Counter-Terrorism Beyond Platitudes | commentary

“Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have embraced a shallow, platitudinous approach to counter-terrorism and anti-insurgency warfare.”

Max Boot effectively explains the flawed analogy (resulting from a lack of historical perspective) behind the simplistic approach to counter-terrorism espoused by Trump, Cruz, and many Americans. Their understanding of war is based on the crushing defeats inflicted on the Axis powers during WWII.

But as Boot points out, “The situation with the War on Terror today is very different. We are fighting insurgencies, not nation-states, even if some of the insurgents (the Taliban before 9/11, ISIS today) have taken on many of the attributes of nation-states. This is an unconventional conflict in which our enemies seldom wear uniforms or mass in the open. They prefer to hide among a civilian population and to strike with stealth and surprise, usually against civilian, not military, targets. As I argued in my book Invisible Armies, this is an ancient form of warfare that requires a different response from conventional conflicts. Using maximal force against terrorists and guerrillas can backfire, more often than not, by killing innocent civilians and thereby driving their friends and relatives into the insurgent camp.”

Read the entire article here: Counter-Terrorism Beyond Platitudes | commentary

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“Trump’s obsession with WW2 generals strikes sour note with historians” | Reuters

“Presidential candidate Donald Trump admires the late Douglas MacArthur and George Patton, both World War Two generals. They were winners, unpredictable, and not especially nice guys, he says in campaign speeches. But Trump’s pledge to imitate their styles sets modern-day military experts on edge.”

I would like to add that Trump’s simplistic history of these two men has led him to draw the wrong lessons from their experiences. But of course, Trump doesn’t really care about actual history or thoughtful conclusions!

Read the entire article here: Trump’s obsession with WW2 generals strikes sour note with historians | Reuters

Abusing History: “Donald Trump Cites Questionable ‘Pig’s Blood’ Story on Early Terrorism” – The New York Times

 

“On Friday night, Mr. Trump embraced another urban legend, claiming that an American general a century ago summarily executed terrorists with bullets dipped in pig’s blood.” There is not a shred of evidence for this claim!

Source: Donald Trump Cites Questionable ‘Pig’s Blood’ Story on Early Terrorism – The New York Times

Ronald L. Feinman: “Why This Historian Is Worried for His Country”| History News Network

“Hate speech is reaching new heights with the participants in the Donald Trump campaign. With the continuing and rapid growth of Donald Trump’s support, and the increased likelihood of Trump either winning or ending up a strong second in the Iowa Caucuses on February 1, and now seen as having a real chance to be the GOP nominee, after seven months as the frontrunner in public opinion polls, history indicates to us that there is clearly a growing danger of assassination due to rising rhetoric on all sides!”

I agree with Ronald L. Feinman that the threat of political assassination is very high, but I think it’s been extremely high during Obama’s entire presidency.

Source: History News Network | Why This Historian Is Worried for His Country

“Donald Trump and the Ghosts of Totalitarianism” Henry Giroux

“Trump is simply the most visible embodiment of a society that is not merely suspicious of critical thought but disdains it. Trump is the quintessential symbol of the merging of a war-like arrogance, a militant certainty, and as self-absorbed unworldliness in which he is removed from problems of the real world.”

He goes on, “What is clear in this case is that a widespread avoidance of the past has become not only a sign of the appalling lack of historical consciousness in contemporary American culture, but a deliberate political weapon used by the powerful to keep people passive and blind to the truth, if not reduced to a discourse drawn from the empty realm of celebrity culture. This is a discourse in which totalitarian images of the hero, fearless leader, and bold politicians get lost in the affective and ideological registers of what Hannah Arendt once called “the ruin of our categories of thought and standards of judgment.”[5] Of course, there are many factors currently contributing to this production of ignorance and the lobotomizing of individual and collective agency. The forces promoting a deep seated culture of authoritarianism run deep in American society.”

Read Giroux’s thought-provoking essay here: Donald Trump and the Ghosts of Totalitarianism

“Donald Trump is our creepy new face of demagoguery” – Salon.com

The historians Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg weigh in on the present state of politics (spoiler alert: it’s not pretty). They note the long history of demagoguery in the U.S., but they also point out what is different today: “a pliant media and a reality TV culture.” These two additional factors make today’s demagogues significantly more dangerous.

This excerpt sums up the problem: “We have no indication that Trump thinks very hard about consequences. Half-baked generalizations roll off the tongue of the superlative-seeking demagogue. Will his followers ever demand facts from him? Probably not. When you are a demagogue, you only have to promise stuff, identify and threaten the bad guys, make bold declarations like, “I’ll be the best president for the military,” and keep the fans excited. Nothing is real. That how politics operates when it’s all reality TV. And don’t forget to wear your flag pin in the next scene.”

Read the article here: Donald Trump is our creepy new face of demagoguery – Salon.com