Excellent Question from an Awful Candidate

Cholly Pierce notes that tribble-topped presidential aspirant Rand Paul actually asked an important question during last night’s GOP debate shit-show: whether it’s wise for the US to be in the “regime change” business.

It started with a question about the complexities of no-fly zones in Syria, during which a couple of candidates revealed a severe case of Turkey-envy. Alleged moderate John Kasich responded with macho posturing: “It’s time we punch Russia in the nose.” That opened a floodgate of tough-guy rhetoric, including Chris Christie’s vow to definitely shoot down Russian planes.

Cruz seemed to shrink from regime change, primarily on the grounds that it’s something President Obama and Hillary Clinton have supported and is therefore bad. Trump basically snarled “I drink your milkshake!” And timid establishment hopefuls Bush and Rubio regurgitated neocon talking points in their respective styles.

Team Donk has a debate coming up at the end of this week. Sanders has opposed a no-fly zone while Clinton has supported it. I hope the moderators spend some time on the topic of the no-fly zone in particular and regime change more broadly. Pierce says, “It is an argument worth having, in both parties.” He’s right.






85 replies
  1. 1
    gene108 says:

    There’s no good answer in Syria.

    It’s escalated to something way bigger than anyone envisioned a few years go.

    Sitting back and doing nothing is not a good answer because Assad and/or ISIS will just slaughter more people than they already have done.

    Getting into a ground war in Syria is pointless, because whose side do you take to this many sided conflict.

    Doing what we’re doing now is better than nothing, but far from a best case scenario producing policy.

  2. 2
    MattF says:

    I guess, from a generic RWNJ’s point of view, the question is how ‘regime change’ fits with the ‘terrism + ISIS + blame Obama’ narrative. But it doesn’t– even neocons avoid it– so I assume it won’t get mentioned by any candidate. And, needless to say, no ‘journalist’ is going to mention it either.

  3. 3
    Adam L Silverman says:

    This is a great setup here for something I’m working up as a post for later today. So thanks Betty C! I also saw Pierce’s post on this late last night and was surprised that Senator Paul, let alone anyone else in the debate including the moderators, actually had anything to say along these lines

  4. 4
    Face says:

    Chris Christie’s vow to definitely shoot down Russian planes.

    And invite New Jersey to suffer ICBM-induced radiation in addition to what its Superfund sites already emit. I wonder if Jerseyians would even notice such an increase in gamma exposure?

  5. 5
    MattF says:

    Also, I was surprised by the astonishing stupidity of that Kasich comment/threat– and Kasich was supposed to be one of the smart ones. I suppose the conclusion one has to draw is that there aren’t any smart ones…

  6. 6
    Chris says:

    I’m happy that someone seems to have brought up the elephant in the room that you can’t fight everyone at the same time (as George W. Bush, who invaded Afghanistan first and then three months later was talking about Iraq, Iran and North Korea, was determined to pretend we could). Is the priority threat in the Middle East ISIS? Fine. Then that puts Iran, Assad, and Russia de facto on our side. Stop posturing stupidly at Moscow and Tehran.

    Rand’s take on it is way oversimplified especially in the Egypt case, but still.

  7. 7

    The U.S. government should not be in the business of regime change for the same reason it should not be in the business of executing murderers: it sucks at knowing who should receive the honor.

  8. 8
    Germy says:

    The Nightly Show’s Larry Wilmore just landed another big TV gig. The White House Correspondents’ Association revealed today that Wilmore has officially signed on to host next year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, which will take place on Saturday, April 30th. “Larry’s edgy, even provocative, brand of humor means he’s certainly up to the task of skewering politicians of all ideological stripes, and we don’t expect the nation’s news media to escape unscathed, either,” said WHCA president Carol Lee. “We are thrilled that Larry has accepted our invitation to be the featured comedian at our annual dinner, which will be the last during the Obama White House.”

  9. 9
    Punchy says:

    Doesn’t bringing down Russian planes via explosives put us–quite literally–on the exact same moral standing as ISIL?

    We’d be bombing a country’s planes bombing the group that bombed them for supporting earlier bombing. But I’m sure Christie thought all of this through thoroughly before he spouted off his idle threat.

  10. 10
    BGinCHI says:

    How could Rand Jr. miss the opportunity to say, “The only regime change I support is here in the US!”

    It would probably have been the wittiest thing said at a debate, though it is entirely stupid.

  11. 11
    benw says:

    I remember the end of “Top Gun” and shooting down those MiGs really helped Maverick get over his PTSD, and they were all cheering and hugging at the end. So I’m with Christie on this one: shooting down Russian fighters can only be a good thing!

  12. 12
    Anoniminous says:

    ISIS exploded across Syria and Iraq when the Iraqi Army shit its pants and ran away, leaving hundreds of millions of dollars of military equipment behind for ISIS to scoop up and use.

