SoluProb™: Vietnam Escalation by USA


Student Author

Andrew Calloway, Chapman University

NOTE: Student submissions of soluprobs are welcomed at

ANOTHER NOTE: I posted an earlier piece on the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, and this student submission brings additional evidence to the discussion.

Background Narrative

After World War II, the United States was involved in a Cold War with the Soviet Union. The United States began to adopt the foreign policy of containment that was implemented throughout the 1940s-1960s. The containment policy was the effort in “trying to prevent the Soviet communism from expanding its empire.” (Rosati, Jerel A. & Scott, James M. 2014:29-32)

The containment policy was proposed in the Truman Doctrine in 1947 when containing communism in Greece and Turkey. Hodgson a political analyst described the Truman Doctrine as containing “the seeds of American of economic aid, economic or military, to more than one hundred countries; of mutual defense with more than forty of them…” (Hodgson 1976:32) Other academics believe the containment policy led to national security concerns influencing United States foreign policy for the entirety of the Cold War.

Presumed Problem

In the 1950s the United States began to worry after the creation of the People’s Republic of China and the beginning of communism in the Asian continent. This was also shown in the conflict in Korea during 1950-1953.

In February 1950, the National Security Council (NSC) passed NSC document 64 stating that Indochina was “a key area under immediate threat.” Again in 1952, the NSC passed another document on Indochina, NSC document 68. In 1954, President Eisenhower brought up the domino theory in one of his speeches, this belief was if Vietnam fell into communism, then neighboring countries in Southeast Asia will fall under communist rule as well, most particularly Laos and Cambodia. This idea brought a more militaristic approach in containing communism and increased United States involvement in Vietnam throughout the 1950s-1960s. (Kissinger, Henry 2003:13-20)

By the end of the Eisenhower administration in 1960, Eisenhower warned John F. Kennedy of the conflict of Vietnam as crucial. Eisenhower did not want the domino theory to become a reality. Under the Kennedy administration, stopping communism in Vietnam became a huge political interest, and would be considered a victory for the United States against the Soviet Union in political ideologies. According to Kissinger, by the time President Kennedy took office, there were 900 American military personnel in Vietnam, 3,164 in 1961, and almost tripled to 16,263 by 1963. (Kissinger 2003:34)

north_vietnamese_p-4_under_fire_from_uss_maddox_2_august_1964The escalation and political controversy in Vietnam began in August 1964 when news came back to the United States that North Vietnamese forces attacked the destroyer USS Maddox near the Gulf of Tonkin, this would later be called the Gulf of Tonkin incident, and led to a push for further military involvement in Vietnam by elected officials in Washington D.C. (Kissinger 2003: 35)

Solution to the Problem

The Gulf of Tonkin incident took place on August 2, 1964, two days later on August 4, President Johnson announced the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and it immediately passed on August 7, giving Johnson the authority to increase U.S. involvement in Vietnam. The Tonkin Gulf resolution gave Johnson and Nixon legal basis for implementing military policies in Vietnam since the resolution was approved by the legislative branch of the U.S. government. The resolution was passed almost unanimously, the House vote was 416-0, and the Senate vote was 88-2. The two Senators who opposed the resolution were Democratic senators Wayne Morse of Oregon, and Ernest Gruening of Alaska. (Public Law 88-408, 88th Congress, August 7, 1964)

The solution to the Gulf of Tonkin incident would become a major setback for the United States in preventing communism, and a huge drop in public opinion regarding both the Vietnam War and approval of the United States government. The signing and approval from Congress expanded the powers of the Executive branch as stated in the resolution that the President as Commander in Chief should “take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States.” The next two sections of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution addresses the U. S. national interest and bringing peace and security to Southeast Asia. This later became a problem when Congress lacked sufficient knowledge of the situation and was unable to affect the military policies passed by the President later into the conflict. (Public Law 88-408, 88th Congress, August 7, 1964)


Empirical Evidence that the Problem did not exist

According to Lieutenant Commander Pat Paterson of the U.S. Navy stated that some of the information of what happened at the Gulf of Tonkin was “cloaked” and not really explained in the decision making process between the Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and President Johnson in 1964. Recent documents of classified information being released in 2005 and 2006 have revealed many facts of what really happened in the Gulf of Tonkin incident and have helped historians reconstruct the incident.

