Let’s cheer another successful assassination!

Summary: During the past decade we have deployed our most skilled warriors and most advanced technology in a massive assassination program with few precedents in history. This put the power of evolution to work for our foes. It is called the Darwinian Ratchet, a well-known concept in science and proven in war. I and others predicted that this would set the Middle East in flames. But even after 19 years, we prefer not to see it. Victory remains impossible until we overcome our inability to learn this and other basics of modern warfare.

“Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.”
— Not said by Einstein. Said by Alcoholics Anonymous, people who know everything about dysfunctionality.

River of Blood

The dumbest headline of 2020: “End of terror or start of war?”
— AP and CNN (e.g., here, here).

How many times have we been told an assassination would bring victory. Equally dumb is this tweet by Trump, as if this were a glorious victory on the battlefield or a killing that would accomplish more than the assassinations before it.


After 18 years of war, we are losing in Afghanistan. Iraq is on fire, as is much of the Middle East. For much of that, we have been killing leaders of our foes. Every assassination is greeted with joy in America. With fervors of blood-lust, and declarations of victory. It shows why we lose.

America has won its past wars by building alliances based on possession of the moral high ground, from the American Revolution and the Civil War to WWII. Now our geopolitical strategy is occupying foreign lands, a global assassination program, and endless war. After 18 years, trillions of dollars spent – plus thousands of American soldiers dead, crippled, and injured. With nothing whatsoever to show for it but exhulation at each assassination. This war burns our resources and degrades our spirit.

What makes this so pitiful is not just that we continued assassinations for years after they proved to be either ineffective or even counter-productive, but that we did so after so many of our experts pointed out that obvious fact.

America’s learning disability

The great mystery of our post-9/11 wars is our inability to learn from history and our own experience. My previous post discussed one aspect of this: our blindness to the consistent failure since WWII of foreign armies fighting insurgents. Another aspect is what Martin van Creveld calls the “power of weakness”. This essay discusses a third aspect, how an insurgency brings into play a “Darwinian ratchet” in which our assinations empower – not weaken – an insurgency.

This post shows the origin and history of the “ratchet” concept and its slow recognition by American geopolitical and military leaders. But there are no answers to our inability to adapt our tactics to the ratchet, just as there are none for our failure to learn from the history of insurgencies (as explained in Why the West loses so many wars, and how we can learn to win).

Biologists see the Darwinian Ratchet

The ratchet is concept first developed by Herman Muller in his famous 1932 article “Some genetic aspects of sex.” We experience the Darwinian ratchet when we take antibiotics in too-low doses or for too short a time, creating a colony of drug-resistant bacteria. When done by a society, we breed superbugs, as Nathan Taylor explains in “What are the risks of a global pandemic?“ (Praxtime, 23 March 2013).

“We can think of resistance to disease as an arms race. As a population gets exposed to more and more diseases, a darwinian ratchet effect occurs, and only those with stronger immune systems survive.”

The literature of biology and medicine has many articles about the Darwinian ratchet, ranging from complex (Alexander Riegler’s “The Ratchet Effect as a Fundamental Principle in Evolution and Cognition”, Cybernetics and Systems, 2001) to the incomprehensible. The concept has spread to other fields, as in William H. Calvin’s The Cerebral Code: Thinking a Thought in the Mosaics of the Mind (1996).

“We know that the Darwinian Ratchet can create advanced capabilities in stages – it’s a process that gradually creates quality – and gets around the usual presumption that fancy things require an even fancier designer.”

Some scientists have extended the concept to humanity as a whole, as Ruth DeFries did in The Big Ratchet: How Humanity Thrives in the Face of Natural Crisis (2014): “In every cycle, new obstacles emerge. And in every cycle, millennium after millennium, humanity as a whole has muddled through.”

Charles Darwin

The Darwinian Ratchet at war

“Never engage the same enemy for too long …or he will adapt to your tactics.”
— Falsely attributed to Clausewitz but still insightful. From Lions for Lambs (2007).

