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$250 Billion Doesn't Buy What It Used To

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Originally from Myrhaf,

Here's a chart of the cost of American wars as percentage of GDP. As Hard Starboard puts it,

Turns out the cost to date of Operation Iraqi Freedom, as a percentage of GDP, is on a par with the Mexican War, Spanish-American War, and the 1991 Gulf War - a cumulative total of about 2% of a single year's GDP, or about $250 billion in today's dollars. This is in contrast to the War of 1812, Korea, and Vietnam (~10% of GDP), World War I (~25%), the Revolutionary War (~65%), the Civil War (~105%), or World War II (~130%).

(No future war will ever compare to WWII in dollar cost and lives lost. 1,020 Marines died taking some piece of crap atoll in the Pacific called Tarawa. Today we'd drop a fuel-air bomb, suffocate all the Japs and take the island with no casualties.)

(HT: Hard Starboard)

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(No future war will ever compare to WWII in dollar cost and lives lost. 1,020 Marines died taking some piece of crap atoll in the Pacific called Tarawa. Today we'd drop a fuel-air bomb, suffocate all the Japs and take the island with no casualties.)

Actually I think today we would still invade it. I think a much better solution to the Iraq situation was just to blow up all the places Saddam stayed at until eventually we killed him or the Iraqi's decided they had enough of Saddam and were willing to take over.

I don't get why we would invade, how is this a help to us? Recently there was a report by a left leaning group/person which said that the total cost of the Iraq war could be close to 2 trillion dollars once you factor in the higher Gas premiums we are paying, the cost of supporting the injured soldiers in iraq and a bunch of other factors. While he may be incorrect on the specific amount I think the cost is probably gonna be a lot higher than people think in general.

That is why bombing is great. It's cheap, effective and nobody from the US has to die :-)

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Benefits of establishing a democracy there?

lol.

You can't force a mind to think or accept value positions from the barrel of a gun. Coercive force (no matter who is doing the forcing) isn't the way to lasting value change. Invading (using force) to establish a democracy would only achieve a beneficial type of democracy if the people were worthy of it. Moroever, democracy is only as beneficial as the people inside such a democracy. The people living in such a democracy are only as worthwhile as the particular philosophy they embrace. A democracy made up of Nazis is of no particular worth nor are there international benefits of establishing such a democracy. If you are going to claim benefits from establishing a democracy, you have the burden of proving that such a democracy of Islamofacist theocrats is worth establishing. Keep in mind that Saddam's secular Sunni government was the minority in Iraq. The majority of Iraqi's are NOT Sunnis nor are they secular. What benefits are we gaining that we couldn't have received by simply taking Saddam out of power and making it known that any wannabe dictator that steps up will meet the same fate?

Edited by Evan
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Benefits of establishing a democracy there?

What benefits? Do you really think that the benefits are worth the costs? Simplest solution really is to just nuke one Arabic country after another on the basis that if the Muslims dont' completely stop terrorism after the first bomb then we drop a second. Eventaully I think they will get the point.

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What benefits? Do you really think that the benefits are worth the costs? Simplest solution really is to just nuke one Arabic country after another on the basis that if the Muslims dont' completely stop terrorism after the first bomb then we drop a second. Eventaully I think they will get the point.

To quote your own words, "What benefits? Do you really think that the benefits are worth the costs?"

Do you realize that there are 1 billion muslims globally and that the largest Muslim country isn't even in the middle east? Or perhaps you really don't see suicide bombs at your local Starbucks or Wal-Mart as a problem or a cost of such a policy? You can't really think that nuking a Muslim country at random and threatening other Muslim countries wouldn't radicalize the Muslims here or abroad. At least I hope you aren't so one dimensional.

Edited by Evan
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To quote your own words, "What benefits? Do you really think that the benefits are worth the costs?"

Do you realize that there are 1 billion muslims globally and that the largest Muslim country isn't even in the middle east? Or perhaps you really don't see suicide bombs at your local Starbucks or Wal-Mart as a problem or a cost of such a policy? You can't really think that nuking a Muslim country at random and threatening other Muslim countries wouldn't radicalize the Muslims here or abroad. At least I hope you aren't so one dimensional.

Yes I do know that there are a billion muslims in the world, it's the worlds second largest religon. When I said "Arabic" I meant to say "Islamic" I unintentitonally used the wrong word. Arabs actually make up a small portion of Muslims as the biggest countries for muslims are Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India.

If you hadn't noticed Muslims are already radical. Look at how many conflicts occur between Muslims and other cultures and religons. Every place that Muslims go there are problems specifically related to them and thier Religon.

Islam IS the problem. What country with Islam doesn't have major problems? In India look at the conflict between the Muslims and Hindus. Check out the situation in Darfur which is being perpetrated by muslims. In the Philippines the muslims kill the Christians. These are just some of the conflicts in which Muslims are currently involved in and that doesn't even count the current Al-Qaida (Islam) vs the US. They have no respect for the rights of others and are HAPPY to take it away from others whenver possible.

America cannot radicalize Islam by bombing it, Islam is already radical. I suggest you check out what the ARI has to say about all this:

ARI link

or how about this one:

ARI link

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What benefits are we gaining that we couldn't have received by simply taking Saddam out of power and making it known that any wannabe dictator that steps up will meet the same fate?
I probably shouldn't have implied that democracy in and of itself is good, but nonetheless, Iraqi democracy does seem like it will benefit us IMO. Coercing democracy isn't effective, I agree, but aiding those who wish to establish democracy (in this case, Iraqis who don't have a specifically evil implementation of democracy in mind) might be in our best interests.

The idea of toppling Saddam and making it known that we'll do the same to anyone else unsavory who rises to power there might not be so appealing if 1) "making it known" doesn't deter Saddam-ites 2)putting in some political groundwork reduces the need for future military actions on our part.

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I probably shouldn't have implied that democracy in and of itself is good, but nonetheless, Iraqi democracy does seem like it will benefit us IMO. Coercing democracy isn't effective, I agree, but aiding those who wish to establish democracy (in this case, Iraqis who don't have a specifically evil implementation of democracy in mind) might be in our best interests.

