait for the little kid to be in a vulnerable situation and strike and run. If it were your kid, what would you do? If it is my kid, I’d want to hurt anyone who was hurting my child. But I would be smart about it. I’d bring my dog. Because I’m a little person, and a woman, but I am smarter than this bully and he is not going to hurt my kid any more. I am not very subtle when those I love are being harmed, but neither am I going to bring the football varsity when my dog will do just fine by himself.

  21. flypusher says:

    One thing we can do, and should have done a long time ago: help establish a Kurdish nation. I understand that Turkey won’t like it, but that’s not enough of a reason. There’s plenty of territory in northern Syria and Iran for this purpose. The old borders should not be sancrosant, considering all the trouble they’ve caused. The Kurds are quite willing to duke it out with ISIS, and if they’re willing to continue that and offer refuge to some of the minority groups ISIS has tried to exterminate, I think we can make a deal here. It doesn’t completely solve Syria, but any bits of stability you can create in that region helps.

    • Griffin says:

      Having a Kurdish nation would really help contain ISIS and keep them from expanding to the Northeast of Iraq. To be honest I’m embarrased that we haven’t done this already and are screwing over the Kurds in favor of Turkey, even though the Kurds are far more reliable allies and the Turkish government is starting to embrace its own version of conservative Islam (though not as extreme as ISIS’s) while turning a blind eye to ISIS for as long as it could.

      Perhaps if we had a Kurdish nation there that would let us ground our troops and establish US bases on the territory of more morally questionable governments.in the Middle East (such as Saudi Arabia and increasingly Turkey) wouldn’t have as much leverage over the US in that department.

      • goplifer says:

        Actually we’ve been propping them up since the 1st Gulf war. It’s part of the reason that the Kurdish controlled region is as stable as it’s been. They also enjoy military cooperation with the Israelis. It is a very, very complicated corner of the world.

      • 1mime says:

        “It’s a very, very complicated area of the world….”

        Lifer, you’ll be happy to know that you and Hillary Clinton are in complete accord on this observation (-:

      • Griffin says:

        It’s good (and interesting) to know we’re helping them much more than I initially thought we were but I mean give them an official country. The borders of Iraq are arbitrarily drawn anyways and they already have an autonomous zone so why not give them their own (official) country, and because they have a shared culture it would be much more stable as a democracy than, say, Iraq could probably ever be.

        It just seems it would be easier for them to organize and for us to build bases if the territory was officially under their control (which, de facto, much of it is already anyways).

      • 1mime says:

        My understanding of the Turkey’s importance to America is air base access for the region. Turkey used to be a pretty substantial democracy in the Middle East. Now, not so much. It will be interesting to see if foreign policy shifts to the Kurds who I have read are very able fighters.

  22. Pseudoperson Randomian says:

    The problem is that overthrowing one dictator doesn’t mean automatic democracy. All it means is a power vacuum – which, if the US or a coalition does not fill, leads to something like ISIS. That is what happened with Iraq. It was a bad war to begin with, and then we left way too early.

    You cannot go in thinking we’ll kill all the crazy jihadists and get out. Those jihadists will be very hard to distinguish from the local public and will happily disappear.

    You have to go in saying we’re going to stabilize the mess. That implies monopoly if force, occupation, rule of law, and an iron will to enforce it. That, IMHO, will take about 20 years, and will result in the deaths of a lot of people, Americans, other coalition members and locals. It’ll also cost a giant bit of money, both on the ground and for veterans expenses – something which you’ll need to raise taxes to pay for.

    The democrats (and probably not the Republicans either) won’t say anything about the 20 year timespan because their base will scream “IMPERIALISM!!”, the Republicans won’t talk about paying for it because their base will scream ” NO NEW TAXES!!”.
    Both the Greens and Libertarians are semi isolationists and wouldn’t support it either.

    And…that pretty much explains how we ended up with Iraq.

    Point is, how are we sure we have to go in? What is the goal? Do you think radicalized Muslims would just be like “oh, well, we lost” and just disappear? ISIS and several of these extremist sects derive their authority from religion – whether it’s an accurate interpretation or if it’s been hijacked is immaterial to the discussion. Their followers believe it’s an accurate interpretation.

    That makes this radicalism have all the power of an idea. I’m not entirely sure bombing out ISIS will solve, or even help, the issue.

    Ideas are defeated by showing that they are wrong – though the religious nature of this makes it a giant bit more difficult.

    At the very least, wouldn’t it be better to let Iran and Russia take the heat for challenging it physically?

