Iraqional exuberance

Well, my recent return to Twitterdom is already sparking new screeds.  Liz Sly of the Washington Post recently tweeted from the Middle East in essence that there is no one there that isn’t scared to death, totally confused, and utterly depressed.

I don’t want to appear glib or flip here, by this title.  This is a deadly serious matter. ISIS is a threat to the civilized world.

The entire Fertile Crescent is under attack. I think we should allow the Sunni and Shia to sort out their thousand year old (or more) feud themselves but keep ISIS/ISIL from metastasizing. The world has to coalesce to extinguish this incubus in its crib. These are brutal barbarians, a well armed gang little different from those that maraud through Sub-Saharan Africa.  Just their treatment of women alone should be a wake-up call to every decent human being on this planet, and certainly this country. Tell me what kind of men advocate re-instituting female genital mutilation?

Let’s also stop elevating them to their self-aggrandizing “State” status. They are just a prowling troop of ruthless murderers, a far cry from any kind of organized governing body of a people. Why does the media continually adopt the language of offenders?

My purpose here is always to voice a personal point of view that is based on a number of factors, but primarily a behavioral or social scientist’s perspective as well as my own opinion. This topic is so big and I have been mulling over Iraq and the region for so long (over a decade) that I could probably write a tome or a post that would exceed the patience of any of you, here.  And I know that in some ways, there is no need for me to say anything, as the situation will be whatever it is, without my help.  But I do want to express these thoughts because I am a Progressive and this is just one more issue that cannot be boiled down to red or blue.  It defies being simplified along those lines. So I will just share a few of my conclusions, for what they may be worth and if for nothing else to dispel the notion that people like me are just outright pacifists.

While I understood the reason for the first Gulf war, I could still argue that there were probably other avenues open to us to address Iraqi aggression at that time. The second incursion, our invasion of a sovereign country, was a completely different matter. That was the largely the mercenary and miscreant brainchild of the Neocons and it has turned out to be a complete fiasco, to put it charitably.

When I vote, by the way, I don’t just go by party.  I study the individuals involved, their backgrounds, training, IQ, philosophy, ideology and business ties as well as to whom they are beholden.  In the 2000 election I did not want Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of Economics or Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith, Jean Kirkpatrick, David Frum and Bill Crystal running this country.  In my opinion, that analysis was totally justified by the squandered trillions on a feckless and catastrophic war, and a broken economy that can also be laid at the door of runaway Wall Street hoodlums. The entire thing collapsed on them in 2008.  It was a pyrrhic victory for the rest of us, though, because we ordinary citizens bore the brunt of these failed practices while the Dow has almost tripled, so the perpetrators walked away unscathed and are at it again. I have read that they have added bundled rental securities, based on the thousands of foreclosed properties they scooped up (these guys win either way), to their credit default swaps strategy. As a Keynsian, the ignorance of anyone who swallowed trickle-down theory (it has never succeeded in practice anywhere) is appalling.  Here we are in stagnation for the the ordinary American, and now the same voting public is about to put control back in the hands of the people that tanked the economy.  What can be the matter with America?

That same avaricious group of amateurs pulled the pins out of the Middle East and look at what we have today as a result.  They have the temerity to blame it on the current administration. I really don’t want to hear another word out of them. They have zero credibility.

It would be so easy to fall back on merely storming and bombing our way out of this crisis right now.  But it would be another disastrous error and the problem, which has been seething for the past 100 years years since the British foolishly tried to re-design the map in that area, would just worsen exponentially.

In his book The World is Flat, Thomas Friedman offered valuable insights on this subject. Friedman said the confluence of young, frustrated, disaffected Muslim men in the Middle East, subscribing to a selective sharia version of the Koran, absent gainful employment and with instant access to social media, where they can now see the prosperity the Western world enjoys (they think, at their expense) has sparked a groundswell of irrational enthusiasm for violence and anarchy.  Just as teenagers in this country love to play graphic bloody video games, listen to gangland music, and are supporting an entire industry of death-cult books and films, these men in the Middle East are drawn by blood-thirst to jihad.  Having our boots re-enter or entire villages blown to smithereens by daisy cutters will only feed that beast and support the lies they are being fed by their radical leaders.

