GOP Candidates up ante, Promise 4 Major Ground Wars, murder of Innocents, Large Genitalia

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

At yet another GOP debate, there was a foreign policy section, which Fox News predictably put under the heading of “terrorism.”

Brett Baier asked Marco Rubio about Daesh (ISIL, ISIS), noting that Rubio has proposed “sending a larger number of American ground troops to help defeat ISIS in Syria and Iraq…”

Rubio was annoyed that Baier only thought Rubio would invade two countries. Rubio replied, “That’s correct, and Libya.”

Rubio went on about Daesh:

“So they need to be targeted wherever they have an operating space. They do need to be defeated on the ground by a ground force made up primarily of Sunni Arabs themselves. This is a radical Sunni movement. They can only be defeated if they are driven out and the territory is held by Sunni Arabs. But it will require a specific number of American special operators, in combination with an increase in air strikes. And that will include, if necessary, operating spaces in Libya, which, in fact, they are using to project into the Sinai against Egypt and ultimately into Europe, as well.

So Rubio wants US ground troops wherever there is a Daesh cell– now he is adding Libya and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. That’s 4 wars he is pledging. There will be US casualties in these wars.

Rubio’s notion of a Sunni alliance against Daesh shows ignorance of the region. No Sunni state sees Daesh or ISIL as the primary threat, the way Washington does. Turkey obsesses about the Kurds. Saudi Arabia is focused on Iran and Shiites. The most effective fighters against Daesh so far have been Shiites and leftist or secular Kurds.

Rubio can’t admit he needs the Shiites, including Iran, because his backers forbid him to make nice with Iran.

Then Baier turned to Kasich:

I will say, look, let me tell you what happened with Libya. And I pointed out in the last debate — Hillary Clinton worked aggressively to depose Moammar Gadhafi. We had no business doing it. He was working with us. He was cooperating with us. He denuclearized. And now they pushed him out, and now we have a fertile ground for ISIS.

So the “moderate” GOP candidate supports a dreadful dictatorship guilty of massacring its opposition and of planning to commit genocide in Benghazi. That the Middle East was more stable under murderous dictators is also a Trump theme. If they were so stable, why did their people rise up and overthrow them? (It wasn’t NATO that fought off Gaddafi’s tanks in Misrata, it was the people of Misrata).

Then, having castigated Sec. Clinton for involving herself in Libya, Kasich urged a multinational invasion of that country in which we, the US, “have to be there on the ground in significant numbers. We do have to include our Muslim Arab friends to work with us on that. And we have to be in the air.” His model for this new ground war in North Africa is the Gulf War, when George H. W. Bush sent hundreds of thousands of US troops into Kuwait along with hundreds of thousands of allied troops. That war was a major one, in which there were larger tank battles than any time since the end WW II.

I don’t understand Kasich’s plan. If Hillary was wrong to get involved in Libya, why is Kasich right to? And, is he really proposing a war on Libya on the scale of the Gulf War? Doesn’t that lead to a quagmire?

Mr. Baier then asked Trump what would happen if the US military refused to obey his ilegal orders to murder the innocent women and children of terrorists.

“TRUMP: They won’t refuse. They’re not going to refuse me. Believe me.

BAIER: But they’re illegal.

[Trump] … that’s the way I feel. Can you imagine — can you imagine these people, these animals over in the Middle East, that chop off heads, sitting around talking and seeing that we’re having a hard problem with waterboarding? We should go for waterboarding and we should go tougher than waterboarding. That’s my opinion.

BAIER: But targeting terrorists’ families?


TRUMP: And — and — and — I’m a leader. I’m a leader. I’ve always been a leader. I’ve never had any problem leading people. If I say do it, they’re going to do it. That’s what leadership is all about.

BAIER: Even targeting terrorists’ families?

TRUMP: Well, look, you know, when a family flies into the World Trade Center, a man flies into the World Trade Center, and his family gets sent back to where they were going — and I think most of you know where they went — and, by the way, it wasn’t Iraq — but they went back to a certain territory, they knew what was happening. The wife knew exactly what was happening.

