9/11 And The Never-Ending War

The world changed significantly twelve years ago today. Will it ever change back even a little bit?

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Today, of course, is the 12th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. There’s really not much one can say beyond that which hasn’t already been said. Indeed, it’s not really my intention to add anything to a topic that I’ve written about extensively over the past seven years both here and at my personal blog each time we’ve hit one of these anniversaries. (For those interested, you can find some examples of the 10th anniversary posts we did here at OTB here, here, and here.) There just doesn’t seem be much to add to those memorializations. Today, however, I happened to come across a post written two weeks ago by Mark Kogan noting that, for his generation, it marked the beginning of a war that seems to have no end:

Since I was 14-years old, the United States of America has been at war.

That’s roughly triple the time we spent in World War II and three years longer than it took us to win our independence. And today, on the same day President Obama commemorates the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech holding up non-violence as an ideal, his administration prepares to extend our time at war once again, this time in Syria.

But when is enough enough?

The length of America’s post-9/11 commitment in the name of the so-called “War On Terror” has been noted many times before, of course. By most accepted measures, the war in Afghanistan is now the longest war in  American history, and the deployment of American troops isn’t scheduled to end for another year. Even after then, there may end up being American forces left behind in Afghanistan if we’re able to work out an acceptable agreement with the government in Kabul. Beyond that, though, the “War On Terror” shows no signs of ending any time soon. American drones will continue to target suspected terrorists not just in Afghanistan but also in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and where ever else President Obama or his successor(s) might deem necessary. More importantly, the Authorization For The Use Of Military Force Against Terrorists that Congress overwhelmingly passed just three days after the attacks, and which President’s Bush and Obama have both used to engage in attacks in nations well distanced from Afghanistan. Under that AUMF, Obama and any President that follows him can justify military action simply by saying that it something to do with al Qaeda or groups linked to al Qaeda and, unless Congress steps in to restrict their authority under the AUMF, his actions would be completely justified. For that reason alone, there’s no real reason to think that the war that Kogan and other millennials have grown up with will really be ending any time soon.

Domestically, this never-ending war has changed us as much as it has internationally. Airport security that used to be perfunctory in many cases is now to the point where the American people take it as a matter of course that they have to take off their shoes, carry their tiny bottles of liquid in clear plastic bags,and consent to being groped by TSA agents in order get on an airplane. Surveillance cameras are now a common sight in American cities, especially in New York and Washington, D.C. The Fourth Amendment workarounds given to law enforcement by the PATRIOT Act are now used more in non-terrorism case than in investigations related to terrorism and, as we learned this summer, the National Security Agency has been given vast surveillance powers that went completely unknown until a lone systems analyst decided to make the information public. As much as 9/11 changed the face of our foreign policy, it has altered in fundamental ways the relationship between the individual and the state, and not in a good way. That’s another legacy that Kogan’s generation will likely be dealing with for the rest of their lives.

Of course, there is a segment of the American political world that is just fine with the idea of the never-ending war. Even in today’s era of the supposedly more libertarian Republican Party standing up against a President who wants to engage in military adventurism in a Middle Eastern nation, there remains overwhelming rhetorical support for the idea of a “War On Terror” that is even more strident that what we’ve seen so far. The extreme fringe of the people holding this idea continues to hold to the absurd idea that we need to go to war with all of Islam, as if fighting a war against a religion composed of more than a billion people is a good idea. That’s a war that would last a generation or more, and it’s not one that we’d be likely to win.

I’m not sure what the answer is to Kogan’s lament about the never-ending war that his generation has been handed. We obviously cannot ignore the existence of real threats to our national interests or the fact that terrorist threats that seem de minimis now could become something more substantial later. Al Qaeda taught us that particular lesson very well twelve years ago. At the same time, one does have to wonder when enough is enough and, more importantly, how much longer our nation can continue on this path before we are fundamentally changed. Or, has it already been too late for that?

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, National Security, Terrorism,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Tony W says:

    Saw on Reddit this morning – What’s the difference between a cow and 9/11? You can’t milk a cow for 12 years…..

  2. LAgraves says:

    I worry that we are going to go bankrupt with all this spending on military hardware and spying.

  3. john personna says:

    You can’t have a New Isolationism and a War on Terror at the same time.

    The corner has already turned, to the point where “I don’t care if they kill each other” becomes not just a common theme, but the driving political reality.

    Look, Obama (and I in my small way) has to pull teeth just to get support for an international ban on chemical weapons. The public, without goading, is actually ready to let such things fall by the wayside.

    The theme for the next 10 years might just be “we don’t care if they kill each other.”

  4. @john personna:

    Ah I see you’ve adopted the Isolationist Smear

  5. grumpy realist says:

    @john personna: I’m wondering if a by-product of any backlash will be a turn away from Israel: “We’re sick and tired of being the world’s policemen, everyone in the Mideast is nuts, let them kill each other off.”

  6. Pinky says:

    This war has been hot-and-cold since 1979. The Marines have been fighting it since 1805. It started around 621 and it’s going to outlast all of us.

  7. Ernieyeball says:

    September 11, 1969…Huh?

    This was the day in 1969 that the Chicago Cubs fell out of 1st Place in the new National League East Division for the first time all season long. Needless to say they never recovered. The Mets beat out the Cubs and went on to win their 1st World Series!
    After an entire season in 1st and then the collapse, the Chicago Sports Press was all over Manager Leo Durocher.
    “Leo, what happened? Cubs never fell out of 1st place all year till September?”
    Leo replied, “Those last few games we couldn’t have beat a team of women.”

    September 11, 1969. Talk about a reverse curse. Can’t do any thing about that.

  8. john personna says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I have actually read in these pages:

    Let’s just get out of the Mideast, put a big fence around all of it, and leave it alone for 1000 years or so. I’m tired of the US getting dragged into stuff for the sake of Israel. If Israel really wanted continued US support, they should have created their country in a location people didn’t fight over.

    I did not make that up.

  9. john personna says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Oops, that was you.

    At some level I understand it. If governments won’t honor human rights, and their own people won’t change that, what do you do?

    There is a tension between respect for self-determination and a respect for human rights.

    And so while I understand it, I think going all they way to “let them kill each other” does take us to a darker place, one where human rights are variable, and determined by what despots can get away with.

  10. john personna says:

    Shorter:

    While I support disengagement, I think when you get to throwing out the 1925 Geneva Protocol on chemical weapons … you might be taking disengagement a bit too far.

  11. James Pearce says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Ah I see you’ve adopted the Isolationist Smear

    It’s not a smear if it’s true.

  12. TheoNott says:

    14, eh? Imagine how the War on Terror seems to somebody like me…I was a fourth grader when the Twin Towers fell. I have not known a time when we weren’t in Afghanistan.
    9/11 was a tremendous tragedy, to be sure, but let’s think rationally. If we dealt with the risk of death by terrorism in the same manner as we dealt with heart disease, we would make selling a cheeseburger an imprisonable offense. Really, what benefit does all the security theater grant us? Let’s be generous and say it saves the lives of an average of 20 Americans a year from radical Islamic terrorism. From a cost-benefit standpoint, does that make even the remotest sense?
    Think about this way…If I imagine myself to be a nutty, suicidal terrorist, and you lock down air travel as best you can, I could just blow up a shopping mall. Put the TSA in the malls, you say? Alright, I’ll hit a college campus. It’s a fantasy to imagine that we can completely prevent terrorism anymore than we can completely eliminate murder. Actually, it’s even harder, because terrorists are generally more determined and less concerned about their own lives than regular, run-of-the-mill murderers.
    Don’t get me wrong. Reasonable counter-terrorism laws and expenditures are well worth it, I think. But it’s important to keep them in perspective. It would probably save more lives on net to shift many of our counter-terrorism resources somewhere else.

  13. Ernieyeball says:

    @TheoNott: …but let’s think rationally.

    You must be from Mars.
    Welcome to Earth where Reactionary Emotionalism is always the Politically Correct Card to play.

  14. rudderpedals says:

    Everyone fend for themselves is pretty much standard libertarian dogma.

  15. michael reynolds says:

    @TheoNott:

    I’d be surprised at such a well-reasoned comment from a teenager except that I have one of those here at my house and he is probably the debater I most worry about tangling with, so I’m used to smart kids. Carry on.