In one of the reports by the NSA it states the second attack did not happen at the night of August 2, 1964. But by 1965 President Johnson has issued air raids and bombing campaigns under the codename Rolling Thunder, the United States began to use as much force possible to end the war quickly. This proved to not be the case as much as 500,000-600,000 American troops were committed in the Vietnam War by 1969.

The war began to be costly as it became to be estimated as much $173 billion was spent, and about 58,220 Americans dead, and 1,643 missing. It is still a problem today with Vietnam war veterans suffering from PTSD. (Kissinger 2003: 36-38) (Naval History Magazine 2008: Volume 22 Number 1)

Consequences of the “Solution”

With the evidence provided, the Gulf of Tonkin incident and the increased involvement in the Vietnam War greatly changed the powers and policy making of the United States government. Near the end of the Vietnam War (1969-1973), public opinion towards the Vietnam War, along with the Civil Rights protests, led to a strong opposition and push for bringing American soldiers back to the United States. This led to Congress becoming more aggressive in its constitutional powers during times of war and conflict.

Congress became a more rational political actor during the Nixon administration, and began to analyze the cost and benefits of the Vietnam War as it was reaching its fourth US president being involved with the conflict. A hypothesis by Burstein, and Freudenburg stated that “Congress will respond to public opinion.” It must have been public opinion with its strong opposition that made Congress turn against the Vietnam War, and ignore the political decisions made back in 1964. (Burstein, Paul & Freudenburg, William 1978:99-122)

By 1969, the policy of “Vietnamization” was proposed by the Nixon administration, even though Nixon opposed the idea to an extent. Nixon feared the image of American troops withdrawing from Vietnam as a loss for the United States and a victory for the communist regimes. The resolution was passed and by 1973 almost all American troops had withdrawn from Vietnam, and that same year Congress passed the War Powers Resolution stating that the President should consult with Congress in regard to decisions that engage U.S. forces and military.

In conclusion, the Vietnam War did have its negative consequences in casualties and the cost of funding for almost two decades, but at the same time it did reinforce the Constitutional powers and limitations on both the legislative and executive branches. Public opinion also stepped in to have a say on the war with the peace protests, and how people began to pay more attention to the government and its decisions on the war as it was the first televised conflict, with live coverage.

The Vietnam War with its complexities changed the way the public and politicians view foreign intervention for the remainder of the Cold War and leading up to the 21st century. As quoted by General Fred C. Weyand in 1976, “When the Army is committed the American people are committed, when the American people lose their commitment it is futile to try to keep the Army committed.” (Summers, Harry G. 1995:11-15)


Burstein, Paul & Freudenburg, William 1978. Changing Public Policy: The Impact of Public Opinion, Antiwar Demonstrations, and War Costs on Senate Voting on Vietnam War Motions The University of Chicago Press

Kissinger, Henry 2003. Ending the Vietnam War: A History of America’s Involvement in and Extrication from the Vietnam War Simon & Schuster Inc.

Moise, Edwin E. 1996. Tonkin Gulf and the Escalation of the Vietnam War University of North Carolina Press

Paterson, Pat 2008. Naval History Magazine: The Truth About Tonkin Volume 22, Number 1, U.S. Naval Institute

Rosati, Jerel A. & Scott, James M. 2014. The Politics of United States Foreign Policy Cengage Learning Inc.

Summers, Henry G. 1995. On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War Presidio Press

Tonkin Gulf Resolution; Public Law 88-408, 88th Congress, August 7, 1964. General Records of the United States Government; Record Group 11; National Archives

SoluProb™: Benghazi Hearings


Presumed Problem

Unusual government failures allowed a terrorist attack on the USA Foreign Service in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, which killed four Americans, including the Ambassador to Libya.


Conduct Congressional hearings to determine what went wrong and what could be done to prevent such tragedies in the future.


