SoluProb™: War on Terror


Presumed Problem

America is at risk of being invaded by Islamic terrorists who will impose Sharia Law.


We must make war on terrorists abroad and be willing to give up many of slash-terrorour freedoms to allow the authorities to fight terrorists here in America.


Elsewhere on this website, I have suggested that President Bush made a tragic mistake by declaring the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as acts of war rather than crimes. Traditionally, wars are a conflict between nations, although Americans have been quick to declare a War of Poverty, a War on Drugs, and now, a War on Terror. We even speak of a War on Women and a War on Christmas. War seems never far from our minds, when war, in almost all cases, is the most costly, least constructive solution to the problems we all face.

Clearly, we have had some difficulty identifying our enemy in the War onosama-poster Terror, since there is no Terror Republic or Union of Terror. So the War of Terror initially identified Iraq as the enemy even though they had no involvement in the 9/11 attacks, nor were they planning to make war on the USA.

Some in the USA were willing to shift the enemy to the Islamic religion, and some Muslims in the Middle East were willing to support that reframing, calling themselves the only True Islamic Caliphate.

Soon the world was confronted with a movement known in the Middle East and parts of Europe as Daesh–often translated as “to trample and silouettescrush.” It is intended as an insult and a denial of the nationhood suggested by the the term Islamic State in the abbreviations, ISIS or ISIL. Ironically, whenever we use the terms ISIS or ISIL, we are granting statehood to the terrorist movement known as Daesh by those more directly confronting it.

Was the Problem Real?

Terrorism is real, especially in the Middle East and less extensively in Europe. However, the chance that you will be killed by “Islamic terrorists” in the USA is dwarfed by the likelihood of your dying at the hands oflightning-strike_Gk8zdCIO_L “Christian terrorists,” drive-by shootings, drunk drivers, lightning, or prescription-drug overdoses. While the risk is above zero, it is tiny.

Negative Consequences

One of the early consequences of the declaration of war on terrorism was the Patriot Act, passed by Congress on October 26, 2001, with the official title of “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001.” It was and remains controversial. Here are just a few of the actions allowed by the Act.

The Patriot Act allows “sneak and peek” searches of homes and libertybusinesses without the knowledge, let alone permission, or those who live or work there. Libraries can be forced to tell government agents what books you have taken from the library–and they are prohibited for letting you know that happened. The Act provides for sophisticated monitoring of telephones and emails.

“Suspected” terrorists can be arrested and held without an attorney indefinitely. If such suspects are brought to trial, those trials can be heldguantanamo in secret military tribunals. There is no guarantee of a trial by jury, no right to examine evidence, and an absense of other rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

The Operation TIPS program initially encouraged Americans to report anyone they thought might be a terrorist, though that program has evidently been cancelled. However, this illustrates the paranoia and hysteria engendered by putting the defense of terrorism on a wartime footing.

Some law enforcenent officials say the provisions of the Patriot Act have allowed them to prevent some acts of terrorism. Obviously, I am not in a bombposition to verify or deny such claims, but I would point out that criminal acts, even acts of terrorism, have been dealt with effectively prior to the Patriot Act. In an earlier post on the US Invasion of Iraq in 2003, I reminded us of the 1993 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. In that instance, President Clinton chose to frame the attack as a crime, and the existing law enforcement agents went into action. Eventually, the attackers were identified, arrested, tried, and punished. No Constitutional rights were set aside in that instance.

No one wants us to be defenseless against foreign or domestic acts of terror, but framing that defense as a War on Terror creates more problems than it solves. Except for the creation of a War on Terrorism, there would been no justification for invading Iraq, no destruction of Saddam Hussein’s heavy-handed control of radicals there, and very likely no Daesh. Thousands of American deaths and countless thousands of Iraqi deaths would have been avoided. It is hard to fathom the amount of devastation that has resulted from the “War on Terror”–so far.


© Earl Babbie 2016, all rights reserved  Terms of Service/Privacy


Global Issues

Alternet, 5 Ways the War on Terror Has Changed Your Life

Foreign Policy Journal, ISIS: The “unintended consequences” of the US-led war on Iraq

Freedom House, The Civil Liberties Implications Of Counterterrorism Policies: Full Chapter

SoluProb™: More Babies



This post was initially entitled, Birth Dearth. However, my previous practice has been to name posts after the Solution without a Problem rather than the presumed problem. Hence the name change.

Presumed Problem

The reduced fertility rate in the USA will cause economic and other problems.


Encourage Americans to have more babies.



In 1968, Paul Ehrlich and David Brower published The Population Bomb, which was the first serious warning about overpopulation since Thomas Malthus published several editions of An Essay on the Principle of Population between 1798 and 1826. The Population Bomb led to the formation of Zero Population Growth (now Population Connection) and other research and activist organizations. Overpopulation became a hot button issue. It was seen as the chief cause of world hunger, resource depletion, and pollution, as well as aggravating international conflict, public health problems, species extinctions, and a host of other problems.

