When you live long enough you see the same thing over and over again, sometimes in a slightly different package, too often in the same old wrapper. This is true for human interest stories and it’s the same with the Greatest Threat on Earthtm. Even in the pre 9-11 era, the latter kinds of threat seemed to somehow pop up every few years, although the fallout from Vietnam and a Cold War with a credible adversary kept us cautious for a couple of decades. But after Sept 11, 2001, that caution was long gone. Even the hard-earned second thoughts from the ill-conceived Iraq War has worn off remarkably fast. And these ISIS clowns want us and anyone else they can get in this war real bad:
Daily Kos — As I wrote last June, we cannot win an already lost war. And however good and noble his intentions may have been, President Obama inherited lost wars, and there was nothing he could have done to save them. But no matter how many American troops he sends to these already lost wars, no matter how much money he sends, and no matter how many timetables are established only to prove not to have been time limits at all, President Obama and his team still don’t seem to have figured out that however good and noble their intentions, they inherited lost wars, and there was nothing they could have done, and there is nothing they can do, to save them. Which brings us back to the new request for a new authorization to use military force.
If ISIS wasn’t making execution videos featuring westerners and Christians, and encouraging attacks all over the world, I don’t think we’d care about them much more than we care about Assad in Syria or crazy religious fanatics in Africa. The only reason they’re doing that is because they’re getting something out of it. Clearly they’re recruiting to beat the band. I’m not sure what else they expect but they’ve had plenty of time to think about it. Remember that bin Laden’s original plan was to draw the US into a land war in Afghanistan and bring us down financially the way the USSR fell. Some of that may have transferred over to ISIS. Regardless, sooner or later they get radar and SAMs, shoot down a US plane or two, torture/kill US pilots live on Youtube, and from then on it’s hard to see how we stay out. The domestic political pressure to escalate would be enormous.
Think of the 1980 Iranian Hostage Crisis on steroids played out on 24/7 social media with live updates from the bad guys. Not just endless war, the true horror of war endlessly in our faces. If you were not following the run up to Iraq in 2002, you may not fully appreciate how fast national sentiment can turn on a dime and go overboard. Defense hawks come flying out from all corners, media turns dark, flag pins appear and flags go up everywhere. It’s scary and heady and even a little bit exciting, at first, and in some sick way. But the point is, things can change very fast, and this has all the marks of one of those kind of changes on the horizon.
The fact is, these particular bad guys are terrible, murderous, medieval players. But they’re not unique, sad to say, not even close. It has been SOP for millennia for armed thugs to go into villages, kill and plunder everyone and everything in sight, kick some loot back up the chain of command in tribute, keep the rest and maybe save a few girls between ages 10 and 15 for wives/sex slaves. It’s been happening since the days of Caesar and before, it’s happening now in Central Iraq and Syria, it’s happened elsewhere throughout the world over the last few decades. We decided years ago that we can’t always do much about this, and if we try, it’s real easy to screw up.
Nation building, policing entire regions containing millions of people, it’s just not something to wade into lightly and certainly not without serious, comprehensive support from other nations the world over. And if we go that route, this could turn into a real big war with real serious weapons. With massive casualties, up to the modern version of salting the Earth and burning the Syrian/Iraqi fields. Does the west really have that kind of stamina left for near total destruction? Would we be wise enough to hold back as necessary, or might we be tempted to go too far? Should we even contemplate doing it?
Our allies in such a struggle might ultimately include Syrian Assad forces, Tehran, and a few former Iraqi Ba’athist warlords. Not a great choice.
Because what often happened in the past, after the worst of the massacres and work camps were over and the sex slaves sold off and horribly abused and/or married, was some of the bad guys who profited the most during the height of the carnage start looking around and realize they’ve now got it pretty damn good. At which point they decide to simmer down and move toward more law and order, mostly to protect their own loot, but there are side benefits for the masses sometimes and big benefits for former enemies in many cases.