Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Good to have terri's disagreement.  She is polite enough that I don't get irritable and shouting, and her thought is different enough from mine that it causes me to clarify for myself exactly what I mean and what I think.

I have a very good friend who expressed similar sentiments about militarism, the lack of benefit of the recent wars, and the high cost.  I have heard more than one conservative starting to come to that conclusion.  The paleoconservatives and more libertarian types already leaned that way.  There may be some consensus forming about this.

I see the appeal, but I think they are wrong.  No, I think they are possibly right, but probably wrong.  I think saber-rattling can be a good thing.  I think we can point to benefit.  I think we can point to some reasons why the cost was necessary.  As the pendulum swings, I think I should make the arguments I can, anyway. I will start with one point to ponder; a different starting point than we usually work from now, but one that was common then. 

Had we continued as before, the most likely result would be that we were attacked again. Repeatedly.

Stay tuned.


james said...

Our "sabre-rattling" at Libya back in 2011 was so tentative and off-and-on (waiting around to get permission from the Arab League??) that it was almost a joke. ("I must have spilled some glue in here. Give me a minute and I'll get it to rattle nice and aggressively.")

Sure there are times when intimating a threat is a good idea. Some people can't carry it off well, though. Some years ago my neighbor and I agreed that a confrontation with a disruptive group of lads was called for, so we crossed the road to meet them. He opened up with "I'm not afraid of you!" Game over--utterly tone deaf.

terri said...

I'll wait to see what you have to say before I reply, though I already have some counterpoints in my head. :-)

Sam L. said...

So terri preferred the devil she knew to the devil she saw on TV and read about, if I read her correctly.

Yes, wars are costly, and recent wars had little or no benefit. Much of that, I think, is/was due to the lack of strategic planning: what can we do, what should we do: and the vociferocity of the opposition to doing those things and the megaphone of the media. Their grabbing at anything to complain about and inhibit military action.

terri said...

Sam, there's no need to "read" me and talk about me as if I'm not here.

If you want to know what I specifically think about something, then ask me instead of trying to analyze me.....but I suspect you already think you "know" everything about what I think and how/why I think it.

terri said... wasn't a devil you know/devil you don't that makes me question the use of those wars.

I would point to increased domestic security policies as being extremely useful in preventing attacks on our soil. I think chalking up the fact that we haven't been attacked again to the correctness of entering these wars excludes the fact that getting in and out of our country is a lot harder. Many plots have been foiled within US borders by people who were already here and may have had no contact with higher leadership in Al-Quaeda or people in Afghanistan and Iraq.

At some point there will probably be some sort of attack on the US again. Someone somewhere will find a way to attack us. If that happens, then would you say that the wars were a failure?

Probably not.

Before Timothy McVeigh used a bunch of fertilizer to blow up the federal building, people weren't tracking large purchases of those substances as a red flag.

Now we do.

Same situation here. We have changed airport screenings, airport security, background checks...etc. The likelihood that we would have another plot like the WTC plot of using airplanes as bombs is small...simply because we have changed the way we do things in light of learning that it was possible for people to use jets as suicide bombs.

That's the adaptive nature of security issues.

Dubbahdee said...

Speaking specifically of war and militarism -- "saber rattling" is a very dangerous game. The problem lies in that it can never ever be a bluff.

I have had opportunity to speak to several Law Enforcement Officers regarding the use of their weapons in the line of duty. Their custom is this: you only ever draw your weapon to USE it. And you only use it with intent to KILL with it as quickly and efficiently as possible. There are no half measures.

The idea of scaring someone by showing your weapon or using a warning shot or a wounding shot is a fantasy constructed by civilians who do not (or prefer not to)comprehend the true nature of violent encounters. Therefore a skilled officer will use a whole arsenal of de-escalation techniques whenever possible. If successful, the situation is concluded without the use of weapons.

Violence (war) is seldom the right option, but when it is the right option is is the ONLY option. And your ability to bring overwhelming and effective violence to the other party is the only things that stands between you and your annihilation.

The cost of war (violence) is so enormously high, for both the victor and the loser, that it must NEVER be used unless the cost/benefit ratio warrants it. Our cavalier attitude toward war speaks mainly of the fact that our ability to evaluate the cost is broken. We think we can get off cheap, but we cannot.

If we the aims we seek can be achieved by some means other than armed conflict, we must attack that other means with all the resources we give to war. If we commit ourselves to a war because we see no other option, then we must go in for total victory and destruction. If we cannot stomach total war, then we must return to other means.

A half-war is nothing but a tar-baby. The President and the Congress need to remember that story.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

When I first commented over at Ship Of Fools years ago, I made a critical comment about another commenter, but addressed it to the whole group. Deep offense was taken. I sort of see that, and have gotten used to it over the years. I still think there are situations in which it might be proper to address the entire thread as a group rather than speak directly to another person, but I don't think they are many. On other sites I occasionally address the thread rather than the person, and I take that freedom on my own site a little more. But in general, Sam, it is somewhat insulting to talk about a person rather than to them. Some are bothered more than others, but I think everyone is bothered some.

Sam L. said...

terri, I do not know more about you than you wrote. That "read" was my inference, and only an inference. We sometimes see, or think we see, something in the words that the writer did not intend. It was a use of an old phrase that seemed applicable. Apparently not.

Take another cut at it, in simpler words so maybe this time I'll get it.

My apologies.