  16. grumpy realist says:

    @john personna: that’s me, not Doug. I don’t think I’m the only American getting tired of the Mideast.

  17. michael reynolds says:

    “M-o-o-om, this war is so l-o-o-ong, I’m bored. I wanna play with my X-Box.”

    We don’t get to choose how long a war lasts unless we plan to surrender. Certainly not if we plan to remain within the bounds of barely-civilized behavior. Had we chosen to fight in Afghanistan using all our means, the war there would have ended very quickly. Some of this is a consequence of attempting a degree of humanity. (And before someone huffs about drone war not being humane, please: we used to burn cities to the ground, and can still do it, so yes, this is relatively humane.) Let’s face it, with a similar disparity in forces Genghis would have wrapped this thing up in about as long as it takes to travel by ICBM from Nevada to anywhere that pissed us off. Would you have liked that better, folks? Would have been really quick.

    The War on Terror (stupid name) was not something we went looking for, it came to us. It will comes to us again if we let it. That’s not a reason to panic or bankrupt ourselves or change much more than a few things around the margins, (or to start throwing nukes) but it’s childish to whine about how long it’s going on.

  18. michael reynolds says:

    Also, just for point of historical accuracy, the Cold War was a lot longer. 1947 maybe to 1989? Four decades and we were not just worrying about airliners being flown into buildings, we were worrying about all of human life being obliterated.

  19. 11B40 says:

    Greetings:

    If I may offer a personal observation, it would be the scarcity of the word “Islam” or its variants in all of today’s commemoration of the Islamic attacks of 9/11/01.

    Islam is the millstone. If your plan doesn’t include constraining, undermining, or eradicating ISlam, you don’t have a plan. What you have is a hope.

  20. michael reynolds says:

    @11B40:

    If your plan includes “eradicating Islam” then you’re a Nazi.

  21. anjin-san says:

    @ 11B40

    What a pathetic, frightened little man you are.

  22. Davebo says:

    @11B40:

    Eradicating Islam? Can we start with the Baptists first if we’re dead set on offing a couple billion people? (What can I say, I grew up in a dry county)

  23. Woody says:

    @11B40:

    Good grief. As long as the WoT is gonna last, the War on Stupid will never end, will it?

  24. @john personna:

    Please tell me which of us OTB bloggers wrote that, and provide a link

  25. @James Pearce:

    But, it’s not true, therefore, it is a smear

  26. @michael reynolds:

    Not an unfair point but, in the case of the Cold War we were, in the end, fighting a nation-state located in what is mostly now called Russia that had client states elsewhere and a former client state turned adversary in China. The “War On Terror” is different in many ways, which is why I’m not sure it’s even correct to characterize it as a war

  27. Wildly off-topic, but I suddenly feel like a complete moron because I just discovered that I’ve been too stupid to figure out how to operate a Chinese take out carton for the first 36 years of my life.

    Apparently you’re supposed to unfold them to use as a plate for the food

  28. James Pearce says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    But, it’s not true, therefore, it is a smear

    It may not be true generally. But on Syria……

    Indeed, this could serve as a summary of your work on the subject:

    Isolationism is….a broader reluctance to engage, to assert responsibility, to commit. Isolationism tends to be pessimistic (we will get it wrong, we will make it worse) and amoral (it is none of our business unless it threatens us directly) and inward-looking (foreign aid is a waste of money better spent at home)

    Check, check, and check.

  29. An Interested Party says:

    It started around 621 and it’s going to outlast all of us.

    Islam is the millstone. If your plan doesn’t include constraining, undermining, or eradicating ISlam, you don’t have a plan.

    Oh my, some Crusaders are always ready for the fight…

  30. stonetools says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Amen, Michael. One of the problems here is what I call “The Curse of World War Two”. WW2 was America’s greatest triumph, but Americans since then have then have thought that wars must consist of a series of big set piece battles (Midway! Guadalcanal!D-Day! Bastogne!)with capital cities to be captured or attacked (Berlin! Tokyo!), and the whole thing being dusted and done in four years at the most , with the boys coming home to kiss girls in Time Square.
    Now that’s nice and all, but most wars aren’t like that. Lots of wars last a long, long time. There have been Thirty Years Wars and Hundred Years Wars. Lest we think all that is ancient history, what the Vietnamese call their War of Independence lasted from 1945 to 1975, with the American phase of it being one part of the war.
    Americans have been through a lot in the past 12 years but compared to the period 1929-45,(the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, WW2) it hasn’t really been that bad. One gets the feeling that our grandfathers would have told us to “Suck it up, it could be worse.” (Pundit and historian Dan Carlin mused in one of his Hardcore History podcasts that we couldn’t have beaten our grandfathers in a war, and that our grandfathers probably couldn’t have beaten their grandfathers).
    The point is that this is going to be a long ideological conflict-A Clash of Civilizations if you like-and we aren’t going to win it by complaining “Aargh, this is just TOOO long or too hard.” We’re not going to beat our enemy in some big set-piece battle, but we are going to have to outlast them. Its going to be a while, so let’s settle in for the long haul , carry on, and keep calm

  31. michael reynolds says:

    @stonetools:

    I think that’s exactly right.

    WW2 became the template for all wars because it meshes so well with our national mythology. I mean, what would we choose as the exemplar of wars? 1812? The Civil War over extending slavery? The Mexican American land-grab war? The sheer imperialism of the Spanish War? WW1 where we arrived very late to a really bad party? Korea? Vietnam? The fact is our wars – like most people’s wars — are often either fraudulent or unnecessary or our own damned fault or necessary but in ways we don’t want to talk about.

    WW2 was that rare, straight-up fight. Good and Evil. Not absolute Good, maybe, but flat-out absolute Evil. Everything on the line. Human liberty itself on the line, us and the Brits and Canadians and Aussies the Kiwis, navigating to hold onto individual freedom in the midst of Naziism and Communism. It takes your breath away thinking of it. Saved half the fwcking world with the other half to remain in bondage for another forty years.

    You could parade off that war.

    The problem is that our reverence for that war blinds us to the possibility that we may sometimes need to go out and kill people in ways that are necessary but not so glorious. Today’s thugs don’t threaten the whole world, so the question becomes do they need killing? Or do we ignore them, let them do as they like? It’s not an easy question.

  32. Rafer Janders says:

    @stonetools:

    (Pundit and historian Dan Carlin mused in one of his Hardcore History podcasts that we couldn’t have beaten our grandfathers in a war, and that our grandfathers probably couldn’t have beaten their grandfathers).

    Eh, I’ll stack our F-16s against our grandfathers’ propeller powered fighter planes every day.

  33. Rafer Janders says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Everything on the line. Human liberty itself on the line, us and the Brits and Canadians and Aussies the Kiwis, navigating to hold onto individual freedom in the midst of Naziism and Communism. It takes your breath away thinking of it. Saved half the fwcking world with the other half to remain in bondage for another forty years.

    Well, primarily the Soviet Communists, who were the ones who inflicted 80% of German casualties in the war, and were the ones who actually took Berlin. And we also gloss over the fact that the Brits and Canadians and Aussies and Kiwis were in the war from week one, while for almost two and a half years we were happy to stay out of it so we could concentrate on jitterbugging and baseball.

    But yes, we’ve certainly managed to construct a pretty little mythology off of that.

  34. Spartacus says:

    @john personna:

    I have actually read in these pages: . . .

    Yes, but you’re focusing on one of the least persuasive arguments against intervention. The main reason many of us are opposed to intervention is that all of the military plans that are being discussed will either result in an increase in the number of innocent deaths or leave unpunished the very person who is responsible for CW attacks.

    Until that problem is resolved it’s hard to find any value in a military intervention.

  35. Tony W says:

    @Spartacus:
    Question: Since when do our modern military interventions need to have purpose and direction?
    Answer: Since a Democract moved into the white house

  36. Mikey says:

    @Rafer Janders: WW2 didn’t take place only in Europe. How many Soviet Communists landed on Iwo Jima?

  37. Rafer Janders says:

    @Mikey:

    None. The US won the Pacific war fair and square. But there’s a myth, a common assumption, that the US also beat the Nazis, and that’s just not so. At best we sat out the first quarter on the bench, and then gave an assist to the guy who actually racked up 80% of the points.