They left two days early, with respect to the World Trade Center, and they went back to where they went, and they watched their husband on television flying into the World Trade Center, flying into the Pentagon, and probably trying to fly into the White House, except we had some very, very brave souls on that third plane. All right?

TRUMP: I have no problem with it.

Trump is hinting that the families of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi and that they had been vacationing in the country their men were about to attack, but then abruptly returned to Saudi Arabia. But none of the family members of the hijackers were in fact in the US. The Bush administration more or less evacuated prominent Saudi families for fear of popular reprisals against them. It isn’t plausible that these Saudis knew that the 9/11 attacks were coming (they could have vacationed elsewhere) or that Saudi mainstream people were involved (they have big investments in the US stock market, and took a bath after the attacks).

But to be clear, Trump appears to believe that the US should have tortured and killed those Saudi vacationers, in reprisal for Daesh, which did not exist in 2001.

“BAIER: Senator Cruz?

CRUZ: … As president, I will do the exact same thing with radical Islamic terrorism. We will rebuild this military so that it remains the mightiest fighting force on the face of the planet. And then, when I am commander-in-chief, every militant on the face of the Earth will understand that if they go and join ISIS, if they wage jihad against the United States of America, they are signing their death warrant.


The US already has by far the best military in the world, and there are only 25,000 or so Daesh fighters. Cruz’s power fantasies can’t change the fact that conventional armies face obstacles in fighting small groups of guerrillas on unfamiliar terrain. Bankrupting us all by increasing an already bloated Pentagon budget is not going to change that.

Finally, Kasich took a swipe at Cruz saying he’d rebuild the US military the way Reagan had.


And you know, we hear about Ronald Reagan rebuilding the military. I was there when Ronald Reagan rebuilt the military. I worked with him. I was there when Ronald Reagan rebuilt the economy. I was there, and I worked with him. I knew Ronald Reagan.

And I’ll leave it right there with what comes after that. You can figure that one out.

I don’t understand why they keep talking about the 1980s when the Soviet Union still existed. The US now has no peer conventional power. Why would you bankrupt the country with military spending when the US is the sole hyperpower? That there are small fringe terrorist threats has nothing to do with Department of Defense spending. Terrorism is a different kind of challenge, and you can’t defeat it with an F-35.

I count 4 wars they are promising us, with US troops on the ground in each. They have some imaginary Sunni military coalition in mind, which doesn’t exist and won’t. And, Trump promised more torture and murder of innocents and no one else on the stage even demurred, except for Mr. Baier (who won’t be making those decisions).

Oh, and yes. Donald Trump replied to Marco Rubio’s allegation that Trump has small hands and a small dick. Trump assures us that both are yuuuje.

That discussion took up as much time as foreign policy.


Fox News: “Part 3 of the Fox News GOP presidential debate in Detroit”

29 Responses

  1. Those whom the gods destroy, they first make mad.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t think the bozos who are running for office are representative of all Americans.

    • For what it’s worth, I don’t think the bozos who are running for office are representative of all Americans.

      But it looks like they represent half or more of the Democrats and more than half of the Republicans.

  2. These last couple of Republican debates have to be the lowest point in presidential politics in US history. And in all politics, maybe the only lower point might have been when a southern congressman, whose name escapes me, attacked Charles Sumner with his cane on the floor of Congress and beat him so severely he almost died. Even though I am a liberal Democrat who has nothing to do with these candidates, they make me feel ashamed to be an American. I can only imagine how the rest of the world is viewing this exhibition of bad taste and ignorance with sheer dread and horror.

  3. Trump, oblivious of Nuremburg, thinks he can just order the generals to commit what they know are war crimes, and they will just go along with it, and this is his idea of leadership? Wow. Can the media interviewers and moderators explore this a little bit?

    • Trump is not only oblivious of Nuremberg but of many other historical events a US president should know. But Trump is not the only one. He is part of an enormous majority in the United States. On several occasions in 2015 a variety of people and organizations recognized the 70th anniversaries of several events related to the end of World War II. Unfortunately, the commencement of the Nuremberg Trials was not one of them because some people might have learned important lessons from discussions of the defendants, the jurists, and the victims.

