Saturday, September 20, 2014

Our Mess, But Not Our Fight


This is the America where I grew up.  These really were the terrifying debates political leaders and ideological lunatics used to have and I am not nostalgic for that aspect of that world in any way.

These days, these are the debates we have: whether President Obama is an uppity, pusillanimous fraud (and possible Sekrit Mulim) who won't roll the US Army back into Iraq in force because he wants Murrica Destroyed At All Costs --
Obama's ISIS Policy is a Total Joke

So I checked the e-mail again, and I can guarantee what's gonna happen. When I quote an e-mail asking me, "Why aren't you doing X?" then the, "Why aren't you doing Y?" crowd shows up, and the next crowd asks, "Why aren't you spending more time talking about what Obama's doing in Syria with ISIS and ISIL?" I'll tell you why. Because I don't think he even cares what he's doing!

This is an absolute joke. John Kerry gets up there and says absolutely inane things. He was taken to down by Bob Corker yesterday, sent Boxer shuttering away in tears. We got the sound bites coming up. Kerry doesn't know what he's talking about. Hagel doesn't know what he's talking about. The generals know what they're talking about, and they're actively being ignored.

This isn't about beating ISIS, is why.

This is all because Obama's poll numbers are falling.

I'm not gonna get roped into talking about this the way the soap opera writers demand that it be talked about. "Can this revive the Obama presidency?" Screw that! That's not what this is about. We're sending 3,000 troops to fight Ebola? We won't send 3,000 troops to protect our border! We won't send 3,000 troops there -- we won't admit that that's what we're doing -- to stop terrorists that want to wipe us out.

We're gonna send the Iraqi army and the Syrian army, who are supposedly somehow gonna become loyal to us? What the hell? It's stupid, folks. It is asinine. The generals know it's stupid, but they can't just out and say it. They're getting as close to try to tell everybody how literally wacko this is out actually saying it because they can't be insubordinate. But, for crying out loud, Barack Obama, commander-in-chief?

That's scary...
-- Rush Limbaugh
-- or whether President Obama is Worse Than Boosh!
Back To The Bush Years … ?

...The party that was primarily responsible for the years of grinding, bankrupting war, a descent into torture, and an evisceration of many core liberties is now regarded as superior to the man originally tasked with trying to recover from that experience. The political winds unleashed by a few disgusting videos and a blitzkrieg in the desert have swept all before them. And we now hear rhetoric from Democratic party leaders that sounds close to indistinguishable from Bush or Cheney.

Boss Limbaugh is, as always, absolutely consistent: all Liberals are Commies or Commie dupes and Obummer is our traitorous Kenyan Messiah, while all Conservatives are made of unalloyed patriotism...as long as they obediently toe the Limbaugh Party line.  But in at least one important sense, America's Most Famous Gay Catholic Conservative Independent Libertarian Blogger is perfectly consistent. too  Pick any day on the calendar in the last 15 years and you will probably find Andrew Sullivan hysterically overreacting to something.

How well I remember how people like me were instantly relegated to the status of fifth columnists because our least productive British import thought we Murrican Liberals insufficiently patriotic.

How well I remember when OMG!OMG!OMFG! Barack Obama was pretty much definitely gonna lose because of a bad debate performance!
...
To be given a gift like the Romney 47 percent video is a rare event in national politics. To get it in the fall of an election should have made an Obama victory all but assured.

But Obama threw it all back in his supporters’ faces, reacting to their enthusiasm and record donations with a performance so execrable, so lazy, so feckless, and so vain it was almost a dare not to vote for him. What he has to do now is so nail these next two debates, so obliterate Romney in both, that he can claw his way back to victory. But if he manages just evenly-matched debates, let alone another Romney win, he’s a goner...
How well I remember back when Alec Baldwin Must Be Destroyed, but leave Phil Robertson alone!
... I’d much rather have dinner with Phil Robertson than Alec Baldwin. Engaging fundamentalists on this subject is one of my favorite activities. And I’d much sooner engage than condemn.
I wonder where that engage-don't-condemn spirit has gone now that Mr. Robertson has signed onto the Christopath version of the ISIS "join or die" policy?


Honestly I have known popper-snorting teacup poodles who were less prone to instant and sustained freakouts that Mr. Sullivan.  But he writes about weed and beards and the Pope 'n stuff, so shine on you crazy diamond.  And anyway we're all much too busy to dwell on any of' the foofaraw's of yesteryear, because right now We're Going To War With Iraq!  

Just like Dick Cheney!  

Except, of course, that is not exactly true, is it?

Look, there are 101 reason to think going back into Iraq for any reason is a deeply stupid idea. Perhaps terrible -- period -- or perhaps just the least terrible of all the terrible options which are available to us thanks to the Bush Administration's decision to kick the hinges off the Middle East's Pandora's box because WMD and Freedumb!  

And there is another, entirely different list of reasons why it is a terrible idea to further erode the by-now-quaint-and-virtually-defunct 18th century notion that Going To War is a thing that Congress is supposed to do.  Or debate.  Or signal its preferences using a series of nods and eye-blinks if the normal processes are too rigorous for it to rouse itself from political catatonia.  Or in some way just do something other than running the fuck away from the job we elected them to do.

And that's the thing -- debating and deciding on the lethal and costly matter of war and peace is the the very minimum we should reasonably expect from our elected officials, and yet time after time too many of them take the coward's way out.

