ISIS: “Hell Is Where They Will Reside”

Ah, the time-honored veep role of serving as the President’s Anger Translator. The ISIS situation is just about every imaginable variety of horrible, and I’m afraid I can only agree with Paul Waldman in the Washington Post — President Obama “can’t win with media or public“:

… The ridiculous hand-flapping over the fact that Obama used the words “manageable problem” in relation to ISIS (they’re particularly excited about it over at Fox News) is reminiscent of the 2004 presidential campaign. John Kerry suggested that the “war on terror” wasn’t something that would end with a victory parade, instead saying the best-case scenario was to reduce terrorism to the point where it no longer required a constant war footing and public panic. “As a former law enforcement person, I know we’re never going to end prostitution. We’re never going to end illegal gambling,” he said. “But we’re going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn’t on the rise. It isn’t threatening people’s lives every day, and fundamentally, it’s something that you continue to fight, but it’s not threatening the fabric of your life.”

Naturally, everyone in the media screamed “Gaffe!” and George W. Bush’s campaign immediately turned it into an attack ad. In all ended for the best, because Bush won reelection, and by the time he left office in 2009, there were no more terrorists anywhere in the world and the tactic of killing civilians to achieve political ends had vanished from the earth forever.
obama isis bomb defuser eagan
It’s clear that neither the media nor the public has much tolerance for military undertakings that are complicated, lengthy, and have uncertain outcomes. If you look back at public opinion in past conflicts, what you see is that there’s usually strong support at

(Tim Eagen via GoComics.com)

the outset, particularly if it seems like the objectives are clear and everything will be concluded quickly. The trouble is that with a couple of exceptions, that’s not how things turn out. If we can wrap up the little war in a week or two, as with Grenada or Gulf War I, then approval remains high. But the longer it goes, the more public support degrades over time, as it did on Afghanistan and Iraq…

As Jim Newell explains, “If Thomas Friedman is the voice of reason on ISIS, then things have gotten out of hand“.

But I wanted to share an intriguing, if rather arcane TNR article by Grame Wood, “What ISIS’s Leader Really Wants“:

On June 29, 2014—or the first of Ramadan, 1435, for those who prefer the Islamic calendar to the Gregorian—the leaders of the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) publicly uttered for the first time a word that means little to the average Westerner, but every- thing to some pious Muslims. The word is “caliph.” ISIS’s proclamation that day formally hacked the last two letters from its acronym (it’s now just “The Islamic State”) and declared Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, born Ibrahim ibn Awwad ibn Ibrahim ibn Ali ibn Muhammad al-Badri al-Samarrai, the Caliph of all Muslims and the Prince of the Believers. For Muslims of a certain hyper-antiquarian inclination, these titles are not mere nomenclature. ISIS’s meticulous use of language, and its almost pedantic adherence to its own interpretation of Islamic law, have made it a strange enemy, fierce and unyielding but also scholarly and predictable…

“There is a mystical belief that, if you just establish the caliphate in the right way, Muslims will come to you and everything will fall into place,” says Fred Donner, a historian of early Islam at the University of Chicago. And it is precisely this promise of inexorable, righteous expansion that has drawn recruits from all over the globe—not just nearby, war-ravaged nations, but England and Australia and France, too. Together, they have formed the most monstrous squad of historical reenactors of all time…

So how do we fight ISIS? Giving Baghdadi more time as caliph might only make him more plausible in the role and allow him to draw more fighters to his state. If that is true, one concerned Western scholar told me, we would be wise to kill him fast. Right now only an infinitesimal number of Muslims have sworn fealty to him. The biggest danger is letting that number grow. Once he becomes a popular figure instead of a divisive one, his death will have spillover effects. “Killing the religious leader of even a small minority of Muslims is not good propaganda,” says Cole Bunzel.

But a massive invasion by the United States would have equally deplorable effects, because it would instantly convert Baghdadi’s squalid army into the world’s premier terrorist organization. A balanced and effective approach, then, would be to kill him as fast as possible and to use Kurdish and Shia proxies to arrest his state’s expansion. By confining U.S. action to surgical raids and proxy war, we might avoid accidentally anointing him or his successor Grand Poobah of the Mujahedin…

David Cook, a historian at Rice University who studies Muslim apocalypticism, points out that the battles preceding the Day of Judgment will take place in modern Syria, with a final showdown in the year 1500 of the Islamic Hijra calendar, or A.D. 2076. If ISIS scholars are right, we could be as few as four air strikes away from forcing the caliphate to find and appoint a physically robust man named Muhammad ibn Abdullah, who has both eyes and no missing limbs. The end of the world may be coming, one Hellfire missile at a time.

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115 replies
  1. 1

    Inevitably, the answer to any problem is that we must talk shit and bomb the fuck out of brown people.

    Obama’s “mistake” so far is that he doesn’t do the first and doesn’t do the second fast enough to appease the warmongers and war-fappers on the right who always seem to find money in the budget for more bombs even as they plead poverty about anything that might improve the lives of ordinary Americans at home.

  2. 2
    Trentrunner says:

    We’ve learned nothing.

    Nothing.

  3. 3
    Chyron HR says:

    a physically robust man […] who has both eyes and no missing limbs.

