Mission Creep

As a corollary to Tom’s excellent post on the realities and costs of war below, I have a question: How do y’all see this current US action against ISIS playing out? Are you worried about mission creep?

The original justification for airstrikes was rescuing the people who were besieged on that mountain. Then airstrikes were used to push ISIS back from the Mosul dam. And now god knows how many sorties are being launched to push ISIS back further.

Don’t get me wrong: I hate those ISIS fuckers, I really do. I don’t think the US needs to manufacture propaganda to portray them as evil barbarians; they do it themselves.

But, unless we have clear aims — something clearer than “smoke those fuckers whenever they raise their heads” — aren’t we at risk of getting dragged back into a regional war in the Middle East?

Shouldn’t we at least have a national conversation about the wisdom of that? Doesn’t our Congress — as fucked up and stupid as it is — have to be involved in approving such a measure?

Or am I being a Nervous Nelly?

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129 replies
  1. 1
    drkrick says:

    The blank check Congress wrote back in 2003 (over the objection of about half of the country) covers this, doesn’t it? Thanks in part to our next Democratic President, who by all indications would be going in even harder if she were already in charge.

  2. 2
    cleek says:

    Doesn’t our Congress — as fucked up and stupid as it is — have to be involved in approving such a measure?

    they took care of that, long ago:

    Section 2 – Authorization For Use of United States Armed Forces

    (a) IN GENERAL- That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

    [x] an al-Q-linked organization spreading around the ME
    [x] threatening our people in Iraq
    [x] could be planning to attack the US (in some way)

  3. 3
    Emma says:

    No, you’re not being a nervous Nellie. But, our Congressional reality being what it is, Obama’s on his own. The Republicans are more than happy to throw gasoline on a burning building and the Democrats are too chickens_it to hold the Republicans responsible for the fire.

    Secondly, part of the problem is that the Bushies broke it, and Obama’s got to fix it. We’re getting a reputation for smashing things and then running away from the consequences. I think Obama understands the dangers of that.

  4. 4
    Angela says:

    My very non-political peace loving husband came home from work last night, after listening to NPR, scared about ISIS and wondering if they would be the group that starts suicice bombing in the US. It took us about a half-hour to talk him down from the need for action. I’m a nervous Nellie on it now, because I hear the media war drums beating loudly.

  5. 5
    BGinCHI says:

    We have to fight them over there so we can have tax breaks for rich people over here.

    Though seriously, if we have to fight, let’s fight against these kinds of bad people. The problem of course is who gets to decide who is “bad”? And how bad do they have to be before we spill blood and treasure.

    These are not new questions.

  6. 6
    skerry says:

    Compliments of Cole:

    John Cole ‏@Johngcole 6m
    Who wants to watch an English bulldog puppy roll down a hill? I know I do. Over and over and over again. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZZkZPcxp_I

    I have conflict fatigue. I need to watch this puppy again.

  7. 7
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Angela: Why does Nice Polite Republicans continue to exist, anyway?

  8. 8
    Pogonip says:

    I think “smoke those fuckers wherever they raise their heads” is an excellent, clearly defined mission. What worries me is that Operation Smokefucker will turn into “…and build a laissez-faire paradise” or “…and give my buddy who donated ten million dollars a 20-year cost-plus contract.”. If you can keep “ands” from being attached to the mission it’ll be fine.

  9. 9
    Butch says:

    Not “worried” since I’m already convinced that it’s going to be more than “creep,” because there are too many eager for war, too much fearmongering already that somehow ISIS will be landing on our shores momentarily…..

  10. 10
    Comrade Dread says:

    But, unless we have clear aims — something clearer than “smoke those fuckers whenever they raise their heads” — aren’t we at risk of getting dragged back into a regional war in the Middle East?

    I think we’re long past that point. We’ve been sticking our nose into the Middle East since the 50’s when the French and the British started to bug out. We’re going to be hopping around various countries blasting bad guys and ‘bad guys’ until the sun starts to set on the US empire and the next upstart superpower comes along and blunders into the same stupidity that we did.

  11. 11
    Steeplejack says:

    You gotta have a mission before you can have mission creep. We stirred up the anthill with a stick in ’03, and ever since the ants started running around biting everything we’ve just been hopping up and down and slapping at our Dockers.

    (Sorry, feeling particularly disgusted today.)

  12. 12
    NonyNony says:

    @Bobby Thomson:

    Why does Nice Polite Republicans continue to exist, anyway?

    They define the left-most boundary of acceptable political discourse in this country.

    Without them some other media group would define it, but that group would probably not be based in Washington DC and so who knows how divorced from the Beltway Boundaries of what counts for an “acceptable” left-most boundary that entity would be? Best to keep those radical left-wingers in check you know – who knows how crazy the country might get if you let that left-wing of political discourse get out of hand.

  13. 13
    brantl says:

    We need to make a decision, and it’s a big one. We have been running around the world sticking our nose in anywhere we like, claiming that “we have a national security interest” in a whole bunch of stuff, where what we really have is an economic interest, and a convenience interest (like when Saddam decided he didn’t like us, and wanted many people to withold oil from us, and Cheney decided he would Sasquatch Iraq). We keep saying that shit to the world, and they see through it like wet toilet paper. If we don’t do anything that is actually on the side of the angels, for the sake of doing what’s right, why will we be seen as anything other than devils? I think, if we want to actually not earn the press as being the biggest dick, swinging around and knocking things over, there is going to have to be a time where we put our real effort into serving real good, rather than conflating what’s cheap and convenient for us, with the world’s good.

  14. 14
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @brantl:

    We can’t and shouldn’t do anything.
    That’s how we begin to atone for our past sins going back to Mossadegh.
    The bigger the catastrophe, the speedier our atonement. Because then the temptation we’re resisting is bigger.
    To the people of the Nineveh plain — sorry, can’t help. We’re not just good enough. Non-evil people will lend a hand, though.
    Everything we touch turns to shit anyways.

  15. 15
    Jane2 says:

    Ginning up ISIS has sure taken the heat off domestic issues in short order.

  16. 16

    Are you worried about mission creep?

    No. Obama has an excellent record that he does what he says he’ll do, and as a default draws down violence rather than increases it. Libya didn’t get mission creep. The withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan continued on schedule, and this new situation doesn’t change that. Whatever happens, I’m not worried about mission creep under this president.

  17. 17
    Belafon says:

    And now god knows how many sorties are being launched to push ISIS back further.

    Are we actually doing this?

  18. 18
    Roger Moore says:

    @Pogonip:
    I think Obama’s “no ground troops” limit seems like a pretty good one for preventing that kind of mission creep. Air strikes and the occasional commando raid are useless for trying to build a client state or passing out ridiculous contracts to do work in Iraq. The real trick is that we have to be good enough at air support that the other countries’ ground troops can win without anything more. It looks as if there’s a reasonable hope of that, but it’s where the pressure for us to commit ground troops will come from.

  19. 19
    Lawrence says:

    Seems like the kind of thing we have a United Nations for. I realize that US Army and Marines in blue hats tend to do the heavy lifting on the initial push to establish control. But then we leave and let Italy and India run the peacekeeping op.

