Tag Archives: Syria

The US and the “Refugee Crisis”: Three Complaints, One Solution

Syrian refugees arrive on a dinghy after crossing from Turkey to Lesbos island, Greece, Sept 9, 2015. (Public domain image from Freedom House)
Syrian refugees arrive on a dinghy after crossing from Turkey to Lesbos island, Greece, Sept 9, 2015. (Public domain image from Freedom House)

I oppose president Barack Obama’s plan to import and re-settle 10,000 Syrian refugees at American taxpayers’ expense. But hey, I’m a libertarian. It’s hard to find a government program I DO support.

On the other hand, as the old saying goes, “you break it, you buy it.” Sort of, anyway. The warmongering politicians (of both parties — yes, I’m looking at you, Mrs. Clinton) do the breaking and stick us with the check, then we spend money cleaning up after them too. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria … make no mistake about it, the “refugee crisis” is THEIR mess.

And finally, yes, it sticks in my craw to hear those same “bomb’em all, let God sort’em out” demagogues turn on a dime and grandstand on an over-hyped danger fantasy over letting a handful of their victims escape the American-made carnage and make a fresh start in America itself. If God is just, there’s a very warm corner of hell for that particular variety of hypocrite.

So there are my three complaints: The US role in creating the problem, the hypocrisy among the foremost cheerleaders for creating the problem, and running the additional expense of making very small amends for the problem through those same warmonger tax-and-spenders.

Enough complaining, Tom — how about a solution! Hey, as it happens, I have one.

Let’s assume reasonable expenses for helping 10,000 refugees get to the US, settle in and become productive immigrants. How about $100,000 each, just to be on the safe high side? (Note: I’m omitting the cost of security theater “vetting”  — let the War Party nutjobs pay for that nonsense out of THEIR own pockets)

$100,000 times 10,000 is, lemme hit my calculator … one billion dollars. Call it $3.50 per American citizen.

The US Department of “Defense” spends more than that EVERY DAY busting up the places these people are fleeing from, so it really wouldn’t be a major budget item, would it? But I still think letting the government handle it is a bad idea.

We’re a giving nation. I don’t see any problem with rounding up a billion dollars through our churches and other charitable institutions. That would come to $14 from my family of four. Heck,  we’ll go $21. Donald Trump’s and Marco Rubio’s shares are on us, just to deprive them of excuses for more drama queen antics.

So how about it? Who else is in?

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


War Party’s New Line: Vladimir Putin is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

English: Richard Nixon meets Leonid Brezhnev J...
Nixon meets Leonid Brezhnev June 19, 1973 during the Soviet Leader’s visit to the U.S.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remember the good old days? The US and the Soviet Union constantly staring each other down? Mutual Assured Destruction? Perpetual brushfire and proxy wars punctuated by deadly and disastrous conflicts like Korea and Vietnam?

They’re baaaaaaack …

America’s War Party (a faction that sprawls across Democratic and Republican affiliation lines) has been looking for something to replace the Cold War ever since it ended.

As the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact collapsed, the rationale for spending one of every four US government budget dollars on a military jobs program and corporate welfare for “defense” contractors evaporated. With peace breaking out, American politicians faced the daunting task of remaining relevant without an external boogeyman to scare the bejabbers out of us commoners.

Bush the Elder and Bill Clinton tried hard to keep the scare up with Iraq, but after Desert Storm nobody really bought Saddam Hussein as a major threat to world peace. It took 9/11 to really put the War Party back in charge. They took full advantage, joyfully dancing on 3,000 graves while they dragged the US into interminable and expensive fiascoes in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, all the while grooming a reluctant China as the next monster under the foreign policy bed.

All that was wearing thin, too, even after US president Barack Obama drew his “red line” in Syria and went to war without so much as a do-you-mind to Congress, seemingly unable to decide from day to day whether the enemy was the Islamic State or the Assad regime.

Enter Vladimir Putin. He’s perfectly suited to serve as the War Party’s new hobgoblin: Former KGB agent, head of an authoritarian regime, already on the US enemies list after frustrating US ambitions in Georgia and Ukraine … what’s not to like?

As I write this, Putin is escalating Russian involvement in the Syrian conflict, going from airstrikes against Islamic State targets to having the Russian navy fire cruise missiles in support of a regime ground offensive.

Frankly, Putin seems to be going gangbusters at  one of the two jobs Obama can’t seem to decide between (liquidating the Islamic State as a military force) while making it clear that the other job (“regime change” in Syria) is no longer on the table unless we want to go back to the days of two superpowers brandishing nukes at each other.

No more solitaire for the American empire. It’s back to high-stakes poker. Which, of course, is exactly what War Party politicians on both sides of the aisle want. Gambling with our money and lives is their bread and butter.

Can we build a real American peace movement to call the War Party’s bluff? Our lives may depend on it.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


Hubris Unlimited: Tom Cotton versus Reality

A Tomahawk cruise missile (TLAM) is fired from...
A Tomahawk cruise missile (TLAM) is fired from an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer during the fourth wave of attacks on Iraq in support of Operation Desert Fox (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Freshman Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) wants the United States to pick a fight with Iran. Not an all-out brawl, he says; just an itty-bitty bout along the lines of 1998’s Operation Desert Fox, in which US aircraft carried out four days of airstrikes on Iraq.

Setting aside the fact that there’s just no reason for such an exercise  — P5+1 negotiation theater aside, Iran doesn’t seem to have an active nuclear weapons development program for airstrikes to target — the whole concept of “limited war” is bogus and dangerous.

One big problem with “limited war” is that it seldom produces the results its architects envision and instead becomes a gateway to UN-limited war.

Desert Fox was just one link in a chain of “limited” measures connecting 1991’s Desert Storm to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, followed by seven years of occupation, civil war, and the rise of the Islamic State.

Vietnam started out with US advisors training and accompanying South Vietnamese troops — “limited,” see? It ended with nearly half a million US troops engaged in all-out combat and 60,000 of those troops dead.

A second problem with “limited war” is the naive notion that the United States alone gets to define its wars’ scope, setting, tempo and duration.  The enemy usually has different ideas as to those variables. September 11, 2001, the culmination of a decade of “limited war” against al Qaeda, didn’t feel too terribly “limited,” did it?

US military interventionism in the 21st century sports a sorry record. The twin unwinnable quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan, sprinkled with smaller fiascoes like Libya, Syria and Yemen, make it clear that neither “limited” nor “unlimited” war in the Middle East and Central Asia will ever produce good results.

Bringing the same failed doctrine to bear on Iran, a country with three times the population and a far more modern military apparatus than Iraq circa 2003 or Afghanistan circa 2001, is pure folly. It would be a bloody and unprofitable investment in an enterprise doomed to failure.

So, what’s the alternative? Peace, of course.

The United States has incessantly intervened in Iran, covertly and overtly, politically and militarily, for lo on 70 years now, with uniformly negative results.

The first step in getting out of a deep hole is to stop digging. Contra Tom Cotton, it’s time to take war — “limited” or not — off the table.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


The Cato Institute’s Ted Galen Carpenter addresses this same topic in more depth and from some other perspectives in “A Really Bad Idea: A ‘Limited’ War with Iran.” While this piece doesn’t cite or quote Carpenter’s commentary, it was certainly informed by that commentary, so credit/linkage is very much in order.