    Oh, I’m sure there aren’t very many of those left in the middle east.

  4. 4
    beth says:

    I’ve just about given up. I turned on CNN the other night and Anderson Cooper had on John McCain, David Gergen and Gloria Borger and all four of them agreed that OBAMA WASN’T LEEEEEEADING! WHY DOESN’T HE DO SOMETHING???? There wasn’t a single person on to give the other side of the issue – not one. Then he had some other intelligence guy on who insisted that because of OBAMA’S WEEEEAKNESS! ISIS would soon be over here doing something terrible (like what, gunning down a school full of 6 year olds or shooting up a movie theatre?).

  5. 5
    Someguy says:

    It’ll be a splendid little war, I’m sure. Get your war on! Yeeeeeee-haaaa. Murica!

  6. 6
    srv says:

    Once you kill all the clown-car terrorists, you end up with some real scary people.

    ISIS is going to be around for a long time, the Kurds and Shia will never be up to the task.

  7. 7
    Mike in NC says:

    It appears that any time some Idiot-American gets in trouble in a Third World shithole like Iraq or North Korea, it becomes front page news and our brain-dead media want the 82nd Airborne Division immediately deployed to rescue their sorry asses.

  8. 8
    srv says:

    @Mike in NC: CNN should just give ISIS their own channel for all the beheading coverage there was.

    If Baghdadi was really smart, he’d grab a few blondes off of a cruise ship. That’s how you win wars.

  9. 9
    gian says:

    the video taped murders (execution gives it a false air of judicial legitimacy) are calculated to get a knee jerk response.

  10. 10
    Patrick says:

    It’s clear that neither the media nor the public has much tolerance for military undertakings that are complicated, lengthy, and have uncertain outcomes.

    About two thirds of the American public was in favor of the Iraq war. Based on the result of that mess, the American is the last group that should be asked what should be done about ISIS/ISIL. They have no clue whatsoever. How about we fricking let our President do his job? He is the C-in-C. He is privy to all the intelligence etc. Plus, to go out on a limb, he is a tad bit smarter than the average FoxNews viewer.

  11. 11
    El Caganer says:

    What, exactly, is the “something” that the President is supposed to be doing? And, no, “leading” isn’t an answer. Specifics, please. The John McCains and the neocons and the Fox News crew are very big on doing something that involves lots of bombing (and maybe some Troops Who We Can Support, too), but aren’t real clear on how all of this is going to be conducted.

  12. 12
    Violet says:

    @srv: I don’t watch CNN. Have they stopped looking for the Malaysian plane to cover ISIS?

  13. 13
    Gordon Wilson says:

    @beth: Well fools rush in where angels dare to tread.

  14. 14
    flukebucket says:

    I just wish we could call the ISO or ISIL or whatever. When ISIS is mentioned I always get this ear worm

    ♫ I married Isis on the fifth day of May
    But I could not hold on to her very long
    So I cut off my hair and I rode straight away
    For the wild unknown country where I could not go wrong♫

    Drives me crazy.

  15. 15
    Eric U. says:

    @Patrick: I remember the numbers being around 50-50 up until the day Bush the lesser launched his vanity war. Then the numbers went up, as they always do

  16. 16
    srv says:

    @Violet: There weren’t enough blondes on it.

  17. 17
    Bobby B. says:

    Biden is confident Drug Warriors like himself won’t be residing in Hell.

  18. 18
    Violet says:

    @flukebucket: I always think of Wonder Woman.

  19. 19

    The shameless media wants another war, I suggest they enlist first and lead by example. They are pathetic.

  20. 20
    Roger Moore says:

    @Comrade Dread:

    Obama’s “mistake” so far is that he doesn’t do the first and doesn’t do the second fast enough to appease the warmongers and war-fappers on the right

    No, Obama’s “mistake” is that he got elected president instead of one of the warmongers and war-fappers on the right. If he talks shit, they’ll complain he’s all hat and no cattle. If he talks shit and backs it up, they’ll complain he didn’t do it fast enough or did it without kowtowing to Congress first, or that he’s trying too hard to take credit from the troops. There is literally nothing he can do that will satisfy the angry hordes on the right; even if he follows their every advice, they will find something to criticize. It’s about who he is and isn’t, not about what he has or hasn’t done.

  21. 21
    David in NY says:

    If you look back at public opinion in past conflicts, what you see is that there’s usually strong support at
    the outset, particularly if it seems like the objectives are clear and everything will be concluded quickly. The trouble is that with a couple of exceptions, that’s not how things turn out.

    Just rereading Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August 50 years after first reading and 100 after the events in question. It is stunning how Rumsfeld-like everyone’s view of the war was as it opened — the soldiers would be home by fall, six months at the most. Funny how it doesn’t work that way.

  22. 22
    El Caganer says:

    Somewhat depressing read: http://blogs.rediff.com/mkbhad.....n-analogy/

    I don’t see how we can develop a comprehensive response to ISIS without Iran, Russia and Syria. Would any US administration swallow its pride enough to try to ally with them at this point? Don’ t know.