Before I forget to mention it.  I have read dozens of books and articles on the 2003 Iraq war and about the way in which we bulldozed over that region in a simplistic, almost eighth grade superficial underestimation of the complex dynamics of the factions coexisting there. There were probably only a handful of Americans who really understood the Shia/Sunni feud, the cultures of the Middle East and how Beduoin Arabs differ from Persians, and Ottoman Turks. Yet we sent in contractors to occupy the Green Zone like Paul Bremer and his team of high schoolers to make decisions as to how the country would be (mis)managed, once shock and awe subsided.  There isn’t much point in going into it now, the horse is out of the barn and the barn destroyed, but I continually asked at that time in one place or another, why didn’t they hire some social scientists who were experts in the region as advisers? There are anthropologists and social psychologists who specialize in the area and who could have helped avert some needless errors.  I still shake my head in disgust when I think about how incompetently the post-military logistics were carried out.

But, let’s put that aside for the moment, because we have the current situation to deal with and now it will require a much more comprehensive and cerebral plan, and execution that will likely entail global hands-on involvement added to micro-tuning as we go along.

Here are my suggestions based on what I see happening, what I know of the area from my own studies, and what some people far closer to the issue have advised. There is a chorus of voices clamoring to have their ideas put into action, so I will just tell you what I would recommend, hubris aside, if the President’s team cornered me at the local Ben & Jerry’s and asked my advice.

US Navy Seals

1. Continue and increase funding the peshmerga in Kurdistan substantially and help stand that territory up as an independent country.  Put a sizable embassy and base there and shrink that albatross in Baghdad or sell it to Xe Corp. Keep funneling humanitarian aid to the peoples of Iraq who are being terrorized by ISIS.

2. Pressure Turkey into using whatever part of their 650K-man trained armed forces to take this fight on the ground to the ISIS recruiting centers.  Right now, in Mosul, the second most important city in Iraq, the Turkish embassy and its personnel are being held hostage by ISIS. It seems to me Turkey has a huge dog in this fight.  Get them moving on this, now.

3. Continue the drone strikes on ISIS columns and find a way, through intermediaries like Iran to penetrate Syria and obliterate their training centers. Taking out Mr. Baghdadi may not solve this problem, but it sure wouldn’t hurt! And it would in part avenge the deaths of James Foley and Steven Sotloff, at least in the minds of most Americans.  Maybe this is the place to consider involvement of a small elite group of our Special Forces.

4. Force Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAR and Jordan to get involved.  As people have been saying all along, we beefed up the Saudis’ defense systems, let’s call in that chit right now.  If not now, then when? What was it for?

5. Bring in those who typically hang back, as in: China, with relatively full coffers. Russia (some suspect Chechen fighters trained ISIS, what role does Putin have then — is he backing Syria or them?)? Japan. Are they involved at least in economic terms any more?  No question, like G. H. W. Bush did in the first Iraq war, Obama is putting together a strong coalition. Well and good, but if it doesn’t include these people, then I think we are leaving assets on the table.  How about South Africa? Bring them all in to own this problem. What about Israel? They should by now be the world’s experts in dealing with and crushing Islamist gangsters — are we picking the brains of their advisers? How about Mexico? I assume they are or should be part of the team going forward.

We also need help from the region in cutting off the flow of supplies to ISIS, shutting down their support network.

6. ISIS uses the Internet to put out their evil propaganda, let’s turn it around on them. Create a series of videos aimed at those new Islamist recruits as well as the ISIS leadership.  Have US military personnel, special forces, Marines, Seals, someone knows who the best choices would be, telling these people, head on, what they would individually do if they were to encounter them on any turf.  I am sure the guys who have already been in that region fighting, would know exactly how to strike terror in the minds of anyone contemplating joining up with those thugs, but especially Americans and Europeans who are secretly planning to add to their murderous ranks.  ISIS uses videos to terrorize, let the people who know what it is like to fight them, give it right back to them.  Get right in their face, on their screens, and communicate with them in a language they can understand.

The administration plans to “degrade and destroy” ISIS in a multi-year campaign.  We cannot do it with our usual troops on the ground because the US is now perceived as being toxic in that region. We need a longer term policy that will help us help those people put the Levant back together.

