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Budget Problems, America? Try Ending Your Many Wars

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Posted on Jun 1, 2011
U.S. Marine Corps / Staff Sgt. Jeff Kaus

By William Pfaff

To the wayfaring American citizen, the view of Washington, D.C., from abroad is as bizarre as that of Oz. One cannot believe what is happening. How can Republican leaders have convinced themselves that the way to be re-elected is by doing away with Medicare and Social Security—about all the security that America’s old people have to hang on to these days. (Not the rich ones. There are not very many rich, old people in the United States—look around you.) When the Republicans lose a “sure” Republican congressional seat to a Democrat on these issues, as they did in May in New York state, they display genuine bewilderment.

They think that voters are all single-mindedly obsessed with the national debt and the present fight over the forthcoming budget. I mentioned Oz, but of course the Wizard proved to be a warm-hearted mountebank who knew how Dorothy could get back to Kansas. Mountebanks are aplenty in Washington but they have nothing to offer Dorothy, who was just a poor farm girl from the Great Plains (where, incidentally, the American Populist movement of the late 19th century started, nearly electing president the great orator William Jennings Bryan on a “free silver” ticket).

If the government would like $3 trillion to round out the budget for next year, why not call off the wars that nobody can any longer explain? Afghan operations alone are set to run to $113 billion this fiscal year, according to The Washington Post. The Pentagon is asking for $107 billion in the next fiscal year for Afghanistan alone.

The cost of maintaining a single American soldier in Afghanistan for a year is $1 million. That’s because of the stupefying cost of transporting supplies and the continuing construction of bases there. (But aren’t we supposed to be leaving?) The cost of an Afghan national army, which the country has never felt necessary in the past but that the U.S. now wants it to possess (so that it can execute missions that Washington considers vital, not to them but to us) has cost $28 billion thus far, and the U.S. training effort for 2012 is a requested $12.5 billion.

If we take seriously the claims of Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, the U.S., because of its drone and air campaigns there, is on the brink of being identified by the Afghans not as an allied force but a hostile army of occupation. He implies that this new Afghan army might find that its historical role in Afghanistan is to drive the U.S. out. Given the even greater hostility toward America in Pakistan, it is possible that the two countries might cooperate in that effort. In that case, the “terrorist” Taliban would gladly join in. U.S. officials replied mildly to Mr. Karzai’s threat, since they are habituated to assume that he and his Pakistani counterparts can readily be replaced. We made ‘em; we use ‘em; we can break ‘em.

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Why do we remain in Afghanistan and Pakistan under these conditions? We went there only to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, and he’s now dead and deep in the blue sea. Last week a U.S. House of Representatives vote for an accelerated withdrawal from Afghanistan was defeated by only 11 votes (the nays won 215 to 204; a year ago the same vote was 260 against with 162 favoring withdrawal).

When Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, saying that Afghanistan was the “right” war to fight and (the still unfinished) Iraq intervention the “wrong” war, he asked the Pentagon what victory in Afghanistan would require. Gen. David Petraeus, then theater commander for both Iraq and Afghanistan, replied at the end of 2009 that it would take a “surge” of 100,000 additional soldiers and an equal increase in civilian contractors. The president asked if the plan would assure victory within 18 months so that withdrawal from Afghanistan could begin in July 2011. The general and his Pentagon staff said yes. Their demands for reinforcement were met.

Last summer, Gen. Petraeus, who had returned to direct command in Afghanistan from his theater command, was again asked about victory in Afghanistan. He reiterated his determination to win and said that by the end of August or in early September 2010, “we will have the inputs about right,” and the campaign plan for victory “perfected,” and he would then launch his march to victory. In interviews on the Sunday television talk programs in Washington in August last year, he hinted that, well, possibly it would take a little longer to win the war than July 2011—as initially promised to Mr. Obama—but Secretary of Defense Robert Gates intervened to say that if Gen. Petraeus and his colleagues had promised to give the president victory by July 2011, then that is what they would do.