  20. 20
    Mnemosyne says:

    My line is the fabled boots onna ground. If we’re basically acting as the Kurds’ air force, I’m pretty much okay with that. I also think that Obama is smart enough to resist pressure to send thousands of troops back to Iraq, though I have my worries about what happens with a new president if this drags on past 2016.

  21. 21
    Baud says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: @Roger Moore:

    That’s where I am.

  22. 22
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    As long as the mission does not include boots on the ground, I’m not terribly concerned, because these ISIS fuckers are like our domestic Dominionists. Utterly evil.

    I’m afraid, however, that boots on the ground are inevitable if you want to push them back and then burn out the nest, which apparently is located in Syria. This involves a new level of peril…Assad isn’t strong enough to do this for us, that’s essentially what would have to happen if we want to avoid having our boots on the ground, and let’s face it, Assad is not a swell guy.

    The choices are simply not good, period. We really, really, REALLY fucked up when we took out Saddam…we opened Pandora’s box at the same time we marched on Baghdad. Saddam would have eventually fallen, and Iraq probably would be facing a breakup, but the nature of it might not have included Allah-bothered barbarians like the ISIS crowd, who are serious my-way-or-the-highway types.

  23. 23
    SatanicPanic says:

    No, not worried at all. Obama seems to stick to what he says he’ll do

  24. 24
    chopper says:

    Are you worried about mission creep?

    I’d be worried if Obama wasn’t president.

  25. 25
    Elie says:

    I am a bit nervous.

    That said, I don’t think that our country could just discount what we see from ISIS either. We can’t just pretend that they are not there but the scope of the commitment to fairly address this is unclear right at this minute.

    I trust Obama but I know that mission creep can happen. I am also seeing a strong and scary foe in ISIS. I would feel the most comfortable with an international approach — since I see ISIS as a threat to all western countries. I’m not sure that we have the luxury of just blowing the threat off as right winged hysteria…

  26. 26
    NCSteve says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: “Under this president” being the key words. No one was worried about mission creep in Vietnam under Eisenhower. Kennedy drew clear lines on how far he’d go.

    The real danger here is that ISIS is in the critical stage where an insurgency breaks out of guerrilla warfare into conventional warfare but has no air power or serious air defense capability. When that happens, you can bomb the shit out of them, kill a lot of them and break the back their ability to continue waging conventional war. (At least, you can do that when the whole country isn’t one vast jungle). But you can’t wipe them out from the air. All you can do is drive them back into guerrilla warfare. And that’s when the siren song of “boots on the ground” gets sung.

    The one thing saving us, however, is that the lieutenants and captains and majors who did five and six tours on the ground in Iraq are now becoming the majors and colonels and generals of today, and they are, if anything, even more quagmire averse than Colin Powell and Schwatzkopf’s generation of generals was.

    The bad news, of course, is that The People Who Matter in the Village is still infested by the last generation of PNAC chickenhawk neocon ghouls.

  27. 27
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Steeplejack: Yup, pretty much this.

  28. 28
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @chopper: If McBomb or the Marquis de Mittens were in the Oval Office, I’d be seriously worried. Neither of them has the slightest fucking nuanced idea of how to employ military force effectively.

  29. 29
    The Sheriff's A Ni- says:

    The choices are simply not good, period. We really, really, REALLY fucked up when we took out Saddam…we opened Pandora’s box at the same time we marched on Baghdad. Saddam would have eventually fallen, and Iraq probably would be facing a breakup, but the nature of it might not have included Allah-bothered barbarians like the ISIS crowd, who are serious my-way-or-the-highway types.

    That’s pretty much what happened in Syria and the end result was, well, the Syrian half of ISIS. Not that we didn’t fuck up, all the march on Baghdad did was up the costs for the Iraqis and the Coalition.

  30. 30
    RaflW says:

    If the mission creep includes bombing Bill Kristol, I’m OK with that.

  31. 31
    The Sheriff's A Ni- says:

    That said, ISIS has bigger fish to fry in Assad, the Peshmerga, and what’s left of the Iraqi Army. I’m not saying they couldn’t expand into terrorist strikes in the West, but I’ll leave that discussion to the folks above my pay grade.

  32. 32
    Butch says:

    @RaflW: OK, now THAT’S something I will support wholeheartedly.

  33. 33
    chopper says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Exactly. Or Hills for that matter.

  34. 34
    retr2327 says:

    I think it’s important to understand that what causes mission creep is an ever-escalating attempt to achieve the original mission, as defined, even though it was not given adequate resources (and may even have always been impossible) in the first instance. E.g., if your mission is to stand up a democratic, pluralistic society in Iraq, there’s always going to be a chorus arguing that if we only add more troops (or 6 more months), the mission will be accomplished.

    Which is a long-winded way of saying that if your original defined mission is to smoke these f*ckers whenever they can be can be hit from the air, there’s not as much danger of mission creep. OTOH, if you frame your mission as “crushing” them (Sec’y Kerry), then mission creep becomes a real threat, because smoking them from the air may not be sufficient, in and of itself, to accomplish that.

  35. 35
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @skerry: Someone wants to get a sweatshirt off her back. NAOW!

  36. 36
    Baud says:

    @RaflW:

    With the emphasis on creep.

  37. 37
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @RaflW: Two thumbs up.

  38. 38
    srv says:

    Iraq is gone, the vacuum we created there and want in Syria will be filled by those who act.

    The Iraqi Army and Peshmerga are a joke. They will never be able to stabalize their own space or prop up Sykes-Picot without us commanding, leading and covering their asses with at least airpower and artillery.

    ISIS just needs time to collect their gains and organize for whatever their next goal is. If they want, they can put Baghdad under siege next year.

  39. 39
    Mike in NC says:

    @Mnemosyne: Well, the mess in the artificial country called Iraq will certainly last beyond 2016. The Kurds, Sunnis, and Shiites might work something out, some day, but we shouldn’t bet on it and we should know better than to try other nation-building activities elsewhere.

    The problem is that America’s half trillion dollar defense budget is a magnet for trouble.

  40. 40
    Elie says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    What you say and several others who talk about the damage we did in Iraq that can’t be undone. sigh

    The President is charged with keeping our country safe. He has his hands very very full right now..The only thing missing from what he is facing are the locusts…

  41. 41
    Turgidson says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    I wouldn’t say I’m not concerned at all about mission creep, but I’m exponentially less worried about it under Obama than I would be under…well, any president in my lifetime (born while History’s Greatest Monster was president…he might have shown proper judgment, but no one else), and much, much less worried than I will be when Hillary faces a messy situation like this.

    I think Obama will keep putting pressure on ISIS via the air until he gets a feel for whether the new Iraqi government can actually get their shit together and take charge, and/or until the Kurds seize the momentum in a sustainable way. Then he’ll figure out how to extract us.

  42. 42
    Barry says:

    @brantl: “If we don’t do anything that is actually on the side of the angels, for the sake of doing what’s right, why will we be seen as anything other than devils? ”

    How’s 2002 going for you all? I suggest that you go long on housing stocks, and get into MySpace bigtime.

  43. 43
    Goblue72 says:

    They are burning our money. That’s all this and that’s all this will accomplish.

    A ” smart” bomb costs about $25,000 apiece. A cruise missle about $1,400,000. Iraq War – $365,000 AN HOUR. Just imagine what an average sortie costs between munitions, personnel, equipment, support, overhead, etc.

