Sunday, September 21, 2014

Another GW Bush moment?

Are we heading for another GW Bush moment? Irreversible geopolitical catastrophe?

An editorial in today's NY Times (9/21/14) sensibly asked: "The Unlikeliest of Coalitions: Can Adversaries Become Allies to Fight ISIS?"

After summing up the formidable obstacles in the way of an American war aimed at the destruction of ISIS — a war that must orchestrate unity among historically fractious powers of the Middle-East, doesn't call on American ground troops, and did not engender more Islamist terrorism than it deters — the editorial concluded that things would go just fine provided that there were "some kind of political settlement in Syria, an inclusive government in Iraq and some reduction in the Sunni-Shiite tensions that created space for ISIS to grow."


There isn't, nor is there likely to be any time soon, such a thing as a, "political settlement in Syria." Too much blood has been spilled, and this notion of a Syrian force that that stands above the Sunni-Shiah parties of that terrible blood-letting is tooth fairy nonsense.

As for a "reduction in the Sunni-Shiite tensions that created space for ISIS to grow," I can only ask who does the Times think it's kidding?

Itself, subject to correction?

My experience is that the Times initially throws in with all our wars, when presidentially decreed. Then, just as predictably, it recants.

The Times cheered on the War in Vietnam. Later it published reportage by David Habersham among others that buttressed the anti-war movement.

The Times published warmongering fabrications  by Judith Miller that recruited readers to think there was more than enough reason to invade Iraq. Later it abjured Judith Miller and apologized for her presence in its pages.

Is the Times now green lighting the war to destroy ISIS only with a mind for later reconsideration?

A reduction "in the Sunni-Shiite tensions that created space for ISIS to grow."


But there was another piece in the Times that got through the film-flam. It was by conservative columnist Ross Douthat, "Grand Illusion in Syria". I don't usually find myself agreeing with him, but he nailed this. I will quote his conclusion. (Note well the distinction he draws between containment/attrition of ISIS and the idea of its destruction.)

There is still time for the president to reconsider, to fall back on the containment-and-attrition strategy in Iraq and avoid a major commitment inside Syria. That strategy does not promise the satisfaction of the Islamic State's immediate elimination. But neither does it require magically summoning up a reliable ally amid Syrian civil strife, making a deal with the region's bloodiest dictator, or returning once again to ground warfare and nation-building in a region where our efforts have so often been in vain.

It does not traffic, in other words, in the fond illusions that we took with us into Iraq in 2003, and that hard experience should have disabused us of by now.

But some illusions are apparently just too powerful for America to shake.


  1. A writing comment: good use of "Right." And "Please."


  2. trying to avoid "lol" which works nicely

  3. After reducing Sunni-Shia tensions, accomplishing a political settlement in Syria, and forming an inclusive government in Iraq, the Times predicted that President Obama would turn his newfound powers on some domestic ailments, so that the blind will see, and the lame shall walk.