Also, for the record, if you are of the opinion that the United States military is for defensive use only and should never be deployed anywhere on Earth for any reason other than defending Unites States territory, treaty obligations and citizens, well that is a perfectly honorable position.  I would strongly disagree, for some of the same reasons that Howard Dean cites here, but I would respect anyone who holds firm to that position regardless of circumstances.  

But having listened to President Obama, I haven't heard any of the blunderbuss-of-lies approach that characterized Bush's Operation Clusterfuck.  There is no fictional enemy this time: ISIS is not currently a threat to the United States, but it is real and evil and aggressive.  There is no talk of a home-by-Christmas cakewalk this time,  There is no one suggesting that Iraqi oil revenues will pay for it this time,  There is no White House being run by oil executives this time, drooling at the the thought of the revenue to be ransacked from a country they and their cronies carved up long before 9/11 ever happened.  There is no one standing up for torture and secret prisons this time.  There is no one -- no one -- suggesting that this problem can be solved by colums of American tanks or battalions of American soldiers.  

And then, of course, there is this:
Iraq's prime minister says no to foreign troops

...
Al-Abadi, a Shiite lawmaker who faces the enormous task of trying to hold Iraq together as a vast array of forces threaten to rip it apart, welcomed the emerging international effort, but stressed that he sees no need for other nations to send troops to help fight ISIS.

"Not only is it not necessary," he said, "We don't want them. We won't allow them. Full stop."

Al-Abadi's comments provided a sharp rebuttal to remarks a day earlier by the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, who told the Senate Armed Services Committee that American ground troops may be needed to battle ISIS forces in the Middle East if Obama's current strategy fails.

"The only contribution the American forces or the international coalition is going to help us with is from the sky," al-Abadi said. "We are not giving any blank check to the international coalition to hit any target in Iraq."
...
It's a hard thing to look at chaos sweeping the region and reconcile ourselves to the fact that, while this is our mess, it is not our fight.  

For what it's worth, I believe that the policy of the United States should be to lend the sovereign government of Iraq whatever reasonable assistance it asks for, but otherwise stay the Hell out.

And for what it's worth, while I believe that President Obama's policy in Iraq will, at best, be slow and frustrating and costly and damaging to the Constitution and, in the end, may fail, I do not detect any Neville Chamberlain in it, just as I see no Dick Cheney there. 

8 comments:

gratuitous said...

Yes, going to war used to be a sober (ahem) undertaking (ahem, ahem). Those days are gone, probably forever, or at least until the empire is no more.

It would have been highly encouraging to see just one Senator monkey-wrench the "let's go to war, it'll be really fun this time" parade with the sort of nonsense employed to (for example) hurt the unemployed. It's breathtaking to see just how quickly and decisively Congress acts when there's something they really want to do.

n1ck said...

Over in the better universe, this post would be exactly how the US Government would react to everything going on.

The last three lines pretty much sum up my feelings. If the Iraqis want help, let's give them the intelligence they need and air support.

By the way, I will be stealing the hell out of the following paragraph although I will give a link back whenever I use it, of course.

But having listened to President Obama, I haven't heard any of the blunderbuss-of-lies approach that characterized Bush's Operation Clusterfuck. There is no fictional enemy this time: ISIS is not currently a threat to the United States, but it is real and evil and aggressive. There is no talk of a home-by-Christmas cakewalk this time, There is no one suggesting that Iraqi oil revenues will pay for it this time, There is no White House being run by oil executives this time, drooling at the the thought of the revenue to be ransacked from a country they and their cronies carved up long before 9/11 ever happened. There is no one standing up for torture and secret prisons this time. There is no one -- no one -- suggesting that this problem can be solved by colums of American tanks or battalions of American soldiers.

Concise and to the point.

dinthebeast said...

I keep hearing our continued involvement justified with the Pottery Barn Doctrine: you broke it, you bought it.
What I'm getting from Iraq now, though, sounds more like the nice lady behind the counter screaming:
Send a check for the damage later, but stop breaking things right now and get the fuck out of my store!

-Doug in Oakland

Fred said...

Rush, Herniated Anal Cyst, Limbaugh sure does like to holler about sending other people to wade in pools of blood. If only he hadn't been disabled (with a pimple on his ass) back in the day he would have heroically beat back Ho Chi Minh and his commie hoards with a M16 and a Boy Scout knife, youbetcha.

disclaimer: I personally dodged the draft with a letter from a doctor. I have friends who lost parts over there and don't know a soul who volunteered or know anyone who was there who thought the Vietnam mess was anything but bullshit. Only fools love war.

Jim from MN said...

What's different this time is that when terrorists killed Americans on Sept. 11, Americans rallied around Pres. Bush's "war on terrorism." Today, terrorists kill Americans and the Republican Party--in lock-step--attacks President Obama with lies, investigations and traitorous rhetoric.

Lumpy Lang said...

I suppose one should be happy that the U.S. imperialists are entering another war which they can only lose. Every defeat for them is, in the big picture, a victory for the rest of the world.
Sadly however, and in the immediate forecast, it's not the guilty who will pay the price for their crimes (on the contrary).

Fiddlin Bill said...

I read yesterday that in the past month the Saudi government has beheaded some 88 persons. Just fuckin' saying.

Monster from the Id said...

Since the Saudi oligarchs are, IIRC, the foremost bankrollers of ISIS, it would be a grand and grim piece of poetic justice if ISIS went off the leash once and for all, and kidnapped and beheaded every male member of the Saudi royal family.

*Insert Frankenstein reference here*