  38. Rob in CT says:

    M-o-o-om, this war is so l-o-o-ong, I’m bored. I wanna play with my X-Box.”

    That’s high-quality argument right there.

    Especially given the “x-box” nature of wars for the average American nowadays. We watch war on TV. We borrow money (not pay taxes) to pay for it. And you have the gall to accuse those of us who want less war to be childish?

    As for Isolationism… there is very little of it in the USA now, certainly when you talk about politicians. There is more in the general public, granted. I hold a minority position, and I don’t even consider myself a full on isolationist. James Pearce’s quoted description (a broader reluctance to engage, to assert responsibility, to commit. Isolationism tends to be pessimistic (we will get it wrong, we will make it worse) and amoral (it is none of our business unless it threatens us directly) and inward-looking (foreign aid is a waste of money better spent at home) is very close to my views, though that tends to be what I consider a rebuttable presumption. I can be persuaded, it’s just that it takes a lot to persuade me. I think this is wise, given our past experience.

    [One thing in which I am not, IMO, isolationist is that I’m fine with alliances. Real, honest-to-goodness alliances, mind you. Mutual treaties. I’m less keen on the whole client state business]

  39. Mikey says:

    @Rafer Janders: Probably the primary benefit of the US entering the war in Europe was the prevention of the Soviets pushing all the way west. Imagine all of Europe as Soviet client states.

    My mother-in-law was a child during the war, she (along with her mother, aunt, and nine siblings) fled what would become part of Poland, survived the Dresden firebombings of February 1945, and ended up living in a displaced persons camp in Bavaria for ten years. I’m quite thankful the Americans got to Bavaria before the Russians.

  40. gVOR08 says:

    I’m not sure what the answer is to Kogan’s lament about the never-ending war that his generation has been handed.

    The answer is, “Stop”.

    We deal with disease and crime every day without declaring “war”. Except occasionally for political purposes; and then only rhetorically. We did declare “war” on drugs. In retrospect that seems to have clearly been a mistake.

    We have to deal with the threat of terrorism. We don’t have to make it an obsession.

    Heard a lady on talk radio. She had to drive through a river tunnel on her commute. Every time she entered the tunnel, she was gripped with fear. She said the terrorists were ruining her life. I wanted to reach into the radio, shake her, and shout, “It’s not the terrorists who are ruining your life. It’s you” It isn’t the terrorists who’ve made us a fearful people eager to engage in counterproductive wars.

  41. Mikey says:

    @gVOR08: I know a woman who, since 9/11, will not travel by air. She has even been through therapy in an attempt to get past the fear, but to no avail. Her husband was awarded a trip for two to Hawaii by his employer. He ended up taking their son instead of her.

  42. john personna says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Huh?

    I call out a national turn in sentiment, and you say that if OTB bloggers don’t say it, it can’t be true?

  43. john personna says:

    @Spartacus:

    There are national polls, right?

    Don’t you think they signal, on a number of levels, a fatigue with war in general, and War On Terror in specific?

    I do.

  44. Barry says:

    @Doug Mataconis: At this point I’m classing it under the Godwin Zone, with the added claim that anybody using this is frankly a liar, and nothing they say should be trusted.

  45. Ernieyeball says:

    @Mikey: I don’t fly anymore either. Not out of fear of terriorists but because I refuse to submit to the outrageous “security” probes citizens must submit to.

  46. Barry says:

    @Pinky: Pinky says:

    “This war has been hot-and-cold since 1979. The Marines have been fighting it since 1805. It started around 621 and it’s going to outlast all of us. ”

    Let me guess: “we infer the existence of ‘peace’ by the fact that there are gaps between wars”.

  47. Barry says:

    @michael reynolds: “We don’t get to choose how long a war lasts unless we plan to surrender. ”

    Oh, bull. ‘Not going around attacking people’ is not ‘surrender’.

  48. john personna says:

    @Barry:

    That’s no answer at all.

    And if you don’t want to tie the isolationist “smear” to Godwin’s law, you have to explain when you’d intervene to save gassed German Jews. Do you pass if it is “difficult” or “risky?”

  49. michael reynolds says:

    @Barry:

    We attacked Al Qaeda? When was that, on 911?

  50. john personna says:

    Seriously folks, the definition of “isolationism” is pulling back your scope of interest, and limiting it to the safety (and presumably economic interests) of the United States.

    When you do that, you have pulled back from an interest in foreign atrocities, including genocide.

    If you say “oh wait, I didn’t mean genocide” then you have to explain why a thousand gas deaths, a hundred thousand overall deaths, aren’t enough to even interest you.

  51. john personna says:

    Oh, I forgot …

    “I’m interested, but I yield my decision to Security Council vetoes by China and Russia … sterling stewards of international human rights that they are.”

  52. Mikey says:

    @Ernieyeball: I fly quite frequently, and have since well before 9/11. The additional security procedures–which basically, in my experience, amount to taking off my shoes and pulling my laptop out of its bag–don’t bother me in the least.

    Not that I think it’s anything but security theater, of course. It’s just not particularly onerous to me, as a white guy with an Italian name. I appreciate that others may have different experiences.

  53. Barry says:

    @James Pearce: That definition says that if anybody exhibits reluctance to dive into whatever wars are being advocated for, then they’re isolationist.

  54. Mikey says:

    @john personna: The flip side of this is asking whether or not we should intervene for every instance of genocide, or chemical weapons usage, or whatever else the tyrannical government of some dusty backwater with no implications for US interests decides to do to its people.

    Where do you draw the line? Must the US be the world’s policeman, the strong arm of international law?

    I think it goes without saying that attempts to impose our view of legitimate government on other nations by force have not generally worked out too well. At least not lately.

  55. john personna says:

    @Barry:

    That’s not what the word means, no.

    @Mikey:

    We’ve usually had a mixture of self and altruistic [interests] when we intervene. It has been difficult to get international action for genocide in poor, distant, places without economic ties to the west. That’s just reality. But, I think we can ultimately tie it to Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development.

    Perhaps it is hard to act on Universal Principles, but we should at least run the analysis, the cost-benefit of doing so.

    If a couple cruise missiles could have stopped genocide in Darfur, hell yes. If it would take a messy ground invasion, then the cost was probably too high.

  56. Rob in CT says:

    To be clear: this post is not about Syria. It’s about foreign interventions in general, and the idea of isolationism.

    We have limited means, John. Our ability to shape events in other nations is limited and subject to unintended consequences (our ability to shape events in our own country is also finite and subject to unintended consequences, but far less so). But it takes some humility to accept that, and why do that when one can accuse others of being heartless bastards who just won’t think of the widdle childwen? Why, if we fail to remake the world in our image, it’s just a failure of will on our part! (This, to me, is the ultimate extension of the things Michael Reynolds has been arguing of late)

    Your moralizing is cute and all, but in the end it serves to embroil us in conflicts that are: a) not of our making; b) often not possible for us to solve; and c) potentially disasterous, for us and/or for the people in the country we try to improve (this assumes, of course, that improvement of some other country is the real reason for our intervention, and we know that isn’t always so).

    I would much prefer to focus more of our efforts on our own country, which has its own faults and problems. Here, when we decide to do something it’s done via a government that has the consent of the governed (though that has broken down somewhat, given that any time a Democrat manages to get elected President he’s viewed as illegitimate by ~40% of the country), we are for the most part not dealing with the formidable barriers we encounter in other nations (language, religion, culture, ethniic and/or sectarian strife, institutions or lack thereof).

    One has to evaluate things on a case by case basis, of course. As we’ve discussed, Syria is not Iraq is not Vietnam is not WWII.

    [p.s. Earlier you said “there is no war lobby.” I sometimes wonder how a smart guy like you can be so blind. There is a permanent war lobby in this country, John. They call it “Defense” and “National Security” but the upshot is that wars – fighting and preparing for them – are big business.]

  57. Mikey says:

    @john personna:

    Perhaps it is hard to act on Universal Principles, but we should at least run the analysis, the cost-benefit of doing so.

    If a couple cruise missiles could have stopped genocide in Darfur, hell yes. If it would take a messy ground invasion, then the cost was probably too high.

    That’s pretty much where I stand as well.

    The risk is–and we’ve seen this happen (Somalia) and not happen (Libya)–is the cost side of the cost/benefit increasing over the course of the operation.