    Then, in its wisdom, the US re-armed the Iraqi Army with millions of dollars of military equipment and at the next confrontation with ISIS the Iraqi Army shit its pants and ran away, leaving hundreds of millions of dollars of military equipment behind for ISIS to scoop up and use.

    Now, once again, the US is re-arming the Iraqi Army.

  13. 13
    Just One More Canuck says:

    I have the local news on here and they just showed a snippet of the opening of the debate when they all had their hands over their hearts * (national anthem? pledge of allegiance? sound was off so don’t know). Ted Cruz had his hand inside his suit jacket a la Napoleon. Seemed fitting

    * Or at least where their hearts would be in a human

  14. 14
    boatboy_srq says:

    @MattF: It’s not exactly a new thing among the US Reichwing – even when discussing friendly nations.

  15. 15
    gogol's wife says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    OT, what is your brisket recipe. I kind of collect them.

  16. 16
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    O/T, but huge congratulations to Tom Levenson! NBC News has named his new book The Hunt for Vulcan:… as one of the notable tech and science books of 2015.

  17. 17
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Anoniminous: “admit it, Larry. You don’t come here for the hunting.”

    There isn’t a chance in hell that the soldiers who supposedly fled didn’t make bank.

  18. 18
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @gene108: we have no dog in this fight.

  19. 19
    Elie says:

    @gene108:

    This is a regional and Sunni/Shia civil war for control of Islam. We have no business in it except to try to contain its spill over into our world. That requires mostly police work and IT snooping with some containment pressures from boots on the ground (which should all be from the Islamic ME countries with maybe small advisors from the west). Its literally not our fight and indeed is not in line with our best interests. We have key relationships in the region, most notably, Israel, but while I am not advocating that we dump them, we need to be quite restricted in how far we go into this QUAGMIRE. Yes, we helped to make it worse but make no mistake, we were not the main drivers of this conflict by ourselves. We can give Isil victory by continuing to do all the wrong things here at home like give credence to the anti-muslim rhetoric and policies being spouted by the right wing. There is no easy 1-2-3 solution but time will sort it out and when the ME countries are forced to do their own work.

  20. 20

    @gene108: Trump actually stumbled into a good point without actually detailing it in the end – that we can’t fight both Assad and ISIS simultaneously. ISIS didn’t exist when Obama said that Assad had to go, but now that ISIS does exist, the most sensible plan is to accept Assad for now, go after ISIS, and then deal with Assad once ISIS is dealt with.

    That’s not unlike the pact of convenience we had with Stalin during WWII. We hated the guy, but Hitler was the greater threat, so you swallow your pride and you do what needs to be done and deal with the consequences later. While it’s unfortunate that Obama hasn’t been willing to make that reversal, I think it’s actually coming in a more durable form with the warming relations with Iran. If we can make a relationship there work, even only in the limited circumstances where US and Iranian interests align (such as against ISIS) then we may get somewhere after all. Unfortunately nobody in the GOP seems to be able to get off of their hard line and proclamations that we can defeat everyone, everywhere, for free and with full public support.

    And some of the stuff last night was just bonkers. What’s with the hardon for the B-52? We’re not in the business of mass bombing any longer and with the continuing advancement of drones, its unlikely we’ll ever be short of a full-bore war against another major power like China or Russia. Why dump money into that hole? Like it or not, the future is going to look a lot more like the X-47B than the B-52.

  21. 21
    gene108 says:

    The only thing I’m encouraged about regarding Republican foreign policy, at this point in time, is they seem to take ISIS/ISIL/Daesh seriously.

    Bush, Jr. and Company never took al-Qaeda seriously in the run-up to the 9/11/01 attacks and afterwards, when they diverted most of our resources to invading Iraq.

    @MattF:

    even neocons avoid it

    It’s amazing how thoroughly the Republican Party has separated itself from George W. Bush and his Presidency.

  22. 22
    Keith G says:

    To me, it’s becoming quite disconcerting that so much of our political energy during this early stage of the campaign is being spent on foreign and military affairs instead of the incredibly important domestic issues. Of course it’s easy to see why this is the case. When dealing with the former the question becomes what’s wrong with them. When examining the ladder we have to consider often painful questions about what’s wrong with us and our beloved systems.

    Although there certainly are those on the Right who are scared shitless about threat of Islamic extremism, I think most people on the Right are a bit more sanguine about it, but they are more than happy to play up the threat level so that conversations stay away from the economic scams that are being played upon the middle, and lower, classes.

  23. 23
    Gimlet says:

    Obviously…

    God will restore his people to Jerusalem when they return to him.[9] After this message of reassurance, chapters 38–39, the Gog oracle, tell how Gog of Magog and his hordes will threaten the restored Israel but will be destroyed, after which God will establish a new Temple and dwell forever with his people (chapters 40-48).[10]

  24. 24
    gene108 says:

    @🚸 Martin:

    I think it’s actually coming in a more durable form with the warming relations with Iran. If we can make a relationship there work, even only in the limited circumstances where US and Iranian interests align (such as against ISIS) then we may get somewhere after all.