On September 11, 2012, and eleventh anniversary of the 9/11/2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, The American embassy in mapCairo came under attack by a mob protesting an anti-Muslim film produced earlier in California. While the Cairo attack was underway, another mob attacked the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed in the latter attack.

Sadly, these attacks and deaths were not unique in the American Foreign Service. During the George W. Bush administration alone, American diplomatic facilities experienced the following attacks, as compiled by

December 15, 2001: Kathmandu, Nepal

January 22, 2002: Calcutta, India

March 20, 2002: Lima, Peru

June 14, 2002: Karachi, Pakistan

November 9, 2002: Kathmandu, Nepal

May 12, 2003: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

July 30, 2004: Tashkent, Uzbekistan

October 24, 2004: Baghdad, Iraq

November 25, 2004: Baghdad, Iraq

December 7, 2004: Jedda, Saudi Arabia

January 29, 2005: Baghdad, Iraq

September 7, 2005: Basra, Iraq

March 2, 2006: Karachi, Pakistan

September 12, 2006: Damascus, Syria

July 8, 2007: Baghdad, Iraq

January 14, 2008: Beirut, Lebanon

March 18, 2008: Sanaa, Yemen

July 9, 2008: Istanbul, Turkey

September 17, 2008: Sanaa, Yemen

November 27, 2008: Kabul, Afghanistan

Altogether, these 13 attacks resulted in the deaths of 60 diplomatic personnel. Ten of those were given memorial plaques in the State Department. Foreign Service deaths hardly began with the Bush administration, however. Jane Mayer (2014) gives a first-person account of one of the most horrendous attacks in U. S. Foreign Service history.

Around dawn on October 23, 1983, I was in Beirut, Lebanon, when a suicide bomber drove a truck laden with the equivalent of twenty-one thousand pounds of TNT into the heart of a U.S. beirutMarine compound, killing two hundred and forty-one servicemen. The U.S. military command, which regarded the Marines’ presence as a non-combative, “peace-keeping mission,” had left a vehicle gate wide open, and ordered the sentries to keep their weapons unloaded. The only real resistance the suicide bomber had encountered was a scrim of concertina wire. When I arrived on the scene a short while later to report on it for the Wall Street Journal, the Marine barracks were flattened. From beneath the dusty, smoking slabs of collapsed concrete, piteous American voices could be heard, begging for help. Thirteen more American servicemen later died from injuries, making it the single deadliest attack on American Marines since the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Beirut was a hotbed of anti-American hostility during the Reagan administration. Earlier in the year, the U. S. Embassy was bombed; seventeen Americans and 46 others died. In March of the following year, the CIA station chief was kidnapped, tortured, and murdered, with the terrorists providing a video tape of their actions.

These attacks led to a Congressional investigation and a report detailing the precautions needed to prevent future tragedies. However, that wasn’t the end of the story, as Mayer relates:

In September of 1984, for the third time in eighteen months, jihadists bombed a U.S. government outpost in Beirut yet again. President Reagan acknowledged that the new security precautions that had been advocated by Congress hadn’t yet been implemented at the U.S. embassy annex that had been hit. The problem, the President admitted, was that the repairs hadn’t quite been completed on time. As he put it, “Anyone who’s ever had their kitchen done over knows that it never gets done as soon as you wish it would.”

Mayer muses over how such an explanation would have been accepted by any of the Benghazi committees. While the Benghazi attack was hardly unique in Foreign Service history, the Congressional response was. The question is why?

The four diplomats killed in Benghazi in 2012 were the latest casualties in a long history of risks to Foreign Service personnel. While the Benghazi stevestockmacnattack was still underway, it was assumed that it was another reaction to the anti-Islam film, which provoked the Cairo embassy attack. As time went on and more information surfaced, it appeared that the Benghazi was independently planned and unrelated to the film. In the process of discovery, mixed reports were issued by the administration, producing some initial confusion among the public.

