Juan Cole lays out some desperately needed foreign policy suggestions, most of which are solidly grounded in evidence and experience. Unfortunately, many of them would be difficult politically to implement, particular his suggestions concerning Israel. However, the consequences of remaining on the same path are dire. Obama needs to do the right thing, and let the political chips fall where they may!
This is the lesson we can never seem to learn: “Extremism thrives on other people’s extremism, and is inexorably defeated by tolerance.”
In contrast to the hyped up rhetoric of politicians, and Mr. Trump in particular, Juan Cole rationally analyzes the goals and purposes of the terrorists. We only play into to the hands of the terrorists when we demonize and blame Muslims as a whole. They want to divide us. In that way they can bring the disgruntled formerly moderate Muslims into their camp. The clash of civilizations becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Unfortunately, political leaders will continue to play into the hands of the terrorists because the rhetoric of “strength” and nationalism proves too useful in pursuit of political power.
Read Cole’s astute observations here: History News Network | In Retrospect: A Year of Sharpening Contradictions
“The interesting question is this: What would a smart power campaign directed against the challenges represented by the Islamic State (which are of course broader than just that group) look like? What are the techniques; levels of resources; and strategies of cooperation, collaboration, and communication?” James Stavridis offers some suggestions: Killing the Islamic State Softly | Foreign Policy
In the aftermath of the Paris and San Bernardino attacks more and more Americans are in favor of sending troops to destroy ISIS and a “do whatever it takes” strategy to completely destroy ISIS and other terrorist threats. But do they know exactly what they are advocating? It’s unlikely!
It is not completely their fault. Many on the Right (pundits, politicians, and intellectuals) are advocating this strategy in the face of what they claim is an existential threat. Many of those who are pushing for this all in approach either don’t understand the level of commitment they are promoting, or have not fully thought through what it would take to achieve such a goal.
In light of this disconnect, Andrew J. Bacevich challenges the proposal by laying out in no uncertain terms what it would take to execute this strategy. He concludes that the costs (in terms of lives, treasure, and values) would be great! “By sowing fear and fostering impossible expectations of perfect security, it would also compromise American freedom in the name of protecting it. The nation that decades from now might celebrate VT Day — victory over terrorism — will have become a different place, materially, politically, culturally, and morally.”
Read the entire piece here: History News Network | Beyond ISIS
Christian Appy, author of American Reckoning: The Vietnam War and Our National Identity, in an interview reflects on the legacy of the war. As usual, he offers great advice based on years of study. For example, he proposes “that we fully and finally dispense with American exceptionalism. I don’t think the historical record justifies the faith, it alienates other people and nations (for obvious reasons), and it contributes to public acquiescence to the tiny few who make foreign policy in our name and are all to ready and willing to assure us that they can be trusted to use our ‘indispensable’ power as a force for good in the world.”
Read the entire interview here: History News Network | Christian Appy on the Legacy of the Vietnam War: An Interview
Definitely not! Brian Glyn Williams sums up the problem nicely: “The dangers of giving into ISIS’s baiting of our emotions are real and could lead to another Operation Iraqi Freedom-style quagmire in two countries this time, instead of just one. Should the U.S. once again repeat the ill-conceived adventurism of Bush Jr. (which got us into the bloody slog that created ISIS out of the secular Socialist Baathist regime that ruled Iraq up until the US invasion) and invade Syria and Iraq, it will play directly into the hands of the ISIS fanatics. They are deeply entrenched and have dug into the towns they dominate with tens of thousands of fanatical fighters. They control an area today that is much larger than their lands in Iraq where they were defeated back in 2007 only with 168,000 U.S surge-reinforced troops and with the crucial help of 103,000 Sunni Anbar Awakening fighters (who it should be stated are no longer with us, they are now primarily with ISIS).”
Read Williams’s well-reasoned case against sending in troops against ISIS: History News Network | Should the U.S. “Reoccupy” Iraq and Invade Syria?
“After the war, the United States covered up Japan’s biological warfare research on humans, allowing the perpetrators to escape punishment and to prosper.” Why? It “enabled the United States to gather information that was of great use for its own biological warfare program, early in the Cold War.” I don’t think that any potential benefit from these horrific experiments can justify covering up these crimes. And in the long run, it is against our own interests by undermining our moral standing in the world. How we conduct ourselves around the world does have implications for our national security.
Read the entire article here: A New Look at Japan’s Wartime Atrocities and a U.S. Cover-Up – The New York Times