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Lindsey Graham’s Top Military Strategy: Forget History

Yesterday, Peregrin Wood joked about Lindsey Graham’s strange claim that, if he is elected President, he will “secure the future”. No, Lindsey Graham isn’t really a time traveling agent, but in another sense, he is trying to use his presidential campaign to rewrite the past.

Unfortunately, Graham’s campaign to rewrite the past has to do with his urgent desire to take the United States into war.

lindsey graham looking silly in uniformLindsey Graham’s campaign web site is thin in terms of content, but already, it features belligerent language pushing for war. Graham writes that “The world is exploding in terror & violence,” and taunts, “You want to know how this war with Radical Islamic Extremists ends? We win, and they lose.”

Senator Graham was one of the fools on Capitol Hill who got us into this mess in the first place. In 2002, though Iraq was not threatening the United States, Graham repeated George W. Bush’s lies that Iraq was in league with Osama Bin Laden, and was on the verge of attacking the United States with missiles armed with biological and chemical weapons.

Those missiles didn’t exist. The biological weapons didn’t exist. The chemical weapons didn’t exist. Saddam Hussein wasn’t in league with Osama Bin Laden.

The United States military wasted a massive number of lives, and spent an enormous treasure, fighting Lindsey Graham’s war in Iraq. He and George W. Bush declared victory after a few months, but the war raged on and on for years, and in the process, Lindsey Graham’s war created the Islamic State.

Now, Lindsey Graham wants to take the United States of America back into Iraq. He wants us to believe that, if only the United States could invade and occupy Iraq, this time, we’d get it right, and make the country a lovely, peaceful place.

It’s a deadly pattern. Republicans took a small conflict, the invasion of Kuwait, and made it into a big war and lengthy standoff that inspired Osama Bin Laden to commit acts of terrorism against the United States. Then, Republicans took those acts of terrorism and used them to begin a War On Terror that dragged the United States into the longest wars in American history in Afghanistan and Iraq. Those wars in turn destabilized the region, and led to the birth of the Islamic State.

But, with the eyes of an historical revisionist, Lindsey Graham refuses to see that pattern. In his view, the problem is that we haven’t been going to war enough. In his opinion, 12 years of war was insufficient. So, he wants to go back to the Republican playbook, and invade again, and occupy again, this time for even longer.

It’s telling that Graham capitalizes “Radical Islamic Extremists”, as if he believes that there really is a single enemy organization out there in the world that goes by the initials RIE, a single centralized foe that we can defeat cleanly and clearly. This judgment of Graham’s is a fundamental blunder in military strategy. There is no single extremist Islamic enemy that can be killed or put out commission, thereby ending violent conflict with a “win”. Every time the USA strikes out at one group, others that are even more dangerous rise to take its place.

In the future, if this war continues, there are only two options:

1. They win, and we lose.

2. We win, and we lose.

Reality is this: The world is not exploding, as Lindsey Graham claims it is. There is violence in the world, but we are not on the verge of destruction.

We can either choose to fan the flames of violence, or take a more intelligent approach to encourage the flames to die down. There are no easy solutions, but this much is certain: Every time the United States has gone into war in the Middle East, it has made violence from that region worse, not better. That’s an historical fact that Lindsey Graham’s revisionism can’t cover up.

13 thoughts on “Lindsey Graham’s Top Military Strategy: Forget History”

  1. Bruce Nappi says:

    Peregrin,

    When I get into discussions about war, and point out the repeated failings of past U.S. and world policy, the usual question that finally comes up is, “so, what else can we do?” This is not a rhetorical question. Most people actually DON’T HAVE A CLUE about an alternative that would be listed as a “Win – Win” option. And most of them would really like to understand such an option. So, let me just briefly describe one here so can see what it would look like.

    We should NOT pour X billions of dollars into destroying a country. Instead, the world should pour just half that amount into supporting the country to get it out of the poverty that is surely the reason it is in crisis. This would NOT mean gutting its culture and replacing that culture with western ideas. It would mean helping the culture improve ITS OWN STANDARD of living and LEARNING. Help them build schools. Help them build infrastructure. Help them improve transportation and communication. Help them establish a thriving community with meaningful jobs. Help them learn to adapt their interaction with other world cultures.