Critics of the Obama administration contended that there was a conscious riceeffort to tailor reports of the attack so as to avoid any responsibility by the President or his Secretary of State. Other charges indicated that Secretary Clinton had either purposely or ineptly failed to protect the embassy and mismanaged the response to the attack once it began. More radical critics even alleged Secretary Clinton knew about the attack in advance but kept it secret from the embassy staff–and when the Air Force wanted to help, she told them not to do so.

For the most part, these allegations appeared in social media with no substantiation. So, the Congress flew into action to get the facts. The Benghazi Research Committee provides a box score of the Congressional investigations so far. Here are a few of the facts.

10 Congressional Committees participated in Benghazi hearings

252 witnesses testified

62 hours of public hearings

13 published reports totaling 1,982 pages

This is not a report on a single investigation. detailed the various Congressional investigations into the Benghazi tragedy.

Investigation 1: The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

Investigation 2: The Senate Committee On Homeland Security And Governmental Affairs

Investigation 3: The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

Investigation 4: The House Committee on Foreign Affairs

Investigation 5: The House Committee on the Judiciary

Investigation 6: The House Committee on Armed Services

Investigation 7: The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

Ongoing Investigation 8: The House Select Committee on Benghazi

Why yet another investigation?  Leigh Ann Caldwell (2015) explains

In his opening statement, Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-South GowdyCarolina, said his committee exists because the focus of the previous seven committees that investigated the attacks were “narrow in scope.” He said that his committee’s investigations are more comprehensive, including plans to interview a total of 70 people and review 50,000 “new” documents. New documents include nearly 8,000 emails sent by Ambassador Chris Stevens, whom Gowdy called a “prolific emailer.”

On October 22, 2015, former Secretary of State Clinton testified for eleven hours before the House Select Committee. At the conclusion of the hearing, Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy famously told reporters that nothing new had been learned.

Was the Problem Real?

While the official “problem” was to discover what when wrong at Benghazi as a means to preventing such tragedies in the future, there was good reason from the beginning to think the “problem” was something else.

None in the long list of investigations produced the condemnation of President Obama and Secretary Clinton some hoped for. There was some confusion in the fog of war as the attack was going on and early reports about the attack proved inaccurate, but there was never any evidence that misreporting was intentional or a coverup.

Responsible military reported that Secretary Clinton had no role in the immediate security response on the ground, nor did she have any authority to do so. Some claimed the administration was generally inadequate in providing embassy security at Benghazi and elsewhere. This charge was difficult back up, however, as Ronan Farrow reported in The Atlantic:

 In Fiscal Year 2011, House Republicans cut $128 million from the Obama Administration’s requests for embassy security issafunding; in 2012, they cut another $331 million. [Darrell] Issa once personally voted to cut almost 300 diplomatic security positions. In 2011, after one of many fruitless trips to the Hill to beg House Republicans for resources, an exhausted, prophetic Hillary Clinton warned that cuts to embassy spending “will be detrimental to America’s national security.”

Finally, Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), being considered to mccarthysucceed John Boehner as Speaker of the House, publicly announced the real problem the investigations were intended to solve. Challenged by a conservative interviewer to name anything the Congress had achieved, McCarthy replied:

Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a hillaryBenghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s un-trustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened had we not fought and made that happen.

No one was all that surprised to learn the “problem” the Benghazi Select Committee was created to solve was not the tragic death of four American Foreign Service workers but the “threat” of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. People were surprised to hear it bragged about on Fox News, however, and Kevin McCarthy did not become Speaker of the House.

Negative Consequences

A great deal of time and money were wasted in an unprecedented witch hunt. Those involved in the investigations might have been doing something constructive for the public good instead. Numerous public servants were attacked in the halls of Congress and maligned in the media.

Worst, perhaps, the memories of Ambassador Chris Stevens, Information Officer Sean Smith, and CIA agents, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods were dishonored for the purpose of a political agenda.

Writing in Newsweek, Kurt Eichenwald called the Benghazi hearings “One of America’s Worst Political Outrages.”

