What is Obama’s Plan C?

By: FireTag
December 24, 2011

Plan A was to have the economy humming by now and see Obama cruise to re-election on the success of Keynesian counter-cyclical stimulus. Hope and change would have proven itself superior to the failed policies of the Republican past and the country would eagerly follow Obama into yet more “transformational” policies in his second term.

Well, that didn’t work. Politico reported last August that the Obama campaign looked at the economic projections coming out of the Federal agencies, saw his approval ratings (particularly in the area of his economic stewardship), and decided it was time for a Plan B:

The dramatic and unabashedly negative turn is the product of political reality. Obama remains personally popular, but pluralities in recent polling disapprove of his handling of his job, and Americans fear the country is on the wrong track. His aides are increasingly resigned to running for reelection in a glum nation. And so the candidate who ran on “hope” in 2008 has little choice four years later but to run a slashing, personal campaign aimed at disqualifying his likeliest opponent.

“In a move that will make some Democrats shudder, Obama’s high command has even studied former President George W. Bush’s 2004 takedown of Sen. John Kerry, a senior campaign adviser told POLITICO, for clues on how a president with middling approval ratings can defeat a challenger.

“’Unless things change and Obama can run on accomplishments, he will have to kill Romney,’ said a prominent Democratic strategist aligned with the White House.”

In the world of Washington politics, this is known as the sin of committing truth. The campaign immediately disavowed the comment, but, of course, everyone on both sides of the political divide knew Obama had been on Plan B since the Democratic Senate refused to take up any of the multiple fiscal reform bills passed by the newly elected Republican House during 2011 after postponing any budget action until 2011 when the Dems had held both houses of Congress. Indeed, as the volatile Republican primary season has continued to move one new front-runner after another ahead of Romney, Plan B has broadened from “kill Romney” to whack-a-mole.

I don’t know whether Plan B will work for its intended purpose of insuring Obama’s re-election if the economy keeps limping along without going back to above-average growth before next summer (see Plan A, failure of). It might, but whatever mole survives the whacking and actually gets the Republican nomination will have thereby been proven to have a much harder head than it now appears. The Obama-Hillary contest in 2008 made Obama a much stronger candidate for the general election.

But Plan B is not really the subject of this post. We will have many months ahead to debate that issue. My subject is, instead, what happens if the economy gets worse? In fact, what happens if the economy gets bad beyond the point where even demonizing the opposition can get Obama re-elected? In other words, what will be Plan C?

And there are real downside risks coming from overseas. Stock, bond, and currency markets have been gyrating for months over the economies of the European nations. I’m not aware of any credible economist forecasting a Eurozone boom anytime soon; the dispute is whether the Europeans can “muddle through” with a mere new (if lengthy) recession in the core countries — which could slow growth in the United States — or whether the differences between the northern and southern nations would only be resolved much more messily — with much more severe impacts on world-wide growth prospects.

The ability for Europe to muddle through economically is closely tied to the level of stability in North Africa and the Middle East. NATO intervention in Libya earlier this year was “led from the front” by Britain and France because Europe gets about 3/4th of the Libyan oil exports, and Europe could not afford the impacts of spending more money for the same amount of oil.

The economic coupling goes both ways. The Egyptian revolution is unlikely to stabilize unless a new government can provide bread as well as “freedom”, because it was the inequality and perception of privilege that sparked revolt.

As the Washington Post reported, the prospect of shortages of subsidized wheat for the populace looms in the spring of 2012 because government money reserves are dwindling. The platform of the more extreme Islamists being elected discourages interest-earning loans as usury, and opposes alcohol even at tourist-catering sites. That doesn’t exactly encourage Westerners to invest or visit until the rules are better defined.

However, the center of the vortex of instability in the Middle East remains in Syria, as I noted in an earlier post a mere seventy days ago. In that seventy days, the number of dead in demonstrations against the Assad government has increased to over 5000 and a rebel army has appeared from defectors of the Syrian military, with support from outside becoming less covert all the time (certainly in the eyes of the Syrian, Russian, and Iranian governments). We’ve seen Syrian deployments of anti-air and anti-ship missiles (top picture) to face US naval forces in the Eastern Med, movement of armored forces to reinforce both sides of the Syrian borders with Jordan, Israel, and Turkey, and a show-of-support visit to Syria from Russia’s only aircraft carrier group, heavy with command and control technology that could aid Syrian air defenses against any NATO and/or Turkish “humanitarian” intervention.