Tonight, the President is going to lay out his plan.  How can anyone believe he didn’t have a strategy? They apparently haven’t studied this man or his accomplishments to date (as well as failures, he hasn’t been perfect). But I don’t want him to disclose too much of the plan or its details, to forearm the enemy. Barak Obama, using our elite Special Forces, got Bin Laden, along with another dozen or so high profile Al Qaeda leaders in half a dozen places and just last week,  the head of Al Shabaab in Somalia.

Tomorrow is the anniversary of 9/11.  I didn’t worry about Sadam Hussein attacking New York, but I am concerned that these Boka-Haram-wannabes will.

Congress needs to act.  Their Constitutional duty is to advise and consent.  This long term military campaign and regional coalition must be brought to a vote and they need to get behind the policy that they as representatives of the American people ultimately devise. They need to back the President.  Remember “if you’re not with us, then you’re against us”? If any member of Congress just plans to punt and be a flame-thrower to attack Obama, then isn’t that, in the words of a former great leader, “giving aid and comfort to the enemy”? Let’s help the President get these butchers in the same, methodical, relentless and surgical way he went after the other terrorists eliminated on his watch.

Let’s put politics to work in that region and leave it aside at home.

Images: BBC.com, TheTimes.Co.UK

paw2014-s

 

20 Comments on “Iraqional exuberance

  1. Beth, thank you for this comprehensive and thoughtful overview of the Middle East situation. I appreciate your perspective as a psychological/behavioural expert. Another frightening thing is the stronghold that Muslims are building in various parts of the world – UK and Canada, for example. Most are probably decent peaceful people of faith, but some are extremists and it’s only a matter of time before more attacks ‘from within’ escalate. I agree, all countries that do not agree with ISIS and other extremist groups’ stance should step up and participate in doing the right thing.

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    • Thank you Vera. That is the core of my concern. I think these “cells” are already here. I know they are in Britain and France. A Swedish colleague told me that one out of every ten people in Sweden now is from the Middle East, which would be fine in itself except she said the crime is up dramatically, due to women being killed in so-called “honour killings”. I don’t want to be a dooms-day sayer, but this has to be of concern. Apparently, it is hard to leave one’s cultural proclivities behind, even living elsewhere and enjoying a safe and prosperous and congenial environment like that in Scandinavia, for example. Let alone what it is like here in the US, a much tougher lift for newcomers. Sigh!!

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  2. This is all so far above my pay grade I couldn’t even pretend to offer any insight. You didn’t mention the mishandling of the USS Cole or the blundered mess in the Benghazi attack. My perspective is limited to the ones who are called upon kick in the door or to follow idiotic ROE designed by statesman who have never placed their neck on the chopping block of battle and rubber stamped by generals too long in the Pentagon. Whatever response we deliver, and it better be swift and lethal, needs to be done with a coalition. Countries with a dog in the fight like you mention. And then get our specialized warriors out! Marines and other special forces are not policeman nor peacekeepers.

    I’m not sure we can ever expect to see the same values we hold dear in Western society come to fruition in Middle East cultures. My friends who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, some serving multiple tours, note slight progress but not enough to instill confidence that those societies will ever be stable. Why are the cries of injustice so muffled from the people who are affected the most? Where is the outcry from the Saudi’s or Egypt? Or even god forbid, Iran! Does Jordan care about the slaughter of innocents in neighboring Syria?

    I fear terrorist cells in the US as well and I wonder how we will ever deal with them without profiling. Tough things for sure.

    As a side note, West Valley City here in the valley has the most diverse racial mix in the state and the police force was recently criticized for not have the same percentage mix represented in their officers. The chief’s response was insightful and one that no one seemed brave enough to express in Ferguson MO. He said that he wanted to hire more Latino’s, Blacks and Pacific Islanders and Native Americans but few apply and few make the effort to become qualified. There is never an excuse for racial bias or bigotry but it also bothers me when critics are so quick to throw blame at the lack of racial balance in hiring. The activists had no response. The good thing is that everyone is working to come together to encourage and train a number of high school students in seeking careers in public service and further their education. I hope it succeeds.

    Hey, I actually read Thomas Friedman’s book in between issues of Car and Driver and Guns and Ammo 🙂 Thanks Beth, my brain has lost another couple hours of life processing your post.