Well, here we are now in June 2011. Has President Obama asked Gen. Petraeus, “Where is this victory?” Are the Senate and House of Representatives demanding appearances by the joint chiefs to explain whether they are following the president’s policy or their own? Congress is afraid to do so. Cowardice on stopping wars, raising taxes, “letting Israel down” and the power of corporations seems to be what runs Washington. Dorothy was never afraid. Dorothy had pluck—spirit and courage! That was in the 19th century.

Visit William Pfaff’s website for more on his latest book, “The Irony of Manifest Destiny: The Tragedy of America’s Foreign Policy” (Walker & Co., $25), at www.williampfaff.com.

© 2011 Tribune Media Services, Inc.


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LocalHero's avatar

By LocalHero, September 24, 2011 at 9:43 am Link to this comment

Pfaff is usually Chris Hedges Light but at least he had the balls to print this—

“Cowardice on stopping wars, raising taxes, “letting Israel down” and the power of corporations seems to be what runs Washington.”

Hit the nail on the head with that one.

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By changdc54@yahoo.com,, June 5, 2011 at 7:34 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Roman Empire, The Spanish Empire, The British Empire, The Russian Empire. Do we need more examples of empires who went broke on account of their military spending? Or are we going to declare that we’re exceptional and continue to spend on our military until we go bust?

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By Cliff Carson, June 4, 2011 at 9:00 pm Link to this comment

Lafayette

What many wars?

America not involved in Libya?

Surely you jest!

The only thing we have liberated in the Middle East is the Arabs from their Resources, The Arabs from their lives, the Arabs from their infrastructure, the Arabs from their lands, and the Arabs from Peace.  We have given them something to keep and suffer from for a million years - DU.

We have destroyed every country where we initially set up our Lap-Dog in, everyone of which was a blood thirsty Dictator.  But we didn’t have any gripe against them murdering their citizens as long as they were doing our bidding - which by the way was giving American Industry their resources.  We were OK with Iran as long as our bloodthirsty dictator , The “Shah” wad in power, but when the Iranians rose up and overthrew this ogre they immediately became our enemy - for overthrowing murderer, the Shah.

The United States was on the ground in Libya before the first shot was fired and I think you know that.  Qaddafi agreed to observe the cease fire the U N called called for, but then within an hour after his statement that he would do so,the United States was attacking the Libyan Army.  I think, you know that.

I have read people on this site referring to you as a shill for the Corporate Empire.  After this crap you have just spewed I have to ask if it is true?

Or if after checking the facts you choose to admit your mistake I will withdraw the question.

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Lafayette's avatar

By Lafayette, June 4, 2011 at 8:37 pm Link to this comment

BANANA REPUBLIC

RL: That would not be taken as Progressive but socialist and considering what a dirty word that is in the US political

Agreed. Still, it’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.

Anyway we chose, it’s a hard slog out of the pits. Either we take action as a nation regarding Income Inequality or the US becomes a Banana Republic.

Given the present pattern of Income Distribution, we are halfway there already.

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RayLan's avatar

By RayLan, June 4, 2011 at 3:49 am Link to this comment

@Lafayette
“Let’s establish a Progressive Agenda for Income Equality in America and date for arriving at it. Let’s say, a lowering of Income Inequality to European levels”

That would not be taken as Progressive but socialist and considering what a dirty word that is in the US political, for the want of a better word, mind, pigs will have to fly first.

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By Lafayette, June 4, 2011 at 1:31 am Link to this comment

WHAT “MANY WARS”?

Libya is not a “war” in which we are involved, aside from supplying some armaments. No troops on the ground, no planes overhead. (It is not even sure that American Hercules gunships are flying out of Sicily.) Europe is handling this one on its own.

Iraq is a war that is over and the last troops will be quartered in barracks from which they may not exit. So ...?

Afghanistan is a war that is winding down, like it or not for Kriminal Karzai and his Mafioso Brother.

So, exactly what is all the bitching about .... ?

MY POINT: About the “wars”

WP and his likes are so obsessed with PeaceNik neutrality that they cannot see that a movement of historic proportions is taking place in the Middle-east and North Africa.

Given time, history will prove that the liberation of the Arab peoples will be greatly beneficial to America. And the infection could even spread, finally, to Iran.