The idea of toppling Saddam and making it known that we'll do the same to anyone else unsavory who rises to power there might not be so appealing if 1) "making it known" doesn't deter Saddam-ites 2)putting in some political groundwork reduces the need for future military actions on our part.

This entire statement ignores the majority of what has been discussed in this thread. Why are we there in Iraq to begin with? To establish democracy? Pfff, it's not worth it and it's not even close. Why should we spend 250 billion on a country that (A) Doesn't want us in thier country AT ALL (:) and which we are not getting anything out of it. If we are there to establish democracy that is altruistic. We sacrifice our money, our effort, our years and our lives so a country that doesn't want us there can have something that they really don't want.

Makes sense.....

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The idea of toppling Saddam and making it known that we'll do the same to anyone else unsavory who rises to power there might not be so appealing if 1) "making it known" doesn't deter Saddam-ites 2)putting in some political groundwork reduces the need for future military actions on our part.
There is a selfish need to prevent attacks on the US. The question of whether some foreign politician is unsavory is completely beside the point: Robert Mugabe is quite unsavory, but he is not a threat to America, and therefore we should not spend one penny on tossing the bastard out. If you'd like to donate your personal wealth to the wasted cause of political reform in an irrational nation such as Iraq, please feel free -- I imagine there are all sorts of charitable outreach organizations that are willing to flush your money down the drain. There is no realistic chance that political negotiations in Iraq will have a beneficial effect for America -- all of this political groundwork (i.e. billions of dollars wasted and thousands of Americans killed) will amount to nothing in the long term.
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Check out the situation in Darfur which is being perpetrated by muslims.
I have to disagree here; while it's true that the situation is being perpetrated by Muslims, it's also being perpetrated against Muslims. This is an ethnic war, not a religious one -- Muslim Arabs against Muslim Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa.
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If you hadn't noticed Muslims are already radical. Look at how many conflicts occur between Muslims and other cultures and religons. Every place that Muslims go there are problems specifically related to them and thier Religon.

Islam IS the problem. What country with Islam doesn't have major problems? In India look at the conflict between the Muslims and Hindus. Check out the situation in Darfur which is being perpetrated by muslims. In the Philippines the muslims kill the Christians. These are just some of the conflicts in which Muslims are currently involved in and that doesn't even count the current Al-Qaida (Islam) vs the US. They have no respect for the rights of others and are HAPPY to take it away from others whenver possible.

America cannot radicalize Islam by bombing it, Islam is already radical. I suggest you check out what the ARI has to say about all this:

Yes, Islam is definitely the problem. If you want a much better and much more *detailed* article on Islam than ARI's superficial treatment I suggest this one:Islam On Trial: The Prosecution's Case

There are way more problems than you mentioned including honor killings which have become a notable problem even in Britain. Or the rioting in France.

HOWEVER, your statements fail to take into account some pretty important stuff.

Islam is radical yes. Islam is a religion. Are all Muslims radical? NO.

A lot of Muslims in the U.S.A , England, etc that make up that 1 Billion total are NOT engaged in terrorism or blowing stuff up. Islam is an extreme religion by nature. Not everyone practices it to the extreme, however. In fact, most Muslims in the west do NOT advocate Wahabbist ideals or support Bin Laden. They aren't all clamoring for Sharia either. Some are extreme just like there are some Christians in the U.S.A who would love to make it a Puritanical theocracy (think Pat Robertson, Jerry Fallwell, etc).

The point I'm making is that you would radicalize NON radical Muslims by just nuking a random country in the middle east. People that *were* content to just live their life as is would probably think that the U.S had initiated World War III and that it was their duty to defend what they believe in much in the same way a Catholic would feel if we nuked the Vatican.

The United States hasn't seen suicide bombs. Do you really think that there wouldn't be Muslims who were content to live in peace that WOULDN'T strap bombs on their chest if we decided to start attacking Muslim countries with nuclear weapons? Probably not. I don't know about you, but having to worry about suicide bombs when I go to StarBucks IS a cost of such a rash policy (nuking Muslim nations).

Trust me, I have no love for Muslims and I really don't have a problem with such a policy. I just don't think that it would achieve the desired end.

Hunterrose:

I probably shouldn't have implied that democracy in and of itself is good, but nonetheless, Iraqi democracy does seem like it will benefit us IMO. Coercing democracy isn't effective, I agree, but aiding those who wish to establish democracy (in this case, Iraqis who don't have a specifically evil implementation of democracy in mind) might be in our best interests.

Sure. However, it is only in our best interest if those Iraqis that don't have a specifically evil implementation of democracy are the MAJORITY. Democracy is rule by the majority of people. If the good guys aren't in the majority, aiding them will be sweet and thoughtful...but it ain't gonna do a damn thing come election time.

Otherwise, the only way to help such good Iraqi's is to use military force to back them up...in essence, putting in a puppet government. Such governments are a further excuse for terrorism and anti-American sentiment. They just don't work. Look at the Shah of Iran when England/The U.S put him in or how about the numerous Latin American dictators we helped put in?

Edited by Evan
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Yes, Islam is definitely the problem. If you want a much better and much more *detailed* article on Islam than ARI's superficial treatment I suggest this one:Islam On Trial: The Prosecution's Case

There are way more problems than you mentioned including honor killings which have become a notable problem even in Britain. Or the rioting in France.

I didn't mention them because I was writting a treatise on what is wrong with Islam but rather the problems they create with other cultures and religons. The essential element is that they do not respect others rights. Honor killings are horrible crimes but in and of themselves they are no threat to me so why would I care?

HOWEVER, your statements fail to take into account some pretty important stuff.

Islam is radical yes. Islam is a religion. Are all Muslims radical? NO.

A lot of Muslims in the U.S.A , England, etc that make up that 1 Billion total are NOT engaged in terrorism or blowing stuff up. Islam is an extreme religion by nature. Not everyone practices it to the extreme, however. In fact, most Muslims in the west do NOT advocate Wahabbist ideals or support Bin Laden. They aren't all clamoring for Sharia either. Some are extreme just like there are some Christians in the U.S.A who would love to make it a Puritanical theocracy (think Pat Robertson, Jerry Fallwell, etc).

