Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Iraq War

How Bad Does Trump Have to Be to Match George W. Bush?

Former President George W. Bush has been out and about, charming people with his paintings and his inability to put on a poncho, all in a bid to get people to buy his book of paintings to raise money for veterans. It sounds nice, but of course Bush is the reason so many of these vets need money in the first place–they were wounded, disabled, and sometimes killed in the tremendously expensive wars he started. Yet because Donald Trump has moved the Republican Party so far to the right, Bush now strikes many people as a moderate, and it’s become increasingly common for Trump critics to pine for the 00’s and praise the Bush administration. This nostalgic narrative will likely become more dominant as the memory of the 00’s continues to fade. But today I want to tilt against this windmill and show how much work Trump will have to do to fail as hard as Bush failed.

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What the Arab Spring Teaches Us About Armed Rebellion

Horrible things have been happening to Aleppo, a UNESCO World Heritage site and Syria’s largest city. Large parts of the old city has been destroyed, though not for the first time–the city was sacked as recently as 1440 by Tamerlane, a vicious Mongol conqueror who is estimated to have killed 5% of the world’s people. All told, the Syrian Civil War has killed more than 270,000 people, creating more than 4 million refugees and displacing 7.6 million. These high losses have not resulted in any constructive political change in Syria–Bashar al-Assad’s faction remains the strongest in the country. The conflict has made no one better off aside from the Islamic State, which has used the chaos to carve out a slice of territory for itself:

Syria and Iraq 5 May 2016

The Syrian government is red, the Iraqi government is purple, the rebels are green, Islamic State is black, and the Kurds are orange. When the Syrian Civil War started, a lot of people in the west were excited by the possibility of overthrowing the Assad regime and creating a new democracy in the Middle East. Instead we have a bloody power vacuum filled in which the only winners are terrorist organizations. What’s interesting about this is that Syria is not an isolated case–the Arab Spring revolutions that turned violent all went so badly, while those that remained peaceful sometimes achieved meaningful results.

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Hillary Clinton is like Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games

When I watched the third democratic debate, I was amused and horrified with the way Hillary Clinton defended the decision to intervene in Libya:

…we have to continue to do what is necessary when someone like Gadhafi, a despot with American blood on his hands, is overturned.

This is precisely the same way that George W. Bush continues to defend the Iraq War:

One thing is certain: The Iraqi people, the United States and the world are better off without Saddam Hussein in power

On these accounts, overthrowing dictators is the right decision because dictators are bad, and we should get rid of bad people. This reminds me way too much of the plot of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2Spoilers for that movie follow, if you care about such things.

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The Islamic State is Weak and Pathetic, and I Have the Numbers to Prove It

In my conversations with people around the internet since the Paris terrorist attack, it’s become increasingly clear to me that many people have a dramatically inflated understanding of the military strength and capabilities of the so-called Islamic State. So today I’d like to make it clear just how weak these people are, and how easy it would be for the surrounding Muslim states to destroy this organization even if the United States played only a minor logistical role.

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Ignore the Paris Terrorist Attack

Last night, in a series of horrible attacks, at least 128 people in Paris were killed. The attacks were committed by the Islamic State with internal help from homegrown French terrorists. The best way we can respond is by completely ignoring the attack and paying no attention to it whatsoever. Here’s why.

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