Monday, October 05, 2015


You will note that I have said little or nothing about what the US should do in the long stretch of territory from Bosnia to Pakistan.  This is because I have no idea what the hell we should do. I sense at some primitive level that Obama has erred enormously in giving away wars that we actually won at great cost in Iraq and Afghanistan.  But as to what he actually should do in a positive sense, or what we should absolutely avoid doing, I throw up my hands.

I fear that the only solutions will be the Asian ones, where one or more tribes is simply eliminated forever. It is perhaps easy to step back and say "We are not called to this.  The US or the UN is not the World Enforcer. Let it go, it is not our battle."  Intellectually, this is what I believe.  But there are real children, real fathers supporting families, real teachers... real fishermen and shopkeepers and farmers and barbers and midwives and breadbakers in all of this.

Sometimes we must embrace the evil that is least bad in foreign affairs.  Yet I cannot even say what that is. Save them all. Kill them all. Ignore them all.


james said...

Minor quibble--we didn't exactly win in Afghanistan. We went in and ripped the our adversaries a new one, but to win in any permanent sense would mean taking control at a much more fundamental level, and probably annihilating several tribes in the process. (I gather from the NYT story that we have a number of soldiers who have their own ideas about the Pashtuns--nominal allies) Otherwise they were going to revert to what they were before--including the factions antagonistic to us. Short term win, long term stalemate. Nation building isn't an option where there isn't the raw material for a nation.

Iraq had more hopeful options available, but Bremer killed some of those and Obama destroyed all the rest (OK, Iran had a hand in that too--just talking about what _we_ could have helped with.). Syria was a MYOB, but ∅ just had to go talking about red lines and nattering about how terrible the current government was, and trying to supply "friendly" rebels, as though any of the rebel groups could afford to appear friendly to the Great Satan.

And now, as you note, we don't have any good options anymore. Nobody trusts us (with good reason), and nobody much fears us either. The House of Saud can't hold on forever, and they're friendlier to the West than the people they rule. If they take possession of some of the nukes they've been paying for (Pakistan might be reluctant...), then who gets them when Saud goes away?

If Putin keeps harassing Turkey, they'll probably call on NATO for help. One obvious precondition for timely aid is to have the Turks block the migrant army. I wonder if that would help. Most aren't refugees, or even Syrian.

I've tried to think through how to solve some African problems : LRA, some famines, the Sierra Leonian civil war--and kept coming back to the problem that if the locals cooperate, the problems can be solved, but if they don't you have to go in and compel cooperation to solve them. Which opens up whole other cans of worms.

Sam L. said...

"...kept coming back to the problem that if the locals cooperate, the problems can be solved, but if they don't you have to go in and compel cooperation to solve them. Which opens up whole other cans of worms." I suspect that most of the people would have to be killed to get that compelled cooperation, and if you can't tell one from another, both/all have to go. I strongly believe we/us/the USofA are NOT going to do that. They will do the killing, and we may help the survivors. May. Possibly. No guarantees.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry about the ME, war is coming to the US decadents soon enough. They will see first hand, the consequences of thinking oversea wars have no effect on them.

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