Is every person who is a Muslim a terrorist? No of course not. But just because they do not engage in it currently does NOT mean they do not sanction it, of course it also does not mean that they do either. But what is the evidence either way? Well lets see, in general Muslims world wide DO NOT speak out against terror. Yes a few US Muslim organizations in the West have a foot in the door and piddle out useless comments about how they are unhappy with the terrorists but I don't see any mass protests against the use of terror do you?

How many actually stand opposed to terror? Those are the only ones worth saving and I doubt there are very many. Besides the Muslims in the West are very few % wise, in fact there is not a single country in the west with greater than 10% of thier population being Muslim Chart Under "Contemporary Islam".

The point I'm making is that you would radicalize NON radical Muslims by just nuking a random country in the middle east. People that *were* content to just live their life as is would probably think that the U.S had initiated World War III and that it was their duty to defend what they believe in much in the same way a Catholic would feel if we nuked the Vatican.

The United States hasn't seen suicide bombs. Do you really think that there wouldn't be Muslims who were content to live in peace that WOULDN'T strap bombs on their chest if we decided to start attacking Muslim countries with nuclear weapons? Probably not. I don't know about you, but having to worry about suicide bombs when I go to StarBucks IS a cost of such a rash policy (nuking Muslim nations).

If you get rid of them all you won't have to worry about suicide bombings. You can be nice and content now if you would like but I am not. If you don't remember we were attacked on Sept. 11th which caused a huge set back to our economy and a signifigant loss of life of people who happened to be highly skilled and valuable to the economy itself. As bin Laden likes to remind us it's just a matter of time before he strikes again.

Now if some Muslims want to announce they are against terror and for human rights then fine they can live no problem. But as long as the Muslims continue to incite terror against us and the rest of the world the only question in my mind is:

Who will nuke first?

Edited by fatdogs12
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There is no realistic chance that political negotiations in Iraq will have a beneficial effect for America.
What do you base that upon?

And my bad, by "unsavory" I meant "considered dangerous to our interests."

Why should we spend 250 billion on a country that Doesn't want us in thier country AT ALL and which we are not getting anything out of it. If we are there to establish democracy that is altruistic.
What makes you say "they" don't want us? And are you saying we aren't getting anything out of it now (short-term) or that you also don't think it realistic that we can (long-term) get anything out of it?

It is only in our best interest if those Iraqis that don't have a specifically evil implementation of democracy are the MAJORITY.
Yeah, puppet governements suck. But as for our best interest, the simplest test would be whether it were more "cost-effective" to establish a democracy or to bomb however many times the situation exceeded a threat level.

As far as the Iraq situation goes, if we'd merely bombed and left, what would be the consequences? Do we agree that the Baathists would still be in control? If so, then how long would it take before they were scheming against us (again?) If not, what would have happened as a result of our efforts to prevent the Baathists from starting over again?

If you get rid of them all you won't have to worry about suicide bombings.
But the problem isn't "them" specifically, but their ideas... and you can't nuke ideas.
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What do you base that upon?
(1) Prevalence of religion; (2) Prevalence of a particularly nutty religion that thrives on suffering and whining; (3) Prevalence of a particular fanatic sect of said religion; (4) Lack of any grasp of notions of individual rights; (5) Irrational desire for the destruction of Israel; (6) Virtually nothing of interest to Americans there (what are they famous for manufacturing, anyhow?). We've got plenty of dry dirt of our own.
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Hmm. I have to disagree with that. I don't think the religion will prevent a stable democracy - which I think would have a beneficial effect on America.

  • Iraqi progress so far suggests the religion doesn't impose an unbreachable barrier to either stable democracy or individual rights.

  • Irrational desire for the destruction of America seems way down in Iraq.

  • Though economic benefits may be slim, the political benefits of showcasing what proper principles can do for a people's prosperity could save us considerable military efforts.

IMO it's not necessary for Iraq to have our immaculate political system in order to attain progress (for us and them.) Iraq as a stable democracy would thrive compared to the region's autocratic states, and prosperity is a far stronger reason to not irrationally pursue destruction than repeated thrashings.

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Hmm. I have to disagree with that. I don't think the religion will prevent a stable democracy - which I think would have a beneficial effect on America.
  • Iraqi progress so far suggests the religion doesn't impose an unbreachable barrier to either stable democracy or individual rights.

What are you basing this on? Since the US has invaded it's been a constant struggle with Islamic terrorists (soldiers). Before that they were under a complete dictatorship in which Saddam called all the shots and could easily crush the resistance. The punishment for rebellion under Saddam might get your whole family killed. Based on the evidence I have seen THIS religion does by it's very nature impose unbreachable barriers to individual rights and therefore democracy as well.


  • Irrational desire for the destruction of America seems way down in Iraq.

  • What are you basing that statement on?


  • Though economic benefits may be slim, the political benefits of showcasing what proper principles can do for a people's prosperity could save us considerable military efforts.
  • Would you care to be specific about how this could happen because I can't see how. What is the context here? If democracy does flourish what will happen? Eventually you are just empowering more people to be more educated and more exposed to the West. When the Muslim world watches Iraqis getting the Internet and Satillite TV with all it's "Evil" American influences do you think those people will be happy about that?

    If anything I see more people being more upset and now we will just have given the Muslim world more capital and more education with which attack the US.

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    Before [u.S. invasion] they were under a complete dictatorship in which Saddam called all the shots and could easily crush the resistance. The punishment for rebellion under Saddam might get your whole family killed.
    And you don't see any progress from then to now? Or are you simply attributing the "now" to deposing Saddam, killing some Baathists, and blowing up some buildings?

    If democracy does flourish what will happen? Eventually you are just empowering more people to be more educated and more exposed to the West.
    No, what they are really receiving is a better method to protect themselves and live prosperously - which IMO has direct correlations with our defense and the resources we have to spend toward it.

    *(Bad?) analogy time*

    Suppose America is the big girl on the playground, and she wants a far smaller boy ("Wimpy") to act in a certain manner X. If America influences Wimpy via force, we'll assume her force puts Wimpy on the X track short term, but with unknown long-term effects in terms of X. Wimpy has three options in regard to future actions and X:

    • He can act in a way more corresponding to X
    • He can act the same
    • He can act in a way less corresponding to X

    If forcing Wimpy results not only in his short-term adoption of X, but long-term as well, no problem; force is a success.