    Look, yes, there are a few hundred depressing deaths and injuries in Paris and a few hundred more in thr west going back to the post 9/11 period (I’m not including including African and Indian casualties because their concerns are local) and each of these deaths is troubling.
    But honestly, I’m more concerned about the thousands who will die in war.

  23. Pseudoperson Randomian says:

    Can someone give any reasonable explanation of how American power would help in Syria?

    IMHO, if it needs to be done, then the US military should go in prepared for a 20 year occupation and that they’ll be a police force for that 20 years. There is no way around it if the goal is to stop chaos.

    The other way to go about things is to nuke it all to hell…but I don’t really want to talk about that.

    This is ridiculous. It’s a very toxic mix of tribal dogmatism, religious sectarianism, and religious fundamentalism – the only thing that will bring stability is an iron fist and I’m not quite sure that’s going to happen…there’s a reason why these dictators in the ME, horrible as they were, kept things in check. When are we going to accept that a strong functioning democracy requires established and widely trusted/accepted institutions, and these need time and effort to build?

    • flypusher says:

      I think the possibility existed for the US to create a stable Iraq, but not by following Rumsfeld’s on-the-cheap strategy. The US should have gone in with a lot more troops to actually hold the territory. Declare martial law / dusk to dawn curfews / confiscate all the weapons/ etc. etc. Get order established first, then start rebuilding the place. Obviously you’ll have to arrest and try the worst Baathist higher ups for their crimes, but one of the dumbest things W’s folks did was to create a bunch of unemployed army officers (plenty of them are working for ISIS now). If you really want a democracy, you have to work with all the sects. And as PR said, be prepared to be there for at least 20 years, because you’re going to have to train up a critical mass of the kids to NOT hate those of different ethnic groups /religious sects, and how you have a common cause with them in building a society.

      Let’s face it, the American public, on average, has the attention span of a caffeinated gnat. We have the ability to do such a thing, but not the popular will.

      • 1mime says:

        It is so complicated over there. I heard Hillary Clinton say that several times last night in the debate, and it is true. No easy solutions, and one has to really wonder “if” any force other than from within, can bring about lasting change in the M.E. – ever. The dictators that existed kept their countries under control in some pretty despicable ways, but the region was “relatively” stable, at least within each country, and compared with the aggressive tactics of ISIL, were content to stay within their own borders.

        That was then. This is now. Can’t go back and undo, all we can hope is to not repeat the mistakes that caused such instability in the region. If anyone here believes that a Republican triumvirate would not launch a major assault at first opportunity, you haven’t been listening to the GOP presidential candidates.

  24. Martin says:

    You’re all hypocrites. What do you really want? Another war for another trillion dollar in additional debt? The last trillion dollar we spent in Iraq bought us ISIS. Do you want another one of these? Do we ever learn from past mistakes or are we still in a fact-free bubble? Or are inconvenient truth simply called lies and we can move on? You cannot have it both ways, that I know for sure. Our crumbling infrastructure sucks and I am tired of listening to all the chest-drummers who want to fix the world while we cannot take care of our own neighborhoods.

    • 1mime says:

      Who are you calling a hypocrite, Martin? Surely not the respondents to the blog. I read all the posts again and everyone here has agreed that engagement is nuts. Peace in this region may NEVER be possible. The only possible way forward in the ME is through education and their own commitments. We know from our own American experience just how hard that is to achieve…..but at least women are educated here and are participating broadly in our society.

      I agree with the infrastructure issue….and so many other areas of need right here at home. But, let me ask you, Martin….If Russia (or any other “identifiable” party directly attacks us, wouldn’t you want to strike back? That doesn’t mean that America has to insert itself in situations that don’t directly involve us. President Obama has been soundly criticized for his extreme reluctance to get involved in that turbulent area which has required courage and conviction, and I applaud his resolve.

      That leaves the M.E. quandary. How can anyone look at the people fleeing Syria with nothing but the clothes on their back and not want to at least help. And, that is precisely what President Obama is doing, despite great criticism and a compelling horrible situation. All the noise from the right on invasion is what got us into the ME mess to begin with. We don’t need another Vietnam, or Iraq, or Afghanistan, or cold war. You and I likely agree completely on that point.

    • goplifer says:

      How much did the war in the Balkans cost us?

      • 1mime says:

        Per the Alternet piece, over $50B….the cost in lives was borne by the people of the region. NATO didn’t manage this well because of the limited engagement policy? …Is that your point?

        http://www.alternet.org/story/1374/peering_through_the_smoke%3A_the_truth_about_the_balkan_war

      • Griffin says:

        There was a clear end goal with the intervention in the Balkins and the general knowledge that the power vacuum left behind by intervention wouldn’t put even worse people in charge. I’m not seeing that with intervention in Syria. By definition if Assad’s government loses ISIS “wins” that war by default. They are the only ones who directly gain from his loss.