  23. 23
    drkrick says:

    @Eric U.:

    I remember the numbers being around 50-50 up until the day Bush the lesser launched his vanity war. Then the numbers went up, as they always do

    That’s what I remembered, too, but I looked it up and it was in fact in the 60-70% range in the last few months before the invasion actually started. Disappointing.

  24. 24
    Violet says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Is there a way for people to ask every media idiot if they have served, which war were they in, and if they haven’t then encouraging them to enlist NOW? Every single one of them who advocates for sending our military in needs to be asked these questions every time.

  25. 25

    @Roger Moore: For the MSM he can do nothing right.

  26. 26

    @Violet: Ask them on their Twitter handles, may be?

  27. 27
    Amir Khalid says:

    Caliph, my ass. “Abu Bakr al Baghdadi” is an Iraqi warlord, nothing more. Even if he settles in as a de facto theocratic ruler of Iraq, his claim is based on nothing beyond the Islamic State’s bare assertion.

    How many of the world’s billion-odd Muslims will be prepared to recognise him as an honest-to-goodness Caliph? How many Muslim governments? Not many at all, I reckon. And what Shia authority would accept his caliphate? Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his Islamic State might well establish themselves and become a player in the region, but I really doubt that the Caliphate has been revived.

  28. 28
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @David in NY: and the War of 1812, the American Civil War, even the Spanish American War (they weren’t to pleased when it turned in the never ending Philippines Insurrection)

    What’s bizarre is they all want to us to do something right now. Isis is making themselves into the villain all by themselves, fine thank you. Eventually the Arabs will have to stop saying “for shame America” and do something. Then we can just step in and be seen as helpful.

  29. 29
    Shakezula says:

    @Roger Moore: If he talked shit he’ll be a Thuggity Thug Thug.

  30. 30
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @David in NY: It is stunning how Rumsfeld-like everyone’s view of the war was as it opened — the soldiers would be home by fall, six months at the most. Funny how it doesn’t work that way.

    It’s Mike Tyson’s line: “everybody’s got a plan until they get punched in the nose.”

  31. 31
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Violet:
    MH370 is somewhere on the uncharted floor of the Indian Ocean, five miles down. It could take decades to find. If CNN are smart, they’ll have found something more televisually interesting to cover. I don’t watch them either, so I have no idea what that might be.

  32. 32
    C.V. Danes says:

    Sure, we can go in and engage ISIS and we will destroy them. But then what? Our problem is not the destruction. Our problem is the rebuilding. As soon as we withdraw, ISIS 2 reform from what’s left, and the cycle will continue. As it always has in that neck of the world.

    This problem did not manifest itself overnight. This has been brewing for centuries. It took a couple of world wars for Europe to come to terms with its differences. Don’t see how the Middle East can escape that fate.

  33. 33

    MSM can’t handle the truth, instead they want the President to be the baby sitter in chief and soothe their anxieties.

  34. 34
    Patrick says:

    @Eric U.:

    I remember the numbers being around 50-50 up until the day Bush the lesser launched his vanity war. Then the numbers went up, as they always do

    From Gallup’s own webpage:

    Approval levels for the concept of war had been running in the high 50% range in the months leading up to last week. Support increased to 66% on Monday night, March 17, after President Bush made his “ultimatum” speech in which he pledged military action if Saddam Hussein did not leave Iraq,
    http://www.gallup.com/poll/803.....-iraq.aspx

    Again, let’s let Obama do his job rather than listening to the public.

  35. 35
    Jay C says:

    @drkrick:

    but I looked it up and it was in fact in the 60-70% range in the last few months before the invasion actually started. Disappointing.

    Disappointing in light of later info, maybe” but not all that unusual. Remember, up until 9/11/01, GWB had only been President for a little over eight months: eight months in which nothing much really happened. Newly-elected Presidents usually do get fairly high approval ratings: which, inevitably, fade over time.

  36. 36
    catclub says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his Islamic State might well establish themselves and become a player in the region, but I really doubt that the Caliphate has been revived.

    I think the Saudis have the most to fear from IS and al-Baghdadi. Mecca beckons. When the King made his statement about ‘they will be in Europe in a month’, he was projecting his fears.

  37. 37
    Tommy says:

    @Violet: And politician. I am a military brat. The first male in four generations that never served. How hard it was to move every 3-4 years. I found myself wanting to enlist in my 30s. I am so against war but felt it was wrong for others to die and serve and I wasn’t. Pained me at levels I can’t put to words. People IMHO need to understand. Serve. If they don’t I do not have much respect for them.

  38. 38
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @Roger Moore: Exactly. I trust that Pres Obama will take his time and ultimately do the right thing. Isolating ISIS and thus minimizing their reach is a good goal to strive for. There is no need for the all out war that the MSM and Rightwingers are craving to send other people’s children to fight.

  39. 39
    catclub says:

    @Jay C:

    eight months in which nothing much really happened.

    I remember a few things: breaking the anti-ballistic missile treaty. Submarine with VIP joyriders sinking a Japanese fishing vessel by breaching onto it. P-3 surveillance plane grounded by China.

    We were already getting our war on. They just thought it would be in East Asia.

  40. 40
    Patrick says:

    @Jay C:

    I think he is referring to support for the war, not support for President Bush.