At the same time, there have been increasing diplomatic efforts to defuse the crisis, notably through an Arab League proposal to send international observers. The simultaneous increase in the pace and scope of military and diplomatic activity usually means that a crisis is nearing a tipping point in the race between stability and instability. Like a bulge in the side of a volcano, it signals that an eruption is close at hand unless a safe release can be found for the forces causing the strain.

If all parties wanted a diplomatic outcome, one would be possible. However, previous events in Egypt and Libya are acting to reinforce the notion that diplomatic outcomes short of victory can be mere stepping stones to a no-prisoners-taken, life-or-death defeat. Trust can become a less preferential course of action than escalation, and that is still the situation that seems to be prevailing in Syria.

Syria, in turn, is a fuse burning toward military confrontation between Iran, the Israelis, the Sunni Arabs of the Gulf States, and NATO. An explosion in Syria could quickly ignite a regional war. But even a diplomatic solution there would be coupled to a change in the regional balance of power that is already leading to strategic realignments, preliminary mobilizations, and covert military actions, as I also noted in my earlier post. The tipping point for the latter crisis, absent a Syrian explosion, is still perhaps several months away, but both sides are clearly publicizing their “red lines”.

Israel has consistently said that it will “use it before it loses it” when it comes to striking Iran’s nuclear programs before they become invulnerable. Invulnerability can be conferred by taking the programs underground or installing advanced air defense systems (such as the SS-300, which triggered a similar flurry of diplomatic maneuvers early in the Obama administration to keep Russia from delivering the already sold system to Iran). Iran is trying to do both, and is quickening its pace because of Syria.

Iran sees its need for a nuclear weapon growing as its key ally in Syria is destabilized and Sunni power grows from Egypt to Turkey. Whether out of extreme confidence or extreme fear, an overt military move against either Syria or its own nuclear program is asserted to be its red line, and closure of the Straits of Hormuz to destabilize Western economies (as well as missile war on Israeli cities and NATO bases) its threatened response.

The US increasingly seems to recognize that its own red lines are farther from being crossed than those of regional actors, and so its policy is increasingly hostage to the actions of the latter. In early December, US Defense Secretary Panetta, backed by other high Administration officials, warned Israel about the dangers of unforeseen consequences, doubtful long-term success, and dangers to the world economy of a strike on Iran. However, this past week, following Administration meetings with the Israelis and the Turks, the tone of the remarks had changed.

Panetta told CBS News in a December 20 interview:  ”Despite the efforts to disrupt the Iranian nuclear program, they have reached a point where they can assemble a bomb in a year or potentially less… That’s a red line for us and that’s a red line, obviously for the Israelis. If we have to do it we will deal with it.”

US Joint Chief of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey followed that up with an additional interview the following Wednesday:

Speaking to CNN, Dempsey said he was concerned that the US will get drawn into conflict with Iran, and said the United States is collaborating with Israel on the Iran issue.

“My biggest worry is they will miscalculate our resolve,” Dempsey said, referring to Iran. “Any miscalculation could mean that we are drawn into conflict, and that would be a tragedy for the region and the world.”

“We are trying to establish some confidence on the part of the Israelis that we recognize their concerns and are collaborating with them on addressing them,” he continued.

I want to be very clear on the following point: Neither Barak Obama nor any high level member of his Administration or in the military want another war in the Middle East. They very much want to avoid one precisely for the reasons Leon Panetta warned about at the beginning of December. The foreseeable consequences of such a war will be mightily unpleasant for the Western nations at this point in our history even if we are on the side that “wins”.

But if Obama understands that, you understand that, and I understand that, then chances are that all of the major regional actors understand that, too, and they are taking that into account as they make their moves on the strategic chessboard. Our statements of resolve have less credibility to all parties in the region than they might have had early in Obama’s term. The Israelis have less reason to trust us, and the Iranians can, in turn, calculate that we are less able to restrain Israel. (And, remember, the Iranians still believe, with some justification, that we are fully complicit in a covert war against Syria and Iran.) So, knowing their likely moves, what is the likely US move to avoid the undesired war?