        We can’t go into ISIS territory either because they will just blend back into the population and wait for us to leave. We should contain them in their territory, and unfortunately that involves the US not toppling Assad, as bad as he is. Let them run their little theocracy and collapse in on themselves from lack of resources.

        What put the nail in the coffin for the most hardline Marxist-Leninist regimes? It wasn’t the US declaring war on the Soviet Union, but we did contain them as much as we could. So the world saw the failure of Stalinist states when they had their ideas tested on their own merits. We have to accept that Wahhabists are already running that territory so let their ideas fail, any attempt to crush them directly would just allow them to excuse their ideology on the basis of our intervention and use it as propoganda against us, and as a further recruiting tool. As soon as we leave they will re-emerge even stronger, as they’ve “proved” their resilance. When they fail on their own than everyone can see they can not claim the mantle of having the “utopian” alternative ideology to Western democracy, just as the Stalinists did.

        “Fascism and Nazism are psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life. […] Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people “I offer you a good time,” Hitler has said to them “I offer you struggle, danger and death,” and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet.” -George Orwell

        When we minimize their claims to “struggle” by focusing on containment instead of destruction than they will have nothing left to stand on but their failed government (unlike Saudi Aabia they can not fall back on openly trading oil to prop up their dysfunctional government. In fact there will likely be a power struggle between the clerics and Ba’ath generals if they are contained and left to their own devies, which would do far more to destroy their leadship, though that would involve some luck).

        Or perhaps these ideas are all bad and I’ve just been influenced by reading too much foreign policy advice from The American Conservative after you linked to it yesterday (they are, admittadly, too non-interventionalist even for me)

      • 1mime says:

        It doesn’t appear that there are any “good” ideas, Griffin – at least to rational thinking people. Life means nothing to these jihadists – not their own, nor others. All that matters is winning at any cost. There is no respect for norms, only cause and objective. From a military engagement standpoint, I wonder if America’s military strategy will have to shift entirely to special forces should engagement become unavoidable…When America’s people are captured and tortured or beheaded, how can our country ignore that? I deeply hope America will avoid involvement beyond our present numbers.

  25. flypusher says:

    I remember that discussion we had about intervening in Syria a couple years ago- most of us had that Iraq intervention hangover which made us say hell no, and I’m betting that sentiment still predominates (on this blog and in this country). I see the exact same problem we had 2 years ago- to really stop the bloodshed and keep order, we are going to need a huge commitment in both US troops on the group and lots of treasure. For a really long time. Despite the 3 terrorist attacks over this past week, I still don’t see the American people supporting intervention. I really don’t see any feasible scenario for major US involvement. At best I see us absorbing some of the refugees.

    So thanks W. This is your mess.

  26. Griffin says:

    I understand what you’re getting at but Assad is Shia, ISIS is Sunni fundamnentalist. They hate each other. Most of the moderate rebels have fled and now the rebellion is being run by Al Nusra and ISIS. So yes toppling Assas will “stabalize” the situation but only by putting ISIS more clearly in charge of Syria. Shouldn’t we just let them fight it out?

    Otherwise we would spend money and resources, further anger (and risk conflict with) Russia by toppling their puppet, piss off much of the world if it ends up having poor results in order to… put Wahhabists in charge of Syria. The same religious fundies who send terrorists to the West.

    I’m not totally opposed to military intervention in the middle east. I actually think we should establish Kurdistan and send troops and weapons to the Kurds as they’ve proven their loyalty as allies and would do significant damage to ISIS while being founded on more liberal democratic ideals. But I’m not seeing a win in siding with either side in a war between a fascist dictator and Islamists.

  27. Rob Ambrose says:

    I think calling all these issues the same problem, under the banner of “chaos” is too simplistic and also overly complex at the same time.

    I think the problem is a pretty straightforward one. I also think the solution is so complex as to be basically impossible.

    I believe the problem is at its root cause is mostly a human phenomenon. I don’t think it’s inevitable that mass killing events rise up in response to human population growth. I think Western civilization has raped and pillaged the rest of the world so much, and enriched ourselves so greatly in the process, that this is the inevitable response.

    We often talk about inequality and its horrendous effects on our society. But we refer generally to our society. We talk about the poor black family (for example), trying to make ends meet while being ruthlessly exploited by the 1%.