    So every time we send out even a single sortie to go bomb the maniac group of the week, just imagine your entire life savings as $100 bills in a pile. Then set it on fire. That’s probably a minute in Iraq. Then do that for your entire neighborhood. Maybe an hour. By the time we’ve “smoked” these guys, your entire town and everyone in it is destitute.

    I have no desire to feed the War Pig. We broke it, yes. We need to accept that we can’t unbreak it and just deal.

  44. 44
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @NCSteve:

    The bad news, of course, is that The People Who Matter in the Village is still infested by the last generation of PNAC chickenhawk neocon ghouls.

    This is, alas, all too true.

    These motherfuckers need to be put up against the wall, loaded into tumbrels, made to walk the plank, take a long walk off a short pier, use your metaphor here.

  45. 45
    Matt McIrvin says:

    No, you’re completely rational.

    Obama, in all likelihood, is going to handle this better than most hypothetical Commanders-in-Chief could. He could still get us in serious trouble over there. And no matter what, he’s going to be knocked for excessive timidity amid panicked calls for a wider war, because that’s what Americans do.

    My biggest worry is what happens if a Republican President gets in in 2017. How many places will we start attacking simultaneously?

  46. 46
    Elie says:

    In a weird way it may help that ISIS is a broad threat to the west as well as many of the established governments in the Middle East and even Asia, where there are large populations of Sunni. It actually may take a world wide coalition to deal with them. Also, they are recruiting actively and successfully from same western and other nations and using warfare experienced recruits from countries like Iraq. I perceive them as a broad threat and that hopefully, how we address the threat will be spread out over lots of countries…

  47. 47
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Steeplejack: I like that imagery. Thanks!

    @drkrick & @cleek: The president has rightly supported the repeal of the AUMF. He sought (or feinted toward seeking, depending on which view you take) Congressional approval for airstrikes against Syria. Doesn’t this situation warrant a similar national conversation?

    @Belafon: As of two days ago, the US was still engaged in multiple strikes against ISIS after the Mosul dam was retaken. Kerry said, “Make no mistake, we will continue to confront ISIL wherever it tried to spread its despicable hatred.”

    I’m not even saying we shouldn’t be — maybe it’s the right thing to do. I also generally trust Obama to maintain the “don’t do stupid shit” foreign policy stance. I’m just thinking it will be difficult to control where this goes.

    @retr2327: Excellent point.

  48. 48
    Goblue72 says:

    @Elie: ISIS is a bunch of loony tunes on camels. They pose a “threat” to the joke of a wreck of a country called Iraq.

    They pose zero existential threat to the West. We could turn the entire Middle East into glass if we felt like it.

    People need to stop pissing their pants. We pissed our pant over 9-11 and look at what that got us – a $2T plus war that made things worse and still a mess over a decade later.

  49. 49
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @The Sheriff’s A Ni-: They’ve indicated by their propaganda that they’d like to do that, eventually. All this “fly Allah’s flag over the White House” crap. Pretty much designed to get the usual fucktards in this country all hot and bothered, and of course the trolling worked precisely as calculated. Osama bin Laden knew what he was doing…he got the deserting coward and the Dark Lord to do his recruiting for him and advance his goals through their abject knee jerk stupidity.

  50. 50
    Cacti says:

    I’m getting pretty wary of the “ISIS is the greatest threat in the history of anything anywhere” talk that seems to be taking root in certain quarters.

  51. 51
    Peshmerga says:

    @srv: You’re welcome to come over and show us how it’s done, Billy Bad-ass.

  52. 52
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Cacti: ISIS has all the ability of Grand Fenwick to bring the US to its knees.

    Damn ants on our Dockers. What a pain.

  53. 53
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Goblue72: I hate thinking about these things in those terms. It sounds just like when the GOP starts saying “people are sitting around their kitchen table blah blah blah, cut welfare”

  54. 54
    RoonieRoo says:

    I find it rather depressing how isolationist I am becoming. :(

  55. 55
    Trollhattan says:

    When Krauthammer is applauding [tepidly] the president I get damn concerned.

    With the support of U.S. airstrikes, Iraqi and Kurdish forces have retaken the Mosul dam. Previous strikes had relieved the siege of Mount Sinjar and helped the Kurds retake two strategic towns that had opened the road to a possible Islamic State assault on Irbil, the capital of Kurdistan.

    In following through, Obama demonstrated three things: the effectiveness of even limited U.S. power, the vulnerability of the Islamic State and, crucially, his own seriousness, however tentative.

    The last of these is the most important. Obama had said that there is no American military solution to the conflict. This may be true, but there is a local military solution. (There must be: There is no negotiating with Islamic State barbarism.) And that solution requires U.S. air support.

    It can work. The Islamic State is overstretched. It’s a thin force of perhaps 15,000 trying to control a territory four times the size of Israel. Its supply lines, operating in open country, are not just extended but exposed and highly vulnerable to air power.

    Stopping the Islamic State’s momentum creates a major shift in psychology. Guerrilla armies thrive on a sense of inevitability. The Islamic State has grown in size, demoralized its enemies and attracted recruits from all over the world because it seemed unstoppable, a real caliphate in the making.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....story.html

  56. 56
    Elie says:

    @Goblue72:

    I’m not yet ready to say that your assessment of their being “looneys on camels” is right. I agree that the we tend to overreact, but no — can’t say I am just ready to negate the very real impact that they are having in that region and perhaps elsewhere. I am always a little cautious around broad dismissive statements such as the one you just made, even as I acknowledge the overreaction thing.

  57. 57
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @cleek: Not only the AUMF is in play here. The Iraqi government filed an official request for the air raids. It was from al-Malaki, but given the recent transition to al-Abadi as PM, under considerable US pressure, also too. Given those things, it’s unsurprising that the US would eventually agree to air strikes.

    I’m not worried about mission creep myself. I do expect a prolonged, relatively low-level engagement there (and in Syria). E.g. we’ve been fighting in similar ways in Yemen since at least 2009.

    One way to help defeat ISIL sooner is to cut off their money. That means refusing to pay huge ransoms and preventing others from doing so…. :-(

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  58. 58
    Paul in KY says:

    Hell, yes, I am worried about mission creep! If a Repub gets in in 2016, we’ll be back over there, no doubt.

  59. 59
    gopher2b says:

    I think the question here is whether ISIS carries out a terrorist attack on US soil. They clearly have a flair for the dramatic and our own citizens have proven that there are parts of our country that are very vulnerable to slaughter. But the question I keep asking myself is why would they do that? What do they gain by slaughtering US citizens here. They’re accomplishing their goals, why do something that increases the chances of a response by the full-might of the US military. Sure it comes at a great cost for us, but its much worse for them.

  60. 60
    Baud says:

    I’ve noticed that Newsmax almost completely ignores Ferguson but has been hammering the ISIS “threat.” I’m not sure what that means.

  61. 61
    Elie says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet:

    In that vein, I am believing that their way of using stolen or confiscated oil and selling it on the black market is very vulnerable to us. I am hopeful that effective clandestine and intelligence work can really be effective — especially if we can work with multiple international partners. Following their money trail and then crushing that would be pretty effective if we can do it (and I use “we” in the international sense, not just “we” the US)

  62. 62
    Paul in KY says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Unfortunately, the real nest is in Saudi Arabia.