Walter Mead summarizes Obama’s dilemma:

“Our best remaining hope for peace is that the Iranians think the Americans have been bluffing and that as they realize the administration is serious they will rethink the nuclear program.  This, one presumes, is why we are hearing such strong rhetoric now.  The Obama administration is hoping that advertising its increasing readiness to use force, and putting itself in a position where it will have no choice but to follow through with its threats, will give the Iranians pause.

But the cost is clear: the tougher the rhetoric, the more the administration commits itself to follow through.  After Panetta’s interview the administration seems to be painted into a corner.  Iran will either stop its nuclear program (offering convincing proof of its actions) or the bombs are going to fall.  What happens after that, nobody knows.”

So, ironically, because the fate of the US economy is now in the hands of actors whom the US does not control, the economy can worsen beyond the point of either Plan A or Plan B to get Obama re-elected. I am reasonably certain Obama considers his own re-election vital for the future of the country, however much I may disagree with that assessment. Thus, if regional actors continue to put their own preservation first, I expect Obama to end up throwing his anti-war liberal base under the bus rather than being held responsible for an economic catastrophe by the rest of the country (Libertarians excepted). Plan C would have to be to run as the President who saved the Middle East. I would expect him to fight a Middle East war with all of the ruthlessness it takes to rise in Chicago machine politics in the first place. Given that his foreign policy poll ratings are much higher than his economic poll ratings, Plan C just might work.

_______

I know that war is an unpleasant topic to contemplate at a season when we want to focus on the hope of “peace on earth, good will to men” — and perhaps after thinking about what’s happening in the world today, the proper immediate response is to go read the lyrics to “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”.  But our Christmas tradition also includes the recognition that Herod sought the Child to destroy Him lest Herod lose his kingdom, and Herod was willing to slay thousands of innocents to hold power. Today there are still Herods (perhaps a bit in every one of us) who are willing to slay innocents to hold power. And even one Herod in the Middle East can compel necessary actions of many other kings and peoples.

Most of us don’t have political power as our primary objective. So what is our goal as we face the coming 2012? What is your plan A in light of the plans being made by political leaders here and abroad?

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42 Responses to What is Obama’s Plan C?

  1. Bob on December 24, 2011 at 7:43 AM

    FireTag:
    “Why tell me theses things if the future can not change?”.
    The world is not ending next year. It will start to get better. Why? Because Damand will start to be larger than Supply.
    Iran with a bomb means nothing. America and Russia learned they are only good if you don’t use them__and they cost a lot of money and hard feelings.
    So, have an Egg Nog and enjoy your Christmas!

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  2. FireTag on December 24, 2011 at 8:22 AM

    Bob:

    The demand for what? Human dignity? Power? The control over others lives? Privileges?

    It certainly seems that kings become kings because their demand for something exceeds supply.

    And having the bomb is best at allowing you to use other things in your arsenal because you can then control escalation of any conflict.

    Don’t know if you play Texas Hold’em, but its a big advantage to have the long stack of chips at the table.

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  3. Ryan on December 24, 2011 at 9:15 AM

    I don’t know about my plan A, but based on recent history, I think I know what’s going to happen:

    Obama will suggest some moderate, diplomatic solutions and the house republicans will obstruct it. Then he’ll give them exactly what republicans ten years ago would have wanted and they’ll obstruct that. Then we’ll either do nothing or end up in a huge war when it’s clear the world is about to end if we don’t.

    When one side abandons all their prInciples and the other side is ready to drive us all off a cliff to get the political upper hand, this is what you end up with.

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  4. FireTag on December 24, 2011 at 9:53 AM

    Ryan:

    Don’t assume that either Repubs or Dems have ultimate control of what happens. Obama has been restricted by the Russians, the Chinese, most countries in the Middle East, and, not least of all, by the Iranians, who have been no more receptive to Obama’s diplomacy than to the diplomacy of any of his predecessors.

    We were never masters of the world, but we have often had the illusion that we were the only actors that mattered, so everything was determined by OUR internal politics, as opposed to the internal politics of all other nations.

