Since Sufficient War is Unrealistic, What is the Best Course of Action?

 

Libertarians are often accused of being unrealistic or ideological and are forced to give secondary positions, since their ideal is not possible.  They are told: high immigration is unrealistic, getting government out of marriage is unrealistic, and legalizing drugs and such is unrealistic.

That’s fine, but it’s unrealistic to think Americans are willing to engage in the kind of war that stands of chance of obliterating ISIS, or even to engage them enough to reduce the threat.  Yet, pointing this out causes many conservatives to yell all the louder about how dire things are, as if doing so will make things possible. It won’t.

Keep in mind, I am not an ideologue on this: I’d be willing to engage in war if it had a high likelihood of success, but America isn’t willing to go through with that right now. Given that sufficient war is idealistic, what is the fallback position? Since we aren’t going to have total war — and likely no more than a show of force –what is a constructive secondary position?

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  1. Albert Arthur Coolidge
    Albert Arthur
    @AlbertArthur

    Then go ahead and cut your own head off.

    • #1
  2. Albert Arthur Coolidge
    Albert Arthur
    @AlbertArthur

    Sorry, Mike.

    • #2
  3. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Albert Arthur:

    Sorry, Mike.

     Thank you.

    • #3
  4. Sandy Member
    Sandy
    @Sandy

    If your argument is that the President is incapable of doing much or of following through, I guess I’d answer that at this grave moment, any military action he takes is better than no action.  

    I would say, too, that we have long had a grave problem not so much with willingness to fight wars but with understanding why we were doing it, so there has been a failure primarily of leadership.  Lyndon Johnson was unable to make a convincing enough case, and Bush didn’t do any better. Conservatives ought to be doing just what they are doing: making the case.  At this point the fallback position is surrender.

    • #4
  5. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Sandy: I guess I’d answer that at this grave moment, any military action he takes is better than no action.  

     You don’t think there’s some amount of intermediate action which could actually bolster ISIS into recruiting more members and doing more damage?

    • #5
  6. MJBubba Inactive
    MJBubba
    @MJBubba

    “You don’t think there’s some amount of intermediate action which could actually bolster ISIS into recruiting more members and doing more damage?”

    That is exactly the level of action I expect from Team Obama.

    • #6
  7. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Mike H: Given that sufficient war is idealistic, what is the fallback position?

    Alihu akhbar!

    (Let me just add that like Mark Steyn, all I have to do is grow my beard a bit longer and marry a few more women, and I’m set. If feminists want to vote for multi-culti BS, it will land on their heads. I could be a happy Sufi if I had to.)

    • #7
  8. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    MJBubba:

    “You don’t think there’s some amount of intermediate action which could actually bolster ISIS into recruiting more members and doing more damage?”

    That is exactly the level of action I expect from Team Obama.

     Would that be a way to persuade the American people to fund another war and occupation?  Perhaps.

    • #8
  9. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Arahant:

    Mike H: Given that sufficient war is idealistic, what is the fallback position?

    Alihu akhbar!

     That sounds like “Ali is the Newspaper”.  I like it (it’s great) but do not completely understand its relevance. ?

    • #9
  10. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    to answer you seriously, ISIS doesn’t need any more motivation to hate us.  So anything we do to hurt them is a plus

    • #10
  11. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Zafar: That sounds like “Ali is the Newspaper”. I like it (it’s great) but do not completely understand its relevance. ?

    It’s more fun than spelling it correctly.

    • #11
  12. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Part of the reluctance is that the American people don’t trust the politicians to follow through anymore, or not after the next election. Yes, this is a minority compared to the peace-at-any-price types, the I-might-get-drafted-and-I’m-afeared types, and the don’t-bother-me-I’m-watching-Lindsay-self-destruct types, but taken together, one winds up with a lot of skepticism regarding any action. Most of the American people don’t pay enough attention to foreign affairs, and those who do may be a bit jaded on the long-term results of actions in this climate.

