Social Question

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Is it time to send ground troops back in to Iraq?

Asked by FireMadeFlesh (16563points) May 26th, 2015

Considering the ineffectiveness of the air strikes, the constant retreats of the Iraqi army, and the continued atrocities of ISIL, is it time we sent in the regular army to crush them? If not, how far can we let them advance before we commit to another war?

I’ve not forgotten Syria, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish.

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103 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I’m not sure we’re the answer. We succeeded in breaking the country last time but the idiots that lead us into that had no idea of how to rebuild it after we broke it. Now we’re dealing with the implications.

whitenoise's avatar

Like… because invading the country proofed such a great concept the first time around?

I hope your attitude isn’t the average American. You do realize that this whole mess in the Middle East can largely be traced back to previous interventions of the U.S.?
Scary thought you guys have nukes.

josie's avatar

Had that chance and blew it.

It only works if you keep them there after they kill the enemy.

The problem with US military policy for over half a century is the belief you can deploy the army, kill some targeted folks, and then go home.

If you are not prepared to kill a lot of people and occupy for a generation or two, then the solution is not the military.

Anyway, it is a moot issue. The US does not have the money to ship divisions to the ME, move them all over the map and then commit to a long occupation. Plus, the American voters don’t have the stomach for it.

janbb's avatar

@whitenoise I don’t think the OP is an American.

And while we made the recent mess, colonial powers such as the Brits have been messing up the Middle East for centuries. And the Middle Easterners are pretty good at doing a lot of it themselves.

Not that I am defending America’s actions by any means.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

Yeah and better do it quick while you still can blame Obama for it and the cost that it will bring.

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

The atrocities of ISIL….. lol
Who will stop the atrocities of the U.S. Government, it’s ignorant citizens, and its corporations?

On a recent Bill Maher episode, one of his guests mentioned how ISIL couldn’t even get uncontimated water to its members. The next guest was Erin Brokovich who mentioned all of the chemicals that Americans are exposed to which have never been tested for human use.
What is the difference?

We are being poisoned through our food, water, air, and almost every household good we have. But yeah, ISIL is the big threat.

stanleybmanly's avatar

It isn’t about whether or not “it’s time”. Nor is it about whether it is the morally responsible thing to do. Conservatives are clamoring loudly in tune with the beleaguered residents (those that are left) of the region for “Western“intervention (meaning us.). The problem is that the insertion of US ground troops is not feasible politically in this country. Mr. Bush has squandered the political capital regarding U S adventurism for the upcoming 20 years or so. To state it bluntly, if Obama allows himself to be caught with U S troops on the ground during the 2016 elections, it will amount to gifting his office to whatever bozo the GOP might put up. And anyone who thinks we can go in and get out before the elections, just isn’t paying attention.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Who is the “we”? Do you mean the US or a global group?

Jaxk's avatar

The Sunni’s under Saddam Hussein Ruled Iraq with an Iron hand and Oppressed both Shiites and Kurds. After the first Gulf War, we left Saddam and the Sunni’s in place and the oppression continued. When Bush took out Saddam, the Shiites wanted their pound of flesh and went after the Sunni. The US assured the Sunni’s that they would be represented in the new government which led to the Sunni uprising. That stabilized Iraq until we left. Once we were out of the picture Maliki pushed the Sunni’s out and the oppression continued. When ISIS came along the Sunni’s had nothing to lose and ISIS found a friendly population in the Sunni region of Iraq. The Kurds don’t stand much of a chance no matter who takes control.

Now we find ourselves in a difficult position. The Shiites don’t trust us, the Sunni don’t trust us, the Kurds don’t really trust us either but they need our weapons, and of course, ISIS hates our guts. The polls show a shift in support for sending ground troops back into Iraq. If we do, I suspect that support will be very short lived. We also have the burden of, yet again, convincing the local population to trust us. Seems unlikely. As @stanleybmanly points out, the Democrats and Obama, are more concerned with the 2016 election than any thing happening in the Middle East. Until ISIS brings their war here to the States, I doubt we’ll see any major intervention in the near term.

Darth_Algar's avatar

And once we destroy ISIS/ISIL/whatever what then? Do we send troops back in in another year or two to deal with the next group that seizes control? Are we willing to commit to occupying the region (and dealing with whatever fallout that may bring itself) for the next few decades at least? If the answer to that is “no” then we have no business going back there.

stanleybmanly's avatar

@Pied Pfeffer By “us” I mean the United States. The European democracies are confronted with constituencies more circumspect than our own.

stanleybmanly's avatar

There is a fundamental truth regarding the Middle East that has been the bane of Western powers for close to 300 years. It is that those from the West with ambitions for the region consistently jump at perceived opportunities there with scant knowledge of the place, the people, or the history of either. The region has been the consistent graveyard for Western ambitions and each and every Western nation that has attempted to further its own interests by dabbling therein winds up severely burned for the trouble.

johnpowell's avatar

There is nothing we can do. No amount of bombs and bullets can fix this.

Best to just get the fuck out. But we all should know why that won’t happen.

jerv's avatar

Every time we’ve been there, it’s only gotten worse. A US military response would be like trying to smash Jello with a sledgehammer; ineffective with plenty of splattering and the same amount of stuff now dispersed over a wider area.

As for those pointing out the political angle, there is more to it than that. Who will pay the bills for the war? No, not the one that some want to start, but the one that Bush got us into? No, not that Bush, the other Bush… though it’s a fair question who will pay for that one too. The reticence to send troops back has very little to do with the 2016 election and far more to do with fiscal responsibility.

When we went there the first time, back when Desert Storm was still Desert Shield, I predicted an unwinnable Vietnam-esque quagmire that would suck our economy dry before sending us home with nothing but dead soldiers and a stack of bills that out great-great-grandchildren will still be dealing with. Setting aside the futility of trying to end a conflict that has lasted for centuries, or the human cost, let us look at just the dollars and sense. How many quadrillions of dollars are you willing to spend on this? How fiscally responsible is it to rack up those sort of expenses if they have no real chance of results?

Another parallel here, and another reason why we CANNOT win; the only wars the US has ever been successful at were against those of similar mindset. The Revolutionary War pit Brit ex-pats against Brits. Both World Wars pit us against Europeans who we fought well… but WWII also brought in the Japanese, a decidedly non-European nation with a very different culture. That was the beginning of the end for American military dominance as we do not do well against guerrilla fighters, nor are we really prepared to deal with people who have no fear of death.

