“Too hot to handle, too cold to hold. They called the Ghostbusters and they’re in control”

-Bobby Brown

Lately there’s been a myriad of internet patriots screaming for our return to Iraq. The case is for the United states to send troops and equipment back into the same country we quietly left almost 3 years ago. The purpose of this proposal is to destroy ISIS, ISIL, IS…whatever you want to call them. I’ve seen so many moto pics of guys in their living rooms, dressed in full battle-rattle, talking hard about signing up to go “back over.” There’s been countless memes of “ISIS hunting squad” and all that silliness flooding the internet. Groups of people on forums saying they’re ready to go back, followed by some excuse why they’re not on a Royal Jordanian flight right now. All of this got me thinking…


It IS a very noble sentiment; the US charging headlong back into the fray in the defense of helpless men, women, and children against the onslaught of the Sunni-Muslim, extremist, juggernaut. We are the defenders of liberty, freedom, and righteousness in the world, after all. The shining light of justice: if you will. It makes you seem motivated and hard to your friends on Facebook and demonstrates your willingness to fight; However, these same people calling for the return to the Iraqi battlespace are seemingly unfamiliar with the way America, as a nation, conducts war these days.


In the latter decades of the 20th century, and into the early 21st century, the US has been involved in armed conflict almost perpetually. Other than the period of relative “peace” in the late 70’s through the late 80’s, the US had been fighting against a foreign country somewhere. However, we have not actually had a definitive victory since the Japanese and Germans bent the knee to us in WWII. Desert Storm was close…but is it really a victory if we have to keep returning to the same country and spilling our blood?


We are in control of the best military on Earth, hands down. That is in no way, shape, or form up for debate. We draw from a pool of America’s best and brightest. We possess the most advanced technology and the largest air force and navy in the solar system. Any time Uncle Sam picked up the phone and pointed to a spot on the map, the U.S. military flew over there, and hammered the proverbial piss out of whatever enemy happened to be present. But, that is typically where we slam on the brakes.


In addition to all of the planes, bullets, tanks, and Marines: we also have this little group of people that are paid ridiculous salaries to simultaneously bicker like children and make adult decisions. This group cares only about power and money, and the public opinion required to keep them. This gang will literally be raising their hands for war one minute, and condemning it the very next. Their entire affect is dependent on the next election and the next donation. These people are somehow the elite of society, second only to celebrities and professional sports players: they are our politicians and they love to throw the ol’ wrench in the gears of a warfighting effort.


The most authoritative case of political collusion as it relates to armed conflict was the Vietnam War. At no other time in history had those in Washington D.C. impacted the way America conducts herself in battle. I’m not sure if it was because it was the first war that was shown to the American public on television, or if the country was still reeling from our losses in the region during the Korean Conflict a decade prior. Regardless, public opinion of the war was abysmal at best, and downright hostile at the worst. The decision was finally made by those in power that Vietnam was not a place where victory could possibly be achieved. The United States packed her shit, turned her back, and walked away to the tune of around 58,220 American lives and $140 billion ($950 billion in today’s money.) This has since been the template by which all further wars have been fought by the United States of America. We saw it in Iraq from 2003-2011 and we’re seeing it in Afghanistan right now.



The way this pertains to ISIS in Iraq is this: America has become the non-committal boyfriend of warfare. We, as a nation and a society, have not the resolve, patience, desire, or the attention span for a protracted ground campaign. The American public can barely sit still during a movie. If the war takes longer than five minutes, the outcry starts. Are we supposed to assume the ROE’s will be any less restrictive than they are in Afghanistan RIGHT NOW? Are we supposed to assume we are going to go in, parachute canopies filling the sky, roll over these ISIS clowns, and not be stuck there for years helping the Iraqis get back on their feet?


I would hope that we’re smarter than that. Our administration couldn’t put together a PLAN to combat ISIS until after they’d already seized 1/3 of the country. Do you actually believe they have a blueprint to win an actual war there?


The moment we hit the ground, ISIS will strip out of their ninja costumes and chest rigs; throw down their weapons and black flags, and melt into the population. The ROE’s will become a hindrance on the troops once again, and they won’t be able to properly do the job they were sent in to do, that which they do best. Sure, they’ll adapt and overcome and all that jazz, but at the end of the day, more parents and wives will be opening their doors to a uniform and a chaplain. The battle for hearts and minds will begin anew to the detriment of our nation’s bravest warriors. D.C. loves to make sure the troops can’t be as effective as possible. These same troops try their best to make it work and are publicly crucified in court when something inevitably goes wrong. The nation asks the impossible of our men in uniform in a combat zone and calls for their heads when they don’t deliver.


