I remember a story – during our intervention, along with several NATO allies, in Bosnia and Herzegovina – about United States Army Forward Operating Base Cobra. This was  in 1995 or so, after the majority of the fighting was over. FOB Cobra – if I may be so familiar – was the biggest American base around and it was surrounded by a plethora of concertina wire backed up by as many motion detectors as the supplier could talk the Army into. This was during the time when American soldiers going into town were required to wear helmets and body armor (other NATO troops wandered around in their uniforms with berets or other soft headgear).

Anyway, there was a farm nearby and the farmer had two teenage sons. They spent their teenage summer seeing how close they could get to FOB Cobra proper. When the teenagers were spotted by an motion detector, the lights would come on and sirens would go off. The base would go to Defcon One – or its local equivalent – with the entire base coming up to full attack defense status: all defensive positions were manned, the helicopter gunships were scrambled, and everybody was up and at their battle stations.

The thing is that after the first couple of attacks, everybody knew it was the kids but FOB Cobra couldn’t help itself. Every time the motion detectors were tripped, it reflexively reacted.  Not  in relation to a threat, everybody knew it wasn’t a threat, sort of like a reflexive knee jerk. I feel the same way about the United States and somebody else’s war. Somehow, we have to intervene.  We just can not help ourselves. Obama ran on a platform of staying out of stupid wars like Iraq, and, he knows better, but he can’t help himself. Our body politic won’t let him.

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