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September 17, 2010


Part of the Hope thing in 2008 was that adults, with some sense and brains and proportion, would be in charge.

Maybe not so much :::sighs:::

Wevs, the first 1.2 billion is always free. That's what keeps your customers coming back. Next thing you know you can sell $60 billion in arms to them (See Arabia, Saudi).

@ Chicagojon

Except as far as I know, the Yemenis got the part of the desert without any oil under it.

I see some parallels here to trickle-down economics. Rather than giving these billions of dollars to our underfunded police and fire departments, or to strengthening our plumbing and electrical infrastructure so that they are more resistant to terrorist disruption, or promoting renewable energy so we don't need to fight constant resource wars in countries which are hotbeds of violent Islamist extremism, we shower it on authoritarian theocracies based on the theory that it will slowly work its way back to the U.S. in the form of ...

Darn, I'm running into trouble with the analogy.

It is bipartisan. This is a cowardly country. Period. Try another thought experiment. Could you imagine any President, even a President Palin, saying, "Terrorism is such a threat we must bring back the draft." Never happen. We hire brave people to protect our cowardly asses.

The aid package is a manifestation of the American tendencies to militarize counterterrorism,...

it's a fncking hand-out to defense contractors.

It's both.

I would also add that it's reflective of our simplistic view of other countries and cultures. What we do not understand we see in monolithic, black-and-white terms; this is being writ large in the States right now with all the Muslim-bashing going on. Due to guilt by association, they all must be against us, so all must be seen the same way, right?

So these little-brown-weird-kind-of-deity-worshipping people in bumfcuked Egypt or Yemen or wherever the hell they are, must all be the same, from exactly the same kind of culture, with exactly the same mindset, and they must be dealt with exactly the same way, even though I'm certain that whatever al-Qaeda elements in Yemen there are probably don't have all that much in common with the core up in the mountains somewhere in Af or Pak or wherever "they" are, except to say that of course they're both extremely repressive, extremely unpleasant, and extremely extreme.

So exactly the same overbearing, top-heavy and top-down display of force must be applied every time out, to the same measure, the same bill, and the same semblance of sacrifice because, after all, they're all the same. Hell, why use a flyswatter with a cockroach when a bazooka is bigger, right?

It's an amazing concept, really. The separation of patriotism from any sense of obligation of shared sacrifice....a true measure of our hubris.

I'd like to add something that has occurred to me re Julian's observation: in reference to the income inequality series wrapping up on Slate right now, is it at all possible that we have a culture of control and domination in America now that demands the most top-down, extreme responses to things that threaten our grip on control and challenge our domination, with no expenses spared, yet when it comes to care and maintenance, we woefully suck at it because there's no question of control and domination at stake?

So in Iraq, we managed, thanks to advances in emergency medicine, to reduce our casualty load to relatively low levels for the force we brought to bear - yet we have 15% of our domestic population with no access to health care and the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the developed world. We have a Department of Homeland Security that practically has had a blank check to fill in with however much it's wanted, yet some Americans are beside themselves that we still have a Social Security Administration and a Department of Education. We have light-infantry weaponry that can part your hair from 1,000 yards away, yet it was Toyota, not Ford or GM, that came up with a hybrid car. And we have CEOs, invested with all the authority of medieval potentates, who ruin their companies and essentially wreck huge chunks of the economy and get away with it all while workers are worse off now compared to those say, 25-30 years ago doing the same jobs.

While all this seems off topic, what's relevant about it is how the decision to do the arms deal with the Saudis and the COIN measures with Yemen are reflective of either our inability, or unwillingness, to think in terms of proactive care and maintenance. Is it entirely possible that our best defense against terrorism, and the preservation of our better values, would come from health care reform, with a system to go with it, that would be worthy of the name rather than the half-assed farce we now have? Is it possible that a domestic policy based on getting people the things they really need, and not condescending to them with ideology or pandering to their fears, might amount to a more effective COIN strategy rather than kowtowing to repressive governments who are perpetrators of terrorism themselves?

Yet like Steve Martin on the old Saturday Night Live, "...naaaaaaah!"

Thank you bobbyp. You summed it up perfectly.

Then again, it's a whole lot like what Oscar Wilde said about patriotism being the last refuge of scoundrels and tyrants. They don't sacrifice anything except other people, so why expect any sense of selflessness from them?

Why has the US not yet founded its own Foreign Legion? (although I guess the number of non-citizens in the armed forces could actually be higher than the strength of the French FL already).

It may be because the esprit de corps of the U.S. military is founded largely on homogenizing its personnel for mission effectiveness, not civilian-izing them to actually reflect the country they're living in.

One reason for the oversimplifying, military-heavy approach toward Yemeni terrorism is that Americans in general like to view their enemies in oversimplified terms and to favor simple, direct, forceful ways of dealing with them.

Part of it is the "sports" approach. Not only do we like having just two sides in any specific contest, with our side vs. the bad guys. Even when we are not directly involved, we like having bad guys who can lose, so we can delight in their misfortunes. Just think: how often have you heard a football fan say something like "Yeah, my team got beat. But at least the Cowboys lost, so on balance it's still been a good day."

Same deal in Yemen. Yeah, the folks we are supporting are horrible. But at least they are fighting against al Queda. [No, I'm not actually saying the Dallas Cowboys are the same as al Queda.]

@ wj

I'm not actually saying the Dallas Cowboys are the same as al Queda.

OK, I will.

This aid/deployment package is about power-politics, not "terrorism."

Yemen's value lies in its strategic location.

Yemen is also a minor oil exporter.

Then there's the Chinese angle. Since at least 2006 the Chinese have been courting the Yemenis:


So why get into a lather objecting to the stated intentions of the military involvement, when it's so easy to see that the stated intentions are just the usual requisite propaganda cover?

Besides, if things go badly, that only means some extra Arabs will get killed. Bernanke can create the dollars needed in a spare moment, and all that means is that some silly foreign bondholders will have to eat an extra couple of bil as the price they pay for their "flight to quality."

All costs and risks are external, so relax already and enjoy the ride!

efgoldman gives Dallas too much credit...

@ liberal japonicus

efgoldman gives Dallas too much credit...

Well, AQ had one huge "success" and an awful lot of big talk with failed and fizzled action. Draw your own conclusion.

I was thinking of the 'pure evil' aspect as opposed to the operational abilities...

Well, AQ had one huge "success" and an awful lot of big talk with failed and fizzled action. Draw your own conclusion.

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