In 1917, the United States found a casus belli to enter World War I in the Zimmerman Telegram. Prior to this, President Wilson ran for re-election in 1916 on the slogan “He kept us out of the war.”. A year later we were belligerent in that war.
What we know now is that the European nations had bled each other white since August, 1914. There were already discussions in all the belligerent capitals about a negotiated end to the war that would have ended the war with the status quo ante intact.. America’s entry changed all that, and eventually forced the surrender of Germany. That victory led directly to an unwisely humiliating peace imposed on Germany, which caused the resentments that led directly to the rise of nationalist radicalism. Which nationalism led, in turn, to the Nazis gaining control of the country. Nazi government in Germany led directly to WWII, a war the Nazis planned beginning in 1933. Whatever suffering WWI caused, WWII was substantially worse. An argument can be made that American intervention is the ultimate cause of WWII in Europe.
Similarly, in 1991, America led a coalition to intervene in Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Since then, American forces have been a more or less constant presence in the region of Iraq and Saudi Arabia. By Osama bin Laden’s account, the presence of infidel Christians in Muslim lands was the reason for his dispute with Saudi Arabia and the United States, and the genesis of his animus against the United States. That animus led to 9/11, from which followed the last 13 years of…unpleasantness. One could, if one wished, make a parallel between American intervention in WWI and in the Gulf War.
Intervention has ripples, like pebbles tossed into a still pond, that reverberate long after the event. It can be argued that ISIS/ISIL is the latest ripple in the US’ Gulf War intervention.
So, nasty video images aside, what is it about ISIS that requires a US intervention in the Mideast again? Saddam Hussein ran a particularly nasty terror state, with rape rooms where suspect’s wives and daughters were brutally gang-raped in front of them as they were forced to watch. Dissidents were routinely dissolved alive in acid. Mothers were forced to watch as their children were shot, and their infants had their heads dashed against cement walls. Uday Hussein famously fed people who displeased him feet first into wood chippers. There is no way in which Saddam Hussein’s government was, in any way, objectively more humane or less brutal than ISIS.
ISIS seems to actively want a US intervention in the region, based on their publicly released media and statements. If they desire this, why should we be so keen to do what they wish, without at least seriously examining why they wish us to do it? In fact, I have several questions about a possible intervention against ISIS.
1. In what way is ISIS a greater threat, or indeed as much of a threat, as Saddam Hussein was from 1991 to 2003?
2. Why are both Republicans and Democrats willing to cede the President the authority to intervene in the Mideast again, without explicit Congressional approval?
3. What do we accomplish by intervening in Iraq, and not in Saudi Arabia, from whence ISIS receives funding? Indeed, what do we accomplish at all without cutting of Saudi money to fundamentalists? How do we cut that money off?
4. How likely is it that intervention against ISIS in Iraq will require intervention in Syria to defeat ISIS?
5. How likely is it to defeat ISIS without a substantial ground presence of American combat troops?
6. If ISIS is such a threat, why isn’t Israel doing anything about them?
7. How much of ISIS’ existence is part of a proxy war between Sunni states against Iran, especially as the end result of US intervention was increased Iranian influence in largely Shi’a Iraq?
8. What is the desired end state of US intervention against ISIS? Mustn’t it not simply be ISIS’ defeat, but also foreclose the rise of future ISI-like groups, lest we gain nothing but a little time?
9. Does “fighting them over there” actually make us safer from ISIS over here, or does it simply exacerbate Arab resentment, increasing the chance of terror attacks against the US?
10. How much blood and treasure are we willing to spend, and for what length of time, are we willing to commit to this intervention?
11. Would spending that blood and treasure in increasing border and port security have a greater effect on ensuring our security than military intervention?
12. Has the region become more or less stable since America began intervening in the Mideast in 1991?
13. Has the threat from the region increased or decreased since 1991?
14. Is the current situation the result of the current president’s inaction, or rather, the result of entirely too much action over the past few decades?