  41. 41
    C.V. Danes says:

    @catclub: @catclub: I truly hate to use Nazi Germany here, but I wonder if we aren’t re-experiencing what people were thinking as the Nazi Party gained power in Germany. Maybe this will fizzle out, and maybe we are watching a regional/world war unfold before our eyes.

  42. 42
    evodevo says:

    @David in NY: Same thing with the Civil War – civilians from DC took picnic lunches to watch Manassas, thinking it would be great sport.

  43. 43
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Comrade Dread: It isn’t limited to just Teh Browns. It’s anyone not Ahmurrcan. WW1 is a classic example: the US let Europe feud for three years, jumped in for the last 10 months or so, and strutted on the global stage for the next 25 years bragging about how Ahmurrrcah had saved Europe’s bacon (which of course rubbed everyone – winners and losers both – absolutely the wrong way). The “quick, intense, results-driven” military engagement model was formed not in 1991, but in 1898 with the Spanish-American War, which was fought across the globe (in all of Spain’s remaining colonial holdings, natch) in a mere four months against a totally unprepared foe. The US had the stamina for WW2 simply because of Pearl Harbor, and that was the Day of Infamy mostly due to decoding errors at the Japanese Embassy (shorter Japanese Ambassador: “Um, we were supposed to tell you that we’ve been at war for about 12 hours, but it took us that long to decode our communique, and the attack that was supposed to follow the notification has been going on for about 3 hours now…”). Anything more recent has dragged on simply because the entire nation hasn’t been consumed with fighting.

    There are days I think “fight them there…” scaremongering is just Fuedalism scared sh!tl3ss by the airplane.

  44. 44
    Cacti says:

    @El Caganer:

    I don’t see how we can develop a comprehensive response to ISIS without Iran, Russia and Syria. Would any US administration swallow its pride enough to try to ally with them at this point?

    On all sides of ISIS are countries with large, well equipped armies and air forces (Syria, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia). The regional powers of the middle east need to solve this problem.

  45. 45
    D58826 says:

    @Comrade Dread: they don’t find more money in the budget for bombs – they borrow it from the Chinese and hope our grandchildren don’t notice that the IOU will come due on their watch.

  46. 46
    Citizen Alan says:

    @Patrick:

    Also, bear in mind that Shrub’s post 9/11 approval peaked at 97%. Even if support for the Iraq Invasion was as high as 66%, that’s still a precipitous drop for a wartime president.

  47. 47
    mai naem says:

    How can 10 or 20K ISIS militants so quickly take control of a good part of Iraq and some of Syria but the big ole USA couldn’t take control of Iraq with 130K troops who were better trained and better equipped? I can totally see that ISIS are a bunch of barbaric thugs, but I just think this is a group of people who are trying to get the US involved in a war we don’t need to be in, yet again. I also absolutely don’t put it beyond the CIA and the DOD to be fucking with Obama. The Saudis, Kuwaitis, Qataris and all the other conservative wackjob countries can deal with this all by themselves. Reap what you sow, dudes.

  48. 48
    El Caganer says:

    @Cacti: I would certainly be much happier if they did the heavy lifting and we stayed out of it, or as far behind the scenes as we could get.

  49. 49
    Citizen Alan says:

    @boatboy_srq:

    I have always believed that we would never have gotten into WW2 at all had the Japanese not forced our hand, and we probably wouldn’t have gone to war in Europe had Hitler not honored his treaty with Japan and declared war on us first. There were too many Republicans who saw absolutely nothing wrong with fascism and who were eager to try it here. There still are.

  50. 50
    Cermet says:

    Yes, we all need to fear this self proclaimed Islamic leader of a few tens of thousands fighters that lead, at best, a few hundred thousands willing and unwilling subjects – the well over a billion Muslims really don’t care.

  51. 51
    Cervantes says:

    @mai naem:

    How can 10 or 20K ISIS militants so quickly take control of a good part of Iraq and some of Syria but the big ole USA couldn’t take control of Iraq with 130K troops who were better trained and better equipped?

    Several reasons. For example, notice that many of the same people in ISIS now are the ones who made it so difficult for “the big ole USA [to] take control of Iraq.”

  52. 52
    Someguy says:

    Honestly, all you people who don’t want to wipe out terrorists right now are objectively fighting for ISIS.

  53. 53
    Patrick says:

    @Citizen Alan:

    I think it is apples and orange. Support for Bush is not the same as support for the Iraq war. The key point is that 66% supported the Iraq war before it started. They were wrong.

  54. 54
    japa21 says:

    @Someguy: Who are these people you are talking about? Nobody is saying they don’t want to wipe out terrorists.

    And the “objectively fighting for ISIS” statement is so ridiculous I wonder if you are Dick Cheney.

  55. 55
    the Conster says:

    Cole Bunzel, the Princeton doctoral student referenced in TNR article, is the son of old family friends from the Bay Area. I remember him as a little baby. Weird to see him as a go to authority on matters of Islam, although I knew that was his field.

