America’s Dire Need: Time To Take A Stand

(2) nuclear weaponThe New York Times recently published an editorial: “Who’s Willing to Fight for Iraq?” Much of what it said has been written about before on this blog. The Iraq army really does not want to fight the Islamic State (ISIS) forces who are made up of Sunni Muslims; there is great dissention among the Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq ever since we Americans threw the Sunnis out of power and gave the country to the Shiites. The Sunnis say if we had better arms we could fight ISIS; the Shiites know if the Sunnis had better arms they would also want to fight them. The Kurds in the North of Iraq run their own little country and are happy to be part of Iraq as long as the Iraq government leaves them alone.

It is a mess as I have noted. I read the Times article hoping that those media minds who it is assumed know more than I do would come up with some sort of suggestion about what should be done. They note how difficult the fight against ISIS will be and that what we should do is to ignore the Iraqi Shiite government’s refusal to arm the Sunni tribes and begin to do that ourselves. If that’s the best it can come up with it shows they too have no solution.

We have already done much to undermine the stability of Iraq since we invaded in 2003. Arming the Sunnis may disrupt the ISIS menace but we will be creating an even greater one. We will have armed people opposed to the government who are the same people we disarmed back when we invaded. We will lose what limited influence we now have on the Shiite government which will not be too happy about us arming its enemy.

On the bigger picture it tells me that no one has a solution for fighting ISIS. President Obama is relying on people who do not want to fight. Some Republican candidates want us to go back in with our armed forces having American soldiers die for, as the Times put it, Iraqis [who] don’t care enough to defend and sacrifice for their own country.” To answer that they will say we are not defending Iraq, which we really are, but are defending the United States against the threat that ISIS poses to us, which really does not exist.

That is the same argument that got us into Iraq in the first place; and it is the argument that can be used to send American forces to any place at any time. One can always come up with a way some force somewhere can get into power or get their hands on something that does not exist like the ever-scary “dirty nuclear bomb” to justify our getting involved in a conflict.

These approaches to the use of military in facing foreign problems are failing. Why is it we do not have a standard for when we will use our military but jump around from real or feigned crises with an ad hoc approach to each one. It is important to keep in mind that how we use our military in large part that is going to decide the future of our country. As NC pointed out in a recent comment imagine what the trillion dollars that we have recently wasted on our foreign fights could have done on the home front.

I had occasion to interact with some of the folk in the State Department when I did a little work in D.C.  These are smart people – very smart. I would think by now from all these people we are fortunate to have working for us such a plan would have come out a long time ago. Yet for some reason is hasn’t. Is having Secretaries of State more interested in themselves than the country; or others handcuffed by a president’s limited vision; or others handcuffed by a political allegiance to a particular philosophy that is stopping us? I wish I knew.

I do know from my tiny perspective that there are many in powerful positions who agree with me.  One thing we must agree on is that the military is not the body that should be involved in doing this. It thinks differently because it is trained differently believing war is the solution to problems.

Here is what I ask. We start demanding such a bipartisan plan. In assessing those who seek our presidency ask them for their plan or how they intend to make a plan. The world is too dangerous to continue on our willy-nilly slick and sly approach which changes as often as the New England weather. We need a lodestar to follow and we should insist on getting one for the sake of our country.

7 thoughts on “America’s Dire Need: Time To Take A Stand

  1. Islamic State: The Digital Caliphate by Abdel Bari Atwan

    In his book, based on visits to the Turkish-Syrian border, online interviews with jihadists, and the access to leaders he enjoys as one of the Arab world’s most respected journalists, Atwan draws a convincing picture of the Islamic State as a well-run organization that combines bureaucratic efficiency and military expertise with a sophisticated use of information technology.

    … While skeptics may doubt the sincerity of the ex-Baathists, assuming they are seeking a return to the power they enjoyed before the US invasion, it seems more likely that their support for ISIS has been motivated by religious conviction. With their former hegemony lost, and the previously despised “infidel” Shias in the ascendant in Iraq, these erstwhile secularists are returning to their faith.

    This is not to say that the expertise they acquired under Saddam has been lost.

    1. Kerry:

      Good information. I think with the Sunni Awakening we promised them much to get them to fight on our side; after we pulled out they found our promises were hollow and they were left under the control of their traditional enemy the uneducated Shia. They see no hope with the present Iraqi government and some are tossing their lot with IS. Unfortunately we have put them in that position by not giving them the guarantees we promised them if they fought for us which they did.

  2. Your son is doing this in WordPress for you? Truly an act of filial piety. Count your blessings. Your new site is a work in progress, I’m sure, but I hope you continue to have something on there promoting your book. It’s a good book. I’m serious. The technique you used to bring the testimony to life I hope will be imitated by others in the future. It wold be idea for the Watergate Hearings, for example.

