Forgive me for employing the sobriquet “debate” to describe this mess. It lends too much dignity to the proceedings. But we should move past that rhetorical obstacle quickly in the interest of conservation of time.
This was the nine Republican “frontrunners,” down to and including the “three percenters,” Rand Paul, Jeb! Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich (!) and Carlie Fiorina (!!!). It was, in short, a massive affront to human dignity, devoid of useful ideas or evidence of statesmanship.
EDITORIAL COMMENT: None of these people are appropriate candidates for successfully walking a dog without killing it inadvertently or selling it to a laboratory intentionally. I wouldn’t let them anywhere near a pistol, much less the war making power of the United States of America.
The debacle, I mean debate, lasted for two hours, and all they talked about was either war or protecting the American people. Maybe this was the fault of the questioners, who were functionaries of CNN. The participants never tried to change the subject, though. War against any old body and protecting the American people from specters in the wind were fine with them as subjects.
Regarding “War,” everything that any of them said was flippant and massively counterproductive. They were mostly concerned with war against ISIS. Let’s take a look at a couple of their ideas.
The War Against ISIS
They all seemed to agree that there should be a war against ISIS, and that President Obama was getting it all horribly wrong. Maybe Rand Paul was something of a voice of reason here, making one of the evenings few reasonable points that we may have pissed away enough treasure already on such pipe dreams.
There were two major fallacies in their mostly unhinged rantings about ISIS:
1. We need to let our Sunni Muslim allies carry the ball on the ground; and
2. We must bomb ISIS into submission, if not out of existence.
Regarding our “Sunni Allies,” and it flatters them to be described thusly, none of the would-be presidents seemed to be aware that ISIS is a pawn in the power struggle between Sunnis (led by Saudi Arabia) and Shiites (led by Iran) that is now playing out across the Middle East. ISIS is a pawn on the Sunni side, and I mean firmly, not somewhere out in the middle. This is a huge misunderstanding of the basic situation for which they are prescribing murderous solutions that are doomed to failure, seemingly without a care in the world for the costs or the consequences.
Regarding “bombing them into submission,” they are equally uninformed and wrong-headed.
Let’s consider two historical situations where that was tried. First, against Germany in World War II; and second, against Vietnam in that huge mistaken effort that we have unfortunately forgotten the lessons of.
Germany was a large industrial society and we tried to cow them into terrified submission with a terror bombing campaign that went on for several years. Every city in Germany was flattened in a comprehensive manner. None of that seemed to bother them at all. By the end of the war, after a couple of million civilians had been killed, the German people had only been made very pissed off and resolute, and production of war goods only increased right up to the end of the war.
Vietnam was an agricultural country without much industrial capacity, much like the ISIS territories. Carpet bombing them only made them even angrier than they had been since time immemorial against the Chinese, then the French, then the Japanese, then the French again, and then at us. The bombing didn’t seem to work at all on the Vietnamese.
Bombing alone won’t work on ISIS either, unless by “working” you mean gaining them more recruits. The only thing that really works in situations like this is closely approaching opposing forces, on the ground, and either shooting them, or blowing them up, or bayonetting them at close range. This, I should think, is common knowledge among informed observers.
But it’s not knowledge of any kind for our Republican presidential wannabees!!! Amazing, it is. Sick, it makes me.
They’re full of stupid ideas. Let’s have a no-fly zone! A few of them said that. Lots of problems with that idea, most of them bearing red star insignias. Let’s make a safe zone! Oh, just how would you accomplish that, pray tell? They sounded like a bunch of morons.
War In General
None of the nine people on the stage have had any experience of war, nor of military discipline, nor have any of their children been subjected to those realities. That did not stop them from glibly offering war at its fullest degree to any and all comers.