MY POINT: About the budget

Some thoughts:
* Let’s establish a Progressive Agenda for Income Equality in America and date for arriving at it. Let’s say, a lowering of Income Inequality to European levels. (See here.)
* Let’s elect politicians that support that Progressive Agenda.
* Then may they pass legislation that raises significantly Marginal Income and Capital Gains taxation schedules. In this manner we will enhance tax revenues. The measure will also have a salutary effect upon Corporate Greed. Both of which results are goodness.
* Then let’s concentrate on Stimulus Spending (on infrastructural projects for which America is in dire need) and aim at a general unemployment rate of 4%.
* Then, while were at it, let’s get back to the Progressive Agenda and establish an objective to reform the manner in which our elections are funded. And damn the Roberts Supreme Court for what it has done to open the floodgates of illicit corporate electoral spending.

A Progressive Agenda can do wonders to return America to Americans. Were it only that Americans be prepared to accept it with political maturity that they have hitherto been unable to demonstrate.

Only the fate of the nation is at stake ...

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By agnesinla, June 4, 2011 at 12:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Most any middle class American I ever spoke to had bought into the indoctrination of American special status in the world. After all this nation was chosen by God! Your soldiers are all heroes, this country has the best of everything. Except I heard all this in previous context: Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia. You need to pay more attention to history. The Soviet Union also had a Heroic Soviet Army!
I don’t usually offer my observation because I would be shouted down. I have lived here for 25 years, and met very few who see clearly. Such virulent nationalism as I see here is not very pretty. The era of the preIraq war was probably the scariest times I lived through. The propaganda machine was overwhelming, and the chestbeating and flag waving was truly frightening. And now I wonder, if things went differently in Iraq and Afganistan, how many would be critical of these wars?

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By Cliff Carson, June 3, 2011 at 3:19 pm Link to this comment

General Smedley Butler in his “War is a Racket” that he wrote in 1935 stated that there is only one way to stop starting wars:

Take the Profit out of it.

He suggested that in time of war, the Corporations make every war instrument at cost and if found to be charging more than cost, prosecute them.

He suggested that all workers at the war plants be limited to a salary not more than the soldier in the trenches.  Including all management.

He suggested stock holders not receive any gain from investment in the stock of War Industry companies.

He suggested that Laws be written to enforce the above suggestions.

He is one of the most decorated soldiers ever to fight for the freedom of America.

When he reported that a group of Nazi Sympathizers tried to get him to lead a 500,000 man army that they said had the Goal to overthrow America, he was thoroughly trashed by the
American Media, Congress, and the War Industry.

The same War Industry that helped supply the Nazis war material during World War II.

Many of those Nazi War Criminals were brought to the United States and given cushy Corporate jobs by the same American Corporations that had furnished material to the enemy.

Read about one:  Google I. G. Farben and read till you can’t read anymore.

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By Kingharvest, June 3, 2011 at 11:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The wars are being paid for by taxpayers, but it is corporations, politicians and shareholders who are taking home the profits.

Look at how much Lockheed Martin makes in one year. Anyone associated with that company is making tons of money. They are not going to give that up without a fight.

War profits are a sure thing.

So what are taxpayers going to do about it? The shareholders think most will sit about and complain but otherwise wait and see how bad it can really get.

I think they are right. It is a shame.

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By Inherit The Wind, June 3, 2011 at 5:59 am Link to this comment

Can’t end the wars.
After all, the only manufacturers left in the US are car makers (who make HumVees)
Aircraft companies (who make war planes)
and arms manufacturers.

Why, you end the wars and you kill our last manufacturers…of course we could ship the plants to China, like we did everything else we used to make (thank you, Ronald Reagan, for making off-shoring SO possible!)

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By frecklefever, June 2, 2011 at 6:31 pm Link to this comment

FLACO…YES A GENERAL VOTING STRIKE..WELCOME ABOARD..

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By IceNine, June 2, 2011 at 5:55 pm Link to this comment

Nowadays, I think the only view of Washington DC for an American citizen IS from abroad, unless one in fact happens to be living in DC. From anywhere else in the country, the view is certainly “as bizarre as that of Oz”.