My first posts about the Iraq War in Sep 2003 and Oct 2003 discussed the ratchet (possibly its first mention in military theory). We killed the insurgents, recruiting more and alienating the local people (a pattern that we now understand but still repeat). I showed an even worse effect: we culled the pack of insurgents – eliminating the slow and stupid while clearing space for more fit insurgents to rise in authority. Hence the by now familiar pattern of a rising sine wave of insurgent activity: success, a pause in activity, followed by another wave of activity – but larger and more effective. To which we reply with more killing. Perhaps this will work better in the second score of years than in the first.

We lock ourselves into a “Red Queen’s race” in which we must run ever faster just to stay abreast of our enemies in the Long War. Since they learn faster and try harder (it’s their land), we tend to fall behind. This help accounts for our inexplicable (to us) defeats in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Yemen. Richard Dawkins explains its effects: “As the generations unfold, ratcheting takes the cumulative improbability up to levels that – in the absence of the ratcheting – would exceed all sensible credence.”

In 2006, after 5 years of war, some awareness of this the ratchet bean to appear in official reports, such as the 2006 National Intelligence Estimate “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States“. It said…

“We assess that the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives …The Iraq conflict has become the “cause célèbre” for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.”

By 2008 the best among the COINistas spoke about the ratchet, such as David Kilcullen in his presentation “Dinosaurs versus Mammals: Insurgent and Counterinsurgent Adaptation in Iraq“ (RAND Insurgency Board, May 2008). Like all of Kilcullen’s serious work, it is a brilliant and subtle presentation that deserves close attention. (Red emphasis added in these excerpts.)

“An unforgiving environment that punishes error – Leading to Darwinian pressure on both sides…

Slide 16: Hypothesis: counterinsurgents adapt slowly, insurgents evolve quickly?

Slide 17: Hypothesis: mechanisms for insurgent evolution: General evolutionary effect, Leadership evolution (destruction-replenishment cycle), Bell Curve effect.

Slide 52: Conclusions: In a counterinsurgency, insurgent groups and security forces appear to engage in time- and resource-competitive processes of adaptation, driven by the Darwinian pressure imposed by a complex, hostile “conflict ecosystem” that operates on the edge of chaos. Counterinsurgents appear mainly to adapt, insurgents to evolve – but insurgent groups whose network and organizational structure is tighter may behave in a more purposeful adaptive manner (e.g. JAM).”

By 2009 a few academics began writing about it, such as “Darwinian selection in asymmetric warfare: the natural advantage of insurgents and terrorists“ by Dominic Johnson (Reader, Dept of Politics & International Relations, U of Edinburgh; bio here) in the Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences, Fall 2009.

“Models of human conflict tend to focus on military power, predicting that – all else equal – the stronger side will prevail. This overlooks a key insight from the evolutionary dynamics of competing populations: the process of adaptation by natural selection. Darwinian selection weeds out poor performers and propagates good performers, thus leading to a cumulative increase in effective adaptations over time. The logic of selection applies not only to biological organisms but to any competing entities, whether strategies, technologies, or machines – as long as three conditions are in place: variation, selection, and replication.

“Applied to asymmetric warfare, Darwinian selection predicts that, counter-intuitively, stronger sides may suffer a disadvantage across all three conditions:

  • Variation – weaker sides are often composed of a larger diversity of combatants, representing a larger trait-pool and a potentially higher rate of “mutation” (innovation).
  • Selection – stronger sides apply a greater selection pressure on weaker sides than the other way around, resulting in faster adaptation by the weaker side.
  • Replication – weaker sides are exposed to combat for longer (fighting on the same home territory for years at a time), promoting experience and learning, while stronger sides rotate soldiers on short combat tours to different regions.

