Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Are We At War With Terrorism?

I was reading one of my favorite sites The Adventures of Able and Kane where I came across an article by Mark Helprin called "Let Us Count The Ways To Win The War On Terrorism" in which he asks the question: Are we at war?

I think he asks a very good question and for a very simple reason: we have as yet to bring all of our assetts on line to fight this war. There is more to this war than deposing a regime and establishing a democratic government. As a matter of fact, Mark Halpern actually espouses an idea (one I do not fully agree with) that says we should not be doing so in Iraq. Not that we should not have taken it out, but that we should have gone in, deposed the regime and left them to determine their own way forward. But more to the effect that we are using our military assetts in a way that is not actually conducive to winning the big picture on war.

He also notes, and I concur, that, if we felt we were at war, we would not be carping over the amount of money spent on any activity, such as scanning cargo, complete review of plane passengers, committ massive amounts of manpower and technology to closing the borders and doing timely and effective scanning of vehicles, etc.

It is not just about intelligence efforts, which is what the Democrat candidate for president and many in congress seem to feel is the lacking assett. Although this needs to be upgraded, it cannot be the main defense against attacks in America. He points out that even the current administration is going down this same road and may be focusing too much on the economy with tax breaks and reforms than it is putting into the security of the country.

He makes a very good point, and I will ask it here: If we are at war then why is the entire country not on a war footing?

Go on to the inner sanctum for more thoughts on a country at war.

When I think of "war footing" I think similar to Mr. Helprin: man power, security efforts, technology, entire population aware and active in the security of the country. I also think of WWII where things were rationed, everyone made efforts to assist, bought war bonds, etc, etc. Today, I hear many complaining about the rise in gas prices, produce, materials, etc. I don't complain much because I realize that this could be much, much worse. And I am waiting for it, because I don't see us as having committed entirely to this operation and, if we do, these things will become even more expensive.

Believe me when I tell you that, while I am complaining about some of this administration's planning, I voted for it because I thought that the candidate that espoused such notions as terrorism as a "nuisance" was even less prepared to fight. Now, having elected President Bush, I believe we need to revisit some of these issues and ask our government "what are we prepared to do?"

I suggest that you read Mr. Helprin's article in full, but I have put some of his article here for discussion.

As international terrorism steadily developed it did so carefully. Like a weak economy that initially refuses competition with stronger ones, it gave great and powerful states a wide berth. As long as the United States remained uninvolved, it was easy for us to make the case that we should not gratuitously become involved. If, as sometimes they were, Americans were caught in the crossfire, the calculus, perhaps momentarily more difficult, was the same, with few exceptions: to accept occasional casualties, rather than go neck deep with raids on training camps or punitive expeditions against state sponsors only to lose more Americans in the process and enter the kind of dirty war that no temperament, much less the American, was made to endure.

As it developed its ideologies; found refuge and finance; recruited adherents, sympathizers, and apologists; and perfected its operational art, Islamic terrorism began direct attacks upon Americans and American interests, but only so incrementally as not to elicit a decisive response. What had been collateral damage was now deliberative.

And still, as Mr. Helprin points out, we did not take action because the cost to effect ratio appeared too high. Until September 11 of course.

Only when on September 11, 2001, they brought the war to the nation's capital, to its highest officials and symbols of government, and slaughtered almost 3,000 Americans in America itself did the calculus finally seem to break.

Or has it? Mr. Helprin believes that, maybe, just maybe, the situation in Iraq is just as the previous candidate claimed: a diversion. Not because Saddam did not need to go. Far from it. But because we have now committed a large number of troops that would be better of doing what they are trained to do: fighting established armies, than engaged in fighting an insurgency.

The evidence of our continuing, major deficiencies has not been assimilated, and relative to what is required we have done virtually nothing to meet further challenges potentially far worse than that of September 11, and to prepare for the inevitable military rise of China. We have only partially exited the state of "managing" terrorism, even if now we know that terrorism cannot be managed.

I don't agree that China is our next concern, though it may be in 30 years. Right now it is about commerce and we need to keep it that way. But I do agree that some other areas of focus may be languishing as we try to establish Iraq. We are not paying sufficient attention to the other areas that need to be shored up.

This is a failure of probity and imagination comparable to the deepest sleep that England slept in the decade of the 1930s, when its blinkered governments measured the sufficiency of their military preparations not against the threat that was gathering but by what they thought the people wanted, and the people wanted only what they thought the government had wisely specified. We are now entrapped in the same dynamic. Neither the party in power nor the opposition has awakened to what must be done or what may happen if it is not. Neither party, nor the Left, nor the Right, nor the civilian defense establishment, nor the highest ranking military, nor the Congress, nor the people themselves, has been willing, in a war not of our own making, adequately to prepare for war, to declare war, rigorously to define the enemy, to decide upon disciplined and intelligent war aims, to subjugate the economy to the common defense, or even to endorse the most elemental responsibilities of government, such as controlling the borders of and entry to our sovereign territory.

Which pretty much leads us back to the discussion: Are we at war?

