Streetwise Professor

November 19, 2015

Steve Martin & The Underwear Gnomes Are Apparently Hillary’s Military Advisors

Filed under: Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 7:51 pm

Taking time out from attempting to silence comics who mock her, Hillary Clinton gave a speech setting out her grand strategy for combatting ISIS:

Our strategy should have three main elements. One, defeat ISIS in Syria, Iraq and across the Middle East; two, disrupt and dismantle the growing terrorist infrastructure that facilitates the flow of fighters, financing arms and propaganda around the world; three, harden our defenses and those of our allies against external and homegrown threats.

The first one in particular is a real eye-roller. We will defeat ISIS by defeating ISIS. It brings to mind the old Steve Martin bit:

You.. can be a millionaire.. and never pay taxes!  You can be a millionaire.. and never pay taxes! You say.. “Steve.. how can I be a millionaire.. and never pay taxes?” First.. get a million dollars.

Or the South Park Underwear Gnomes:

Plan for defeating ISIS:

  1. Fight ISIS.
  2. ????

This is Hillary trying to sound all tough and butch, but uttering vacuities.

Not that Republicans are much better. Marco Rubio said: “When I am president, I will tell my commanders that the mission is the total destruction of ISIL and will send them the forces necessary to succeed.” Even if those forces total 50,000? 100,000? 150,000? And what about dealing with the aftermath?

Then there is Trump (who publicly self-identifies as a Republican, though I think his equipment is about as genuine as Kaitlyn Jenner’s), who says, simply, “I will bomb the shit out of them.”

The fact is, there are no good options right now. By 2009, the predecessor of ISIS had been ground down to what Rumsfeld had prematurely declared in 2004: a few dead enders. CIA Director John Brennan (ugh) recently admitted that ISIS was down to “700 or so adherents.” Now it numbers in the tens of thousands, and like Xerxes’s immortals, replaces those killed with a stream of new recruits.

By declaring victory and getting out of Iraq, Obama snatched defeat from the jaws of a hard won victory, and let a dying threat return to life far stronger than before, like an infection after the premature termination of an antibiotic regimen. When ISIS was running amok in May-June, 2014, Obama declined to attack them when they were vulnerable and in the open. Now they are dug in deep in Mosul and Ramadi and Raqqa, and it is beyond the capability of the Iraqi Army, or whatever ragtag force can be assembled in Syria, to root them out.

And despite ISIS’s clearly demonstrated ability to strike outside its core areas, it is dubious in the extreme to argue that the cost of rooting them out of these core areas, and keeping them or some successor Islamic freakazoid group out, is worth it.

The French are bombing. The Russians are bombing. We are bombing more. It will have little effect if not joined with a robust ground force. A robust ground force would entail large casualties. And to what end? To win Syria? Let Putin have it.

All of the major candidates feel obliged to sound tough on ISIS, but shrink from doing what would really be required to destroy it. So they essentially advocate doing what Obama is doing, only a little bit more. This is futile, and ultimately deceptive (and likely self-deceptive).

The reality is that the situation is pretty much irretrievable. We have to look at building firewalls. That will be hard for the US to do, but achievable. For Europe, it will be much harder, because their cities are infested with nests of Islamic radicals, and they are hell bent on admitting more.

In a sick twist on Casablanca, we’ll always have Paris. Sadly, it will be Paris, circa 13 November, 2015.

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  1. When good decisions are easy to make, do not make bad ones. Otherwise you end up with “there are no good options”.

    Bush the Elder made the good decision not to press on to Baghdad; the Younger made the bad decision to invade Iraq in retaliation for Saudi nationals attacking NYC.

    Comment by dearieme — November 20, 2015 @ 8:51 am

  2. Any first rate military could send in troops and wipe out ISIS. The problem is occupying the land and making sure they don’t come back (or more accurately eliminate the ones who go into hiding). No one wants to do that. The only options are 1) build your own local Arab force to do it, or 2) wait until the Turks decide they have to do it (ultimately, they are the only ones with both the forces, the proximity, and can be seen as somewhat legitimate by the local population since the Turks are Muslim).

    One won’t be happening now that Obama squandered whatever chance he had. It is possible the Arab component of the “Syrian Democratic Forces” could be built up to do so, but it’ll take years and are likely not viable.

    We’ll see how long it takes before Erdogan takes the plunge. Unless ISIS directly attacks the Turks, I don’t think it’ll happen for several years.

    Everyone keeps hoping someone else takes charge.

    Comment by Chris — November 20, 2015 @ 12:44 pm

  3. Daesh don’t hold as much of the Turkish border as they did before. the US is hitting their oil a bit more. Russian air power has crowded in Shia ground investment. I’m long reversion to the jihadi mean

    if they can be made to dig in against real ground assaults, why won’t they b routed as they were at Kobani?

    is Russia not an upgrade vs KSA?

    Comment by Dots — November 21, 2015 @ 10:38 pm

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