19 Nov '15     home | previous

Debate about War

The debate continues with intensity. An NBC poll of people in the US finds 65 percent favoring additional ground troops to fight Isis and 31 percent against. Minnesota's Senator Al Franken is against. He argues that more troops would put the US on a "slippery slope." But there is no such thing as a slippery slope. It's just words. Every action involves choice and limits. If this were not so, humanity would have destroyed itself during the Cold War.

And Franken suggests that we would be doomed to follow an unfolding of events identical to what occurred in the US occupation of Iraq, as if the war against ISIS and the war fought in Iraq were exactly the same – the last war fallacy – another denial of choice. If we do put more troops on the ground against Isis, it is unlikely to be a massive invasion like the one into Iraq in 2003. It may be more strikes with more troops but less occupation. And there won't be Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bremer around making their bac choices.

A part of the raging debate is about admitting refugees. While visiting the Philippines, President Obama complained:

We are not well served when, in response to a terrorist attack, we descend into fear and panic. We don't make good decisions if it's based on hysteria or an exaggeration of risks.

Apparently they are scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America.

At first, they were too scared of the press being too tough on them in the debates. Now they are scared of 3-year-old orphans. That doesn't seem so tough to me.

In an exercise of self-importance, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz took offense.

If you want to insult me, you can do it overseas, you can do it in Turkey, you can do it in foreign countries, but I would encourage you, mister president, come back and insult me to my face.

Cruz, by the way, insults the president frequently. Also, Columnist Frank Bruni has a piece in the New York Times dated November 14 titled "Ted Cruz's Laughable Disguise." Responding to Bruni's more detailed insult is not as dramatic and attention-getting as challenging the President. No record of Cruz responding to Bruni is available online.

On the issue of migrants from Syria, MSNBC talk show host Chris Matthews has been claiming that young men migrating from Syria rather than running away should be fighting to improve their country. This is something I wondered about back on August 24 when I wrote:

The European Union is handling the migration tragedy fairly well. But I can't get over the idea that, instead of running from their country, people should stay and fight to improve it – not possible for everybody, for sure.

The Obama administration and the European Union, as I see it, missed an opportunity in late 2011 and early 2012 when young men in Syria were outraged and complaining about being ignored by the West while their communities were under brutal attack to the Assad regime. Perhaps with adequate help more of them would have been inclined to stay and fight rather than become refugees. Among those who did stay and fight were those who joined their fellow Sunni who disliked the West – people we are now calling Islamist terrorists.

Making decisions about Syria and terrorism has not been as easy as some who posture righteously have pretended. Some of them with only half of the president's understanding of events have been quick to denounce him.

Some of the hostility against the president is passion bolstered by ignorance. Yesterday someone in Virginia shouted at a gentleman, Samer Shalaby, at a routine meeting about building plans for a new mosque. It's reported by Raw Story as follows:

Video of the meeting shows a burly man yelling and pointing his finger at Shalaby. "Every one of you are terrorists, I don't care what you say," he yells. "Every Muslim is a terrorist." He also tells Shalaby, "Shut your mouth. I don't want to hear your mouth. I will do everything that I can do to keep you from doing what you're doing. It will happen. That will happen." Another American flag and hat-wearing man is also seen yelling and pointing at Shalaby, who is holding a poster board with a building outline."This is evil," the man shouts.

These shouters will not be accused by Fox News contributors of "political correctness." That phase has become meaningless as the sides in our political debates has its own idea of correctness. In the place of good arguments we have statements like the one at Forbes magazine:

Someone tell the President we can't fight radical Islam by being Politically Correct.

Public discourse, as we know, is usually accompanied by verbal noise.

Copyright © 2016 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.