Despite the widespread concern and activity since 1968, the world’s crowdpopulation has more than doubled from 3.5 billion to 7.4 billion. The UN now predicts world population will reach 9.7 billion by 2050. The population of the USA has increased by more than half since 1968 from 207 million to 32o million).

Though world and American population has continued growing at what many consider an alarming rate there have been some signs of progress. In fact, some developed nations have reduced their fertility rates to below replacement (2.1 births per woman). Currently, the average American woman bears 1.87 children; German women 1.44; British women 1.89; Japanese women 1.4; Taiwanese women 1.12; Russian women 1.61; Canadian women 1.59 to name just a few.

The decline in fertility rates in the USA and elsewhere has belly-globegenerated the term, “birth dearth,” suggesting there are too few babies being born, with the fear there will be too few young people entering the labor force to provide for the needs of growing elderly populations.


Was the Problem Real?

This is a complex matter. In the short term, some of the problems associated with the “birth dearth” are real. The American economy, and other capitalistic economies, are fundamentally dependent on population growth: ever more consumers and more workers. Perhaps no one is experiencing these problems more seriously than the Japan, who have been actually shrinking their population in recent decades.

In the long run, however, population growth is a huge problem, far overshadowing any short-term adjustment needs when populations stop growing. This is particularly obvious in the impoverished countries who cannot currently feed their populations–and their rapidly growing numbers make their problems all the more impossible. Burundi, in Central Africa, is on course to double their population in 22 years. Niger, in West Africa, with the highest fertility rate in the world (over 7 births per woman) could triple by 2050.


Population growth is also a problem in the more prosperous, developed nations. Even wealthy countries have an impoverished underclass, and population growth increases their numbers and their needs. Moreover wealthier individuals have a greater per capita impact on the natural and social environments. They eat more, drive more, and waste more. They have larger lawns to water, a problem debated during the recent California drought.

However, focussing on the “birth dearth” in the USA, we must conclude the problem is simply non-existent. Yes, fertility rates have declined, but when immigration is added to the formula, America’s population continues to grow.

2000: 282.16 million

2001: 284.97 million

2002: 287.63 million

2003: 290.11 million

2004: 292.81 million

2005: 295.52 million

2006: 298.38 million

2007: 301.23 million

2008: 304.09 million

2009: 306.77 million

2010: 308.11 million

2011: 310.50 million

2012: 312.86 million

2013: 315.18 million

2014: 317.68 million

2015: 320.22 million

2016: 322.48 million

Pretty clearly, we are not running out of Americans. Some white supremacists may worry about the composition of the American population, and we sometimes hear blatant calls for more white babies, but any increase to population is a bad idea, regardless of race.

Negative Consequences

Frantically increasing the American fertility rate, would cause many problems, as I’ve already indicated. While an increase in new babies would benefit some businesses (you know who you are, Gerbers and Huggies), it would also require the society at large to provide increased medical services, housing, schools, libraries, truant officers, juvenile detention facilities, shopping centers, highways, etc. By the way, many of those needed expansions would reduce the land available for growing food, and we would need lots more food.

And given the unusually high standard of living of Americans as a whole, increasing our numbers has a more substantial impact on the planet than similar increases in developing countries. Adding a million Ethiopians presents big problems for Ethiopia, but adding a million Americans presents big problems for the whole world.


© Earl Babbie 2016, all rights reserved  Terms of Service/Privacy


Population Media Center

Global Fertility Rates

USA Population 2000-2016

Population projection

SoluProb™: Stand Your Ground Laws

Special Announcement

Other the past two months, I have posted a number of examples of what I’ve been calling Solutions without Problems (soluprobs). One of my purposes has been to engage others in this effort, and I want to start addressing that aspect now.

This post addresses what some feel is a solution without a problem: Stand Your Ground Laws. Rather than presenting my own analysis of this issue, I invite you to join with me and other viewers of the website in developing an analysis together. You’ll see below that I’ve asked questions regarding each topic in the analysis, and you can contribute to the answer of those questions with the Comment space below this post or by using the link at the top of the page. You can respond to all the questions or just some of them.

See the thoughtful comment by William Wann below, for example.

Depending on the responses I receive, I would like to create a composite post on the topic, and I would like to acknowledge any contributions you make to the exercise. (If you would like to participate but not be acknowledged, just let me know.)

Thanks in advance for your interest and your participation.

Presumed Problem

Innocent, law-abiding citizens were defenseless against armed intruders.


Laws that permit citizens to arm themselves and use lethal force, if necessary, to protect themselves and their homes.


What are some of the key events leading up to the creation of Stand Your Ground laws? Examples of different states’ laws?

Was the Problem Real?

Are there any data that would suggest the initial, presumed problem was not a real one, that no solution was needed?

Negative Consequences

What have been some of the negative results experienced in connection with Stand Your Ground laws?


What are the sources you used in creating your responses?
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