  56. 56
    KXB says:

    If you start with our airlift of weapons to Israel in 1973 during the Yom Kippur War, US presidents have been “doing something” to try and stabilize the Middle East, with little to show for it. Scratch that – peace treaties between Israel & Egypt, and then Israel & Jordan are real accomplishments. But those were achieved when you had a genuinely fair US mediator, Israeli & Arab leadership that looked at long term benefits to peace, and the US picking up the tab. We essentially pay Egypt and Jordan to play nice with Israel.

    Everything else we have done, from propping up the Shah, to arming Iraq & Iran to fight each other, sending peacekeepers to Lebanon, being chummy with the corrupt Saudi royal family – and the grandest disaster of all – the second Gulf War – have been costly and created more problems than it solved. It will never happen, but I would love to see Obama do an address from the Oval Office, and say two words, “We’re leaving.”

  57. 57
    Roger Moore says:

    @catclub:

    I think the Saudis have the most to fear from IS and al-Baghdadi

    Maybe they should do something about all the money Saudis are funneling their way, then.

  58. 58
    Roger Moore says:

    @Cacti:

    The regional powers of the middle east need to solve this problem.

    Which won’t happen if we promise to fix it for them. I think Obama is quite deliberately refusing to take the leading role in an attempt to force the local powers to do something on their own, just as he should be doing.

  59. 59
    Amir Khalid says:

    @catclub:
    You’re absolutely right that Makkah would be a tremendous prize for al-Baghdadi’s group, but can they win enough of the Saudi people to their cause? I’m not convinced that they have the political resources to achieve it. I don’t even know if they stand a serious chance of establishing themselves outside the parts of Iraq that they hold.

    The House of Saud scream bloody murder at the slightest sign of a threat to them. They can demand Western help to preserve their position, and expect to get it because the West sees them as the Arab power friendliest to the West’s own interests. The West can protect the Sauds, I reckon, but only militarily. If they do fall, it will be a political failure: because they couldn’t keep the loyalty of their own subjects, which the West can’t do anything about.

  60. 60

    Too busy to read the thread, but that ISIS political cartoon is a perfect thing.

  61. 61
    Roger Moore says:

    @mai naem:

    How can 10 or 20K ISIS militants so quickly take control of a good part of Iraq and some of Syria but the big ole USA couldn’t take control of Iraq with 130K troops who were better trained and better equipped?

    The US did take control of Iraq very quickly. Our problem was maintaining control for more than a few months, a test that ISIS has not yet passed. They’ve also focused on a relatively low density part of Iraq, and one that isn’t on very friendly terms with the central government, both of which make things easier. I strongly suspect that trying to capture Baghdad would be biting off far more than they can chew.

  62. 62
    FlipYrWhig says:

    I hate the whole concept of “leadership.” How do you demonstrate “leadership”? Someone follows you, I guess. To do what? Isn’t that more important than “leadership” taken in isolation? It’s stupid, stupid, asinine, stupid and more stupid.

  63. 63
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Citizen Alan: Germany was pretty busy torpedoing US shipping (civilian and military) for months before Pearl Harbor, and Allied shipping with US citizens aboard from the start of the war: it was only a matter of time before a new Lusitania happened and the US had to act. So the US would have entered the ware later than 12/7/41, but it would still have become involved. The US fascists were more Franco than Hitler/Mussolini (mind our own business, protect our own industries, repress Teh Others without actually carting them off to camps en masse), so disengagement was preferable for them. I’m more impressed that the US was persuaded into a Total War footing in 1941-5 than that the country went to war at all: it seems to be a default for the US to fight wars it can afford to run while maintaining Business As Usual at home.

  64. 64
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @flukebucket:
    She drives me crazy
    Like no one else
    She drives me crazy
    I can’t help myself

  65. 65
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Roger Moore: DING DING DING

    Maintaining control is the key. You can seize the country, but our major malfunction was not having enough boots on the ground to maintain control, and was predicted by Eric Shinseki, who displeased the warmongering fucktards by pointing out that their plan sucked.

  66. 66
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @japa21: You need to fine tune your sarcasm detector.

  67. 67
    Roger Moore says:

    @boatboy_srq:

    I’m more impressed that the US was persuaded into a Total War footing in 1941-5 than that the country went to war at all: it seems to be a default for the US to fight wars it can afford to run while maintaining Business As Usual at home.

    I’m not. Yes, the US tried to fight wars of imperialism while maintaining business as usual at home, but every country did that. The whole point of imperialism is that it’s supposed to be profitable, so a war of imperialism that requires total commitment isn’t worth it. When we were faced with what we saw as a real crisis, as in the Civil War and WWI, we were plenty willing to go all out. People were plenty angry and scared after Pearl Harbor- and the simultaneous attacks on the rest of our possessions in the Pacific- and in no mood to do anything but fight all out. Once we gave that commitment, the war planners were free to use it as they saw fit, even though that made the Pacific secondary to Europe.

  68. 68
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Roger Moore: Hitler handed FDR exactly what he needed to make Europe the priority over the Pacific…by Germany declaring war on the US right after the US declared war on Japan. FDR had domestic political cover with that to deal with Europe first, which is what he planned on doing all along.

    Probably as great a blunder as Barbarossa was without knocking Britain out of the war first. Admittedly, Hitler did have a dumbass ally named Benito who launched an invasion of Greece that got it’s ass kicked that screwed things up nicely.

