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Opening Arguments

War is war

The commentariart has had a lot to say about President Obama's apparent newfound toughness about ISIS and what he will or want say in his address to the nation on Wednesday. Guess I'll wait to see what he actually proposes and then what we actually do before I get too worked up one way or the other. I was struck by this, however:

Mr. Obama will use a speech to the nation on Wednesday to make clear his case for launching a United States-led offensive against Sunni militants gaining ground in the Middle East, seeking to rally support for a broad military mission while reassuring the public that he is not plunging American forces into a another Iraq War.

That was from The New York Times, which also notes that this campaign -- offensive, struggle, policy to "degrade" ISIS or whatever else you want to call it -- could take as long as three years, putting it beyond the end of his second term. Sounds like a war to me, although the president doesn't want to call it that. Has he ever even used that word?

We sort of started down that sorry road with the Korean conflict, waging war but calling it a "police action." I suppose that can help some people think we're more civilized than the other side, but I think it also helps us the politicians just fool around with war instead of committing to it and winning the damn thing.

Either ISIS is a direct threat to us or it isn't. (Not "imminent" -- sometimes, it's wise to stop an enemy before the threat becomes imminent, yes?) I continue to believe, as I always have, that you only go to war when the objective is clear and vital and absolutely everything other option has been exhausted. Once you do commit, you try to win it as quickly as possible. To do anything else is the antithesis of "civilized."