Frankly, the result of American intervention in the Mideast seems to have accomplished little. Yes, Kuwait was liberated, and Saddam Hussein hung but at what cost? So far, it’s been 23 years of more or less constant presence in the Mideast, during which the region has become less stable, not more. It seems that the answer to dealing with the results of our intervention in the Mideast has become more intervention.
It’s all beginning to remind me of the War on Drugs. “If only we increase prison sentences, we’ll reduce drug use.” “If only we seize assets, we’ll cripple the drug lords.” “If only we make it hard to deposit more than $10,000 in cash, we’ll shut down money laundering.” Meanwhile, we’re going through more cocaine than Hunter Thompson in Vegas, cops are using SWAT teams to serve no-knock warrants, and people’s legal cash is being seized.
Sure, I’d love to stomp ISIS flat, with a big ol’ American boot on their neck, as they gasp their last breath, while watching us kill their pet goat. I’m not really sure that’s the best answer, anymore, though.
Oh you can try … but it never works. And with Obama, it has never worked for those of us who’ve actually been leaders and understand what leadership entails. This man has never had it and he’s not going to suddenly develop it. Even his sycophants, at least the semi-honest ones, realize this. Result – his leadership numbers continue to dive:
Barack Obama’s rating for strong leadership has dropped to a new low in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, hammered by criticism of his work on international crises and a stalled domestic agenda alike. With the midterm elections looming, Americans by a 10-point margin, 52-42 percent, see his presidency more as a failure than a success.
Just 38 percent now approve of Obama’s handling of international affairs, down 8 percentage points since July to a career low; 56 percent disapprove, a majority for the first time.
Please note the source for those apologists out there. This isn’t a Fox News poll. By 10 points, he is rated a failure as a President. A failure by a majority of those polled. And he’s certainly seen as a failure by international leaders.
At home, with Obama holding off his promised executive action on immigration reform, a new low of just 31 percent approve of his handling of immigration. Fifty-nine percent disapprove, up by a broad 18 points from spring 2013, when progress on the issue seemed imminent.
Dems are likely glad he’s decided to hold off until after the election, but I’m sure most Americans will figure out he’s only doing that because he plans to do something that the vast majority of Americans will disagree with. That’s not “leadership”, by the way. Unconstitutional unilateral action to fulfill an ideological agenda item outside the system isn’t anything but authoritarianism. A king instead of a president.
And the great healer? Yeah, not so much:
In general assessments, moreover, Americans by a 17-point margin say Obama has done more to divide than to unite the country, a rating worse than George W. Bush’s early in his poorly rated second term – and one that’s deteriorated among Obama’s supporters as well as among his critics.
You see, uniting the country would take … leadership. It would take a president who was committed to actually walking the walk, not just talking the talk. And as we’ve all learned, this man thinks him saying something is enough.
His performance in office has been pitiful. And that’s being kind.
History, on the other hand, will not be kind to this President. But it won’t be kind to the electorate that put him in office and then re-elected him either. They were the enablers of this drastic decline we’ve suffered for the past 6 years.
If we manage to survive his term in office, it is going to take a long time to again gain the respect of the world, not to mention put this country back on the track envisioned by the founders. We pointed out early on that he would be tested by our enemies. He has been, constantly. And he’s been found to be wanting in every single case. He’s weak, indecisive and reticent to take action when action is warranted. He’s as bad as we’ve ever had in the modern era. Jimmy Carter is smiling.
At best they’re educated guesses. And, as the actual climate continues to demonstrate when compared to the outcomes the models predict (and that’s all they do is come up with a prediction based on how the huge numbers of variables have been set up in the algorithm they use), they’re woefully wrong about climate change. This comes under the category of “a picture is worth a thousand words” or in this case, a graph:
Not even close.
Now, who is the “denier”?
The VA system has given us a hint of what we can expect from a government run health care system in the US. But the UK has been doing it since 1948. And, it appears, most of those who want a single payer, government system purposely turn a blind eye to the UK’s experience:
Death rates in NHS hospitals are among the highest in the western world, shock figures revealed yesterday.
