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Fickle Freedom’s Fiscal Fists

Posted by Rick · August 29th, 2003 · No Comments

It’s not (yet) a popular view, but something needs to be done about our nations economy. And one “something” which needs to be done is that we need to stop going to war with and occupying every other country out there that Halliburton and Bechtel want. The benefits to these two companies are enormous in terms of all the contracts they’re receiving, but the costs to the American public—and to our future as a free nation—are just too high.

The direct military cost of the occupation is $4 billion a month, and there’s no end in sight. But that’s only part of the bill.

This week Paul Bremer suddenly admitted that Iraq would need “several tens of billions” in aid next year. – Paul Krugman, “Fistfuls of Dollars,” The New York Times, August 29, 2003. [Special thanks to my wife, who actually reads the NY Times, for bringing this to my attention.]

We cannot afford this sort of drain on our economy, no matter how pissed off we might be. We need to use a little common sense if we’re even to survive, let alone survive in a way that keeps our country free and strong. As Krugman further notes,

even the government of a superpower can’t simultaneously offer tax cuts equal to 15 percent of revenue, provide all its retirees with prescription drugs and single-handedly take on the world’s evildoers ? single-handedly because we’ve alienated our allies. In fact, given the size of our budget deficit, it’s not clear that we can afford to do even one of these things. – Ibid.

Our country’s troops are needed to defend our country. We can’t use them to overthrow every despot who irritates us. Now, seriously, I’m not trying to be partisan here—facts are facts—but we cannot keep going to war on flimsy or trumped up charges just because we don’t like somebody. It’s expensive.

And it very literally puts us at risk. I’m begging you to bear with me a minute here. (I have to keep saying this because it seems lately that anything that doesn’t sound like “bring ’em on” makes one about as popular as a pinko at McCarthy’s birthday party.) Just because the United States is currently the most powerful country in the world doesn’t mean we always will be. When you were in school, wasn’t there at least one big guy who bullied everyone, but eventually got what he deserved? If not, haven’t you at least seen it in the movies? Eventually, one of two things happen: Either the big guy wears himself out and becomes vulnerable, or a bunch of the little guys gang up on him. And it doesn’t just happen to bad big guys.

Our current foreign policy is making us look like the big bully to a lot of people. It doesn’t matter if we really are bullies, or are just “doing what’s right.” As marketers and politicians sometimes say, “Appearances are everything.” So we’re ticking off a lot of people, some of whom are possibly bad guys who were already bent on our destruction, but others were just people who don’t like us. And now, thanks to our efforts, they’re also bent on our destruction.

Meanwhile, we’re stretching ourselves too thin. Not only are we putting a strain in our economy and pushing ourselves deeper into recession, we’re actually risking our military strength. And countries that have enemies need military strength even when they aren’t bullies.

The rule of thumb, according to military experts, is that except during crises, only one brigade in three should be deployed abroad. Yet today 21 of the Army’s 33 combat brigades are deployed overseas, 16 of them in Iraq. This puts enormous stress on the troops, who find that they have only brief periods of rest and retraining between the times spent in harm’s way. For example, most of a brigade of the 82nd Airborne that is about to go to Iraq returned from Afghanistan only six months ago. – Ibid.

So, according to military experts, we’ve got our ratio exactly reversed.

Write, call or otherwise communicate to your congressmen. We need to slow down.

I don’t know about you, but I’d like to be part of the free world for a bit longer.

Categories: Oil & The Presidency


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