Japan had Kamikaze fighters. Vietnam had us dealing with booby traps and a degree of fanaticism that we weren’t equipped to deal with; how often do you see American troops run into a room with a grenade in each hand not caring how many times they are shot because they don’t plan to survive more than a few seconds anyways? We failed against that sort of tactics before.

So what do we do? We start a war with people who trade grenades for vests of C4, who leave IEDs on the roads the way Americans leave fast food wrappers, and try to stop a sectarian fight that has raged for centuries. Not only did we waste money there, we also wasted more money by paying the people who thought that idea was remotely feasible.

This is a problem that has no military solution. Then again, we also thought it wise to go to Afghanistan without regard for any of the factors that led Britain and Russia to give up there either, so I’m going to guess that whatever the dumbest possible thing that we could do is will become our new policy by 2017.

@Jaxk “That stabilized Iraq until we left.”
Maybe stable compared to what it was, but I cannot recall any period in my lifetime where any area in that region was stable in any absolute sense. I think the closest we’ll ever get to stability in the region is all sides temporarily setting aside their differences to kick the US in the teeth.

kritiper's avatar

Yes. I saw this coming when we pulled our troops out. Our brave soldiers who died there died in vain.

RadioFlyer's avatar

Not totally in vain. Because from now on, our citizens will learn from this, and in the future will always remember to never again just accept government lies (oops….sorry…..I meant “mistakes”). Never again allow them to send our young people into an unnecessary, unwinnable trillion-dollar conflict, just by waving the flag while we pump our patriotic fists in the air, and Old Glory waves along the screen borders of the FauxNews Channel…..

Because NOW we’re all very smart….

gondwanalon's avatar

Obama may be right to just sit back and let Iran take care of ISIS (or ISIL whatever you want to call it). Let Iranians fight and die for Iraq.

johnpowell's avatar

Armchair chicken-hawks.. I am presenting you a chance to show your brilliance. How do we go back into Iraq, and how do we fix things, and how do we get out?

I like details.

Jaxk's avatar

There seems to be two different schools of thought here. If you believe that ISIS is no threat to the US or the rest of the world, then it is easy to look at this as their problem not ours. If the different factions in the Middle East want to blow themselves to bits, it’s none of our affair. If however, you believe that ISIS is a threat and merely acquiring a safe haven to launch attacks against the US and Europe, then it becomes more serious and we do have some skin in the game. I know many of you take the first position while I lean towards the second.

After WWI we took a hands off approach and let Europe handle their own affairs. Germany burdened with debt gave rise to Hitler but even then we pursued an isolationist policy. FDR won election in 1940 campaigning on non involvement in Europe. Basically the same stance that we have in the Middle East, ‘it’s not our war’. After WWII we under took a different strategy, we stayed involved and it worked mush better. I would hate to see us learn the same lesson all over again. Same lesson in Korea. We stayed and S. Korea is doing fine. Viet Nam went the other way, we left and S. Viet Nam was overrun.

So here we are again. We won Iraq and left it to it’s own devices. It is process of being over run. Is it in our best interest to let the world burn while we focus on Gay Marriage, Abortion and the like? Russia is aggressive in Eastern Europe, China is becoming aggressive in Asia. Iran and ISIS are tearing the Middle East apart. How long can we ignore this before it lands on our shores?

Obama talks about his 60 nation coalition but it has done nothing. No one wants to go it alone and no one is capable of leading other than the US. It’s not a battle we can lead from behind. Unfortunately leading from behind is the only way Obama knows how to lead. Hell even if we only got a couple thousand troops from each country, we’d have an army 3–4 times the size of ISIS and military technology far beyond anything ISIS could ever dream of.

But, if ISIS is no threat, why bother?

stanleybmanly's avatar

There’s the rub. Just how great a threat is ISIS to the United States? The fact is that there are a number of world powers whose interests are threatened a great deal more than our own, and many of them are perfectly capable of eliminating ISIS as a military force with U.S. air and logistical support. Iran could put the tough to Isis. Don’t be so hasty to disparage Obama. Let’s suppose he decides that he must sacrifice Hillary’s shot at the White House and deploy significant ground forces to the region. Then let’s suppose the objective is achieved in record time with minimum casualties.

Such a scenario (unlikely as it is is), brings us to the reason why Obama’s policies thus far must be judged both prudent and necessary; for immediately following the subjugation of ISIS the great and vexing question arises THEN WHAT?

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk First off, Obama doesn’t run the show. As the last few years have proven, Congress has plenty of power to stop or override the wishes of the White House. Second, this problem will be here long after Obama is gone, just as it started long before he got into office. So how about we just leave him out of it, okay?

You’re also overlooking one rather important detail; to many, especially in the Middle East, the US represents all that evil and wicked and wrong with the world. The situation is a bit different than Asia and much different than early 20th century Europe. I question the wisdom of trying to put out a fire by dousing it in gasoline. TO be sure, what has worked elsewhere probably wouldn’t work in the Middle East.

Now, I can see how a person too egotistical to care about the opinions of others may want to just wave a flag, march in guns blazing like we’ve always done and bill the grandchildren, but as one who doesn’t like trading one problem for another, I’m not sure that’s the best approach here. Look at Afghanistan. Hell, even North Korea kind of undermines your argument.

@stanleybmanly “Then what?” is where we failed before, and put a nice dent in our economy in the process.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Here’s the truth. Whoever is foolish enough to undertake the task of deploying forces to the region is going to be left holding the obligation (as well as the bill) for the restoration of order and some degree of normalcy (whatever that means in the Middle East). This is the real reason nobody wants the hot potato. Iraq was our “tar baby” for 13 years, and it has cost us trillions and made billionaires of weapons dealers and folks manufacturing prosthetic limbs. Colin Powell made the point, with his pottery barn statement, and it will be in all the history books, if the subject is even bothered with in future curriculums.

jerv's avatar

@stanleybmanly From what I gather of world history over the last 3–4 millennia, the current situation in the Middle East is normal. Sure, weapons have advanced a bit over the centuries and Israel is a fairly recent development considering the time scale we’re dealing with, but I think it safe to say that this is about as normal as it gets there.

ucme's avatar

“Gawd bless the We Ess Ay”

whitenoise's avatar

@Jaxk

Interesting views…
After WWI we took a hands off approach and let Europe handle their own affairs. Germany burdened with debt gave rise to Hitler [...]
Shouldn’t we also consider, though, that US interests were crucial in financing Hitler’s rise to power?