    If forcing Wimpy results in no long-term change, then the force was only a short-term solution.

    And if forcing Wimpy results in him acting even less in manner X long-term, then America's force has traded a short-term gain for a long-term loss.

    Something analogous could be stated for America using nonviolent persuasion, or nonviolent persuasion and force together. My first point is that the third is unacceptable, the second merely a stopgap, and the first the only truly desirable solution.

    The second is which method is more condusive to that desirable solution, relentless smackdowns, or showing how acting in manner X is beneficial both to them and us (with smackdowns still used as necessary?)

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    FatDogs:

    I didn't mention them because I was writting a treatise on what is wrong with Islam but rather the problems they create with other cultures and religons. The essential element is that they do not respect others rights. Honor killings are horrible crimes but in and of themselves they are no threat to me so why would I care?
    I WAS AGREEING with your original point that Islam is THE problem and Islam directly causes problems all over the globe.
    Is every person who is a Muslim a terrorist? No of course not. But just because they do not engage in it currently does NOT mean they do not sanction it, of course it also does not mean that they do either. But what is the evidence either way? Well lets see, in general Muslims world wide DO NOT speak out against terror. Yes a few US Muslim organizations in the West have a foot in the door and piddle out useless comments about how they are unhappy with the terrorists but I don't see any mass protests against the use of terror do you?

    here was your original quote: " Islam IS the problem. What country with Islam doesn't have major problems? In India look at the conflict between the Muslims and Hindus. Check out the situation in Darfur which is being perpetrated by muslims. In the Philippines the muslims kill the Christians. These are just some of the conflicts in which Muslims are currently involved in and that doesn't even count the current Al-Qaida (Islam) vs the US. They have no respect for the rights of others and are HAPPY to take it away from others whenver possible. "

    Lol. I know you aren't writing a treatise, but I was adding examples to your repetoire and they are no more irrelevant to you than Muslims in the Philippines killing Christians (unless you live there and are Christian :o:worry: The essential element in honor killings and the examples you provide ARE indeed the same. As you so eloquently put it, "They do not respect other's rights." I was trying to help you get a better and more scholarly/academic grasp on Islam than what ARI op-eds or 1 page papers offer. I was agreeing with your original point, NOT attacking it. I wasn't even critiquing the fact that you didn't include things like honor-killings. I was just mentioning them in case you didn't know about them (because a lot of people in the U.S.A don't know about what they are).

    Is every person who is a Muslim a terrorist? No of course not. But just because they do not engage in it currently does NOT mean they do not sanction it, of course it also does not mean that they do either. But what is the evidence either way? Well lets see, in general Muslims world wide DO NOT speak out against terror. Yes a few US Muslim organizations in the West have a foot in the door and piddle out useless comments about how they are unhappy with the terrorists but I don't see any mass protests against the use of terror do you?How many actually stand opposed to terror? Those are the only ones worth saving and I doubt there are very many.
    What constitutes "widespread protest" and how are we to derrive this information given the fact that a majority of the countries in question are ones in which political activities aren't exactly free to say the least?

    btw...I recommend checking out This link.

    It is a list of some condemnations from American Muslim organizations against 9/11 and other acts of terrorism. The list is by no means comprehensive, but you can see that there ARE Muslims that don't condemn acts of terrorism.

    HOWEVER, what do you think THOSE people would think if the U.S dropped a nuclear bomb on a middle eastern country killing 50-100 times the amount of civilians as Bin Laden did on 9/11?

    Besides the Muslims in the West are very few % wise, in fact there is not a single country in the west with greater than 10% of thier population being Muslim Chart Under "Contemporary Islam".

    Right. However, 10% in the United States means 4 MILLION people. That is larger than the entire state of Palestine. How do you propose to deal with that fact?

    If you get rid of them all you won't have to worry about suicide bombings.
    So what do you propose? Concentration camps? Exporting our Muslim population (some of which ran from oppression and don't support terrorism any more than I do) back to a country we plan to nuke? Shipping them to a free country that doesn't want them? Do you want to forgo the Star of David badges Hitler made the Jews wear and opt in for a Star and Crescent? Seriously...what is your plan? How do you propose to "get rid" of all of the Muslims? The only way to do so is to become a statist country and kill all people that are Muslim or send them elsewhere. Assuming they have legal citizenship status...that is a pretty damn dangerous trend to set into motion. Initiate the use of coercive force against people who have a particular belief set who have not initiated the use of force against anyone is a really crappy thing to do. Do you think that Objectivists could sleep safe in their beds at night after such policies were enacted? After all...if we opposed U.S government collectivism...we TOO could be nuked, liquidated, or exported off to some country that is about to be nuked. Such a mindset ("get rid of them all") throws any conceptions of "rights" right out the window.

    Hunterrose:

    But as for our best interest, the simplest test would be whether it were more "cost-effective" to establish a democracy or to bomb however many times the situation exceeded a threat level.

    Sure. I agree. The way to determine the cost-effectivity of establishing a democracy is to evaluate

    1) Whether or not the democracy is going to be a puppet government (not cost effective or much of a solution)

    2) Whether the people have the philosophical tools necessary to make democracy (rule by the people) a worthy value that prevents re-occurent situations

    3) The obstacles (factions, infrastructure, etc) facing people responsible for the actual on-the ground establishment of democracy (the troops, workers, and businessmen that are doing the rebuilding or democratization).

    Part of what determines how acceptable the costs are when dealing with the obstacles to democracy is what the estimation of 1 and 2 are. If we determine that the people are philosophically ready for democracy and the implementation can be achieved without installing a puppet government...the lives lost will probably end up worth it and won't be on the level that we are seeing in Iraq. In such cases, if people really ARE ready for creating a stable democracy...they probably won't put up with crap like the insurgency in Iraq because it would be philosophically incompatible with their democractic/philosophical ideals. I think in such cases, you wouldn't see whole TOWNS that house insurgents, etc. I think you would see people that are a lot more willing to root out terrorism by informing on known terrorists and their locations, etc.

