Enough is enough

We know that our life of freedom is stronger than terror.  Let us answer the terrorists by living our values with courage.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, after the Paris attack of November 13, 2015.

The best revenge is to outlive the bastards.
Edward Abbey, paraphrased.

I haven’t been a fan of Merkel’s handling of the European economic difficulties, but  she seems to be reacting thoughtfully to the agonizing situation arising from the Syrian refugees.   And when I read her words above, following the Paris attacks, I wished she had been President of the United States on September 11, 2001.

Enough is enough.
Roger Cohen writing in the New York Times about the ISIS attacks on Paris.

Cohen cites the North Atlantic Treaty as requiring a response from all signatories–an attack on one is an attack on all.  OK, some response is needed.  Merkel says Europe must fight, and Hollande has begun air attacks.  It’s hard to believe that the U.S. and even the newly liberalized Canadians won’t respond.  The question is what that response should be.

What Cohen contemplates is the complete destruction of ISIS:

“…the only objective commensurate with the ongoing threat is the crushing of ISIS and the elimination of its stronghold in Syria and Iraq.” 

I think this is not possible–ISIS is not the Empire of Japan or Germany, countries that could be reduced to rubble and starved–and to try to do so would be foolish.   And, even if you succeeded, then what would you do with what remains (A Marshall Plan for Syria, anyone?), and what else might pop up to take its place?  Who should know this better than a Bush, but Jeb Bush is ready to declare war.  Other Republicans are calling for “boots on the ground” and the destruction of ISIS.  Tough talk, but those boots would be worn by someone else.

Our last two big wars, the longest and third-longest in our history, have been fought by what are essentially mercenaries paid on credit.  Besides those soldiers, no one in the U.S., except the families of the dead and wounded, has been forced to bear any cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, except for the cost of little magnetic-ribbon tokens of support put on the very cars for which we gladly pay ransom to one of the primary ideological and financial sponsors of terrorism .

So, to prove we are really, really serious this time, let’s get a declaration of war from Congress that includes these two provisions:

  1. Re-instate the draft.   Everyone must have some skin in the game.  This time it must be for both sexes, and there must be no deferments, with alternative service only for conscientious objectors (whether or not religious).  Look, I’m sixty-seven years old, and would be a hazard in combat, but I can serve somehow, and so can you.  And,
  2. A War Surtax, calculated and applied each quarter to cover the cost of the war.   I would make this tax strongly progressive based on wealth.  Those with the most to protect should pay more.  Heck, let’s gross that up thirty percent or so to pay off the cost of the last two.


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