    There’s a strong overlap in our interest to battle Sunni Muslim terrorist groups (for lack of a better parsing of the different sects of Islam), such as al-Qaeda or ISIS/ISIL/Daesh with Iran.

    They wanted to help us against al-Qaeda, after 9/11/01. but Bush & Co. blew them off.

  25. 25
    azlib says:

    @🚸 Martin:

    Good point about Stalin and WW II. If you are going to fight an existential war then it is good to have a partner who takes the brunt of the devastation and casualties.

    What gets me is why anyone would even consider ISIS to be an existential threat to us. It is crazy and makes no sense. But I guess the base of the GOP is crazy.

  26. 26
    gene108 says:

    @Elie:

    Its literally not our fight and indeed is not in line with our best interests.

    I think the issue now is two fold.

    First, you have a broad view of self-interest based on combating existential terrorist threats.

    Second, you have the initiative to limit human suffering in Syria, much like our entry into the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia were largely for humanitarian reasons.

    I think there’s a push among Democrats to try and limit human suffering, as to avoid a second Rwanda, which they see as part of America’s interest in being a champion for Liberty.

  27. 27
    max says:

    It started with a question about the complexities of no-fly zones in Syria, during which a couple of candidates revealed a severe case of Turkey-envy.

    That’s a bit odd, given that it seems likely that Turkey is trying to drag the US into a fight with the Russians. (A real fight.) The Turks would be up a creek without a paddle without our support.

    Sanders has opposed a no-fly zone while Clinton has supported it. I hope the moderators spend some time on the topic of the no-fly zone in particular and regime change more broadly.

    At this point, I’m not clear people supporting a no-fly zone even know what they’re trying to do. A no-fly zone has nothing to do with Daesh. The only aircraft to fight in Syria belong to Assad and Russia. The argument I saw from my Senator (Kaine) on Vox was that we’d impose a no-fly zone in some vague, undefined area, and then ‘Muslim troops’ would come in and occupy.

    Presumably, since we’d be engaged in combat with Assad and the Russians, the Saudis are tied up in Yemen, and the Jordanians have their hands full and are not likely to want to do that, then those ‘Muslim troops’ are the Turkish army. If the Turkish army wants to invade Daesh territory, then they don’t need our help, since I doubt the Syrian army is going to care. (They might protest but whatever.) If the Turks intend to occupy the YPG Kurdish areas, then there’s a bit of a problem there, on account of the Kurds being our friends.

    If the Turks intend to move in and fight the Russians out west, around Latakia, well, you know, good luck. In that instance, obviously they think they’re bad ass enough to win a war with the Russians, so they don’t need our help.

    If Hillary is arguing for war with Russia, then she should just come the fuck out and say so, in which case, I will suddenly develop a keen interest in preventing her from being elected president. If she doesn’t wasn’t to go to war with the Russia (where a ‘no-fly zone’ is just a pretend-humanitarian figleaf for escalating the new cold war) then what the fuck is she on about, exactly? It seems like an utter waste of time and resources to worry about a stupid no-fly zone to fight a Daesh airforce that doesn’t exist.

    It sure is sounding like she’s listening to Victoria Nuland (married to Donald Kagen, neo-con idiot), in which case avoiding world war III takes priority over everything else. (The neo-cons are dedicated to all war, all the time, and they’re dedicated to fighting the Russians in Russia as well, and those people are fucking crazy.

    max
    [‘That’s the most insane part of this campaign season and that’s saying something.’]

  28. 28
    cmorenc says:

    @MattF:

    Also, I was surprised by the astonishing stupidity of that Kasich comment/threat– and Kasich was supposed to be one of the smart ones. I suppose the conclusion one has to draw is that there aren’t any smart ones…

    That raises an interesting strategic question: if you are a smart guy, but your only path toward achieving a crucial goal is to compete in and win a contest for stupidest asshole, what is your “smart” strategy for winning the stupid asshole contest? Should you do whatever it takes to win the belligerent stupidity contest now and worry about taking care of the fallout later? Should you take a chance that a level-headed smart approach can prevail even in a stupidest asshole contest, when others have already failed at that approach?

    Not saying Kasich is necessarily a smart guy, but if he was – the above is precisely the dilemma he finds himself in. Getting nowhere with the smart approach, so he might as well go “all in” with stupid asshole and see if he gets traction.

  29. 29
    Cacti says:

    @gene108:

    Sitting back and doing nothing is not a good answer because Assad and/or ISIS will just slaughter more people than they already have done.

    Disagree.