He goes on to talk about why, oh why, we are not ready to contemplate it:

As if all of this has been done, the Left is in high dudgeon, and for fear of higher dudgeon still, the Right dares not even propose it. The result is a paralysis that the terrorists probably did not hope for in their most optimistic projections, an arbitrary and gratuitous failure of will that carries within it nonetheless a great promise, which is that because it has no reasonable basis or compelling rationale, it may quickly be dispelled. And once it is, the weight of our experience, genius, and resources can be brought to bear.

How do we compare to other wars in preparation and spending?

It is true that a substantial portion of the agony and uncertainty of the war to date has been attributable to the supposedly inescapable dearth of funds that has led to at times insufficient forces, ships, bombs, bullets, food, medical supplies, fuel, and even water. These deficiencies, however, are the drag only upon that which we have actually endeavored to do. Deficiencies of far greater mass and import have prevented even consideration of some things that need to be done but that we have not dared to do; they have failed to deter certain enemy actions; and have by their very existence suggested and stimulated them. For example, had the United States adopted Israeli levels of civilian airliner defense, September 11 would have been just another clear day on the East Coast—but this course supposedly was and supposedly still is too expensive

Of course, this would mean that we would have had to recognize that we were at war, well before this.

A simple analysis, however, shows that this is false economy. The United States produces approximately $11 trillion of goods and services annually, of which roughly $400 billion, or 3.6% of GDP, has been allocated to military spending including the cost of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. This 3.6% of GDP is far less than the 5.7% the U.S. devoted to defense spending in the peacetime years of the period 1940-2000, and barely more than just a quarter of the average of 13.3% of GDP devoted to defense in the wartime years.

In the Second World War, we spent as much as 38.5% of GNP (in 1945), and at the peak had twelve million soldiers under arms, almost 10% of the population. This is a far cry from the situation now. Were we to replicate the same levels of effort, we would be spending not $400 billion but $4.235 trillion. We would not have 2.7 million in uniform (including reserves), but 30 million. I am not advocating any such thing. As pressing as our needs may be, we are not engaged in war against a major power, and the intensity of engagement in World War II is far and above what is necessary. I point it out to show what we can do, and what actually we have done, if we concert our will, especially because during World War II it was much more difficult to apportion 29% of the nation's output to defense (the average for the period 1942-1946) than it would be now, because we have so much more wealth per capita than we did then, coming out of the Depression. To relinquish almost a full third of income is much harder for a nation with barely enough to get by than it is for one that lives in an age of material excess.

In this case, I say: here, here!

We haven't even come close to what we should be doing. And in the meantime we talk about universal healthcare, flat taxes, gay marriage and any number of other items that do not sound like, do not feel like and do not look like we are at war.

Mr. Helprin brings up some other points as well.

The Aims of War

Perhaps nothing in war is at one and the same time so unexciting to the imagination and so absolutely essential as determining war aims. This may be not so much because it pales in comparison to the color of battle, but because it is primarily a task of limiting the imagination and confining opportunities within a frame of strict discipline.

The aims of this war have been remarkably incoherent and elastic, their character improvised, their direction changed instantly upon encountering an obstacle. Whatever it was in the beginning, the war has become a very grand enterprise, with very limited resources, to transform the entire Islamic World into a group of peaceful democratic states that, relieved of the stress of not being peaceful democratic states, will cease to breed terrorism. Not only is this based on a wrong assumption, impossible, and overreaching, it is backwards: although one may transform an enemy by defeating him, one does not, on the state level, defeat an enemy by transforming him.(...)

Our aims should be less ambitious and more defensive. Were they disciplined to be so, they would also become more pertinent, justifiable, and attainable. We as a people surely should not wish to possess the Islamic states or convert them to our way of seeing things, politically or otherwise, but rather to insist absolutely that they refrain from attacking us.(..)

When the consequences are as grave as the potential for nuclear and biological warfare has made them, the slightest support, tolerance, or sympathy for terrorism directed at the United States should qualify the state manifesting them for open operations, its government for replacement, and its military as a target.

I find these points to be rather salient of course, but not necessarily correct in toto. For instance, once a state is defeated and you do not transform them to something else, is it not just as likely, as Germany in World War I, for that state to return as even more of a threat than they were before?

But he does make a point that "terrorism" is not just a few states in the middle east, but spread out across entire continents. And we should be very active, maybe more so than we are today, in offering assistance, monetarily or equipment wise, to the regimes that wish to cooperate, in order to assist them in destroying their own terrorist organizations.