  4. I had to check to see if I was reading Informed Comment or The Onion. The only word to describe what I just read is…surreal. In a perfect world the debate would have been centered around reducing our $19 trillion debt load. How we can make ourselves energy independent using advanced technology. Making our inner cities more safe for those living in gang war zones. But those subjects just don’t have the adrenaline rush or the machismo that goes with talk of war. USA…USA…USA!!!

    I fear if Hillary had been on stage she would have matched them in her zeal to please her neocon supporters who want the US to be permanently engaged in the middle east.

  5. The MSM needs to constantly remind the American public of the following: Bin Laden, in a 2004 videotape, described his strategy of luring the US to self-defeating battle: “We, alongside the mujahideen, bled Russia for 10 years until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat…We are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy…. All that we have to do is to send two mujahideen to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written ‘al-Qaeda’, in order to make generals race there and to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses without their achieving anything of note other than some benefits for their private corporations…” link to

  6. Obviously, the GOP candidates are tacitly advocating for re-institution of the draft. Fighting four wars, one which we have LOST previously, is a runny-nose little boy imagining which will require person-power far beyond volunteers and involving military alliances which can never exist.

    One maladate brags about his flagging appendage and the others promise more death and more destruction on two continents. These particular men seem very concerned about projecting manhood to hide their actual “military status.”

    There is nothing more vicious than four extremist chickenhawks holding a cocktail sausage contest on national prime time TV.

    They make our country look like fools.

  7. You use the same nonsense smear against Kasich that neocons used against critics of the Iraq war, that if people are against it they must just LOVE the dictator. I think you’re just embarrassed that you got completely duped by the warmongers so you’re still trying to convince yourself that that war was so glorious and justified.

    Now Libya is a failed state mired in misery and strife. But hey, at least the Bad Dictator of the Moment was brutally murdered. Yay!

  8. More about torture.

    Open Letter on Donald Trump from GOP National Security Leaders (100 signatures) link to

    “His embrace of the expansive use of torture is inexcusable.”

    My reading of this is that “expansive” is the key word. It implies that a modest use of torture is OK, not zero torture as required by law. Gives Trump the green light as long as his war crimes do not rise to the “expansive ” level, however you measure that metric.

    Obviously these GOP National Security Leaders inserted “expansive” to give Bush, Cheney, Tenet, Yoo, Addington, et al breathing room. Presumably their use of torture was modest, as opposed to “expansive”.

  9. “Rubio’s notion of a Sunni alliance against Daesh shows ignorance of the region. No Sunni state sees Daesh or ISIL as the primary threat, the way Washington does. Turkey obsesses about the Kurds. Saudi Arabia is focused on Iran and Shiites. The most effective fighters against Daesh so far have been Shiites and leftist or secular Kurds.

    Rubio can’t admit he needs the Shiites, including Iran, because his backers forbid him to make nice with Iran.”

    Wasn’t Obama and the Democrats also talking about a need for a Sunni coalition to tackle ISIL not too long ago? I think Sanders made the same suggestion in one of his previous debates.

    The current Obama admin can’t admit, at least publicly, that they need Iran and the Shiites, including the Iraqi ones (or at least the Shia volunteer militias) either – due to US relations with KSA and Turkey or other regional/local Sunni populations, not because of just Israel.

    • I think the meaning here is that Rubio (or Obama) can’t admit he needs the Shites, as in Iran. Rubio, however, proposes the exact same thing Obama does as far as Sunnis taking the lead against ISIL It’s what Obama tried but Turkey and Saudi Arabia rejected in order to fight Kurds and in Yemen.

    • The assumption of the article is that Rubio is taking orders from Adelson and that unlike Obama, he will not only refuse to admit he needs Iranian help, but will actually continue to make war on Iran. Adelson can create a media climate that Democrats are scared to fight, but he can only give direct orders to Republicans because, as Trump says, “I expect them to stay bought.”

  10. And what about Hillary Clinton? How many wars will she cause? And what about the new cold war? How many new nukes does she intend to build and how much armament does she want to put on the Russian border? If anything, Clinton is worse than Trump and as bad as Rubio and the others. Sanders is not perfect but is certainly by far the best of the lot.