    Thus, in such a case...the war would be a lot more "winnable." It isn't like we have lost so many people in Iraq. The numbers aren't what concerns me, but the fact that the progress we are making seems all for naught. Kind of like Vietnam. As soon as we leave, what prevents Iraq from becoming another Iran?

    As soon as we left Vietnam, South Vietnam fell to the Communists. What stops Iraq from being a comparable situation? That is why I think the criteria I listed are important for making such a determination.

    In such cases where criteria 1 and two aren't met...the costs of bombing will ALWAYS be less because human lives won't be wasted for a lost cause. We won't be wasting troops in an unwinnable conflict.

    As far as the Iraq situation goes, if we'd merely bombed and left, what would be the consequences? Do we agree that the Baathists would still be in control? If so, then how long would it take before they were scheming against us (again?) If not, what would have happened as a result of our efforts to prevent the Baathists from starting over again?

    No, I don't necessarily agree. When I say bombing, I mean removing the dictator from power via all out war against the agressor and the group that supports such an agressor. If that means taking out the Baath party via bombings, fine. In such a case, you get the Baathists on the run and destroy their capabilities to make war on the U.S or get into power via coercive means. That opens up the playing fields to competing factions (Shiites, Kurd). Does that create civil war? Sure. Are we really preventing civil war by virtue of being in Iraq? I doubt it. Ethnic conflict will probably happen anyways.

    Does anyone want to see a Guatemala-like situation happen? NO. OperationPBSuccess which took out the Communist government in power paved the way for the ethnic slaughter of 200,000 Mayans. We created a power vacuum. If such a power vacuum causes a genocide...the elements were already there to begin with.

    The U.S had to fight it's own civil war and we TOTALLY had factions right after our war of independence (federalists, anti-federalists, etc). OUR constitution was a long time coming. We earned ours. It wasn't handed to us. Neither was France's independence.

    Notice...the Brittish weren't concerned about restoring democracy to France when Napoleon (a dictator) started trying to take over everything. They were only concerned about preventing him from coercing people. Magically...that approach seemed to work wonders. Nation building wasn't a concept until post WWII when Europe was in ruins and we decided to extend our big friendly hand via the Marshall Plan.

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    Right. However, 10% in the United States means 4 MILLION people. That is larger than the entire state of Palestine. How do you propose to deal with that fact?

    I'm not sure what country you are from but indeed the United States has nearly 300 million people not 40 million. 10 percent would be 30 million people. Now as far as the Mulsim population in the United States goes there are belived to be less than 1 % with about 2.9 million muslims in the US. Most of these arn't super radical to begin with (relatively). These Muslims contain a lot of the American versions of Islam like The Nation Of Islam and the 5 Percenters.

    As far as the rest of your post I will address it later when I have more time.

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    I'm not sure what country you are from but indeed the United States has nearly 300 million people not 40 million. 10 percent would be 30 million people. Now as far as the Mulsim population in the United States goes there are belived to be less than 1 % with about 2.9 million muslims in the US. Most of these arn't super radical to begin with (relatively). These Muslims contain a lot of the American versions of Islam like The Nation Of Islam and the 5 Percenters.

    As far as the rest of your post I will address it later when I have more time.

    My bad. I went off of your Wikipedia link that showed the gloabl distribution of Muslims. The percentage of Muslims in the U.S is like 1.4% or something like that which translates to just over 4 million. 10% was a number you used and I accidentally repeated it.

    I agree that most of those Muslims aren't "super radical" however the point I'm making is that you would radicalize THESE SEGEMENTS and move them from into not actually sanctioning OR participating in acts of terrorism to actually participate in active Jihad against Americans. I'm not sure what The Nation of Islam has to do with anything to be honest, but perhaps you will explain the importance in your next post.

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    I agree that most of those Muslims aren't "super radical" however the point I'm making is that you would radicalize THESE SEGEMENTS and move them from into not actually sanctioning OR participating in acts of terrorism to actually participate in active Jihad against Americans.
    Two questions:

    1) What you suggest above is one possible reaction to the use of overwhelming American military force to destroy a threatening nation. Another possible reaction is that Muslims all around the world, radical and non-radical alike, would instantly see that jihad against America is a disastrously losing proposition, and seeing that, would turn on the jihadists to save themselves from another American attack. Why do think it will be the former reaction and not the latter?

    Did the firebombing and nuking of Japanese cities in 1945 "radicalize" the remaining Japanese civilians and turn them into fanatical kamikazes willing to fight to the death? Or did they surrender unconditionally?

    Did the annihilation of Berlin, Dresden, Nuremberg, and virtually the entire Rhineland by thousands of B-17 bombers in 1944-1945 radicalize the remaining German civilians into becoming Nazis willing to fight to the death? Or did they surrender unconditionally?

    History shows that what encourages your enemy, and draws additional recruits to his camp, is weakness and a lack of resolve to fight with all you have; it is the attempt to fight limited war that encourages the other side, not the willingness to lay to waste his entire nation.

    Consider a more recent example: the Vietnam war. For the better part of a decade, we attempted to fight a limited war, with the best targets off-limits to our air power. When Nixon finally lifted that constraint and permitted unrestricted bombing of North Vietnam, this did not "radicalize" the civilian population and encourage them to fight even harder. No, they sued for peace within weeks. (Foolishly, we accepted and agreed to a peace treaty instead of finishing them off.)

    2) If Iran succeeds in creating the risk of mass death in the U. S. (courtesy of a nuclear weapon delivered by missile fired from a freighter off our shores or smuggled in on a container ship), and the only way to eliminate that risk is to cause mass death in Iran, do you advocate we accept the risk in order to placate the Muslims within our borders?

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    If people really ARE ready for creating a stable democracy...they probably won't put up with crap like the insurgency in Iraq because it would be philosophically incompatible with their democractic/philosophical ideals.

    As soon as we left Vietnam, South Vietnam fell to the Communists. What stops Iraq from being a comparable situation? As soon as we leave, what prevents Iraq from becoming another Iran?

    The U.S had to fight it's own civil war and we TOTALLY had factions right after our war of independence (federalists, anti-federalists, etc). OUR constitution was a long time coming. We earned ours. It wasn't handed to us.

