Governing Is Hard

Juan Cole provides some perspective on the U.S. airstrikes in Iraq, adding,

Obama’s hope that the so-called “Islamic State” can be stopped by US air power is likely forlorn. The IS is a guerrilla force, not a conventional army.

But one thing is certain. A US-policed no fly zone or no go zone over Iraqi Kurdistan is a commitment that cannot easily be withdrawn and could last decades, embroiling the US in further conflict.

Much of the old Chickenhawk Brigade is clucking that this proves they are vindicated! Flaming worthless idiot Paul Wolfowitz actually is claiming the U.S. won the Iraq War in 2009. I by “winning” you mean “conceding that further action is pointless and we will now extricate ourselves ourselves in a gradual manner” is “winning,” well, okay. By those standards we sort of won the Vietnam War, too.

The Chickenhawks also are doing their usual song and dance about how liberals don’t understand evil, and that people like Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi will never stop and will come after the U.S. sooner or later, so we need to destroy him now.

Here’s some background on what might be fueling Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. See also “The Debacle of the Caliphates: Why al-Baghdadi’s Grandiosity doesn’t Matter.” Bottom line, the certainly is a nasty piece of work. Whether he could export his movement beyond Iraq is highly speculative, however.

What the Chickenhawks don’t get is that U.S. bombs aren’t the answer to all problems, and indeed, usually just cause more problems. That doesn’t mean letting a bunch of civilians die of thirst and starvation is the answer, either. The world is a messy place. Sometimes there are no actual solutions. You gotta do what you gotta do.

But in Real World Land there are all kinds of powers beside Paul Wolfowitz and Hugh Hewitt who are keenly interested in keeping Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi contained, if not eliminated. Iran is one. I strongly suspect the Sunni leaders of other countries see a whackjob who thinks he leads a “Caliphate” is not their friend, either. Juan Cole thinks the “Caliphate” is doomed.

So it seems to me the question is not whether the U.S. will do nothing about Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi or will unilaterally wage war on Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The question is whether we might take smart action or stupid action. Seems to me the smart thing to do would be to contact the heads of other Muslim countries — even Iran, IMO — and say, tell us if you need help getting rid of this guy, but you have to take the lead on this. This has to be the Islamic world’s issue, not America’s.