Friday, October 03, 2014


I am a cautious bureaucrat, attended by a fanatical warrior,
fighting for the freedom of my blood, which is my birthright
--Adolf Eichmann

You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between 
--Accentuate the Positive, Johnny Mercer

They tried to make me go to rehab,
I say, "no, no, no"
--Rehab, Amy Winehouse

The think tank RAND Corporation has identified the problem in Iraq. Could beefing up the Iraqi Army's self-esteem keep them from dropping trou and running? RAND analyst Seth Jones says, "It's just an open question right now whether morale has improved significantly." (Cue up Bing Crosby singing the Johnny Mercer hit in blackface.)

But how to accomplish this squidgy task? Send them to a Dale Carnegie seminar? Perhaps an Oprah This is Your Life Weekend? Prescribe reading Dr. Phil, or have Tony Robbins deliver a buck-up talk? In a world where the U.S. Secretary of State Kerry gets frisked before entering a conference with Egyptian officials, perhaps it is time for a new motto for the 99 percenters: "We Are Rodney Dangerfield" (he of the "I can't get no respect" shtick.)

Perhaps the slippery slope which brought us to this point is when everyone started getting a gold star in elementary school -- "everyone's a winner" (except, that is not how the world works.) Gone were the red, blue and silver stars which slotted a preschooler as an average -- or slightly below -- performer. So it was inevitable that today's think-tankers see the problem with the Iraqi Army as being one of "low self-esteem".

In addition to the "I'm OK, You're OK" school came the calls to identify and purge bullying (as though it were possible to re-engineer human predilections in a generation.) Through the bullying periscope -- the "bullyscape" (?) -- the logical response is given by NYT columnist Roger Cohen in his recent "Here There Is No Why": Islamic State represents the counterhuman. The human has no alternative but to fight back.

Here is an otherwise intelligent man feeding at the trough of pure emotion. Of COURSE the members of the Islamic State are human (though their behavior be repellant to most modern Western minds.) Human, all too human.

As Rep. Alan Grayson wrote recently, You Can't Defeat Somebody with Nobody.


"(Y)ou acknowledge that the government of Iraq is unable to control its own territory, which is the most basic function of any national government. Under the auspices of the UN and the Arab League -- both of which have already authorized military action against ISIS -- you then assemble an international Sunni fighting force and deploy it against ISIS.

Now, let's suppose that the neighboring Arab League countries refused to provide such a force. What does that tell us? Why should we defend them, when they won't defend themselves?

But that's unlikely, because three Sunni Arab countries already have said that they would populate such a force, and with prodding from the United States, more would join. That force largely would consist of soldiers who speak Arabic, who look like the Sunnis in Iraq and Syria, who understand the religion and the customs, and who would not be regarded by the locals as invaders. Unlike the Iraqi Army, they have responsibilities other than cashing paychecks and looting from the locals, and they would be able to keep their own casualties down to what modern military forces view as acceptable levels.

That is how you defeat ISIS.

Meh, maybe. But really, it is not our job to defeat ISIS. ISIS will do as ISIS does in its own neck o' the woods. The concern of the United States is to protect its own territory.

Staunch the bleeding here, and do not even think to proselytize for democracy elsewhere, for that is fascism, too. A people come to democracy or not. One man's meat is another's poison. Let the people of the region duke it out for themselves, as we did in our Civil War. The land claimed by Al-Dawla Al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham, or the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, is neither ours for the taking, or reforming.

Improving the lot of our own is Job #1.

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Blogger Living while alive said...

Whenever I try to have this conversation with people, they always throw the "they are beheading innocents" and "they are taking over territory" argument at me. I must say that I agree with you, yes what they are doing is horrendous, but they are trying to bait us into a war that's NOT a war!!! We should not be reacting to the vile acts of these these tribes out in the desert. They are not a significant threat to us, and I say leave them in Syria and Iraq to battle it out with those around them. This is not our fight. Can you tell me what the hope is when/if this "war" ever ends? I am far more concerned about our little (HUGE) problem down in Cuba. When will that be addressed???

Saturday, October 4, 2014 at 1:00:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Yup, lots o' problems, always have been.

I heard a superintendent of a school district in CA this week address the huge problem of not being able to deport illegals from S. America, who must be subsumed at great cost into their school systems.

The reporter asks, "But aren't their schools terrible?" The super correctly replied "Yes -- but there are a lot of terrible places."

I would add, "and you can find them in every city in the U.S."

Saturday, October 4, 2014 at 3:57:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Ael said...

Gwynne Dyer has some old school suggestions on dealing with terrorists. Why do we seem to have forgotten hard won lessons?

Monday, October 6, 2014 at 9:30:00 AM GMT-5  

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