by Dish Staff
Matt Steinglass sighs at the aimless hawkishness of American foreign policy elites when it comes to the Middle East:
William Kristol, as ever, manages to distill the rot down to its ludicrous essence: “What’s the harm of bombing them at least for a few weeks and seeing what happens? I don’t think there’s much in the way of unanticipated side effects that are going to be bad there. We could kill a lot of very bad guys!” No doubt the Americans could. Drop enough bombs and you are guaranteed to kill some very bad guys, and probably some good guys, as well as a lot of guys who, like most, fit somewhere in between. But simply bombing areas when the emerging powers prove bloodthirsty, and hoping that a better sort of power replaces them, isn’t very promising.
Conor Friedersdorf outlines the many questions interventionists aren’t bothering to ask, let alone answer:
After the decade-long, $6-trillion debacle in Iraq, you’d think Congress and pundits would be pressing the Obama administration for figures:
If the U.S. fights ISIS in Iraq and Syria, what would be the odds of victory? How much would it cost? How many U.S. troops would be killed? How would it effect nearby countries like Iran? And how much of a threat does ISIS actually pose to the U.S. “homeland”? Yet much coverage of Syria is narrowly drawn. Vital questions are studiously ignored, as if they have no bearing on the merits of intervention, while dire warnings are presented with too much hype and too little rigor.
And Steve Chapman remarks on how ISIS’s global threat is, in his view, being wildly oversold:
We are supposed to be impressed that the Islamic State controls a swath of land, which al-Qaida never did. But Ohio State University political scientist John Mueller says that’s not the advantage it appears to be. “The fact that they want to hold territory and are likely to deeply alienate the people in their territory means that, unlike terrorists, they will present lucrative targets while surrounded by people who are more than willing to help with intelligence about their whereabouts,” he told me. It’s often forgotten that al-Qaida proclaimed its own state in Iraq in 2007, but its brutal ways alienated fellow Sunni insurgent groups so completely that they switched to our side. The Islamic State is equally vulnerable to a backlash. As for the prospect that it could hit the homeland, our usual problem in deterring terrorists is that their bombs have no return address. The Islamic State, by contrast, is adorned with a neon bull’s-eye.