Same lesson in Korea. We stayed and S. Korea is doing fine. Viet Nam went the other way, we left and S. Viet Nam was overrun.
South Korea is still at war. And wasn’t Vietnam overrun before ‘we’ left, or rather wasn’t that the reason that ‘we’ left?

So here we are again. [...] [Iraq] is [in the] process of being over run. [...] Iran and ISIS are tearing the Middle East apart. [...]
Again three places of misery created by past interventions by ‘us’ in these countries. ‘We’ created the power vacuum in Iraq and then armed the factions in Syria that then became Isis. ‘We’ created a puppet regime in Iran that then proved so incompetent and corrupt that it laid a serious foundation of anti-American sentiments and made the Iranian Islamic revolution all but inevitable.

On top… just some more great examples of how ‘we’ treat the world that is on fire and in need of ‘our’ support.
– ‘We’ supported the freedom fighters in Afghanistan that then became Taliban.
– ‘We’ killed Lumumba and helped Mobutu to power, helping create the current political mess in central Africa.
– ‘We’ had CNN at the beaches of Somalia, in 1993; nowadays stomping grounds of Al Shabaab.
– ‘We’ still support Saudi Arabia.

Jaxk's avatar

@whitenoise – No I don’t see where you have the history right. I’ m not sure what interests we financed for Hitler so you’d have to enlighten me. There is no active war in S. Korea. When Nixon began bombing Hanoi the North was beaten into accepting a cease fire in 1973. Once the cease fire was signed, the US pulled out. Once the North was certain we would not return, they invaded the South resulting in the much publicized airlift from our Embassy in 1975. We never fought Viet Nam to win but we didn’t lose it either. If we had given the South the aid we had promised, they may not have been over run by the North. We didn’t and they were. In fact it appears that our problems are a result of not keeping our commitments rather than anything else.

@jerv – It’s hard to discuss anything about military action without bringing the Commander in Chief into the conversation. Congress does not direct the military, it only authorizes it’s use. Obama already has the authorization for Iraq.

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk Yes, but given how long the problems in the Middle East have gone on, we’re talking at least as far back as Carter, at least for the current issues. And that’s even if you totally omit the problems Israel has caused by it’s mere existence, which takes up back a few more decades.

I was never quite clear if Iraq was our friend or our enemy though, and the same goes for Iran. We’ve sold weapons to both yet fought against both. Or are we just going to conveniently forget our role in the whole state of affairs and how much we messed them up already?

And in light of other things that are happening, it seems that it would be fiscally irresponsible to respond to any but the gravest of threats at this point. We already dug ourselves a deep hole, yet you want to keep on digging? I’m not up for paying more than I already am for our military misadventures of the past, so open your own damn wallet to pay for it! Hopefully the fact that we (as a nation) can’t afford to react to actual threats now as a result of going off half-cocked and half-assed in the past will be remembered in the future and we’ll be a little more responsible than we have been the last couple of decades.

As for not losing Vietnam, I’m trying to think what we gained from it. I’d say that unless the actual goals were set so low that the price we paid (in money and in blood) wasn’t worth it, that we didn’t meet those goals, and in my book, failure to meet objectives qualifies as “losing”.

Jaxk's avatar

@jerv – The goal in Viet Nam was to defend the South. We did that. When we pulled out the cease fire had been signed and our goal had been accomplished. At that point all any body wanted was to get out. Nixon did that. The whole point of my argument is that some of our endeavors have been productive and some have not. It seems to me that analyzing the difference could be useful. Your position seems to be that none have been productive so we should simply retreat from the global stage and let the chips fall where they may. As I said previously, if you don’t believe ISIS is a real threat to us, your position is logical. Unfortunately, that position also means that those countries that are showing aggression, ISIS, Russia, China, and Iran, are left to fill the power vacuum we have left. I don’t see any good solutions but can’t concede that we should cover our eyes and pretend nothing is happening. The next World War may actually be the war to end all wars because nobody will be left.

stanleybmanly's avatar

The one thing the conflict in Vietnam and our involvement in the Middle East have in common is that they are both areas of the world about which we and our leaders are deplorably and inexcusably IGNORANT. When I heard Bush announce plans for a thriving democracy in Iraq, I nearly choked to death. It wasn’t that he could utter such a stupidity. The fact that supposedly knowledgeable people advising him could actually harbor such a belief was tantamount to an open admission of knowing NOTHING of what they were dealing with. The comparable reality prevailed and STILL exists regarding Vietnam. To the present day not one American in 10,000 has any idea that the struggle there had next to nothing to do with communism nor its spread. The war was the direct result of the failure on the part of the French at first and we in the end to recognize that THE COLONIAL ERA HAD ENDED. It was plain and simple a war for the unification of the country.

Jaxk's avatar

^^^ I would think that both Japan and S. Korea fly in the face of your belief that a democracy cannot flourish in those areas of the world.

whitenoise's avatar

@Jaxk,

I would think you realize there are great differences between Japan, South Korea and Iraq?

Iraq wasn’t merely a matter of making a mistake.

Our then leadership was so set on starting that war that they lied and made up facts to be able to do so. In the process not only starting a hopeless war, but also de facto killing our democracy.

Why did we think that Iraq wouldn’t mind us killing hundreds of thousands of their citizens in the process of liberating them from Sadam Husein? You really think we have many people living in Iraq, now, that are grateful for our helping them find democracy?

stanleybmanly's avatar

@Jaxk I know that you don’t believe that Japan and South Korea are in the same part of the world as Iraq. But the reasons for the impossibility of a functioning democracy in Iraq are not about geography. Though they do have a great deal to do with what ALL of the nations in the immediate region have in common (save Israel, another place that hasn’t quite understood that the colonial era has ended.) Let’s consider for a second WHY Ho Chi Minh turned to the communists. Meanwhile have a look at this, something else no American you will ever meet knows anything about

http://www.unc.edu/courses/2009fall/hist/140/006/Documents/VietnameseDocs.pdf

whitenoise's avatar

@Jaxk

BTW interesting that you mention Vietnam.

Like Iraq, this was a war with huge local casualties and victims (800,000 to 3,000,000 deaths) that was made possible by our leadership lying to us.

The Tonkin resolution that enabled the American escalation of this war (Wikipedia) was based on fraudulent information.

Again: so much for killing democracy in the name of spreading it.

Jaxk's avatar

@stanleybmanly – Japan and Korea are in the same part of the world as Viet Nam. That was my point. As for your link, I’ve seen it before. I’m not questioning the colonial policies of either France or Briton but rather saying that we were not there to colonize.