If we exempt from repercussion states that nurture terrorism they will nurture it all the more. And having adopted the model of conquest, occupation, and political conversion, we have exempted most supporters of terrorism, because neither we nor all the world have the power to conquer, occupy, and convert all the countries from which terrorism arises. If the overriding need is to protect the United States, its citizens, and its interests from military aggression in any form, the first aim in war should be to destroy as many terrorists as possible and to deny to those remaining refuge and sustenance so that as they are hunted either they will fall or they will of their own accord stand down. The world from which they spring is far too wide and alien for us to do even this according to the present design. We cannot reasonably hope to cover the entire Middle East if, a year and a half after conquering Iraq, we must make the trip from the fortified zone in Baghdad to the fortified airport in infrequent armored convoys. The only way to do it is to coerce existing regimes to accomplish it for us, which is possible by directly threatening their survival, something from which we have refrained by and large because of the paralyzing notion that once we destroy a regime we are bound to stay. We are not. We are bound only to defend the United States. We suffer the illusion that our withdrawal would bring anarchy, when, for example, we have not withdrawn from Iraq and it is the most anarchic of all the states in the region. Perhaps, had we left, it would have settled into a natural equilibrium, what engineers call the angle of repose, or perhaps it would not have. But if there is anarchy why must we attend to it if our attendance is ineffective?

Here I disagree, as I already stated, that, in leaving some states to sort it out for themselves, we only commit ourselves to more of the same in the future. Over and over again. I wonder if he imagines that even this would result in a quick end to terrorism? Or, if he understands, we are still committing ourselves to decades of war, like returning to Iraq? What if we had just left Germany after we had bombed it into oblivion? What would have come from there after that? Another generation or two of people who felt humiliated and would want to fight again? Warlord, paramilitarism that would have produced people like Hitler again?

I ask these questions because, even as I agree with some of his thoughts, I think that he has not completely embraced the results of these actions. He also assumes that the US can not win a war of insurgency. Here, I disagree, although I believe it takes much, much more than we may have been trying to do in Iraq. The insurgencies that the US has been successful in putting down have all been fought in a very mean and terrible away. Something which, in our new and more sensitive world, we are not prepared to do.

Witness even now our hand wringing over potential civilian casualties in Fallujah, only to realize, I think, that this has given the enemy the ability to slip away again into the populace. This war will continue indefinitely until the Iraqi government and the US is prepared to take some very harsh measures.

But, I digress. The other issue, which I agree with, is the definition of the enemy and who will be held responsible. I believe that the right approach is to act more muscularly towards governments that actively support terrorists and their organizations. For instance, Iran, known to be now supporting Al Qaida in Iraq and other terrorist organizations as well as chanting "death to America" at every opening of their legislature and the potential of nuclear proliferation.

I believe that we should send a very strong message to these people: stop or you will be removed.

The invocation of anarchy is anyway and in most cases a bluff. These regimes live to hold power, and one and all they have seized and maintained it by violence. They are quite capable of eliminating the terrorist infrastructures within their territories and will jump to do so rather than face their own destruction. And if they refuse to cooperate, or they go down trying, then the regime that replaces them can be offered the same choice.

To coerce and punish governments that support terrorism, until they eradicate it wherever they exercise authority. To open for operations any territory in which the terrorist enemy functions. To build and sustain the appropriate forces and then some as a margin of safety, so as to accomplish the foregoing and to deter the continuing development of terrorism. To mount on the same scale as the military effort, and with the same probity, the necessary civil defense. To reject the temptation to configure the defensive capabilities of the United States solely to the War on Terrorism, as this will simultaneously stimulate China's military development and insure that we are unprepared for it. These should be our aims in this war.

They are neither modest, nor without risk, nor certain to succeed—by their very nature they cannot be. But they are a model of discipline and restraint when compared to the infinitely open-ended notion of changing the nature of the Middle East, changing the nature of the Arabs, changing the nature of Islam, and changing the nature of man. No army can do that. No army ever could.

Again, where I do not agree is that we cannot simply leave these countries on our flanks to become once again something else to threaten the US or her allies.

But he makes a point about taking the center and holding it as a posture against all potential enemies. I agree and I believe that center to be Iraq as I've pointed out in other posts. A strategic foothold in the area that gives us jumping off points to many other countries. Mr. Helprin does not agree and insists that this can be accomplished by troops in Saudi Arabia and surrounding friendly Arab countries. I disagree because I do not see Saudi Arabia as a "friendly" country. Not because of their government, but because of the people that are being created today, under the watchful eye of a repressive government, who are constantly talking about, thinking about, and preparing for some sort of Jihad.

That isn't everyone, but there is a certain segment of their population that definitely falls under the title "terrorist" or "terrorist enablers". Which we will get to at some point in future posts, but here, we are talking about strategy.

But were the open and bleeding flank in Iraq closed, the center safely held, and the American military properly supplied, rebuilt, and rejuvenated, the sure way to strip Iran of its nuclear potential would be clear: issuance of an ultimatum stating that we will not allow a terrorist state, the legislature of which chants like a robot for our demise, to possess nuclear weapons; clearing the Gulf of Iranian naval and coastal defense forces; cutting corridors across Iran free of effective anti-aircraft capability; surging carriers to the Gulf and expeditionary air forces to Saudi Arabia; readying long-range heavy bombers in this country and Guam; setting up an unparalleled search and rescue capability. If then our conditions were unmet, we could destroy every nuclear, ballistic-missile, military research, and military technical facility in Iran, with the promise that were the prohibited activities to resume and/or relocate we would destroy completely the economic infrastructure of the country, something we could do in a matter of days and refresh indefinitely, with nary a boot on the ground.