    “We have to do something” is the reason why we still have hot military engagements in the same part of the middle east, 25 years and counting. Four different Presidential administrations have insisted on “doing something” and in doing something have improved nothing.

    If the new version of doing “something” is more than humanitarian aid, count me out. Doing “nothing” in terms of additional military commitments is precisely what’s called for.

    Our national good intentions have made a hash of everything we’ve touched in the middle east.

  30. 30
    Elie says:

    @Anoniminous:

    The Iraqi army fled the conflict because they are SUNNI and saw ISIL as compadres against the SHIA rule of Iraq. As I said, the whole region is in a religious civil war and we keep wanting to make alliances with the parties at war where the incentives do not line up. The incentives do not line up for us anywhere! Its ridiculous for the US to even think we can pick “a side”. Complete bullshit! Our best solution is the one we are following. It is messy and seems unheroic but its the most rational solution. We cannot do anything except contain any spillovers best we can and police the hell as well as disrupt their IT/social media tactics. I wish we could tell the House of Saud to go diddle itself and let them know if anything tracks back directly to any of their sponsors … well — they will regret it.

  31. 31
    Brachiator says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I also saw Pierce’s post on this late last night and was surprised that Senator Paul, let alone anyone else in the debate including the moderators, actually had anything to say along these lines

    Rand Paul, as a standard issue isolationist libertarian, has consistently been against regime change. The standard libertarian policy position is that the US should have a hands-off foreign policy, and only be concerned about an attack on the US itself.

    I don’t know if he is also formally against membership in NATO or the UN.

  32. 32
    Peale says:

    @🚸 Martin: I think it’s just back again to the idea that we never, ever, will relinquish the idea that those bombs and our ability to massively destroy things won WWII for us somehow. When Russia recently had that huge raid against Daesh and had 25 bombers in the air simultaneously, there was a little discussion about how expensive it was and how much time it would have taken to get that many planes ready for the one run. It was also noted that a very low percentage of our bombers were ready at any given time. I was surprised how few strategic bombers both sides kept in general. I figured we had hundreds if not thousands of them…like we see from old newsreel footage from the 40s. But that isn’t the case. But I think Americans still imagine that if we went to war with Russia or China that we could just send wave after wave of bombers like we did to Tokyo and Dresden and if they got shot down, we’d have plenty more where those came from.

  33. 33
    Cacti says:

    @Peale:

    Unlike WWII, which dragged out over several miserable years, WWIII would be over in less than week, once the nuclear exchanges started.

  34. 34
    cmorenc says:

    @max:

    If Hillary is arguing for war with Russia, then she should just come the fuck out and say so, in which case, I will suddenly develop a keen interest in preventing her from being elected president.

    Your practically available choice come Nov 2016 most likely will be Clinton vs an aggressively war-mongering GOP nominee. What do you do then? BTW: something along the lines of “I’ll do whatever I can to make Bernie Sanders instead of Clinton the dem nominee because [xxx poll] has allegedly shown he’s more electable” is NOT an acceptable answer, unless and until Sanders wins the nomination instead of Clinton – the question at hand is what do you do if Clinton IS the nominee vs an aggressively war-mongering GOP nominee? There will be no viably electable third-party candidate in 2016 – take note from 2000 how much your 3rd party vote will constructively influence an aggressively war-mongering GOP president.

  35. 35
    Elie says:

    @gene108:

    You are right, Gene– there is a human interest. However, it must be handled with great care and somehow, we have to thread a real needle with how to bring that in. The biggest blessing would be to negotiate a peace agreement asap, which Kerry and others are working on. Its hard to bring humanitarian relief of a substantial nature until there is enough peace to deliver goods and keep people safer.

  36. 36
    Brachiator says:

    @Keith G:

    To me, it’s becoming quite disconcerting that so much of our political energy during this early stage of the campaign is being spent on foreign and military affairs instead of the incredibly important domestic issues.

    China is expanding its territorial reach in international waters in Asia. This potentially creates a choke-point that directly affects our trading partners and indirectly affects our own foreign trade, a domestic issue.

    Any military action against China, would of course be insane (or Republican). But it is a valid foreign affairs issue that the current and next president has to deal with.

    Or do we simply say, “China manufactures our goodies. Tough cookies, rest of the world.”

  37. 37
    Mike E says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Sen Paul was like that one (no more than 2) articles of real merit that the now defunct Weekly World News put in each of their publications in order to claim ‘News’ as being apropos… Batboy, and weedwacker-raping aliens are par for the course in the current GOP primary, sadly.

    Quick question for those on the mobile site: what’s with the 2 ‘Reply’ options? Enquiring minds!

  38. 38
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Cacti: “Remember, mommy
    I’m off to get a commie
    So send me a salami
    And try to smile somehow
    I’ll look for you when the war is over…
    An hour and a half from now!”