Jaxk's avatar

@whitenoise – If you want to criticize Johnson, you’re preaching to the choir. There’s a good argument to be made that he was our worst president. I don’t put him at the bottom but close. As for Iraq, I don’t see it as the same.

stanleybmanly's avatar

The reason the North wound up in the Soviet camp was in large part OUR fault. When the Japanese ran the British out of Asia and the French from Indochina, Ho stayed, organized and fought a guerrilla war. On the capitulation of Japan, the British marched in, confiscated guerrilla weapons and turned them over to Japanese troops and assigned them the duties of policing the country until the arrival of the French. Ho made the mistake common to so many of us in believing that the nation responsible for The Declaration of Independence might actually practice what it preached, appealed to Truman, who even I admit had his hands full at the time. Truman, of course, dismissed the idea of autonomy on the spot. So Ho turned to the folks who DID recognize that the colonial era was over.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Now now we all KNOW who the worst President was, and it ain’t Obama. You are on TRULY shaky ground. Some of the greatest achievements in the history of this country were the result of the muscle power of Lyndon Johnson. The Civil Rights act all by itself deprives him of the title. Then there’s Medicaid, the voting rights act, etc.

whitenoise's avatar

@Jaxk
I wasn’t so much criticizing Johnson.

I am criticizing war hawks that are convinced military power is the answer to most anything…
So much convinced that they are willing to manipulate democratic processes to allow them to provide their solutions.
So much so, that they are willing to brush away the multiple times they were wrong as mere flukes, or incidents.
So much so that they ignore the misery that they inflict on the ones they’re helping out.

Then again… often these hawks have vested interests with the wars they start.

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk Not quite. I believe that Vietnam, while not actually productive, was instructive…. or at least should have been. Unfortunately, we didn’t learn from that and found ourselves making the same mistakes a couple of decades later.

Part of what we failed to learn is that, to many, even foreign influence is seen as intrusive, and actually having even the slightest presence is seen as an invasion. We seek to impose our will over events that happen [wherever] and therefore are at least as bad as (if not worse than) the forces we are opposing. Sure, there will be some that don’t see it that way, but there will be a lot who will, and we need to figure out how to handle that.

Another part, as alluded to above, is that we can’t handle that type of war. We are used to uniformed combatants who follow a certain code of conduct such as not using civilians as cover, or abiding by mutually agreed upon treaties. We don’t handle the whole insurgency/guerrilla thing all that well. A little better than we used to, but still not well. Korea was a bit more of a traditional war insofar as it was it was more of a proxy battle between the US and the USSR, an opponent with a more European mindset.

Now, did we really defend South Vietnam? Looking at the collateral damage and aftermath, I’d say not really. I suppose that throwing someone from the tenth-story window of a burning building might be considered “protecting” them in that they don’t burn to death, but whether or not it’s the right call is tough to say.

Regardless, there are plenty of lessons that we failed to learn, so we are now where I predicted twenty years ago that we would be; can’t win, can’t leave, can’t afford to stay, insurgency causing hell, logistics issues…. the whole nine yards. To be fair, there really were no good options open though, but most of the mistakes we made over there that led us to where we are now were made literally in the last century.

If I were convinced that we actually have learned from the past then my opinion would be different. Or if we weren’t facing so many domestic issues, many of our own making, I would likewise have a different view. But I’m not and we are, so I cannot say that “boots on the ground” is a good idea.

Jaxk's avatar

@jerv – Yes there are always those that don’t want our help. I find it interesting that when we entered WWII, our first battle in the Atlantic was against the French. We landed in the beaches of N. Africa in French Morocco and the French tried to drive us out. If we had learned your lesson back then we would have turned around and gone home. It certainly would be a different world had we done that. There are a few things that I know for absolute certain. One is that the YMCA dance is a lot more difficult in Chinese, another is that Bush also predicted we’d be right where we are if we withdrew from Iraq too early.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Yes Mr. Bush was right. He also would have been right had he stated “Once we can go in, we can NEVER leave without mayhem and chaos in our wake.” As for our French “enemies” in WWII, there are an awful lot of French citizens who would take issue with your characterization of the Vichy government as “French”.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@Jaxk “Yes there are always those that don’t want our help. I find it interesting that when we entered WWII, our first battle in the Atlantic was against the French. We landed in the beaches of N. Africa in French Morocco and the French tried to drive us out. If we had learned your lesson back then we would have turned around and gone home.”

Seriously? You’re really going to argue that a puppet regime controlled by the Nazis counts as the “French” trying to drive us out?

Jaxk's avatar

Well….Yeah. I assume that if you’re shooting at me, you don’t want me there.

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk I find it interesting that you seem almost obsessed with missing the point. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t France a part of Western Europe, a region that we share a ton of cultural similarities to? Sure, they spoke a different language from the redcoats we fought for our independence or the Mexicans or Confederates that we fought in the mid-19th century, but they shared a lot more in common with us than those from regions of the world that were thousands of miles from where most American’s ancestors are from.

Also, who was CIC in 2003 when they decided to ignore the advise of generals by sending in far fewer troops than were needed and seriously overestimating how many nations who spend far less than us on their militaries would contribute?

And how is staying in an area in force while “guiding” their government appreciably different from just annexing them as a colony anyways, aside from the fact that annexation would involve more culpability and accountability than just staying as “advisors”?

Relatedly, who really ran France around the early-1940s? In other words, how sovereign is a nation that is invaded and occupied by a foreign power? It seems that you have some pretty strange ideas in that regard.

Jaxk's avatar

@jerv – I wonder if Germany considers themselves a colony of the US. Hell we’ve had troops there since the end of WWII. Oh wait, they are European for some reason you see that as quite different. I’m not sure that Japan sees themselves as a colony nor S. Korea. Maybe leaving forces behind for help and protection really isn’t the same thing as conquering and colonizing.

If you want to criticize Bush for his tactics in Iraq, I’m with you. He at least set out to win that war, unlike Viet Nam, but he didn’t send enough troops. That cost us time, money, and treasure. He did however recognize the error and correct it

How sovereign is Iraq at this point? ISIS in the west, Iran in the middle, and the Kurds up north. Fight against ISIS and lose your head. Sounds similar to me.

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk Germans are not the same sort of powderkeg that the Middle East is, nor is Japan. Therefore it’s possible to maintain order there with minimal US presence as they are plenty capable of and willing to maintain order themselves. South Korea is a bit more tense, so they need a bit more US presence, but at least they have a central government that can be dealt with.