The Republicans’ unseemly delight in Benghazi has even spread to political fundraising. There is the Stop Hillary PAC, which broadcast an ad about Clinton and Benghazi. The Virginia GOP held a “Beyond Benghazi” fundraiser where donors had to pay $75 to attend and $5,000 to sponsor the event. A blog post before the 2014 election by the National Republican Senate Committee stated, “Americans deserve the truth about Benghazi, and it’s clear Democrats will not give it to them. Donate today and elect a Republican Senate majority.”

But by far the most egregious examples of Republicans trying to raise money on the backs of the dead was by the National Republican Congressional Committee, the official GOP group that works to elect Republicans to the House. In a blog post on its fundraising website, the NRCC told supporters, “House Republicans will make sure that no one will get away from Gowdy and the Select Committee.’’ The NRCC also sent out an email that contained a link that led to part of the NRCC’s site with a URL that ended with the words “Benghazicoverup-contribute.” That page directly sought money for the committee’s political efforts under the words “You’re now a Benghazi Watchdog. Let’s go after Obama and Hillary Clinton.” Beneath that, and directly next to the suggested contribution levels, was a photograph of Clinton and Obama surrounded by the sentences “Benghazi Was a Coverup. Demand Answers.”

A word of explanation is in order regarding my identifying the Benghazi hearings as a Solution without a Problem. The death of four diplomats at Benghazi was surely a tragedy but not a problem that could be solved after the fact. As to the problem of learning ways to better protect Foreign Service employees, that had been fully addressed by the early investigations. The endless line of Benghazi committees had no more to do with improving embassy security than Voter ID laws are really intended to prevent ineligible voters from impersonating eligible ones at polling stations. Both were designed for transparently partisan advantage.

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


Politifact,  “A List of Deadly Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Diplomatic Targets Under President George W. Bush, 2001-2009”

Ronan Farrow, “The Real Benghazi Scandal,” The Atlantic, May 16, 2013

Benghazi Research Committee, “Benghazi by the Numbers”

Clayton Youngman, “Clinton: 7 Benghazi probes so far,” Politifact, October 5, 2015

Leigh Ann Caldwell, “Five Takeaways From Clinton’s Benghazi Testimony, NBC News, October 22, 2015.

Jane Mayer, “Ronald Reagan’s Benghazi,” The New Yorker, May 5, 2014

Politifact, “In Context: What Kevin McCarthy said about Hillary Clinton and Benghazi,” October 7, 2015


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™: Resist Jade Helm 15 Invasion

Let me know what you think 

Presumed Problem

In the summer of 2015, it was widely believed in Texas that they were about to be invaded by the United States Army in an operation labeled Jade Helm 15.


Governor Greg Abbot called upon the Texas National Guard to monitor the exercise and insure Texas was not under attack. Other public officials expressed concern.


In fact, the Army did plan summer training exercises in a number of states: Texas, Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and natl-guardUtah. Some 1200 Green Berets and Navy Seals would participate in Jade Helm 15: some playing the part of an invading force and others playing the part of the resistance. Most of the action would occur in unoccupied, arid terrain, but where some small towns were involved, residents were briefed in advance. The purpose was to train the military in how to avoid an invasion of the USA by hostile forces.

Nonetheless, some feared the “exercise” was a ruse with darker motives. Jim Shea, reporting in the Hartford Courant, nicely summed up the key elements of the conspiracy theory.

That Jade Helm 15 is actually a psychological operation aimed at getting people used to seeing the military on the streets so they will not be tipped off when the invasion actually happens.

That Jade Helm 15 is an international operation (UN vehicles have been spotted) whose goal is to seize everyone’s guns.

That the military plans to round up political dissidents.

In addition to the rounding up of dissidents and political leaders, Shea adds one final element in the conspiracy theory.Walmart

That the military is secretly using recently closed Wal-Marts to stockpile supplies for Chinese troops who will be arriving to disarm Americans. (I have to say this is my personal favorite.)

One public opinion poll found a third of registered Republicans in Texas believed invasion was in the offing. This included half of those supporting the Tea Party. So, there was concern in the general public, but how about the public officials who could calm those fears?

On April 28, 2015, Texas Governor Greg Abbott released the following letter:

To address concerns of Texas citizens and to ensure that Texas communities remain safe, secure and informed about military procedures occurring in their vicinity, I am directing the Texas State Guard to monitor Jade Helm 15.

