Greenwald is shocked but not surprised at how the notions that ISIS is a grave national security threat and “of course we’re going to war with them” have both become conventional wisdom:
If the goal of terrorist groups is to sow irrational terror, has anything since the 9/11 attack been more successful than those two journalist beheading videos? It’s almost certainly the case that as recently as six months ago, only a minute percentage of the American public (and probably the U.S. media) had even heard of ISIS. Now, two brutal beheadings later, they are convinced that they are lurking in their neighborhoods, that they are a Grave and Unprecedented Threat (worse than al Qaeda!), and that military action against them is needed. It’s as though ISIS and the U.S. media and political class worked in perfect unison to achieve the same goal here when it comes to American public opinion: fully terrorize them.
Larison fumes over the war’s rapidly expanding objectives:
It hasn’t taken very long for last month’s “limited” intervention in Iraq to expand far beyond anything that the administration originally described to the public.
Administration officials were denying that they planned for a “sustained” campaign just a few weeks ago, and now they’re saying the opposite. Obama said that he wouldn’t “allow” the U.S. to be dragged into a new war, and he is now setting out to take the U.S. into that war. What we’re seeing now is not so much mission creep as mission gallop, and it all seems to be happening without any serious consideration of the costs or the potential dangers of such an expansive campaign.
Even if the U.S. does not eventually commit large numbers of ground troops to this campaign, the U.S. will be at war in two countries where it does not need to be fighting. This is every bit as much a war of choice as the earlier wars in Iraq and Libya, and it hasn’t been thought through any better than those were.
Christopher Dickey thinks the ISIS threat is being overhyped, though he worries about lone ISIS-inspired nut-jobs like Mehdi Nemmouche, who killed four people in an attack on a Jewish museum in Brussels in May:
Veteran terrorism expert Brian Jenkins notes the alarmism in Washington has reached such proportions, there’s a kind of “shock and awe in reverse.” Thus, as Jenkins writes, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel proclaims ISIS is an “imminent threat to every interest we have.” A congressional staffer argues that it is “highly probable ISIS will…obtain nuclear, chemical, biological or other weapons of mass death…to use in attacks against New York [or] Washington.” Texas Governor Rick Perry claims there is a “very real possibility” that ISIS forces may have crossed the U.S.-Mexican border. Senator James Inhofe asserted, “We are in the most dangerous position we’ve ever been in as a nation,” and retired Marine four-star Gen. John Allen goes so far as to say, “World War III is at hand.”
All this plays to the advantage of the self-proclaimed Caliph Ibrahim, formerly known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, whose ragtag army conquered a huge swathe of Iraq mainly by filling the vacuum left by incompetent Iraqi government military commanders. The conquest—and the reaction to it—have given him an aura of invincibility that holy-warrior wannabes find quite thrilling.
I actually hadn’t absorbed the sheer hysteria in Washington after the beheadings-bait. It’s truly shocking – and utterly insane. My earlier thoughts here.