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    • Thank you soooo much, Rick for this detailed and excellent response. I am in the middle of a time sensitive project so I am going to say just a couple of quick words first and then come back and unpack my thoughts on each of your points. I agree and disagree, naturally.

      But on Benghazi: we need to look to the defunding of the State Department, for one thing. Who did that? It was a Consulate, not an Embassy. There is a huge difference. Stevens (sp?) went there himself against warnings from his superiors at State, it was his call and it was a misjudgment that was understandable because we didn’t have enough Intell (CIA’s fault) to know what was coming. This Benghazi incident, costing just four lives (valuable ones, every life is precious) was researched again and again and the fault was not Mrs. Clinton’s. We all need to read more broadly and get away from the hype. I try to do that too, I want the facts, not opinion and prejudice. That Benghazi attack was likely unavoidable. I personally don’t think we should have been in Libya in the first place – we had far bigger fish to fry.

      As for arm chair wussies sending brave men and women off to die, that is what Colin Powell said. You can thank Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and George Bush, none of whom saw combat even one day in their lives, for costing us trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives, much less those of Iraqis.

      I will be back with my take on your other points because I agree with them, essentially, but have a slightly different take on the racial bias issue.

      I love that you take the time to address these things — important to me, anyway, and I want to be challenged, believe me. Just got to do more work on this pesky project right now :-D.

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      • OK, so I can take a longer break now and clear my brain to discuss these issues.

        I think there have been attacks that were the result of us being taken by surprise. I am not an expert in the pre-USS Cole intelligence environment but I think we can all agree that pre-9/11, few if any people even in the CIA/FBI could have predicted the ability of Bin Laden’s group to penetrate the air space of the United States and attack those buildings. I think the Cole attack was a complete surprise, maybe I am wrong? Why would Clinton demur, he was quite hawkish in the Balkans and Somalia (the first a success, the second a tragic failure). He also tried to take out Bin Laden. We need to remember that, to be fair.

        When you mention the USS Cole, I think back to our barracks in Lebanon on Reagan’s watch. Why did Reagan’s administration not forsee that attack in progress? And more importantly, what did Reagan do about it? He withdrew! There was no reprisal at all, if I remember correctly. Yet, I don’t know a single Conservative who refers to that.

        So, I am willing to give pre-9/11 administrations an equal pass on not knowing what the severity of the threat that was coming was likely to be.

        But, while we are on the topic of 9/11, the Bush administration definitely had warnings about Bin Laden “determined to attack in the US”. I read extensively on the run up to that horrible event and Bush, his CIA Director George Tenet, Condoleeza Rice — none of them took FBI warnings they were given seriously. They dismissed the advice of the outgoing Clinton administration, in my view, not only out of arrogance and ignorance, clearly, but also partisan spite. How many people died as a result? Not 4, thousands. Were there lives any less valuable?

        When I look back at the post Civil War administrations, I see a series of Democratic Presidents who, whatever we think about their strengths in other areas, were quite willing to go to war. Wilson, FDR, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton, all had no problem pulling the trigger. Yet people like Dick Cheney level charges that Democrats are weak. Why don’t Americans decide for themselves. Every one of those Democratic Presidents took decisive military action. I may not have liked it, but I certainly can’t accuse them of being cowards. And both Kennedy and Carter were war heroes.

        I understand your point of view. I don’t like seeing our young men and women sticking their necks out for Halliburton and Bechtel. Those wars were done for money. Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush lied us into that War in Iraq. Shouldn’t that bother us?

        Obama, for good or bad, was elected to get us out of there. Let’s give him credit for that. I give Bush, Ford, Bush Sr., Eisenhower credit for many things. I try to view them objectively. I am sorry to say, Reagan is a different matter that I will not bore you with outlining. I think Reagan did a lot of harm and the last 30 years this country, especially the middle class, have been reeling as a result.

        Rick, I am no expert. I just use my own brain, reasoning, powers of observation and analysis and I don’t let questionable talking heads tell me how to think and see the world. So, all I am reporting here is the result of my own concern and thinking. If I prove to be wrong, believe me, I will be the first to admit it, because I don’t care where an idea comes from, I jump on great and sound and effective ideas.