“In recent years, many civilian and military leaders have noted that US counterinsurgency and counterterrorism forces are adapting too slowly to match the insurgents in Iraq, the Taliban in Afghanistan, or Al Qaeda worldwide. A Darwinian approach suggests that this is exactly what we might predict: Weaker sides adapt faster and more effectively. Understanding the causes and consequences of Darwinian selection offers insights for how to thwart enemy adaptation and improve our own.”

A concept has become mainstream when Stratfor mentions it, as they did in “Pakistan: The South Waziristan Migration“ (14 October 2009).

“All this experience in designing and manufacturing IEDs in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan means that the jihadist bombmakers of today are more highly skilled than ever, and they have been sharing their experience with foreign students at training camps in places like South Waziristan. Furthermore, the U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan has provided a great laboratory in which jihadists can perfect their terrorist tradecraft.

“A form of “tactical Darwinism” has occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan as coalition firepower has weeded out most of the inept jihadist operatives. Only the strong and cunning have survived, leaving a core of hardened, competent militants. These survivors have created new tactics and have learned to manufacture new types of highly effective IEDs – technology that has already shown up in places like Algeria and Somalia. They have been permitted to impart the knowledge they have gained to another generation of young aspiring militants through training camps in places like South Waziristan.

“As these foreign militants scatter to the four winds, they will be taking their skills with them. Judging from past waves of jihadist fighters, they will probably be found participating in future plots in many different parts of the world. And also judging from past cases, they will likely not participate in these plots alone.”

A stronger sign of mainstream acceptance is its appearance in the writings of military professionals, such as “Insurgent career planning or insurgency darwinism“ by J. J. Malevich (Lt Colonel, Canadian Army; COIN Branch Chief) at the USA and USMC Counterinsurgency Center Blog, 4 March 2010 (no longer online).

“In our war in Afghanistan we seem to be doing a lot of leadership targeting by UAV. But, are we doing leadership targeting because it is a worthwhile war winner or because we can? I think is it more the latter than the former. There is no doubt that the capture/kill of an insurgent leader deals a blow to the insurgency and creates an IO opportunity for the home team. But, how much of an effect remains to be seen. Obviously we’ve been going after insurgent leaders for a while and what has happened? The insurgency got stronger. In fact, some had mused that the amateurs were cleaned out and the professionals took over.

“When I think of leadership targeting I am reminded of the Jominni inspired doctrine “shock and awe theory.” In our doctrine, we constantly try to recreate those for 42 days of the battle of France in 1940 where the Germans got inside the OODA loop of the French Command, overwhelmed it and defeated it. Although targeting leadership can be useful in the heat of battle where HQs need to make rapid decisions and direct troops and fires to the critical point of the battle, I don’t think it applies to insurgency situations.

“Leadership in an insurgency is a slower, less controlled event. Taking out a leader will not have an immediate tangible effect on the battlefield as insurgents are not normally sitting around waiting for orders. What I think it does cause is collateral damage while at the same time giving the younger more aggressive insurgent leadership an opportunity to come to the fore. I think we do it because we can. It reminds me of the British Bomber offensive in WW II between 1940 and 1941. The British could not come to grips with Nazis after the fall of France, but they could bomb targets in Germany and that made them feel good regardless of the effect.

“Does leadership targeting fall into an overall strategic plan or is it just something we are doing because we can?”

Eventually even journalists learned about the ratchet, although in an unsystematic way. For example, The Economist explains how our military technology has forced the jihadist to become more sophisticated technologically in “Bombs away“ (4 March 2010).

“For America’s Central Intelligence Agency, the glory days of its ‘Darwin’ patrols in Iraq were short-lived. Following the defeat of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the American-led forces faced clever homemade bombs triggered with the remote controls used to open garage doors. So CIA agents drove around transmitting garage-opening signals to blow up any bombmakers who happened to be nearby. This ‘survival of the fittest’ culling, which gave the scheme its nickname, quickly became less effective when the bombers came up with new and better detonators. ‘We had to keep going back to the drawing board,’ says a former senior CIA official.

