As Yemen splinters into pro-Iran Shiite and Sunni al-Qaeda factions and descends into a north-south civil war and extremist breeding ground, here in America we await McCain-Graham's inexorable demand for aggressive U.S. intervention. If we don't fight them there … You know the spiel. For now, Fareed Zakaria gently recalls that "in the 12 years between Sept. 12, 2001, and the end of 2013, the number of Americans who died on U.S. soil due to terrorism was 42…. Meanwhile, in one year alone, 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 32,351 Americans died because of firearms."
September 11th killed 3,000 Americans. McCain-Graham's logic of Middle East intervention — meant to revenge 9/11 and somehow "defend" American freedoms — has, to date, killed approximately 6,700 Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan. These interventions also spawned the creation of thousands more anti-American extremists, against whom we have redeployed thousands more American troops — so far, in Iraq only. Syria remains a question mark, though not to McCain-Graham.
Sound logic would seem to be on the extremists' side. They act, we overreact, and our costs are vastly greater than theirs. Indeed, our costs appear to be exponentially proportionate to their gains. We intervene and kill and then we kill some more, and they multiply like rats.
To President Obama's credit, our-reintervention has been restrained. He understands McCain-Graham's degenerate logic, and appreciates the soundness of the extremists'. Nothing would greater please Islam's sectarian fanatics or swell their numbers more than tens of thousands of fighting Americans lathering Iraq, Syria, Yemen, what have you, and quite possibly tackling Iran. The costs in American lives and to the public treasury — atop the 6,700 already dead and trillions of dollars mortgaged — would be staggering almost beyond imagination, and unquestionably beyond our tolerance.
Obama, it seems, harbors the political will to resist the madness of McCain-Graham's logic. For the next two years, we seem safe in his restraint. So the present isn't the decisive problem; the problem is the future — the problem of neoconservative excess, which has infected to varying degrees the leading successors to Obama's judiciousness.