Your final paragraph is pretty much the problem, and one key difference between Iraq and the other nations that have been mentioned. There is no central government strong enough to exert enough power for effective self-governance, nor is the situation peaceful enough that we could send in just a couple thousand troops and pacify the region. And you can be damn sure that we would be the only ones sending much in the way of troops too.

We would require at least the sort of presence we had in 2003, and probably more now as we’ve kind of hit a hornet’s nest and spread the mess around. And add a few more thousand to account for how much we underestimated the first few times.

stanleybmanly's avatar

@Jaxk Before I rejoin the parade of those eager to dump on you, I want to once more acknowledge your grit in standing here alone to defend notions glaringly unpopular on this site. That being said, I would like to point out that if we accept your reasoning, then it’s a fair statement that our country’s greatest strategic blunder (Iraq) was the direct result of our second greatest blunder (Vietnam).

janbb's avatar

@Jaxk I agree with @stanleybmanly. Hang in there, we need your voice!

Jaxk's avatar

@jerv – Sheeesh, Yeah they are stable now, more than fifty years later, but they weren’t at the end of the war when we went in.

Iraq has about a quarter million men in uniform. soldiers can be trained in 2–3 months, it’s leadership that takes time. The Iraqi’s are retreating not because they’re cowards but rather because they have no leadership (hell, that’s our problem as well). If we were to supply the leadership, those Iraqi forces could be quite effective. As for other countries, I am surprised to hear you admit that Bush was able to gain troops and support from many countries while Obama can’t get even token support. Why do you suppose that is. The truth is if some of the Middle East could trust us they would be more willing to help overthrow ISIS. They’re just not willing to stick their neck out and have Obama throw them under the bus.

Jaxk's avatar

@stanleybmanly – I don’t get your reasoning. Viet Nam was a strategic blunder but a tactical success. We won the battles but never intended to win the war. The cease fire was what we were shooting for. That was stupid.

Iraq on the other hand we wanted to win and we did. It was the fledgling new government that succumbed to infighting and corruption. They needed help and didn’t get it. So sad.

Jaxk's avatar

@janbb – You misspelled ‘vice’ :-)

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk What a difference a few years makes. See, there is this thing called “hindsight” that the leaders of 2015 have more of than the leaders of 2005 did. Other nations have seen the costs and realized that they don’t have deep enough pockets to pay them. Even we are having economic issues as a result, and unless you are willing to concede that the US is not one of the stronger economies in the world, you will have to admit that there is a bit of wisdom to those of lesser financial means balking at opening their wallets.

As for our own lack of leadership, I think that the only way we will have leadership again is if we cut our own losses and split the US in two. I won’t bog this thread down with a digression on a subject you and I have discussed ad nauseum elsewhere, except to say that there is no reconciling the divide we have in our own nation between those who want a two-tier society with Theocratic overtones and those that don’t; we cannot have effective leadership while there is that huge an ideological divide.

stanleybmanly's avatar

@ Jaxk I think you don’t get my reasoning because you’re missing my points. The tactical vs. strategic argument can best be dismissed with by a quote regarding the war from the great general Giap. After the war when an American General told Giap “we beat you in every single battle of the conflict, Giap simply replied “it’s irrelevant.” And the brilliance of that answer cannot be exaggerated. The war for us was a blunder of strategic thinking on our part. What the North realized and we did not is that it isn’t necessary to defeat the United States militarily in order to prevail in the end. You merely need to hang on and inflict casualties until the war is no longer feasible politically within the United States. It was the exact same lesson they’d handed the French before us, and we slept through it.

Here’s my point about your reasoning and why it means that failure in Vietnam was responsible for failure in Iraq.

Once you attribute Bush’s failure in Iraq to a shortage of manpower, it becomes clear that the issue is the draft, or rather the lack of a draft. Rumsfeld declared time and again in one way or another that he was fighting with “the army you have”, and we in fact scraped the barrel of reserve units to mount and sustain the operation. And there is absolutely no disputing that it was the flagging trust of the people in its government brought on by the conflict in Vietnam which eliminated the draft.

Jaxk's avatar

@stanleybmanly – No disagreement with your first paragraph. In fact Bin Laden said the same thing and pointed to Viet Nam as proof. As for the second, Bush didn’t fail in Iraq. By the time he left office, the war was won and Iraq was stable. The draft had nothing to do with any of this. Iraq didn’t start falling apart until Obama pulled everybody out and Maliki began dismantling the military leadership. He wanted Shiites instead of Sunni in leadership positions but unfortunately the Sunni’s had the experience. Once ISIS grew the Iraqi military was functionally dead. I disagree with your analysis on that one.

@jerv – I’ll give your post the snappy retort it deserves. Na uh

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk Which president signed the US-Iraq SOFA that mandated withdrawal of US troops? Hint, it was signed in 2008.

Or are you saying that Obama should have violated an agreement that his predecessor made?

Jaxk's avatar

@jerv – Really? Obama had ample room to extend our presence but never really wanted to do so. Some of the excuses for not extending were almost laughable. Here is an in depth analysis of that time.

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk Okay, so you are saying that Obama should just rip up that agreement that Bush signed, thus calling the integrity of the US into further question. And I can see how the situation on the ground, the difference between projections and reality, might make that a wise move despite the cost in political capital… not that we have much left after we squandered it all.

But I fail to see how that op-ed piece really proves anything other than “Iraq is a clusterfuck”, which is something I knew back during the Reagan administration. Hell, it even cites quite a few reasons that Iraq is to blame; in fact, probably moreso than anyone on DC.

Now tell me this; if that region is so easy to negotiate with, why is it that we’ve had problems there for so long? We’ve had plenty of strong leaders in the last eleven centuries or so. Realistically, I don’t see how anyone could do much better; if it were possible, it would’ve happened loooooong ago. What I do see is a few instances where we whacked a hornets nest like a pinata, and where we’ve done some underhanded things to sell weapons to all sides though.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@jerv “Well….Yeah. I assume that if you’re shooting at me, you don’t want me there.”

The point—————

Your head—————

jerv's avatar

@Darth_Algar I think you got the wrong @j*** there.

Jaxk's avatar

When we get to the Nobody Does It Better argument, I’m done.

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk When someone whips out the Carly Simon, I’m done. Jeezus, that’s harsh! Not as bad as Mariah Carey, but still…

Jaxk's avatar

@jerv – I think you’re safe, I don’t know any Mariah Carey

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk Okay, at least you have some taste in music. I wish I didn’t know her, but I don’t always control the radio at work.