That may or may not be true, but it does not take into the account of political back lash from this effort. France, once again, has a lot invested here and would not stand on the sidelines quietly while we demolish another source of fuel and economy for them. On the other hand, maybe we don't care about France because we see them as our newest, economic cold war enemy?

Like the strategy of using ground forces as an equivalent "fleet-in-being" coiled and ready to strike from within the heart of the center of gravity of the Middle East, this strategy for air and naval power would have a high probability of achieving its aims via coercion rather than actual combat, and, were going to war necessary, it would require neither the careless dissolution of (relatively) small forces among large populations, as in Iraq, nor their exposure to insurgency, nor their endless deployment in hostile areas. The paradigm would shift from conquer, occupy, fail, and withdraw—to strike, return, and re-energize, one of the many advantages of which would be that the U.S. military would remain intact and capable of dispatching to areas now dangerously neglected, such as East Asia.

But as salubrious as such a strategy may be, it is not magical. At times, occupation of key points would be necessary. And no matter what the efficiency of the paradigm, it does not obviate the need for a military buildup. The managerial ethos, rife now in the Pentagon and poison for the conduct of war, is to do the job with just enough of what is required. But war always requires redundancy, reserves, and as large a surplus capacity as can be maintained.

In other words, he recognizes the fact that his idea is not perfect either. And I say, while I agree with some points, I see the lost perfection in the very thought of destroying states and then allowing them to come back, under their own power, as something we might like even less and possibly even have to fight again and again. While he claims that the embarkation of change in the Middle East is too grand, I believe that his idea is far too narrow and does not actually lead to "final solution".

But, I do agree that we have as yet embarked on a "war" so much as we have embarked on "limited holding actions" with one or two experiments in great actions. Not conducive to winning the war at all. Nor are our efforts at home complete models of "defense" since we are more concerned at their costs than at their implementation and use.

He goes on to list a number of things that we have not done effectively

Rather than comprehensive inspection and screening of passengers and cargo, we turn instead to complicated exercises with computers. Rather than controlling the borders, we seek to determine the few malefactors. Thus the stress on intelligence and neglect of virtually all else. But, as military transformation is necessary and yet clearly not sufficient for victory in war, intelligence is absolutely necessary and most certainly not sufficient for civil defense. (...)

To the contrary, the borders must be controlled absolutely, as is the right of every sovereign nation. It is hardly impossible and would demand no more than adding to the Border Patrol a paramilitary force of roughly 30,000, equipped with vehicles, helicopters, unmanned aerial drones, fences, and sensors. Crowded and slow entry points should be expanded to provide quick and thorough inspection by traditional methods and inspection to the limits of technological advance where traditional methods are impossible, as in searching the interstices of vehicles, or packed cargo containers, for nuclear or chemical warfare material. The sea frontiers can be secured if we undertake to supplement the Coast Guard with a few dozen high endurance cutters, 100 coastal patrol vessels, 50 long-range reconnaissance aircraft, 100 helicopters, and the appropriate additional personnel; and if the navy, by expansion of its anti-submarine assets, fixed and afloat, guarantees against submarine infiltration.

Aliens with even the slightest record of support for terrorism should be summarily deported—no alien has or has ever had the absolute right to be in the United States—and American citizens with suspected terrorist connections should be subjected to at least the same level of surveillance and investigation as figures in organized crime, with the same constitutional protections unless waived by an emergency court that, in turn, is supervised by a court higher still, the task of which is to prevent abuse of even carefully created emergency powers.

The United States must have, once again, an air defense, with new provisions for aerial threats arising from within its borders. This would require only a few hundred new fighters, a small part of those necessary for the future power projection needs of the air force and navy, and assimilable in them as a stage of rotation and training. (...)

Training in decontamination, and the stockpiling of radiation countermeasures are necessary elements, as are evacuation planning and infrastructure continuation. Although for some the existence of "low-intensity" warfare in the form of terrorism means—because of magic that I myself cannot fathom—that there is no danger of a nuclear weapon delivered to a target in the United States by missilery, the existence of missile and nuclear weapons programs in what Madeleine Albright called "states of concern" suggests that ballistic-missile defense is yet an urgent priority, especially given that both intermediate-range and short-range ballistic missiles can be launched at sea with relative ease, after being dropped into the water from a freighter.

An effort on a scale several times greater than that of the Manhattan Project, and with similar or greater urgency, should be made to find antidotes, immunizations, and effective treatment for the full range of chemical and biological warfare agents. Once these are brought into being, they should be channeled into an immense nationwide distribution and application system, so that every attack can be quickly and thoroughly isolated, suppressed, and ameliorated. Each American should have access to the full range of immunizations available. (This is not the case at present. For example, though most of the public has at one time been vaccinated against smallpox, often on multiple occasions, it cannot now be revaccinated, because for some this procedure is a frightful prospect due to their view of the risks.) And stockpiles should be waiting for latecomers and the fainthearted.