    • #12
  13. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Z in MT:

    to answer you seriously, ISIS doesn’t need any more motivation to hate us. So anything we do to hurt them is a plus

     But the point is that some of our actions may help them and hurt us.  So whatever we do, we need to think it through and not just ‘do something’ because something is better than nothing.  Sometimes nothing is better.  And some somethings are better than others.

    • #13
  14. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Ok so you want to know what half measures I would support? In other words what should our containment strategy be? 

    Well if the goal is now containment, then the way to achieve that would be to bolster the nations surrounding the Islamic State with weapons, training and technology. I would also work very hard to try to build human intelligence assets within the IS to make sure that we are keeping up to date on their plans and moves. We can’t afford to be caught off guard. Furthermore, we may not have the political will to engage the enemy but I would work on placing troops in good positions for an active response for when full scale confrontation becomes inevitable. Then I would sit and wait. Until the American people ripen in their opinion. 

    • #14
  15. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Arahant:

    Zafar: That sounds like “Ali is the Newspaper”. I like it (it’s great) but do not completely understand its relevance. ?

    It’s more fun than spelling it correctly.

     Oh thank goodness, I can understand that. You had me engaged in self doubt for a minute.

    And just fyi, it is legal for me to (irony!!) marry four women in India right now.  Will this stand me in good stead once I get the beard happening?

    • #15
  16. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    There is a very cynical option too. That is to fan the flames of war by deliberately undermining resistance to IS. These guys don’t seem to be the slow and cautious types and their ideology means that they have two strong enemies in the region, Israel and Iran. Right now they are prevented from engaging either because Syria and Iraq are in the way. If we let Iraq collapse then perhaps we can spur on a war between Iran and IS. Also if we could get IS to win against Asad, they would share a border with Israel, in which case the Israelis will be forced to engage them directly. We can then support both Israel and Iran in their fight against IS and some how hope it all comes up cake. 

    Of course letting it get to that more or less means giving up any sort of semblance of control. It is the equivalent of telling the Middle East to go (expletive) itself.

    • #16
  17. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Valiuth:

    Well if the goal is now containment, then the way to achieve that would be to bolster the nations surrounding the Islamic State with weapons, training and technology.

     These nations/states would be:

    1  Saudi. (Done. With mixed results, basically done.)
    2  The Iraqi Govt in Baghdad. (Hmmm. Maybe this time it will be better.)
    3  The Kurdish region of Iraq. (Problematic, since they want to declare independence from the Iraqi Govt in Baghdad.  And that would also make NATO ally Turkey nervous about its borders.)
    4  Assad’s Syria. (Embarrassing. After all that Axis of Evil stuff, but they seem the only somewhat minority friendly alternative there.  I’m sure we can think of a face saving formula).
    5  Lebanon (which means Hezbollah, yes, Hezbollah – awkward!!! given its relations with the primary US ally in the region).
    And
    6  Last but not least, Iran. (The other Axis of Evil state in the neighbourhood.  But compare them to ISIS and…well.)

    So it’s just not that straightforward, is it?

    • #17
  18. Sandy Member
    Sandy
    @Sandy

    Mike H:

    Sandy: I guess I’d answer that at this grave moment, any military action he takes is better than no action.

    You don’t think there’s some amount of intermediate action which could actually bolster ISIS into recruiting more members and doing more damage?

     I believe that ISIS will continue to recruit until they are destroyed.  Whether they are able to enlist more or fewer recruits doesn’t seem to me to matter much unless they start to get into really big numbers (at which point maybe Saudi Arabia should shut off the oil until we come to our senses).   It appears to me that Americans of both parties are rather frightened about this right now, and would support vigorous action.  

    • #18
  19. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Zafar: Will this stand me in good stead once I get the beard happening?