  63. 63
    drkrick says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet:

    One way to help defeat ISIL sooner is to cut off their money. That means refusing to pay huge ransoms and preventing others from doing so…. :-(

    Ransoms aren’t the biggest problem. If we could get our “allies” in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to stop funding them it would have a much bigger impact. The money we’ve spent defending those fine folks has been a wonderful investment.

  64. 64
    Elie says:

    @gopher2b:

    I agree.. THAT seems to convey their real lack of sophistication in knitting together strong means and ends. Whacking off heads and other horrible stuff just raises their profile to get whacked back. Hard. If they are just another terrorist group, they won’t get much. My fear about them was that they might have higher level management and governance skills. Beheadings don’t help that much.

  65. 65
    Ben Cisco says:

    Until Inauguration Day 2017, I’m not worried. After that…

  66. 66
    burnspbesq says:

    All other things being equal (which, of course, they never are), I’d just as soon see US action keep ISIS in a box. The last thing anybody needs is for ISIS to carve out territory and become an actual state that has the ability and the will to pose a threat to a certain country in the region that is run by genocidal religious fanatics and has nuclear weapons.

    No, not Iran, ya big silly.

  67. 67
    SatanicPanic says:

    @gopher2b: What did the Taliban gain for sheltering Bin Laden?

  68. 68
    Keith G says:

    Are you worried about mission creep?

    In this case I don’t care. ISIS must be dealt with. The sooner the better. If they are left to grow (or just carry on as is), we will rue our neglect. We have already been a bit tardy on this. There are no nice and tidy answers in dealing with this iteration of extremism (is there for any?). the best we can do is see that they are defanged as soon as possible.

  69. 69
    Mandalay says:

    The BBC just reported that there are now more British Muslims in ISIS than there are in the British military forces.

    Those here who think that smoking the fuckers will actually resolve anything need to think again.

  70. 70
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Cacti: I saw people uncritically discussing a Huffington Post “ISIS is the worst threat ever” article that turned out to be by Bernard Kerik. Kerik is writing for HuffPo? People are believing things he says? Maybe we need to do something, but I don’t like where this is going. All the old usual Iraq War suspects are crawling out from under their rocks and making their old noises.

  71. 71
  72. 72
    EthylEster says:

    This is what Daniel Larison says:

    The good news so far is that the administration doesn’t appear to be taking its own rhetoric all that seriously, but the obvious danger is that it will trap itself into taking far more aggressive measures by grossly exaggerating the nature of the threat from ISIS in this way. The truth is that ISIS doesn’t pose an imminent threat to the U.S. and its allies, unless one empties the word imminent of all meaning. Hagel made the preposterous statement today that the group poses an “imminent threat to every interest we have.” That is simply a lie, and a remarkably stupid one at that, and it is the worst kind of fear-mongering. Administration officials are engaged in the most blatant threat inflation with these recent remarks, which is all the more strange since they claim not to favor the aggressive kind of policy that their irresponsible rhetoric supports.

    I saw Hagel on CSPAN yesterday. Nobody ask him to explain HOW ISIS poses an imminent threat to every interest we have. It sounds like “more scary muslims we gotta kill” without the ususal “doncha know” appended.

  73. 73
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    aren’t we at risk of getting dragged back into a regional war in the Middle East?

    We’ve never stopped being in it. Sorry. President Obama will leave office with us still having troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan. If the imperial/military complex gets its way – and they will, Obama has rolled over for them every time – we’ll also have troops in Syria and Libya as well.

  74. 74
    pamelabrown53 says:

    @Mandalay:

    Actually, your comment about how there are more British Muslims in ISIS than in the British military leads me to an opposite conclusion. Why wouldn’t they want to target their own country? Nothing good will happen if we leave them alone and allow them to consolidate and become a state. That said, it’s a global problem even though we paved the way for their ascendance. I hope that we can be a support among many in global effort to “smoke” ISIS.

  75. 75
    Mnemosyne says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!:

    If the imperial/military complex gets its way – and they will, Obama has rolled over for them every time – we’ll also have troops in Syria and Libya as well.

    If Obama has rolled over for the imperial/military complex “every time,” why don’t we have ground troops in Libya and Syria right now?

  76. 76
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Keith G: I’m not so sure, Keith. The question is, does a large swath of the Middle East really want to be under the rule of these batshit crazy fucks? I think the answer is no. ISIS has only gotten as far as it has in Sunni areas that feel oppressed by Shiites — in Syria, where most of the rebels are Sunnis, and in Iraq, where Sunnis were disenfranchised by the recently ousted Maliki.

    We can bomb the current pack of crazies until they go underground, which is basically what our strategy was when the same people were calling themselves “al Qaeda in Iraq,” but when we leave, the same fucking problems will still be there.

    And it’s really not our problem to fix, despite we kicked the hornet’s nest. It’s a religious conflict that needs to sort itself out somehow, preferably politically, but probably when one faction overwhelms the other with violence.

    I’m just not seeing the upside to sticking our snout in the hornet’s nest again — except in a very limited way to enable the non-crazy political actors to get their shit together. If it’s limited to that, I can understand the rationale. But I think it needs to be made explicit to the American people and consent should be gained via the crazy fucks in Congress.

  77. 77
    Paul in KY says:

    @burnspbesq: I would like to see Israel take care of their problem with Isis (in a non-nuclear manner), rather than us doing it. I’m tired of fighting their wars for them.

  78. 78
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @EthylEster: I find it’s best to read the transcript of events like this, especially when the prefacing question or comments are not reported along with the official response (or snippet). The press doesn’t do nuance, or explain complex ideas well, these days (especially).

    It’s well worth a read, IMHO.

    He and Dempsey address several things that have come up here recently, including “mission creep”. It’s clear (to me at least) that Hagel’s comments about ISIL being “beyond anything that we’ve seen” are in the context of terrorism and the like. Not that they’re comparable to the USSR or something.

    Hagel: Given the nature of this threat, at President Obama’s direction and the request of the Iraqi government, the U.S. military has provided assistance to Iraqi security forces in order to protect U.S. personnel and facilities and support Iraq’s efforts to counter ISIL in addition to providing humanitarian assistance.

    American air strikes and American arms and assistance helped Iraqi and Kurdish forces blunt ISIL’s advance around Irbil, where American diplomats and troops are working, and help the Iraqis retake and hold-Mosul Dam. A breach of the dam would have threatened the lives of thousands of Iraqis as well as Americans at our facilities in Baghdad and prevented the Iraqi government from providing critical services to its citizens.

    […]

    The president, the chairman and I are all very clear eyed about the challenges ahead. We are pursuing a long-term strategy against ISIL because ISIL clearly poses a long-term threat. We should expect ISIL to regroup and stage new offenses.

    And the U.S. military’s involvement is not over. President Obama has been very clear on this point. Our objectives remain clear and limited — to protect American citizens and facilities, to provide assistance to Iraqi forces as they confront ISIL, and to join with international partners to address the humanitarian crisis.

    […]

    GEN. DEMPSEY: Well, the immediacy — the immediacy is in the number of Europeans and other nationalities who have come to the region to become part of that ideology. And those — those folks can go home at some point.