During the Operation’s eight-week training period… I expect to receive regular updates on the progress and safety of the Operation.

During the training operation, it is important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed. By monitoring the Operation on a continual basis, the State Guard will facilitate communications between my office and the commanders of the Operation to ensure that adequate measures are in place to protect Texans.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz told Bloomberg News he had discussed Jade Helm 15 with the Pentagon and reached this conclusion:

We are assured it is a military training exercise. I have no reason to doubt those assurances, but I understand the reason for concern and uncertainty, because when the federal government has not demonstrated itself to be trustworthy in this administration, the natural consequence is that many citizens don’t trust what it is saying.

Texas Congressman, Louie Gohmert, expressed his concerns this way:

Once I observed the map depicting ‘hostile,’ ‘permissive,’ and ‘uncertain’ states and locations, I was rather appalled that the hostile areas amazingly have a Republican majority, ‘cling to their guns and religion,’ and believe in the sanctity of the United States Constitution.

Former Governor Rick Perry tried to offer some reassurance to Texans. While saying there was every reason to question the civilian leadership of the nation, he had complete faith in the men and women making up the U. S. military.

Was the Problem Real?

No. There was no invasion of the Southwestern U. S., no American citizens were taken prisoner. It was simply an hysterical conspiracy theory, though there may be some in the Lone Star State who still believe the National Guard fought off the invaders.

Negative Consequences

I suppose a negative of the “Solution” would be the cost of texas-signengaging the National Guard and the disruption of Guardsmen’s lives. In addition, the reaction put Texas on the plate of humorists and comedians across the country. One T-shirt read: “I went to Texas to fight Jade Helm 15 and all I got was this tinfoil hat.” In addition to making the state look silly, the widespread conspiracy theory and the public officials who seemed to take it seriously fueled the existing political paranoia in Texas and across the nation. We seem to have survived Jade Helm 15.

But watch out for the zombie invasion.

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


Jim Shea, “Thank You Texas and Good Luck with the Invasion,” Hartford Courant, May 17, 2015 —

David Weigel, “Ted Cruz Says He Has Asked the Pentagon for Answers on Jade Helm 15,” Bloomberg Politics, May 2, 2015 –

David Knowles, “Worried about Operation Jade Helm? Texas Republicans Hear You,” Bloomberg Politics, May 5, 2015 –



SoluProb™: Invasion of Iraq, 2003

Let me know what you think 


Presumed Problem

Following the 9/11 terrorist attack on New York and Washington, some feared that Saddam Hussein of Iraq was preparing to attack the US mainland with weapons of mass destruction (WMD).


Invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein.


Remember the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center? No, not that one, the one in 1993. Explosives planted in a parking basement of the

Arial view of WTC in March of 2001
Arial view of WTC in March of 2001

north tower blew a hole through five stories of the building, with extensive damage to its infrastructure: electrical, sewage, etc. Six people were killed in the attack and about a thousands were injured. Tens of thousands were evacuated from the building.

The Clinton administration treated this attack as a crime and promised appropriate action. The FBI investigated, and eventually all but one of the criminals responsible were identified, arrested, tried, and sentenced to multiple life sentences. Without necessarily putting it in these words, President Bill Clinton chose the metaphor of crime to characterize the attack. It was dealt with as we deal with crimes. In the terms of this project, the problem was a crime in the World Trade Center; normal law enforcement procedures were the appropriate solution, and the solution worked.

Eight years later, a new set of attackers struck a more devastating blow to osama-posterthe World Trade Center towers, destroying them, with much more loss of
life. As we know, the 2001 attack was masterminded by a wealthy Saudi—Osama bin Laden—and the suicide flyers were 15 Saudis, one Egyptian, two from the United Arab Emirates, and one from Lebanon.

Unlike President Clinton in 1993, President George W. Bush chose the metaphor of war instead of crime. That difference in metaphor laid the groundwork for a disastrous solution without a problem. As the “problem” evolved over the months and years following 9/11/01, it was framed as an act of war against the United States, demanding a warlike response. Law enforcement need not apply.