        As for this difference between left and right (and I hate that dichotomy because I don’t put myself in one category across the board, in some ways I believe I am far more conservative than most Republicans I know), I think we all want the same things: a peaceful, happy, relatively free, secure, and safe life, so we can express our talents and enjoy the pleasures that are available to us on this planet. When we cannot have those things, we blame others (and ourselves, I hope). The thing is, you and I probably blame different people.

        I am going to save my racial issue response for later. I just wanted to address your Middle East comments — which I fully understand and have heard from other conservatives. I just wonder how we can see this thing (apart from the fact that we agree that ISIS has to be stopped and that we don’t want to see America suffering over there, and that that culture is hard to deal with without as you say, profiling, here) so differently. Is it the newspapers we are reading? The radio or TV shows we are watching? Where we grew up? Our parents (mine are split, one progressive, one conservative)? Our educations? I don’t know. I really want to understand, so feel free, if you care to, to tell me what you think about my responses. ❤

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        • I really don’t think we are so opposed in our thinking Beth. Admittedly my thought process as a man, a Marine and my personality has usually been to smash someones teeth out and then see if a dentist is available to do repairs if that was an overreaction. But I’m softening in my advancing years and I recognize diplomacy in State and in personal lives is a positive thing. Then call in the Marines.

          I’m not a political science major so my opinions don’t have the same professional backing as someone else better read and experienced in such things, they simply come from my gut.

          I think Clinton matured through his presidency and though I view his moral lapse as pathetic his intelligence should never be questioned and seems quite sincere now as a husband and father and former leader. I feel like it brought into question his honesty in all other areas of his life and what kind of an example did that set for all Americans looking to their CinC for direction and trust? What is the meaning of “is”, seriously? I take no issue with his humanitarian side and I think he has blossomed in that area. The military did not view him as their friend.

          Someone else who has matured in his public service is John Kerry. Many veterans are still burned by his tossing of his medals after Vietnam. Does he love his country? Of course he does! I wish he would have thought that event through a little more is all.

          Obama is a fine man. He has my respect and admiration. He appears to adore his daughters and wife. He has been sensible in so many ways and I appreciate that. I completely disagree with his open support of gay marriage because I can’t separate my moral compass from my politics. Civil unions have my support because rights should be provided to all individuals for taxes, medical issues and other things, but marriage should be kept traditional and not violated. I think as President he has the responsibility to bring all parties to the table and be a voice of unity and I’m not satisfied he’s tried hard enough. It seems like the popular thing is to hold Republican politicians in disdain but honestly we need to look at all politicians with scrutiny. I cannot vote straight party in any election, local or national.

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          • Well, if only all progressives and conservatives were like (all of) us (here, including Vera, Cole, Marey and Susan), then, because we don’t disagree too much on this.

            I have always admired Bill Clinton’s brain. I think he is one of the brainiest people on the planet. What I am furious at him for was wasting our time with his lack of self-discipline. I guess for someone like him, keeping his libido in check for even four years was a formidable challenge. And, he failed it. But, the opposition seized on it and beat us to death with it needlessly. The entire second half of his time in office was compromised by their opportunism (and granted, he handed them his one weakness, no question). I especially despise Newt Gingrich, a phony. I hate phonies. At least Clinton was big enough to acknowledge his mistakes. Frankly, I fault him for those disastrous NAFTA type centrist agreements that have undercut job creation here. That was his biggest failure. As an attorney, within the environment of a court, parsing “is” was not out of order. I have sat through a number of legal proceedings and in that context, discussions of the fine points of terms is very typical. It didn’t play well with the public, agreed, but it was not the absurdity that some made it out to be.

            I like honest brokers. I don’t feel many of the far right wingers have been honest when they manipulate situations to win. They should want what is best for the country and not view their offices as a stepping stone to lucrative lobbying or private equity jobs. That is anti-founding Fathers in my estimation and we should make a Constitutional amendment to stop it, along with all the outside money, like the Kochs or any liberal groups, buying our elections. That is corruption — those are the things we should all agree must go, along with collusion between Wall Street, too-big-to-be-our-Banks, and Congress.

            Funny, I am not a Kerry fan. He was a war hero and so I don’t care what he did with his protest over Vietnam. I hated that war as much as I hated the second Iraq war, so I am not offended by those who protested it. I am outraged that the men who were drafted or volunteered for that war were persecuted. Shameful! Protest the policy, not the people who carried it out under orders, as they served and thought they were protecting us.

