President Obama's speech Sunday night drew brickbats from the expected quarters (especially the Republican presidential candidates), but what it did not draw was this: An alternative strategy. Most of Obama's critics in this area don't have one.
Obama argued forcefully for the approach he has been pursuing: Air strikes, cooperation with other governments, special forces on the ground and so on. He argued against any proposal to send a mass of American troops on the ground (something only Lindsey Graham has been pushing), because that would provide the gasoline for the bonfire Daesh (I call them that because they hate the term) do badly wants. Anything that can be played as the big bad West crunching down on the Islamic world, or on Muslims, is catnip for them.
And I think he's right. And that's apart from the fact that the United States has wasted far too many lives and too much treasure in the Middle Eastern sinkhole for a generation now. And if ground troops were to be engaged, we'd be drawn into another big war, one damn near without end.
Read this piece, which centered on a professor of military science named Elliot Cohen, who has called for a more aggressive posture in the Middle East but is also sufficiently well versed to understand what would mean: "his war will probably go on for the rest of my life, and well into my children’s.”
Article writer Andrew Bacevich continued, that "would require at least a five-fold increase in the current size of the US Army — and not as an emergency measure but a permanent one." The draft probably would have to be reinstated. The cost would be immense: "ratcheting up military spending would undoubtedly require either substantial tax increases or significant cuts in non-military spending, including big-ticket programs like Medicare and social security — precisely those, that is, which members of the middle class hold most dear." In return, we get this: "the more deeply we insert our soldiers into the Greater Middle East the more concerted the resistance they face; that the more militants we kill the more we seem to create; that the inevitable, if unintended, killing of innocents only serves to strengthen the hand of the extremists."
Bacevitch called that kind of outright war "an invitation to collective suicide."
Or. We could ratchet down and back ourselves out of the Middle Eastern snakepit. And the argument against doing that, as terms of the well-being of this country and our people, would be what exactly? - rs