    Well, Iran isn't and Vietnam wasn't a democracy, and it is a much, much, much, much easier to maintain a stable democracy than to overthrow an autocratic state as an individual. And the polarizing difference is that those American factions you speak of were all fighting for votes, not lives. Suicide via attempting to destroy an autocratic home government won't earn anything.

    Part of your point seems to be (to me) that if these people really wanted democracy, then they'd physically fight for it, or at least imperil themselves and their families rooting out violent elements of their communities... with the added premise that "we did it, so why can't/don't they?"

    But it's unfair to compare American quest for independence from Britain to an Iraqi quest for government that doesn't kill them. The colonies had around 100 years' acquaintance with a proper political state, and about half a millenium of exposure via their English roots. The colonists universally experienced good government and accepted the possibility of a better one. They had organized militias, weaponry, the help of a significantly more powerful foreign (French) government, men like Washington and Jefferson who possessed legendary courage and rationality. Their oppressing government had to travel a considerable distance to fight them and bungled the easy solution of simply giving the colonies representation.

    No such easy solution exists for Iraqis trying to create good government on the fly.

    Notice...the Brittish weren't concerned about restoring democracy to France when Napoleon (a dictator) started trying to take over everything. Nation building wasn't a concept until post WWII when Europe was in ruins and we decided to extend our big friendly hand via the Marshall Plan.
    It wasn't just being friendly, it was also recognition that post WWI-esque treatment of leaving a destroyed and pillaged nation to boil over in rage is not necessarily the best way to create long term peace. And France was neither unacquainted with good government nor destroyed. The French citizen suffered little directly from Napoleon's defeat and could look back at his history and say "okay, here's where we were going right, and there's where we went off the proper path." The Iraqis (and largely the Mid East as a whole) don't have a historical point to return to, and thus have no little conception as to where to go from here without some reference.

    OperationPBSuccess which took out the Communist government in power paved the way for the ethnic slaughter of 200,000 Mayans.
    This might be off topic, but from what my rash searches found out, I'm of the opinion that the U.S. got involved in something it had little business in, did not even take out a Communist government, and is at least partially responsible for the chaotic result there.

    What you suggest above is one possible reaction to the use of overwhelming American military force to destroy a threatening nation. Another possible reaction is that Muslims all around the world, radical and non-radical alike, would instantly see that jihad against America is a disastrously losing proposition, and seeing that, would turn on the jihadists to save themselves from another American attack. Why do think it will be the former reaction and not the latter?
    But you must be careful not to get into a "Mission Accomplished" mindset. If unconditional surrender doesn't accompany a rejection of bad ideas, then said surrender is effectively nothing more than a ceasefire while more crafty and lethal means of destruction are concocted.

    The problems with your possibility I see are that

    • it's often hard to see what the "jihad against America" constitutes (What can an Iraqi recognize in Saddam's actions as jihad against America??)
    • without outside help, isn't fighting against the tanks and trained military of an autocratic government - turning on the jihadists - an even more disastrously losing proposition?

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    A is A:

    1) What you suggest above is one possible reaction to the use of overwhelming American military force to destroy a threatening nation. Another possible reaction is that Muslims all around the world, radical and non-radical alike, would instantly see that jihad against America is a disastrously losing proposition, and seeing that, would turn on the jihadists to save themselves from another American attack. Why do think it will be the former reaction and not the latter?
    1) Because Islam is a death worshipping philosophy that is comparable to dark ages Catholicism. People who see death as a value and are happy to achieve it via suicide bombings are way more likely to opt into more violent courses of action instead of surrender. Besides...in EVERY case you mentioned the enemy was not a religious one and was contrained to one nation. Vietnam was the only possible exception among your examples in my eyes because the Ho Chi Minh trail went into Cambodia and Laos which was obviously more than one country. However, those countries were in close proximity.

    Islam is different. Muslims aren't just in one place.

    2) We have kicked out the Baathists from Iraq more or less. The odds of beating the U.S military on the ground in combat are hopelessly low if you are a crappy force like the insurgents. Do you see that as making them think that Jihad against America is a disasterously losing proposition?

    Hell...every one of those terrorists on the planes during 9/11 LOST their lives. What more can you the U.S offer to take away from them that they aren't already willing to give?

    Nuclear weapons aren't going to be used within our own borders, so that AUTOMATICALLY gives American Muslims an instant opportunity (all 4 million of them) to start strapping bombs on their chests knowing full well that THEY aren't going to be nuked.

    2) If Iran succeeds in creating the risk of mass death in the U. S. (courtesy of a nuclear weapon delivered by missile fired from a freighter off our shores or smuggled in on a container ship), and the only way to eliminate that risk is to cause mass death in Iran, do you advocate we accept the risk in order to placate the Muslims within our borders?

    Of course I don't advocate that. You are giving me a set of hypothetical conditions that haven't been met yet. Assuming that the Iranians develop nukes, yes we should nuke them. Hopefully it doesn't get to that point, but if it does...we have no choice. HOWEVER, in the status quo...the conditions you just put forth (Iran having nukes) aren't present. So should we just nuke Iran right now out of the blue and then start threatening other Muslim nations like FatDogs suggested (which is what I was debating by the way).

    I also object to your term "placating." Placating suggests pandering to someone else's self interest like a humble servant. I'm NOT suggesting that we refrain from nuking a country capriciously to serve the best interests of the Muslims in this country. I'm suggesting that randomly nuking a middle eastern country would have costs that people like FatDogs simply don't think about or refuse to acknowledge.

    Hunterrose:

    Well, Iran isn't and Vietnam wasn't a democracy, and it is a much, much, much, much easier to maintain a stable democracy than to overthrow an autocratic state as an individual.
    I agree 100%. That was the point I was making. We didn't go into an easy situation from the beginning which implies that from the outset we could derrive that there were going to be high costs associated with this nation building.

    Part of your point seems to be (to me) that if these people really wanted democracy, then they'd physically fight for it, or at least imperil themselves and their families rooting out violent elements of their communities... with the added premise that "we did it, so why can't/don't they?"

    No. My point in bringing up the American story was to show that EVEN with our Western/Enlightenment roots, it wasn't an EASY road to democracy.