  39. 39
    Peale says:

    @Cacti: Nah, I think future historians would write about WWIII as a long war with most of the world’s cities destroyed in days, then a lull as battles were fought with slings and stones with armies of 1000 like they were in the good old days before the Egyptians and Assyrians ruined the art form.They wouldn’t actually be writing, mind you. Kind of grunting to the beat of drums around a fire late into the night.

  40. 40
    Germy says:

    from The Onion:

    Terrified Jeb Bush Beginning To Fade From Visible Spectrum

    LAS VEGAS—His voice slowing during his response to a question about immigration as he struggled to comprehend what was happening to him, a visibly terrified Jeb Bush reportedly began to vanish from the visible spectrum while on stage at Tuesday night’s Republican debate. “Securing our nation’s borders has to be the first priority in our…our…oh…oh, God. What—what’s going on?” said Bush, who, upon noticing that he was growing fainter, raised his translucent hands in front of his face in apparent disbelief, staring through them in horror for several seconds before frantically launching into the rest of his platform. “Uh, we need more surveillance along the border, better enforcement of immigration laws that are already on the books, immigrants should have to learn English, uh, we gotta crack down on sanctuary cities, oh and also we must protect the Second Amendment, repeal Obamacare, lower taxes, and, and—no, no, no! Noooooo!” At press time, a CNN set technician had hurried onto the stage and wheeled Bush’s podium away as the dim remaining silhouette of the candidate faded from sight forever.

  41. 41
    Alain the site fixer says:

    Great question. It’s likely two plugins doing that; I’ll try to figure out which one can be disabled. I’m just learning about this new version of the mobile site, its settings, and how it all works.

  42. 42
    FlipYrWhig says:

    Re: Syria, I know I’m blue-skying it here, but what if there were some kind of multilateral-verging-on-worldwide association between governments that could be called upon to deescalate hard-to-resolve conflicts and “keep the peace,” so to speak?

  43. 43
    Germy says:

    I saw a strange story on ABC News last night. A contractor sold one of his trucks. Truck had his company name and phone # on it. The buyer/dealer said he’d remove the sign from the truck.

    Later, the contractor saw his truck (with his company logo and phone #) on TV, being driven by ISIL. He is suing the buyer for a million dollars. He says he has lost business and has received death threats.

    Apparently the buyer/dealer resold the truck to someone in Turkey, and then ISIL acquired it.

    Some weird shit.

  44. 44
    Brachiator says:

    @Peale:

    I think it’s just back again to the idea that we never, ever, will relinquish the idea that those bombs and our ability to massively destroy things won WWII for us somehow.

    Who thinks this? Even in popular culture, there are more movies about troops on the ground and long campaigns from North Africa through Italy and on further into Europe, endless and sometimes pointless battles in the Pacific, etc, than there are movies about anything accomplished by air campaigns. And there are endless stories about how the British defied German bombing and endured.

    Of course, there are dopes who believe that a politically neutered Air Force was prevented from executing effective bombing raids during the Viet Nam era, but even later Gulf War battles were won by troops and tanks, not aircraft.

    I don’t know of anyone, including neo-con armchair generals, who believe in the magical efficacy of air war.

    And war with Russia or China would be short and nasty once the nukes came out.

  45. 45
    Alain the site fixer says:

    Test

  46. 46
    benw says:

    @Germy: who ya gonna call? GhostBushes!

  47. 47

    @azlib:

    Good point about Stalin and WW II. If you are going to fight an existential war then it is good to have a partner who takes the brunt of the devastation and casualties.

    What gets me is why anyone would even consider ISIS to be an existential threat to us. It is crazy and makes no sense. But I guess the base of the GOP is crazy.

    Well, the Soviets had already taken the brunt of the devastation when they were invited in. They took millions of casualties and had millions of prisoners taken within months of Hitler invading. Stalin joined up with us after that happened. And we weren’t looking for Stalin to take the brunt of the devastation, but defeating Germany by retaking Europe and then driving all the way to Moscow wasn’t likely to happen. We needed the Soviets in order to defeat Hitler and the Soviets really did most of the work there – out of necessity. We would have had to commit millions more troops to Europe than we did, and it’s unclear if that was even possible while we were chasing around the Pacific.

    ISIS isn’t an existential military threat to us, but millions of refugees is an existential economic threat to Europe and neighboring countries. This is an untenable situation that is going to have to get resolved. Obama is right that the boots on the ground need to be Sunni Muslims, and it’s looking a bit more likely that may just happen, but this has to get resolved before the problems spiral farther out of control. We may see nations like Turkey collapse under this. We’re seeing a growing right-wing in Europe over this. These trends do not help the US.

  48. 48
    Punchy says:

    revealed a severe case of Turkey-envy

    I think you deal with Turkey by having no appetite for war. The Russian threats are small potatoes; they can be stuffed (or beet-en) back inside their borders. And anything good that happens is gravy.