British patients were found to be almost 50 per cent more likely to die from poor care than those in America.
They have five times the chance of dying from pneumonia and twice the chance of being killed by blood poisoning.
Experts say that, despite recent improvements, NHS death rates still outstrip those in many other European countries.
Note the second sentence. That’s as of today. To date, our government hasn’t the level of intrusion or time to turn the health care system in the US into an NHS.
If you think its bad now, just imagine the entire country run like the VA. Or NHS.
Tonight there was a hashtag game on Twitter called “Explain a Film Plot Badly”. I thought I would play the game for a while, but I think I got a bit carried away. Here are my entries to the game. How many of these movies do you recognize?
An ex-Marine officer returns home and takes over the family business started by his Italian immigrant father.
A private eye is confused by an attractive woman and her sister/daughter.
A young farm boy learns about religion, kisses his sister, joins an insurgent group, and blows up a military base.
A bar owner in Morocco befriends a local policeman.
A Kansas firm girl dreams about a magical land after being injured in inclement weather.
A rich media mogul remembers his favorite sled.
A stranded alien becomes addicted to candy.
A prize fighter suspects his brother may have slept with his wife.
A British and Turkish officer have a brief sexual encounter in WWI.
An inmate has fun causing hijinks at an asylum.
A former Nazi scientist figures out a plan to legalize polygamy.
Astronauts find a black box left by aliens long ago. Hilarity ensues.
An ex-nun sings about everything.
Military doctors drink and perform surgery in tents.
A big fish ruins everyone’s summer.
A UCLA archaeologist ignores international treaties about antiquities.
A murderous lunatic enjoys cannibalism and legumes.
A black Philadelphia police detective solves crime and racism in Mississippi.
Wyatt and Billy sell cocaine, ride motorcycles, and irritate rednecks.
A poor Irishman meets a nice girl, but dies in a boating accident.
Bruce Willis dies, then counsels a troubled youth.
An NYPD detective learns that Frenchmen have the best smack.
A bible-quoting gangster retrieves an important briefcase, then interrupts a robbery in a diner.
A concentration camp prisoner discovers which child she loves the best.
A Jewish chariot racer takes baths with hunky Roman men.
Private Ryan is sent home after a family tragedy.
A murderer practices accountancy in prison.
A rich vigilante dresses up like an animal and drives a cool car.
Twelve disgruntled jurors talk things out.
A man and his imaginary friend form a club they never talk about.
Little people travel with a piece of jewelry, have adventures.
A man goes into people’s dreams and learns stuff, and thinks about his hot ex-wife. Or maybe it’s just a dream.
A half-Irish, half-Italian man becomes involved with organized crime, then tells cops how fun it was.
A police detective looks into a box and makes an unfortunate find.
A man wishes he had never been born. His wish is granted, and his little town becomes way more fun.
Lunatic hotelier has unhealthily fond memories of his mother.
A federal agent investigates a baseball-loving bootlegger.
A magical black man heals a wounded rodent, but is electrocuted.
A starship crew encounters an alien who kills all the unattractive crew members.
A milk-loving British thug receives therapy.
The English make a Scottish rebel pay for his violent hijinks.
A mentally disabled man befriends the daughter of an idealistic, widowed, southern lawyer.
Con men rob a gangster and then get shot. But not really.
A Cuban immigrant snorts cocaine then introduces rivals to his small acquaintance.
Adolf Hitler yells and dies in German.
A British officer is held prisoner by the Japanese, and builds the best bridge ever.
A LA policeman kills robots, then has sex with one.
A hippie bowler has sex with a rich woman, meets a pornographer, and has his carpet soiled by nihilists.
Ratty-looking Formula 1 driver has a bad crash, but races again.
An African hotelier in Kigali, Rwanda, is disturbed by local events.
A math professor becomes paranoid, but gains an imaginary friend.
Antarctic researchers find an alien with a talent for mimicry.
Unattractive Persians kill hunky Spartans in a disturbingly homoerotic war.