    It’s why I have conversations with my European colleagues about their southern flank of NATO, which I think is actually more threatened in the near term than we are. Nevertheless, because of open borders and immigration issues, it’s an — it’s an immediate threat. That is to say, the fighters who may leave the current fight and migrate home.

    Longer term, it’s about ISIL’s vision, which includes — I actually call ISIL, here we go, right, ISIS, I-S-I-S, because it’s easier for me to remember that their long-term vision is the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. And al-Sham includes Lebanon, the current state of Israel, Jordan, Iraq, Syria and Kuwait.

    If they were to achieve that vision, it would fundamentally alter the face of the Middle East and create a security environment that would certainly threaten us in many ways.

    FWIW.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  79. 79
    Berial says:

    Naked Capitalism suggests that the reason we’re having a hard time fighting terrorism is because we have allies that are supporting it and we are supporting them, and is some cases we are supporting the terrorists ourselves. They suggest that ICIS has in fact had support from the US in the fight against Syria.

    Even if untrue the whole area is a mess and I doubt the US is doing much but damage at this point.

  80. 80
    Mandalay says:

    @pamelabrown53:

    Actually, your comment about how there are more British Muslims in ISIS than in the British military leads me to an opposite conclusion. Why wouldn’t they want to target their own country?

    They do, they have already, and I’m sure they will again and again and again.

    ISIS may prove to be only a transient threat, but disillusioned Muslims living in the West will not. Eradicate ISIS tomorrow, and we will still be playing whac-a-mole next year with someone else.

  81. 81
    askew says:

    You are being a nervous Nellie.

    And Congress doesn’t want anything to do with making this decision and told Obama that in a meeting a couple of weeks ago:

    Mingling with Senate Democrats at the White House earlier this summer, President Obama had a tart comeback to the suggestion that he should seek a vote of Congress before deepening American military involvement in Iraq.

    “Guys, you can’t have it both ways here,” Mr. Obama told the group, according to Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia. “You can’t be ducking and dodging and hiding under the table when it comes time to vote, and then complain about the president not coming to you” for authorization.

  82. 82
    burnspbesq says:

    @Paul in KY:

    I would like to see Israel take care of their problem with Isis (in a non-nuclear manner), rather than us doing it. I’m tired of fighting their wars for them.

    That would be nice, but (1) domestic political realities aren’t in your favor, and aren’t likely to be any time soon and (2) there is exactly zero reason to think Netanyahu won’t use nukes if ISIS pops up in Golan or the West Bank. The fucker thinks Hamas is an existential threat. You think he’ll exercise restraint when faced with a threat that really is existential?

  83. 83
    EthylEster says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet: thanks for posting the transcript. But I don’t think it explains HOW ISIS “poses an imminent threat to every interest we have”?

    If the Brits are worried that some of its citizens have joined ISIS and might return to the UK (and do bad stuff there), I don’t think air strikes directly addresses that worry. Is the plan to kill every one of them?

  84. 84
    Trollhattan says:

    @burnspbesq:
    Speaking of, Hamas was looking rather more sympathetic in the media’s eye compared to the ghoulish IDF overreach, but this shit pretty much spikes that.

  85. 85
    Mnemosyne says:

    @EthylEster:

    I think you may be overreading Hagel’s statement — in context, he’s not saying that ISIS is an existential threat to the US or that they’re threatening all of our interests worldwide, he’s saying that they’re an imminent threat to US interests in the Middle East.

  86. 86
    Betty Cracker says:

    @askew: Yes, Congress is a gutless hive of fuckturds and hypocrites for screaming for war from one side of their mouths while screeching about imperial presidents from the other. But they’re our constitutionally empowered gutless hive of fuckturds.

    Why should they be allowed to duck and dodge? Almost a year ago, Obama said he would seek approval for strikes in Syria. That didn’t turn out to be necessary, but the rationale for seeking approval then seems as valid today as it was last year.

  87. 87
    retr2327 says:

    @EthylEster: Well, perhaps this is my fault for not reading the non-elided version of Hagel’s remarks, but in the quote provided by I’mnotsure,etc., I don’t see Hagel actually saying that ISIS “poses an imminent threat to every interest we have.” So maybe that’s why he provided the quote?

    BTW, if that’s accurate, it’s pretty damn sloppy of the news organization(s) responsible.

    Edited to add: okay, now I’ve done my homework, and he did indeed say it, exactly as quoted. And, FWIW, comments like that tend to confirm my impression that while Hagel may be a nice guy who means well, he’s not really up to the job . . .

  88. 88
    Goblue72 says:

    @Matt McIrvin: Precisely. All around this planet, in various corners of the globe, there are loony tune terrorists death cults engaged in the fantasy of staging a terrorist attack on the U.S.

    Occasionally, once in a great while, one of them randomly gets close or even succeeds. Before bin Laden’s twin jumbo jet adventure, the last prior attack on US soil was the failed WTC bombing under Clinton. Before that, who even knows. 30 plus years ago, it was airline hijackings. 30 years from now, some looney tune sect will sneak exploding Xboxes into Wallmart.

    None of which will kill very many people in the grand scheme. We average over 16,000 homicides annually in this country. That’s six 9-11s every year, at our own hands.

    So, no – it’s pretty clear we do not need to burn any more money bombing Iraq to go waste the looney tune of the month.

    Too many people on this thread are all too easily falling for this shit. Again.

    Wake me when we start paying attention to actual strategic threats – like climate change or the rise of China.

  89. 89
    goblue72 says:

    @Mnemosyne: Which interests would those be? Our troops that we haven’t gotten around to moving out after 10 plus years of pointless war? Or the vast pools of oil we like to pretend that this is not about?

    The former has an answer that involves fully leaving the Iraq like we should have years ago. The later is becoming less relevant as the U.S. is becoming a net exporter of energy, and thus is increasingly less reliant on ME oil.

    If its such a threat, let the Saudis and Europeans deal with it. They need the Persian Gulf more than we do.

  90. 90
    Mnemosyne says:

    @goblue72:

    Which interests would those be?

    We have a lot of allies in the Middle East. They’re crappy allies who continuously stab us in the back (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt, among others), but they’re still allies.

  91. 91
    Paul in KY says:

    @burnspbesq: He wouldn’t use nukes, because he wants that land. Plus he wouldn’t need to. Israel could squish them like a bug, if the full power of their military was brought to bear.

  92. 92
    Paul in KY says:

    @Goblue72: We know they are no threat. The people in power who want them to be a threat will try & use their media mouthpieces, etc. to ginn up a non-existent threat (like they did before).

    Were you asleep 11 years ago, Rip?

  93. 93
    goblue72 says:

    @Mnemosyne: Your reasoning is not persuasive. Let them pick up the tab and provide the bulk of the forces then. There’s nothing written that say we have to lead from the front in protecting the interests of our crappy allies – esp. given a number of them fund terrorist groups.

    If the strategic threats is so imminent to the countries most directly at risk in the region, let them deal with it – with maybe some support from us as secondary or tertiary participants.

    They clearly aren’t, which makes it equally clear that they don’t think ISIS is much of a threat as we seem to do. Which leads to the inevitable conclusion that its not a true crisis rising to the level that we need to be involved.