Just take a look at the caliber of leadership the military has now. It’s a bunch of high-ranking “yes-men.” Gone are the ilk of Generals McChrystal and Petraus, and the most controversial, well-respected, warrior-leader of the modern age, “Mad Dog” Mattis. With the exception of Petraus, these men were forced out to pasture for having the integrity and the fortitude to question the civilian leadership as those in power sat on Capitol Hill, clapping and grinning like lobotomized toddlers. These men truly understood what war is, and what is required to attain VICTORY. However, those in D.C. were unwilling to accept cold, hard facts and would rather bend to the sensibilities of our enemies. Those holding the reins of the DoD have leashes of their own, leading to the hands of congress. These men do not know of conflict aside from the boardroom and the books they read at whatever academy they managed to fellate their way through. They are the “PT Belt” generals. They are the same species that came up with “The Awakening” in my beloved Corps and weeded out solid, battle-tested leaders to make room for politically correct, parade-deck warriors.


We absolutely do have the capability for victory anywhere on the planet. Show us an enemy or a military anywhere, and the U.S. will smash them mercilessly. However, the U.S. government can not and will not commit to triumph. We are too concerned about the perception of the rest of the world and the opinions of the fat, lazy public at home.


Imagine if we’d fought the Germans and the Japanese with the same mentality we have now. We’d all be speaking some crazy Germanic-Japanese language. But instead, we fought tooth and nail. We leveled entire cities and destroyed islands. We even went so far as to learn how to split a fucking atom in order to blow up MORE people! The battle of Fallujah seems to me the last display of willingness to get down and dirty and kill an enemy. We so ravaged that city, that there is an epidemic of birth defects to children born there. We not only took that city from the insurgency, we apparently fucked it up for future generations of possible insurgents. Since that battle, there have been other amazing victories from Ramadi to Marjah, but it seems like with each passing campaign, the terms of success are becoming less and less clear.


I’m not poo-pooing on the military or our country. My point is that we are unwilling to fight a war without making sure the hands of our troops are tied and the duration and extent of our commitment is completely dependent on public opinion and political expediency. We have forgotten what war means in reality. It’s not a pretty thing. It’s not this nice, neat, surgical package that can be served up by tens of thousands of troops. It’ s ugly, violent, and brutal.


ISIS does pose a threat to the US homeland and that should be reason enough to exterminate them. But I fear that this administration is willing to take that chance and make that sacrifice in order to avoid any sort of solid commitment in Iraq and Syria. Currently, this is and will have to remain a SOF-oriented conflict. The U.S. has to root out ISIS with a scalpel, not a hammer. The more troops we put on the ground, the more complicated and bloody it will get and the more politicians will get involved.


If we can’t go to the field prepared to do everything it takes to achieve a staggering, one-sided victory, the absolute annihilation of ISIS and whoever aids them: if we aren’t willing to use every resource available to end the threat and break their WILL to fight: if we aren’t able to ensure that they and their allies are so incredibly terrified of the United States, that they piss the sheets at night and would never even consider beheading another one of our citizens, then we have no business getting involved further than we have. It would take acts of biblical proportions. Until we are willing to fight a war with the purpose of preventing further wars with the same enemy, until D.C. realizes that this is an enemy like we’ve never seen before, we need to allocate our energy to ensuring the security of our homeland. We need to increase our vigilance at home and hope for the best because half-assed, politically motivated efforts overseas will only keep the door open for further attacks. If the U.S. is willing to send troops back into harm’s way; then we should be doing it in order to defeat the enemy by any and every means necessary. If not, keep the troops at home.


I don’t know what these internet tough guys think war is. It’s not a lightning-fast blitzkrieg with no civilian casualties or collateral damage. It’s not some bloodless ordeal like those portrayed in Hollywood movies. To me, it means more of my friends coming home in flag-draped coffins to a nation that wants nothing more than to turn its back and walk away.




Grifter is the progeny of the Marine Infantry, Reconnaissance, and Private Contracting communities. He also spent some downtime as a Paramedic and a firefighter. He’s and avid reader and a student of life. He’s dedicated his life to finding and promulgating truth in a society which sees only what it wants to see. Over the years, he’s filled passports, made lots of money, rolled his eyes at authority, broken hearts, poked bears, and flown in the face of tradition and status quo. Responsible for such titles as: Veteran Outrage Syndrome, Collateral Damage, and When the Music Stops, Grifter reflects on his observations of the masses with a critical eye towards group-think and identity politics. He currently lives in St. Louis with his wife and two dogs. He is also finishing his last year of school before moving on to become an attorney so he can charge people money to speak to him..and capitalize on a laundry list of personal character flaws. His favorite band is Every Time I Die and he can swim better than you.