Hard not to have a sense of deja vu: a president telling of a direct threat to the US. At least he didn't promise a quick war that would pay for itself, or lie about WMD, or, far as we know, divvy up the oil fields in advance; but he eschewed troops on the ground, whereas we all know there are special forces there already.
No doubt ISIS/ISIL are really horrible people; in fact, calling them people strains the definition. And they're certainly a destabilizing force in a land where stability is vapor already. Do they, with their better quality videos and leftover US weapons, represent a greater threat to the homeland than any other insanely hate-filled group or individuals? Hard to see how.
Will this effort, as opposed to every previous one starting the day after 9/11/01, finally eradicate a named terrorist group, lowering the number on the planet by one, forever? Will this mole stay whacked? Will we be more successful this time around in identifying the good guys? As opposed to when McCain went to Syria and hung with pre-ISIS? Or when Reagan armed the pre-al Quedas in Afghanistan? Is there something I'm missing, a way in which this war won't engender more of the same? Will it actually, demonstrably, by recognizable parameters, make us safer?
Would we be doing this if our political system weren't so irretrievably broken? If the right-wing weren't intent upon (and depressingly successful at) painting our president as weak, or worse? If there weren't people at Fox "news" suggesting the president ought to get advice from the guy who screwed up everything he touched as Commander in Chief? (Yes, they did. No, it wasn't an Onion satire.) If the WSJ and other right wing organs weren't actually saying, without irony, that Dick Cheney is "still right?" (Somehow I'd have thought the use of the word "still" would refer to a person who'd been previously right about something, anything, regarding his own war adventurism. But I guess that's just me.)
In my bleeding liberal heart, there resides the belief that not every problem is solvable with American power, nor in need of direct American intervention. As horrifying as it is to see the despicable depths to which some humans are capable of descending, especially in the name of their sick perception of some religion or other, part of me says some things just have to play out across time. If the people most directly affected are unwilling or unable to root out the evil, then how are we to do it? (And what ever happened to the billions we invested in training the Iraqi army?)
"We're fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them here." I didn't buy it when Cheney and his puppets said it then, and I don't now, as President Obama seems to imply it, yet again. Is that how it works? Really? Do our interventions there really make us safer here? Is that what's prevented, so far, another 9/11-level attack, or is it the efforts at surveillance at home?
Clearly, I have no answers. I really don't know if what we're doing is good or bad, effective or damaging. I don't know if there are subterranean reasons for doing this, as there clearly were in our invasion of Iraq, or if it's the best decision of the best minds addressing real threats to the safety of our nation.
All I know is that I'm not very optimistic about it, and it's hard to shake a sense of gloom. To understand at least part of the reasons why, read the words of Georgia congressman and recently defeated (by an even more egregious teabagger) senate candidate, Jack Kingston:
“It’s an election year. A lot of Democrats don’t know how it would play in their party, and Republicans don’t want to change anything. We like the path we’re on now. We can denounce it if it goes bad, and praise it if it goes well and ask what took him so long."
The aforementioned bleeding heart says the military approach to international asymmetrical (and very real) terrorism hasn't ever, and won't work now. I hope I'm wrong. I think the way to maximize homeland security is by homeland security; and that our future is at much greater risk by those in Congress who'd stop paying for all the things it (our future) needs than by a bunch of undeniably awful people operating thousands of miles away.
And I think Dick Cheney and his demon spawn, spewing their highly remunerative war-mongering, and the screaming heads at Fox and all over the airwaves braying that we're moments away from imposition of Sharia law (how it happens, exactly, they haven't elaborated), are the greatest threat of all. They make a damn good living by scaring the shit out of people. Other than very nicely lining their own pockets, and those of their contributors, they got everything wrong last time around. But it worked like a charm, and it's working again.
Deja vu. Deja fucking vu. Let's hope, for reasons I'm too dumb to see, that this time is different.