  49. 49
    Alain the site fixer says:

    Mike,
    I removed that and turned off a bunch of stuff that had no use on the mobile site.
    I’m still awaiting feedback from the mobile site developers before I try to hack up their code. This is smart because it looks like the mobile plugin auto-updates which would overwrite my changes without warning.

  50. 50
    Cacti says:

    @🚸 Martin:

    Well, the Soviets had already taken the brunt of the devastation when they were invited in. They took millions of casualties and had millions of prisoners taken within months of Hitler invading. Stalin joined up with us after that happened. And we weren’t looking for Stalin to take the brunt of the devastation, but defeating Germany by retaking Europe and then driving all the way to Moscow wasn’t likely to happen. We needed the Soviets in order to defeat Hitler and the Soviets really did most of the work there – out of necessity. We would have had to commit millions more troops to Europe than we did, and it’s unclear if that was even possible while we were chasing around the Pacific.

    One wonders how the War in Europe would have turned out if Hitler hadn’t violated the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and kept the USSR on the sidelines, or possibly brought them in as an Axis nation.

  51. 51
    Repatriated says:

    First, if we need to level cities of a near-peer enemy, we have ICBMs for that. In that scenario, bombers are a military/political token rather than the actual offensive threat.

    Second, in terms of capability, a little F-16 can carry the about the same payload as B-17s did on long-range missions. Unlike the latter, guided ordinance means that it’s unnecessary to destroy entire cities to ensure strategically important targets are eliminated.

    I’m pretty sure that was what you were getting at in terms of the misconceptions some people hold, though.

  52. 52
    Mike E says:

    @Alain the site fixer: I know you are working hard, I’m seeing the results!

    A mobile back2top button at comments’ end would be nifty, too…thanks!

  53. 53
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    I knew it, the Earl of Grantham and his crew are joining the debate. Talk about the top 1%.

  54. 54
    Joel says:

    @🚸 Martin: Perhaps a more relevant example would be our dealings with Saddam Hussein in one of the previous iterations of what is essentially the same conflict.

  55. 55
    Brachiator says:

    @🚸 Martin:

    Trump actually stumbled into a good point without actually detailing it in the end – that we can’t fight both Assad and ISIS simultaneously. ISIS didn’t exist when Obama said that Assad had to go, but now that ISIS does exist, the most sensible plan is to accept Assad for now, go after ISIS, and then deal with Assad once ISIS is dealt with.

    Assad is protected by Russia. I don’t think there will be any “dealing with Assad” later on as long as he is under Russia’s protection. Assad also claims that he is a necessary part of any effort to deal with ISIS. I don’t know whether his claims actually stand up, but the bitterness caused by his treatment of his own people, now refugees, creates a new wild card that may affect the future of the region and prevent any dealing with ISIS. Iran is also a Syrian ally.

    This is a mess with no clear path to any resolution.

  56. 56
    Calouste says:

    @Cacti: IIRC it came out after the fall of the Soviet Union that one of the reasons the Nazis were so successful in invading the Soviet Union was that the Soviets troops along the border were positioned in an offensive rather then a defensive manner and that it looked like Stalin was planning on launching his own invasion in about August 1941.

  57. 57
    ThresherK (GPad) says:

    @Germy: I saw that also. Remember, some bad guys’ favorite truck is the Taco, so if you’re selling yours, be careful.

    I wish there was some commonsense think to add here. The first buying agency said removing the appliques would harm the elderly, and feasible, and nobody did it after the trade-in.

    Ah forrthe good old days when all one had to worry about was a Mercedes gettin stolen and shippedoverseas for resale.

  58. 58
    Docg says:

    If the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union was a success, I hope we don’t have success against ISIS.

  59. 59
    ThresherK (GPad) says:

    @ThresherK (GPad): Damn autocorrect. That’s harm the clearcoat and resale!

  60. 60
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Peale:

    I think Americans still imagine that if we went to war with Russia or China that we could just send wave after wave of bombers like we did to Tokyo and Dresden and if they got shot down, we’d have plenty more where those came from.

    There does seem to be a significant disconnect between the costs (and therefore the numbers) of weapons systems and the public’s expectations of their usage. The B-1, for example, suffered mightily from its high price tag (many multiples of equivalent numbers of B-52s), and that was nearly 40 years ago when the price tag was significantly lower and the Cold War was still going. Everyone knows “smart bombs”, for example, but nobody knows that JDAMs cost over $25K each, which means that a four-bomber flight dropping four of those each expends half a million just in the ordnance.

