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Opening Arguments

On the cheap

So we're in another drive-by war:

President Obama says he doesn’t take lightly the decision to launch air attacks on Iraq — but you couldn’t tell that from the way he launched the attack.

[. . .]

Finally, it’s hard to discern the objective of this attack: Will we bomb until ISIS is eliminated? Or does ISIS simply need to be contained? Are we simply protecting Kurdistan, the semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq? What if American intervention becomes a rallying cry for other terrorist groups in the region? Will we bomb them, too?


[. . .]

Now Obama wants another drive-by war, this time against ISIS in Iraq. “As commander in chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq,” the president said as the bombing began.

Sometimes small wars are possible. Typically they are not. What if ISIS shoots down a U.S. pilot? What if a few ISIS commandos break away and penetrate into Kurdistan? What if local Iraqis take up arms against ISIS — will we support them on the ground?

And of course, removing one evil in the Arab world often opens the door for another evil — as we’ve learned from both the Arab Spring revolutions and the U.S.-led regime changes in Libya and Iraq.

Into war "halfhearted, on the cheap, by committee. What could go wrong?"

I like to say (and I think I've even written) that it took me awhile but I finally got over Vietnam, more or less. The "more" part is in exorcising whatever personal demons I brought home with me. The "less" part is how it has continued to shape my thinking about the world.

War should always be the very last thing we try, after every other possibility has been exhausted. Then once we've decided to wage war, our obligation is to be serious about it, to win it (not just end it) as soon as possible with as few casualties (especially on our side) as possible. Vietnam was the first place where we didn't do that (although Korea hinted of that shift coming). Vietnam was the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time for the wrong reasons with the wrong leadership. We had no will to win and just kept floolin' around with it while people died.

Surely we should have learned from that, but just as surely we haven't, because we keep doing the same thing over and over again. And I'm not sure how we can ever do that when we have people in power who get all gung-ho about going to war for strictly humanitarian reasons butt think it is somewhow uncivilized to take this country's national interests into account. I simply do not understand that.

Do not start something you don't have the will to finish. The other side is serious, deadly serious, and if we don't understand that, well . . . I won't say we'll deserve what we'll get, but we'll get what we enabled. At least we aaren't still sacrificing soldiers on the battlefield while we play the arbirters of civilzation. But stay tuned.