  69. 69
    japa21 says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Yeah. Having a bad day at work which tends to f**k with the ability to detect sarcasm.

  70. 70
    MomSense says:

    Did anyone else want to TP Dana Milbank’s office after reading his 9/1 opinion piece?

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....ml?hpid=z5

  71. 71
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @MomSense: I don’t need a specific trigger to want to TP the Dickwhisper’s office, car, home, etc.

  72. 72
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Amir Khalid: Saudi Arabia is a keg of gunpowder…huge population of young people who are, by all accounts, restless with the current regime…both components…the bandit House of Saud and their Wahhabist allies.

    The situation is simply not good, for anyone.

  73. 73
    MomSense says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    I would be embarrassed to publish that piece. I swear the villagers are like those contestants on American Idol who think they are hot shit and have zero clue how terrible they are.

  74. 74
    Berial says:

    I’m becoming convinced that a ‘Capitalist System’ can’t do news. It just can’t. News gets turned into a profit center and just telling people what’s going on isn’t going to bring in the eyes that the advertisers demand. No they, have to gin stories into he-said/she-said to generate interest even if one side of a ‘debate’ is lying out its ass about the whole thing. They won’t cover weighty but boring subjects, instead you’ll get the latest celebrity gossip or white girl missing story. News becomes worse than ‘infotainment’ because the news agencies have CAUSE to stir shit up. THEY would prefer we bomb somewhere because that’ll bring in more ad revenue FOR THEM!

    It’s a horrible positive feedback loop of bad incentives to deliver biased ‘news’.

  75. 75
    Someguy says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: @japa21: You need to fine tune your sarcasm detector.

    I suspect his comedic timing belt is broken. On the other hand, I for one am looking forward to our invasion, when we adopt ISIS’s tactics of control – inflicting our misogynistic religion on women, killing large numbers of people for no apparent reason other than they are different, and spectacular execution of people who belong to different races religions.

    In other words, it will look like an ordinary Friday night in Texas or non-ATL Georgia.

  76. 76
    Roger Moore says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    I’m inclined to agree with boatboy_srq that we would have found an excuse to declare war on Germany before very long, and that would have been all the cover Roosevelt needed. The real turning point was Midway, which made it clear that the Pacific was under control and couldn’t justify diverting effort from Europe.

  77. 77
    Roger Moore says:

    @Berial:

    I’m becoming convinced that a ‘Capitalist System’ can’t do news.

    Just “becoming”? What took you so long?

  78. 78
    Berial says:

    @Roger Moore: I remember CNN actually being something to watch during college, so I gave them the benefit of the doubt. I stopped watching 24 hour news channels after college but when I look at them now they are the front runners for what’s wrong with news. I was kind of hoping that the other news avenues were better, but when I look they are not. Surely there is some good news source out there SOMEWHERE?

  79. 79

    @Berial: BBC is certainly better at covering international news than any other news outlet in the United States.

  80. 80
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @MomSense: Well, I’m not sure about American Idol.

    The Gong Show, for sure.

  81. 81
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Berial: Once CNN got out from under Ted Turner’s control, and was placed in the guardianship of faceless MBA shitheads, it was doomed.

  82. 82
    Schlemizel says:

    I posted that link to the cartoon in an earlier thread this AM. You could replace the ISIS device with just about any problem currently laying on the Presidents desk. Everyone wants him to do something, just not the thing he does, whatever that may be.

  83. 83
    Tokyokie says:

    @catclub: Saudi Arabia supposedly has an effective military (which we have been arming to the teeth for decades. So let them deal with it. The House of Saud has been funding radical wahhabists for years to deflect attention from its own consipicuous corruption. They helped to create the problem that now threatens them. Let some of them die before sending U.S. troops over there again to save their gold-plated asses.

    @Patrick: Yes, 66% supported the war initially, but only because the Bush administration was lying about what was transpiring and our failed news media were promoting, rather than challenging, those mistruths.

  84. 84
    Schlemizel says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Al Jazera America does a very nice job, particularly on the Middle East. It deserves wider play.

  85. 85
    Schlemizel says:

    @MomSense:
    Only with well used TP, he deserves no less.

  86. 86

    @Schlemizel: I don’t get cable right now, so I have to yet check it out.

  87. 87
    MomSense says:

    @Schlemizel:

    Given that this is balloon-juice we should probably all shred up WAPO opinion pieces for our litter boxes and then deliver all our full litter boxes to his office.

  88. 88
    Schlemizel says:

    never mind

  89. 89

    @MomSense: Not that different than Frank Bruni’s piece this week.

  90. 90
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Schlemizel: I think he was using the Lusitania as an example.

    An undeclared naval war was well underway in the Atlantic through most of 1941 as the US supplied materiel to the UK. War with Germany was inevitable, Hitler just provided FDR with an ironclad alibi that none of his political opponents dared to challenge, even the Taft crew of isoloationists.

  91. 91
    MomSense says:

    @Tokyokie:

    The thing is that it wasn’t just the Bush administration. It was our media. They spent more time coming up with the War theme songs and intro graphics then they did doing any sort of investigation of Bush admin claims.

