The mushrooming hysteria in the United States for a new pre-emptive war against the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (despite the calamitous dress rehearsal in Libya) proves the time-honored insight of Reichsmarshall Herman Goering: “Naturally, the common people don’t want war but, after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag people along. Whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a parliament or a Communist dictatorship, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to do the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce pacifists for a lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.”
From President Obama on the left to Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham on the right, we are absurdly told that ISIS is a clear and present danger to Americans at home, including the installation of a caliphate to cram sharia law down our throats. Any high school student who made such an hallucinogenic assertion would receive a flunking grade. ISIS’ military capability is at most an ink blot compared to the United States.
We have approximately 300 deployable battlefield ships — including aircraft carriers and submarines capable of launching ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads, complemented by 3,700 naval aircraft. ISIS has none. The U.S. Air Force can field approximately 6,000 aircraft with a capability of dropping nuclear bombs. ISIS has no aircraft. The United States possesses approximately 4,800 nuclear warheads. ISIS has none. The number of military personnel in the U.S. armed forces approximates 1.4 million. ISIS adherents approximate 15,000, although the number is soft. There is no agreed understanding of the earmarks of an ISIS member. The United States sports 450 active ballistic missiles. ISIS has none. The annual budget for the U.S. Department of Defense approximates $640 billion. ISIS’ annual revenues approximate $2 billion. The U.S. population approximates 320 million. The number of persons under ISIS control approximates 2.8 million. The United States occupies 3,717, 813 square miles. ISIS controls 13,000 square miles. The United States has been engaged in perpetual global warfare since 9/11, or 13 years. ISIS is 3 years old.
In sum, anyone who believes ISIS is a non-trivial threat to ordinary Americans at home, at work, or at play would be frightened of their shadows. Indeed, if the danger ISIS presents to the sovereignty and people of the United States satisfies a threshold to justify war, then we should not tarry in attacking Russia, China, North Korea, Pakistan, Iran, Cuba, the Mexican drug cartels, or otherwise. Moreover, even if we destroyed ISIS, the dynamics behind its creation would remain to create a new variety, just as ISIS has eclipsed Al Qaeda: namely, utterly dysfunctional and tyrannical Arab governments ruling over artificial nations whose boundaries were drawn by a handful of donnish European diplomats a century ago with ulterior motives.
It would be lunacy for the United States to become involved in seeking to rectify such stupendous folly — like spending trillions of dollars and employing millions of men and women in constructing a perpetual motion machine.
The United States was born in 1776, when the world brimmed with tyranny and empires. Our republican form of government grew and strengthened despite them. In other words, it is nonsense on stilts to argue that liberty and democracy in the United States are endangered if foreign nations or organizations feature tyranny or oppression. Genocides in Cambodia or Rwanda did not disturb liberty in the United States.
Our policy toward ISIS should be the same as we displayed toward the madness of the Chinese Cultural Revolution and Stalin’s Terror: Deplore the violence, refrain from military intervention abroad, and remain vigilant and prepared at home to defeat any actual or imminent attack.
The contrary policy of Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, “bomb them back into the Stone Age,” echoes Gen. Curtis LeMay’s policy in Vietnam, “bomb the North Vietnamese Communists back to the Stone Age.” Can’t we do better than the French Bourbons, who forgot nothing and learned nothing?