    It all depends on whether Sunnis, Shi’a, or another group gets control, and which particular sect they are and whether they like yours. After all, once Islam conquers the world, then they will go back to killing each other (if they ever stop that in the first place, of course).

    Humans will always be humans, it seems, and always find something to fight about. Variations in belief seem to work quite well for that in most religious groups with a militaristic tradition. (Christianity certainly has not been immune.)

    • #19
  20. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Zafar:

    Z in MT:

    to answer you seriously, ISIS doesn’t need any more motivation to hate us. So anything we do to hurt them is a plus

    But the point is that some of our actions may help them and hurt us. So whatever we do, we need to think it through and not just ‘do something’ because something is better than nothing. Sometimes nothing is better. And some somethings are better than others.

     In this case I don’t think nothing can possibly be good. It may be better than doing the wrong thing, but up until those Yazidi got chased up a mountain nothing is all we seemed to be doing. I our biggest problem is that we were not paying attention. We have to work on getting good and accurate intelligence on what these people are planing, and how they are doing things. Being constantly surprised and playing catch up is a bad place to be in. Step one should be improve our intelligence gathering network on these guys. 

    • #20
  21. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Valiuth:

    …. if we could get IS to win against Asad, they would share a border with Israel, in which case the Israelis will be forced to engage them directly. 

     

    I think you’ll find Israel has something to say and do about that option. (I see Peace In Our Time and some formula re the Golan.)

    That’s the thing – all these nations and states have their own opinions and agendas.  Dashed inconvenient, but there it is.

    • #21
  22. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Zafar:

    Valiuth:

    These nations/states would be:

    1 Saudi. (Done. With mixed results, basically done.) 2 The Iraqi Govt in Baghdad. (Hmmm. Maybe this time it will be better.) 3 The Kurdish region of Iraq. (Problematic, since they want to declare independence from the Iraqi Govt in Baghdad. And that would also make NATO ally Turkey nervous about its borders.) 4 Assad’s Syria. (Embarrassing. After all that Axis of Evil stuff, but they seem the only somewhat minority friendly alternative there. I’m sure we can think of a face saving formula). 5 Lebanon (which means Hezbollah, yes, Hezbollah – awkward!!! given its relations with the primary US ally in the region). And 6 Last but not least, Iran. (The other Axis of Evil state in the neighbourhood. But compare them to ISIS and…well.)

    So it’s just not that straightforward, is it?

     Well that is the problem with containment, which is why I don’t like containment. Basically back when the Syrian revolt started I was of the opinion that if we let Syria fester something terrible would come of it that would spread. Well, here it is. Now we might have to make awkward friendships. 

    • #22
  23. Albert Arthur Coolidge
    Albert Arthur
    @AlbertArthur

    Valiuth: In other words what should our containment strategy be?

     

    Let’s use the MacArthur plan for North Korea and ring ISIS in nuclear waste.

    • #23
  24. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Zafar:

    Valiuth:

    …. if we could get IS to win against Asad, they would share a border with Israel, in which case the Israelis will be forced to engage them directly.

    I think you’ll find Israel has something to say and do about that option. (I see Peace In Our Time and some formula re the Golan.)

    That’s the thing – all these nations and states have their own opinions and agendas. Dashed inconvenient, but there it is.

     You think Israel would just hold them at the Golan? Maybe. But, they seem very proactive against Hamas, and were against Hezbollah as well. If IS gets Syria they will be gunning for Israel. Maybe they will go for Lebanon first but I think Israel would feel obliged to engage them if they look like they might take Lebanon. Could they afford to share that much border with IS? 