    But it's unfair to compare American quest for independence from Britain to an Iraqi quest for government that doesn't kill them. The colonies had around 100 years' acquaintance with a proper political state, and about half a millenium of exposure via their English roots. The colonists universally experienced good government and accepted the possibility of a better one. They had organized militias, weaponry, the help of a significantly more powerful foreign (French) government, men like Washington and Jefferson who possessed legendary courage and rationality. Their oppressing government had to travel a considerable distance to fight them and bungled the easy solution of simply giving the colonies representation.
    I agree 100%. The point I'm trying to make is that a country that has secularized a lot (like Turkey) and is closer to being in a philosophically *comparable* position to the 13 colonies has a chance at creating a democracy. A country like Iran does NOT...no matter how many Ayatollahs you overthrow.

    Besides...some of your specifics are just wrong.

    100 years experience with a proper political state? England? Huh? The reason why they left was because England was statist and persecuting hard core Puritans by throwing them in jail arbitrarily. Statist and imperialist England was NOT a proper state morally speaking. Right now the Iraqis have the help of a significantly more powerful government as well that liberated them.

    So what is the real difference? Men like Washington and Jefferson? YES. I agree. The philosophical element is missing which is why simple liberation isn't enough to actually pave the way for democracy. It is why we are fighting a losing battle over there and why we will always be fighting a losing battle over there unless the country magically secularizes a LOT overnight and the leaders/people that drafted the Iraqi Constitution recognize the importance of separating church/state.

    The other point that I want to re-emphasize is the fact that it is quite possible that we will create a government with VOTING mechanisms in place. However, if the people aren't philosophically ready for better leaders than Ayatollah Kohmeini then those kind of guys are all you are going to get voted into office which mitigates any potential benefits of establishing democracy in the country (because we get the same situations).

    No such easy solution exists for Iraqis trying to create good government on the fly.

    YES. My point exactly. There are a crap load of costs involved when it comes to setting up a democracy in such a philosophically backwards country like Iraq. Are those costs worth bearing despite the fact that you admit that unless democracy is only worthwhile if you have people who will vote for a George Washington over a Momar Quadafi? Hitler was elected via democractic mechanisms as well as countless left wing Latin American dictators. The only possible justification of the costs we MUST bear to establish democracy is if it will bear fruit.

    There is a pretty famous Jefferson quote, "The tree of liberty must often be refreshed with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

    Simply having freedom isn't enough. Simply having democractic mechanisms in place isn't enough. The tree of liberty must be getting us where we want or else we have wasted the blood of many a patriot for a poisoned fruit. Keep in mind that we are seeding the Iraqi experiment with the blood of American patriots. Is this our fight? Is this our obligation or our responsibility?Are we our brother's keeper in this situation? Should the American tax payers have the extra financial burden of bearing the billion dollar costs of such a farce just so we can sleep well in our beds knowing that we are giving the Iraqis enough rope to hang themselves if they so chose? Should we be committing the lives of thousands of American soldiers so Iraq can crap on their new found democracy by electing an impotent figure head or a ruthless Ayatollah?

    It wasn't just being friendly, it was also recognition that post WWI-esque treatment of leaving a destroyed and pillaged nation to boil over in rage is not necessarily the best way to create long term peace.
    I was being facetious. I know that the M. plan was to prevent the same conditions that existed after WWI (the poverty, destruction) that lead to WWII.

    And France was neither unacquainted with good government nor destroyed. The French citizen suffered little directly from Napoleon's defeat and could look back at his history and say "okay, here's where we were going right, and there's where we went off the proper path."

    1) You must be kidding. France wasn't aquainted with good government at that time. The French revolution was from 1789-1799 or so and before that you had a statist monarchy. Robspierre took power in 1794 and started killing Jacobins. Napoleon was born in 1769 and took power in November of 1799.

    here are some links if you need a refresher on your French history:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napoleon_Bonaparte

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_French_Revolution

    2) Look at how many troops he deployed on his last campaigns (Russia included) as well as the fact that some of his moves hurt France economically. Napoleon was the first to use a conscripted Army...so actually he did hurt the average French citizen quite a bit.

    This might be off topic, but from what my rash searches found out, I'm of the opinion that the U.S. got involved in something it had little business in, did not even take out a Communist government, and is at least partially responsible for the chaotic result there.
    Guzman was definitely a socialist Check out the link and look at his land redistribution policies.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_pbsuccess

    from the article :

    After the campaign, the CIA sent a handful of agents to Guatemala in order to gather and analyze government documents that would, amongst other things, find evidence that would support the CIA's belief that Guatemala was a rising Soviet puppet state, in an operation that was known as Operation PBHISTORY. Despite amassing well over 150,000 pages, they found very little to substantiate the key premise of the invasion4 ; the socialism that gained influence under Arbenz's presidency in fact had no ties to the Soviet Union whatsoever. In addition, internal CIA documents released during the CIA's brief "openness" initiative in the 1990's after the fall of Soviet Union, revealed that the United Fruit Company actually played much less of a role in the coup than previously thought, and with McCarthy-era Communist paranoia being the main factor influencing the decision to overthrow Arbenz. Nevertheless, despite most Guatemalans' attachment to the original ideals of the 1944 uprising, some private sector leaders and the military began to believe that Arbenz represented a Communist threat and supported his overthrow.

    This is much like the Weapons of Mass Destruction baloney we used as a premise for invading Iraq. The point I'm making is that we didn't stick around and rebuild Guatemala in our own image or even attempt to do so. We messed up by going there in the first place just like Iraq. However, we didn't spend bajillions of dollars trying to establish democracy over there. They worked things out on their own (admittedly they DID have a civil war) and are now a pretty stable (if not poor) country.

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    A is A:1) Because Islam is a death worshipping philosophy that is comparable to dark ages Catholicism. People who see death as a value and are happy to achieve it via suicide bombings are way more likely to opt into more violent courses of action instead of surrender. Besides...in EVERY case you mentioned the enemy was not a religious one and was contrained to one nation. Vietnam was the only possible exception among your examples in my eyes because the Ho Chi Minh trail went into Cambodia and Laos which was obviously more than one country. However, those countries were in close proximity. Islam is different. Muslims aren't just in one place.
    To the contrary, the Japanese were highly religious and certainly were not "constrained to one nation".