    And that’s all true. But the exact same dynamics are also at play but on a global scale.

    If we zoom out and look at the global population, were ALL in the 1% (not in the literal mathematical sense, but in the way the term is used today, to denote the wealthiest of the wealthy).

    Check out this calculator and punch in your yearly salary. Its pretty eye opening.

    If you make $20,000/yr, for example, your in the lowest rungs of our society. Plug that same number in this calculator and all of a sudden your enormously wealthy. Wealthier then 94% of the rest of the planet.

    So while it may seem so absurd to understand how someone could strap a bomb on their chest and kill innocent people, and from our perspective it absolutely is, just try to think about it from their perspective:

    You’re one of billions of faceless humans who lives constantly in abject poverty. You are always starving. Death is a daily presence in your life. You and everyone you know suffers from diseases and parasites unheard of in the gilded part of the globe. Technology allows you a window into the lives of the few hundred million humans who seemingly live in a land of unimaginable wealth and plenty. Oh, and these few hundred million people control the overwhelming amount of global military might, and seem to have no issues deploying said might all over the globe for bizarre and unbelievable reasons (when you barely have enough to eat, and no education, I doubt you’re going to understand the nuances of international politics). You have no education, and no conceivable ability to ever get any.

    For all intents and purposes, this whole “life” thing is a misery, something to be endured in order to get your promised reward of a paradise in the afterlife, certainly not something to be enjoyed.

    The local imam is preaching at the mosque that your circumstances are not your fault. Look at the decadence of Western civilization. Look at how much consumption and waste they produce, while everywhere you look you see ppl dying for lack of basic human necessities.

    Its not to hard to see how that message could be taken at face value. And then you hear whispers of a local jihadi group looking for some “volunteers”. Not only will you be doing a great service to Allah and your fellow Muslims, they say, but you’ll also get to leave this miserable existence earlier and be in paradise. No more pain. No more suffering

    Oh, and BTW, you’ll have access to the most beautiful virgins to service you sexually for eternity (the powerful motivator of sex may seem insignificant to us in our sexually liberal society, but I personally believe that it is an enourmous motivator in sexually repressed cultures).

    I mean…….when you look at it like that, its pretty tough to imagine this problem ever ending in our lifetimes, or even our children’s. Take out ISIS and another group will rise. This is a war that cannot be won militarily, anymore then the War on drugs can be won by incarceration.

    I don’t even know what the solution is. I think the problem, first and foremost, is the inherently exploitive nature of unfettered capitalism.

    We have some basic protections and regulations in place in OUR society to protect us from the worst excesses of capitalism. But absolutely none when our multi billion dollar corporations goes scouring the globe look for resources to exploit.

    They are ruthless in their efficiency, and their people are paid a pittance for their resources (both natural and human), which is all too often pocketed by corrupt local strongmen, while the bulk of the WEALTH those resources create is siphoned off back to the Western nations where we use it to consume, and consume, and consume. Its obscene. And inhumane.

    When they look at us through our media prisms that infiltrate to even the poorest parts of the globe, we must seem as bizarre, greedy, and as far away as we might if there was a colony of humans on Mars living lives of immense privilege and decadence and consumption with no disease, no death and no suffering. We might wonder why that colony just doesn’t help us? We suffer so much down here on Earth and they have so much. What kind of monsters must they be, we might wonder.

    In the symbolic, non literal sense, that wealthy community on Mars would seem just as far away and out of touch with reality to us, as we must seem to those people that live on the same planet as we do.

    Honestly, I dont even know how to fix this. Or even if its fixable. And I’m not pointing fingers. I’m just as bad as every other Westerner. We consume much, its all we know.

    I can’t even imagine how that looks to people who step over dead bodies on their 10 km hike to the local watering hole hoping to get a bit of water.

    And to think this is sustainable and be surprised when these people hate us and try to kill us is, I believe, incredibly naieve.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      I forgot the two sentence summation of that entire tome lol.

      The issue isnt one of population growth, we produce more then enough resources to comfortably meet the needs of every human on the planet. Its that those resources are so obscenely distributed that these things are inevitable.

      Tackling terrorism by fighting terrorist is like trying to tackle a heart attack by treating left arm pain.

      Its merely a symptom, not nearly the problem.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Oh, and of course I forgot the link forbthe calculator:

      https://www.givingwhatwecan.org/get-involved/how-rich-am-i

      • 1mime says:

        That’s ok, Rob. You gave us a lot to think about (-:

        “Obscene distribution of goods” – boy, that is a human condition that knows no boundaries. On a relative basis, the income divide in the U.S. which continues to expand, seems heartless and insane from the standpoint of rational thinking. The uber wealthy cannot grasp that those who they depend upon to purchase their goods have NO disposable income? Surely, self interest would allow them to see that in improving the living standards of the low income persons, profitability is protected….even if they are oblivious to the larger “human” benefit of helping people live life with dignity and sufficiency.