            I don’t have much to object to in Obama. I think he has been the butt of naked bigotry. McConnell, who I really can’t stand on every level, made it his business to thwart the Obama administration at almost every turn and he had plenty of help, so I can hardly expect the President to do much more than he has done. I don’t know how his wife and children can stand the way all of them are being treated.

            I used to have the same position you do on gay marriage. Now, I just don’t care. Call it whatever you want. I am not sure what I really think of marriage in the first place. Either we stay together because we want to or we don’t. I no longer see it as a mystical rite of passage, just a cultural one and it is evolving. I think we have far bigger problems, like the steady attrition of good paying jobs and a permanent underclass of virtually indentured slaves working for a 1965 hourly wage. That is far more important to me than who marries whom (as long as we don’t devolve to threesomes and all kinds of other unsual unions).

            I will get back here on the subject of Ferguson, etc. Am I wordy and opinionated? Ya think? Thank you Rick!

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    • OK, maybe this will be too superficial an observation, as after this long harangue I don’t want to burden you with even more of my personal opinions. You are being a saint to put up with me.

      I think there are a range of circumstances that lead to a police force being skewed toward one population or another. Most police forces in this country, let’s face it, are overwhelmingly white, while the populations they serve are increasingly diverse.

      Is it truly the case that no one applies? Or is it that the path to getting that application in and approved is different depending on who you are.

      When I did my research for my final degree, I studied, among other things, people’s attitudes toward themselves. It was found that people easily buy into the dominant opinion of them even if it is negative. Disenfranchised groups feel they are inferior. Also, the tools that Caucasians often have from birth are not available to people of other cultures and it is a specific set of tools and abilities that are required for getting some desirable jobs.

      I hope I am making sense. I am saying, it is possible that the deck is stacked in favor of certain people from the start. There can be a tacit, “others need not apply” understanding while officially, everyone can throw their hat in the ring.

      Where this is really apparent is with regard to age and gender. Under the law, you cannot discriminate against someone based on age and gender. But, the minute a driver’s license or diploma is required, an applicant’s age and gender are apparent. There are easy ways to dissuade people from doing something.

      Like requiring a driver’s license or picture ID to vote. So, I would probably want to know more about the process in any town that claims minorities don’t apply.

      I don’t know your area, and it could be the exception, I am just speaking in general (with a very fuzzy brain, too, at this point). Hope I haven’t wiped everyone out!

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      • The chief of police is new and I have no reason to doubt him. I’m sure you’re right about feeling disenfranchised and probably discouraged, but that should be the time that tough get going. One activist agreed with the chief and he said minorities are seeking other degrees, not criminal justice and that seems an acceptable reason. You can’t jam a square peg in a round hole. I don’t think for a minute there are issues with women applicants although my Motor Squad Sergent friend Ros told me there’s still a good ole boys club at the top tiers.

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        • I see. I can imagine that in many places, minorities, including women, would not necessarily choose law enforcement. There is an unfortunate breach of trust. I think the newest developments about what happened to Michael Brown in Ferguson are a glaring example of the breakdown in that regard. But it isn’t happening everywhere and there are towns where a sincere effort is being made to be inclusive. I am happy to hear yours is one of them.

          We all have to battle something to get “ahead” or succeed. We just have to do whatever it takes and never throw in the towel.

          Thank you Rick!! I like having other perspectives here. 🙂

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  3. Soooo much here. As I wrote a while back- and as you so succinctly point out here- I’m increasingly dismayed at the fact that no one with any actual knowledge about the area and its cultures/societies/worldviews has been tapped in any significant way to provide guidance in dealing with the myriad situations in the region(s). Lawrence warned us all a century ago, and yet, still, no one seems to be paying any level of attention.

    I will watch your POTUS this evening with interest. As you know, as a fellow Progressive, our opinions about this sort of thing very often line-up pretty closely, Beth.

    I’m in a bit of a time crunch hereabouts, so, as much as I’d love to get into this more deeply, I’m pressed with other things on the docket. So I’ll leave it at this- your post is a wonderful summary of a complicated situation and reflective of insightful- and practical (and doable)- suggestions to begin an approach to solution. I especially like the one about turning the internet (and media) back against them. Right now the western media is serving them well- adding to the fear and hysteria and playing right into their propagandist hands.

