The “Do Something!” Chorus

Charles PierceCharlie Pierce wrote an excellent article on Friday, Drums Along The Potomac: How This Country Never Learns Anything. In it, he reminded me that, “Rudy Giuliani is only the most garish member of the rising chorus.” His claim that Obama doesn’t love America was about the fact that Obama isn’t standing up and shouting about a clash of civilizations. I was reminded of it recently in a conversation with my father. He’s very frustrated about the Islamic State. How can we allow these barbarians to do “this.” What “this” means is the very public executions — most especially the burning alive of Muath al-Kasasbeh.

But it’s curious, because “those people” who we are supposed to have a class of civilization include Muath al-Kasasbeh. And as I’ve noted before, a big war with the Islamic State is not going to do much to help the people who we are supposed to be helping. And ultimately, what is it that the Islamic State is doing? Their biggest crimes are against the people who are living under them. But we in the west could hardly care less about them. It is the totally unjust and horrific snuff videos that the Islamic State puts out that has everyone in a tizzy.

Rudy GiulianiThe purpose of these very public horrific acts is to get us to act like teenage boys right before the big game. It’s all testosterone and no rationality. Is bombing more Islamic State targets going to make the public executions stop? Is a ground invasion? Is more pointed rhetoric about Islamic extremism? What is it that the conservatives want us to do that will actually make the situation better? The answer, of course, is nothing. The conservatives and — let’s face it — most of the liberals just want us to do something. It is the American way: it is better to do something useless or counterproductive than it is to do nothing.

But this one really isn’t that hard. How is it that the Islamic State has managed to take control of so much territory in Iraq? Well, to be honest, the Islamic State doesn’t control that much territory, and the territory they control isn’t all that great. But they have substantial control and the reason that they have it is that we decided to destabilize an imperfect but stable situation in Iraq twelve years ago. We got rid of the largely neutered Saddam Hussein and put in charge a Shiite government that has treated the Sunni population really badly. So what’s the plan this time? How are we going to screw up Iraq this time?

John McCainRight now, Libya is a mess because again, we thought it would be a good idea to go in and get rid of a despot. Yeah, I don’t like despots. I don’t like the Islamic State. I really don’t like these public executions. And I’m not against doing something. But the same people who felt we just had to “do something” in Iraq at the end of 2002 are the people who are telling us we must “do something” today. And my question is, “To what end?” We aren’t going to roll into Iraq, defeat the Islamic State and then everything will be fine.

As it is, our greatest potential ally in the region is Iran. But we can hardly even talk to Iran because of the Iranian Revolution — Which we were ultimately culpable for! — which happened almost forty years ago. This is the state of our foreign policy — the state of our intellectual maturity. People like Rudy Giuliani and John McCain don’t want to solve a problem; they want to have that great feeling when you let loose on someone who really deserves it. But most people know that while telling the boss to shove it might be very satisfying for a minute or two, it is a really bad idea.

So what good would be done by any of these conservatives ideas? I haven’t heard anything that makes me think that they would not lead to yet another crisis that would have the same group calling yet again for us to, “Do something!”

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

2 thoughts on “The “Do Something!” Chorus

  1. The mentally disturbed lunatics shooting video of atrocities are demonstrating, for all to see, the dangers of magical thinking. It has totally nothing to do with their Islamic heritage. It has a lot to do with the madness of them imagining, if they commit enough unspeakable acts to camera, America will bomb the shit out of them and then their fellow Muslims will rise up and usher in the Second Coming, or whatever their version is. No, that won’t happen. America and Europe could persecute Muslims until the end of time and most Muslims would try and persevere, because that’s what persecuted people do.

    I recently found out that former senator Norm Coleman (R-MN, may his dark heart wither into coal) is now a lobbyist for Saudi Arabia, whose record of beheadings and brutal sexism is pretty well known. There’s nothing Republicans won’t do for money, is there?

    • Absolutely. The Charlie Hebdo attacks are a far more effective tool to turn non-Muslims against Muslims and thus Muslims into radicals. But this stuff that the Islamic State is doing is not going to do that. As I said, Iran really wants to go after them. And as you note: Saudi Arabia (Our “ally”!) is a big part of the problem. Boomman Tribune (link on right) has been publishing some good stuff on this the last couple of days.

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