So the problem was not just the attack on 9/11 but the imminent threat of an even worse attack, such as a nuclear attack on American soil. However, if Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda cohorts had possessed nukes, why didn’t they use them on 9/11? Moreover, wars are fought between nations, and no one regarded Osama or even al Qaeda as being an actual nation. While 15 of the 19 hijackers were, like Osama, from Saudi Arabia, no one suggested we had been attacked by the House of Saud.

Through a politically masterful legerdemain, it was argued that Iraq was really responsible for the 9/11 attack, despite no Iraqis being on the saddam-postage
attacking planes. Nor did it matter that Saddam Hussein had refused to let al Qaeda operate in Iraq, and al Qaeda, in turn, viewed Saddam as a “secular Satan.” Close enough, as opinion polls soon found the American public blaming Saddam and Iraq for the attacks on 9/11.

Over time, the 9/11 dimension faded a bit and was simply replaced by the “problem” of Saddam planning an imminent, nuclear attack on America. All Americans became familiar with the abbreviation WMD—Weapons of Mass Destruction—and an argument ensued over whether Saddam and Iraq had any. Some cynics pointed out a proof in the matter: the Reagan administration had given Saddam WMDs in the 1980s for his war against Iran. So he had WMDs at one point. He used some against Iran and used some against dissidents in his own country.

The administration assumed that he still had a WMD arsenal that he was preparing to use on the USA.

Was the Problem Real?

When some in Congress questioned the reality of Condoleezza_Rice_croppedSaddam’s threat, they asked, “Where’s the smoking gun?” NSA Director Condoleezza Rice replied “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” That seemed a  sufficient answer for some.

Nevertheless, American and international inspectors were granted access to Iraq and searched for evidence of nuclear, chemical, or biological WMDs. They found none. The U. S. invaded Iraq anyway and the search for WMDs continued until eventually President Bush would joke about it, looking beneath his podium before speaking and reporting, “No WMDs there.”bush-head-scratch-300x193

Few people thought highly of Saddam Hussein, who was eventually captured and executed, but there was never any evidence of a plan or preparations to attack America. The invasion of Iraq and overthrow of Saddam was clearly a “solution” without a problem. But it was also a “solution” that caused real problems.

Negative Consequences

Let’s focus on some of the problems this solution created for the United States. As of July 13, 2015, the Defense Department reported 4,424 American casualties in Operation Iraqi Freedom—roughly double the number killed on 9/11. The number of non-Americans, coffinsespecially Iraqis, killed is vastly larger, though the estimates vary widely, from tens of thousands to over a million. The same Defense Department report counted 31,951 Americans wounded in action, creating an as-yet insoluble problem for the Veterans Administration and civilian health care facilities. Many feel the nation has effectively turned its back on the returning wounded—except on Memorial Day, when politicians and others proclaim gratitude and respect all around.

At this writing, the economic cost of the war is estimated at around three to four trillion dollars. Since the Bush administration chose not to raise taxes to pay for the war, the cost has been met through an escalation of the national debt and cutbacks in domestic programs such as transportion, education, and health care.

Perhaps the worst problem is that the unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Iraq by the United States, with the immense death and suffering by Iraqis, fueled the view that America was at war with Islam, at war with all Muslims everywhere. While that was surely not the administration’s d3dce__ISIS-militantsintention, a compelling case could and was made for it. The disruption of order in Iraq has spread through the area, most notably to Syria. Today, the Daesh (aka ISIL) have little trouble convincing young Muslims that America is set on destroying Islam, while, ironically, most of Daesh’s victims are fellow Muslims.

The refugee crisis caused by civilians fleeing Syria and neighboring areas has provided an opportunity for “Christian charity,” but the answer to that request has found many Americans arguing loudly against aiding any of Daesh’s victims. Several leading political figures, most notably, Donald Trump, have urged that we refuse entry to any Muslims and possibly crack down on native-born Americas who happen to be Muslims. Daesh finds it easier and easier to claim that America is at war with Islam.


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