Friday, July 15, 2016

Calling the right's bluff on ISIS

I've done a number of posts that criticize liberals for their peculiar inability to talk clearly and convincingly about Islamic terrorism (See this, thisthis, this). Sometimes liberals leave the impression that those of us who are alarmed by Islamic terrorism are simply Islamophobes, that we're exaggerating the threat, that most Moslems are peaceable, etc. Yes, of course most Muslims aren't terrorists, but that doesn't help us deal with the significant minority that are.

I've been asked before what I think should be done, but I really don't have more to suggest than what President Obama is already doing, including his drone strikes.

But the least we should do is stop with the liberal/progressive denial about calling it by its correct name and pretending that somehow all will be made right by our good liberal multicultural intentions.

On the other hand, the right-wing goes to the opposite rhetorical extremes, which Kevin Drum calls out today:

All of these folks are fundamentally pissed off about our "seriousness" in going after ISIS—although I don't think ISIS has yet been connected to the Nice attack. But put that aside.

Whenever I read stuff like this, I have one question: What do you think we should do? If you really want to destroy ISIS, and do it quickly, there's only one alternative: ground troops and plenty of them. This would be a massive counterinsurgency operation, something we've proven to be bad at, and at a guess would require at least 100,000 troops. Maybe more. And they'd have to be staged in unfriendly territory: Syria, which obviously doesn't want us there, and Iraq, which also doesn't want us there in substantial numbers.

Is that what these folks want? Anything less is, to use their words, unserious. But if they do want a massive ground operation, and simply aren't willing to say so because they're afraid the public would rebel, then they're just as cowardly as the people they're attacking.

This is the choice. Don't bamboozle me with no-fly zones and tougher rules of engagement and better border security. That's small beer. You either support Obama's current operation, more or less, or else you want a huge and costly ground operation. There's really no middle ground. So which is it?

Rob's comment:
Nor do conservatives have better domestic proposals to fight terrorist acts by people already in the country. Presumably the FBI is trying to identify those people, but the task is difficult to impossible before such "lone wolf" attacks happen.

The unpleasant reality is that this brand of terrorism will be with us for the foreseeable future: "The battle will go on for the rest of our lives."

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