Why is the effort that we are making slow and often under the radar? I believe it is a matter of panic and economy. Not that we do not want to spend money on it (though that may be some of the case) but because, undertaking such an effort would cause a massive panic in the populace, potential backlash against minorities in our midst as well as an economic panic, where people will horde money, or simply stop spending on ancillary items in the belief that we are "doomed" to take a massive attack.

This would happen anyway if another Sept 11 occurred, so I think that we are playing a very close game of poker with our security. How much can we actually win? How much can we do? How much can we bluff? To what ends are we ready to go? What sort of casualities are we ready to take so long as it does not interrupt our lives?

He asks the last question: Are we at war?

The United States must make up its collective mind and answer the simple question, are we at war, or are we not? If the answer is no, we need not worry, nor take nor modify action in regard to terrorism. If the answer is yes, then major revisions and initiatives are needed, soon. If they are not reasonably forthcoming, the nation may pay a price such as it has never paid before.

It is all, finally, a matter of the possession or the failure of will. For if the whole power of the United States is adroitly focused upon this war, it is solely ours to win. We have the means to prevail. We need only count the ways.

Inquiring minds want to know.


Donal said...

Very intresting article. Helprin stated "Left is in high dudgeon, and for fear of higher dudgeon still, the Right dares not even propose it." Both sides have reasons to avoid putting us on a true war footing- economic, political, and desire to maintain the status quo. I agree that the aims of this war have never been fully thought out- both sides are now focused on Iraq and not paying attention to the terrorist threat in other areas of the middle east. Your right Kat that we must transform Iraq- if we leave it will turn into an enemy far more dangerous than before. When you say that Iraq will be a strategic foothold in the region your ignoring the same fact the president is. Namely, that a free and democratic Iraq wil not love us and want us to stay. His belief that we can bomb countries like Iran into submission is stupid. Militarily no one could stop us economically on the other hand... Right now most of the world is upset at us but they continue to buy our products- a move like he describes would create an economic backlash that would be quite severe. We need to do everything he lists at the end otherwise another terrorist attack is merely a matter of time. You stated "Why is the effort that we are making slow and often under the radar?" I disagree we arent making any appreciable effort. There was an article in Time magazine within the last six months (cant remember exactly) detailing the deplorable state of our border patrol along the Mexican border. Nothing has been done since Sept. 11th- the border patrol still cant use the FBI database to identify the people they do catch- we just dump them back over the border unidentified and free to try again. Are we at war? no at this time we are not but there is still time to change that.

Cigarette Smoking Man from the X-Files said...

"When you say that Iraq will be a strategic foothold in the region your ignoring the same fact the president is. Namely, that a free and democratic Iraq wil not love us and want us to stay."

This is an interesting proposition, that of a free and democratic Iraq **electing** a terrorist government. It's thoroughly possible, down the line, as Hitler was elected. Julius Caesar was elected. Some of the particularly bad Latin dictatorships (both far-right and far-left) were elected. There's no reason to believe that a wave of uber-Islamic hysteria couldn't sweep Iraq and elect somebody of Zarqawi's calibre.

The interesting thing about that would be that THEN it would completely change the tone of the war. It would cease to be "liberation" and begin to be a war of annihilation. If a whole people would make it known to us that they as a whole are on a war footing with we as a whole, then, well, let the glass parking lots begin. No ground troops need be deployed. Just bomb and bomb again.

This is very nearly what took place in Serbia. Slobodan Milosevic WAS popular with right-wing Serbs for his "ethnic cleansing" of Bonsians and Kosovars, that is, until we carpet-bombed Serbia to punish them for liking Milosevic. And you know what? They didn't like Milosevic very much after that. Imagine that, eh?

"His belief that we can bomb countries like Iran into submission is stupid."

Don't knock it 'til you've tried it. Actually it HAS been tried, and it's succeeded every time it's been done full-out and flat-out, with the purpose of flattening the target nation. Japan, Serbia (see above), the Nazis... there is no people so fanatical that a city-wiping or two won't adjust their attitude. Just look at those old clips of 1930s-era Hitler. They made today's mobs of terrorists look like mere poseurs, for fanaticism. Dresden took care of that. Neatly done.

"Right now most of the world is upset at us"

Since when do France and Germany constitute "most of the world" bubba?

"but they continue to buy our products"

You're not very familiar with the balance of trade, are you?

What causes the snooty French and the arrogant Germans from being in a 100% hostile position toward us is that they want US to continue to buy THEIR products. They know that we've got them by the balls, which is why they keep on trying to hound other European nations to band together with them, to give them trade-negotiating muscle. When we took out the Saddam regime we took out a big corrupt money train of theirs, and that hurt, but losing us as a consumer market would hurt them even worse. If not, they'd be welcoming Osama into Bonn with ticker-tape parades right now as we type.

Tom said...

Kat, I too, have worried about our lack of total committment in pursuit of this war. In particular, at two points this struck me:

1) before the invasion of Iraq when opponents were saying that it would "dilute" and "divert" our resources. My response was "what? Most of our military was sitting around unused or stuck in Cold War positions. What were our carriers, armored units, or subs doing in the war? Mostly nothing."