    What are the big wins? No people will die in conflict. No lives will be disrupted supporting a war effort (on either side). Cities will not be destroyed which have to be completely rebuilt just to get them back to where they were at the start ( huge retention of wealth and cultural resources for everyone ). Opening the countries to trade, travel and interchange of ideas with others.

    I’m sure some who read this will explode saying, “how can you suggest supporting terrorists?” I’m not. This “terrorist phobia” kind of statement occurs because people only see a small part of a much bigger picture. The signs of problems in countries appear long before the people get so desperate they act out in anger. Those are the countries we should be moving to help now. And, as for those in current conflict, there is a part-way approach. Don’t only look at the over all geography. Find the fragile communities at the periphery. Start there and build inwards. They will become supporters. All the countries we’ve destroyed, who have not yet broken down into outright conflict, i.e. Afghanistan, and most of Iraq, should also be getting MASSIVE reconstruction help.

    1. Jim Cook says:

      Bruce, I absolutely, wholeheartedly agree with what you’ve just said. As the old saying goes, “Send bread, not bombs.”

  2. Charles Manning says:

    The article is very good. I would add that Graham, like so many others, seems to believe that people ought to be killed for their beliefs. That’s the mind-set of ISIS; the U.S. ought to be working toward changing people’s beliefs, not killing them.

    The problem with people like Graham is that they don’t understand the thinking of the people they want to kill. I’m not sure Bruce Nappi gets it, either. The ideology of ISIS is based on two existential theaters: earth and paradise. They think the conflict they’re engaging in will inevitably lead to a world-wide caliphate, not democracy or what passes for democracy in the U.S. The highest honor for ISIS fighters is to die in bringing about the caliphate. That kind of death, called martyrdom, takes them directly to Paradise, which is like the Christian heaven except that it also explicitly includes sex. We have to understand these things before we can change the thinking of those who revel in those beliefs, instead of just killing them.

    1. Bruce Nappi says:

      Charles,

      The approach I described would not work directly with the extremists. But they are a minority. I’m talking about the MILLIONS of average people fleeing the crisis and trying to stay in their communities. That’s why I said start at the periphery and work inwards.

      1. Charles Manning says:

        I hope,and wish, you’re right. Unfortunately, ISIS is making it very difficult to support countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Syria “to get [them] out of the poverty that is surely the reason [they are] in crisis.” The ISIS plan, which is gaining acceptance, is to create a caliphate, which involves many of the things you talk about — schools, infrastructure, even interaction with other “world cultures” as by selling oil, and buying arms, or receiving them donations, or confiscating them from conquered armies. We must convince millions of people that the dream of a caliphate is really a nightmare, not a paradise on earth preordained by Allah.

  3. M says:

    Who will stop the murderers of Islam if people like Graham do not take the lead the Muslims would rape behead your children or make them kill you first these antichrist satanist worshipping Muslims kill each other are you another chamberlain you better wake up before your killed

    1. J Clifford says:

      Not a single one of the Muslims I have met has attempted to rape my daughter or cut off anyone’s head. Your fears are out of proportion with reality, M.

    2. Bruce Nappi says:

      Let me add to what J said. Outsiders can never win this battle. The answer to your question is it has to be done by some force WITHIN the Muslim community itself. And there are MANY people there who would take action if they had a strong enough society of their own to work from. Our effort should focus on building those societies.

    3. Jim Cook says:

      To second J. Clifford’s experience: I have met a large number of Muslim people, all of whom have been welcoming and kind to my daughter and not one of whom has not cut off my head.

    1. Charles Manning says:

      M,unfortunately I don’t have time right now to read all you’ve cited. But having skimmed it, I would say thinking Americans should read it. What comes through is the right-wing notion that we have to kill Muslims because their devotion to the ISIS ideology (which, contrary to the writers you cite, is different from the ideology of “moderate” Muslims) cannot be changed. My message to you: all people, beginning at birth, are human beings capable of love, compassion, and intellectual excellence. It’s the duty of those of us lucky enough to have been exposed to those human values to work to change the thinking of people who want to kill millions or even billions of human beings because of their beliefs. If you come to that understanding, M, we can talk.

      1. Bruce Nappi says:

        Charles,

        EXACTLY! My addition to this is that we can’t achieve the goal directly. We need to do it as a multi-step effort working through groups who have the “standing” to communicate with some of the extremists and turn their allegiance.

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