  58. john personna says:

    (I think the thing that ultimately blocks “Team America, World Police” is that costs are real, including corrosive moral effects of war itself. Abu Ghraib is a good example of that. There certainly is a burden of proof that a specific intervention has high benefits at low cost. An interest in international human rights is not a blank check for intervention.)

  59. john personna says:

    @Rob in CT:

    That was a nice cartoon version of my views, may I see another?

  60. Pinky says:

    I think we need a new law: an argument can still be a strawman even if someone online has made it seriously.

  61. Pinky says:

    @An Interested Party: Don’t confuse me with 11B40. He’s calling for a terrible solution. I’m saying that there’s no external solution at all.

  62. george says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Let’s face it, with a similar disparity in forces Genghis would have wrapped this thing up in about as long as it takes to travel by ICBM from Nevada to anywhere that pissed us off. Would you have liked that better, folks? Would have been really quick.

    Actually no, from what I read, he liked to retain the land of cities that didn’t surrender (and so were to be razed) for pasture land. He would have flattened them with conventional weapons. In fact, he seems to have been a pretty enlightened conqueror for the day – take all the skilled workers from a conquered city and bring them back to use their skills for the Mongols, allow people to keep their religion and customs as long as they don’t revolt. Don’t know why he became the watch-word for brutality – maybe because he killed the nobles along with the peasants when a city resisted, when “civilized” people just killed the peasants and wined and dined the nobility that made the decisions while waiting for ransome.

    Otherwise, pretty much agree with the sentiment – we’re being very restrained in the use of force, even without invoking nukes.

  63. Eric Florack says:

    its a never ending war because we refuse to fight it to a successful conclusion, hoping to negotiate our way out. it will never work.

    The reasons are straightforward enough…

    Peace, real, lasting peace, is not a product of disavowing war, or thinking peaceful thoughts.
    Nor is it the product of negotiated settlements.
    Peace is the product of winning the war brought against you, with sufficient force to prevent any ideas of trying it again.
    Examples:
    World war II was the direct result of the negotiated settlement imposed following WWI.
    The current Korean troubles are the product of negotiating away our efforts in the original Korean War.
    Consider, on the other hand our victories over Japan and Germany and how decisive they were , and how good and peaceful an ally each has been following that victory.

    And look… when even that monumental mental midget Chris Matthews starts talking about Obama being Putin’s version of mini-me, its a slam dunk Obama will never take the path demanded by history.

  64. Rob in CT says:

    @john personna:

    I wasn’t attempting to characterize your views, John, other than to call you out for cheap moralizing, which is something that gets my back up. [edit: ah, right, the bit about the war lobby. If that’s a mischaracterization, it’s an honest one. That’s how I read your comment.]

    If that was cartoonish, all I can say is turnabout is fair play. You’ve mischaracterized my arguments and those of others repeatedly.

  65. john personna says:

    @Rob in CT:

    You’ve put yourself in a position where Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development is “cheap moralizing.”

    Holes.

    Digging.

  66. john personna says:

    Also, your new (borrowed) argument that a “defense lobby” is the same as a directed war lobby, wanting boots on ground is Syria is BS.

    Scott might be right that there is a lobby for readiness and general use of force, but that is not what we are talking about here, properly.

    We are talking about stand-off strikes against Syria to punish for use of chemical weapons against civilians, and if there is any real and effective lobby to take that from there to Gulf War III.

    Your whole fallback position is that there is some undefined “risk” of Gulf War III in any action.

    I’m not the only one who has called you out on that. [Scott, the source of your argument, doesn’t even buy that.]

  67. Rob in CT says:

    Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development

    I’ll have to look that up, John, as I’m not familiar with it.

    I think you engage, from time to time, in cheap moralizing. You get up on your high horse and talk about how folks who are against airstrikes on Syria are condoning genocide (as if the airstrikes have anything to do with the civil war itself, wherein ~100k have died via conventional weapons). Your own argument would seem, therefore, to require you to argue in favor of a full scale intervention, ground troops and all. As far as I can tell, you don’t go that far – you just want the airstrikes. But you feel free nontheless to chastise others of washing their hands of atrocities.

    THAT’s what I mean by cheap moralizing. Oh, by the way, when are you signing up to fight? More cheap moralizing.

    When push comes to shove, it really isn’t our problem to solve. You want “us” to solve it, but only if it’s easy. I point out that sometimes it doesn’t turn out to be easy and you then claim I’m unfairly conflating limited airstrikes into Iraq II (which I’m not).

  68. Rob in CT says:

    @john personna:

    I never said the war lobby wants boots on the ground (only a few of the nuttier ones do). Where are you getting this stuff from?

    Mostly I’m sure the MIC is fine with lobbing some cruise missles and bombs at Syria.

    Again, I specifically stated my argument was general and not confined to Syria. I couldn’t have been clearer about that, and yet you missed it. How?

  69. john personna says:

    @Rob in CT:

    You wrote:

    [p.s. Earlier you said “there is no war lobby.” I sometimes wonder how a smart guy like you can be so blind. There is a permanent war lobby in this country, John. They call it “Defense” and “National Security” but the upshot is that wars – fighting and preparing for them – are big business.]

    You offered, directly, as a replacement for war lobby, as you called me “blind.”

    (On Kohlberg, that might be something good to look up *before* you accuse anyone of “cheap moralizing.”)

  70. Rob in CT says:

    Kohlberg’s stages of moral development:

    Level 1 (Pre-Conventional) 1. Obedience and punishment orientation (How can I avoid punishment?) 2. Self-interest orientation (What’s in it for me?) (Paying for a benefit)

    Level 2 (Conventional) 3. Interpersonal accord and conformity (Social norms) (The good boy/good girl attitude) 4. Authority and social-order maintaining orientation (Law and order morality)

    Level 3 (Post-Conventional) 5. Social contract orientation 6. Universal ethical principles (Principled conscience)

    That looks solid to me (obviously I’m skimming an overview on it here). I’m skeptical, however, about its applicability to international relations.

    Note that the level 3 starts with “social contract orientation” before moving on to Universal ethical principles. A social contract is something we have (sometimes tenuously!) within nations. There is almost none in the international arena.

    I’d say that international relations at this point falls somewhere between 2 (self-interest orientation) and 4 (Authority & Social Order maintenance). There are significant hurdles in the way of getting the world firmly to 4 and beyond that are not true within a representative republic like the USA.

    So I wouldn’t say that Kohlberg was a cheap moralizer. He seems to have been a deep thinker who had a major impact on the field of psychology. He seems to have been describing moral development of individuals within a society as opposed to nation-states.

  71. Eric Florack says:

    Reynolds… I’m curious… You suggest we were fighting against flat out evil in WWII and that’s exactly right. Do you see a world Islamic caliphate as being less than that?

  72. Rob in CT says:

    @john personna:

    The first time I saw you reference Kohlberg was after I accused you of cheap moralizing, John. Your argument is that I should know to look up a psychologist I’d never heard of and his theory of morality before arguing with you about morality? WTF?

    Back to the war lobby:

    You offered, directly, as a replacement for war lobby, as you called me “blind.”

    Yes. I think there is a permanent war lobby in US politics, that will always err on the side of intervention, more military expenditure, military aid to other nations, etc. Either we’re talking about very different things here and simply got our signals crossed, or you denied that this is so(in which case I do think you’re blind).

    EDIT: I missed a comment of yours. This has been going pretty quickly. I see now. You are tying this very specifically to Syria, whereas I was talking more generally. In the comment I missed, you semi-granted Scott’s point, which was the point I was making. So when you say “there is no war lobby” you mean “there is no political group in the US that really wants ground troops in Syria right now” in which case I’d agree (with the caveat that there actually is a small group, but they can’t get their way).

  73. Rob in CT says:

    Erick, only you and the other gibbering loons see

    a world Islamic caliphate

    . Because there isn’t one.

  74. john personna says:

    @Rob in CT:

    Why wouldn’t we [pursue] Universal Principles, even in international relations?

    Note that there is a difference between seek and achieve. I, in all my arguments have sought a solution honoring the 1925 Geneva Protocol on chemical weapons, and the Universal Principle that families should not be gassed in their homes.

    You think I should been easy in that argument, and sensitive to YOUR feelings?