“And still the battle continues, with each new bombing advance met by a new countermeasure. As insurgents and terrorists have improved their handiwork, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have become their most lethal weapons. In Iraq, IEDs are responsible for two-thirds of coalition deaths. In Afghanistan such attacks have roughly tripled in the past two years.”

US Generals usually talk to us only in terms of winning, but after 14 years of failure a note of realism occasionally slips in. As in this interview by Breaking Defense with Michael Flynn (Lt. General, US Army), retiring chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency, on 7 August 2014. He describes the ratchet, but not by name.

“These various groups have learned from fighting the U.S. military for a decade, and they have created adaptive organizations as a means to survive. They write about and share ‘Lessons Learned’ all the time. That was something Bin Laden taught them before he died. These proliferating Islamic terrorist groups have also for years been developing connective tissue to each other and back to al-Qaeda senior leadership in Pakistan’s tribal regions. Some of those connections are pretty strong. We’re not talking bits and pieces or nascent connections. …

“{w}hen Bin Laden was killed there was a general sense that maybe this threat would go away. We all had those hopes, including me. But I also remembered my many years in Afghanistan and Iraq [fighting insurgents] …We kept decapitating the leadership of these groups, and more leaders would just appear from the ranks to take their place. That’s when I realized that decapitation alone was a failed strategy.”

Andrew Cockburn’s “The Mystique of High-Value Targeting: Why Obama’s Hopes of Decapitating the Islamic State Won’t Work” shows the Darwinian ratchet at work in a non-trinitarian conflict other than war: the DEA’s 1992 “Kingpin Strategy”.

“The explanation, so the analysts concluded, was that dead leaders were invariably and immediately replaced, and almost always by someone (often a relative ready for revenge) younger, more aggressive, and eager to prove himself. The same held true on a wider scale. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Iraqi al Qaeda leader widely cited as the source of all our troubles in Iraq, was duly targeted and killed in 2006, only to be succeeded by Abu Ayyub al-Masri, who turned out to be an even more deadly opponent. He too was duly killed, and instead we got Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, who created the Islamic State, now lord of six million people and an area the size of Great Britain.”

See more examples below in the For More Information section.


“I’ve killed them by the tens of thousands, scoured their countryside at will, pried their allies away, and humiliated them day after day. I have burned their crops and looted their wealth. I’ve sent a whole generation of their generals into the afterworld …Have I changed nothing? They are stronger now than before. They are more than before. They fight more sensibly than before. They win when they used to lose.”

— Hannibal speaking about Rome in David Anthony Durham’s novel Pride of Carthage (2005).

These examples show that some experts see this basic element of modern war, but our military and geopolitical institutions cannot learn it even from 19 years of experience. Just as they refuse to recognize the dismal record of success by foreign armies fighting insurgencies since WWII. That’s bad news, since slow learning is a weakness even our great power cannot easily overcome. Perhaps we should worry less about insurgents in distant nations and worry more about our folly. Or we can wait until our enemies teach us a lesson we cannot ignore.

For More Information

Ideas! See my recommended books and films at Amazon. Also, see a story about our future: “Ultra Violence: Tales from Venus.

See “Assassinations: Where Accounting Meets Human Resources” by Gary Brecher (the War Nerd), 11 February 2011.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about assassination, about counterinsurgency, and especially these …

  1. Obama + assassination + drones = a dark future for America – by Mark Mazzetti.
  2. Assassination as Policy in Washington: How It Failed Then and Fails Now – by Andrew Cockburn.
  3. Should we use our special operations troops as assassins? Is it right, or even smart?
  4. Stratfor asks Why al Qaeda survives the assassination of its leaders?
  5. 14 years of assassinations: Stratfor describes the result.
  6. Another assassination of a jihadist leader. Here’s what comes next.
  7. Obama’s last gift to America: a global assassination program.
  8. James Bond is the model for our mad geopolitical strategy.
  9. We celebrate the death of a foe. It shows our weakness. – The assassination of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

An insurgent’s theme song

“What does not kill him, makes him stronger.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche in Ecce Homo: How One Becomes What One Is (1888).

