Letter To The Editor: Why Can’t We Just Take Them Out? Consider The Costs

Los Alamos

Stephanie Nakheleh (letter) makes some good points about the limits of military intervention and quite accurately points out the time and effort it would take to suppress an ideological movement by brute force.

Neither the U.S. nor the USSR was able to “pacify” Afghanistan, for example, in spite of decades of blood and treasure devoted to that effort. But while it is not possible to easily eradicate an ideology, it may be possible to destroy it if one declares total war. But one has to ask if the cure would be worse than the disease.

The way that Nazism and Japanese imperial aggression were destroyed took six years, over 50 million lives, a worldwide effort, and pretty much reduced both of those nations (as well as large parts of Europe and the Far East) to the equivalent of “glass” by conventional and finally, nuclear, means. This was followed by occupation and war crimes trials.

But both of those ideologies were only a few decades old, largely confined to a few nations, and were overprinted onto earlier values rather than deeply held values on their own. Islam has been around for more than a millennia (along with some of its more militant forms) and has been spread across the world. Perhaps a total war against radical Islam would be akin to curing a case of ground termites by burning down the house.

So I worry that bombing and invading the ISIS captured territories will accomplish much other than continuing to feed American young people and our tax dollars into a military-industrial black hole, along with impressionable Moslems who will willingly jump into that hole along with them. We have to be a little smarter than that and consider massive brute force as a last resort, simple minded suggestions notwithstanding.