  92. 92
    MomSense says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Do I dare check it out?? Let me guess, hawkishly tough talking and doing wrong but decisive things that might actually weaken our security is better than sounding weak? So we can’t even speak softly and carry a big stick anymore we have to yell madly and bludgeon everything (including ourselves) with a club?

  93. 93
    the Conster says:

    @MomSense:

    Dick swinging – everyone wants dick swinging as foreign policy. It’s gun nuttery writ large. I’m absolutely certain President Obama is personally well endowed, which is why he doesn’t fall for the need to compensate for his own and others shortcomings.

  94. 94

    @MomSense: Bruni doesn’t exactly disagree with Obama, he just doesn’t want the President to level with us and give us the unvarnished truth.

  95. 95
    Patrick says:

    @Tokyokie:

    Yes, 66% supported the war initially, but only because the Bush administration was lying about what was transpiring and our failed news media were promoting, rather than challenging, those mistruths.

    For people that bothered to inform themselves, it wasn’t all that difficult to come to the conclusion that the 2003 Iraq war made no sense. Just a couple of obvious examples.

    Before the war started, I remember one Pentagon press conference, where the US media made fun of some foreign journalist asking critical questions. That told me to go read foreign sources to get a more balanced view since the US media couldn’t be bothered to ask critical questions

    Or why didn’t the Bush administration share its intelligence on where the WMD’s were with the UN weapon inspectors? That also was a hell of a big tell Bush/media was not telling me the real scoop.

    Again, anybody who bothered to could have figured this out. Instead most folks were out for simple revenge for 911 and the truth never really mattered.

  96. 96
    gratuitous says:

    @Amir Khalid: I tend to agree with your assessment of a self-proclaimed Caliph, in terms of drawing supporters. Jesus would have likened it to the seed that fell on rocky ground: It sprouted up quickly, but when the sun began to beat down on it, the plant withered and died because it was not deeply rooted.

    That being said, the immediate danger, in my opinion, is the immediate situation and the pressure to Do Something About IS. A lot of the people applying that pressure are the Magical Thinkers or the people who appeal to the Magical Thinkers. It’s the Ron Suskind school of political action, in which the conceit of creating a reality of one’s own can overcome niggling concerns such as time and space, geography and human autonomy and agency. There are people who think that simply by naming something, they call it into being à la God in the first chapter of Genesis.

    These are the people who think that the White House was “claimed” for Islam when Bob Bergdahl (father of Bowe) met with President Obama. Unfortunately, these nitwits comprise a very loud segment of the population, and there are a bunch of elected officials who will gladly exploit their nitwittery to win any particular morning.

    President Obama is wise to resist this crowd and its demand for Immediate Action! now. They’ll get distracted soon enough, and then a solution based in reality can be tried.

  97. 97
    John N says:

    OK, so, flash forward, we did it! Hooray for us! We killed every single member of ISIS! Aren’t we great?

    Now what happens?

  98. 98
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Roger Moore: If the US were facing wars of imperialism as such creatures, this would make sense. Everything from the Cold War onward, though (with the possible exception of Grenada) has been presented as an Existential Struggle of Epic Proportions, which isn’t exactly in the same realm as War of Convenience. Yet for everything after WW2 there’s been the assumption that things could go on as usual at home: IIRC the domestic corollary to the GWoT was It’s Patriotic To Go Shopping. I’d put cause here more on a) overconfidence amongst the warhawks; b) bad or nonexistent intelligence (either information-gathering on the target or lack of capacity amongst those who declare the wars, take your pick); c) insufficient loyal opposition when it comes to foreign misadventures; and d) the evolution of the all-volunteer armed forces, which while laudable in theory are in practice little removed from mercenary forces when it comes down to the sausage-making of foreign policy. Consider how likely GW1 and GW2 would have been were the draft still in effect.

  99. 99
    Heliopause says:

    Obama is indeed dithering right now, but that’s probably the best we can hope for in the current political climate. His policies make things worse, but less fast than GOP/neocon/Washington-consensus policies. So since our choice is make things worse fast or make things worse less fast, I guess we’ll have to opt for less fast. Possibly I’ll be able to live out the remainder of my life before America completely collapses so, yes, Mr. Obama, take as long as you need to make up your mind.

  100. 100
    Archon says:

    In terms of the pre-Iraq War poll numbers I do think there were 5-10 percent of people who knew the WMD charge was bullshit but thought that removing Saddam and establishing a pro-American, democratic client state in the heart of the middle east would be good for American interests, even if the war started under false pretenses.

    To that end I think beginning and ending the conversation on, “the war was a mistake”, gives Republicans a pass because they will always retort with the number of democrats (especially in leadership) that voted for it. I think we should also talk about how epically mismanaged the occupation was by a painfully incompetent administration being cheer leaded on all the way through by their Republican allies.

  101. 101
    Waynski says:

    @Berial:

    @Roger Moore: Surely there is some good news source out there SOMEWHERE?

    Try Mcclatchty:

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/

    IIRC they were the only ones who were calling bull*hit on the Bush administration in the run-up to Iraq War Redux. Plus they’re Canadian, so they don’t reflexively salivate about what our pols are telling us.