    • For the third time, I’m relinking this until people get the point.

      link to

      Remember about all the talk over the years that the al-Aqsa mosque could be the flash point for the next Arab-Israeli War? No other candidate would make plans to march into that very place to bully Moslems. Even Netanyahu knows that’s insane. Trump had to have that explained to him.

    • Hillary Clinton has embraced the Iran deal, none of the Republicans has. While I don’t like Clinton’s foreign policy I think some people exaggerate how hawkish she is. She’s hawkish, but nowhere near the Republicans.

  11. I think you were a bit hard on Kasich. He is mainly a domestic affairs guy, but I took his invocation of George H.W. as an attempt to separate himself from the neocons endless war, wars and interventions and from G.W.s go-it-alone, my way or the highway meme and denial that working through others is part and parcel of leadership.

  12. GOP, BAD. Trump, the worst with nothing good. Another swirl of the Libyan genocide kool aid and I see, Hillary, just a class politician if not mother Teresa and Joan of arc, wrapped into one.

  13. One of the more interesting points brought up in the debate but didn’t get much traction was the inference that military officers would never obey an illegal order. Surely this was worthy of debate given the recent history of the Iraq war, but obviously neither the candidates nor the moderators would want to touch that one.

  14. We should not be surprised if others see the United States, for the most part, as a nation of sheep led by Judas Goats and chicken hawks into a state of perpetual war that will end the short American exercise in democracy but not before havoc and disasters are inflicted throughout the planet. Will the Queen of Chaos be the one to write the final chapters of the decline and fall of the American Empire and lead it through its last hurrah?

    And will the Scottish Bard’s dream be deferred yet again?

    Then let us pray that come it may,
    (As come it will for a’ that,)
    That Sense and Worth, o’er a’ the earth,
    Shall bear the gree, an’ a’ that.
    For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
    It’s coming yet for a’ that,
    That Man to Man, the world o’er,
    Shall brothers be for a’ that.

  15. This is what I don’t understand about Trump. If he is such a charlatan, why did he invite AIPAC/Likud abuse by offering to be neutral re: Palestine and Israel?

    A charlatan would emphasize how Israel is our friend. Like Rubio, Cruz, Clinton…..

    Also, he did not brag about large genitalia, he instead said “It is not a problem.” This was in response to Rubio implying that it was a problem.

    • There are two sides to Trump that have been revealed in reams of articles. Among the many features that get him criticized and labeled as a charlatan is his appealing to the uninformed and taking advantage of their lack of knowledge. Take immigration and The Wall. He makes a big issue out of (mainly) Mexicans coming into the United States and that scares the hell out of people afraid of losing their jobs to immigrants who will work for less. Trump ignores the causes of migration to the United States for which, in part, the United States is responsible – support of right-wing governments and overthrow of others especially in El Salvador and Honduras. Nor does Trump say anything about recent reports of more Mexicans leaving the US than coming into it.

    • Also, he owns property where? Manhattan, Atlantic City and Palm Beach. Methinks he holds privately that 2oC temperature rise and consequent sea level rise are cause for concern, and lacking religion-based blinders, might think over reliance on fossil fuels is a problem.

    • The phony in American politics: how voters turn into suckers: History tells us that the skeptical American people are easily conned when confronted with the promises of politicians. In 2016, the hairstyles may have changed but the schtick remains the same – link to

  16. The U.S. has become addicted to military Keynesian-ism, unable to beat its swords into plowshares, bankrupted by empire, unwilling to maintain crumbling infrastructure, oblivious to the increasing misery of its own people. Its dysfunctional government is but one of many failed institutions that propel its downward spiral.
    Republican politicians do not accept the science of climate change, so we are on track to devastation of the environment. .. if their new round of nuclear weapons doesn’t wipe us out first. Maybe they are getting ready for the coming dystopia: militarizing the police, implementing universal surveillance, keeping much of the government’s activity secret. If Americans are ready for Fascism, Republicans can deliver.

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