2) during the campaign Kerry and the Dems attacked the spending in Iraq on the basis that we needed the money at home, as if our kids were going to school in buildings without roofs. Glad they weren't around when the Marshall Plan was being developed, or Truman sent the emergency aid to Turkey and Greece after WWII.

I'd say that we're doing better today, but Helprin is right, we've still got a long way to go. We can and must win this war. And the only way to win is to stay engaged in the world.

As to the comments above, I'd only add that the reason why attacking Iran would be dicey is that we've let the size of our military decline too far.

Donal said...

CSM, I didnt mean that they would elect a terrorist leader, just that whoever is elected might not want us to remain in the country. Maybe that would be good enough but the president seems to belive that a democracy would mean that they like us and thats not necesarily the truth. By stupid I mean that while mass bombing of a country would work we couldnt afford the political and economic backlash. You said "Since when do France and Germany constitute "most of the world" bubba?" no but Canada, Britain, Spain, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Mexico, and Russia compose a good part and 57% of their populations as of Oct. 15th have a more negative view of the government which is what I meant by us. That was from our invading Iraq, now imagine the reaction if we wiped out a few cities. I do understand the balance of trade- I'm not talking governments here I'm talking about the people in those countries. You cant force people to buy products, so far their is a negative view of our government but not our people, an action like that described above would create a negative image of americans as individuals. Not to mention the fact that if banks around the world stopped paying for our debt we would be in serious trouble.

Cigarette Smoking Man from the X-Files said...

Donal, "whoever is elected might not want us to remain in the country."

If they're not terrorists, the terrorists will be fighting THEM, and without our help. Good luck to 'em then.

"By stupid I mean that while mass bombing of a country would work we couldnt afford the political and economic backlash."

It's all a matter of how it's sold. We did a good sales job in Kosovo, flattening Serbia free of the backlash you cite. And it's quite possible we'd have to draft Bill Clinton to give us the sales horsepower to allow us to flatten Iran. As a temporary emergency measure, I'd be on-board for it. Give him a few hookers as payment for his services as... "special envoy", something like that.

"Canada, Britain, Spain, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Mexico, and Russia compose a good part and 57% of their populations as of Oct. 15th have a more negative view of the government which is what I meant by us."

Okay, let's go down the list, shall we?

CANADA: military non-existent. Economically depressed. Culturally fertile, but then, the best and brightest among them keep emigrating here, for some odd reason, while they act as a repository for the worst and dimmest of OUR population. I say we thank them for supplying us with video clips of Todd Bertuzzi's "pacifist" neck-check and politely usher them to the door.

BRITAIN: Yes, Tony Blair is under fire, but U.K. politics aren't so simple as American liberals try to claim. He is a U.K. liberal not unlike Bill Clinton, and his side of their political aisle wouldn't withstand the tearing-apart they would take on if he got a vote of no confidence. It's likely the Tories would take over and they'd be stuck with "more Blair than Blair". As it stands, the ignorant toothless fucks in the pubs don't know what they're bloody well on about and they're irrelevant anyway. That's the English blood in me acting up and getting soccer-thug surly, thanks to me grand-ma-ma from Yorkshire.

SPAIN: Vaya con diablo, putos. We'll just have to live without one more corrupt sex-tourism vacation spot. Oh darn.

JAPAN: They are all pacifist, all the time. If you so much as swat a BUG they'll protest. They are the anti-samurai of modern times, and there's no getting around it. Great people, but militarily there's no pleasing them. But then, in many ways they're in the same boat as....

SOUTH KOREA: They could just make our DAY if they give us a desire to leave them to their fate with Kim Jong Il (the non-puppet version) standing on their northern border, arms akimbo, millions of fanatical warriors at his side, with the same look in their eye the Republican Guards under Saddam had right before they invaded Kuwait.

AUSTRALIA: I think you overestimate the representation of worthless pacifist ninnies among the Aussies. You can get mighty biased samples if you only poll in certain areas of Melbourne. I'll leave that one at that.

MEXICO: They have many reasons for being upset with us, and if we did absolutely everything they instructed us to do regarding the middle east, it would still not be enough to make them wave American flags and give red carpet treatment to gringo types that swagger across the border. I'd advise not travelling there outside the "safe touristy spots", which narrows you to pretty much Se┼łor Frog's. There, drink all the water you want.

RUSSIA: Beslan made them mad at Al Qaeda. We have a common enemy and when you get down to it, they are in Chechniya the way we are in Iraq. They are both proxy wars against Al Qaeda elements and it shouldn't be too hard to get them to understand the parallel of the two conflicts, and start to work more closely with each other.

"if banks around the world stopped paying for our debt we would be in serious trouble."

They would be in worse trouble if we simply wrote off all of the bonds we've issued to-date. You need to start thinking things through more thoroughly here, seriously. The major mistake liberals make in foreign policy is a knee-jerk assumption that every two-bit non-power in the world holds all the cards and that our only option all the time, every time, is to grovel to them and suck up to them and do absolutely everything they demand. We DO hold quite a FEW of the cards, and power is not always a popularity contest. There are times when it is, and times when it isn't. It's just not as simple as the world viewed through the eyes of disgusting fuckups like Barbra Streisand.

