We must stop pretending that the Islamic State is something new or that its holy body armor is something special.
A few nights ago, I went to a concert that featured the music of Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and George Gershwin performed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Patti Austin.
As the music began, I was moved to reflect on the cultural best that is America and her true gifts to the world. I thought to myself how ironic it is that the same species that produced these cultural highs also produced the US killing machine.
I imagine that this crossed my mind after listening to President Barack Obama try to convince a doubting public that we cannot kill our way out of the morass of terrorism that many believe threatens our culture.
I share the president’s apparent belief that we must seek new and diverse avenues to confront the horrific realities that appear nightly on our screens. For all too long and through over a decade of war, today’s perceived threat seems enlarged and closer to the homeland than ever. So if war hasn’t worked, what is left to do?
Unfortunately, the very same president who seeks to encourage new thinking on the subject has decided that he needs new and more authority to ramp up the same war strategy that has failed miserably to make us any safer. Adding to the fever pitch are the right-wing cries of increased weapons, increased air strikes and, once again, a brigade of America’s “volunteer” army to lead the way. (Haven’t we seen this movie before?)
To make matters worse, all may be in vain since some seem to think that the president who seeks to send this nation to more war now may not love America sufficiently to lead it on today’s battlefields.
From a right-wing perspective, I don’t know what greater display of country love a leader can proclaim than to seek to lead his nation to more war to protect the homeland from real or imagined threats. If “God Bless America” at the end of every speech doesn’t get the job done, surely more bombs, drones and boots on the ground will do so.
As you watch the upcoming “who loves America more” drama play out, make sure you watch those country-loving politicos in Congress, and those running for right-wing flavor of the day, line up to urge more war, more bombs, more drones and more boots on the ground to prove that each loves America more than President Obama.
As a left-winger who wants less war, less bombs, no drones and no boots on the ground, I hope Obama doesn’t feel the need to out-love those right-wing “patriots.”
There is a bit of good news: President Obama has also decided that this latest war cry is about confronting bad people — maybe bad Muslims, but certainly not Muslims in general. This is an effort to avoid an all-out holy crusade. This is also a sound strategy, since the overall Muslim population is growing at twice the rate annually that the rest of us are growing.
So, in spite of the best lethal efforts of Muslims themselves and a global helping hand from the United States and its allies, there are more Muslims in the world this year than last year, and this trend is projected to continue for years to come. We rain bombs from the sky, while they make more babies and recruit more converts than they and we can kill.
So what is America to do? Maybe, for once, nothing or very little. We can try to ease human suffering resulting from the wars of others, and we can try to reduce the overall quantity of arms in the world, particularly those readily available to bad people and maybe bad Muslims.
I have no idea what the Islamic State (IS) sees as the end game, but I don’t think it is prepared to send landing craft ashore in Boston, Norfolk or Miami. It is an evil force seeking to control a small swath of the world with made in America weaponry and seeking to use fear, intimidation and social media to attract converts to its unspecified cause. The Islamic State will lose because none like it has ever succeeded for long. In short order, it will turn on itself, or as the subjugated grow in numbers, they will turn on their captors unless the captors provide a life worth living.
We have to stop pretending that the Islamic State is something new or that its holy body armor is something special. Throughout human history, the next “great” threat has arisen from the ashes of the last “great” threat. A few times, it has taken a collective effort to confront and defeat a determined enemy, but the Islamic State is not Nazi Germany and never will be. It is a bunch of thugs who have figured out how to grab our attention while they have their moment in the sun.
So while many of the rest of you try to figure out who loves America the most, I will gladly take my name off the list and spend time trying to figure out how Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Patti Austin, Dick Cheney, any Bush, Chris Christie and Sarah Palin all swim in the same fundamental gene pool.
*[A version of this article was also featured on Larry Beck’s blog, Hard Left Turn.]
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.