Maybe the pollsters, who regularly quiz Americans on their views of various issues and /or politicians, could do a poll to determine what percentage of us feel as if we have been effectively expatriated without having actually left the shores of America behind.

It seems that if we are not corporations, we have been disenfranchised whether we know it or not. Washington DC Inc. does whatever it wants, mostly self-indulgent idiocy, and the rest of us are left to fight amongst ourselves over the crumbs that drop from their (clear-cut) mountaintop table.

I continue to be reminded of Yertle the Turtle, his back breaking under the weight of all the turtles climbing atop him so that the ruling turtle could see as far as possible - because, as I recall, the reigning turtle king figured that he owned all that he could see. I think at the end of the story, Yertle toppled the whole stack off his back. Good old Dr. Seuss - I’m surprised there hasn’t been a movement to ban and burn his treasonous books.

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By flaco, June 2, 2011 at 2:58 pm Link to this comment

@ frecklefever. I want in on that idea. A general voting strike!!!!

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By RayLan, June 2, 2011 at 2:40 pm Link to this comment

I should be fascinated by how the defense elephant is willfully ignored in favor of disenfranchising the elderly and the poor - those Americans most in need of protection, but it’s nauseatingly old news. The rationalizations are sometimes ingenous, always fallacious and often just fiscally stupid.
But war is big business and we know how many presidents they have in their deep pockets.

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By Cliff Carson, June 2, 2011 at 11:19 am Link to this comment

Laws456

Many, Many veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have spoken out against these wars but it is up to the media to give them the airwaves to voice their complaints.

It ain’t gonna happen.

Our Media is controlled by about 10 Corporations.  For Corporate America War is next to Mecca.  And don’t forget the Corporate Armies.  Just about every large Weapons Manufacturer has a business called “Security For Hire”.  They use mercenary soldiers.  There are more Mercenaries in Iraq and Afghanistan than there are regular soldiers. And they get paid about 3 times the pay of a regular soldier.  Did you know that by the time a gallon of gas gets to the soldiers in Afghanistan it costs about $400 for that gallon of gas?  Somebody is making a profit and I’m sure they don’t want to give it up.

By the way, that $400 includes the rake off of about $2 million per week paid to the Karzai family as protection to keep the insurgents from blowing up that gas.

By the way,General McCrystal stated on TV about 6 months ago that there was about 100 Al-Queda in Afghanistan.

Give me the name of a business that will cut off its profit stream to commit a moral act.  They don’t want the Wars to end.  There is too much lost profit to do that.

And if you are a Corporation raking in the big bucks, do you really give a damn if people die to fatten your bank account?

Doesn’t look like it, does it?

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By California Ray, June 2, 2011 at 11:10 am Link to this comment

“Defense spending has steadily declined over the last two decades from 6.2% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 1985 to approximately 3.4% of the GDP in 2006. The VFW urges the Congress to significantly increase defense spending to adequately fund all needed weapons programs, quality of life initiatives, military healthcare, and troop end strength requirements.”
http://www.vfw.org/VFW-in-DC/Defense—-Foreign-Affairs/

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By felicity, June 2, 2011 at 11:00 am Link to this comment

purplewolf - Remembering the wars we’ve fought, and I
thought we had won (or at least, tied), reading that
we have 15,000 marines on Okinawa (we won that island
in WWII) and 25,000 soldiers at the DMZ between North
and South Korea (a war that we both agreed was going
no where so shine it) ‘winning’ seems to be, in the
end, meaningless.

And, given the above record, there’ no way in hell we
will ever really leave Iraq or Afghanistan - and all
the king’s horses and all the king’s men will never
be able to put this country back together again after
its treasury has been drained dry.  Fifth-world, here
we come.

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By Laws456, June 2, 2011 at 10:45 am Link to this comment

As many of you noted, not ending these wars is based on finances. Too many are making billions. I wonder if the soldiers realize they are but pawns? If they know they are pawns, why don’t they take a stand like some did in the Vietnam War?

