War With ISIS?

I don’t want to spend posts casting opinions on politics and current events, but the ISIS quagmire can be my exception. There’s a lot of interesting angles.

Reasons to, as Trump put it, “Bomb the shit out of ISIS”, or to send troops back to Iraq? The simplest: ISIS is a black plague. There was the Stalin regime, the Nazis, Pol Pot, Suharto, and now ISIS. ISIS may have only massacred a few thousand, they aren’t yet a Pol Pot or Nazi regime, but it seems to be similar to what they’re after. (ISIS, on a Wikipedia genocide page.)

“Where’s her burqa? Death to the whole village!”


But what happens if we begin to escalate? We have advisers over there, we’re bombing them, and then — the same pattern took two million US troops into Vietnam. We dumped trillions into Iraq and Afghanistan. Are we willing to spend another trillion to lead an invasion against the caliphate? Are we able to handle another a large war?

We’ve been in a constant state of war since at least 1941. We’re an empire, and we’re always at war. Sure, policing the world. But every empire crumbles when it over exerts itself. It’s what collapsed the British Empire, the USSR, and the Romans. $18 trillion in debt, a pivot to the Pacific to focus on China – after 70 years of war and empire, are we going to spread ourselves too thin?

Say we do invade the caliphate and we win. We send 100,000 troops into Iraq and Syria and ISIS gets eaten by scorpions and Hellfires. At what point have we spread ourselves too thin? At what point does the empire begin to collapse? If we’re lucky, we have a slow draw-back similar to the British Empire. If we’re unlucky, we collapse like the USSR.

The world has never been so flat and interconnected. When we had our Great Recession, it rippled right around the globe because our economy is a massive driver of the world economy, and world politics, and world everything-else. If our empire collapses, the collapse is likely to drag much of the world with it.

I don’t know what the breaking-point of our Empire is, and I don’t think anybody can know. But every major military engagement we enter, we’re stepping ourselves closer to collapse.

Maybe it’s worth mentioning the lack of war enthusiasm of previous generations. The US didn’t want to get involved in WW1, and it took Pearl Harbor to get us into WW2. We watched our European allies get slaughtered and we still held out.

The longer ISIS is around, the more likely it is ISIS will blow up people here, in the US. But if we march back in, and spend a few trillion, and the empire can no longer sustain itself, then democracy and liberty suffer a major blow. The world’s bastion of democracy and liberty, a crumbling state.

Is the risk of terrorism and the black-plague that is ISIS, worth risking democracy and liberty? Or am I exaggerating the potential costs?

If we do send troops to butcher ISIS, how would it play out? Easy enough to push ISIS out of Iraq, and in Iraq we wouldn’t have to nation-build and put together a new government. Though we would probably have to pressure the Iraqi government to include more Sunnis. If we kill ISIS in Iraq, we would still have to deal with ISIS in Syria, which is a larger quagmire.

If we send troops into Syria, what is the risk of going to war against the Assad regime? We’ve been backing the Syrian rebels, and will continue to do so; I doubt Assad would clear the highways for our battalions. If we send troops into Syria, where we’re allied with the rebels, we’re essentially at war against Assad, who is backed by Russia. To send troops after ISIS in Syria would require a truce between Assad, Russia, the US, and the rebels. Maybe that’s a possibility. Or maybe we have to spend another trillion and a long decade, rebuilding and restructuring Syria after we remove Assad.

For now, I’m a fan of Obama’s “light-touch” policy. I don’t like Obama, and I think his whole foreign policy agenda is disingenuous, preaching restraint while pivoting our power to combat China…. Regardless, the next Republican President is likely to send troops to Syria (Yes, I’m already calling the 2016 election, though not out of any partisan-partiality). But for now, the bombing-runs, I would think, are our best bet. France and Russia are pretty pissed at ISIS, and England’s about to join the fray, so maybe UAV’s and Hellfires are the way for the US to go.