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  5. Bob on December 24, 2011 at 9:56 AM

    #2: FireTag,
    “…Human dignity? Power? The control over others lives? Privileges?” Yes__that what the 99% now want in about 30 countries.
    “And having the bomb is best at allowing you to use other things in your arsenal because you can then control escalation of any conflict” No__We had the bomb, but it did not slow the Japanese in WWII from going 100% until we used it . We had the bomb in Korea, but it did not slow China. We had the bomb in V-Nam, they kept coming.
    All I need in Texas Hold’em __is a chip and a chair. (And a back rub at the final table).

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  6. Stephen Marsh on December 24, 2011 at 10:48 AM

    Well, should get interesting if they actually use bombs and find out just how expensive and useless they can be. Fission weapons that is, we can talk fusion on another day.

    Since none of the players read this blog, I can state that if Iran were developing fuel oil bombs and steam cannons I’d be a lot more concerned about the improvement in their ability to project force.

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  7. Bob on December 24, 2011 at 11:09 AM

    #6:Stephen Marsh,
    And let’s not forget the Cobalt Bomb.

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  8. Stephen M (Ethesis) on December 24, 2011 at 12:56 PM

    How does the Chinese financial credit bubble play into your thoughts?

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  9. FireTag on December 24, 2011 at 2:52 PM

    Bob:

    I think you’re misunderstanding the control of escalation. The US controlled escalation in WW2 by being able to inflict casualties on Japan with the bomb to achieve conquest without paying the price of large numbers of US casualties in an invasion.

    Similarly, the presence of a nuclear weapon on the part of the Soviet Union allowed China to control the level of escalation in the Korean War, meaning that the mass of the Chinese army could protect North Korea from conquest. China was able to do the same more directly through its own nuclear arsenal in the Viet Nam War.

    This is what bothers me about some of the things that I hear people like Michelle Bachmann say. An Iranian nuclear weapon is not meant to be USED on offense; it’s meant to neutralize the level of conventional warfare Israel or Sunni Arab states can apply against Iran or its allies as those allies impose power against adjacent states or resist internal dissent. The warfare then moves to lower levels of weaponry and/or secondary arenas, just as it did between the US and USSR during the cold war.

    Chess matches are seldom won by smashing single moves. They are won by the accumulation of small positional advantages until one side can achieve its aims through forcing acceptance of secondary or tertiary threats throughout the game.

    Stephen:

    The weapons that are functioning most effectively throughout the Middle East right now are very cheap in dollars. Brutal and up close seems to be as effective as antiseptic and high tech, because war is never antiseptic. When a car bomb or a mortar shell can go off in your neighborhood any time of day, or you can open your door and get a bullet in the face, the behavior of the citizenry WILL be influenced.

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  10. FireTag on December 24, 2011 at 2:56 PM

    Stephen:

    I’m not sure data coming out of China can be trusted well enough to know whether the Chinese financial bubble is near popping or not. A slowing of Chinese demand would compound problems, of course, but I haven’t figured it into what I’ve discussed above.

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  11. Bob on December 24, 2011 at 4:36 PM

    #9: FireTag,
    I guess we are going to have to disagree on this . But I know others can understand things differently from me, and I don’t want to take you from your post.
    But I did spend parts of six years in the Marines in the 60s. (two years off for my Mission, even then, most of that was on the SAC bases in Montana and ND, a heart of America’s nuclear weapons). Most of men I trained under fought in Korea or even WWII.
    I did not see “escalation” slowed in V-Nam by either side having the bomb available. “Escalation” was one of the favorite words of V-Nam times.

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  12. Last Lemming on December 24, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    So back to plan C–what would Obama do if the economy gets so bad that even negative ads don’t work. The answer is—he would step aside and let Hillary run in his place. (Polls have her beating all of the Republican candidates easily.) But the economy would have to get very bad very fast for that scenario to play out.

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  13. FireTag on December 24, 2011 at 10:56 PM

    Last Lemming:

    I don’t have any expectation that Obama would ever put the good of his party ahead of his own ambition. He did, after all, win his first place on the ballot by having his opponent’s nominating petitions declared invalid — and his opponent was the incumbent from his own party.

    This is where I think Republicans have it wrong in seeing Obama as weak. He never has been weak. He’s merely ruthless and single-minded in pursuing his OWN political goals, which are only intermittently the same as those of any group of his supporters.

    I don’t think he would EVER step aside from running for a second term. In fact, if he loses in 2012, I would expect him to try to run again in 2016.