    We shot our wad 10 years ago. Its time to go home and tend to our own knitting for a good long while. If the Saudis truly need help, let them put the boots on the ground first – and fly the bombing runs over Iraq with the air force we sold them.

  94. 94
    Mandalay says:

    @EthylEster:

    If the Brits are worried that some of its citizens have joined ISIS and might return to the UK (and do bad stuff there), I don’t think air strikes directly addresses that worry.

    Exactly right. ISIS is not the problem per se. The real problem is the people who are willing to join ISIS. If ISIS falls apart there will still be a long line of Muslims – including some living in Europe – willing to sign up for its successors.

    It’s worth noting that American Muslims appear to be more integrated into our society than their counterparts in Europe. I don’t know why that is the case, but maybe there are some lessons European countries could learn from us? It might be a stretch but maybe KAJ and Ali helped to bake in some tolerance and acceptance here for Muslims long before they became widely perceived as evildoers?

  95. 95
    goblue72 says:

    @Paul in KY: I was not. I opposed the war from the very beginning. I was fully aware of Cheney and Rumsfeld’s histories going back to Nixon/Ford – and certainly didn’t trust any of those necon fools.

    But there are some folks on this thread who seem to be falling into the mistake of seeing ISIS as some sort of real threat requiring action on our part. We can’t provide homes to poor people in our own country, yet we have the money to burn millions to billions bombing a bunch of religious nutjobs in the Iraqi foothills?

  96. 96
    Paul in KY says:

    @goblue72: I’ve only seen a couple. Certainly the ‘sense of the thread’ seems to be that they are no threat to the United States.

    That never stops the MIL Complex though.

  97. 97
    Mandalay says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    We can’t and shouldn’t do anything.

    There are direct consequences to doing nothing just as much as there are to doing something.

    If we ditch Iraq then it will turn to Iran, who will be only too glad to help.

    Arguments have been made that we are now back in Iraq for humanitarian reasons, or for our oil interests, or to defeat ISIS. There is surely truth in all of that, but Iran filling the void we would leave deserves a mention as well.

  98. 98
    goblue72 says:

    @Mandalay: Then let the Iranians have Iraq. Who cares? Let Iran try to contain the mess that is Iraq and take on the burden. Let’s all fire up the popcorn while watching the Persians try to run an Arab country and not have it turn into a disaster for the imans in Tehran.

  99. 99
    goblue72 says:

    @Paul in KY: It certainly never does. Our best option is just to choose not to play. We’ve sold enough bombs, guns and planes to enough client states over there that they can all go spend the next 50 years blowing each other up. Let them.

    We already produce more natural gas than Russia, and will soon produce more oil than Saudi Arabia. I hate frakking, but its here to stay. I’m not recommending that its good policy to keep dumping carbon in the atmosphere (more like awful policy). But it is what it is.

    And what it is, is that we don’t even need the ME for energy anymore. The Europeans do. The Chinese do. We don’t. We have the most powerful military on the planet and we are sitting on more energy resources than almost anyone else on the planet. And we grow so much food, we sent tons of it overseas as export. Guns. Food. Energy. We are Fortress America. Let the ME burn itself out. There are better uses for our coin.

  100. 100
    socraticsilence says:

    @Goblue72:

    No, I’m sorry, but sitting back and watching a little group of genocidal dicks set up shop in the most destabalized region in the world doesn’t sound like a good idea, not to mention the fact that its relatively cheap (in terms of lives) for the US to stop them. Going all Bill Clinton in Rwanda doesn’t seem like a great idea.

  101. 101
    Heliopause says:

    Mission creep has nothing to do with it. The obvious fact which history has made unmistakably plain is that this type of radicalism is a hydra.

    Just a decade ago there were, what, a few hundred to a few thousand of these fanatics in the world, depending on how you defined them? Now there are tens to hundreds of thousands. Not armed with just box cutters this time, but heavy weapons that we thoughtfully supplied to them. And we’ll just keep doing that because America speaks only the language of weaponry and death. This country was predicated on ethnically cleansing the continent and then importing millions of African slaves to make it profitable for the ruling class, don’t expect it to magically morph into the liberal democracy infused with enlightenment ideals that it fancies itself.

    In other words, it’s pretty much hopeless. One wing of the oligarchy favors targeted actions that only make things worse, the other wing favors large-scale action that makes things much worse. Nobody is thinking more than five minutes into the future.

  102. 102
    Betty Cracker says:

    @goblue72: I find it difficult to disagree with anything you’ve said here.

  103. 103
    Ernest Pikeman says:

    I’d say something is up. The Republican-Media-Industrial complex is starting to warm their FearMonger2016 engines with all that bullshit how IS is going to attack The Homeland – just like those wily Sandinistas in the 80’s. Never mind that while said Sandinistas could theoretically have driven their Hiluxes from Managua to Houston, they did not, being not-utterly-insane. Maybe Russia will help IS by rebuilding the Bering Land Bridge or something.

    I really don’t think Obama could be persuaded to escalate. But. Watch how the rhetoric of fear gets escalated after November when the preznit game starts again. Republicans are going to troll Hillary relentlessy painting her as weak kneed appeaser. I hope she won’t feed the trolls, but I’m somewhat pessimistic.

    (Why, yes, I’m in the middle of NIxonland…)

  104. 104
    Keith G says:

    @Betty Cracker: Sorry for the delay. Sometimes work needs all of my limited attention.

    I get what you are conveying and there is much merit to it.

    I’m not so sure, Keith. The question is, does a large swath of the Middle East really want to be under the rule of these batshit crazy fucks? I think the answer is no. ISIS has only gotten as far as it has in Sunni areas that feel oppressed by Shiites

    Yeah, the ISIS we know is not an entity that can hold territory and mold a state. It can, however, be a strong force for destabilizing those parts of that area that are not yet in the ditch (states we care a lot about). And further, it acts to give birth to experienced extremist warriors the way nebulae can be a nursery for stars.

    …except in a very limited way to enable the non-crazy political actors to get their shit together. If it’s limited to that, I can understand the rationale. But I think it needs to be made explicit to the American people and consent should be gained via the crazy fucks in Congress.

    I think it would be very limited. What we would do is keep them disorganized, make them spend more of their resources on scurrying about and in replacing equipment and men that we blow up.

    I may sound extreme, but ISIS militants need to die… and if that can be done before they find urban areas to duck into, all will be better off.

    We cannot destroy them and we cannot heal the area. What I think we will be doing for quite some time is stepping in, when appropriate, and clearing out the vermin so that maybe – somehow – those nascent political groups actually interested in constructing more peaceful societies have a chance to try.

  105. 105
    Mandalay says:

    @goblue72:

    Then let the Iranians have Iraq. Who cares?

    Well off the top of my head…Chevron, BP, Exxon, Shell, Haliburton, Schlumberger, Saudia Arabia, Israel, the NSA, the CIA, Turkey, Pakistan, Syria, Sunnis everywhere, the Kurds, Kuwait, and Russia (which will be ejaculating in its pants at the prospect).

    So no biggie, right?

    We can revisit your happy go lucky approach once Assad allows Iranian and Russian troops to remain on Syrian soil to provide “humanitarian assistance” after they help him to defeat ISIS.

    You may not care about what Iran does, but others do, and there would be real consequences.