Jaxk's avatar

@jerv – I stopped listening to music on the radio when Disco got popular and the advent of Rap certainly didn’t lure me back.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Before this discussion ends I want to emphasize that Obama is faultless regarding Iraq. Bush bears the ENTIRE brunt and responsibility for stumbling into the region and missing the lessons of 200 years. His father GOT the message, restored Kuwait and got the fk away from the place as fast as he could. The bottom unfailing 200 year truth is that once committed anywhere in the region, there is no getting out without calamity and ruin following in your wake. It wouldn’t matter one iota WHEN we left, the results would be fundamentally the same regardless. Iraq is a fk up because we went in, NOT because we left.

Jaxk's avatar

Sorry, I can’t let that go unchallenged. ISIS grew out of the conflict in Syria and has grown from Africa to Afghanistan. Obama has to take some responsibility for Syria, Egypt, and Libya. He has done nothing to deter the growth of ISIS and has actually downplayed the threat. I realize some want to blame Bush for all evil in the world today but it simply isn’t so. The mistakes in Iraq (and the entire Middle East) continue unabated. We need a strategy and we don’t have one. We need a leader and we don’t have one. There is plenty of blame to go around if that’s the exercise we want to pursue.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Your argument is that if we stayed, dumped more money and men down the toilet Isis would be averted. Mine is that anything short of a brutal iron fist in that part of the world means GUARANTEED turmoil. Once you remove that fist, there is no leaving. Isis is on top because it is dedicated and well organized. But crush it, and something equally obnoxious will replace it. We either remain forever or accept the brutal truth. The problems aren’t about leaving too soon. The conundrum lies in the fact that there is No leaving without revival of the horrors.

stanleybmanly's avatar

And please abandon the idea that there exists somewhere a leader capable of restoring the broken pottery. It’s plain and simple a matter of restoring the stability that comes with stark naked terror or conflict and misery. Those are the ONLY choices. Once the thing had been broken, Bush, Obama or your dog it doesn’t matter WHO sits through the catastrophe, a catastrophe is guaranteed.

Jaxk's avatar

@stanleybmanly – I don’t discount you’re arguments but don’t see it as hopeless either. Turkey managed to create a fairly stable democratic government. Syria was stable even if a bit barbaric until we decided Assad had to go. Same with Gaddafi. Saddam Hussein was a bit different in that he had proven he was not interested in only Iraq but conquest as well. He attacked Iran in 1980 and then Kuwait in 1990. Regardless of his brutality in Iraq, Saddam was a continuous threat throughout the region. ISIS is now the major threat throughout the region. They will continue to expand and gobble up territory until they are defeated. If we don’t see that as a threat here, your plan of action (or inaction as the case may be) is valid. Personally, I don’t care if those countries have a dictator or democracy. If Assad can regain control in Syria, I don’t care. If ISIS takes over Bagdad however, I do. I still think Iraq can defend itself if given military leadership. 250,000 troops seems sufficient to drive back ISIS since they are only 50,000. It’s not that the ISIS fighters are better than Iraqi’s but simply that they are more brutal. ISIS has already said they will be in control of Bagdad by the end of Ramadan. If they are flying the black flag over our embassy, it will be a disastrous blow to our credibility and a helluva boost to ISIS recruiting.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Our credibility went South back when Madonna was a star. Turkey IS a stable place. It is a carricature of a democracy, and it was created only through the realization of a brilliant man that the only hope for a viable state was through forcing the apostasy of separation of mosque and state. The unlikely miracle of duplicating the Turkish model in today’s Middle Eastern states is about as probable as we recovering our credibility. What is crucially important to understand about the situation in the region is that NO Western democratic government dependent on elections to hold power is going to intervene with ground troops to clear out ISIS or anyone else. Obama isn’t weak. He’s just powerless to do anything other than something stupid. It’s going to take more than speculation that ISIS is a threat to them to move the West off the dime.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@Jaxk “I still think Iraq can defend itself if given military leadership. 250,000 troops seems sufficient to drive back ISIS since they are only 50,000.”

In Cuba in the late 1950s a small, rag-tag force that never numbered more than a few hundred defeated a standing, professional military of 40,000. In Vietnam in the 1960s-70s the North Vietnamese drove away a superpower. In Iraq and Afghanistan this past decade or so insurgent forces have put the fight to the most powerful military the world has ever seen. These are just a few examples. After countless lessons why do people still underestimate the effectiveness of guerrilla warfare?

jerv's avatar

I think there is plenty of blame to go around, and much of it actually rightfully belongs to those that advise(d) our Presidents, past and present. When you have incomplete and/or skewed information, it’s impossible to make a good decision.

@Darth_Algar That is probably the biggest reason I oppose a US military presence in Iraq; I seriously doubt we have the ability to do what it would take even if we went all-in. And much of that doubt has to do with Vietnam, Afghanistan, and the dubious results of our troop surges in Iraq.

@Jaxk We’re not the only ones; Iraq doesn’t really have a strategy for Iraq either.

Jaxk's avatar

Sounds like the Borg said it best, “Resistance is futile”. We will all be absorbed into the ISIS collective. We should be changing the ‘We shall Overcome’ lyrics to ‘We shall Become’. I’m glad I’m an old man, I don’t want to see the future you all have already resigned yourselves to.

whitenoise's avatar

Dear @Jaxk,

I have definitlely not resigned to live under ISIS or any Islamic / religious rule.

The thing that bothers me is that military action seems no solution either. More so… I feel it has been military action in our recent past that gave power to these idiots. They shoot the guns we gave them.

Jaxk's avatar

^^^ Well, ISIS is clearly bent on world domination. They have said that they will have the black flag of ISIS flying over the White House which means that Bagdad is the beginning of their road not the end. The more territory they consume the harder it will be to stop. Your cohorts above have indicated that they can not be beaten even now. Sounds like we all need to bone up on our Arabic.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@Jaxk

Clearly what I said – we should all just convert now and save ourselves the trouble later.

Seriously, is deliberately missing the point part of your gig?

Jaxk's avatar

@Darth_Algar – No but calling you out when you deliberately overstate you point is. They either can be beaten or they can’t. Pick a theme and stick with it.

Darth_Algar's avatar

I never said nor implied that they can never be beaten. The point, which you seem pig-headedly determined to miss, is that you’re not going to defeat them through conventional warfare. We’ve been taught this lesson again and again and again, and yet we still refuse to learn it. When your only method of dealing with ants is to swing a sledgehammer at them you’re not going to get rid of them. You might crush a few, but ultimately all you’ll accomplish is to wear yourself out while they continue to thrive.