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  14. annegb on December 25, 2011 at 3:42 PM

    Isn’t war good for the economy?

    Jeff Lindsay of Mormanity wrote something, I think on facebook, about how oblivious we Americans are to the economic problems in Europe and that we’re in for a rude awakening.

    I’m pretty nervous and scared, but living my life. I wonder if obliviousness is not what we’re feeling; maybe we’re just living every day, one day at a time. I mean, what else can we do—line up to drive our cars off the Grand Canyon?

    Obama—well, I don’t know about him. But I think many people feel disillusioned about his presidency. Going to be an interesting election. Still nervous about Romney.

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  15. Jon on December 25, 2011 at 5:10 PM

    I don’t understand why people are so adamant that Iran not have nukes. Yes, I would prefer that they don’t have them either, but it is hypocritical for me to say that they can’t have them but say the US can have them. We know that the only thing standing between us and other countries in the world is if they have nukes. If I were that country, you bet I would be developing nukes just for the deterrent effect. Libya shouldn’t have stopped it’s nuke program, now we see what happened to them since they didn’t do it.

    I think we should stop with all these entangling alliances and just do what creates peace in the world, trade freely will all that the people would trade with and not let the government stop this true free trade. Then we will truly honor the prince of peace. We must start to denounce war. This intervention only creates more hate and violence.

    @annegb,
    To say that war is good for the economy is to say that the broken window fallacy is not true. War is the broken window fallacy on speed. Destroying wealth and reallocating goods and energy to sectors of the economy decreases wealth and the standard of living.

    Look at it this way. Let’s build a city in the middle of the ocean, fill it with people. Then blow it up with the people on it and call it good. That is what it is to call war good for the economy, putting it that way you can see how ridiculous a notion that sounds like.

    Pick up “Economics in One Lesson” and you’ll learn many simple economic truths.

    Indeed, now is the time to take Christ’s words to heart and denounce war. Now is the time to take Mormon’s advice and lay down our weapons of war. Now is the time to listen to the warnings that Christ gave to us when he was talking to the Nephites found multiple times in 3 Nephi starting with chapter 16 where he told us to stop the murders and aggrandizement over other nations or suffer the consequences of the young lion devouring us like lambs for the slaughter.

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  16. Bob on December 25, 2011 at 7:07 PM

    #13: FireTag,
    Obama was picked over/to met the parties ambitions.
    I don’t understand people who call for a smaller Government__but a bigger Obama.
    One may not agree with what he is doing__But I can’t understand those who say he is doing nothing,, or too little, or too much.

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  17. FireTag on December 25, 2011 at 11:42 PM

    Bob:

    I just do not understand any part of your comment. Can we try it again tomorrow, and maybe I’ll get what you are trying to say?

    Jon:

    I think that annegb was being sarcastic about war being good for the economy.

    I am also very aware that 3rd Nephi talks very clearly about what would happen to the Gentiles if they were not truly converted, but the record of the Book of Mormon (and Mormon’s own actions) paint a far more nuanced position about warfare than simply throwing down our weapons and retreating into isolation.

    For example, which Libya would that be that shouldn’t have stopped its nuke program? The Libya that wanted to be rid of Colonel Q and needed outside forces to enable them to do so, or the Libya that wanted to keep Colonel Q in power? How about those groups that wanted, not to pull down Col Q’s throne, but merely to sit on it?

    annegb:

    By all means live your life in hope each day. But don’t be oblivious. Instead pray that you can be an instrument for much good. If there is one great truth to the very idea of a Restoration, it is that God is still actively involved in guiding human history in modern times that all might reach their fullest potential if they will hear Jesus Christ.

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  18. Bob on December 26, 2011 at 8:42 AM

    #17: Fire Tag,
    Obama ran on getting us out of Iraq__He’s done that.
    Obama ran on Big Government ideas (Like FDR)__he has done that.
    He will do more.
    Ambitions? What guy winning the White House has not had ambitions?
    I do not understand what you want him/ don’t want him to do?
    I, like most Americans, will be voting for him again.

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  19. annegb on December 26, 2011 at 2:23 PM

    No, I wasn’t being sarcastic, I read somewhere that every time we start to sink economically, a war is started and generates jobs and income. For America. I’m not advocating war, I just read that somewhere. I don’t know anything about that broken window fallacy stuff, but the broken windows don’t occur in America when we start a war. We bury our dead, but we really don’t experience war. And war machines make money and jobs. Is what I heard; I don’t know what I actually know.

