The unfolding disaster in Iraq is a difficult problem to solve, as we have pointed out. But it's one that many everyday Americans feel a real stake in. Nowhere is this more evident than in Cher's tweets from this afternoon.
Critically, Cher begins her analysis not only by drawing attention to the serious plight of some 40,000 Yazidi refugees and Christians fleeing persecution in Northern Iraq but also by placing herself squarely and decisively in the "it's a praying-hands emoji NOT a high-five" camp.
Also, to clarify, the Yazidis are not Christians, but both groups do face subjugation or killing by Islamic militants in Iraq, as Cher suggests:
It's not clear whether planned U.S. humanitarian airdrops will include chicken legs and cheeseburgers, but it really can't hurt.
Is the Islamic State worse than Al Qaeda? This is a difficult qualitative judgment: One is responsible for nearly 3,000 deaths on U.S. soil; the other is responsible for many more deaths in Iraq and Syria, but it's unclear what their aims are beyond regional dominance and belligerent rhetoric.
A more quantitative call is whether U.S. forces were "decimated" in Iraq. It's true that some 4,500 U.S. troops died in the Iraq War, and some vets feel that their sacrifices are best honored by inflicting damage against the Islamic State insurgents who now carry on in the country.
Cher is on point here. Yesterday, we covered the United States electorate's understandable skepticism about foreign military entanglements. Yet the magnitude and specificity of the Islamic State's brutality would seem to demand some U.S. response—if we can say with confidence that the U.S. can and ought to effect a positive change for Iraqis.
Cher may in fact be writing more honestly than American government officials here in suggesting that the Islamic State's fortunes cannot be reversed without more effective ground forces. Can that be done with Turkish or Iranian troops, rather than American ones? Most signs point to "no." And given that the U.S.-trained Iraqi army was routed so easily when fighting alone, another U.S. ground presence might become an open-ended affair.
Here, Cher channels the somewhat platitudinous Hemingway. "I have seen much war in my lifetime and I hate it profoundly," Big Papa wrote. "But there are worse things than war and all of them come with defeat."
Despite these truisms, it's worth examining critically whether Islamic State rebels should be taken at their word when they make brash claims about conquering America—in other words, whether their movement is best interpreted as a regional one with abstract globalist aims, or whether it's the wartime bravado of the foot soldier.
Cher has a basic command of the salient geostrategic variables, but lacks the dispassionate affect of a political realist. She seems to be more of a conflicted pluralist in international affairs, one whose ability to prescribe parsimonious policies based on her theoretical assumptions is undermined by the heartbreaking recent events in the Mideast region. It truly is a problem from hell.
Nevertheless, Cher affirms, we should proceed with guarded sanguinity: