September 6, 2014

Washington DC – “We’ve got to stop ISIS…al-Qaida…Syria’s Assad…Hamas…Hezbollah…Taliban …Shebab…the wicked Ruskis in Ukraine..those Yemeni Houthis…Iran… Sudan…Islamists in Libya and Mali… Boko Haram in Nigeria…the Red Chinese in Asia. Oh yes, and defend Latvia and fight the Lord’s Army in Uganda.

That’s the view in Washington where international police fever and growing hysteria over ISIS, the latest Mideast bogeyman, have gripped the nation, as elections near and politicians talk more nonsense than usual.

Listen to Republican windbags and you’d believe the hordes of ISIS are about to put Cleveland to the sword.

My question is: which “we” is going to stop all these malefactors?

To quote Frederick the Great, “he who defends everything, defends nothing.” To which we may add, he who spends on wars everywhere, ends up broke. And he who ignores domestic needs for the sake of imperial glory abroad is cruising for a bruising.

The American Imperium can no longer enforce the international status quo that had given it immense power and wealth since 1945. The Hapsburg Emperor Charles V and poor Louis XVI faced the same problem.

When confronted by complex problems – as the US is now in Iraq and Syria – sometimes the best strategy is to do nothing at all. The problem may go away or burn itself out.

But the Obama administration is under growing pressure from the neoconservatives, Republicans and pro-war media to attack Syria and confront Russia in Ukraine.

President Barack Obama just made the surprisingly candid admission that he had not yet developed a strategy for dealing with ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Republicans screamed.

Take your time, Mr. President. Fools charge in where angels fear to tread.

Speaking as an old Mideast hand and veteran war correspondent, I say no plan is a good plan. Washington has made such an awful mess of its foreign policy that inaction is an increasingly attractive option. More little wars will mean the US falling into the trap set by Osama bin Laden.

Who came down from the mountain and said the US must police the globe, from the South China Sea to the jungles of Peru? After losing wars in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Afghanistan, and Iraq, the US should reconsider its overly militarized foreign policy and exaggerated international pretensions. You can’t rule the globe on money borrowed from China and Japan.

Obama’s decision to send tiny US military forces to Ukraine and Iraq violates the basic laws of war: strike swiftly with maximum concentrated force. More worrying, expanded US naval patrols in the Black Sea are a dangerous provocation. Imagine if Russian naval units sailed into Lake Ontario?

Pushing the European Union into sanctions against Russia has ended up hurting the western powers more than Russia. The EU will now have to bail out its farmers and other exporters whose business in Russia was shut down.

President Putin’s offer nine months ago of a referendum in Ukraine leading to more local autonomy is the sensible way out of this mess. Allowing ISIS to run around in Mesopotamia until the local powers – including Turkey – decide to shut it down is the best strategy for dealing with these upstarts.

US Republican hawks calling for sending US troops back into Iraq and Afghanistan should bear in mind a terrible number: 253,000 former US military veterans suffering grave permanent brain damage from wars in those nations. They will require intensive lifetime medical care. This figure pales compared to the nearly 8,000 US soldiers killed in action.

Bombing Iraq now costs the US $7.5 million daily, or $562 million since June. This is just the opening ante for Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama’s very own Iraq War. George W. Bush’s Iraq War cost well over $1 trillion. This at a time when 44 million Americans rely on food stamps and infrastructure is crumbling all over America.

As they say at the Betty Ford Clinic for drug and alcohol addicts, “just say no.” Or, if Americans really want more jolly little wars around the globe, then raise taxes to pay for them instead of hiding their cost in the national debt.