    I know I’ll probably never forgive Bush for going into Iran.

    I was telling my husband about this post the other day and he asked me to explain and I said I couldn’t, really, because it was over my head, but there is a possibility of war with Syria.

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  20. annegb on December 26, 2011 at 2:23 PM

    Oh, Iraq, sorry…..

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  21. Bob on December 26, 2011 at 4:44 PM

    #19:annegb,
    War can be good for your economy__if you are the winner. Not so good if you lost, or it was a tie. Going to war against yourself (civil wars)also are bad on your economy.
    You also have to be at war with someone rich. Winning a war against someone poor, will also end up costing you money.

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  22. Jon on December 26, 2011 at 6:10 PM

    annegb,

    Broken Window Fallacy Explained:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMbhs9JG4fE

    How this applies to war (a bit technical but understandable). Starts at 3:15.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qh18bTFesFI

    As for other countries not affecting us. We are not an island.

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  23. Jon on December 26, 2011 at 6:13 PM

    @Bob, 19,

    War isn’t even good for the winner. In the end everyone is worse off, things seen and unseen. It is better for all to live in peace. Then we all come off winners.

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  24. Jon on December 26, 2011 at 6:20 PM

    FireTag,

    I’m not as familiar with the specific politics of the matter. But I do understand the principles (at least some of them). I know it is a bit more nuanced, but a good reading of the BOM leads one to believe that it is never OK to attack other countries on their soil, unless God specifically gives you the go ahead and only after they have attacked you four times and after you have given them an olive branch three times seeking peace.

    Mormon himself would not participate in the military unless they were protecting their own soil. When they went on the offensive he refused to fight.

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  25. Bob on December 26, 2011 at 10:04 PM

    #23: Jon,
    Many nations have become rich by winning wars. But yes__ maybe not morally.

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  26. FireTag on December 26, 2011 at 10:48 PM

    Jon:

    I think you are conflating “on the offensive” with “seeking revenge”. If it gets to the point where actual fighting occurs, you defend yourself until the threat is ended. That may or may not require offensive action (That’s the meaning of proportional response under international law, by the way — the force necessary to end the threat, and no more. It’s not tit for tat, which tends to mean there will be a great many tits and tats.)

    Another example is the protection of those who fled from the Lamanites and swore an oath never again to take up arms. The BofM appears to applaud BOTH those who refused to take up arms to defend themselves, AND those Nephites who took up arms to defend them.

    Modern economies present a great many more ways to conquer another people than in BofM times, and that makes the moral choices much harder to determine than when the only way to conquer was to get at least close enough to burn crops.

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  27. FireTag on December 26, 2011 at 10:52 PM

    Bob:

    It is also possible to win the war and still be destroyed economically. Britain was the winner in WW1, but still was tipped into economic decline from which it has never really recovered. The same could well be our fate in a general Mideastern War today.

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  28. FireTag on December 26, 2011 at 11:00 PM

    annegb:

    There is civil war now in Syria, with the US and/or its allies backing the rebels, and Iran and its allies backing the Syrian government.

    There is covert war going on in Iran right now, and the US is pretty high on the suspect list compiled by the other side.

    I didn’t talk about Iraq because of length constraints in the OP, but with the withdrawal of troops there, things are beginning a slide downward there, too.

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  29. Bob on December 27, 2011 at 4:53 AM

    #26: FireTag,
    I can’t recall a war fought under the “Rules of Engagement” you outlined. They my be “on the books”__but are not used.
    You can always use the most ugly force in some kind of “‘defensive” word magic context. You can make up something like the other side having “WMD”, and do whatever you damn want.

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  30. FireTag on December 27, 2011 at 8:40 AM

    Bob:

    Yes, the WTC attacks were defensive. That would be both in 1993, and 2001.

    Sort of raises the whole question of the connection, if any, between the rule of law and actual war. The UN notion of collective security does seem rather farcical, as does the ICC.

    And, back to the OP, that’s why I suspect Obama will fight ruthlessly if things in the Middle East continue to deteriorate.