    As for another Crusade by the U.S. into the cradle of civilization, direct U.S. involvement will not be decisive and will just fuel the fires of fanaticism in the West as well as over there, I feel. And fanaticism is all they have. It’s powerful, but not anywhere near Seventh Century powerful.

    1. Kerry:

      My son is responsible for this blog in the first place so I’m not sure it is “filial piety” or just feeling sorry that he got me involved in it. I have to have him put my book back up on it. I am glad you enjoyed it. The combining of the testimony was easy once I figured out both the prosecution and the defense had little to differentiate themselves. John Connolly was still of the idea that the FBI was on the level so he did not want to attack it. Probably in part because to attack it would result in him attacking himself. It would be difficult to have a combined transcript if there were opposing view points about the evidence. I thought the book would have been useful for law schools to use to teach evidence from. I still do. Thanks for the praise.

      My recollection is the Crusades did not accomplish that much. I am sure that our new crusade will do the same thing. Obama going back in with another 450 troops is stupid. We spent ten years training those people and left them on top of the world and they folded the first time they got in a real fight. Why will it change. Their game plan – like the Europeans and all the Asian countries – is to have the Americans come in and do the job they should be doing and they know we are always willing to do that.

  3. Iraq is by rights not one nation but three: A Kurd state, a Sunni state, and a Shiite state. The current combination of these three regions into a single nation is a vestige of Colonial Britain.

    Iraq was a house of cards for Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi Sunnis owing to the fact that the more educated and advanced Sunni region controlled the country but they depended on the oil deposits in the more backward and hostile Shiite region.

    By invading Kuwait, Saddam hoped to head up a Sunni led state with its own Sunni controlled oil wealth, which is very logical if you are not a Kuwaiti.

    Saddam is gone and now you have an unofficially autonomous Kurd region, an oil rich and self sufficient, if backward Shiite region and a somewhat secular and Westernized, formerly affluent, decaying Sunni region (with no oil to speak of).

    These relatively secular and Westernized Sunnis are no match for the ISIS fanatics and never ever will be. Our only options are to either cede Sunni Iraq to the ISIS sphere of influence as we did with Eastern Europe to the Soviets after World War II. Or Kuwait and the oil rich Gulf States can make Sunni Iraq some kind of a DMZ buffer zone of as yet indeterminate size, with our indirect assistance.

    Theocracies like communism and Islamism typically depend on oil and mineral wealth to sustain themselves in a modern society. North Korea is a dangerous and dangerously impoverished exception. If contained, like Soviet communism, ISIS will eventually succumb to its own inward contradictions; a useful morality tale for other would be theocracies so long as it doesn’t gain control of any oil rich territory. The oil rich Muslim countries can well afford modern weaponry to fend of ISIS into economically strategic areas and borders.

    One danger might be that ISIS in its declines, opts to become a mercenary proxy for other wealthy, but reactionary Sunni states or interests; an Islamic Sparta. That would be a problem to take up with the ISIS sponsors rather than with ISIS itself.

    1. Kerry:

      Thanks for the comments on the web site. It is still a work in progress. I’m leaving much of it up to my son and I forwarded your email to him.

      You are right about the three tribes inhabiting Iraq.Britain set it up but we want it to continue for whatever reason. I’d have to guess the Turks are not interested in giving the Kurds a state; and I suppose if you gave the Sunni and Shia separate states they would be continuously at war.

      I like your analysis of the need for money to sustain these groups which is true. The overall problem that I see is the Arabs really do not want to fight for one reason they believe the U.S. will do the fighting for them. I fear they are correct. More and more do we hear a call for sending ground troops in to crush ISIS. I believe that is what will eventually happen. It will be interesting to hear what the Hill_Billy team says they are going to do Saturday when she speaks if she talks about this situation at all.

      Here’s what I see is the nub of the matter. The former secretary of defense Panetta was on TV the other day screaming that IS is a threat to the USA.(I wonder if he isn’t a lobbyist for someone on the issue.) A woman expert agreed with him; General Zinni said we could wipe out IS very quickly. The colonel from BU who lost his son in Iraq says that’s all nonsense. But all agree that we have trained the Iraqi army for 10 years and they just don’t measure up. If they won’t or can’t do it, then Obama’s plan of working with them is doomed to failure. Some generals are talking about building new bases in Iraq (didn’t we just do that and abandon them?).

      It looks like another Vietnam where we will slowly build up our forces and take on the fight ourselves because truth be told our original invasion has led to IS as the Iraqi ambassador to the USA said the other day. As long as we keep putting people in the Iraqis will do less and less and gladly turn it over to us. A year or two from now we will have lost another four thousand men, IS will have gone undergrounds, and we will be stuck in Iraq and possibly Syria forever. Maybe Hill_Billy has an answer.

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