        Your observation that America’s generally “grand” if not “excessive” living standards create resentment is a given. Play on people’s envy, fear, and resentment (a tactic our Republican brethren have honed to a fine art, btw) because the alternative to those with nothing is just “more deprivation” ahead.

        If there is a solution, it is education. Educating women who are more focused on solving problems rather than acquiring wealth, has been studied and validated in middle eastern areas where authorities “allowed” women to be schooled. The benefits truly trickled down through their culture. So, that is one thing. The patriarchal societies that govern these tribal areas don’t make this option easy.

        Already, the talking heads on the right are criticizing the President for being willing to accept 10K Syrian refugees. There will be risk, but since when does engagement in any tumultuous situation NOT involve risk? Caution, yes, but refusal to help people who have been burned out, bombed out, and starved out of their very country? Who have lost everything? I think about our men and women in war, or in dangerous services such as the U.S. Coast Guard, our law enforcement, our doctors who go into dangerous medical environments…..If one adopts the point of view that you isolate yourself from all situations that are dangerous, how do you live? Why do we (in America) spend so much on military preparedness if not to engage as necessary? (Let me be clear, here, I am NOT a war hawk. I believe diplomacy always comes first unless the provocation requires a clear, immediate response.)

        The cultural divide in the Middle East is so old and so deep it is impossible to know how it can ever be solved. I certainly have no solutions to suggest (other than education). To risk American lives and resources on a situation that possibly has no solution seems insane. But to deny shelter and assistance to those who are innocents in this horrible situation is worse. Lifer may be right about more overt, aggressive military engagement, but as you and Griffin have pointed out, no matter who is the victor in that region, there will still be a monster to live with. It ought to be pretty clear to all that simply being separated by the Atlantic Ocean won’t keep America safe.

    • johngalt says:

      Rob, I appreciate what you’ve written, but I think you have completely missed the point. People in the third world don’t hate us because of our materialism. That’s ridiculous. They want to come here. They want their kids to have the better life that America promises. They work their asses off for it. Listen, I spend a fair amount of time in the fall interviewing medical school applicants. Some of them are the first generation immigrants – their parents came here, worked multiple jobs, scraped and saved, made their kids get a good education, so those kids would be materially comfortable in the life that a doctor can make. (This is not to say that American materialism if not a problem, but it’s not the driving force behind our geopolitical problems.)

      Why do some people hate us? I think you’d be surprised how few really do. The Chinese and Russians hear propaganda that we’re trying to constrain them, but they still want to come here. Some Arab Muslims hate us because their governments and Imams convince them that we are the reason for their poverty. This still doesn’t work, because for the most part they still want to come here, where they will assimilate into our society.

      Idle young men. That’s the problem. It’s a problem in Raqqa and in Baltimore. Immature men with no families, no prospects of having them and no prospects of being able to support them if they did have them, are a recipe for disaster. Radicalized to believe that someone else is to blame for their (metaphorical) impotence, they can be convinced to do most anything. A few truly evil people can exploit this to promote chaos in ways that advance their own agendas. Sunni and Shiite in Baghdad. Bosnian and Serbian in Pristina. Protestant and Catholic in Ulster.

      Fighting these young men is our present strategy. This is pointless. There will be more of them. Fight the conditions that make them feel impotent (long-term). Fight the manipulators that use them – ruthlessly, as necessary – as the short-term solution. I continue to be mystified that we approach geo-political problems with the same set of tools we used when people wrote checks to pay their bills.

      • flypusher says:

        “Fighting these young men is our present strategy. This is pointless. There will be more of them. Fight the conditions that make them feel impotent (long-term). ”

        Even giving them education and opportunity is no guarantee; witness the treasonous acts of the Tsarnaev brothers.

      • 1mime says:

        You are sadly correct, Fly, but one has to think more broadly about countries, not two brothers. What else is possible? What would you do?

      • johngalt says:

        Indeed. The reports are that the “mastermind” of the Paris attacks is a Belgian-born son of Moroccan immigrants who went to one of the best schools in Brussels before something happened and he ended up in Syria.

      • 1mime says:

        His brother was interviewed on tv and seemed very well educated and very apologetic and distraught over his brothers actions, as were their parents. He seemed genuine.

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