  75. john personna says:

    Note to readers:

    It is possible to acknowledge Universal Principles, and endorse the 1925 Geneva Protocol, before naming practical reasons that a stand-off attack would not be useful or effective.

    Sadly, that course was not really taken in OTB message boards.

    No one specifically explained how cruise missile attacks could embroil the US in a Syrian land war.

  76. Mikey says:

    @john personna:

    No one specifically explained how cruise missile attacks could embroil the US in a Syrian land war.

    Perhaps not.

    But on the other hand, I’ve yet to see anyone on the pro-intervention side answer the question “what if Assad uses sarin after we strike?”

    The assumption seems to be that Assad would respond to our “unbelievably small” yet magically effective action by ceasing employment of chemical weapons. But this assumption of rational actions by a desperate man shouldn’t be made. We must consider the very real possibility Assad, if faced with imminent defeat (and therefore almost certain death), would attempt to secure escape from Damascus and passage to the al-Alawiyin mountains by gassing everyone in his path.

  77. Rob in CT says:

    @john personna:

    Actually, John, that was the original tack taken by a number of commentors. I think you may have missed some of the earlier threads. By the time you showed up, the argument had gotten heated and moved beyond that. And you heaped fuel on the fire.

    You think I should been easy in that argument, and sensitive to YOUR feelings?

    I think you should properly characterize the arguments of others, and be reasonable in your responses. Sometimes you do that. On this, you largely have not. It’s ironic (at least to me) that you complained about me strawmanning you, when you’ve been heavily engaged in the strawman building business.

    No one specifically explained how cruise missile attacks could embroil the US in a Syrian land war.

    While again I note that I do not consider this to be the most likely scenario, this actually was explained, repeatedly. You just don’t buy the explanation (airstrikes don’t work to prevent the use of chemical weapons, resulting in pressure to escalate). That’s fine, but you need to stop pretending it wasn’t made.

    I remain hopefully that this can be resolved via the mere threat of strikes (and my tolerance for those threats is higher due to the possibility of such a negotiated resolution).

    I remain opposed to actually using the airstrikes option, because I have a presumption against interventions and I think there is a real risk they will be ineffectual (I do not assert for sure they will be). I find the assurances of the pro-strike folks to be unconvincing. Other, secondary reasons being:

    – I think it’s hard to enforce this international norm (1925 Geneva Protocols) by violating another (strikes w/o UNSC approval).

    – An “international norm” isn’t very international if we’re just about the only ones interested in enforcing it. It’s us and the French, right? You can’t really make strong claims about how precious this norm is given the reality that hardly anybody seems to really want to deal with it. Also, too: our track record here is terrible, and while I agree that past bad acts/omissions by our government should not be binding (indeed, they should be repudiated!), this complicates the Message we are trying to send. The message likely to be received by other tinpot dictators isn’t “there is an inviolable international norm against using chemical weapons.” It’s “if the USA doesn’t like you, they may bomb you, particularly if you give them an excuse. But if you’re their friend or at least the enemy of their enemy, you’re good.”

    – I think there is no slippery slope to fear, given Saddam’s use of chemical weapons in the 80s came and went and it was 25 years until somebody else used gas. But I grant this is questionable (I’m not that attached to this argument)

    – I hate the idea of involving ourselves in a civil war, whether it’s the airstrikes to respond to chemical weapons usage or arming/training the rebels (something that as far as I know our government approved but hasn’t actually done yet). I see these things as connected, whereas I think others have put them in seperate categories. Wrapped up in this is the downside risk of escalation, which I know you discount, but I’d rather be extra careful about it, thankyouverymuch.

  78. john personna says:

    @Mikey:

    Gassing again would be saying “bomb me again” and we’d have that option to repeat, ad infinitum.

    It doesn’t in itself change the other dynamic … that there is no faction in Syria that we want to actively support. And so what then, knock it all down and attempt to set up a modern democracy under US stewardship?

    I think we know the odds of that one is nil.

  79. Rob in CT says:

    @john personna:

    Gassing again would be saying “bomb me again” and we’d have that option to repeat, ad infinitum.

    We bomb. It doesn’t work. The solution is to bomb again? I’m not so certain that’s how it will go. If it did, presumably, the bombing would have to be more and more extensive with each round (which, oh by the way, will necessarily involve some civilian casualties, increasing with the severity of the strikes). At some point either Assad does cry uncle, or he never does and you recognize that airpower alone isn’t gonna get it done. Another possibility is that if you bomb enough, you actually do tip the balance in the civil war, which we don’t want to do.

    It doesn’t in itself change the other dynamic … that there is no faction in Syria that we want to actively support. And so what then, knock it all down and attempt to set up a modern democracy under US stewardship?

    I think we know the odds of that one is nil.

    Indeed. But there is some possibility that nothing short of that will actually accomplish the stated goal (preventing Assad from using chemical weapons again, and deterring future use by others). I hope that this is not so. I hope that the threat of force will be enough. Failing that, I hope that (if we do it) airstrikes will be enough.

  80. john personna says:

    @Rob in CT:

    I think you are lining up two unlikely things:

    1. That strikes would illicit more gas attacks.

    2. That these new attacks would change US political dynamics sufficiently that full war in Syria would be tolerated.

    Far more likely that chemical weapons will go away at this point, and if they do not, we’ll take a “well, we tried” attitude.

  81. Eric Florack says:

    @Rob in CT:
    Yet.
    And there wasn’t world domination by Germany and japan yet, when we fought them either, so I’m a little unclear on what your point is supposed to be.

  82. Rob in CT says:

    1. That strikes would illicit more gas attacks.

    I hadn’t actually thought of that one. I’m saying it’s possible that strikes fail to deter more attacks.

    2. That these new attacks would change US political dynamics sufficiently that full war in Syria would be tolerated.

    Hard to say. But once we’re “in” on the idea that we must prevent these attacks, some of the same logic some people(not you!) are using to urge airstrikes – “credibility” and such – applies to argue for escalation. I agree it would be a tough hurdle, after Iraq II.

  83. john personna says:

    You know, circa 2004 I was a big opponent of the New American Militarism, and the triumphalism displayed after Gulf War I and going into Gulf War II. Military power was seen to solve everything.

    That was wrong, emotional, and excessive.

    Just as extreme disengagement, overlooking civilian atrocities is wrong, emotional and excessive now.

    In both cases tighter cost benefit analysis should have been done, always acknowledging universal principles on human rights.

  84. john personna says:

    @Rob in CT:

    The thing about stand-off weapons is that you have to quote “once we’re ‘in'”

    They don’t bring us the same kind of engagement or commitment.

    Do you feel tied to Yemen now?

    We’re “in.”

  85. Rob in CT says:

    @Eric Florack:

    You really have no idea how to assess a threat. There is no realistic threat of a reconstituted Islamic Caliphate. Even if there was, it would be weak in comparison to us and our allies.

    You are jumping at shadows. Germany and Japan were major powers who started wars.

    It’s like people who are fearful of sharia law in the US. That’s a dead giveaway that someone is an idiot (because Muslim Americans, even if they wanted a theocracy or some of its trappings, which is not in evidence, are an insignificant political force).

    No ability to asses threat whatsover. Someone tells you to be afraid, so you’re afraid. Fool.

  86. Rob in CT says:

    @john personna:

    Do you feel tied to Yemen now?

    Somewhat, actually, but I take your point.

    However, the goal in Yemen is to whack terrorists the Yemenis can’t get. The goal here is different. That matters.

  87. Mikey says:

    @john personna: Well, “bomb me again” might end up being active support of the other side whether we want to or not. The desire of the President to punish without tipping the scales is, in my view, the least achievable piece of any strike against Assad.

    I’ve never thought ground troops would be an option–we’d find some other way to deal with it. But there could come a point at which anything we do would end up taking a situation that’s essentially neutral for us and turning it into something actually harmful to our interests.

    In other words, it’s quite possible the cost side of the cost/benefit could rise to exceed the benefit while at the same time we have no good way to rectify the situation.

    Anyway, this is probably all academic in light of the proposed transfer of control of Assad’s chemical weapons.

  88. anjin-san says:

    @ Rob in CT

    Not sure if you remember Florack’s hysterical rants about “being converted to Islam at the point of a sword” in the wake of 9.11, but it was classic stuff.

  89. Pinky says:

    @anjin-san: I guess that depends on what part of the world you live in.