    Emperor Hirohito was considered to be a divine being with a godly right to rule. And the Japanese people wrote the book on suicide bombers and worship of death. In the drive toward the Japanese homeland in 1944-1945, some 2,800 kamikaze attacks sunk 34 American ships, damaged 368 others, killed 4,900 sailors, and wounded over 4,800. Those are the American figures; the Japanese claim that closer to 5,000 kamikaze attacks were made.

    Tens of thousands of Japanese soldiers staged suicidal bonzai attacks against American soldiers in various land battles on the islands. Today's jihadists have nothing on Japanese willingness to die for the sake of killing their enemy.

    And it wasn't just the military that worshipped death. In the battle for Okinawa, thousands of Japanese civilians jumped off cliffs on the island rather than surrender to American forces. After Okinawa was captured, American forces found plans for the defense of the Japanese home islands. These plans called for millions of Japanese citizens, arranged in lines 3 - 4 deep and armed with old rifles, pitchforks, kitchen knives, clubs etc., to meet any attempted landings on the home islands with suicide charges across the beaches After what they had witnessed on Okinawa, American military commanders were convinced the Japanese would carry out these plans.

    Nor were the Japanese "constrained to one nation". At the height of their empire, the Japanese occupied China, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, New Guinea, Manchuria and sundry other Pacific islands.

    Yet they gave up when sufficient death and destruction was visited upon their country. We beat the Japanese and the Germans by fighting war the proper way: with overwhelming force coupled with the demand for unconditional surrender.

    2) We have kicked out the Baathists from Iraq more or less. The odds of beating the U.S military on the ground in combat are hopelessly low if you are a crappy force like the insurgents. Do you see that as making them think that Jihad against America is a disasterously losing proposition?
    No, the way we are conducting the war in Iraq gives them reason to think they can win. Our tactics in Iraq are another attempt to fight a limited war, just as we did in Vietnam, and they are failing just as they did in Vietnam. With imbedded reporters and Al Jazeera crawling all over the backs of our soldiers to instantly publicize any civilian deaths -- and our horribly wrong-headed willingness to accept moral responsibility for those deaths -- coupled with the ridiculous notion that we must build power plants, water treatment facilities, hospitals, schools, etc., we have set an impossible task for our military, a task that can be derailed by random suicide bombings and IEDs.

    The letter we intercepted from Al Qaeda's number two man, Al Zarhawi, to Al Zarqawi in Iraq made clear that their strategy is to use our media to convince the American public that the war is unwinnable and to pressure our leaders to withdraw. Our foolish efforts to minimize Iraqi civilian casualties, even at the expense of American casualties, plays right into their hands.

    Imagine if we had taken this approach to fighting the Japanese, Germans and Italians. We would have surely lost.

    If Iraq was a threat (and I think it was, though not as big a threat as Iran) the proper response would have been regime destruction, not regime change. If we inflict sufficient damage to the regime and to the nation's economic infrastructure, it won't matter what happens in the aftermath; whoever is left will not have the resources to mount any sort of threat to us.

    Hell...every one of those terrorists on the planes during 9/11 LOST their lives. What more can you the U.S offer to take away from them that they aren't already willing to give?
    Had we annihilated the states that supported them -- like Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran -- after, say, the first bombing of the World Trade Center, these bastards likely would not have been around to stage 9/11.

    But this is really irrelevant, because the issue here is not the behavior of the die-hard hardliners. The issue is your contention that we dare not use overwhelming force because if we do, the fence sitters will join the battle against us. History does not support this notion.

    Nuclear weapons aren't going to be used within our own borders, so that AUTOMATICALLY gives American Muslims an instant opportunity (all 4 million of them) to start strapping bombs on their chests knowing full well that THEY aren't going to be nuked.
    During our firebombing of Japanese cities and the mass slaughter of Japanese civilians. none of the Japanese in this country staged suicidal attacks on Americans.

    The Muslims in this country already have (AUTOMATICALLY) the option of strapping bombs on their chests. The issue is your proposal that we give this group veto power over America’s right to self-defense. In the first place, even if it were true that the annihilation of our worst enemy (Iran) would motivate some of these bastards to stage suicide attacks, that would not justify allowing the Iranians to develop nuclear weapons and the ability deliver them to our soil.

    Second, and equally important, I would resist to the death the idea of giving Muslims in America the ability to dictate when, how and if we can defend ourselves from threatening regimes. That would be an act of moral suicide more deadly than any Islamic bomber.

    You are giving me a set of hypothetical conditions that haven't been met yet. Assuming that the Iranians develop nukes, yes we should nuke them. Hopefully it doesn't get to that point, but if it does...we have no choice.
    What do you think is going to stop them? Diplomacy? Threats from the United Nations?

    HOWEVER, in the status quo...the conditions you just put forth (Iran having nukes) aren't present. So should we just nuke Iran right now out of the blue and then start threatening other Muslim nations like FatDogs suggested (which is what I was debating by the way)
    Yes, absolutely, we should annihilate Iran right now, completely out of the blue and the more out of the blue, the better. (The choice of how to do this is a military question. But I think with our overwhelming air power, we can do it with bombing alone.) Any nation that is an overt sponsor of international terrorism, that chants "Death to America" at all of their major government functions and openly advertises their intent to wipe England, America and Israel off the map, is a completely legitimate target. It is suicidal idiocy to stand by and allow these monsters to develop nuclear weapons.

    If a man points a gun at your head, you need not wait for him to pull the trigger before destroying him to eliminate the threat. Likewise, if a man declares openly his intent to procure a gun and kill you, you need not wait for the threat to materialize before taking action against him. Indeed, prudence dictates that you act sooner rather than later.

    I also object to your term "placating." Placating suggests pandering to someone else's self interest like a humble servant. I'm NOT suggesting that we refrain from nuking a country capriciously to serve the best interests of the Muslims in this country. I'm suggesting that randomly nuking a middle eastern country would have costs that people like FatDogs simply don't think about or refuse to acknowledge.
    I don't think random or capricious nuking has been suggested by anyone. And if you are truly not advocating appeasement to placate our domestic Muslims (or any other Muslims), what exactly are these costs you refer to?
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