Jaxk's avatar

Being pig-headed provides me a measure of immunity against being eaten by those ISIS zealots. What you fail to see is that a sledge hammer is not the only tool we have. We were able to drive the Al Qaeda forces out of Iraq by turning Sunni’s against them. When the Sunni’s believed they would have a voice in their government and be treated fairly they aided in the purge of Al Qaeda. When Maliki began replacing Sunni leaders in both government and military positions they became receptive to the influence of ISIS. It seems like that is information we could use and learn from.

If your house is infested with ants, do you drive them out or simply throw in the towel because even if you drive them out, they may return. Cockroaches work the same way.

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk We already have a force trying to turn the US into a nation of religious law rather than secular law, and unlike ISIS, they’re already here. But you don’t see it that way because they don’t use the Quran. They use fear of Islam to blind us to the fact that they’re as big a threat to our freedom.
I’d rather deal with the threat of domestic insurgency before trying to protect others from something we’re unable (or just unwilling) to protect ourselves against.
And I agree that conventional warfare is useless here; we need to learn lessons we failed to learn in Vietnam and find alternative strategies; something other than sheer brute force.

@Darth_Algar Missing the point is kind of a chronic thing for some people.

stanleybmanly's avatar

There is another aspect key to this situation that must not be ignored, and that is the matter of commitment. And here it worthy of note that just as with Vietnam it is embarrassingly obvious that the wrong side is the one with the folks who mean business.

Jaxk's avatar

@jerv – Maybe you’re right. It’s the ‘Little Sisters of the Poor’ that are the real threat. Where’s the outrage when you really need it.

stanleybmanly's avatar

This is another strong argument for keeping our troops away. Considering developments, it would be fair to state that it’s Iran alone with the necessary capability along with the determination to confront ISIS. I suppose the Kurds as well must be credited with determination, but their combat capabilities are of course limited.

Jaxk's avatar

I’m not sure the Iranians are up to the task either. But even if they are, it’s like having the Bloods wreak havoc in your neighborhood so you bring in the Crypts to drive them out. Not much of a victory.

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk I save the outrage for those like Ted Cruz who took a noble political party and turned it malign, or the Duggars who talk family values but diddle little kids. I worry because those types of people affect our laws and foreign policy.
Seriously, we have enough domestic threats that foreign ones are of less concern. And unlike you, I’m not distracted by smoke and mirrors.

stanleybmanly's avatar

That’s my point again. Who are the good guys? Who replaces Isis? The gang analogy is a good one, because it is a region where ONLY gangsters can prevail. The sad illusion of the Arab spring is right up there with Bush’s democracy prediction. The premise that peace and order can be brought to these places resulting in what we consider representative government is dead wrong.

stanleybmanly's avatar

And we should get used to the fact that the carnage can and will continue unless ISIS commits a great blunder forcing Western leaders to action. Nobody cares about civilian casualties or miseries. It’s things like the disruption of oil flows, or a bonafide 911 event that will force our hand. And here I must confess that Jakx has a point. Obama is a weak president because this is a situation where anyone in his office with a lick of sense must confront the facts. This country and its President could resolve this conflict in short order by simply implementing the brutal measures consistent with concepts of “power” that have passed for governance and control for generations in the region. We merely have to elect a man ready to accept the legacy of vicious “war criminal”

jerv's avatar

@stanleybmanly That’s one thing I’ll give credit to Bush for; the willingness to make unpopular decisions.

Jaxk's avatar

@stanleybmanly – I don’t disagree with your reasoning at long last with the exception that I think we will be forced to some action by another 9/11 type event. If allowed the safe haven of a Caliphate, they will use it against us. There is a middle ground but I’m not advocating it merely mentioning it. Brutal dictators such as Saddam, Kaddafi, and Mubarak have been supported by the US at various times. Even the Shaw of Iran was put in power by us. What seems to cause the most grief is when we think we can institute a democracy for people that have no clue how to run one. It may be possible to let a Mubarak type dictator to take the load off us. Hell, the Saudi Royal Family is fairly brutal but still cooperative. Where are those benevolent dictators when you need one.

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk Well, Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux, bears the title “Benevolent Dictator for Life”. How about putting him in charge?

stanleybmanly's avatar

While the idea of what we call democracy may be far fetched, the notion of the revival of the Caliphate is so preposterous that it is difficult to believe that intelligent people could buy into it. The idea of an isolated Islamic empire defies contemplation. But it’s either that or a world wide Islamic empire where such ideas as separation of church and state are heresies punishable by death. It is the failure of Islam to reconcile with modernity which is at the bottom of all of it, and this has been recognized since well before the days of “the sick man in Europe”.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Barring some radical revision of Islam and its teachings, it’ simple to predict the landscape. One need only examine the characteristics common to the governments of the region in times WE regard as stable and peaceful. And what were those characteristics?

Every state without exception was 1. Highly authoritarian or outright dictatorial 2.Brutally repressive (by necessity) and 3.Thoroughly corrupt.

It isn’t mere coincidence that every stable government displays these traits. It just happens to be the only workable blueprint for governance in the region.

Jaxk's avatar

What you say has been true of every country on earth until they evolved beyond it. Still true of many more or less. I wouldn’t say that just because a country or region is barbaric, they can never evolve. That seems a bit short sighted.

stanleybmanly's avatar

That just isn’t true. Starting with our own country, the list is endless of nations that began and prospered without stark oppression. What’s striking about the nations in the region of conflict is that regardless of their origins, they all EVOLVE to fit the model. And the reason is that it is the only one that works.

Jaxk's avatar

I suspect both the Indians and the slaves would disagree that. Seems there was some oppression in our early history. The European Royalty could be quite oppressive as well. Hell the Romans fed Christians to the lions, that seems a little oppressive. Let’s not forget the women that might take umbridge with your assertion that they weren’t oppressed.

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk Given some of the laws certain states have passed and certain proposals on the federal level, I’m wondering if we aren’t still increasing the oppressiveness of our own country, or at least trying to. (That’s also a large part of why you and I disagree on politics so often, but I digress). At best, I’m not sure that we evolved past it or just evolved how we do our oppression.