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,
Stand a little taller, …
What doesn’t kill you makes a fighter.
— Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger”.


Books about our mad assassination program

These two books by Nick Turse describe aspects of our wars not mentioned in the newspapers.

Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050 (2012).

It didn’t work in Vietnam, either: Kill Anything That Move (2013).

Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050
Available at Amazon.
Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam
Available at Amazon.


23 thoughts on “Let’s cheer another successful assassination!”

  1. Also interesting to observe the lack of focus on the additional killing of a couple of high-ranking Iraqi PMF officers. Which is a bit like murdering US National Guard officers.

    That could put some pressure on the Shia politicians to redraw their permission for a US present in Iraq. So maybe you get lucky and end up being kick out of Iraq.

    1. Poul,

      One of the great rules of 4th generation warfare (which we refuse to learn): “Blowback Is A Bitch.”

      “So maybe you get lucky and end up being kick out of Iraq.”

      We were already kicked out of Iraq in the big way. The US government planned to use Iraq as a base from which to project military power across the Middle East, replacing uncertain land bases (eg, Bahrain) and highly risky aircraft carriers. So we built scores of large bases (“enduring bases”) at a cost of uncounted billions. Example here. All of which were abandoned when we were kicked out by 31 December 2011.

      They let us keep our giant “embassy” and now Iraq let us back in a small way. All of which might end soon.

  2. “”These proliferating Islamic terrorist groups have also for years been developing connective tissue to each other and back to al-Qaeda senior leadership in Pakistan’s tribal regions. Some of those connections are pretty strong. We’re not talking bits and pieces or nascent connections. …””

    Larry consider the following as an outline that needs research, if not already done:

    The quote above indicates the greatest danger to US interests
    The increased effectiveness of IED’s is a warning sign of the actual danger
    3.a. The US chooses its allies in these regions who are part of the establishment
    3.b. The insurgents are generally peasants, but not necessarily the insurgent leadership
    3.c. Each assassination and invasion gives the insurgents the “Pearl Harbor” moral advantage
    3.d. Each victory gives the insurgents the “Hard Won” moral advantage
    3.d. Peasant revolutions generally take biological generations, but social generations can be much faster

    Conclusion: Our efforts in the Middle East have replaced the slow biological generation with a social generation that US efforts have made a Darwinian Ratchet. The social generation is at a rate much shorter than biological generations. Thus the real danger to US interests is that present efforts are guaranteeing a skillful, determined adversary becoming the government of the contested region that will take biological generations to see the possibility of a positive relationship with the US.


    1. John,

      “Our efforts in the Middle East have replaced the slow biological generation with a social generation ….”

      I don’t understand. History consists of social changes, often running at high speed.

      “guaranteeing a skillful, determined adversary becoming the government of the contested region ”

      That’s one possible outcome. But established governments are usually rational and open to negotiation. Bills have to be paid, exports and imports balanced, etc.

      But there are many scenarios that are as bad or worse. The Middle East has been in a process of slow political decay for decades, as existing governments lose legitimacy and nothing takes their place. Perhaps Lebanon and now Liyba are their models of the future. That would be horrifically bad.

      1. LK: “I don’t understand. History consists of social changes, often running at high speed.”

        I was trying to indicate the atypically large acceleration caused by our attacks with Darwinian ratcheting; and slowing, stopping, or reversing good will towards us from the rational part due to our invading. I agree with the below statement but would note that these bills, etc, can be met with rational negotiations with others than the USA; and that the moral imperative of “Pearl Harbor” and “Hard Won” will mean USA will not be considered a rational choice.
        LK: “That’s one possible outcome. But established governments are usually rational and open to negotiation. Bills have to be paid, exports and imports balanced, etc.”

        LK: “Perhaps Lebanon and now Liyba are their models of the future.”

