Bomb First, Think Later: Moving Toward a New World War
November 23, 2015
Steve Weissman / Reader Supported News & Robert Reich / Robert Reich's Facebook Page
The Socialist government of Francoise Hollande is preparing all-out war. Not just a war on terror. Not just bombing raids on the Islamic State's mini-caliphate in Syria. Hollande is looking to bring the US, Russia, and Europe into a global alliance to rid the world of both Islamic State. We are ineluctably moving toward a world war. No sane person welcomes war. America's record in Afghanistan and Iraq does not reassure. Yet if we do go to war we need to keep a watchful eye on five things
Bomb First, Think Later:
France Pushes Global War on "Radical Islam"
Steve Weissman / Reader Supported News
PARIS (November 21, 2015) -- Still shaken by the Islamic State's bloody attack in Paris, the Socialist government of Francoise Hollande is preparing all-out war. Not just a war on terror. Not just bombing raids on the Islamic State's mini-caliphate in Syria.
Hollande is looking to bring the US, Russia, and Europe into a UN-authorized global alliance to rid the world of both Islamic State -- variously called ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh -- and a resurgent Al-Qaeda, whose affiliates claimed credit for the January 7th attack on Charlie Hebdo and this Friday's killings at the Radisson Blu hotel in the Malian capital Bamako.
A large majority of terror-stricken French will applaud Hollande's resolve, as will other Europeans and many Americans. They will all see it as a righteous response to the murderous rampage against innocent civilians enjoying night life in Paris. But the speed and consistency of Hollande's reaction suggest that he and his advisors had conjured up much of their global war before the Paris killings took place.
In his first public speech only hours after the attack, Hollande pointedly used the unmodified term "war" and he has largely stuck to it ever since. For a nondescript political apparatchik once known as "Flanby," after a wobbly, jelly-like caramel custard, a very macho Hollande suddenly sounds like US senator John McCain.
The rejuvenated Hollande immediately ordered intensified bombing raids in Syria. He dispatched the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle to the Eastern Mediterranean, tripling his capacity to strike Syria from the air.
He is firming up relations with Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama. And he unexpectedly invoked the European Union's "mutual defense clause," obliging fellow members to give military support to France in its response to the Paris killings.
The EU immediately agreed in principle. Ireland has reportedly offered to send peace-keeping forces to Africa, allowing the French troops there to move to Syria. Britain's David Cameron is now seeking parliamentary approval to join in the bombing of Islamic State targets in Syria, and the BBC's senior defense correspondent has suggested that officials expect to send in ground troops as part of an international deal on Syria.
It will be fascinating to see whether this rapid show of unity will in any way dampen the momentum of the growing number of Europeans opposed to the European Union.
Much of Hollande's offensive could turn out to be more talk than action. France will hold regional elections on December 6 and 13, and polls suggest that Marine Le Pen's Front National could do exceptionally well, building a strong base for national elections in 2017.
If the dismally unpopular Hollande is to have even the slightest chance to beat Le Pen and former president Nicholas Sarkozy, he needs whatever boost he can get, and nothing could help more than a lovely little war.
But, how lovely would it be? Why would it, as CNN's Jim Acosta so artfully put it, "take out these bastards" any better than did earlier US-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq?
Hollande's war could certainly look successful, at least in the short term. US and allied bombs have kept the Islamic State from expanding in Iraq, and have aided Kurdish and other local troops in retaking Ramadi, Sinjar, and much of the Syrian border region with Turkey. T
he Russians, in response to Islamic State's bombing of one of their charter jets over Sinai, have stepped up their airstrikes on IS targets, and Putin could at any time send in large numbers of ground troops. Last month, he recruited 150,000 new conscripts, which greatly expands his available forces.
Backed by bombing and rocket attacks, Russian, French, British, and/or American invasion forces could, as Obama put it, "march into Mosul or Raqqa or Ramadi and temporarily clear out ISIL." But what then?
Shi'a Arab majorities and their Iranian allies would have to give political space to the Sunni minority and the Kurds, as they have steadfastly failed to do in Iraq. Sunnis and their Saudi and Qatari funders would have to make room for the Shi'a, their Alawite offshoot, and other minorities in Syria.
Local Muslim populations everywhere would have to fight back against ideological hardliners, whether from Islamic State, al-Qaeda, or some new jihadi variant that has yet to make its mark. Without all this, one group of bastards or another would just come back -- unless, said Obama, "you're prepared to have a permanent occupation of these countries."
This is the lesson Obama claims to have learned, though how well he has learned it will remain to be seen, especially after his talks with Hollande this coming week.
"Let's assume that we were to send 50,000 troops into Syria," Obama explains. "What happens when there's a terrorist attack generated from Yemen? Do we then send more troops into there? Or Libya, perhaps? Or if there's a terrorist network that's operating anywhere else -- in North Africa, or in Southeast Asia?"
This is all depressing enough when the United States plays the role of the world's policeman, the "indispensable" global super-cop, as Hillary Clinton and her liberal interventionists would like.
But think how much more difficult the situation will become if Russia, France, Britain, and a tag-along America impose a new form of colonialism, which is how an increasing number of Muslims will see it. This is the new Hell that Françoise Hollande, Vladimir Putin, David Cameron and some of the contibutors here at RSN are now promoting.
A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France, where he is researching a new book, Big Money and the Corporate State: How Global Banks, Corporations, and Speculators Rule and How to Nonviolently Break Their Hold."
We Are Moving Towards a World War With ISIS
Robert Reich / Robert Reich's Facebook Page
(November 22, 2015) -- We are ineluctably moving toward a world war against the Islamic State. Whether you support such a war or not, the signs are ubiquitous. No sane person welcomes war. America's record in Afghanistan and Iraq does not reassure. Yet if we do go to war we need to keep a watchful eye on 5 things:
1. Who does the fighting? To date, America's "volunteer" army is made up mainly of lower-income men and women for whom army pay and perks provide the best options. But if we go into a larger war on the ground, we can't rely solely on volunteers from low-income families. How do we spread the burden and sacrifice? Are we ready to reinstitute the draft?
2. What if any civil liberties are we prepared to sacrifice? The debate over NSA/CIA spying on Americans is still fresh and the more imminent possibility of terrorism on U.S. soil will revive it. War can also lead to internments of suspects and suspensions of constitutional rights. We must be vigilant that we maintain the freedoms we are fighting for.
3. How many more innocent civilians in Syria and Iraq will be killed or injured by such a war? The bombing raids have already claimed a terrible civilian toll, contributing to a mass exodus of refugees. We must demand that civilian casualties be minimized. And we must do our part to take in a fair portion of those refugees.
4. How do we prevent the spread of anti-Muslim bigotry in the United States? Some Republicans are already suggesting Muslims should not be admitted as refugees. Ben Carson argues no Muslim should ever be president. Marco Rubio wants to close down mosques. Donald Trump refuses to rule out requiring all Muslims to carry special religious identification, and warrantless searches of their homes and places of worship.
Says Trump, "We're going to have to do things that we never did before. . . . we're going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago." We must do everything we can to stop the hate-mongering.
5. How do we pay for such a war without raising taxes or cutting vital public services? We must not let Republicans use the war as a pretext to cut Social Security and Medicare, or programs for the poor. It should be paid for the way we used to pay for wars -- with higher taxes, especially on the wealthy.
What do you think?
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