  90. Rafer Janders says:

    @Eric Florack:

    And there wasn’t world domination by Germany and japan yet, when we fought them either, so I’m a little unclear on what your point is supposed to be.

    Um, yes, there was. When we went to war with Germany and Japan in December 1941 (that is, after Japan attacked us and Germany declared war on us, we didn’t go to war willingly):

    (i) Germany had already conquered Poland, Czechoslovakia, Norway, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, France, Yugoslavia and Greece, controlled most of North Africa, it and its allies occupied virtually all of Europe, and German forces were at the doors of Leningrad and Moscow; and

    (ii) Japan controlled Korea, much of China, Indochina, Burma, Thailand, Malaya, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, New Guinea and the Pacific Island approaches to same.

    Let me say this in the kindest way I can: you are a very stupid and ignorant man who has no idea what he is talking about. You should be kept far, far away from a keyboard with an Internet connection, as you are easy prey for any number of scam artists.

  91. anjin-san says:

    @ Pinky

    I guess that depends on what part of the world you live in.

    Well, in this case, Florack was talking about people who live in America.

    Do you think we are in any danger of Muslims overwhelming us and forcing us to convert?

    I am a little curious why you want to go to bat for someone who thinks the “World Caliphate” is something we should actually be concerned about.

  92. Spartacus says:

    @john personna:

    Don’t you think they signal, on a number of levels, a fatigue with war in general, and War On Terror in specific?

    I do think this. I just don’t think that the argument for intervention can be that many people who oppose it do so out of a general war fatigue. Instead, the argument for intervention has to demonstrate that the military strike will solve the problem. So far, that argument is totally unpersuasive.

    Incidentally, I think war fatigue is a very good thing and long overdue. Al Qaeda’s ability to launch substantial operations against the U.S. out of Afghanistan ended almost a decade ago. It’s hard to argue that our activities there since then have produced much benefit to the U.S. And, of course, our entire endeavor in Iraq has been a complete debacle from day one. Drone strikes in Yemen, we are told, are killing terrorists, but, as Rumsfeld once said, we don’t know whether we’re creating more terrorists than we’re killing. I’m not arguing that we are doing that; I’m simply saying that we can’t dismiss the almost certainty that our actions abroad create at least some blowback that wouldn’t occur if we weren’t operating over there.

    So, yes, there is general war fatigue, but it is entirely appropriate and it should lessen our appetite for more war.

  93. Rafer Janders says:

    @Eric Florack:

    And there wasn’t world domination by Germany and japan yet, when we fought them either, so I’m a little unclear on what your point is supposed to be.

    Also, too, unlike the “worldwide Islamic caliphate”, Germany and Japan ACTUALLY EXISTED. They were real countries, with real governments and people and armies and navies and air forces. Rather than being, say, the paranoid projections of particularly fearful and imaginative loonies.

    We’re under threat from a worldwide Islamic caliphate about the same way that we’re under threat from the Evil Witch of Winter and her Army of Ice Trolls.

  94. Rafer Janders says:

    @Eric Florack:

    From 2005, but still a classic:

    John: … I mean, what will it take? That last speech literally made no sense. It was crazy drunken bar talk! Islamic radicals are like COMMUNISM?! (gets speech on laptop) If we don’t fight terrorists in Iraq they’ll build a fundamentalist terrorist state stretching from Spain to Indonesia?… Even assuming Spain, which last time I checked is 95% Roman Catholic, goes down, you gotta assume France, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, all eight hundred million Hindus in India, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore would be somewhat of an obstacle.

    Tyrone: To be fair, you’re going west-to-east. Maybe he meant a fundamentalist terrorist state stretching from Spain to Indonesia going east-to-west. Going that way, there’s only the U.S. The President [Bush] could be warning us that if we don’t prevail in Iraq, the United States will become a fundamentalist Islamic terrorist state.

    John: … a little oblique, isn’t it?

    Tyrone: The man is nothing if not subtle.

    John: (calling up map on laptop) You know, I guess if you start in Spain, swing hard south through northern Africa, you got Algeria, Libya there, Egypt, cross the Red Sea and you’re in the Middle East …

    Tyrone: From there, if you spot him the Indian Ocean and India, you’re in Indonesia.

    John: I am not spotting him eight hundred million Hindus. I call shenanigans.

    Tyrone: And again, I must point out Bush said “the militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, allowing them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region.” That’s what the militants believe. They may just be delusional. He says that himself: “Some might be tempted to dismiss these goals as fanatical or extreme. Well, they are fanatical and extreme — and they should not be dismissed. Our enemy is utterly committed.”

    John: But he’s citing that desire as a basis for our strategy. You can’t cite your enemy’s delusional hopes as a basis for a rational strategy. Goals don’t exist in a vacuum, they’re linked to capability. David Koresh was utterly committed to being Jesus Christ. See how far that got him. Either Bush is making strategy based on a delusional goal of his opponent, which is idiotic; or he’s saying he believes his opponent has the capability of achieving this delusional goal, which is idiotic. Neither bodes well for the republic.

    http://kfmonkey.blogspot.com/2005/10/lunch-discussions-145-crazification.html

  95. Pinky says:

    @anjin-san:

    I am a little curious why you want to go to bat for someone who thinks the “World Caliphate” is something we should actually be concerned about.

    Shake off the pack mentality. The question should be whether something is right, not whether the person who said it is one of the cool kids. Also, you might as well shake off the parochialism too. Christians had their throats slit for not converting to Islam two days ago in Maalula, Syria. Just because it isn’t disturbing the average American’s TV-watching habits doesn’t mean it isn’t real.

  96. Rafer Janders says:

    @Pinky:

    Christians had their throats slit for not converting to Islam two days ago in Maalula, Syria.

    Uh-oh. Looks like we’re also in danger from the Worldwide Buddhist Monkdom:

    Members of Burma’s Buddhist majority, including some of its much-respected monks, are increasingly persecuting the country’s long-suffering Muslim minority and adopting an ideology that encourages religious violence. It seems a far way from the Buddhism typically associated with stoic monks and the Lama – who has condemned the violence – and more akin to the sectarian extremism prevalent in troubled corners of the Middle East. The violence has already left nearly 250 Burmese Muslim civilians dead, forced 150,000 from their homes and is getting worse.

    ….By far the worst attack so far was in late March in the central Burmese city of Meiktila. Tellingly, the attack was not let by a single leader or religious figure but carried out by mobs of Buddhists, a worrying sign that Wirathu’s violent ideas may have taken hold in the city. A minor dispute at an outdoor jewelry stall between a Buddhist customer and a Muslim vendor escalated rapidly out of control. Buddhist rioters razed entire Muslim neighborhoods, burned several civilians alive and killed up to 200 more Muslims until, after three long days in which the army was conspicuously absent, troops intervened to stop the killing.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/06/21/i-am-proud-to-be-called-a-radical-buddhist-more-burmese-buddhists-embracing-anti-muslim-violence/

  97. Grewgills says:

    @Rob in CT:
    You just can’t see that what we are witnessing in Syria and throughout the Muslim world is just the battle to see who will be Caliph. Once that is done and the Muslim world is unified we are all doomed, so we need to destroy their culture before they destroy our freedom. Drop the scales from your eyes Rob.

  98. anjin-san says:

    @ Pinky

    Christians had their throats slit for not converting to Islam two days ago in Maalula, Syria. Just because it isn’t disturbing the average American’s TV-watching habits doesn’t mean it isn’t real.

    Human beings have been slaughtering each other since long before the dawn of recorded history. What else is new? When it is us doing the slaughtering, it often becomes part of our TV watching habits, and a lot of folks in this country cheer as they watch the bombs drop.

    Are you as upset about the innocents in Iraq that were blown to bits in the “shock and awe” bombings as you are about Christians dying in Syria? Do you think there is no blood on your hands?