        I don’t know of a way to control the fundamental radical zealots except extermination, not war, extermination. However, a failed policy is not made better when it is what can be done, as is shown in today’s post.

      2. John,

        “I don’t know of a way to control the fundamental radical zealots except extermination, not war, extermination.”

        You are quite the zealot monster, quite similar to the people you want to kill. Which is usually the case. However, I am confident that humanity will triumph over both you and them.

        BTW – God did not appoint you as Ruler of The World, going forth to other lands to judge and kill. As discussed in tomorrow’s post, unless you and your bloodthirsty ilk are suppressed – kept away from the policy controls – you will involve us in a crash of ugly magnitude.

        Eventually America will recall the words of one of its greatest statemen: John Quincy Adams in his speech at the House of Representatives on 4 July 1821:

        “Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example.

        “She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force.”

      3. I did not propose extermination. I offered it as the only solution I knew would work. I appreciate peace too much to desire such war efforts. I have been against foreign military involvement for decades. The other words you offer about me fall in the same category of assuming my desires. Please reread what I wrote. I talked of knowledge not desire.

        I agree strongly with John Quincy Adams. However, today’s post indicates that USA is not following his advice. It is the current failed policy that the discussion has been about and part of that was the military incursion.

        Your example of Lebanon should give everyone pause to think. The large number of refugees on the southern border of mainly Shi’ites from the creation of Israel, and a secular Christian, Druze, and Sunni coalition was not a very homogenous group. There were anti Israeli, anti western, and pro pan arabic desires with this large incursion of mainly Muslims.

        FYI: I don’t desire policy control, and am dismayed by repeated policy failures, as I believe you are. I also believe, that we all need to understand that there is not some magic policy button. Some will work, some will fail, and sometimes it is hard to see which is which. The repetition of failure needs acknowledgement this post advances.

      4. John,

        “I offered it as the only solution I knew would work”

        First, define “work.” Second, that’s quite an insane thing to say. There are many other proven methods that don’t require you to cosplay God.

        Third, it’s also a strong statement of support for those who wage our military interventions.

    2. Since my comments were in light of the forever war in the Middle East, it is a solution to the war. If just leaving “works”, I support it. So far, this is not acceptable to the pols. So, “work” means winning and peace, since that will stop the loss that the post mentions about US deaths and other losses.

      So please give me examples where “something” works where we have become Crusaders in a foreign nation and the Darwin Ratchet has started, after we have lost the moral high ground, and refuse to leave our appointed foreign government in that nation facing these ratcheted insurgents.

      I would consider it not playing God, but Attila, Alexander the Great, etc. Human history is awash with extermination used to solve this situation.

      They may see it as support, I see it as condemnation of the way we became involved and do not learn. They keep trying to sell friendly nation building, yet the reality is the opposite.

    1. It would be reasonable for us to start drawing down now. If we are there primarily for fuels for our cars and trucks– well then; perhaps we should seize the electric future at last. We will still need some oil, but helpfully we ourselves can produce “some” oil – as do many other nations.

      Of course we would not want to rush the exits, which would be massively disruptive, but we are PRODUCING about as much oil as we consume RIGHT NOW – or so I am told. Granting that it may at times be easier to get X amount of oil to part of the country by importing it from overseas vs. pipeline or ship, what are we doing there at all?

    2. I got curious about this and did some rummaging and AFAIKT the US imported roughly 20% of its crude oil, of which, roughly 20% comes from the middle east.

      Virtually all US natural gas comes from Canada.

      If this is the case, then I really don’t see US energy requirements driving middle east conflict. This is about ‘influence’.

      1. Steve,

        “If this is the case, then I really don’t see US energy requirements”

        We attacked Iraq, Libya, and now Iran when they would not join our imperial team. I see a pattern there!

      2. Yeah, we’re in a different situation than we were during the 70s oil shocks. It would not be a matter of great public policy or cost to get that number down 20%, I imagine, at which point we are breaking even (leaving aside the caveats above – we probably wouldn’t be totally autarkal about it.)