There was general agreement that President Obama has allowed the American military to sink to unfrightening levels of readiness and capacity to destroy. They climbed all over one another to be the one most willing to spend whatever it took to make America terrifying again. Carly Fiorina has been the point man for a vast increase in defense spending. She wants, what is it, a six hundred ship navy? Lots more ships. More infantry divisions, more planes, more everything. Ben Carson today suggested that we need to replace our Ohio class attack submarines, our Minuteman missiles, and our B-52s. How breathtakingly stupid is that? To say that all in one breath, wow, one has to wonder if he’s done the math on that or thought it through in any meaningful way. No time line, just “we must do it.”
But war! These inexperienced dilatants stood there and suggested one war after another, more or less simultaneously.
War In Particular
Russia! This one includes ad hominum attacks against Vlad Putin. “I’m not afraid of a guy riding a horse with no shirt on.” One of them said that recently, I forget which one.
They also talk about “standing up to Putin,” by putting new missiles in Poland and holding military maneuvers in the Baltic States. (Geography alert: that would be Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which were part of the Soviet Union from 1940 to 1991 or so, and which provided Russia with access to the Baltic Sea, which happens to run ice-free to the North Atlantic almost all year, unlike northwest Russia.)
North Korea! They were briefly mentioned in a question posed to Ben Carson. Dr. Carson vaguely (big surprise!) suggested that we do something about them, including getting other Asian countries to bother them about something and getting China to talk to them. He didn’t go any further, and everyone else dropped the subject with a silent prayer. North Korea is actually scary, and even this crowd of war mongers would rather just shut up, avert their eyes and cross the street, hoping for the best.
China! They were more forthcoming about China. We must retaliate for China’s cyber attacks! We need to push them on human rights! There was talk that sounded like a containment policy regarding the South China Seas. Sure, let’s do that! We only owe them uncounted billions of dollars, and they only have the power to bring the dollar down single handed, so sure! Let’s just jump in their shit big time! We’re tough guys! God help us if any of these numbskulls gets elected.
And the rest of you, out there in “the world,” which is an American playground, any of y’all motherfuckers want some? Chickenhawks Anonymous will be happy to pay their friends for plenty of bombs and weapons, minus the kickbacks, and they’ll be delighted to send our children to get killed behind some new bullshit scheme to prove how tough they are. It’s pathetic.
Protecting The American People
This seems to consist mostly of additional surveillance of Americans, reducing the mobility and the rights of association of Americans, and eliminating more of the pesky freedoms that obviously need to be sacrificed on the altar of our security.
The police state needs to be expanded, and refugees from pretty much everywhere need to be blocked. That would especially be Muslim refugees, because those people are trouble. They want to kill us! Let’s conveniently forget that these Muslim refugees from Syria and Iraq are fleeing from conflicts that we engendered by stupidly invading Iraq with no legitimate reason at all and no plan for follow through whatsoever.
Now it’s “you’re on your own,” which is only fair, because the message of these self-aggrandizing politicians to their own constituents is the same: “you’re on your own.” We’re all on our own.
If they talked about anything else it was while I was in the shower. I didn’t sit there like a mental patient listening to every word.
Between war and protecting us, they didn’t even have any time to talk about their real agenda, which is cutting taxes on corporations and the rich; unwinding every social program since the New Deal; deregulating business; privatizing everything; and gutting environmental protection legislation. With a program like that, it’s better to keep it a secret and stick to fear mongering about war and terrorism. Neither was there any mention of Global Climate Change or the problems of gun violence. They couldn’t even find a moment to mention their precious unborn.
All they talked about was war as they misunderstand it and wrongheaded ideas about “protecting” us from terrorists. These ideas will only produce more conflict and more terrorists.
War must only be resorted to when nothing less than war’s most primordial and horrifying attributes will solve the problem. It must always be resorted to with great reluctance.
Protecting the American people would be much better accomplished by helping to solve the social problems of the world and trying to help people achieve fulfillment and happiness. If you just threw up in your mouth a little bit, or chocked a silent scream, or laughed out loud, then maybe we should all just give up.
If the majority of voters have the same bad attitude as these nine hopelessly inept politicians, maybe we should just lock the door and go home.