Donal said...

CSM you said they'd be fighting the terrorists alone thats only true assuming the terrorists would still attack them without our presence, which isnt necessarily true. Kosova was to prevent genocide- we have very few allies in Iraq when they belived he was a grave risk- I'd imagine little support for us in wiping out cities just because Iran doesnt like us. You may not like or give a damn about those countries but they do represent the rest of the world not just "France and Germany constitute "most of the world".." as you put it earlier. Just a few facts on the debt- 58 percent of the securities that Treasury t sold were bought by foriegners. A large percentage of that went to the central banks of Japan and China. As for the debt if we defaulted on our bonds how much would the us dollar be worth? it'd be next to worthless. Many nations in the world hold the us dollar in reserve in case of a rise in oil prices, the OPEC nations could price oil in Euros instead. Did I say we have to do everything they say and suck up all the? no I didnt- I was talking about how the idea that we can just wipe out cities without repercusions is retarded. I also dont buy the republican bs that the rest of the world doesnt matter and they can just f*** off. We do hold alot of cards but we dont hold ALL of them- that means we cant just do whatever we want and we have to balance the risks vs the rewards of our actions.

Cigarette Smoking Man from the X-Files said...

Donal, it's actually very true that if we left Iraq, any regime that is NOT a terrorist regime would be in the cross-hairs of the terrorists for a takeover. It would be far too weak to stand on its own, and an "independant Allawi" would be an Allawi with his head on an Al Qaeda platter, as an example to all others who dare oppose the terrorists. I'm finding it difficult to believe that you can't see this.

"Kosova was to prevent genocide"

What the fuck do you think happens when terrorists take over, little dances around the May Pole? GAWD... try not to be intentionally obtuse.

"I'd imagine little support for us in wiping out cities just because Iran doesnt like us."

It wouldn't be just because Iran doesn't like us. It would be as a response to an attack, widely supported by the whole of the Iranian population. Of course you don't SELL it to Europe that way though. What a Bill Clinton would be doing would be to shake hands and flash a smile behind closed doors and make the concrete offers of a big payoof of some sort for the necessary support for flattening them.

"Just a few facts on the debt- 58 percent of the securities that Treasury t sold were bought by foriegners."

Try to read this slowly so that perhaps this time it will sink in: if the bonds were written off, the holders OF those bonds, that being 58% foreigners, would be up shit crick without a paddle. Now that makes for a whole LOT of foreigners who do not want to see America fail. They have a vested interest in our success.

"how much would the us dollar be worth?"

And how cheap would that make our products, for export?

Quite a few aspects of these things, you're still refusing to consider.

"Did I say we have to do everything they say and suck up all the? no I didnt"

Your assertion about how angry "the whole world" is with us is based on us not doing what they order us to do, namely, leave Iraq immediately. Now, you change your tack and say that in spite of that anger and those insidious and unreasonable demands on the part of the ignorant masses out there, we should do the right thing anyway, and let that anger be their problem and not ours, then WHAT BLOODY POINT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE MAKING HERE? We're not very well in any sort of a disagreement, are we? Non-sequitur, much?

"I also dont buy the republican bs that the rest of the world doesnt matter and they can just f*** off."

That's a bit of an exaggeration, y'know. We both apparently know that the truth is somewhere between: that the various powers of the world do contain nuggets of relevance, to be taken into account from time to time, but that doesn't amount to a necessity to genuflect to their every whim.

"We do hold alot of cards but we dont hold ALL of them- that means we cant just do whatever we want and we have to balance the risks vs the rewards of our actions."

Funny you should mention risk versus reward. What kind of a risk is a WMD up our asses, and what kind of a reward is a pat on the back from surly Frenchmen? Yes, yes, there were no WMD, but we DIDN'T KNOW THAT in early 2003, DID we?


Donal said...

CSM I wasnt talking about terrorists taking over.Your assuming Allawi would be elected and that is far from certain. Most likely it would be someone picked by al Sistani, with wide-spread support from the populace, short-term they may want us to stay long-term is a different matter, and its shortsighted to belive our bases can remain there for decades as some people assert. Not even Clinton could sell mass-bombing cities without provocation. My point about the world being angry at is was if we mass-bombed cities in Iran not about leaving Iraq! The point is I'm NOT TALKING ABOUT IRAQ but the hypotetical attack on Iran. Maybe that wasnt clear- I thought it was. Btw, I never said we should pull of Iraq, we have to finish the job there now that we have started.

Cigarette Smoking Man from the X-Files said...

Donal, I threw the name "Allawi" in just as an example. Pick anyone at all, and if they are not aligned with the terrorists, the terrorists will attack them. Even if Sistani picked him and even if it were Sistani himself. A Sistani-endorsed candidate would be popular and have popular support, but probably not TERRORIST support unless they subscribed to the precepts of violent Taghut disguised as Jihad, as they do.

Terrorists leave no wiggle-room at all for "nuancing" one's alignment in this conflict.

"its shortsighted to belive our bases can remain there for decades as some people assert."