  106. 106
    Goblue72 says:

    @socraticsilence: then you can pay for it. Me, I want my $2T back.

    This stuff is NOT cheap and its time we started getting serious as liberals in acknowledging that loudly all the damn time. For one single cruise missle used to blow up a nut on a camel, we could send 35 poor kids to four years at a public university for free.

    Budgets are choices and expressions of public policy priorities. We need to accept those limits and make policy decisions within that framework. We cannot have these foreign policy / war machine discussions in the absence of their monetary cost.

    What is the cost/benefit to spending over a million dollars to kill a nut on a camel in the Iraq foothills?

  107. 107
    Goblue72 says:

    @Mandalay: there are consequences to every action. That’s just a tautology. What matters is context and probability.

    What you’ve outlined is the kind of pull it out my butt scare scenario that is more Fox News than anything.

    You’ve outlined nothing that involves a material strategic threat to the primary interests of the United States as a country. Exxon can go boo hoo hoo, but its not our job as a country to ensure their profit margins.

  108. 108
    Keith G says:

    @goblue72:

    We are Fortress America.

    Snark? Or are you filling out applications to join the tea baggers?

    America, fortress or otherwise, is part of a global economic system. The price we pay for energy is set by a world-wide market and not by how much carbon is still sitting under our territory. It would be wonderful if it were otherwise, but it is not. We thrive with an orderly world and we have a stake in doing reasonable things to stop the spread of disorder.

    Fortress America is a wet dream. When you wake up all you have is a mess.

  109. 109
    Goblue72 says:

    @Mandalay: 6% of Europe is Muslim. 0.8% of the U.S. is.

    That’s your reason – we don’t have enough to form substantial cultural communities able to form unassimilated communities – our Muslims have to assimilate. Theirs don’t.

    I’m painting a general analysis here, just on the basis of numbers and how immigrant groups have historically formed self contained communities when they gave sufficient numbers. (Chinatown or Little Italy anyone?)

  110. 110
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Keith G: I’m for less disorder and fewer barbaric head-loppers too, but I’m having a hard time thinking of an incident where the US intervened and didn’t make things even more fucked up in the long term. Well, WW2. But beyond that? I got nothing.

    Someone will chime in shortly with Libya, but Libya is a fucked up mess. The threat of force arguably got Syria’s chemical weapons destroyed, and that’s a good thing. But I’m not sure it appreciably moved the needle any more than averting one mass killing in Libya reduced the overall violence quotient or increased stability in that country.

    Like I said above, I think Obama is trying to give the non-crazies enough space to work out a political solution, and that’s arguably a sound approach. I’m on the fence, though. Leaving the lot to sort out their own ancient hatreds doesn’t seem like such a dumb idea to me.

  111. 111
    Hawes says:

    Obama will be VERY reluctant to place US boots back into Iraq. He might put US troops into Kurdish areas, but otherwise he will follow the “liberal interventionist” playbook of using US air power and indigenous ground forces to achieve a marginally better outcome than otherwise would have happened. (See Bosnia, Kosovo, Libya).

    Ultimately, the focus should be on a new “Sunni Awakening” to get them to stop aiding ISIL, but how you motivate them is tricky. Personally, I think they should create a Sunni state that stretches from Anbar to Antioch. Syria and Iraq are fiction of the League of Nations anyway. The League is dead, so should those disjointed states be.

  112. 112
    Keith G says:

    @Steeplejack:

    You gotta have a mission before you can have mission creep. We stirred up the anthill with a stick in ’03, and ever since the ants started running around biting everything we’ve just been hopping up and down and slapping at our Dockers.

    Sounds like you are saying that there needs to be an organizing principle – maybe the U.S. must develop an “overarching” strategy to confront the violence in that area?

  113. 113
    Hawes says:

    @Betty Cracker: Incidents where the US made a positive difference: Bosnia, Kosovo, Liberia and, yes, Libya.

    Libya would have been a genocide, instead it’s a low level civil war. That’s awful instead of being horrific. It’s Syria instead of Rwanda.

  114. 114
    Keith G says:

    @Betty Cracker: I think a version of the Biden approach, voiced in 07-08, might be a workable direction. We shouldn’t set up shop, but we might be advised to stop by from time to time to mow the lawn, as needed.

    I just have come to the point where as bad as we can imagine our actions here might be, I think that doing nothing, or not enough, will be even worse. It might very well lead to a cluster of expanding problems and crises that we would have to re-enter anyway and at even a higher cost.

    We are stuck with shitty options.

    Side note: I wish to hell that Obama had led a jihad against Cheney and the neocons the way that the GOP and Reagan attacked liberals in the late 70s and early 80s. They needed to be blamed, castigated, and branded has the harmful liars who damaged this country and squandered our resources.

    Obama did not, and without a prominent voice that true narrative has passed away.

    We have no good choices and they (Cheney et al.) are cause of the bottomless lake of shit we are paddling in.

  115. 115
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Goblue72:

    That’s your reason – we don’t have enough to form substantial cultural communities able to form unassimilated communities – our Muslims have to assimilate. Theirs don’t.

    In many cases in Europe, their Muslims aren’t allowed to assimilate. There are third-generation Turks living in Germany who are not German citizens. Most of the countries of Europe operate under a “jus sanguinis” principle of citizenship that says that your parents (usually both) have to be citizens for you to also be one, regardless of where you’re born. The US is actually somewhat unusual in having birth citizenship.

  116. 116
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Keith G: Maybe you’re right. I’m conflicted about it. The older I get, the less certain I am about shit. I don’t miss being 20 except for the certainty!

    RE: Obama and the Bush criminal enterprise, I can understand why Obama couldn’t take on the j’accuse role himself. But I wish someone had. Too many of our Dems compromised themselves with their votes to authorize that clusterfuck.

  117. 117
    burnspbesq says:

    @Trollhattan:

    Hamas was looking rather more sympathetic in the media’s eye compared to the ghoulish IDF overreach, but this shit pretty much spikes that.

    Feckin’ idjits. Hard to believe that there is an insurgent group anywhere in the world dumber and more tone deaf than the Real IRA, but Hamas is giving them a run for their money.

  118. 118
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @Mnemosyne: Not only that, but there are substantial Muslim communities in the US – they don’t just assimilate. E.g. Dearborn, MI:

    The city’s population includes 40,000 Arab Americans.[17] Ethnic Arabs own many shops and businesses, offering services in both English and Arabic.[18] In the 2010 census, Arab Americans comprised 40% of Dearborn’s population; many have been in the city for several generations. The city has the largest proportion of Arab Americans in the United States.[19] As of 2006 Dearborn also has the largest Lebanese American population in the United States.[20]

    Goblue72’s brush is a little broad…

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  119. 119
    EthylEster says:

    @Mnemosyne: Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel dramatically upgraded the U.S. government’s estimation of the threats America faces from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on Thursday, saying its jihadi network represents ‘an imminent threat to every interest we have, whether it’s in Iraq or anywhere else.’

    ISIS is ‘as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen,’ Hagel told a group of reporters during a joint press conference he held with Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey.

    ‘They’re beyond just a terrorist group.They marry ideology and a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. They are tremendously well funded. …This is beyond anything we’ve seen, so we must prepare for everything.’