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By SarcastiCanuck, June 2, 2011 at 10:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If the guv was smart,they’d take control of the hashish and heroin production and ditribution in Afghanistan.You’d be running a budget surplus in two years and free medical for all in another two years.Why not,insanity rules these days…or so it seems.

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By JDmysticDJ, June 2, 2011 at 10:09 am Link to this comment

In the comments here are heard the voices that will end these wars; voices of intelligence, reason, and outrage. When and if, these policies of war will end depends on these voices. Knowing what’s correct and doing what’s correct are very different realities. Knowing what’s correct shows intelligence and reasoned thought, doing what’s correct also requires intelligence and reasoned thought, but above all it requires courage and commitment.

If the voices here are correct in their assessments, and I have absolutely no doubt that they are, then the truths they convey need to be presented to the people for consideration. These truths are self evident and the people, when confronted by these truths, will recognize these truths. The corporate owned bureaucratic News Medias have failed to give the these issues the consideration they deserve, and have utterly failed to fulfill their duty as the Fourth Estate, so it’s up to a burgeoning Fifth Estate to bring these issues before the people and to force the government to deal with these issues.

A Fifth Estate’s power comes from sheer numbers of people committed to bringing about change. What’s needed is for a burgeoning Fifth Estate to organize, and to lobby the people and the government to achieve change. What’s needed is local organization and activism which will lead to grass roots coalitions for national organization, and national coordinated actions to bring issues to the forefront of political debate. Corporate bureaucratic News Medias may be in a position to influence debate, the bureaucratic National News Medias may be able to obscure the debate and the issues, but they will not be able to totally suppress the issues. Any discussion of national activism will have to include the issues of debate, and activism of a national character must be discussed by the corporate bureaucratic News Medias in order for these Medias to retain any semblance of credibility. The truth will out, in spite of the proclivities and efforts of the corporate bureaucratic News Medias.

Sadly, and tragically, and given the generally accepted apathy and self absorption of the American people, any hope for national action - at this time - must logically be considered a pipedream, however, the blue print for national action as stated will require a vanguard, a network for organization and action. It is the voices heard here, and other intelligent and reasoned voices from elsewhere and only these voices that can become that vanguard. Hoping that these intelligent, reasonable, and knowledgeable voices will become that vanguard may also be a pipedream, moving from knowing, to doing, appears to be a quantum leap fraught with insecurities, lack of commitment, a lack of necessary courage, and an unwillingness to sacrifice in any, and all, respects.

Despair is not at all conducive to achieving goals. The tide seems to be shifting gradually and ever so slowly, but it does appear to be shifting. Evidence in that shift is seen in the recent vote in the House of Representatives to wind down the War in Afghanistan. If the vote had been 215 in favor and 204 against rather than 204 in favor and 215 against, then a first small step in ending the madness would have been taken, a first small step that would have brought the issues forward for further debate, which could only facilitate the truth in its omnipotence from coming forth, if only slowly. If traditional political action will be the only option available for ending the madness, then I’ll hope that the knowledgeable and intelligent on these issues will also be intelligent in respect to traditional politics and not give themselves over to a counter productive futility and despair that will impede the shift rather than speed the shift.

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By frecklefever, June 2, 2011 at 10:02 am Link to this comment

MY ONE REFRAIN IS SEPARATING FROM THIS FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
PSYCHOSIS BY REFUSING TO VOTE…WILL ALLEVIATE PERSONAL GUILT AND
GATHER A WHOLE LOT OF LIKEMINDED FOLKS…IF LARGE ENOUGH COULD
MAKE THE ELECTED PRETENDERS TO THE THRONE ILLEGITIMATE…ITS
CALLED BACKING INTO SUCCESS

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By purplewolf, June 2, 2011 at 9:20 am Link to this comment

Surfnow: Actually we were involved with 6 wars before the mess with Libya. We only heard about the most costly ones. Besides, we have to keep the wars going because the repukelicans have introduced more than 1000 bills since Jan. 2011 to deny women the right to have a abortion and with all the extra people they are forcing women to give birth to, the only jobs America is creating is to go to war and to kill other people.

Until they stop the madness, nothing will change.

