What to do about ISIS? This is almost one of the easiest things I’ve ever had to think about. For all of you concerned Americans — anxiously wringing your hands over this so-called terrorist threat — let me say this: ISIS can only hurt the United States if we’re stupid enough to let them sucker us into a fight on their terms and on their turf.
For the average American, however, ISIS is not a threat. If you live in a cozy suburb and commute to work each day in your car: if you work on the factory floor or in an office cubicle; if you drive home each evening, stop at the grocery store to pick up some pizza and ice cream and then go home to watch movies and play on the computer until you fall asleep; if this is your typical day, then ISIS is no threat to you — absolutely zero. The beheadings are grotesque, but we can’t let ourselves be goaded by these horrific pictures into making another really stupid Middle East blunder.
When these morons that we’ve elected to the Congress all start stepping out in front of the T.V. cameras and start talking like generals about “winning” military engagements with “limited” air strikes, no boots on the ground and no American casualties we all need to be careful because this is the same kind of idiocy that got us into this problem in the first place. We need to remember how this all got started — the 2003 invasion of Iraq. We should not be so fearful and so stupid that we allow a despicable and craven, groveling politician like Dick Cheney appeal to our worst fears in what is just a remorseless, self-interested attempt to make himself relevant again. Besides, if the U.S. Congress is almost unanimously in support of something, particularly on the Republican side, and a like majority of the American public is also on board — then you have to know it’s a stupid idea.
The smartest thing that we — as a country — can do is leave the entire region, pull out all our troops and diplomatic personnel and let those people sort out their problems for themselves. If we leave no assets there for them to strike — no diplomats, reporters or soldiers to take hostage and kill — then we’re not going to be provoked into another stupid military adventure. Americans need to recognize that there are some problems in this world that we can’t fix. The root cause of all the troubles in the Middle East — the religious sectarian hatred between the Sunnis and the Shia — goes back fourteen hundred years, nine hundred years before the first European settlers ever set foot on this continent.
We’ve tried, by direct involvement, to mediate this conflict now for over ten years, and with absolutely no success. We shouldn’t have the arrogance, the outrageous hubris to think we can solve that problem. Nor is it our responsibility. Let Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the other interested Arab players in the region handle this on their own. And besides, we can not afford another decade, or longer, of war. It will totally bankrupt this nation, ruin our economy, and foreclose the hopes and dreams of millions of young Americans for a better life.
To defeat ISIS we’re going to end up choosing sides in what is essentially a bitter religious and sectarian war. And no matter who we choose to support, we’re going to make new enemies, people who in their turn will be just as determined in the future, just as committed to harming the United States as ISIS is today. This is a no-win situation for the U.S., and we’re naïve to think otherwise.
We took the lid off that boiling pot when we knocked out Saddam, and we should not make the mistake of thinking we’re going to be safer here at home if we get involved more deeply in Syria and Iraq by trying to destroy ISIS. The president is right to be cautious, and we should not let a misguided public opinion and a bunch of cynical, ambitious and self-serving politicians force him into making the mistake of opening up another war front when the smartest thing we could do is leave and pull-out of the entire region.
Update: I just listened — with much dismay — to President Obama commit the United States to another unclear, undefined and open ended military conflict. What’s really unfortunate too is that this has to come on the eve of year thirteen after 9/11. Tomorrow all day long we will see replays of the jets striking the World Trade Center, and the towers coming down.
The language in the president’s speech was hopelessly optimistic, and hauntingly similar to what we heard in the run-up to Vietnam. He spoke glowingly of the broad-based coalition of countries that he hopes to enlist to help us “defeat and destroy” ISIS.
Perhaps he needs to be reminded that it’s these same countries, our likely partners — Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — that so far have provided the financial aid and support to the ISIS terrorist group. And perhaps he also needs to be reminded that we don’t have any friends or allies in the Middle East — not even Israel. This has all the potential to be the proverbial “slippery slope”. The first time that a U.S. plane is shot down and the pilot gets taken hostage, those stooges we have running the government in Washington will all be running around with their hair on fire calling for a full U.S. engagement. And then we will be, as the poker players like to say: “all in”. The U.S. will then be on a perpetual and on-going war footing. The military-industrial complex will grow and just get bigger and sap all the vitality out of the country and the economy.
I voted for President Obama, but I wish I could withdraw that vote. Everybody in this country will come to rue this decision. A sad night for the country. Sometimes I think of Plato and I wonder, where is our (America’s) Philosopher King (or Queen) that one man or woman with the wisdom and commitment, the courage to due the right thing. I hate to say it, but sometimes I think it is our messy, dysfunctional, so-called democracy that will be our end. We can only hope that Churchill was right when he said that: “America will always do the right thing, but only after it has tried everything else.”
The Money Trader