  99. Ernieyeball says:

    @Mikey: I have flown a dozen or so times since my first hop from Chicago to KC in 1967. Mostly to the West Coast and back.
    In fact on my obligatory Hippie Pilgrimage to Haight-Ashbury in 1970 I flew out of
    St. Louis to SanFrancisco and hitchhiked back. I had the planefare in my pocket. I just wanted to see if I could do it.
    Made it back to St. Louis in three days.
    I like flying. I like driving alot better.
    There was a time when I could pack two plastic film cans full of weed, leave them in my pocket when I pulled out my keys and change, walk right through security and board the plane. I wouldn’t even try that now.
    It couId be that I am not as fearless as I was 30 years ago or what but ever since last year when my neighbor crashed the 2 seater he had rebuilt, I have a more profound respect for gravity.
    He was flying to some Midwestern antique airplane show with a friend in the other seat. My neighbor the pilot had a heart attack and was likely dead before they hit the ground.
    Killed his buddy too.
    My neighbor kept trying to get me to go up in that death trap.
    Not like I believe in fate or anything but I’ll take my chances driving the open road and keep my eyes open for the deer.

  100. anjin-san says:

    @ Pinky

    Do you think there is any actual danger of a World Caliphate rising? That is a yes/no question.

  101. anjin-san says:

    @ Rafer Janders

    I’m kind of freaked out about the Army of Ice Trolls…

  102. Pinky says:

    @anjin-san: I’m concerned about anyone being murdered. Aren’t you? I mean, really, aren’t you? You say “what else is new”, you pooh-pooh statements because you don’t like the speaker, you just seem preoccupied with scoring political points. It’s all of a single piece: you’re unserious. If you’d like, I could tell you that Muslims aren’t going to overrun the US in the next 100 years, and you could feel good about the fact that you scored a point against Florack. Would that make you take slaughter more seriously?

  103. Grewgills says:

    @Mikey:
    @Rob in CT:

    I remain opposed to actually using the airstrikes option, because I have a presumption against interventions and I think there is a real risk they will be ineffectual (I do not assert for sure they will be).

    Does anyone really believe that Assad is an irrational enough actor that if gas attacks come with the price of tomahawk bombardment he won’t be more hesitant to use them? I think recent developments show the opposite.

    – I think there is no slippery slope to fear, given Saddam’s use of chemical weapons in the 80s came and went and it was 25 years until somebody else used gas.

    It doesn’t require a slippery slope to think Assad will continue to use chemical weapons whenever he thinks the benefits outweigh the costs. It requires a very slippery slope to carry us from missile strikes to ground war. It took invasion of a neighboring state to pave the way for that escalation in Iraq.
    It seems that a little saber rattling has gotten us most of what we wanted with virtually no cost. Let’s hope it plays out that way.

  104. Pinky says:

    @anjin-san: It obviously depends what you mean by “caliphate”. There is fierce jockeying for power in the Islamic world to be the representative of Islam. There usually is. With Iraq and Egypt out of the competition, Iran and Saudi Arabia are the most powerful Islamic countries, and paradoxically you have to be a powerful country to lead a supranational Islamic movement. A lot of what we’ve seen in recent years hasn’t followed the usual Sunni/Shia split; it’s more been between the oil dinosaurs and the fundamentalists. There have been proxy wars, including the current one in Syria.

    I think that Islam is more militarily-oriented than most religions, being founded by a military leader. I think that Islam is very big, very powerful, very wealthy in some respects, and currently has a lot of poor, resentful members. I don’t think there’s much to look at over the past 100 years to get the impression that it’s moving comfortably toward modernity.

  105. anjin-san says:

    @ Pinky

    you pooh-pooh statements because you don’t like the speaker

    No, I pooh-pooh them because they are idiotic.

    Would that make you take slaughter more seriously?

    I take any loss of life seriously. What I don’t do is get all in a lather when a Muslim kills a Christian, and get self-righteous when it is the other way around. The death of a Muslim, a Christian, a Hindu, a Buddhist, whatever, are all equally tragic. I don’t assign a higher value to the life of one group of people than I do to any other.

    You say “what else is new”

    I say it because we need to be wary of being manipulated by people who would use a tragic loss of life to promote an agenda which often has nothing to do with concern over loss of life. The very people who profit from war are behind the scenes telling us we need to make war to save people from war. There are a few constants. The sons of the rich and powerful rarely die in battle thousands of miles from home, and the endless river of “defense” money continues to flow.

  106. Pinky says:

    @anjin-san: Don’t bother. I know who you are now.

  107. mantis says:

    @Pinky:

    There is fierce jockeying for power in the Islamic world to be the representative of Islam.

    You obviously haven’t a clue what you’re talking about.

  108. anjin-san says:

    @ Pinky

    Don’t bother. I know who you are now.

    Yes, I have no doubt that an ignorant, hate filled racist like Eric Florack is far more your cup of tea than I am.

  109. Rafer Janders says:

    @anjin-san:

    As you should be. As you should be.

  110. Rafer Janders says:

    @Pinky:

    There is fierce jockeying for power in the Islamic world to be the representative of Islam.

    Um, no. No, not true at all, not in the way you’re saying. You simply don’t understand what you’re talking about. That’s pretty much pure nonsense.

  111. Pharoah Narim says:

    @michael reynolds: Nice comic book version there MR. So a handful of Saudis (yes, I’m also including OBL as a Saudi) engineer an attack on the US because they believe their Holy Lands are too sacred to be defiled by American boots stationed in-country. (They also believe the US artificially suppresses the true price of oil so they have economic grieveances as well) and in response, the US takes the fight to Iraq…who was minding its own business…and Afghanistan; the Cledis’ of the middle east? “But, but, but, they trained terrorists!” You can do ANYTHING in Afghanistan if you pay the right people….that’s how they generate income. We could have paid them more money than the Saudis to NOT offer real-estate for training Jihadis and still spent Orders of Magnitude less than the now 12 year war there.

    Look, our military has the best battle planners in the world, the fact that we chose to take out the toe of the Terror monster and his 3rd cousin removed should tell you that there was a different agenda than the one given to the public. ANY ‘war’ on terrorism that doesn’t seriously involve Saudi Arabia doesn’t have eliminating the foundation of Jihadists as an objective. The resourses in AS are already friendly to Western influence though so there was nothing to be gained by launching operations there. Well…except smoking the funding and intellectual capital of the global jihadist network.

  112. Tyrell says:

    Eisenhower, the architect of D Day, said that the US should not get into these brush fire wars. He also believed that if you get in, go “all in” or stay out.
    Read “Ike’s Bluff”.
    During the ’80’s, I attended a course called “Great Decisions”. At that time, the major terrorist threats was the Puerto Rican independence organization and some group in Europe. There were two main view points: the US had an obligation to be involved in world affairs; keeping the peace, nation building, and helping people. The other view is that the US should stay out of other countries’ affairs unless our security is threatened: we can’t police the world. The instructor said that both viewpoints are valid.

  113. An Interested Party says:

    I’m saying that there’s no external solution at all.

    To the “problem” of Islam? Oh please…

    Do you see a world Islamic caliphate as being less than that?

    You poor thing…that’s not flat out evil, but rather, the frightened delusion of foolish scared people like you…

  114. Eric Florack says:

    @Rob in CT:
    Theres no way anyone could get ahold of passenger planes and fly them into buildings, right.
    Oh, wait.

    Hmmm. You really dont consider radical islam a threat?

  115. Eric Florack says:

    @anjin-san: do you deny that is their goal?
    Go ahead, this ought to be amusing.

  116. Eric Florack says:

    @An Interested Party:
    ah, i see. so, all the attacks for the last few decades are nothing at all.
    Go about your lives, citizzens… right?
    Pffft.

  117. mantis says:

    @Pharoah Narim:

    ANY ‘war’ on terrorism that doesn’t seriously involve Saudi Arabia doesn’t have eliminating the foundation of Jihadists as an objective.

    This is true. Of course, the war on terrorism does involve Saudi Arabia, just not in any way that gets to the source. That won’t change as long as they are an “ally.”

  118. An Interested Party says:

    ah, i see. so, all the attacks for the last few decades are nothing at all.
    Go about your lives, citizzens… right?
    Pffft.

    Keep hitting that strawman…no one ever said the attacks of the last few decades were nothing…but, “a world Islamic caliphate”? Pffft is right…foolish scared person…

  119. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    do you deny that is their goal?
    Go ahead, this ought to be amusing.

    Do you actually think I am going to dignify this looney tunes “World Caliphate” nonsense with an argument? Sorry pal, Glenn Beck and his ilk have sold you snake oil. That you are not bright enough to see that makes me feel a bit sorry for you, but I am not burning daylight on it.

    You really dont consider radical islam a threat?