    People also forget that the US in WW2 could afford wings of bombers dropping fvcktonnes of bombs because the US was on wartime taxation: the US’ military as of 1941 was far smaller than it became by 1945 in no small part because without the higher wartime tax rates the US couldn’t afford a larger military. The reason that the public is in ignorance over the quantity of weapons purchased today is the same reason that materiel costs aren’t common debate items: weapons are expensive, and any suggestion of increased procurement or deployment is directly translatable as a significant expenditure – which means increasing the federal debt or raising taxes or both. Keeping the numbers fairly quiet keeps the public from being incensed that the modern equivalent of the B-17 with its bombload runs well into hundreds of milliions per unit – and the cost for that is coming out of their pockets.

    You’ll notice that nowhere in the “boots on the ground” jingoism is any mention of how horrifically expensive any such intervention scaled to have anything like a good chance of success* will be, or any suggestion about where the funds will be found; no small part of that is a general conviction that taxes are already too high and government has to do more with less. One reason GW2 was such a marketing success was because the public was sold first a war-on-the-cheap proposal and then an off-the-books accounting of the misadventure when the numbers turned out to be far more costly than first presented. Real Patriotic Ahmurrcans want a military second to none – but FSM forbid they actually open their wallets to pay for it.

    * “Success” here in terms of “the achievement of whatever tasking is provided”.

  61. 61
    catclub says:

    @Punchy: I am really developing a taste for your comments.

  62. 62
    Paul in KY says:

    @BGinCHI: Aqua Buddha was probably stoned to some degree.

  63. 63
    Paul in KY says:

    @Anoniminous: They are no better or worse than the ARVN.

  64. 64
    Paul in KY says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Great job, Tom!!!

  65. 65
    Paul in KY says:

    @🚸 Martin: Difference would be that we never had any serious plan/capabilities to oust Stalin.

  66. 66
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Elie:

    This is a regional and Sunni/Shia civil war for control of Islam.

    A regional war in the Middle East between Sunni and Shia would not actually make its winner the boss of Islam around the world. Why would Sunni Muslims here in Southeast Asia (for instance) take direction from Shia in the Middle East? Why would Shia anywhere take direction from a Sunni authority? What’s going on there is plain old-fashioned tribal warfare, more like a very big and very confused barroom brawl. There are the long-standing tribal/ethnic and sectarian fault lines that have been there for many centuries. There are the post-WWI national borders that were drawn through the wrong places. The danger for any outside party joining in, like Russia, is that at some point it could find itself on both sides of a sub-conflict. Other foreign powers, the US included, need to keep a distance between themselves and that risk.

    It doesn’t seem to me that IS’ Sunni “caliphate” is a sustainable nation state in the modern sense, not in how it’s set up and run, and not in how it gets along with the outside world. I expect it to die a swift and bloody death (by nation-state standards), while inflicting as much suffering as it can manage on those within its reach.

    Should Bashir Assad stay, or should he go? With him, there may be a case for leaving bad enough alone. He should go, of course, but Assad’s enemies in Syria need to be able to own a victory over him. So foreign powers shouldn’t work very hard at forcing him out.

  67. 67
    catclub says:

    @Punchy:

    revealed a severe case of Turkey-envy

    Those people flocking to those solutions, beating the drumsticks of war, have revealed a lack of compassion in their breasts. They will be carved into giblets by more rational opponents. Skewered by their own half-baked ideas.

  68. 68
    Paul in KY says:

    @Germy: Unless that was written into contract, think he is out of luck. Very sad situation for that guy.

  69. 69
    Paul in KY says:

    @Cacti: We’d probably all be wearing lederhosen.

  70. 70
    Calouste says:

    @Docg: Well, it was initially successful, in the first few weeks, maybe months. Of course, the Nazis were rather overoptimistic about the realities of invading and occupying Russia.

  71. 71
    catclub says:

    @Elie:

    The Iraqi army fled the conflict because they are SUNNI and saw ISIL as compadres against the SHIA rule of Iraq.

    I am not sure about this. I would have guessed that any Shia members of the Army in Mosul had very little faith in being backed up by the (sunni) citizenry in any battle with Daesh. They also knew that re-supply by the hyperefficient Iraqi high command was doubtful.

  72. 72

    @max:

    The only aircraft to fight in Syria belong to Assad and Russia.

    And us, other NATO countries like France that are attacking Daesh, and other Middle Eastern countries that are launching the occasional air attack against Daesh. The point still stands, of course; the only plausible target of a no-fly zone are countries we don’t want to be openly at war with.

  73. 73
    Elie says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Thanks for the correction Amir. It was my misunderstanding that indeed Saudi Arabia was the heart (and to some extent), the head of Sunni dogma and rules. Is Islam more decentralized than that? The Sunni/Shia issue has been written about in several places so I am surprised to hear you say that Islam is decentralized in who gets to make the dogma to that extent… Always good to learn new things but what are so many others talking about then?

  74. 74
    Punchy says:

    @catclub: You’re leaving me very Hungary for some Greecey, fried foods. When previously Iran to the grocery store, now Iraq my brain for good recipies.

