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US Foreign Policy 100608-N-9923C-226 NAVY WAR COLLEGE, Newport RI (June 8, 2010) Max Boot speaks at the second panel discussion at the 2010 Current Strategy Forun at the Naval War College. Hosted by the Honorable Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy, this year's conference will explore the theme of "The Global System in Transition" by examining United States foreign policy in the emerging global order, the "strategic leadership" opportunities for the United States, and the role of the maritime services in supporting the nation's key objectives.(U.S. Navy photo by Chief Electronics Technician James B. Clark)

Published on November 18th, 2015 | by Jim Lobe

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The Mindless Militarism of Max Boot

by Jim Lobe

There’s so much hysterical nonsense spewing forth from the neocon/Republican echo chamber in the wake of the Paris massacres that it’s very difficult to know where to begin to focus one’s attention.

On why Christians from Syria should be given preference for gaining asylum in the U.S., for example, Elliott Abrams of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) asserted that “in the United States and Western Europe, Christian refugees have not become terrorists…” Which is a pretty remarkable statement given the history of Cuban Christians, such as Orlando Bosch or Luis Posada Carriles, who were granted refugee status in the United States and promptly turned their considerable talents to terrorism, including blowing up a civilian airliner in mid-flight.

And then there was this bizarre passage by neocon—or should I say neo-imperialist—Niall Ferguson in the “Notable & Quotable” column excerpted in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal from a Sunday Times op-ed about European decadence and its similarity to early fifth-century Rome:

It is doubtless true to say that the overwhelming majority of Muslims in Europe are not violent. But it is also true that the majority hold views not easily reconciled with the principles of our liberal democracies, including our novel notions about sexual equality and tolerance not merely of religious diversity but of nearly all sexual proclivities. And it is thus remarkably easy for a violent minority to acquire their weapons and prepare their assaults on civilization within these avowedly peace-loving communities.

Huh?

But I think Max Boot, who clearly sees the current moment as particularly propitious for pushing his chronically militaristic agenda, deserves special attention, if only because of his reputed close ties to COIN master Gen. David Petraeus and his status as a “foreign policy adviser” to neo-con favorite Marco Rubio. There’s no need to go into the details of his recommendations for eliminating the Islamic State (ISIS or IS). He laid them out quite clearly in “How to Fight a Real War on ISIS’’ published in Commentary magazine’s “Contentions” blog on Sunday. I must say he makes it all seem so simple, almost casual. (“We will probably need at least 20,000 personnel and they will need much more permissive rules of engagement that will allow them to go outside of their bases in order to call in air strikes and more effectively mentor indigenous forces fighting ISIS.”)

On Tuesday, Boot, the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow for National Security Studies at CFR, repeated those recommendations in yet another post entitled “Doubling Down on a Failed Strategy.” I read the article while I was getting a late afternoon snack, and two passages really jumped out at me, again just because of the sheer casualness with which the supposedly serious “defense intellectual” and “military historian” threw them out. Here’s the first one:

There is some indication now that the bombing is intensifying a bit, with the U.S. finally hitting ISIS fuel trucks that had been off-limits until now for fear of collateral damage. But even now the truck drivers are receiving advance notice to leave their vehicles ahead of the bombing for fear they will get hurt. This is hardly the action of a superpower fighting a war of survival. [Emphasis added]

Now, I guess this is what he means by “more permissive rules of engagement.” But what really got my attention was his definition of the war against IS as one of “survival.” Has any serious person suggested that IS poses an existential threat to the United States or Western Europe? Does David Petraeus or Marco Rubio think that? Talk about hysteria.

But then he follows this up with the following passage regarding how those 20,000 troops can avoid becoming a “permanent occupation” of the kind that Obama warned against during his press conference at the G-20 summit this weekend.

Obama made no reference to the need to create a new Anbar Awakening by offering Sunnis autonomy within a federal Iraqi structure—something that the U.S. can effectively guarantee even without Baghdad’s cooperation. The U.S. can simply train and arm Sunni rebel fighters and then announced, as it announced in the case of the Kurdish Regional Government in 1991, that the U.S. would protect Sunni autonomy in the future.[Emphasis added]

Wow, it is so simple. I’m sure that the Shia-led government in Baghdad would never challenge a unilateral action like that. And it certainly won’t be necessary for U.S. warplanes to patrol the newly autonomous region as they did over Kurdistan for more than 10 years after the first Gulf War. And if Baghdad or its well-armed Shia militia allies did object to such an arrangement, I suppose a simple declaration by Washington would persuade them to back off. (Is this what Petraeus or Rubio thinks?)

So there you have it: 20,000 troops, more airstrikes less discriminately carried out, some good arming and training of local forces a la Surge, and unilateral U.S. declarations as to how Iraq (and maybe Syria, too) should be effectively partitioned backed up by unilateral (military) guarantees, and we’ll have nothing to worry about anymore. CFR should be proud.

Photo of Max Boot courtesy of U.S. Naval War College/James B. Clark via Flickr


About the Author

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Jim Lobe served for some 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service and is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy and the influence of the neoconservative movement.



3 Responses to The Mindless Militarism of Max Boot

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  1. avatar William Burns says:

    For that matter, how many of the Sunni fighters we arm and train will defect to ISIS?

  2. avatar James Canning says:

    “Mindless Militarism”. Has a nice ring to it. However, I think Max Boot is a clever manipulator of public opinion in America, with the calculated purpose of saddling the US taxpayer with trillions of dollars in expense, in “protecting” Israel.

  3. avatar virgile says:

    Obama wants at the same time to appear like the steady protector of the Arab Sunnis in order to keep milking the rich Gulf countries that warrant Israel’s protection and at the same time weaken them to the point where they will be begging for the USA help.
    In this perspective, people like Max Boot and other neo-cons are very useful to Obama.

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