Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Turkey Downs Russian Fighter. No, Lafayette, the Yanks Aren't Coming

No, Lafayette. And sorry, Charlie Hebdo. The Yanks aren't coming to rescue the world everywhere from the so-called "Muslim menace".  We are not even going to get heavily into Syria.
And here is just one reason why, as reported today in the New York Times:
            In a clash with Cold War overtones, Turkey shot down a 
            Russian warplane that it said had strayed into its            
            territory. Russia called the incident a “stab in the back,” 
            and NATO called for calm.

Now what? Will ISIS have succeeded inadvertently in getting the two countries to fight each other, a sort of side-pocket bonus of its terrorism?

Isn't this shoot-down by Turkey exactly the kind of thing that could happen between the USA and Russia if we try to enforce the no-fly zone in Syria that Hillary Clinton wants? Unless we establish such a no-fly zone in cooperation with Russia, we are setting ourselves up for a possible real war, i.e. one with nuclear weapons, conducted by two actual super-powers.  I don't know any sane person who would want US and Russian fighter planes circling each other over Syria, each committed to an opposing side in the Syrian war. The Russians want Assad to continue as ruler of Syria. And we don't. And how is the "safety zone" Hillary wants in Syria to be enforced so that US and Russian troops aren't shooting each other?

Risk a full-scale round-the-globe major war because Paris took a really nasty hit a couple of weeks ago? Other places have been hit hard too. The roster is indeed grim:  Madrid, London, Mumbia, Bali, a Russian school full of children and a Russian theater full of patrons, and in the last few weeks a planeload of Russian citizens over the Sinai, plus the recent attack in Beirut and many more in recent years in Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan even though we supposedly had stabilized the last two. The USA has taken a hit too. It was called 9-1l, and it had a total of more dead than all of the foregoing put together.

Actually we vowed right after 9-11 to make "global war" on the violence-embracing fundamentalist Muslims. We then spent a trilllion dollars, lost about 5000 dead American military personnel, now have maybe 100,000 wounded and maimed vets, killed an estimated  200,000  Iraquis and wounded a huge number. But the other side is still up and running and killing and maiming.

The hard truth is that a determined guerilla enemy can make trouble indefinitely and you can't stomp them out quickly without being so vicious that you create more of them. We often used our own forested land as cover in the Revolution, shot from behind trees  -  not considered proper warfare anywhere else in "civilized" places  -   and thereby we beat the Brits, the most powerful military force in the world. But a century later when we beat the Spanish in the Spanish American War in conventional fighting, we still couldn't eliminate the Phillipine guerrillas who continued to oppose us from the hills and thickets of the jungles. Then, fifty years later, came Vietnam. A comparatively tiny country beat the hell out of the mightiest power in history by being determined guerillas, shooting at us from behind trees. And the more we bombed them, the more determined they became.

Up against today's guerillas, President Obama has the right basic strategy:  quietly and steadily pick them off, denying them the glamorizing of being "a major enemy". The more "major" we make them, the more impressive they are to the young men they seek to recruit. We mustn't be the recruitment tool of ISIS propaganda.

By the way, the Irish beat the Brits in the 20th century by blowing up buildings and shooting people in a guerilla war. After 400 years of conventional battles for Irish freedom, they had no choice but to do the sneaky thing. And it worked. The Brits stupidly opted to run their own version of Guantanomo, used mass arrest, hauled the Irish "rebels" before firing squads, etc. Until the IRA made life in London very dangerous with bombs. Then the British sat down with the Irish and gave them what they wanted.

We can't sit down with ISIS because it wants what we can't give, a caliphate, a huge state run by them under grim and barbaric rules.

And we cannot, must not give them the other thing they want: status as terrifying boogeymen. Let us not ennoble them nor tremble in fear. Let's go about eliminating them deftly and quietly.

And let us remember the mistakes the Brits made in fighting against our Revolution and against the Irish rebellion. Let us also be aware that the Brits' mistakes with the Irish actually created ISIS and its guerilla predecessors. Because of the Brits, the Irish were so desperate for arms for their guerilla warfare that they taught tactics to the Islamic extremists in exchange for weapons for their fight against England. Because of England, the Irish created the Muslim terrorists.

England's imperialism yet casts a long shadow.

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