    Afterwards, I’m going to sit on my Ottoman Empire-ate some bootlegged movies.

  75. 75
    Gimlet says:

    Bizarre

    Police Detective David Edward Abbott, a member of the Northern Virginia-Washington D.C. Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, committed suicide Tuesday before law enforcement could arrest him on suspicion of sexually abusing minors.

    Abbott, you will recall, was the detective in the noteworthy teen sexting case from July 2014, in which the authorities sought a warrant to take the 17-year-old male suspect to the hospital, inject him with a drug that would give him an erection, photograph his genitals, and compare the photo with existing pictures of his genitals the police had confiscated from his 15-year-old girlfriend’s phone.

    The teen was eventually sentenced to one year of probation. Here’s the kicker: Abbott sued the teen’s lawyer for defamation. The lawyer, Jessica Foster, remarked to the media that the warrant to take pornographic pictures of her client—to be used as evidence that he was guilty of creating child pornography—was “crazy.”

  76. 76

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Re: Syria, I know I’m blue-skying it here, but what if there were some kind of multilateral-verging-on-worldwide association between governments that could be called upon to deescalate hard-to-resolve conflicts and “keep the peace,” so to speak?

    The Republicans would hate it and do everything they could to undermine it, except on those rare occasions when it validated US use of force.

  77. 77
    Elie says:

    @catclub:

    I oversimplified it maybe but it was no lie that the Iraqi army is largely Sunni and the party ruling Iraq is Shia. Isis represents Sunni influence (to the extent its not just nihilistic). Isis was battling Shia interests in Iraq at that time. Makes sense to me and I heard it elsewhere as well that this was part of the reason that the Iraqi army did not fight…

  78. 78
    catclub says:

    @Punchy: Kenya bolivia it, Sudanly, I am Hungary too, I’ll go and put something on the china.

  79. 79

    Amir will probably have a more detailed reply, but my understanding is that the Sunni/Shia split is like the Catholic/Protestant split in Christianity, so it’s kind of like expecting the Southern Baptist Convention to follow orders from the Pope.

    Saudi Arabia is the location of the holiest site in Islam, but that doesn’t mean everyone who goes there believes the same thing. It’s like Jerusalem, which is considered holy by Christians, Jews, and Muslims for different reasons.

  80. 80

    @Cacti:

    One wonders how the War in Europe would have turned out if Hitler hadn’t violated the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and kept the USSR on the sidelines, or possibly brought them in as an Axis nation.

    It would have postponed the fight against the USSR but not avoided it. The Nazis were too ideologically committed to anti-communism to stay partners with the USSR indefinitely. The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was a temporary accommodation that was going to be broken before too long, and both sides knew it. Remember that the USSR was being pretty militarily aggressive at the time- they had wars with both Finland and Japan- and might well have become the aggressor if they thought the Nazis had let their guard down.

  81. 81
    rikyrah says:

    @Keith G:

    To me, it’s becoming quite disconcerting that so much of our political energy during this early stage of the campaign is being spent on foreign and military affairs instead of the incredibly important domestic issues. Of course it’s easy to see why this is the case.

    To me, too.

    They don’t have a leg to stand on, domestically.
    The policies they actually want are repellent to most of the country, and they can’t be honest about them.

    Despite the GOP deciding on the course of ECONOMIC TREASON against this country, we are vastly improved – by the numbers – since January 20, 2009.

    The truth of the matter is that the President has taken away their foreign policy stick, but, they can bull and bluster and deal in fear, and the MSM, who has been mad ever since the President denied them their war in Syria, will go along with it, because it’s the only way that they can cover for the GOP and pimp them.

  82. 82
    goblue72 says:

    @Germy: I predict Larry includes a riff on his “De-Blackening” bit that he uses frequently on his show.

  83. 83
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Paul in KY: Contracts can be broken and he’d need a way of making sure the contract was followed/ If he was so concerned that his company name and phone number were taken off the truck, he should have painted them out himself. Then he’d be sure they were gone. Of course, it would of cost him to have the name and number painted out. Cheap idiot.

  84. 84
    Kevin McGee says:

    Alain,
    I can’t access my bookmark for Balloon Juice; it takes me to a site labeled webmaster balloon-juice with a bunch of instructions I’m too computer illiterate to try. Is there some easy fix to get my bookmark back so I can access the front page? It has been three days so far and I’m wondering how the commenters above accessed the site. Thanks in advance.

  85. 85
    Alain the site fixer says:

    Kevin, try typing this in and if it works then make a new bookmark and delete the old one. https://www.balloon-juice.com

    If that doesn’t work/you get the same thing, then I suspect you use a custom DNS or edited Hosts file or VPN or custom routing table or something similar where you’ve hardcoded the IP address for the site. It moved to work with HTTPS, and that will be permanent. The proper IP address is 63.247.137.229

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