I’m not sure what’s worse about Bill Maher, his ankle-deep knowledge base or his pathetic critical thinking skills. Unfortunately, those are traits he shares with a huge swath of the population, including many politicians and so-called pundits.
I’ve said little about the current crisis because I just don’t have much to add to what’s already been said. But I’m ready to venture out on one front.
Maher has company on both the left and right when he opines, with total certainty, that it’s the Muslims in the region who need to take the fight to ISIS. He even ticks off the names of countries, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, whose citizens need to step up their game.
And everyone nods in agreement.
I don’t read everything, but I’ve read perhaps one hundred articles and blog posts on the subject, and have yet to see someone take this argument on.
So I will. I think it’s preposterous.
First, some history.
In Vietnam, we armed and trained Vietnamese to fight to prop up the corrupt regime controlling South Vietnam. Shockingly, it didn’t work out well. You see, their hearts just weren’t into the idea of risking their lives to confront the foes of that corrupt regime and its American sponsors. Imagine that? They just didn’t believe in the cause for which they were being forced to fight.
What did those Vietnamese “fighters” do? They traded with the North Vietnamese: American-made arms for safety. Then the North Vietnamese used the arms they acquired to kill American soldiers, who, for the most part, also were forced to fight for a cause in which they did not believe.
The logic behind Maher’s argument, if there is any, is that ISIS is a threat first and foremost to the Muslim countries in that region, so it’s “their” responsibility to confront the threat.
But who in that region is threatened by ISIS, the 21 year-old Egyptian who would be told to risk his life, or the corrupt Egyptian regime to which he is subjugated and which took out the freely elected leadership in an American sponsored coup?
The enemy of my enemy is my friend, the saying goes. So, if that Egyptian kid living under the thumb of an American-backed autocrat is made to fight an enemy of that autocrat, how hard is he going to fight? If we’re lucky, not very. If we’re not lucky, he changes sides, or simply exchanges whatever arms he’s carrying for free passage to Turkey.
What about the army Egypt already has? Could they go fight? Not really. You see, they’re needed at home to prop up the autocrat who’d be taken out in an uprising but for the armed thugs who protect him. Whether it’s Thieu in Vietnam, Hussein in Iraq, or any other, a corrupt leader always will insist that his best, most loyal soldiers stay near him for protection.
Obviously, the prospect of Saudi Arabians taking on ISIS is fraught with the same contradictions.
What’s going on here? It’s not just Bill Maher. Many have expressed agreement with his view, and none that I know of have seriously challenged it. Why? The premise, I suspect, is just too seductive. So, it doesn’t get the questioning it should. Back in the day, I doubt many questioned the strategy of arming the South Vietnamese to fight for “our guy” and against “their” enemy.
The bottom line, I fear, is that there are no easy answers. Over 60+ years of meddling, beginning with the CIA led coup of a freely elected Iranian leader in 1953 and his replacement with a brutal tyrant, we’ve made a complete mess of it, Democrats and Republicans both.
Oh, what a tangled, tangled web we wove.