  102. 102
    VOR says:

    @Patrick: the US did share “Intel” gained from sources like Curveball with the UN weapons inspectors. But every time the UN checked out one of the US claims they found nothing. That convinced Cheney that the UN was worthless because of course those weapons were there, the inspectors must simply be incompetent or in cahoots with Saddam.

  103. 103
    A Humble Lurker says:

    @Heliopause:
    Huh?

  104. 104
    A Humble Lurker says:

    Double, sorry.

  105. 105
    Patrick says:

    @Archon: @Archon:

    they will always retort with the number of democrats (especially in leadership) that voted for it.

    I will never forget when Dick Gephardt stood with George W Bush at the Rose Garden announcing his support for the Iraq war. Just appalling. And history proved him wrong.

  106. 106
    boatboy_srq says:

    @A Humble Lurker: Somebody didn’t get his/her Unique Shiny Sparklepony for voting against Oz the Mean and Spiteful and the Wicked Witch of the Northwest back in 2008, so Nothing Is Good Anymore.

  107. 107
    Patrick says:

    @VOR:

    the US did share “Intel” gained from sources like Curveball with the UN weapons inspectors. But every time the UN checked out one of the US claims they found nothing. That convinced Cheney that the UN was worthless because of course those weapons were there, the inspectors must simply be incompetent or in cahoots with Saddam.

    Right, every time the UN checked out one of the US claims they found nothing. Two days before the Iraq war started, the UN inspectors were kicked out. And they hadn’t found anything. As I recall reading in a foreign newspaper, Hans Blix was frustrated that Bush hadn’t shared with him where the real WMD’s were. He still seemed sure that there really were WMD’s in Iraq, why else would Bush attack Iraq?

  108. 108
    Paul in KY says:

    @Jay C: His approval rating was about 48% the day before 9-11. He was going to be a one termer. I fucking hate/despise those Al Qaida scum.

  109. 109
    Roger Moore says:

    @boatboy_srq:

    Everything from the Cold War onward, though (with the possible exception of Grenada) has been presented as an Existential Struggle of Epic Proportions, which isn’t exactly in the same realm as War of Convenience. Yet for everything after WW2 there’s been the assumption that things could go on as usual at home: IIRC the domestic corollary to the GWoT was It’s Patriotic To Go Shopping.

    I think these two things are the sides of the same coin. All the wars since WWII have been at the very least wars of choice rather than fights for our basic existence. Wars of choice always need selling, and that has involved two parts. Part one is overselling their importance by claiming they’re Existential Struggles of Epic Proportions, or at the very least critical battles in the fight against some existential threat like Communism or The Axis of Evil. Part two is trying to minimize the obvious costs by claiming we can have guns and butter, having an all volunteer military, keeping the war off budget, saying it will pay for itself, etc. A good rule of thumb to remember for future conflicts is that anyone who says in the same breath that this is The Most Importantest Struggle Evar! (or at least The Most Importantest Struggle Since WWII) and that we can’t let it disrupt our daily business is lying through his teeth.

  110. 110
    Roger Moore says:

    @Archon:

    To that end I think beginning and ending the conversation on, “the war was a mistake”, gives Republicans a pass because they will always retort with the number of democrats (especially in leadership) that voted for it.

    I think this is why the claims that Bush, et. al. lied us into the war are so popular. It gives the people who voted for the war a convenient excuse for their vote: they believed Bush’s lies. Once they realized that the war was started on false pretenses, they opposed it, though the need to Support The Troops meant they couldn’t just wash their hands of the whole fiasco. It’s not a perfect excuse, since they have to explain why they were so easy to bamboozle, but at least it gives them some kind of excuse.

  111. 111
    John N says:

    @Roger Moore: Yeah, it was so weird back then, it didn’t matter how much you tried to explain that what they were saying made no sense, people wouldn’t listen.

    Our biggest obstacles are the news media. People trust them. They aren’t trustworthy.

  112. 112
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Roger Moore:

    I can’t really accept that excuse. If I — a (at the time) graduate student who listened to NPR — could figure out that Colin Powell was lying and there were no WMDs, what excuse do the people who supposedly had more information than I did have?

  113. 113
    Roger Moore says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I can’t really accept that excuse

    I don’t think you’re necessarily the target audience. The people who are really going to buy it are the large number of other people who supported the war and have since changed their minds about it. They’re going to be pre-sold on any argument that lets them off the hook for being suckers. It’s also politically good because it puts the blame squarely on Bush.

    FWIW, I don’t think access to more information in this case was necessarily helpful. The extra information the people in authority were getting had all been concocted by the liars who were trying to start the war. That also meant it came from official sources, which gave it added credibility. If anything, the access to privileged information contributed to official Washington being more credulous about the war because it was specifically designed to target official Washington’s weakness for believing crap if it comes from the right people.

  114. 114
    Berial says:

    @Waynski: Thanks! I’ll add them to my RSS feed.

  115. 115
    Mike G says:

    @gian:

    the video taped murders (execution gives it a false air of judicial legitimacy) are calculated to get a knee jerk response.

    Strange, because Fux Noise seems quite accepting of street executions when they happen in Ferguson, Missouri.

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