We have military bases in about 165 of the 195 countries of the world. We spend about 70 cents+ of every tax dollar taken in on the MIC and about 6% for all the social programs and where do they demand we cut? Why the programs Americans pay into all their working years. We are not their for our safety. If any other country decided to invade America where are our military people at? Everywhere but here.

Want to see some more of the insanity from the Bush years and Iraq ? Check out the book, “Armed Madhouse”, by Greg Palast.I think the one about the men in the torpedoes shows working Americans the incompetency of politicians who run this country into the ground.

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By felicity, June 2, 2011 at 9:11 am Link to this comment

Throughout history (what’s that, politicians ask) wars
have drained treasuries - federal income tax was
enacted in this country during the Civil War to pay for
it. And as long as we remain a rogue military nation,
it will stay on the books.

Take the wars just in my life time - WWII, Korea,
Vietnam, Grenada, Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan - and we
wonder why we’re in a financial crisis? Talk about the
proverbial elephants in the proverbial rooms.

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By California Ray, June 2, 2011 at 8:31 am Link to this comment

Take a deep breath, and try to think more than one move ahead—like in a chess game.
If we end our occupation of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan, we are helping the
Pentagon preserve its financial and personnel resources. Why is this a good idea?
Why is everybody in such an all-fired hurry to help our torture-loving, UN-hating, preventive-war-waging, weapons-in-space-developing military get unstuck from Iraq and Afghanistan?
America’s next disastrous military adventure may be far worse than what we’ve got now. So, why let the bear out of the trap?

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By Cliff Carson, June 2, 2011 at 6:17 am Link to this comment

True, so true.

The Shadow Government ( those who really run our Government), profits by these wars.

They are farmers who plant a crop ( create discord) tend it (propagandize and spin the situation as usually a humanitarian concern), get the people riled up ( prepare to harvest) then intervene ( for the good of the soon to be victims) and promote democracy - their kind.

But never think these who foment don’t profit.  Read “War is a Racket” by one of the most decorated serviceman ever to serve the U S Army, General Smedley Butler.  He wrote it in 1935.

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, June 2, 2011 at 1:07 am Link to this comment

As I sit here in Ukraine and cast my gaze westward I have to look across Europe to see my old homeland. I’m amazed at the difference. Germany, the massive engine of growth in Europe and the second largest exporter in the world (with a population of just 80 million vs. over 1.3 billion for the number one country, China) is in the process of SHRINKING their military from 230K down to 180K because THEY CAN’T AFFORD IT ANYMORE. Imagine such bold thinking in Washington ... shrink the military because we too can no longer afford it. Personally, if I were elected president (I admit a very, very remote possibility) I would sign an executive order cutting the military budget to $50, just enough for the joint chiefs to get one McD lunch while cleaning out their offices. We need a defensive military which means some type of organization that protects us from external threats. Where was this defense when we were attacked in 2001? So inept they couldn’t even get planes off the ground in time to stop it. Morons. Fire all the bastards and turn the tanks, aircraft carriers and submarines into plowshares which we desperately need. Then give another $50 to this obscene national intelligence abortion (an oxymoron if ever there was one ... national intelligence) so they could joint the bloated generals for one final lunch before turning out the lights on this disaster. TSA would get similar treatment. When we are no longer blundering around the world threatening all our neighbors, then we will have security. Until then, these morons will just continue pushing us toward the cliff with no though of the consequences.

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By SteveL, June 1, 2011 at 9:18 pm Link to this comment

Two, three, maybe four wars.  More weapons spending than all nations of the
world combined. 800 offshore military bases, someone come up with 12 we
actually need.  Dumbass war on drugs.  Take your pick there are plenty of places
to save lots of money.

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By dicvera, June 1, 2011 at 8:48 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Where is Obama in this?

He doesn’t really care about these wars or how much we are spending/have
spent on them.

He doesn’t really care about the economy, e.g., the deficit—otherwise he would
end the wars.

He doesn’t really care about creating jobs, otherwise he would already have
worked to create them, with construction programs like the Roosevelt’s WPA
and CCC.

