Douthat identifies a few:

To the extent that these strikes have a limited military objective that either connects directly to the Iraqi front (by denying the Islamic State a secure rear) or targets groups plotting more actively against the United States, they trouble me much less than a more open-ended strategy in which we seek to conjure up a reliable ally (“you know, whatever the Free Syrian Army ever was,” to quote a U.S. official in Filkins’ piece) to be our well-armed boots on the Syrian ground.

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Oy vey:

[O'Reilly] knows advocating for American troops to take up the fight themselves is extremely unpopular. O’Reilly, problem solver that he is, has a solution: “elite fighters who would be well paid, well trained to defeat terrorists all over the world.” Since that worked so well in Iraq last time around. What we need is more Blackwater. In the O’Reilly fantasy, the 25,000-person force would be English-speaking, “recruited by the USA and trained in America by our special operations troops,” and dubbed “the Anti-Terror Army,” because the Avengers is already taken.

Allahpundit dismantles O’Reilly’s pipe dream:

The flaw is that there’s no obvious next step if the mercenaries succeed in routing ISIS from Raqqa and eastern Syria. Who takes over and rules that half of the country if that happens? Assad? He’ll butcher the Sunni civilians there and the Sunnis know it. A new sectarian rebellion against the regime would spring up overnight. Some sort of multinational Sunni force of Saudi, Turkish, and Jordanian troops? Iran will never let the Saudis have that kind of foothold, and besides, none of those countries want the headache of pacifying radicalized Sunni Syrian civilians. NATO doesn’t want it either, of course; an army of western peacekeepers would be even more culturally estranged from Syrian Arabs than a multinational Sunni force would.

The theoretical virtue of Obama’s “arm the Syrian moderates” plan is that if the moderates were to defeat ISIS, they’d be comparatively well positioned to take over as rulers of eastern Syria. They’re natives and they’re Sunnis; they’re probably acceptable to the locals. But of course, the moderates aren’t going to defeat ISIS, which puts us back at square one.

(Image via Barbara Morrill)

Face Of The Day

Sep 23 2014 @ 7:20pm

John Key Photo Opportunity With Maori Party & Act Party

Newly elected New Zealand Prime Minister John Key greets Mori Party Co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell at The Beehive in Wellington, New Zealand on September 23, 2014. On Saturday evening, the National Party leader was re-elected after defeating Labour opposition leader David Cunliffe. By Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images.

Choosing “Yes”

Sep 23 2014 @ 6:41pm

Freddie responds to Vanessa Grigoriadis’s piece on campus rape:

I think that it’s a mistake to create different standards of consent for college students. The potential unforeseen consequences scare me, and besides, a central aspect of the fight against sexual assault is to insist that rape is rape. I think it sends a retrograde message to suggest that there is a different standard that is applied only to college students. I would argue that a clear takeaway from the New York piece is that the establishment of this entire separate legal system for campus sexual assaults, while undertaken with good intentions, has added a layer of complexity and lack of accountability that has backfired badly. …

I feel strongly that explicit consent laws actually undercut the absolute ownership by the individual over her or his own sexual practice.

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Scaring Up Some Votes

Sep 23 2014 @ 6:15pm

The Republicans are already using ISIS as a wedge issue:

Sargent passes along a new Scott Brown ad that also hypes the ISIS threat:

It’s true that the President’s approval on terrorism has plummeted and the GOP now holds a huge advantage on foreign policy. Republican strategists have been pretty explicit in explaining that they see this as a way to exploit a general public sense that things have gone off the rails, and polls do show high wrong-track numbers and rising worry about terrorism. If things go wrong, which is certainly possible, this could well redound to the benefit of Republican candidates.

But for now, it’s hard to imagine that arguments such as Brown’s above are going to cut it. After all, if GOP candidates are really going to paint the U.S. response to ISIS as insufficiently realistic about the nature of the threat, then that should theoretically open them up to thequestion of whether they support sending in ground troops. You’d think that if the criticism continues now that operations are underway, it would be harder for them to duck that basic follow-up.

Waldman agrees that ISIS fear-mongering is unlikely to work:

Read On

The View From Your Window

Sep 23 2014 @ 5:45pm


Herzlyya, Israel, 12 pm

Mohammed Alaa Ghanem, writing in Politico, wants the US to target Assad, not just ISIS:

Assad’s record presents clear evidence: If his regime somehow survives the current conflict, ISIL will mysteriously regenerate itself while Assad approvingly observes. Unless the United States wants to be striking ISIL in Syria yet again in another five to 10 years, America should hit Assad now.

Larison pulls his hair out:

Attacking Syrian regime forces would drag the U.S. into a much larger, riskier, and more ambitious campaign that could have very dangerous consequences for U.S. pilots and could create yet another crisis in U.S.-Russian relations. The war against ISIS already promises to be long and desultory, and a war against the Syrian regime would make everything harder, raise the costs of the ongoing campaign, and risk the possibility of regime collapse and the even greater chaos that would consume the country as a result. The war against ISIS is a serious mistake, but fighting both the regime and ISIS at the same time would be a disaster.

Quote For The Day

Sep 23 2014 @ 4:45pm

Syrians fleeing the war in their country wait to cross into Turkey

“We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth: We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations — acting individually or in concert — will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.

I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King Jr. said in this same ceremony years ago: “Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones.” As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King’s life work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there’s nothing weak — nothing passive — nothing naïve — in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.

But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism — it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason,” – Barack Obama, accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, December 10, 2009.

(Photo: : Syrians fleeing from clashes between the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) militants and Democratic Union Party (PYD) forces in the Ar-Raqqah Governorate of Syria, wait at the Turkish-Syrian border to cross into Turkey on September 19, 2014 in Suruc district of Sanliurfa province of Turkey. By Orhan Cicek/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.)

Mental Health Break

Sep 23 2014 @ 4:20pm

A colorful abstraction of what we look like from the inside:

A reader writes:

In your coverage of the Montana couple denied communion, the age of the priest (27) is important to note. My husband and I (then in our late 20s and very devout) left the Church in 2006 when our retired priest was replaced by a young (and very conservative) one. Pope Benedict had just been elected, and a new (and also relatively young) bishop was appointed to our Diocese making conservative issues his priority. For years we had “hidden” in our little liberal church where we worked to end the death penalty and served in homeless shelters. When a priest would make the national news for denying communion or protesting an abortion clinic, we’d shake our heads and be thankful – that Church was not our Church. But all that came into question when our new priest arrived and the progressive values of our congregation started to wane.

As with their actions against the Nuns on the Bus, American bishops have been dismantling little liberal congregations like mine – and their best weapons are young, conservative priests.

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