    The above should have been block quoted. Link below.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new.....Foley.html

  120. 120
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @Hawes: South Korea, also, too. (Though it took a while for things go democratic.)

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  121. 121
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @EthylEster: As mentioned above, the context for all of Hagel’s comments was Iraq and the surrounding area.

    SECRETARY OF DEFENSE CHUCK HAGEL: Good afternoon, everybody.

    As the U.S. Central Command continues to provide regular updates about our military support to Iraq and Kurdish forces, this afternoon, I want to say a few words about what this assistance has accomplished over the last two weeks and what, based on the president’s guidance, we can expect going forward.

    He’s not saying ISIL is an immediate threat to Omaha, or the Strategic HFCS Reserve, or expanded copyright protection for KPop, or something. ;-)

    HTH.

    Cheers,
    Scott.
    (Who agrees that Hagel needs to be more careful in his choice of words in these days of the 3 second sound bite…)

  122. 122
    Keith G says:

    @Betty Cracker: At least (fer better or fer worse) we will be able to see which of the many view of this are more correct than the others rather soon.

  123. 123
    MattT says:

    I’m actually fine with “smoke those fuckers whenever they raise their heads.”

  124. 124
    Goblue72 says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet: of course it is – but you can find exceptions to any generality. The exceptions don’t prove anything. Detroit is a rarity, not the general rule.

    The facts remain – Europe’s concentration of Muslims is 6 times the U.S. That is a materially significant difference which you’d expect to raise differing issue. If Mexican migrants were only 1/2 of 1 percent of the US, I’d expect we wouldn’t have the kinds of “illegals go home” xenophobia with respect to Mexicans we have.

    I’d also agree with Memo – depending on the European country, their immigration policies play a role in preventing assimilation.

    I’m aware of the German policy with respect to the awful permanent guest worker status Turks find themselves in. Although Germany doesn’t often come to mind for these kinds of issues – often it’s France and the U.K.

  125. 125
    Goblue72 says:

    @Betty Cracker: Agreed. There’s a whole lot of hand waving about how we need to be the world’s policeman and not much facts in evidence that we get materially better outcomes when we try to do so.

  126. 126
    goblue72 says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet: For which we have to pay to maintain 28,500 personnel in South Korea, over 50 years after the cessation of hostilities, at an annual non-personnel costs of $330 million NET of contributions from South Korean. That’s $330 million a year NOT counting the actual costs to pay all those troops. The average cost per U.S. servicemember in direct personnel costs (salary plus benefits) is about $80,000. That’s $2.3 billion on personnel costs back of the envelope.

    Just on non-personnel cost savings alone, based on average cost to rent in the U.S., you could house roughly 30,000 homeless veterans annually for the $330 million in non-personnel costs. That would cut the rate of homelessness among veterans in HALF.

  127. 127
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @goblue72: Yup, military bases overseas are expensive. No doubt.

    But I was answering Betty’s question about “an incident where the US intervened and didn’t make things even more fucked up in the long term.” I think South Korea fits. AFAIK, the people of South Korea don’t think our intervention was a mistake.

    Disagree?

    Thanks.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  128. 128
    mclaren says:

    Yes of course we’re getting dragged back into Iraq. And no, Betty, you’re not being a Nervous Nelly. You’re being sensible.

    This is not my first rodeo. I watched this whole shitstorm play out when I was a little kid during the Vietnam war. First it was only “we’re sending a few advisors.” Then we were only “providing some military aid.” Then we sent troops in. Pretty damn soon Gen. Westmoreland was calling for a half a million troops and the conservative candidate for president, Barry Goldwater, was talking about using nuclear weapons.

    I utterly totally disagree with John Cole about this. We need to get the hell out of Iraq and stay the hell out. Every possible excuse will be used to drag us back in — “Think of the children!” “It’s genocide!” “We need to help the helpless victim!” These are exactly the same excuses used to drag us into Iraq in 2003, into Somalia in 1992, and into Vietnam in 1965.

    America is not god. We are not the lords of all space and time. We don’t have infinite power or infinite wisdom.

    Americans need to wake up realize that when we start bombing and supply military aid and sending military advisors to other countries, it is very likely that we will wind up making the problems we are trying to solve worse through our actions.

    It has happened time and time and time again. We supply weapons to this great anti-Soviet insurgent named Bin Laden…and the next thing you know, he’s using ’em against us. We support a right-wing dictator in South Vietnam named Ngo Din Diem and pretty soon he turns on us and JFK signs off on his assasination by an internal coup and things really fall apart. We bomb Cambodia in an effort to win the Vietnam war and the result is Pol Pot taking power and embarking on genocide of his own people.

    On and on it goes. Can you tell with reasonable certainty the end result of this kind of massive military action? Unless you can, you’d better just back off. Americans need to learn some humility. This talk about “running the world” (one goofball on this forum described that as the U.S. president’s job — a better description of wild overweening hubris, I’ve never seen) is delusional. Americans can’t even manage to run their own bus system or train system without crack-ups and derailments. How the hell are we gonna run the world?

  129. 129
    mclaren says:

    @drkrick:

    The blank check Congress wrote back in 2003 (over the objection of about half of the country) covers this, doesn’t it?

    The big problem is that the blank check Congress wrote back in 2001, the AUMF, covers this. It’s a blank check for eternal war everywhere forever. Absolute insanity.

    The AUMF is remarkably short, only a couple of hundred words, but it gives the president limitless power, violates just about every provision of the constitution, and requires both the president and congress to have the omniscience of gods and the powers of immortals:

    Joint Resolution

    To authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States.

    Whereas, on September 11, 2001, acts of treacherous violence were committed against the United States and its citizens; and

    Whereas, such acts render it both necessary and appropriate that the United States exercise its rights to self-defense and to protect United States citizens both at home and abroad; and

    Whereas, in light of the threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by these grave acts of violence; and

    Whereas, such acts continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States; and

    Whereas, the President has authority under the Constitution to take action to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States: Now, therefore, be it

    Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

    SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This joint resolution may be cited as the ‘Authorization for Use of Military Force’.

    SEC. 2. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.

    (a) IN GENERAL- That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

    (b) War Powers Resolution Requirements-

    (1) SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION- Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.

    (2) APPLICABILITY OF OTHER REQUIREMENTS- Nothing in this resolution supercedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.

    Think about that for a minute. Let it sink in.

    That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

    “All necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations or person he determines planned, authorized, committed, or raied the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001…”

    That’s basically a recipe for war against everyone in the world. America aided the attacks on September 11, 2001 by giving military aid and weapons to Bin Laden, so this crazy “use of force” authorization even authorizes military action against America itself!

    And that magic phrase “he determines” is a real winner. How does the president “determine” these things? Well, he flips a coin. Or he shakes the magic eight ball. Or he throws a dart at the wall. Any method the president uses to “determine” these things seems to be legit as far as the 2001 AUMF is concerned. Even when Dubya was sitting at the desk in the Oval Office face down with his nose in a pile of cocaine and snorting away and yelling “Yeah! Let’s go invade Iraq! Sheeeeeeeeeeee-yit, we’re gonna have a GREAT TIME!” that was enough to insure that Dubya “determined” people in Iraq aided the attacks on September 11, 2001.

    The AUMF is absolutely crazy, and we’re still living under its reign of error.

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