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  31. Bob on December 27, 2011 at 10:02 AM

    #30: FireTag,
    Yes, I guess one could call the bombing of Pearl Harbor ‘defensive’ in the mind of the Japanese.

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  32. FireTag on December 27, 2011 at 11:08 AM

    Bob:

    Yep. And I’ve actually seen some writers from my own church in the last few years argue that the Japanese were, indeed, only defending themselves from US imperialism.

    I have problems with the plausibility of the assumption that only Western nations have real freedom of action, and all other peoples act only in response to us. That smacks of a certain narcissism, and imperialism hiding behind a mask of anti-imperialism.

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  33. jmb275 on December 27, 2011 at 1:29 PM

    Wow! Nice analysis FireTag. I wish I had answers. I lean libertarian so I wish we would stop meddling in general in the Middle East. But I’m not so stupid as to not see the obvious threat of a dictatorial country having a nuclear arsenal that could destroy the Earth. Sad days. Maybe the Mayans are right!

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  34. Jon on December 27, 2011 at 2:49 PM

    FireTag,

    The next time you work your way through the BOM look for what the righteous people do and say about attacking a nation (peoples) in their own lands. There is only one instance that I know of that says it is OK to go into the other people’s land and that is when they said it was OK because it was originally the land of their fathers, therefore, it was truly their land (which I think was an erroneous justification).

    Either way. How many innocent people do we have to kill and enslave before we declare the world safe? It is our own devices that create a dangerous world. All these dangerous people were put in power, either directly or indirectly, by us.

    Let us use love instead of fear and hate guide our lives. I do believe you are well intentioned I just think the scriptures point in a different direction then what you see them pointing. The word creates more peace then the sword ever will or does, the sword only creates contempt and hatred.

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  35. Jon on December 27, 2011 at 2:53 PM

    jmb275,

    I’m just about finished reading a book you might enjoy. It’s called “Healing Our World in an Age of Aggression”. Definitely on my top of the list for political books to read. Basically it goes through and points out how breaking the NAP (non-aggression principle) creates many unintended consequences and makes the world worse off rather than better off. At first I was wondering if it was worth reading than when she started talking the solutions it was quite interesting how she points out that it is not worth it getting angry at others but to look at ourselves and fix ourselves first which will in turn help others.

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  36. Bob on December 27, 2011 at 6:55 PM

    #35: Jon,
    “All diplomatic negotiations come out of the fear of War”. This is kind of ‘Black Letter Law’.
    Aggression__makes the world go round. Peace is only a sometime thing.

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  37. FireTag on December 27, 2011 at 9:26 PM

    Jon:

    The non-aggression principle is wonderful — but as I pointed out, no one believes they are the aggressor and they are all defending themselves. Indeed, in much of the world, tribal and ethnic identities make it pretty hard to tell just whose land it is. The US is fortunate (at the moment) to have only a small number of ethnic groups with claims for past “stealing” of their lands, and only fringes that would actually resort to violence to press or resist those claims. But where there is economic or social injustice, and different groups are pressed into close quarters, explosions of violence can occur. It isn’t at all clear who is the aggressor in many of those situations, or even how the blame and cost should be apportioned.

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  38. Bob on December 27, 2011 at 9:59 PM

    #37: FireTag,
    “No one believes they are the aggressor..”. I think it’s more no one will admit being the aggressor. I recall,in WWII, the Germans tried to bate Stalin into attacking the Germans so Stalin would look like the aggressor.

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  39. FireTag on December 27, 2011 at 10:08 PM

    Bob:

    Good point.

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  40. jmb275 on January 2, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    Re Jon-
    That does look like an interesting book. I’ll put it in my queue. Though I’ll have to make some allowance for the unfortunate reality that she went to Michigan State. I can’t vouch for someone from THAT institution ;-)

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  41. FireTag on March 5, 2012 at 11:09 PM

    After watching clips or the entirety of several of the AIPAC speeches the last couple of days, it’s probably time to update this discussion.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/aipac-beats-the-drums-of-war/2012/03/05/gIQASVMZtR_story.html?tid=pm_opinions_pop

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  42. MUSE on July 1, 2012 at 6:11 AM

    I visited this post just now (6+ months later). I’m wondering how prophetic FireTag is, aren’t you? The latest developments make this a good post to re-read and consider.

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