        We command the nicest part of one of the nicest continents. If we developed it to the degree that many other nations working with far less did, we would command the world’s envy even before we started bombing them.

      3. SF,

        “We command the nicest part of one of the nicest continents”

        The continents are all “nice” (other than Antarctica), each with advantages and disadvantages. The difference in their development is what their people have made of them.

  3. Larry, I think Trump has stolen a march on you by outstupiding you. I originally thought that you were correct until I saw this:

    NBC: “Trump looks to cement, expand evangelical support with launch of new 2020 coalition in Miami.

    It appears to me that Trump is trying to recast the conflict in the Middle East (which we started) as a religious war to get re-elected. The primary focus of his campaign is not winning the war on terror but to win the war on Democrats.

    Although I have difficulty comprehending how anybody could associate Trump with morality, enough evangelicals seem to believe it to do a lot of damage if sufficiently goaded.




    I predict that we will see a surge of opinion pieces in right wing news sources about why we need to help the President win against immoral forces in the US and in the world (such as Islam and the Democratic party). What happens after that gets a lot more difficult to predict.

    Hopefully the American people will fail to respond and Trump will abandon this line of attack before it does real harm.

    1. Pluto,

      One of the oddities of our politics is how each side condemns the other for doing what they themselves did in office. When “we” do it, our motives are the highest and our reasoning is superlative. When “they” do it, their motives are pure evil and their reasoning is insane.

      That is, we pretend that the Deep State does not exist by ignoring the bipartisan nature of our national security policies.

      Historians who specialize in our time will see the tiny differences between the imperial policies of Bush Jr. the Invader, peace prize – kill list Obama, and keep doing what we’re doing Trump. To everybody else they will be three guys – same schtick.

      As for belief that he’s bringing us to the brink of war just to gain evangelical votes that he already had – too silly to discuss. Esp since the National Security Mafia has been pushing for war with Iran since 1979.

    2. Larry: “As for belief that he’s bringing us to the brink of war just to gain evangelical votes that he already had – too silly to discuss.”

      Agreed, my concern isn’t that Trump is trying to gain votes that he’s already won, it is that he is changing the game because he can’t win the current one.

      Trump won in 2016 because the US voting electorate was disgruntled with the Clinton and didn’t know Trump very well and a large percentage of them chose not to vote. In 2020 the voting public either hates or loves Trump, with at least 10%more of the likely voters hating him than loving him. The odds of Trump getting re-elected on those grounds are slender at best.

      My concern, based on comments that Trump has made plus his actions in the Middle East, is that he is going to attempt to change internal US behavior to be hostile to non-White and non-Christian populations during 2020. For example, will he whip up fear of domestic pro-Iranian agents in our population waiting to commit sabotage or murder?

      Will he order suspected collaborators to be put in camps for their own protection? We could, for a critical few months, find ourselves in the position of that repugnant poster you displayed a few weeks back, “Thank you, NSA, for looking into everything I do to make sure that I’m safe.”

      It might be enough to get Trump over the electoral hump for another 4 years. I expect you to be doubtful and I’d strongly prefer it if you turn out to be right.

      1. Pluto,

        In the old days our Presidents were just Hitlers, like Bush Jr and Obama. Remember the horrific stories about Obama’s evil Islamic Anarchist Communist plans to destroy America? They made the tales of ancient times – like putting poisonous fluoride in our water – seem tame. But we’ve grown bored with those, so even more preposterous tales are told about Trump.

        While its fun to read descriptions of the devils in the White House, I suggest returning to Earth. Lots of work to be done here!

    3. I think you’re right about what the right wing noise machine will say. I don’t think it will persuade the public. But will it be worth it if it persuades a sliver of key people in the Midwest? As we are reminded regularly, in a very real sense they might as well only poll those people…

      … barring surprises, of course, in other areas. I think Texas is going to look very surprising in 2020.

  4. Pingback: What comes next in the Middle East - Fabius Maximus website

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