    I think everyone in America considers radical islam a threat How could they not after 9.11?. But they don’t share in your delusion about it being a threat to take over the world. As another commentator recently said, you simply have no ability to do threat assessment. Right wing rainmakers tell you what to be scared of, and you lap it up like cream.

  120. anjin-san says:

    @ Tyrell

    According to modern “conservatives” Ike was a commie.

  121. Rob in CT says:

    Theres no way anyone could get ahold of passenger planes and fly them into buildings, right.
    Oh, wait.

    Hmmm. You really dont consider radical islam a threat?

    Yes, radical Islam is a threat. Terrorism is a thing. An appropriate level of resources should be devoted to that threat.

    You were ranting about a reconstituted Islamic Caliphate, which does not exist and is extremely unlikely to come to be. Just because a bunch of jihadis want it to happen doesn’t make it likely. Like I said: you have no ability to assess risk. The jihadis are far, far weaker than you apparently believe. They are certainly capable of atrocities. But unifying the Islamic world under theocratic rule is a hilariously absurd goal. Even if it wasn’t for the various governments they would have to topple, there is that little problem of the Sunni/Shiite schism. And many more problems besides. It’s a jihadi fantasy, and you take it seriously.

  122. Rafer Janders says:

    @Eric Florack:

    do you deny that is their goal? Go ahead, this ought to be amusing.

    Again, the best answer to this is the Kung Fu Monkey blog post from 2005 I quoted above (bolding mine):

    Tyrone: And again, I must point out Bush said “the militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, allowing them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region.” That’s what the militants believe. They may just be delusional. He says that himself: “Some might be tempted to dismiss these goals as fanatical or extreme. Well, they are fanatical and extreme — and they should not be dismissed. Our enemy is utterly committed.”

    John: But he’s citing that desire as a basis for our strategy. You can’t cite your enemy’s delusional hopes as a basis for a rational strategy. Goals don’t exist in a vacuum, they’re linked to capability. David Koresh was utterly committed to being Jesus Christ. See how far that got him. Either Bush is making strategy based on a delusional goal of his opponent, which is idiotic; or he’s saying he believes his opponent has the capability of achieving this delusional goal, which is idiotic. Neither bodes well for the republic.

    http://kfmonkey.blogspot.com/2005/10/lunch-discussions-145-crazification.html

  123. Rob in CT says:

    @anjin-san: Don’t bother. I know who you are now.

    Anybody know what the hell this was supposed to mean?

  124. Rafer Janders says:

    @Pinky:

    I think that Islam is more militarily-oriented than most religions, being founded by a military leader.

    (A) Mohammed was not a “military leader”. By trade he was a businessman and merchant. Yes, he directed armies, but that does not make him a “military leader” anymore than, say, Moses was a military leader.

    (B) Christianity was founded by a penniless pacifist, and yet it’s probably the most militarily aggressive religion in history.

  125. Pinky says:

    @Rob in CT: Just that I understand Anjin’s schoolyard mentality now. We don’t all, as far as I know, hang out together after internet chats. (Do we? Did someone not tell me?) So I look at them as a chance to maybe move toward truth while being decent to each other. When Anjin says stupid things like Florack is more my cup of tea, he’s revealing a kind of cool-kids-and-bullies attitude to all this. I’ve noticed that his comments are always directed at the “other side”, at times personified by the other writer, rather than the argument on the topic they’re presenting. It’s like he’s part of a pack, and feels the need to criticize anyone who he thinks is part of a different pack. There’s no effort to get to knowledge there, and there’s no point in trying to communicate. My bet is, if he reads these words, he’s going to interpret them as defending Bush. Because one who is not one of Us is one of Them. Ironically, he also seems to be the kind of person who will denounce others for thinking of people as the Other. Anyway, if he reads a comment about Christians being slaughtered by Muslims and thinks that means I don’t care about Muslims, he’s not worth the time.

  126. Pinky says:

    @Rafer Janders:
    Would you settle for this: “I think that Islam is more militarily-oriented than most religions, being founded by a director of armies”?

  127. Rob in CT says:

    Ah, I see. You were offended that he pointed out that you defended a statement of Florack’s, and associated you with Florack. I get it. This happens, especially on the internet. Seriously, you might want to consider that Florack’s paranoid fantasies are not a great jumping off point for a discussion of Islam.

  128. anjin-san says:

    @ Pinky

    My bet is, if he reads these words, he’s going to interpret them as defending Bush

    I voted for Bush 41 (once) and 43 (once) and Reagan. Twice.

    You should probably stick to blackjack.

  129. john personna says:

    @Spartacus:

    As I said above I welcome the turn from American Militarism. It is something I’ve never actually supported.

    There is nonetheless a real baby and bathwater potential here.

    I get a few down-votes every time I mention the 1925 Geneva Protocol on chemical weapons. That would be the baby in the bathwater.

  130. Rafer Janders says:

    @Pinky:

    Would you settle for this: “I think that Islam is more militarily-oriented than most religions, being founded by a director of armies”?

    I wouldn’t, no, since in practice Islam is no more military-oriented than Christianity.

    And again, Mohammed was primarily a merchant, a businessman, not a military leader. If you think a religion takes on the characteristics of its founder, then Islam should really be the most business-oriented of all religions.

  131. anjin-san says:

    @ Pinky

    if he reads a comment about Christians being slaughtered by Muslims and thinks that means I don’t care about Muslims

    Actually, its a bit more of a generalization about right leaning commentators on this site. Sorry, you don’t occupy as much real estate in my head as you seem to think you do.

    As for being a “team player” I will admit to some guilt there. During the last decade, I saw the damage that right wing lies did our country, and the world in general. So no, I won’t let them go unchallenged. When Florack talks about utter nonsense like “the world caliphate”, I am going to call him on it. When Jenos says that Treyvon Martin was a “thug” who suckered punched George Zimmermann because he felt “dissed” and that he kind of deserved to die, I am going to call him on it.

    So today, according to you, I want to be on of the cool kids, and I am only interested in scoring points (while you answer to a somewhat higher calling of “seeking truth”) – a while back you said what, that I am a “mindless partisan”? I’ve been commenting here for a long time. If that were the case, I think the other OTB participants would have marginalized me years ago.

  132. Rafer Janders says:

    @Pinky:

    Would you settle for this: “I think that Islam is more militarily-oriented than most religions, being founded by a director of armies”?

    Judaism, unlike Christianity, Mormonism, Islam and Buddhism, to use several examples, does not have a single founder. However, many of the key figures in Jewish history such as Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Judah Maccabee, Gideon, Samson, Jehu, Joab, King Saul, King David, King Solomon, etc. were military leaders, and much of the Old Testament is a chronicle of wars, battles and slaughter.

    Would you agree, therefore, that Judaism is more militarily-oriented than other religions….?

  133. Rob in CT says:

    @john personna:

    I suspect it’s not because you mentioned the 1925 protocol. Not that I’ve downvoted you. Just a guess, it’s other things you’ve said.

    I agree one should be careful to not throw babies out with dirty bathwater. 😉

  134. Rob in CT says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Abrahamic religions: nuke ’em from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

    [I kid. Freaking buddists kill people over religion. And when people don’t have religion as an excuse, they come up with other things.]

  135. Rafer Janders says:

    @Rob in CT:

    Freaking buddists kill people over religion.

    Serenity Now!!!

  136. john personna says:

    @Rob in CT:

    So here’s the hard question:

    If we are going to defend the line on chemical weapons, where would we actually have it easier?

    Here we have a place where we can use stand-off weapons, with low risk. The biggest risk, once we dispense with Gulf War III fears, is simply that Assad would keep on using them.

    Is that serious? We can’t try to stop chemical weapons because people might just keep on using them?

    Baby. Bathwater.

  137. al-Ameda says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Do you see a world Islamic caliphate as being less than that?

    What “world Islamic Caliphate”?

    You believe that there is some kind of unity and uniformity in the world of Islam? No such condition exists. Iran and Iraq represent two different brands of Islam and there is considerable animus between them. Consider the Islam of, say, Senegal to that in Niger, or Algeria to Tunisia or Morocco, Egypt to Indonesia, and on and on. A worldwide Caliphate is as big a dream as the idea that the Chinese people can, with our advertising, become a nation of happy Christian consumers with multiple Visa Cards.