A man is reacquainted with his childhood sweetheart, while his Hispanic friend investigates his father’s murder.
Unscrupulous petroleum magnate drinks other people’s milkshakes.
An Irish hit man travels to Belgium, is unimpressed by Bruges.
Jason Bourne loses his memory, then falls for a quirky German girl.
A girl learns how to box, then dies.
An Indian leader preaches pacifism, but, ironically, is shot.
A young man volunteers to serve in Vietnam, which is more unpleasant than he expected.
A hotel caretaker spends the winter writing an extremely repetitious book, and using cutlery.
Undercover cop gets shot while participating in a robbery. He’s told he’s “gonna be okay” but isn’t.
A mob-connected gambler runs a casino in Vegas, while hosting a bad TV show, then has serious car trouble.
Image Credit: The Hollywood sign image was originally posted to Flickr by Sörn at http://flickr.com/photos/34065722@N00/1151601662, licensed under the terms of the cc-by-sa-2.0. Post originally posted at DaleFranks.Com.
This week’s podcast is up at the podcast page.
I’ve watched in horrified wonder these last few weeks as a man way over his head tries to act like he knows what he’s doing. But he’s not fooling anyone. Not even his most rabid supporters. The great, shrinking American President – Barack Obama.
Here are a couple of quotes he’s made which typify his vacuousness – something at which he is quite adept:
We know that if we are joined by the international community, we can continue to shrink ISIL’s sphere of influence, its effectiveness, its financing, its military capabilities to the point where it is a manageable problem.
A manageable problem. Yeah, that’s kind of open to any definition you want to hang on it, isn’t it? It’s business school talk. What defines a “manageable problem” when talking about religious fanatics killing American citizens (as well as middle easterners by the thousands) to taunt the US president? Are we there if they only behead one American journalist next year? If they only crucify half the number they did this year, are we “managing” the “problem”? Oh, and by the way, what ever happened to R2P? Only applicable to Libya? And boy, did we “manage” that “problem” well. Our embassy is now a jihadi swim club.
[W]hat we’ve got to do is make sure that we are organizing the Arab world, the Middle East, the Muslim world, along with the international community to isolate this cancer.
Organize the Middle East? I’d laugh out loud if what was going on wasn’t so dangerous. This guy couldn’t organize a one man parade. He couldn’t lead a horse to water after a 10 mile run in the desert. And coherence, as in a coherent policy? Forget about that. Ed Morrissey nails it:
The failure demonstrated by Obama and his administration over the last several weeks and months as the ISIS threat grew and metastasized is, at its core, a leadership crisis. Forget being the leader of the free world; this President can’t even lead his own team within one coherent message and strategy. As ABC’s State Department reporter Ali Weinberg remarked yesterday, this was the message just from one single day: “We’re going to destroy ISIS. Or manage them. Or shrink their sphere of influence. Or follow them to the gates of hell.”
With that failure to generate a united and coherent approach to ISIS among his own team, how could anyone expect the President to lead the world against this new terrorist army and the threat it poses to the region and the world?
They can’t, and he won’t. Oh the “world” may do something, but it won’t be because of any leadership from Obama, et. al. It will be because they’re awake to the threat that is ISIS and finally develop the intestinal fortitude to act. And the US? Like Libya, we’ll “lead from behind”.
What in the world could possibly go wrong with that?
Today’s only economic release is a big one, and it’s disappointing.
The Employment Situation report shows only 142,000 net new jobs were created in July, well below expectations. The Unemployment rate fell -0.1% to 6.1%, though sadly, this is mainly because the civilian labor force fell by 64,000 this month, while the number of persons not in the labor force rose by 268,000. This brought the labor force participation rate down to 62.8%, matching the lowest participation rate since 1978. Essentially, the number of people leaving the labor force was twice the number of new jobs created. In addition, the Household Survey indicates an additional 80,000 workers became unemployed in the last month. Average hourly earnings rose 0.2%, while average weekly hours were unchanged at 34.5 hours.