Americans now face two conflicts in places they can’t even find on the map.

copyright Eric S. Margolis 2014

This post is in: Afghanistan, Al-Qaida, Balkans, China, International Politics, Iran, Iraq, Military and Security Affairs, NATO, Russia, Syria, Taliban, Terrorism, Ukraine

7 Responses to “JUST SAY NO”

  1. A couple of added items… the CIA has just come out with a statement that the number of ISIS guys could be three times what they originally thought..
    And, perhaps more interesting, the Americans want to tackle the ISIS in Syria and Iraq… really interesting they want to do Syria… and they have specifically excluded help from, you guessed it, Iran!
    They may find it particularly difficult engaging in a ground war with everyone that looks alike; I seem to recall they had some difficulty in Vietnam.
    I can see them getting into a much bigger mess.

  2. George Rizk says:

    Currently, the biggest Arab Muslim country with the biggest military might is fighting Muslim terrorists, that is Egypt. Not only that, Syria also has been fighting the Muslim terrorists as well for three years. In addition, Iraq just started to do the same a few months ago. So given these facts, it would be more appropriate to help these three countries destroy ISIS. Doing that, we can avoid being the CRUSADERS in the eyes of Moderate Muslims.

    Instead, Obama chose to disregard the Syrian, and Egyptian military, and go it alone. Risking a measure blow back.

    We must admit that we rented Jihadis to topple Assad, and the plan went wrong.

    • I think you’ve bought into the tailored news articles… they need a little taking in…
      The Egypt government was democratically elected and overthrown by the ‘old guard’ military that had been so well managed by the Americans…
      Seems to be a common threat… the Americans…


  3. Thank you Mr. Margolis for so courageously putting your finger of experience on the sore spots of the world and analyzing them as well.
    If only more reporters had the acumen to do the same, until the parasitic fools in politics get the message.
    The US is effectively run by the banksters, who could not care less, what happens to the American people, or any other nation for that matter, because their only desire is to buy up as much of this planet with their virtual money as possible. They have no allegiance to any particular country and respect no borders or sovereignty within those borders.
    Barack Obama actually makes GWB. look like a saint. With GWB. you at least knew, what quantity you were dealing with, but Obama was introduced with a palm branch in his beak and was given the Nobel peace prize of all things, only to prove himself the most unworthy coward by murdering masses of innocent men, women and children by drone attacks all over the globe. He does not have the guts to stand up against the banksters, because he knows, he will end up with the same fate Lincoln and Kennedy did and for the same reason. Such are the balls of a narcissist.
    If he had been anything he was depicted to be in the beginning, he should have refused that peace prize, or now at least give it back, because he is even less deserving than his predecessor, who with his sidekick Dick should have been made to face a Nuremberg-like trial. If they feel innocent, they should not fear the international courts and if not, then they should accept the punishment every other leader has and has had to face in the past.
    The banksters keep on printing money, even if it puts every American citizen into bankruptcy on top of the financial and moral bankruptcy of its government. The ultimate aim is to put the world into private ownership under one globalized government, where all the citizens below the top 1% will effectively be their slaves, just like in that dystopic state, that Aldous Huxley so nicely described in his ‘Brave new world’.
    How long before the American people will see, that their emperor has no clothes? Obama sits on a wounded tiger and is scared to try and get off it. By trying he would at least go down in history as the president he seems to want to be seen as.

  4. The worst thing is America never fixes a problem, they only make them worse. They were going to fix Iraq and now Iraq is in a state where the Shiites want Hussein back. Something you can never explain to the Americans. The Republicans firmly believe that if you drop enough bombs on people they will learn to love you. The solution for everything is “If you turn them into Americans everything will be fine.” Totally ignoring the American empire is falling with Detroit’s icons being torn down by scavengers and being sold to China, just like all of America’s jobs. Just this week the clam brained head of that moronic Duck Dynasty said the solution to ISIL was, “force them all to love Jesus or kill them.”

    The world’s on fire and America wants to pour on the gasoline.

    My saying it coming true. “It’s remarkably easy to catch a bear, the hard part is when you try to hang on to it, or release it when you have totally pissed it off.”

  5. Lewis Black said it best. “Americans make up about 5% of the world’s population. Where the hell do we get the idea we have the right to tell the rest of the world what to do?”

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