What's a Few Million Between Friends?

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Over at Salon (and—sorry—behind their advertising wall), Cass Sunstein considers whether that $700 million spent on preparations for the Iraq war was misappropriated. He concludes that… it's too soon to conclude anything. But it looks rather dodgy. It'd be nice if Sunstein read the Commerce Clause as narrowly as he does appropriations bills, though.

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  1. Another non-issue for anti-war nuts to get in a tizzy about.

    By the way, I’d say Sunstein is not an expert in this area, so I’m glad he’s being appropriately circumspect.

  2. Connie,

    Do you consider Bob Woodward an “anti-war nut?”

    Do you consider anyone who is against the war in Iraq a “nut?” What about someone who is against war except in cases of self-defense? Is that person a “nut?”

    I don’t mean to sound argumentative, I’m genuinely curious.

  3. kind of OT –

    I didn’t read the Salon article; so I have no comments. But generally looking at the trend where anti-war and pro-war people seem to react differently to the same news, I have a question.

    Would the Reason crowd(readers,writers) support the US involvment in WWII. (NO I AM NOT DRAWING A PARALLEL)

    In 1941 Japan attacked a US navy base and killed 3000+ (supposedly in retaliation for the US oil embargo on Japan?). The “enemy” intent was not very clear w.r.t. threat to US mainland (or even further threat to Hawaii). Hitler was busy in Europe doing his thing. Battle of Britain was over – so British isles were not in serious danger of invasion (US could continue to supply the Brits with equipment). Possibly Hitler could have fought USSR later, Japan would have been an Asian power. US would not have had to sacrifice however many lives …

    Why did the US declare war on Germany and Japan?
    How would one justify it?
    – – – – –
    I am really curious if someone (especially the present antiwar side) can provide some thoughts.

  4. Zorel, shush, Jennifer might hear you. You know how these teacher/former teacher types love those little “thought experiments.”

  5. Well, the situation’s a little different. We declared war on Japan in response to their attack on us. Germany then declared war on us.

  6. An attack on sovereign territory is, pretty much by definition, an act of war that must be replied to – and indeed, Japan simultaneously attacked other US territories (such as the Philippines) prior to invasion. I can’t see any way that the US could not have entered a major war with Japan. As for Germany, it was Hitler who declared war on the US several days after Pearl Harbour – the American declaration of war was officially in response to that (and there was in fact some doubt whether the US would have initiated hostilities otherwise, just as there was always strain within the US high command over which enemy should be the primary target.)

  7. Julian,

    obviously the situation is different – hence my CAP letter disclaimer that I was not drawing a parallel.

    Since the parties were nation states, things were clear cut – if states were to aid terrorists, then should we act, if so what is the level of evidence we should collect? This seems to be the big issue now.

    From the ‘peace’ perspective, if the US had done nothing, it would have saved all the lives lost in WWII (well, except Pearl) and avoided so much carnage. Isn’t that a consideration now?

    I am trying to think like a “true” libertarian (I was under the impression from 1999-2001 that I was one 🙂 and am not sure how it is …

  8. After lying us into a war, do we really think that they are going to have a lot of compunctions about dishonestly spending the war bucks?

  9. I’ve worked in appropriations. The first rule of appropriations law is that it has nothing to do with the law – it is all about money and power. Forget the lawyers. If a federal agency spends its money on something the appropriations committees didn’t want it to be spent on then you have problems. Otherwise, the agency can get away with it.

    The usual rule of thumb it to keep your subcommittee staff informed of any substantial spending changes (officially or unofficially). I’d think $700million would fall into that category but I didn’t work DOD so maybe their subcommittees view that as chump change.

  10. I dont understand the WWII analogy.

    The analogy is that in World War II we were attacked — and, in response, threw the bulk of our war effort into defeating, and forcing the unconditional surrender of, a nation that had never attacked us. Japan, the nation that actually HAD attacked us, was made the #3 priority, after Italy and Germany. It is an inescapable fact that our war with Japan lasted longer, and cost a lot more lives on both sides, because we were “distracted” by a war against two nations that weren’t a threat to us: Germany and Italy.

    Yeah, yeah — “Germany declared war on us”. The problem with that argument is that Iraq declared war on us in 1991, never rescinded the declaration, and never signed a peace treaty — just a cease fire, which it repeatedly broke. So in both cases, we’re were war with two nations, one of which attacked us, one of which didn’t, and chose to give higher priority to the war against the non-aggressive nation.

    Virtually the entire nation stands behind the president in routing out the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

    Perhaps. But “The Libertarian Party” wasn’t part of that “virtually the entire nation” that you’re talking about. The Libertarians backed only an extremely limited, bloodless, and quite frankly impossible war against only those who were directly involved in 9/11 (ie, NOT the Taliban).

    Then, before the job is finished, we switch gears and attack a country that has nothing to do with 9/11 and was not a threat to us.

    The allegory holds here as well. Germany was no threat to the United States. Using the logic you apply to the Iraq war, we *should* have immediately sued for peace with Germany, to avoid wasting resources that could have been directed against Japan.

    When Saddam invaded Kuwait, the entire world was behind our effort to repell him.

    “The entire world” (aka “most of the United Nations”) agreed to let us repel him if and only if we agreed to not actually invade Iraq and remove the man causing the problems. Which says, basically, that “the entire world” are assholes.

  11. It is true that Germany declared war on the U.S., so the scenario isn’t precisely the same on that (and many) grounds. But let’s not kid ourselves; it was highly unlikely that the U.S. would have fought Japan and not also Nazi Germany, regardless of which declaration was issued first.

    The question is still a good one, and the answer (I suspect) will be that some libertarians who oppose the current war would have, and their analogues did, support U.S. decisions in WWII and others would have, and did, oppose them. My guess is the split would be far more in favor of the dovish course in the WWI case.

  12. I dont understand the WWII analogy. Al qaeda attacks us from Afghanistan. Virtually the entire nation stands behind the president in routing out the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Then, before the job is finished, we switch gears and attack a country that has nothing to do with 9/11 and was not a threat to us. When Saddam invaded Kuwait, the entire world was behind our effort to repell him. So i guess your answer would be that yes, the crowd that is now opposed to war in Iraq would have supported WWII, because that war was actually justified: Japan attacked the US, Germany attacked several of our allies.

  13. Dan,

    Bush Sr. didn’t want to go into Baghdad. Is he included in your group of assholes?

    Also, the difference between Germany and Iraq is that Germany was invading and attacking our allies.

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