    Basically it seems to me IS if left unchecked will trigger one or all of the surrounding powers to eventually attack into the territory they now control. Only the carcasses of Syria and Iraq are preventing this, but IS is making their way through them. Who knows were it will go from there…

    • #24
  25. Gaius Inactive
    Gaius
    @Gaius

    There’s a lot to be said for half-measures in these circumstances. Yes, ISIS certainly wishes our destruction, but it also has more pressing matters to worry about. The territory ISIS currently controls is surrounded on at least three sides by it’s enemies–Iran and its proxy states to the east and west, the Kurds and Turks to the north–some of which are also our enemies. Apart from protecting Kurdistan and doing what we can to ease the humanitarian situation we should simply allow those sworn to kill us to bleed each other dry. This may sound callous to those innocent people forced to live in a war zone, but it’s hard to help them when anything done to cripple one group of murderous thugs can wind up benefiting another set of bad actors.

    In that vein let’s image what the region would look like if ISIS were eliminated completely, something which could only be accomplished by reconstituting the territorial integrity of Iraq and Syria. Another way to describe that is a contiguous Iranian sphere of influence from the western border of Afghanistan all the way to the Mediterranean.

    • #25
  26. rico Inactive
    rico
    @rico

    Mike H: it’s unrealistic to think Americans are willing to engage in enough war to obliterate our enemies, or even to engage them enough to reduce the threat, yet conservatives tend to yell louder about how dire things are, as if that will make things possible. It won’t.

    The difference, this time, is that Democrats are also starting to yell. That just might force Obama to act responsibly. After all, he ended the previous Iraq war. He is sole owner of this one. He can’t end this one without destroying ISIS and then leaving a permanent US presence in the region. We’re witnessing ideology being trumped by reality.

    Obama’s mismanagement of Iraq, in particular his failure to negotiate a SOFA is forcing him to act as a neocon for the remainder of his term. It’s 2006 all over again.

    • #26
  27. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Valiuth:

    You think Israel would just hold them at the Golan? 

    No, I think Israel and Assad would reach an accommodation – overt or covert. (Ditto with Hezbollah.  Not great, but consider the alternatives.  And they’d be comparing Israel to ISIS too.)

    • #27
  28. user_1938 Member
    user_1938
    @AaronMiller

    A halfway point between nothing and total war is perpetual black ops. Kill terrorist leaders and vital support, always and everywhere. The public doesn’t have to know the details. 

    • #28
  29. TeamAmerica Member
    TeamAmerica
    @TeamAmerica

    I suspect that ISIS will force matters. The speed of terrorist aggression and advancement has accelerated, and as the US Sec. of Defense said, we’ve seen no terrorist group like this before. ISIS has $2 million in daily income from the Iraqi oil wells they’ve captured plus money from kidnappings, it has skilled battle-hardened fighters and tanks and artillery  from Iraq and Syria, and a reputation as a ruthless, victorious army. ISIS is also very good with social media: http://www.steynonline.com/6533/the-face-of-the-tiger  This occurs in a context of American economic and military decline, of a clueless Obama ‘leading from behind,’ where our huge debt will limit our ability to re-arm or fight wars.
    In other words, I expect ISIS will keep its word to do a major attack on the US, and I imagine Obama will dither with no more than halfhearted measures till that occurs.

    • #29
  30. robertm7575@gmail.com Inactive
    robertm7575@gmail.com
    @RobertMcReynolds

    I love the question!!!  This is a theme I have been hitting on for quite some time now.  It is unrealistic because we don’t have a leader willing to risk losing that second term to actually conduct war the way it needs to be conducted in order to win.  It is also unrealistic because we have a major political party that does not see Western Civilization as worth defending, thus won’t conduct war the way it needs to be.

    Our secondary option is to copy the Byzantines.  Enlist, through large amounts of money, the barbarian forces on our frontiers to fight the threats most worrisome.  Right now, ISIS/ISIL is the talk of the town.  So, we ought to be secretly conducting a deal with Russia to get arms into the hands of Hizballah/Bashar al-Assad to kill them.  Ditto Shi’ite forces in Iraq.  It’s a nasty business, foreign policy, and yet, if those who call themselves leaders would show some courage, things might actually take a turn for the better.  Sadly, I don’t see a bright future ahead.

    • #30

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