Saturday, November 14, 2015

This Is War--But We Need To Be Smarter About Fighting It

In the short run, there is nothing that should be said about the murders in Paris of innocent people by religious fanatics, other than to offer the survivors our support in every possible form.  And yet, there is no stopping the same people who exploited the 9/11 murders into two Bush-and-Cheney terms and a ruinous war from attempting to piggyback a political comeback on the most recently-shed blood of innocents.  You need look no further than here to see this happen.

Have these people no shame?  For that matter, have they no souls at all?  Is there nothing inside of them that will allow them to mourn the dead for so much as a single Tweet?  Does clinging onto their rapidly evaporating power mean that much to them?  And do you really want such people to be in charge of your destiny, which is exactly what will happen if we have an all-Republican government on January 20, 2017?

Those aren't rhetorical questions.  I'm hoping that everyone answers them next fall with votes against the GOP and conservatives of every stripe at every level.  But I worry that the right-wing talent for exploiting fear will take us back into another war that we can not afford, financially or otherwise.  So let's take a few moments to connect the dots by taking a walk down memory lane. We invaded Iraq without any understanding of the composition of the country.  We imposed a form of government with which the underlying cultures and peoples had no experience, and no ability to make it work. As a direct result, the country fell apart.  The military supplies we left behind fell into the hands of religious fanatics, who then collaborated with their fellow-travellers in Syria fighting the kleptocratic Assad family.  The result is the destruction of two nations, and a region in the hands of murderers who have no interest in anything except power.

And NONE of this would have happened if we had not invaded Iraq.  We were egged into doing so by fearmongers on the right.  And they are egging us on again.

But this is not to say that we are not in a war.  This is not to say that we should not fight that war. It is, however, to say that we need to understand how to fight that war.

This is not a war against standing armies, or between recognizable governments.  It is a war without front lines.  It is a war in which any spot on the earth can become a battlefield within seconds.  It is a war in which the enemy thrives on anonymity, of operating withing the shadows, on hitting-and-running so they can hit-and-run another day.  It is a war fought by cowards who know how to hide. And it can only be won with brains, not brawn.

We need to stop investing in the front lines of a Cold War yesteryear, and redirect defense spending in ways that prevent us from making the mistake we made in Vietnam:  failing to recognize a guerrilla war when it stares you in the face.  We need to stop acting like the British Army in our own Revolution, and act more like our own Continental Army. That's how we won that war.  We were outnumbered and outgunned.  And we still won.  We didn't outhammer the enemy; we outfoxed them.

Unfortunately, the GOP has failed to learn the lessons that the Iraq disaster and the ISIS catastrophe that followed it should have pounded into their heads.  They see themselves as hammers, and therefor look at all problems as nails.  We will pay a steep price for that tendency for decades to come.  We don't need to add to those decades by giving them more opportunities to pound our way to oblivion.

Fight the fearmongers.  And fight the terrorists.  But be smart enough to resist the fear on which both the fearmongers and terrorists feed.  Let's work together to fight smarter.  Yesterday's victims, and today's, deserve no less.

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