@stanleybmanly Islam hasn’t entirely failed to reconcile with modern times, nor are they the only ones that have had issues adapting as the world changes. The conflict between generations is a large part of the internal conflict within Iran as the old, hidebound Muslims butt heads with the more numerous, more progressive youth that will be here decades after the hardliners keel over.

whitenoise's avatar

@Jaxk
Digressing, but it seems a popular myth that Christianity was rising against continuous heavy oppression. One of the many very enduring myths that still fuels a misconception of who is persecuting who.

jerv's avatar

@whitenoise While there is some truth to our nation being founded by people fleeing from religious persecution, those same people did some pretty heavy counter-persecution themselves. America has been pretty strongly anti-Catholic as recently as the 1960s. And even though Muslims are rather poorly regarded in post-9/11 America, the general public still holds a higher opinion of them than they do of Atheists, so our Protestant roots are still strongly evident.

There is still a contingent that feels Christianity is under attack though because, in their eyes, their beleifs are being overturned by secularism. Some places are so “immoral” that they allow gay marriage, medical marijuana, or teaching contraception in school. And having the courts tell them that they cannot ban the teaching of the Theory of Evolution or refuse service to LGBT people is an attack against their religion, against Jesus (the savior, not the Mexican; in their eyes it’s perfectly fine to attack Mexicans), and against nature. Their way of life is threatened by a bunch of pot-smoking promiscuous homosexuals telling them that they can’t force their religious beliefs on others through laws because that infernal Constitution protects heathens. Though some believe otherwise.

Yet those are the same people that criminalize poverty, being non-white, and want the government making medical decisions that should rightly be kept solely between the doctor and patient. Some of them even take natural disasters in other parts of the world as God expressing his displeasure at the immorality of tolerance.

While our nation is better than it was back when we were pushing Native Americans westward, posting signs like “Irish need not apply”, and hanging people because they owned a black cat, we still have a ways to go.

- – - – - – - – - – -

Okay, now that we’ve established (at length) that even we have issues, let’s make it relevant to the Middle East. Take the sort of conflict we have here today and intensify it by removing all of the restraints that we’ve added over the centuries since our founding (things like considering blacks citizens instead of property) to reflect how it used to be. Pretty bad, right?

Now add more sides to the conflict. We’ve mostly had just two sides to every battle here; Union/Confederacy, Protestant/Catholic, American/Non-American… relatively simple. But that is less true of the Middle East. ISIS, Iran, three different Syrian factions… and those are just some of teh major players. Are we complicated enough yet?

No, we aren’t. The situation in the Middle East is still more complex. See, since not long after we beat Great Britain and gained our independence, we’ve been pretty much the biggest superpower. Which nation far richer and far more powerful than us came in during the Civil War? While we’ve had a few peers, no other nation has unequivocally been superior to us in all aspects since then. Nobody! We haven’t had nearly as much outside interference as they have. They had their own issues before the Crusades, then there was a long period of fighting Europeans in addition to each other.

I question how well we really can deal with issues far greater and more complex than ones we still haven’t got a handle on yet ourselves, but rest assured that someone over there is going to be oppressed!

stanleybmanly's avatar

@Jaxk You’re shifting the focus and unwittingly making my point for me; for at the time of its establishment the United States could claim the most enlightened government on the planet. And the one point on which you and I agree is that we have advanced pretty much in the right direction since. The slaves are gone Women have the vote as well as Title 9. The Indians now wreak their revenge through casinos. But the EXACT reason that the nations of the Middle East cannot tolerate a modern democracy is because they are harnessed BY LAW to a religion that will not permit the requisites essential to democratic processes. They are STUCK BY LAW in the 15th century. Ataturk’s brilliance in the establishment of modern Turkey was his recognition of this truth. It is the fomenting of the religion and it sects that renders the the necessity of authoritarian repressive government doomed to inevitable corruption generated by the hypocrisy involved with adjusting the religion to the requirements of modern existence.

Jaxk's avatar

@stanleybmanly – Again I don’t disagree entirely. Europe in the 15th century was also tied to state sponsored religion. Any deviation from the state religion could cost you life and property. That is exactly what created the migration to America. By the time we declared independence, England had already outlawed religious persecution and France followed shortly after with their bloody revolution. It not exactly the same but it’s not totally different either. It took some fairly bloody battles and a lot of time for us to sort it out. I suspect it will take the Middle East some time as well. Turkey may be a rarity but it shows promise.

jerv's avatar

Another thought. Considering that ISIS is bound and determined to have a final battle ”...where the Armies of Rome will mass to meet the armies of Islam in northern Syria; and that Islam’s final showdown with an anti-Messiah will occur in Jerusalem after a period of renewed Islamic conquest.”

Well, Rome fell, but there is another great Empire that has risen since that was written. Do we really want to give ISIS the satisfaction of even playing along with their prophecy? I think that doing so would be giving then exactly what they want, and I’m not down with handing them any victory like that.

How does one deal with a doomsday cult anyways? About the only sure way I can think of may work in video games but isn’t really an option in reality; nuke them from orbit and kill everyone within 1,000 miles of them.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Thanks everyone for your answers. I’ve been very busy, so I can’t commit the time to respond to each of these answers individually. However these are my thoughts.

1. The Coalition forces learned a huge amount from their time in Iraq, so if we need to go back we should perform better than last time.
2. ISIL are the same people we were fighting during the surge. We caught them once (see the rubbish that went on in Camp Bucca), and we can do it again.
3. ISIL already covers parts of Syria and Iraq. They have no respect for borders, except for those of countries they know they can’t beat, such as Israel and Turkey. This means their devastation won’t be limited to Iraq and Syria forever.
4. These guys are finally all in one place, and behaving more like a conventional army than ever before. We’re great at fighting conventional armies. It’s the asymmetric warfare they were using before that we weren’t so well prepared for. Now that they have military units, and they claim land, they’re playing more to our strengths.

This is purely hypothetical though. I don’t believe for a moment that we’ll send ground troops back in. The prospect of war with Russia or China is far too real at the moment to be distracted by a bunch of savages fighting an army of amateurs.

stanleybmanly's avatar

The basic issue is just what sort of a threat is a 30,000 man force to the might and integrity of the United States? From what I’ve read, the group’s entire business plan is about restoration of the caliphate to be quickly followed by Armagedon and the end of the world. Isis appears a threat to Americans because we are fools easily driven to panic at the drop of a hat. The greatest threat Isis poses to this place is that as with 911, we’ll toss the remainder of our civil liberties down the toilet to stave off some imaginary doom. Isis looks fearful simply because it is operating in the exclusive part of the world where it can get away with it.

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