    Well done, you.

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    • I think the media has a huge role in aggravating, baiting, and frightening all of us. They only care about ratings and I deplore the day that news and entertainment divisions of these huge conglomerates were merged. News should not be piggy-backed with ratings wars.

      I was thinking about Lawrence. That movie, his memoirs, don’t they presage all of this uncannily? Why was that! Because the guy actually lived there and had an open mind. He loved the Bedouin. In fact, so do I. I spent a lot of time studying the Maghreb and love the food, the arts and crafts, the clean and simple justice of the desert nomadic cultures. Unfortunately, like Native Americans, their way of life cannot coexist with the modern world and in their confusion and bitterness, in their poverty, they lash out at us. The way of the camel is gone with the same winds that chased away the poor buffalo. Thereby hangs a nostalgic tragedy.

      Thank you Cole for reminding me of all that. Let’s see what Obama has in mind. I am holding my breath. I think he has been beaten up unfairly on so many things. I am still grateful to him for giving us decent health care costs (mine have been cut in half since the ACA) and for getting rid of Bin Laden. As a New Yorker, that meant a lot to me.

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  4. I agree with you wholeheartedly, and I am concerned Congress will not give the President the support he needs due to partisan BS. But I am going to withhold being disgusted by that until it actually happens. Maybe they will surprise me.

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    • It would be so transparent if the same people throw a monkey wrench into concerted action against ISIS. Honestly, don’t they have enough trouble with women’s issues and immigration. Do they really want to be seen holding back on decisive measures to clobber the people that beheaded two Americans among other things? Can you imagine what McCain and Graham and Cruz would be saying if Democrats equivocated on this. Let’s just see … thank you as always for reading this long rant. ❤

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  5. Beth, as usual, well researched and written. I should be better informed, but you were a great help. Going to try to catch POTUS tonight; no TV, but I think I can get a live stream going on internet. Agree about congress; I’ll be interested to hear their “response.” What a shame if it’s only to criticize.

    I, too, believe there’s a strategy afoot; hopefully, it’s already in play and all parties will be on board, including the countries that “should” be involved. With 9/11 only hours away, I pray we can all come together on this.

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    • Thank you Susan. I was thinking about this very issue: how informed should we be? My favorite relative, Deanna and her husband Al, both scientists, don’t have cable. They have two tvs but discontinued service when they had Annabelle because they don’t want her watching the tube. So, I wondered how they keep up with news, like the threat of Enterovirus D68 in children. But Deanna knew all about it. They get everything on their iPads and phones or their laptops. I wonder how long TV will even be around?

      When I wonder what Mr. Obama is doing about any of these things, I just remember that he was cool as a cucumber at the WH Correspondence Dinner the night Bin Laden was being taken out. I think the guy is pretty competent, as well as super smart. I wish I had gone to Harvard! He’s no slouch, so I think he is going to do what it takes. I hope we all get behind it and get rid of this threat for good. ❤

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  6. I would like to make a comment, but feel that I would be out of place doing so here, so I will limit myself to a few of my personal feelings.
    I realize that you and I are 180 degrees apart in our political views. I am a Republican, I’ve even been known to watch Fox news, even though I rarely watch TV. I’m sick and tired of politicians, from the top down, that are more worried about how the people will perceive their actions, than the people themselves.
    In short, and I know this sounds terrible, but I wish Harry Truman were president just after 9/11.
    I admire you for using your blog site to educate and inform. You are to be commended. I use my blog site for silliness, in hopes some can forget the problems of the day for just a few minutes.
    Why don’t you email me directly and we can talk more? I will truly understand if you “Unfollow” me because of our differences.

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    • Rebecca, you have to be kidding! I cannot imagine unfollowing you! I am always intrigued why anyone who is not a billionaire would be a Republican, so I welcome discussing these things with you! 🙂 I know this blog must be intimidating since I am so clearly Progressive. But I am also truly pretty small-c conservative so there are likely areas of common ground. Let’s chat by email. I don’t have yours, I don’t think. Mine is byrnes.beth@yahoo.com. I don’t want to just be friends with progressives. I need to understand and get along with all reasonable people. 😀

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