(You think Obama inherited a mess and has opposition from the Party of No too
fierce for him to prevail? The presidency wasn’t exactly a picnic for FDR.)

Obama wants one thing and one thing only: to be reelected in 2012, no matter
how it comes about, no matter how much non-action, how much temporizing it
takes.

Obama fooled us once. Will he fool us twice? I think so, because the
Republicans don’t realize the 2012 election is Obama’s to lose.

They don’t realize that because they are dumbbells.

Epigraph by George Kennan to a review of the letters between Kennan and John
Lukacs in the 6/23/11 New York Review of Books:

One’s relations with one’s country, like the relations among intimates, are
always complicated; but I conceive myself to have loved my own…. I am now
inclined to see my country much the way that I see Russia (in the historical
sense): namely, as a politically unsuccessful and tragic country, but one capable
of producing out of its midst, from time to time, remarkable literary, artistic,
and musical intelligence, politically helpless and always vulnerable to abuse and
harassment at the hands of the dominant forces of the moment.

—George Kennan, letter to John Lukacs, July 8, 1984

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By mrfreeze, June 1, 2011 at 7:29 pm Link to this comment

I was driving my car today and channel surfed past NPR (I don’t linger on NPR as much these days….too wimpy for me these days)and I heard a blurb with Robert Gates going on about how we’ve brought “democracy” to Iraq and how he can’t believe how wonderful it is to have waged these wars….....................the only problem is, AS ALWAYS, there have been no tangible, positive outcomes from our warmongering over in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have obtained no land, we have plundered no goods or services, we haven’t even won “the hearts and minds” of our (manufactured) enemies. Gates’ commentary makes me want to puke and our empire building has made me wonder what it truly is to be an American today.

The most disturbing thing to me is the fact that our military leaders pretend that they are “protecting the homeland” when, in fact, they couldn’t care less about protecting the poor, minorities, women, gays, the disabled or anyone else that doesn’t qualify as a “real American” (language given to us by the Tea and Republican Parties). All the dim-wits who have “volunteered” to join our military don’t realize that they are protecting the interests of a very small group of uber-wealthy Americans who live in gated communities and let “the little people” pay for the wars.

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By PatrickHenry, June 1, 2011 at 6:36 pm Link to this comment

Before 1 dollar for a non military domestic program is cut, the defense budget should decrease 100 billion, if not more.

Why exactly is National Security?

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By litlpeep, June 1, 2011 at 6:12 pm Link to this comment

The generals, admirals, and secretaries of “Defense” almost always miss the projected targets, no matter what the target: budgets & spending, winning wars, determining what weapons they will need “for the next war(s),” whatever.

The reason is simple.  They no longer have any idea what about the USA is worth fighting and dying for.

We have been misled as a nation by our commanders in chief all the way back to and including Truman.  They have sent “missions” to see what can be done here, there, and everywhere, and no matter what the mission, the military is sooner or later called in to clean up a political disaster.  Presidents almost always run on ending this or that war.  They also, since Truman, almost always start a war, or expand one, somewhere.

Presidents also love to send the spooks into this or that place to see what can be done to make the place more business friendly.  What that means to the spooks is: how can we win a welcome there for the Wall Street US Government protected thieves?

Spooks are not always dummies.  It also happens that the native leaders in those places they go are also not always dummies.  We now have an “African Command” of the US military because the spooks failed to make Africa friendly enough for the Wall Street thieves.  So government is now backing the effort with the show of force.  If that show doesn’t succeed, the US overt wars will break out. 

The reason is simple.  The Wall Street thieves have made a huge gamble on controlling the African arable lands, and the US Government will back them until there are no more “volunteers” (read: “bribed and impoverished uneducated youth”) to fight those wars.

Too bad we have only the bipartisan hacks to vote for in national elections.  They only inspire voting for one’s dog in protest.

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By surfnow, June 1, 2011 at 5:00 pm Link to this comment

Defense, the military, the latest in weapons technology, 700 + military bases, three wars: all of these are off the budget table, to use the terminology of Hillary Clinton and the other sociopaths in Washington. And the middle class just takes it and takes it and takes it-

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