I would not want conventional U.S. forces on the ground there long-term. Special Operations incognito, definitely, but not 11B Earth Agitation Specialists. Sooner rather than later, we have to at least make an appearance of withdrawing and leaving the new Democratic Iraq to its sovereign devices. The real behind-the-scenes Spec Ops presence won't be to try to politically control Iraq, but simply to continue to hunt and kill terrorists, on the sneak. If I were in charge, that is.

"Not even Clinton could sell mass-bombing cities without provocation."

My standard for flattening Iran would be the same one used by Clinton for flattening Serbia. No more, no less. And I would strongly desire to draft Clinton as a Special Envoy for making the same sales pitch he did back then, to NATO. Maybe cite a need for stability in the Caspian region--that might stick.

"My point about the world being angry at is was if we mass-bombed cities in Iran not about leaving Iraq!"

You're shifting the goal posts here, and doing so very clumsily. The poll you cited was taken on the basis of our invasion of Iraq. We began with an honest mistake and are now doing what has to be done in the aftermath, but the ignorant sheep "asses of the masses" out there are totally unforgiving of that--they don't understand. Many cannot be enlightened to the need to take an aggressive stance against terrorism, because, quite frankly, they are worthless and weak. And others are similarly biased because they lost out economically with the fall of Saddam's murderous regime.

Would the world be angry with us if we were to bomb Iran? Not if it could be sold with the same sales pitch as the bombing of Serbia. They didn't give a flying fuck about Serbia, because Clinton very effectively carried out the MindWar component of his actions against Milosevic, to where he pretty much got cheered by the E.U. for his genocide there. That is the skill we need to bring back into play if it becomes necessary to give Iran the Serbia treatment.

"I never said we should pull of Iraq"

The sheople you cited in your global poll do though. And now you agree with me that that global majority is wrong and stupid. So welcome to the elitist American club here. ;)

Donal said...

CSM you stated "Terrorists leave no wiggle-room at all for "nuancing" one's alignment in this conflict." Of course not and I'm not saying they would. My point is a democratic Iraqi government might not be one that likes us and tolerates our presence after it is necessary. While you might not want to see our conventional forces there long-term, that is not the desire of this adminstration. They have plans to retain bases their for an indefinite peroid of time- its part of their strategic plan for the middle east. We couldnt sell them on invading Iraq yet you somehow belive we can sell them on flattening Iranian cities with mass civilian casualties. About Serbia you said Clinton "...got cheered by the E.U. for his genocide there" what are you talking about? What we did there didnt come anywhere close to genocide it was to prevent genocide. My point about the polls was that if that many are angry about us for Iraq when we had good reasons how would they react to bombing cities indiscrimantly as was suggested without any reasons other than they dont like us.

Cigarette Smoking Man from the X-Files said...

Donal, you seem to have no ability whatsoever to put yourself in the shoes of an Iraqi government that decided to turn hostile to the United States and yet at the same time not genuflect to the terrorists. They will have isolated themselves and forced themselves into a fight with the terrorists (because if you don't bow to the terrorists they WILL attack you), without any U.S. help whatsoever. Without that help, it's merely a matter of time before the mass beheadings begin. Nobody is guaranteeing that an elected Iraqi government would "like" the U.S., but I can guarantee you just as sure as the sun will rise, that any government in Iraq, elected or otherwise, will either be pro-terrorist and subject to U.S. flattening and bombing, or anti-terrorist and dependant upon U.S. assistance for survival. Wake up and smell the IEDs.

"They have plans to retain bases their for an indefinite peroid of time- its part of their strategic plan for the middle east."

The one constant about plans is that they change, especially after elections are done.

"We couldnt sell them on invading Iraq yet you somehow belive we can sell them on flattening Iranian cities with mass civilian casualties."

I'm referring to Bill Clinton, not "we". Bush couldn't sell water to a man dying of thirst, but Clinton could sell refrigerators to the Alaskan Inuit, which is why I would draft him for service as a special envoy.

"What we did there didnt come anywhere close to genocide it was to prevent genocide."

See? The sales job was so good, it had hang-time, and even has you tottering around with an "x" on your forehead, believing we weren't carpet-bombing and killing civilians randomly in Serbia. You are a living testament to how good of a job Clinton did at selling the bombing raids.

"My point about the polls was that if that many are angry about us for Iraq when we had good reasons how would they react to bombing cities indiscrimantly as was suggested without any reasons other than they dont like us."

We're starting from differeing sets of premises here. My premise is that Iran will have attacked us, and my supporting premise is that we'll be smart enough to employ a snake-oil-salesman like Clinton to sell the response to said attack, primarily to NATO countries, and probably on the grounds of stabilizing the Caucasas region so that it won't spread to Georgia and Azerbaijan. Clinton himself would be my first pick because he could fart down their throats and they'd think he fed them glace de viande. Your premise is that Iran will not have attacked and that we would not have anybody beyond perhaps the discredited Colin Powell doing the sales job. What we have then is me saying "black is black" and you saying "yellow is yellow" and we're fooled into thinking this amounts to disagreement.